Drumbeat: April 7, 2012

Petroleum institute’s numbers on oil policy a matter of dispute

“Congressman, if I can, I don’t want to take your time,” American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard said in testimony March 7 at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, “but there’s a — an experience we have in July of 2008 that . . . we ought to go back and look closely at.”

That July, Gerard said, the price of oil fell abruptly after President George W. Bush announced he would allow drilling in parts of the Outer Continental Shelf that for decades had been off-limits. As Gerard told it, “the price of crude oil over three days dropped $15 a barrel and continued to move down.” The lesson, he said, was that “markets are driven on a global basis by expectation. If the market heard the president of the United States say ‘I’m serious about producing my vast energy resources,’ you will see an impact in the market.”

The tale was an indictment of President Obama. But there’s one hitch, say oil experts. It doesn’t hold together.

Jack Gerard, the force majeure behind Big Oil

Ask oil lobbyists, oil executives, and former employees and board members of the American Petroleum Institute how they describe API President Jack N. Gerard, and one thing they don’t say is soft. One calls him a “hard-nosed guy.” Another says he is “a political animal” who “loves a fight.” Yet another dubs him “Voldemort.”

And those are people who consider themselves supporters of the oil industry.

What makes East Coast and West Coast gasoline more expensive?

The Energy Department's weekly fuel price survey shows $3.941 as the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline. But the number has been driven recently by the East and West coasts, which have the highest prices in the 48 contiguous states.

A gallon of regular gasoline on the West Coast is averaging $4.231 a gallon. On the East Coast, the average is $3.911 a gallon.

Road Rage: The Truth About Gasoline Prices

Americans are outraged over the steady rise in gasoline prices, and as president, Barack Obama has to take responsibility for what happens on his watch. A recent Reuters/Ipsos online poll indicated that 68 percent of Americans disapprove of how Obama is handling rising gas prices.

While the backlash is inevitable, it raises a key question: How much control does the President really have over oil and gasoline prices? How people perceive the answer to that question could well decide the results of the next election.

Oil stocks in dire Strait

For those who think tensions at the petrol pump are bad, the problems at the Strait of Hormuz is rather more combustible.

It is the narrow shipping lane between Iran and the United Arab Emirates that carries a third of the world's seaborne oil trade.

GOP faults Obama for 'energy crisis'

Republicans sought to keep the pressure on President Obama over high gas prices Saturday with a radio speech claiming his "lack of leadership" is creating an "energy crisis."

"Americans are paying the price for his failed policies," said Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin in the weekly GOP address. "Finding fewer jobs, higher gas prices, and less opportunity."

Oil price salvation won't be found in the Bakken

When gasoline prices ratchet up and it costs a hundred bucks to fill your car, the political comedy starts. Who to blame?

In the United States, the right blames the left and vice versa. Fuel taxes are too high, the American motorist moans, even though taxes in the United States are among the lowest in the world. Newt Gingrich is so outraged about high prices that he vows to slap a $2.50 (U.S.) a gallon price ceiling on gas if he is installed in the White House. At the same time, he supports tighter sanctions on Iran, one of OPEC’s biggest oil exporters, and is calling for regime change in Tehran.

Call us contrarians, but bombing Iran to get lower oil prices seems a slightly flawed strategy.

The petroleum age is just beginning

Peak Oil is the theory that the production history of petroleum follows a symmetrical bell-shaped curve. Once the curve peaks, decline is inevitable. The theory is commonly invoked to justify the development of alternative energy sources that are allegedly renewable and sustainable.

It's time to consign Peak Oil theory to the dust bin of history. The flaw of the theory is that it assumes the amount of a resource is a static number determined solely by geological factors. But the size of an exploitable resource also depends upon price and technology. These factors are difficult to predict.

Peak eggs: Hubbert and the Easter Bunny

A curious facet of the Easter Egg hunt is that it looks a little like mineral prospecting. With minerals, just as for eggs, you need to search for hidden treasures and, once you have discovered the easy minerals (or eggs), finding the well hidden ones may take a lot of work. So much that some eggs usually remain undiscovered; just as some minerals will never be extracted.

Talks in UK fuel trucker dispute to resume Tuesday

(Reuters) - British fuel delivery contractors will resume talks on Tuesday with the union representing tanker drivers, who have threatened to strike over pay and conditions, a dispute that has led to criticism of the government and panic petrol buying by motorists.

Sudan tensions imperil China's investments

Rising tensions between Sudan and South Sudan are threatening China’s investments in the region.

China is the biggest player in the oil industry on both sides of the border.

Russia cuts 2012 growth forecast

Russia has cut its 2012 growth forecast, to 3.4 per cent from 3.7 per cent, a minister said Friday, as the oil dependent-economy will likely face headwinds later this year.

Ukraine, Russia to Set Up Gas Refining JV

Ukraine and Russia will establish a joint venture to produce machines for associated gas refining into synthetic fuel in the Samara region on Volga, Sergei Ryzhuk, governor of the Zhytomyr region in northern Ukraine, said on Saturday.

Gazprom may focus Shtokman gas project on LNG

(Reuters) - Gazprom may drop plans to pipe gas from the huge Shtokman field in the Barents Sea, focusing instead on producing liquefied natural gas, the Russian firm's deputy head said on Saturday.

"'LNG-only' is being looked at as one of the possible decisions," Alexander Medvedev said, the first time the firm has raised that possibility.

Iran Halts Greek Oil Sales, May Cut Shell As Sanctions Bite

LONDON – Iran stopped shipping oil to Greece and may halt supplies to Royal Dutch Shell PLC over unpaid bills, Iran media said Friday, as the impact of sanctions widens. The news suggests a decline in Iranian oil exports last month may accelerate as banking sanctions add to an upcoming European ban on Tehran oil. That could lead to upward pressure on oil prices, which have recently surged to a four-year high.

Petronas’s South African Unit Suspends Oil Imports From Iran

Petroliam Nasional Bhd. (PET)’s Engen unit, the biggest South African importer of Iranian crude, said it has suspended imports of oil from the Middle Eastern nation amid economic sanctions by the U.S. and the European Union.

Iran non-oil exports surge 29% despite sanctions

TEHRAN: Iran's non-oil exports surged 29 percent to nearly $44 billion in the year to mid-March despite tough Western sanctions to rein in Tehran's disputed nuclear drive, according to officials and data.

Exxon Plays Balancing Act As Kurd-Iraq Rift Widens

Differences between the Kurdish Regional Government and the central government of Iraq over the vast oil wealth in the northern regions of the country continue to widen despite growing interest from oil majors to begin operations in the area.

Japan Storm Kills Four People, Disrupts Flights, Mobile Networks

Oil refiner Idemitsu Kosan Co. resumed loadings and unloadings today at its Aichi and Tokuyama refineries, which were suspended yesterday because of the storm, Kei Uchikawa, a company spokesman, said by phone.

JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp., Japan’s largest refiner, stopped loadings at its Kashima refinery in eastern Japan today, while it resumed operations at its Mizushima, Oita and Marifu refineries in western Japan, said a company official, who declined to be identified, citing internal policy. Berthing operations at its Negishi plant near Tokyo are still suspended, the official said.

Shell to Shut Gulf Mars Platform in Second Quarter for Work

Shell, based in the Hague, will perform maintenance on the site, located about 130 miles (209 kilometers) south of New Orleans, and conduct work related to a second platform, the Olympus, that the company is building in the Mars field, Emily Oberton, a Houston-based spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

Licenses Representing 11% of Output

YPF SA, Argentina’s largest oil producer, may lose three more licenses for fields where it extracts 11 percent of its crude as provincial governments step up pressure on the company to boost investments.

Baker Hughes Undervalued Despite Warning On Profit Margins

Oilfield services provider Baker Hughes warned that the changing dynamics in the North American market could impact its operating margins. According to a company release, the shift from gas drilling to liquids focused drilling and other operational challenges could push down the company’s operating margins before tax to 13.2%–14.2% from 18.7% in Q4 last year. [1] Competitor Halliburton has also warned that profits may be hit this quarter because of the changing industry conditions.

Better spill plan eyed by Exxon, agencies

BILLINGS — Exxon Mobil Corp. is working with government agencies on a plan to speed up the response to oil spills along Montana's upper Yellowstone River, after a major spill last year left local officials scrambling to deal with an ill-defined threat, state and federal officials said.

Slaughter rule lifted for cattle near N-plant

The government has scrapped a rule requiring cattle farmers still living within 20 kilometers of Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant to slaughter their livestock.

The government will allow farmers to keep cattle within the 20-kilometer radius if they are kept isolated from other animals, the officials said.

However, farmers will not be allowed to sell, transport or breed the animals, the officials said.

Reliant to reveal firms with smart meter grants

Reliant Energy will disclose the names of companies receiving federal grants to develop its smart meter products, after the Department of Energy said the electricity retailer wasn't complying with transparency rules.

Nuri Plans Smart Metering Bids in Scandinavia, Japan

Nuri Telecom Co. (040160), South Korea’s only exporter of so-called smart metering systems used in utility services, is preparing to bid for projects in Scandinavian countries in July or August to reverse a drop in sales.

Hawaii Can Show the Way to a Better Energy Future

Canary in a coal mine or beacon for the world? Can Hawaii replace oil with geothermal power?

Brazil Reiterates Solar Policy to Allay Fears of Further Delay

Brazil confirmed plans to grant incentives for solar plants and allow consumers to offset energy consumption with rooftop panels, dispelling concerns it will delay promoting the use of power produced from sunlight.

Geothermal Projects Less Vulnerable to Subsidy Cuts

Geothermal energy projects are less vulnerable than wind farms to the pending loss of federal subsidies because they take longer to complete, according to the executive director of the Geothermal Energy Association.

About 100 megawatts of geothermal capacity will be added this year, and “steady growth” probably will continue because the industry is less volatile than wind, Karl Gawell, GEA executive director, said today in an interview.

Tracing the Money, and the Masterminds, of Illegal Logging

Endangered forests and plants don’t get quite as much public attention as endangered animals generally do. Last month the World Bank addressed that deficit by issuing a study, titled “Justice for Forests,” that candidly laid out the problems posed by a “global epidemic” of illegal logging.

From an F to a Low A: The N.Y. City Council

The average "green" score for council members in 2010-11 was 90, up from 45 five years earlier.

A Difficult Choice on Water

Proposed legislation offers the Navajo and Hopi the service of having water piped into their homes but comes with the caveat that they hand over their rights to the waters of the Little Colorado River.

A Community’s Hopes for Self-Sufficiency

First Nations people have harvested seaweed, oysters and dandelions for centuries. They catalog these three species as sources of food and medicine. As I climb across an intrusive coastal granite outcrop off the Coast Trail on Vancouver Island’s southernmost tip, across the water from the T’Sou-ke Nation reserve, my focus today is to learn more about local food systems, sustainability and the traditional ecological knowledge of the region.

The Arctic is getting more militarized

Norwegian and Russian energy relations might be put at risk when it comes to the exploration and acquisition of untapped energy resources in the Arctic with both countries increasing their militarisation in the area, according toStratfor an Austin, Texas-based global intelligence company providing geopolitical analysis and commentary.

Climate change vs. Easter bunnies

Easter is still a great day for worship, candy in baskets, pagan equinox rituals and running around the yard finding eggs, but every year it gets quite a bit worse for bunnies.

And no, not because the kids like to pull their ears. The culprit is climate change, and the folks at Climate Nexus found that rising temperatures are having adverse effects on at least five species of rabbit in the U.S.

Which plants will survive droughts, climate change?

Droughts are worsening around the world, posing a great challenge to plants in all ecosystems, said Lawren Sack, a UCLA professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and senior author of the research. Scientists have debated for more than a century how to predict which species are most vulnerable.

Sack and two members of his laboratory have made a fundamental discovery that resolves this debate and allows for the prediction of how diverse plant species and vegetation types worldwide will tolerate drought, which is critical given the threats posed by climate change, he said.

1981 Climate Change Predictions Were Eerily Accurate

A paper published in the journal Science in August 1981 made several projections regarding future climate change and anthropogenic global warming based on manmade CO2 emissions. As it turns out, the authors’ projections have proven to be rather accurate — and their future is now our present.

Stopping Climate Change Is Much Cheaper Than You Think

You’ve heard it before: politicians say they’d love to take action against climate change, but they’re reeling from sticker shock. Today, a new report from the UK’s leading climate change watchdog refutes this oft-cited argument that climate action will herald economic Armageddon.

Res: The petroleum age is just beginning

This commentary by David Deming (a professor of geology at the University of Oklahoma) shows quite a bit of confusion. He writes:

For at least 100 years, people have repeatedly warned that the world is running out of oil. In 1920, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that the world contained only 60 billion barrels of recoverable oil. But to date we have produced more than 1,000 billion barrels and currently have more than 1,500 billion barrels in reserve.
Conventional oil resources are estimated to be in the neighborhood of 10 trillion barrels. The resource base is growing faster than production can deplete it!

Peak Oil is about the rate of production, not resources. His claim for massive reserves likely includes "oil shale", as in, the Green River Formation. That's not oil which can be pumped out of the formation, no matter how much it's "fracked". The professor is either a fracking idiot or is intentionally spreading disinformation to help set the stage for the November election...

E. Swanson

I think the latter of your two options.
There does seem to be consistent effort out in the ether to mis-inform, dis-inform, obfuscate and just good old lie about resource depletion, climate change, finance and anything else that would get in the way of keeping the sheeple convinced that the good old days of BAU are shortly to make a return.

It's quite obvious that there is a political agenda to his article. He neglects to mention the declining EROEI and production rates and the increasing cost of production as well as the amount of fresh water used to produce the oil.

Does any one of the TOD experts have a comparison of how much fresh water, that becomes unreclaimable, was used when the EROEI was 100:1 versus the various categories of oil that are being produced today??

For starters, you can find the average 2002 total water withdrawl, per dollar spent on crude oil extraction using CMU's EIOLCA data

How would this have any relevance for the November election, such as it is? It's not like there's a major candidate running who disagrees with this line of denial and has something serious to say in reply. Certainly not Obama.

Yes I agree. Time for the liberals/Democrats to get their head out of the sand. They offer no alternative vision.

They are 100% supporters of infinite war in the Middle East, infinite subsidies for big corporations, and printing an infinite amount of fiat money to distribute to the banks.

Not only that, but in general they are cowards. They refuse to raise taxes, to push for genuine healthcare reform, or to make serious efforts at rail or energy conservation. They support endless, high levels of immigration which puts continuous pressure on the working classes.

Their failure is all of our failure, and it is their failure which animates the right wing in this country.

In my mind, Republicans and Democrats are one in the same. They campaign under supposedly different platforms just to create the illusion of competition. It's genius, really. Kind of like General Mills making regular cheerios and store brand cheerios.

I think of it as more like a "good cop/bad cop" scenario.

Or, one of my favorite metaphors, that of the restaurant. Some of the wait-staff may be more polite and friendly than some of the other wait staff, but the food is all prepared in the same kitchen by the same cooks...

Dmitry Orlov puts it well:

"It is certainly more fun to watch two Capitalist parties go at each other than just having the one Communist party to vote for. The things they fight over in public are generally symbolic little tokens of social policy, chosen for ease of public posturing. The Communist party offered just one bitter pill. The two Capitalist parties offer a choice of two placebos. The latest innovation is the photo finish election, where each party buys 50% of the vote, and the result is pulled out of statistical noise, like a rabbit out of a hat."

"They support endless, high levels of immigration which puts continuous pressure on the working classes."

Not quite. That's what the conservative talking heads say, but it doesn't jibe with the history of the parties at all.

The Republican party is the pro-immigration party. It has been this way since the 1800s. They view it as favoring capitalism to allow unfettered immigration to compete with the existing lower classes. The Democrat party is the protectionist party, which is why they have also always been the union supporting party.

To put Deming into context you might want to read his Wikipedia info:


Deming is described as a "controversial" OU professor who has had numerous clashes with the university administration, including his own Dean. These clashes include actual lawsuits.

Further excerpts:

Deming has identified himself with the Cornucopian school of environmental thought, and has consistently criticized Malthusian theory. In 1998, he wrote "although world population has increased by more than a factor of six over the last 200 years, we are all aware that the average standard of living has risen dramatically - in direct contradiction to Malthusian theory.

Deming has criticized "sustainability," as a misleading concept, a chimera,"[10] at least as far as it pertains to technology, pointing out that "present day technologies and practices are never sustainable, nor should we expect them to be...projections of current technology into the future are always invalid because technology does not stand still...technological progress is our birthright and destiny.

Deming does not believe in Peak Oil theories, and has pointed out that "predictions of imminent oil shortages have been made throughout the twentieth century...[but] all previous predictions have been false.

Deming has criticized global warming predictions, citing "media hysteria... generated by journalists who don't understand the provisional and uncertain nature of scientific knowledge.

There is more - but you get the idea.

It does seem surprising to me for a scientific geologist to so casually mix up resources with reserves. He might have an agenda.

Goes to show, nobody has more fun than a troll with academic tenure.

I thought I remembered Deming's name from other issues. The Wiki article shows him involved with several high profile issues, including climate change and intelligent design. His argument regarding Peak Oil apparently is the result of his criticism of Hubbert, who he says underestimated reserves and therefore incorrectly picked a date of peak production. That's no reason to deny the basic geological fact that at some point in time, production must peak and afterward decline simply because the Earth is a finite speck of rock floating about in the universe. I think he is wrong to say we don't need to worry about AGW, but that's another story...

E. Swanson

The one cheerful note in the article was the comment section. It seemed that Deming's opinions were thoroughly discredited there, and in Oklahoma! As one of the most politically conservative states, and a big oil state, that really is good news.

People lie. They do it to serve their interests. We need to stop being surprised every time we notice one of the lies. It is just BAU.


March Heat Records Crush Cold Records By Over 35 to 1

The final data is in for the unprecedented March heat wave that was “unmatched in recorded history” for the U.S. (and Canada). New heat records swamped cold records by the stunning ratio of 35.3 to 1.

This ratio is almost off the charts, even with the brutally warm August we had, as this chart from Capital Climate shows.

For the year to date, new heat records are beating cold records by 22 to 1, which trumps the pace of the last decade by more than a factor of 10!

It seems we're going to get our "blackberry winter" after all. It's normal that we get freezing temps during the first weeks of April, but unusual that so many plants are well into flowering and setting fruit. The trees are leafing out earlier, perhaps 3-4 weeks ahead of normal, and I fear that the mast, nuts and berries will be damaged again. There was vitually no mast last year, driving the deer and wild hogs to forage on other things in the fall, including rooting up the pastures and eating berry bushes of this year's new growth (which is next year's berries). Hopes that it doesn't get too cold for too long.

Update: A friend who has a vegetable stand got in some beautiful pickling cucumbers this morning from Florida (10/$1!). My dill patch sprouted very early this year; lots of fresh, young plants coming up. Couldn't resist making a few quarts of Passover tabasco/kosher dills; a first for me, about 3 months early. The lids just started popping; one of my favorite sounds :-) Canning season is underway early it seems.

The lids just started popping; one of my favorite sounds

Have you though of using Tattler lids? Reuseable lids.

I have 150 of the tattler lids I'm sort of saving for the big one. I tested a few last year and they work great. I recently aquired a case of 80 dozen regular Ball lids, so I'm still using those. (I already had several hundred). They may also be good currency someday. A nearby discount chain has been selling good generic lids, 24 (2 boxes) for a dollar, and I have a stock of those as well. I'm hoping to find stainless rings since the regular rings rust eventually.

Got lids?

As I mentioned before I run a small farm that grows vegetables. As such I am kind of a weather fanatic. It sort of goes with the territory as they say.

While I am taking about weather and not climate, just as those individual records are weather, but their aggregate has meaning in a climate sense, every data point adds value to the discussion.

For my location the average last frost of the winter is April 24th. The latest frost, in my memory not from actual records, we have had is May 9th. At this point in time our last frost was the 1st week of March.

The forecasts for the next 10 days do not indicate any chance of frost and the predicted temperatures 10 days out are for highs of 79 and lows in the mid-50's. Thus it would seem there is a good chance that come the 24th we will not have had a frost.

If this situation sticks with the trend it would mean that our last frost was 6 weeks earlier than average. This would be astonishing to say the least. The effects are already significant even if we end up having another frost this season. All fruit trees are blooming and some are even done. Bugs not normally seen for some time are out and about. The ground is very dry for this time of year. It is going to be interesting.

My hope for you guys growing stuff up there is that the weather doesn't do a turn about and dump cold on you. After all the warmth getting things started early a late chill could do a lot of damage.


I just love the naivety of these West Coast nature lovers:

A Community’s Hopes for Self-Sufficiency

First Nations people have harvested seaweed, oysters and dandelions for centuries. They catalog these three species as sources of food and medicine.

The common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is an introduced species in North America, so the First Nations never harvested it before the white men came. Unfortunately, it is a better weed than a salad green, so now it is all over the place. It grows particularly well in people's lawns and is very hard to eradicate without chemicals because it regrows from its deep root system.

Where I am, we didn't have dandelions before people started planting lawns. Dandelions thrive in disturbed soil, but if I didn't dig up the mountainside, they would never get a foothold. Unfortunately my wife loves a nice lawn and hates dandelions, so I am at a conflict of interest here. It's a constant battle, and without chemicals, a losing one.

The only native dandelion in BC or Alberta is the alpine dandelion (Taraxacum ceratophorum) which grows only in high alpine areas, so the natives probably didn't use it much for food.

The author apparently does know that Olympia oysters (Ostrea conchaphila) are the only oysters native to BC. All the other oysters harvested there are imported species.

Historically, the dandelion was brought to North America by settlers who valued its medicinal properties, used in lore to treat the following:- baldness, dandruff, toothache, sores, fevers, rotting gums, weakness, lethargy and depression.

Modern knowledge of chemistry has determined that dandelions are a valuable nutritional source, and probably helped reduce the above mentioned conditions because they were largely caused by vitamin deficiencies.

Dandelions only became a "weed" in the 20th century. Yet one more way chemical comaonies can brainwash us to use products we really don't need, and that are actually harmful. Prior to that, the grass was weeded out, to give the dandelions room to grow.

The flowers make an adequate wine, and are a great early food source for bees.

I also recall reading somewhere that dandelions are beneficial for lawns, since their deep roots bring valuable nutrients to the surface.

Yes, a friend of mine raises bees, and he just loves dandelions. I've made dandelion wine myself. But my wife hates them.

I was just pointing out that the natives didn't eat many dandelions before Europeans imported the common dandelion, just like the Italians didn't have tomatoes or the Irish have potatoes before the New World was discovered.

The Indians didn't have horses, either, before the Spanish brought them over. They used to refer to those times as their "dog days" because they used dogs to pull travios and had to walk everywhere.

"I was just pointing out that the natives didn't eat many dandelions"

I get that point - just thought maybe you could pass some good things on to your spouse. OTOH, having tried that in past times when I had a spouse, sometimes it's better left alone.


If my husband surprised/gifted me by putting in a wildflower meadow, or a mulched native plant garden, or a butterfly garden, or a nature pond or a rock garden, etc I probably wouldn't put too much emphasis on the fact that the lawn just shrunk.

Well, my wife is somewhat different, possibly due to the fact she was born in England. She likes a nice orderly green lawn with decorative flower beds, so I have been forced to wipe out some of the native vegetation and native wildflowers to make room for it. It was not my first choice, but we took a vote between the two of us, and I lost somehow.

Hmmm, dandelion and burdock.


Interesting Japanese paper on effects of neonicoteinoids on honeybees, ecosystems and humans (2010)

http://kokumin-kaigi.org/wp-content/uploads/Neonicotinoid_e.pdf (PDF Warning !)

Discusses effects of neonicotinoids on neural transmission, in a not-too-technical format.

Might not need to wait for an EMP or solar storm to take down the grid ...

Michigan Fusion Center Bulletin: Energy Substations Copper Thefts

Over the last week, approximately 10 Energy Sector substations in the Marshall and Battle Creek area have been the victims of copper theft. Because the current street value for scrap copper is over $4.00 per pound, electric substations have become lucrative targets. The targeting of substations for copper has been an issue for over a year. The recent thefts from substations in the greater Flint area caused significant power outages to the area and safety issues for first responders. The suspects are stealing the grounding system conductors and other wires stored at the substation at night. This is accomplished by digging up sections of the grounding system conductors and cutting it off from the power units. The process is time-consuming and requires the suspects to go inside the substation perimeter fence. A few sites have experienced repeated offenses of copper theft.

Copper Price Chart: http://www.indexmundi.com/commodities/?commodity=copper&months=120

Sincerely. Honestly:

They just need to setup some inexpensive outdoor webcams, a Debian server, and zoneminder and have the system email back pix of a breakin.

Cameras that are hidden, and aimed to get a vehicle license plate, and pix of the bad guys are things that help law enforcement.

Ideally, even if the thieves discover and disable the server it will be too late for them, as the system could be configured to send emails very quickly after motion occurs.

Might be a good way to protect mobile assets used in FF drilling, too. Just have the server set to use a cellphone to send out the pix. ;)

(zoneminder is GPL as well)

I still surprised that they didn't end up like our friend Mr. Squirrel gnawing the 132kV transmission line

That wire looked like standard 240v US 2-phase (2 120v phases plus 1 ground) that goes to a house. Appears the squirrel bit through at least 2 wires, causing current flow through the mouth/head area.

The house I grew up in had a giant hickory tree looming above our transformer and the squirrels loved to sit on the transformer and eat hickory nuts, perhaps because it was warm. Every few months a squirrel would short out the fuse block. They would absolutely explode and come smoking down into the driveway. It usually blew the fuse as well, cutting power to the house. The powerco eventually put a rubber boot over the fuse block.

A slight distraction, but you might enjoy this short video about the use of electrical equipment by animals.

Please! 132kV? As pointed out by Mrflash that is more likely a split phase 240V domestic supply with a neutral half way between the hot lines.That would make the maximum voltage the squirrel was exposed to, 240V and more likely that it cut through the insulation of one hot wire and got 120V between that conductor and the uninsulated neutral that it's paws were probably holding,


The above video shows what happens when a body comes in contact with a supposedly 50kV line. I say supposedly because 50kV would be very high for distribution lines and unusual for high voltage medium distance transmission lines plus, those insulators don't look like they could handle 50kv. More like 5kv. for an idea of what the hardware looks like for the different voltages see this OSHA Illustrated Glossary: Transmission Lines

The following video shows what happens when a body comes in contact with 10kv. At 1:15 it shows the woman striking an arc by touching the line. The arc the transfers to her face and knocks her out before extinguishing itself but, miraculously she survives.


This last video shows some very uninformed people attempting a very foolhardy rescue and injuring (killing?) themselves in the process. The uploader plays fast and loose with his voltages so again, I suspect they are dealing with about 10kv.


So as Ghung pointed out, thousands of volts would have sent Mr. Squirrel plumetting to the ground in a smoldering heap.

Electricity can be a very dangerous friend. It must be treated with a great deal of respect.

Alan from the islands

So as Ghung pointed out, thousands of volts would have sent Mr. Squirrel plumetting to the ground in a smoldering heap.

Down here the transformer blows, our power goes out and they just get slightly fried... FPL has a special tool just to remove them.

Fried Squirrle

"That would make the maximum voltage the squirrel was exposed to 240V..."

240 VAC RMS: 340 V-Peak

...just being picky...

Interesting protection at two minutes in:
...like a scene from star-wars.
Arc flash suits: in case the bus-bars explode

240V RMS varies plus or minus 5% or so (with an associated variation in the peak voltage for an ideal sine wave). During fault conditions restrike may cause transient voltages up to 3 times steady-state.

This is well past the ratings of most squirrels.

Here's a cute one in front of my house ...

You can see it in a bigger size here:


We get copper thieves that look like that but a bit toastier. They see the high voltage wires and think they can get a lot more copper by going after them.


I seem to have borked making the zoneminder link in my earlier post, so here is the URL:


The software is open source, so I am not trying to 'sell' it, just share that some things are out there to help people with security and such of infrastructure/home/FF assets ;)

Dontcha think an electrical substation could afford an electric fence?

edit: spelling

My police 'interaction' with cameras:

Scene: Office break in at night - all laptops taken.

Office: And here is the surveillance tape of the guy taking the laptops.
Cops: Do you recognise this guy?
Office: No.
Cops: Well if you don't know him,we have no real chance of catching him.

And for the rest of you in the surveillance state I present:
(for fun - if you are approached by someone tell 'em you are an angel.)

The better cameras have auto-dimming so they are not defeated via the IR flooding.

The worst computer thefts I've known have happened on well secured sites complete with 24/7 security guards. Nuff said.


But if commercial value is $1,600 per ton, how can street value be $4 per pound?

you need to scroll down to the bottom of the list to get the current price per ton,

Thanks, Hermit,

I see what you mean... (should've had that second cup of coffee before opening my mouth)

LME lists the current price per lb of bare Bright Copper:

USD/LB Copper Cash 3.7945, 3m 3.7834, 15m 3.7898

However the street price is always a bit lower:
Here's a typical honest scrap metal dealer's prices.
Metals - Price Listings
Last Updated: 4/7/2012 7:13:19 AM
#1 Bare Bright Wire $3.30 /lb.
#1 Copper Tubing/Flashing $3.05 /lb.
#2 Copper Tubing/Wire (Tin Coat) $2.80 /lb.
#3 Roofing Copper $2.65 /lb.

So there is no way someone is getting $4.00 lb for copper on the street.
Disclaimer: I was working in this industry till recently and visited my friend's scrap yard yesterday!

I don't remember who said it but remember some science fiction writer saying that today our cities represent the best, most concentrated source of metal/metal ore deposits in the history of the planet and will continue to be for the next thousands of years, maybe even millions.

Sorry to interrupt with a mathematical discussion, but I wanted to point out that there are differences of opinion among analysts when it comes to the modeling of oil depletion.

From the above link, Ugo Bardi seems to like the classical Logistic model of oil depletion. He uses the idea of searching for Easter eggs, and then applies this to a Ventsim software simulation model, which cranks out the resulting Logistics curve.

In keeping with his Easter theme, I think this is quite the bunny rabbit model. The problem is that the Logistic model is a deterministic view of depletion, and does not add in any concept of variation in search rates and volumes of search.

Consider how Bardi starts upping the rate and gets a curve that starts to deviate from the Logistic:

"We can play a little more with the model. How about supposing that the children can learn how to find eggs faster, as the search goes on? That can be simulated by assuming that the "ability" parameter increases with time. We could say that it ramps up of a notch for every egg found. The results? Well, here is an example: "

The point to consider is that the Logistic already has an exponential acceleration factor for production, and then he is accelerating that exponential increase. This is what is known as a Gompertz-type of model, where he uses a positive feedback instead of a negative sign in the exponent.

The way I view it is that there is an accelerating factor built into the act of discovery, whereby technology advances allow the pace of cumulative finds to increase over time. This is subject to the variability in search rates among the prospectors and that the volumes of search are also variable. This leads to the shape of the discovery curve, which showed a peak worldwide back in the early 1960's. I call this the Dispersive Discovery Model, which has been described in a couple of top-level TOD posts in the past. I used a needles in a haystack analogy instead of searching for Easter eggs, and suffice to say, my math and Bardi's math are completely different.

Furthermore, production is separate from this discovery model, and what is most telling, is that the ability to extract oil from a discovered supply has remained remarkably stable over the years. It has always stayed somewhere between 4% and 10% of the amount of known reserve that the discovery process has provided. The model of this extraction is what is known as the Oil Shock Model, which has also been described by a couple of top-level TOD posts. In fundamental terms, the OSM is a compartmental fow-rate model.

What Bardi bypasses with his bunny-rabbit model is correctly compositing the discovery and production phases so that it makes realistic sense. What his Ventsim model does is conflate the two and combine them into one function which comes out looking like a single curve. In practice, we all know that the discovery phase peak occurs anywhere from 30 to 40 years prior to the production phase peak. Yet, this is nowhere to be seen in his analysis. It is simply all jumbled together.

If we do this analysis correctly, which is to convolve a discovery model with a production model, the asymmetry in the production output comes about from increases in the extraction rate, which is essentially upping the 4% to 10% range to something larger. (The discovery rates also increase but since we are already in the tail, that won't help as much.) The question is can this happen to any great extent -- that is, can we actually boost production rates much beyond what we have? This is what many people, including Darwinian (who is really an anchor of pragmatism), have always considered the main theme of peak oil, that it is a peak in production flow not necessarily that of absolute volume.

Bottomline, the issue I have with the Bardi Logistic model, which I noticed that he has tended to support over the years, is that it doesn't represent the physical situation very realistically. I understand that many people don't care and as long as it describes heuristically what is going on, then that is often considered sufficient. But for someone that actually wants to assume some real quantitative measures, such as average extraction rates, fitting to discovery profiles, etc, the way that I tend to approach it carries a much stronger analytical foundation.

What Bardi is trying to show is the potential dramatic fall-off, yet notice that we are going through an extended plateau of production. How does that happen? Well, it involves an extraction increase which compensates the depletion fall-off in a balanced fashion. And that comes out directly from a realistic model, not this contrived bunny-rabbit model that is shown in the link.

I have all this described in http://TheOilConundrum.com which is an online indexed PDF book containing details on Gompertz models and discovery and production. A few other journalists and OpeEd writers are starting to use the phrase "The Oil Conundrum" in online articles, so although the theme of oil depletion is the same, it touches different aspects.


It's good to see you posting again.

Welcome back! Don't let the overzealous and egotistical moderators get you down, if they had it their way this site would be reduced to the same six people having the same three conversations ad nauseam. Hmm, come to think of it, they may have already succeeded...

I, for one, welcome a diversity of opinions.

In my opinion, for example, Ugo Bardi comes across as a showboat. He once argued that collapse is a "negative feedback". That is simply idiotic and utterly fails to comprehend the meaning of goal-seeking behavior as opposed to the self-reinforcing behavior of positive feedbacks.

If I fill a water tank at an exponential rate to a point beyond its structural integrity and it suddenly bursts, is that a negative feedback? No, of course not, it is a catastrophically negative CONSEQUENCE of a positive feedback.

Ugo is, as the cowboys are fond of saying, all hat and no cattle.


? :@

I don't think he's referring to you, the formal moderator. I believe he's referring to the phenomena of self-selection, in which people who disagree get discouraged.

For instance, I noticed "Jeppen" get discouraged last week.

: D

I'm always sorry to see people go. Many return, though.

Well, I did notice one of my replies in the previous Drumbeat mysteriously disappear.
Sometimes participants might appreciate the mods saving participants from themselves, but I'm unsure about this case.
I thought my reply was pretty good. :) (I wonder if there is a record of it anywhere. Maybe it could be edited and replaced?)

I think Earl had read it already anyway. Maybe he was the one who flagged it.

Was yours the only one to disappear? All descendant replies are removed when one is removed.

I think mine was the only one yes.

Who moderates the moderator? ;P

If you have a question about why something was removed, e-mail me privately. Don't complain about it in the thread.

Reasons a post might be removed: It's a personal attack, it's a political rant, it's just silly, it's repetitive, or it's off topic.

I will also remove personal chit-chat and other "comments without content" after the person they were intended for has had time to read them. For example: "+1" or "send me an e-mail" or ":-)"

BTW, most of the time when someone can't figure out why their post was removed...it hasn't actually been removed, they just can't find it. Either it's on the second page of a two-page thread, they posted it in a different thread than they thought, or due to the nested threading of the comments here, it's much further down the page than they remember.

Sometimes people get on a track where they need to be discouraged. If we didn't discourage some behaviors and yammering on and on about inappropriate subject matter, this place would be a mess. Like so many other forums on the web.

I think that's the job of the formal TOD Community Moderator.

It's all of our jobs. That's what "flag as inappropriate" is for.

Sure. But, that's very different from discouraging someone because we disagree with them.

To put a finer point on it, I was disappointed to see Jeppen discouraged recently. A careful re-reading of the comments said to me that his point was a valuable one about the functioning of decentralized markets, and you mistook it as a partisan political comment.

Now, if his comment had been political, I would have agreed that it was counter-productive. And, I actually would have argued with Jeppen that free markets need to be carefully regulated, and balanced with Pigovian taxes and subsidies, something that he resists.

Still, Jeppen has been a very valuable contributor, and I'm disappointed to see him feel discouraged by the feeling that an "official" moderator was criticizing him.

If it had been a one-off, I wouldn't have said anything. But all he ever posted about was how wonderful capitalism is and how if there's a problem, it's because of too much regulation. If he had some ideas on how all this was linked to cheap fossil fuels, and how it might change in the light of resource scarcity, that might have been interesting. But his arguments were the same ones you find at political sites all over the net. Why come here to make them?

I'd agree that Jeppen did that to some extent. His intuition about a market-based economy vs a planned economy was a little....ideological, I'll admit.

But, on the whole he was open to new ideas. He was a long-time nuclear advocate, yet he and I had a long discussion about nuclear vs wind, and he eventually agreed that a grid that relied primarily on wind would work. That was a real indication of openness to new ideas.

What's more, in order to change his mind he actually looked at real data (a year's worth of Swedish hourly wind power data and demand data), and made an original contribution of research by comparing wind supply with demand. I made a suggestion to improve it with Demand Side Management, and he incorporated it in a useful way. And, he made the spreadsheet available to me and others.

Similarly, he and I had discussions about Pigovian taxes, and he eventually agreed they were a good idea.

TOD desperately needs contributions from people who understand the value of decentralized markets, and who are willing to look objectively at the data.

He actually made real contributions, and discussed things in a useful way. His leaving is a real loss for TOD.

Well, he wasn't banned. He can come back any time he wants, and I suspect he will. (IME, people who announce they are leaving usually come back. The ones who are really leaving don't say anything, they just...don't come back.)

But I do draw the line if I feel a topic is tapped out, generates more heat than light, or is otherwise tedious, and I will continue to do so. If he can't deal with that, then he's better off at another site.

If you're going to make claims here (ad homs in this case), I believe the protocol is to back up your case with evidence.

In other words, bring some cattle yourself. And consider being a bit neighborly..


It is definitely good to hear from you again.

The last version I have of your oil production model based on discovery and oil shock was a January of 2011 update. Have you updated it since then?

No I haven't really updated it. I treated that blog as a running dialog of thoughts on a subject and then packaged it all up in one final PDF document. Doing the document allowed me to create a better organization and clean up my thoughts a bit. Now that it is done, I decided to leave the blog alone and see how well it works as a historical prediction on what will shake out. In an oil-speak analogy, I either left it fallow or shut-in, can't tell what is more appropriate.

Part of this decision is also dictated by how some skeptics and cornucopians treat predictions, in that they don't think that you should update predictions with new information, as if that is somehow against the rules. If the internet stays up for the long term, people can always refer to it to see how the predictions and models work out.

I have a link to another blog where I am writing on climate science and environmental topics. Not to say that I won't continue to write on oil depletion topics, but that's the way a lot of things work out -- you give it your best shot and then move on.

Sorry WHT, but I think I'm going to have to question one of your assertions again.

You say that the logistic curve already incorporates the effect of improved discovery methods in the exponential shape of the curve. I'd suggest that the logistic curve incorporates the effect of more participants entering the discovery game as initial discovery and exploitation build market.

The logistic model is closely related to the S-Curve and with it adoption rates and much data practically backing up the shape of the curve, and thus the logistic curve, from purely population stats, not technology change.

Evolution or revolution in technology is in addition to that, and in commonly viewed as the superposition of new s-curves with different adoption parameters, and thus changed logistic curve shapes. If you postulate a continuous evolution of technology, the rate of which is itself related to the number of participants, then you get an exponential on exponential curve (eg Bardi's second graph above).

Now, of course, this isn't really the case. New, game changing, technologies will be developed at a rate proportional to a number of factors (including population) but in a discrete manner - reality will be more complex than a smooth mathematical curve. However as Bardi is using his model for 'illumination' rather than 'support', I'd suggest it's fairly good at showing what a increased population/increased technology evolution curve would look like without the discrete revolutionary shifts.

While he could throw into the model extra complexity (discrete technology steps, separate discovery & production S-Curves), his model is fit for purpose in showing how reality can diverge from the Hubbert curve (central limit theorem) case when more factors are taken into account.

The logistic curve might be close as a heuristic, but the classical derivation of the logistic equation for that curve is problematic. For one, it is almost always assumed that it is modeling a population with some sort of carrying capacity. Unfortunately, there is no carrying capacity for oil, and the logistic equations as they are set up assume that items are born and die. Oil does not reproduce so that part of the model's fitness-for-use is suspect. The carrying capacity doesn't exist for oil so there is no equilibrium to reach.

So some suggest, as you do, that the logistic can describe the production acceleration with time. Actually, it doesn't. It only describes the acceleration of the cumulative production. It has to do this, otherwise you can't generate an S-curve, which only applies to the cumulative. You can see this in the logistic equation:
dU/dt = -k*U*(U0-U)

U is the cumulative, and the growth in the cumulative is proportional to the cumulative. Only one function can do this, and that is the exponential. This is fortuitous in that the derivative of an exponential is still an exponential, and it is therefore a complete coincidence that it also models an exponentially accelerating production. As I have said before, the logistic is just a mathematical convenience, and it locks the whole formulation of the Hubbert curve into describing only exponential growth.

Your other points about superpositions of technology is perfectly valid, and that is why I call my model Dispersive Discovery. The dispersion is a model of variance in technology over time. You suggest that this is a discrete process, which is probably valid in realistic terms, but no way can a model predict anything discrete. So I take the maximum entropy assumption of maximal variance and apply it to the model. The production parts are where discrete disturbances take place and that's why it's called the Oil Shock Model, as the shocks model disturbances.

So you say that you are questioning my assertions, yet I believe all the issues that you bring up are accounted for in the set of models I have laid out. In fact I actually start Chapter 23 in the book with a description of "Diffusion of Innovations" which is the classic text by Everett Rogers introducing technology adoption curves, the superposition of S-curves that you describe. I also have a section in Chapter 17 on applying an acceleration factor, which can generate either a plateau or a steep plunge depending on the part of the profile we are on.

My contention has always been that I am doing the math on oil depletion correctly and not relying on the convenience of the logistic model, which essentially is a dead-end for any practical application. It is really a matter of going from a heuristic model to something that is practical.

I would really like to see how you think the Logistic adoption model really works for oil and am especially curious how it accounts for the 40 year gap between discovery and production peaks. That is always the show-stopper, as the logistic fails miserably in describing this latency. You can either use the logistic to model the discovery profile or the production profile, but not both. The mathematical rule is that one logistic curve cannot create another logistic curve.

WHT, as per your reply in previous Drumbeat, I did go over to OilConundrum and, as a bit of a layperson, though one with an interest in planetary climates, made the effort to read it in full and glean something from it.
That said, there is a question below your post in the previous Drumbeat from someone else that echoes mine.
That also said, I was wondering if you have been, or might be inclined to formulate some kind of summary or simplified interpretation for those outside the fields as it were, for some or all of your articles.

Thank you, and nice work.

In defense of Ugo Bardi, whose heuristic approach I like.

The saturday science kids were given a setup in which anything they did in their civilization required they disperse some beautiful white sand I had bought. Not the ordinary sand pile kind but really lovely, very white stuff. So, of course, as their civilization grew it demanded more and more of this vital substance, and some of the kids had to run around to find the little plastic cups of it that god (I) had put here and there.

At first it was easy, the cups were in plain sight, and had lots of sand. Then, when those were gone, the sandfinders had to work harder going farther along the fence where most of the sand seemed to be, and then farther and farther, and then into the briar patch, and so on. The civilization started to feel the price of sand.

Then, a major discovery- the sand was not only in highly visible white plastic cups, but also under leaves and sticks, so a sudden spurt of sand revived the civilization to robust economic growth again. But it cost more effort.

Then, disaster, the most productive sandfinder got took off by his mother, some of the kids refused to dig around in the thorn bushes, some of them just gave up and went into the house, sand production plummeted, and the civilization economy slid toward complete collapse.

Then, salvation! The quiet, brilliant little girl who was always thinking ahead of everybody else, said “ This is hopeless nonsense. Quit all that scrabbling around for white sand, get down to thinking about how we can run on just ordinary old sand, which is everywhere in plain sight, and we can’t possibly run out of. “

So, what could god do but say “OK, do it”? And so the civilization went on to greater glory on ordinary sand, and the kids who had run off to the house regretted not sharing in the accolades.

Moral of story. Reality is hard to model, there is probably no solution by conventional methods, no matter how elegant and accurate the mathematics predicting the collapse, but so what? Do we feel better about being precisely right about an impending disaster? but there sure is a solution to the disaster problem itself. Probably an infinity of them. So?

I am of the opinion that some degree of formality is essential.

If you look at climate science and the climate scientists who study AGW, their only defense is to do the modeling correctly. They get torn to shreds by skeptics if they do the least bit of hand-waving.

The same thing happens to depletion analysts from skeptics and cornucopians, it's just that you don't always see it. That happens behind the scenes, where policy decisions are made based on formal scientific reports. If the arguments are based on heuristics, it can get tossed based on criticisms from opposition consultants holding scientific credentials.

So its all well and good to have some heuristics for the layperson, but somebody else has to do the heavy lifting. Unfortunately, the lesson learned from climate science is that you get torn to shreds even if you do have some science on your side. I tell you that based on the flame-fests that occur on climate science blogs. I am involved in a bizarre climate science thread right now on another blog. The belligerence to funded science is palpable, and would-be skeptics will stop at nothing to increase the FUD just to maintain business as usual. This gets directly transferred to policy makers and politicians who listen to their brain-washed or agenda-driven skeptical constituents.

Web. I agree with what you say, and admire your mathematics. Sure, the basic problem is outside science. I suppose I could be accused rightly of diving off to a different subject entirely- Yep, the skeptics are damn good at their art. What do we do? My own answer - preach to the kids before they grow up to be skeptics.

Those sat sci seminar kids are now in their 20's. They tell me that sandfinding thing was totally convincing to them- not at the time, of course, but now, and they are immune to skeptics. Of course I agree that these self-selected science kids were probably immune to skeptics from birth, and I added nothing. Maybe. but worth a try. Besides, it was tons of fun, and I recommend it highly.

All approaches to the problem welcome, and probably essential. Thanks for your good work.


What do we do? My own answer - preach to the kids before they grow up to be skeptics.

Be careful not to tar real 'Skeptics' with the broad brush of 'Denialists'!

I have tried very hard to teach my own son critical thinking skills and to be skeptical... I very much want him to be mathematically and scientifically literate and to be skeptical as well!


Denialism is the employment of rhetorical tactics to give the appearance of argument or legitimate debate, when in actuality there is none. These false arguments are used when one has few or no facts to support one's viewpoint against a scientific consensus or against overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They are effective in distracting from actual useful debate using emotionally appealing, but ultimately empty and illogical assertions.


But what does it mean to be skeptical? Skepticism has a long historical tradition dating back to ancient Greece when Socrates observed: “All I know is that I know nothing.” But this is not a practical position to take. Modern skepticism is embodied in the scientific method, that involves gathering data to formulate and test naturalistic explanations for natural phenomena. A claim becomes factual when it is confirmed to such an extent it would be reasonable to offer temporary agreement. But all facts in science are provisional and subject to challenge, and therefore skepticism is a method leading to provisional conclusions.

BTW I took a look at the discussion WHT is having on the climate science thread he linked to and he is clearly dealing with Australian denialists not true skeptics.

Thanks FM

That distinction is important and I have not seen it expressed that well before.

I wonder - is Yergin a denialist or a skeptic?

I guess I would say denialist because I have seldom seen him assert any strong data for his position. He instead tends to change the subject. For example instead of ever addressing oil extraction rate he always states his standard phrase about how others have said we were running out of oil but we haven't yet. And then he immediately starts talking about how we are growing reserves. I have never heard him address extraction rate.

We could give him the benefit of the doubt and say he comes by an honest skepticism based on the history of the oil market.

My personal belief is that he is a smart guy with a good understanding of the big picture who is paid to spread a load of BS, play the authoritative voice while never mentioning depletion and other nasty realities. Which is neither a denialist or skeptic, but opportunist weasel. I don't know though.

Behind all this I think is a concerted industry effort toward changing the 'regulatory environment.' More access, better terms, release from liability, etc., taking advantage of the tenor of the times as best they can. Trying to direct blame for high prices while profiting from them. Have we ever seen so much obvious money being put into action on ads and industry messages?

Yergin doesn't ever mention depletion, but he's not as blatant as he could be. There is at least an acknowledgment of being in a "different world now" of higher prices. He is somewhat adopting the peak oil position while attempting to ridicule it. Tangled web.

... denialist or a skeptic?

The term Judas goat comes to mind.

Fred. Of course! I was far too cavalier. Sceptic is good. I am very much a sceptic, and worked to make my kids that way by playing "This story is part true and part not true, which part?". Anybody in science/engineering had better be a sceptic. As you say, denialist has a different hue altogether.

My argument re climate change is pretty basic, and seems to work fairly well- "OK, so we toss enough carbon dioxide into the air, more or less instantaneously, to greatly increase the previous concentration of a known warming gas. And we expect nothing to result? Look around- Nah!".

BTW. Thanks for the polite and useful correction. You could have knocked me out of the park for that boo-boo.

BTW I took a look at the discussion WHT is having on the climate science thread he linked to and he is clearly dealing with Australian denialists not true skeptics.

Fred, How astute you are.
I had to be told the deal about the Aussies from a Canadian on the blog. He said that in Australia, practicing over-the-top nay-saying is some sort of national past-time. So what happens is a blog by a Georgia Tech scientist gets overrun by a few whackos and you can no longer separate the sensible arguments from the crazy talk. And everyone on the opposition side condones it because they relish more FUD.

And thanks for the definitions, as I may be able to use these.

He said that in Australia, practicing over-the-top nay-saying is some sort of national past-time.

This is laughably silly, woeful stereotyping, and simply untrue. Debate about and discussion of climate change here in Australia is as detailed and sophisticated as elsewhere - and miles ahead of the puerile and partisan muck-throwing in America.

That thread on Judith Curry's blog sure is long. The original op-ed piece on the WSJ is a classic example of propaganda from the denialist camp, which has been discussed around here before. For starters, the commentary is signed by 16 people, many of whom are well known to the public but who can not be considered experts in the atmospheric sciences as far as climate research is concerned. As noted in Curry's lead post, Lindzen made some basic errors in the other presentation he made, which he later admitted.

One question I've had for Lindzen, which I posted on RealClimate, is this: How does his "Adaptive Iris" hypothesis work when confronted by the evidence of Ice Ages? Lindzen has repeatedly claimed that there is a strong negative feedback in the climate system, which he says will offset the positive feedbacks, such as the snow and ice albedo feedback. In other words, how could there have been the start of the ice buildup at the end of the Eemian some 120k years ago with that negative feedback? The same problem would also apply to the end of the last Ice Age at LGM, after which the ice sheets melted beginning about 20k years ago, which a large negative feedback could have prevented.

I totally agree that the entire question has become almost impossible to discuss on most public forums, after reading one such example in a long batch of posts on McIntyre's web site, which ran for 1600 posts before I stopped counting. The whole thing was based on a paper in E&E which was full of errors and which was almost immediately replaced with corrected paper. Funny thing, the original paper, errors and all, is on the top of the denialist camp list of references, many of which the authors have stated do not refute AGW...

E. Swanson

BD, You may be right that the issue is impossible to discuss on a public forum. Curry's site is ostensibly about the quantification of uncertainty, which is used to refine climate models. But what happens is that a few persistent commenters will start from some odd premise, undermining any kind of scientific foundation, as they just want to screw with the system.

It would be as if this site got inundated with abiotic oil believers.

New from Congressional Research Service [CRS]

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve: Authorization, Operation, and Drawdown Policy (pdf)

... Over the last 25 years, the ºAPI gravity of imported crude oils has been decreasing, while average sulfur content has been increasing. With a diminishing supply of light, sweet (low sulfur) crude oil, U.S. refineries have had to invest in multi-billion dollar processing-upgrades to convert lower-priced heavier, sour crude oils to high-value products such as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) observed that 40% of the crude oil refined by U.S. refineries was heavier than that stored in the SPR. Refineries that process heavy oil cannot operate at normal capacity if they run lighter oils. Refiners reported to GAO that running lighter crude in units designed to handle heavy crudes could impose as much as an 11% penalty in gasoline production and 35% in diesel production. The agency reported that other refiners indicated that they might have to shut down some of their units. The types of oil currently stored in the SPR would not be fully compatible with 36 of the 74 refineries considered vulnerable to supply disruptions.

GAO cited a DOE estimate that U.S. refining throughput would decrease by 735,000 barrels per day (or 5% of total U.S. refining capacity) if the 36 refineries had to use SPR oil—a substantial reduction in the SPR’s effectiveness during an oil disruption, especially if the disruption involved heavy oil.

[GAO Report: STRATEGIC PETROLEUM RESERVE Options to Improve the Cost-Effectiveness of Filling the Reserve]

... as ROCKMAN observed, a release is not particularly effective at reducing gas price ...

... The 30.64 million barrel SPR sale in June 2011 reduced the SPR’s inventory from 726.6 million barrels to 695.9 million barrels. Following the June 23, 2011, announcement of a 30 million barrel release of oil from the SPR, daily oil prices briefly declined from $94.96 per barrel to $90.70, and then returned to their previous levels within a week.

On June 23, 2011, when gasoline prices were at $3.60 a gallon, President Obama announced a 30 million barrel release from the SPR under IEA obligation. The price of gasoline declined by about 2% over the next two weeks following the SPR release announcement, but by July 8, 2011, the price had again reached $3.61 per gallon, approximately the same level as before the release.

The SPR currently holds the equivalent of 80 days of import protection (based on 2012 data of 8.72 million barrels per day of net petroleum imports).

Hmm, all Mexico has to do is increase production of Maya Oil from Cantarell and then they can fill the SPR up with it just like they used to do.

Replacing Iran’s Oil Production

... The best hope is perhaps Saudi Arabia, which presumably has been making private statements to U.S. officials similar to this public statement from Saudi Oil Minister Ali Naimi last Wednesday:

Saudi Arabia’s current capacity is 12.5m barrels per day, way beyond current levels demanded, and a reliable buffer against any temporary loss of production. Saudi Arabia has invested a great deal to sustain its capacity, and it will use spare production capacity to supply the oil market with any additional required volumes.

Where have we heard something like that before? Maybe this statement from June 2004 rings some bells:

Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi, in Beirut ahead of the OPEC meeting, said Riyadh was “fully ready” to increase its oil production in an effort to trim soaring prices to the cartel’s target range of $22-28 a barrel.

Or perhaps this one from August 2004:

Making good on a pledge made in May, Saudi Arabia announced Wednesday it is prepared to increase oil output by up to 1.3 million barrels per day — 14 percent — to cope with world demand. ….[Adel al-Jubair, foreign affairs advisor to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah] said the Saudis had informed all of their customers within the last week of the kingdom’s intention to make additional crude oil available to the international market.

Just for fun, here’s a graph of actual Saudi production in the years following those statements, with the date of the second quote above noted by a vertical line. ...

S - In another chat about potential political motivation for an SPR release prior to the November election it occurred to me how risky such a move could be. First, I've always felt the price of gasoline just prior to the election could, unfortunately, be a major factor in the outcome. But given that it's not possible for the SPR release to lower oil prices let alone gasoline prices, such a ploy could explode in President Obama's face and give the R's an invaluable gift. Just a hypothetical but: the president orders a release in the next few months as gasoline prices increase. The release itself can't lower oil prices and the KSA has already announced it would not lower their price to prevent their loss of 1.5% of the market share for 30 days. Remember that the drop in gasoline prices after to the 2011 release was just a continuation of a price decline that had begun long before the release.

And if the KSA cuts back production a tad and the loss of Iranian production actually causes a spike up in oil prices. So not only does the president greatly disappoints the public but also proves that the govt can't control the price of fuel with the SPR. At this time I figure its President Obama's race to lose. I won't offer odds of this price scenario playing out. But if it does it greatly increase the odds of us having a President Mitt next year IMHO.

Obama may get some cover if IEA/OECD agrees to a release, otherwise, as the report covered, a release by an individual nation is right next to futile.

Releases requested by IEA/OECD are mandated by treaty and override Congress [because it was Congress that ratified the treaty]

On the other hand Obama could spin the Iran fracas as a scapegoat for higher prices and threaten military action. Then he becomes a semi-war time president and turns public ire outwards against a perceived "enemy," which would historically edge the odds back towards the incumbent.

Not that I think this matters, either way we don't won't have a Chief capable of addressing the systemic crises the United States or the world faces.

Just for fun, here’s a graph of actual Saudi production in the years following those statements..

The statement was made in May '04 and production increased by 0.9 million bpd by August '04. Fun with numbers and statistics ?

That's a good point. As global (Brent) annual crude oil prices doubled from 2002 to 2005, from $25 to $55, the Saudis showed a substantial increase in net oil exports, but as global prices doubled again, from $55 in 2005 to $111 in 2011, the Saudis have shown a substantial decline in net oil exports, relative to their 2005 net export rate of 9.1 mbpd. Following are Saudi net oil exports for 2002 to 2011* (BP, Total Petroleum Liquids) in dark blue versus annual Brent crude oil prices:

*2011 estimated at about 7.8 mbpd

Sarkozy Condemns Offshore Oil Drilling Plans in Mediterranean

French President Nicolas Sarkozy condemned oil and natural gas exploration in the French Mediterranean as protesters prepared to march tomorrow against a drilling plan.

It’s a crazy idea, go and look for oil somewhere else if there is some,” Sarkozy said in a campaign speech today in Saint-Raphael, a resort on the southern French Riviera. “I want to protect our scenery, it’s part of our identity.”

Some producers 'brutalized' in energy stock sell-off: Canadian crude prices cause concern

... Barrels of heavy Western Canada Select crude for May are selling for $23.15 less than the U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate May average and the spread is wider for the rest of the year and into 2013, Thursday prices from crude broker Net Energy Inc. show Light Syncrude barrels are $2.50 cheaper than WTI for May and the discount widens to $5 per barrel by July.

Those warning the pain could persist say planned new pipeline capacity from the oversupplied storage hub in Cushing, Okla., to the U.S. Gulf Coast won't keep step with fast-growing supplies. CIBC World Markets analyst Andrew Potter said recently that Canadian producers would lose $18 billion a year on the cheaper barrels if differentials linger, as he expects they will.

Should Western Canadian Select be the same price as WTI, if not what should the discount be? The same can be asked of Light Syncrude?

Barrels of heavy Western Canada Select crude for May are selling for $23.15 less than the U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate...

...Light Syncrude barrels are $2.50 cheaper than WTI for May and the discount widens to $5 per barrel by July.

Product name API gravity Sulphur content (as % of mass) Port of Sale Discount to WTI
West Texas Intermediate 39.6° 0.24% Cushing, Oklahoma
Western Canada Select 20.3° 3.43% Hardisty $23.15
Syncrude Sweet Blend 30.5-33.6° 0.07-0.13% Edmonton? $2.50

API and Sulfur content from List of crude oil products

Western Canada Select has to be more expensive to handle and refine then WTI so shouldn't it be discounted? And it's point of sale is Hardisty, which isn't near Cushing so what does that add to the discount?

Here's the definition of WCS.

Western Canadian Select (WCS) fact sheet

WCS is made up of existing Canadian heavy conventional and bitumen crude oils blended with sweet synthetic and condensate diluents.

And some more info on WCS (Basic Analysis, including sediment)

WCS is a challenge to refine, so shouldn't it be discounted? By how much?

Understanding the Quality of Canadian Bitumen and Synthetic Crudes (pdf)

Replacing a Base Crude Slate with Canadian Crudes

  • Refinery configurations are unique and typically geared toward a certain type of crude slate
  • Some of the more challenging grades of Canadian Crudes cannot be processed in high percentages in a typical refinery
  • Understanding the possible combinations of crudes and the acceptable amounts of each gives refinery planners and traders information that can be used to make economic decisions

Also, Light Syncrude's discount isn't far off WTI, except that it has to be shipped from Edmonton (that's where the upgraders are?) so wouldn't one expect a discount?

I obviously have lots of questions...

Middle America Is Experiencing a Massive Increase in 3.0+ Earthquakes

A new United States Geological Survey study has found that middle America between Alabama and Montana is experiencing an "unprecedented" and "almost certainly manmade" increase in earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater. In 2011, there were 134 events of that size. That's six times more than were normally seen during the 20th century.

... In some regions, the increase in earthquakes is even greater than six fold. For example, in Oklahoma over the past half-century, there were an average of 1.2 quakes of greater than 3.0 magnitude per year. Since 2009, there have been more than 25 per year.

... let's poke it some more and see what happens.

".. let's poke it some more and see what happens"

Man, you have a wicked sense of humor! Keep it coming.

Despite the exciting title:

"The USGS scientists aren't willing to draw the causal connection between fracking and earthquakes. "While the seismicity rate changes described here are almost certainly manmade, it remains to be determined how they are related to either changes in extraction methodologies or the rate of oil and gas production," they conclude.

But if it is not fracking, then ... What is it? At the moment, we don't have a whole lot of other hypotheses, just a lot of unexplained earthquakes in places where they don't normally strike."

So the researchers don't think the increase is caused by hydrocarbon extaction efforts or any other specific activity but they are certain it was cause by man.


I have to disagree ...

... So the researchers don't think the increase is caused by hydrocarbon extaction efforts or any other specific activity but they are certain it was cause by man.

... is not the same as ...

... it remains to be determined how they are related to either changes in extraction methodologies or the rate of oil and gas production

One phrase eliminates a line of thinking, the other searches to uncover the truth.

I like to give the USGS the benefit of a doubt but come on, the effective stress law is learned by every undergraduate in structural geology. Hubbert and Rubey 1959 (yes that Hubbert) is the seminal reference. Its elementary, you pump high pressure fluid down in the crust you will lower the normal stress and optimally oriented fault planes are more likely to slip.

I've never heard of a problem with earthquakes caused by hydraulic fracturing, and here in Alberta we have had about 170,000 wells fractured over the last 50 years.

If I was people living in the area, I would be more concerned that these might be foreshocks preceding a mid-plate earthquake.

Let us not forget the 1811-1812 Earthquakes in New Madrid, Missouri, which were the biggest earthquakes ever experienced in the US since Europeans arrived. Mid-plate earthquakes are infrequent but they can be devastating.

S - sorry for the delay...in transit from Africa. I guess we view words differently: "... it remains to be determined". If you haven't determined why something has happened then you can't relate it to any activity. And that means the rsearchers don't have any explanation which means they "don't think the increase is caused by extraction efforts" IMHO.

But if it is not fracking, then ... What is it?

I'm not a fan of fracking, but this is interesting as a possibility:

The theory is that as Arctic ice melts, the weight loss causes weight distribution throughout North America,

But isn't Arctic ice (subject to much of the melt) mostly sea-ice? And therefore if it melts, the net weight of the water on the plate(s) remains the same? Or are they talking about ice sheets on northern Canada?

and cigarettes have not been PROVEN to cause cancer.

The map at your link puts the New Madrid Fault zone just east of the center of the area. Relieving pressure or 'tripping a trigger'?

I expect the 2012 planetary alignment folks will have fun with this.

FEMA/DHS has looked at a potential New Madrid 'megaquake' as part of the 'National Level Exercise 2011 Planning Overview'

Would not want to be around when that 'sucker' rips.

There is a lot of info about the New Madrid at this University of Memphis web site. Memphis worries, and rightly so I guess.


This is a good place, also, to read some of the relatively few eyewitness accounts that were gathered. Hair raising.


There is so much good stuff at this site that you can have fun here for HOURS.

When that sucker rips - the fossil fuel pipelines laid at the bottom of the big mddy will break and be hard to repair.

Isn't it better to have lots of little earthquakes rather than one big one?

"Each magnitude level represents about 31.6 times more energy released. It takes 32 magnitude 3s to equal the energy released in a magnitude 4, 1,000 magnitude 3s to equal a magnitude 5 … and a billion magnitude 3s to equal a single magnitude 9. So while a small quake may temporarily ease stress on a fault line, it does not prevent a large temblor."

Earthquake Myths - http://www.consrv.ca.gov/index/Earthquakes/Pages/qh_earthquakes_myths.aspx

Isn't it better to have the energy that would be naturally result in one 4, be released in thirty artificially induced 3s?

If the slips occur in thirty small steps as a result of human intervention, rather than one big one if left alone, wouldn't that big one actually be more than 1 point higher?

TCm - That would seem to be a fairly good arguement for frac'g to have no effect on earth quake activity. If a thousands 3 EQ's "can't prevent a large temblor" than it's would seem to be difficult for a fracs with an energy release much smaller than a 1 EQ's scattered across hundreds of thousands of sq miles to cause a major tremblor.

When the stitching holding your trousers together starts to fail you first hear the odd stitch or two breaking. Then more and more until the big rip and your posterior is available for all to see. The small quakes could be releasing their tension which is piling it up onto the big one.


"Lots of little earthquakes". That's what happens here in California.
The line running NW to SE on the map is the San Andreas Fault. The many quakes at either end show stress being relieved little by little over time but the area in the middle is what concerns geologists. A two hundred mile long rupture could cause a seven point something earthquake.
Click "start animation".

Yes, and the little ones may never lead up to a big one.

Look at The Geysers in Northern CA. It's the cluster of little earthquakes north of San Francisco on the USGS earthquake map at about 38.8 N 122.8 W.

They are injecting cold water into the hot rocks, then producing the wet steam and running a geothermal power plant. Clusters of small earthquakes are a known consequence of geothermal power production.

And the produced water can be is pretty toxic too, full of salt and heavy metals, including arsenic.

No source of energy is without some consequence.

"Hawaii Can Show the Way to a Better Energy Future"

Richard Ha and I originally wrote that article several months ago, and it appeared then in some newspapers and in greentechmedia. Not sure why they reposted it. In any case, Richard wrote up the parts about geothermal (the 2nd part) and I wrote up the portion about peak oil and depletion (the first part).

RR - here's the link Hawaii Can Show the Way to a Better Energy Future

... Good article

Collateral Damage in the Marcellus Shale

... The natural gas boom has made affordable housing as obsolete as the anthracite coal that once drove the region’s energy economy.

The residents, with limited incomes, have lived good lives; they are good people. They paid their rents and fees on time; they kept up the appearances of their trailers and the land around it. They worked their jobs; they survived. Until they were evicted. On Feb. 18, the residents found out their landlord had sold the park, only after reading a story in the Williamsport Sun-Gazette.

Aqua had received permission from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) to withdraw three million gallons of water a day from the Susquehanna; the 37 families of the mobile home village would just be in the way. The company intends to build a pump station and create a pipe system to provide water to natural gas companies that use hydraulic fracturing, the preferred method to extract natural gas from as deep as 10,000 feet beneath the earth.

From the article:

"Aqua isn’t the only company planning to take water in the area. Anadarko E & P Co. and Range Resources-Appalachia have each applied to withdraw up to three million gallons a day from the Susquehanna."

Think about it -- three companies, each taking 3 million gallons of water PER DAY from the Susquehanna River.


Now they are defining those who object as "radicals." Not so long ago they were putting Pennsylvania families on a "suspected terrorist" list. They probably still are. Moms, dads, and old men and women; and anyone who comes to help them -- radicals and terrorists.

Another "Big Stick" Bank Attack on Democracy

... American Banker reports that bankers have formed a SuperPAC which one lobbyist describes as a "big stick" in order to bully politicians into serving them more effectively.

"Congress isn't afraid of bankers," said another. "They don't think we'll do anything to kick them out of office." In case somebody missed the point, the lobbyist then added: "We want to change that perception."

Meanwhile, the new SuperPAC is filled with the language of bullies [psychopaths?]: "Big stick." "Make them afraid." "Surgical." ""Defeat our enemies." "Hammer these guys." Bullying has always gone hand in hand with a sense of victimhood, and today's bankers are no exception.

Their new PAC is called, without any apparent sense of irony, "Friends of Traditional Banking."

But what they represent isn't traditional banking at all. It's the new breed of Superpredator Bank created by deregulation, and it's exactly what must be stopped.

also The Best Congress the Banks’ Money Can Buy

Plutonium Production May Avert Spacecraft Fuel Shortage

... While the DOE doesn't publicly disclose the size of the nation's plutonium-238 stores, many planetary scientists think the cupboard is almost bare after the November launch of Curiosity, which carries 8 pounds (3.6 kilograms) of the stuff.

"We're down to one more trip out to do some exploring, and that's it," New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern told SPACE.com late last year. "It's just crazy. To be that close to the edge before we're out of capability is irresponsible."

So Stern and others have been pushing for a restart of plutonium-238 production. It's important to get things going soon, they say, because the process takes a long time. "Targets" made of neptunium-237 must be fabricated and then irradiated in a nuclear reactor to make plutonium-238

And no mention that NASA's current Pu-238 stock was bought from Russia. Or any mention of why NASA can't just buy more from Russia. Or why you don't want to hold large amounts of it in one place. Hey you might even get a kiloton plus blast if you were (un)lucky, just by throwing enough Pu-238 into a bucket. Don't worry the blast will kill you before the radiation does.

Oh... I'm just being picky...

Jamming all the bits together with enough force is called "assembly".

Without the means to hold them together long enough against the rising forces of reaction, they will scatter, splatter, boil, or, as it is known, "bump".

"If any more material is added to a critical mass a condition of supercriticality results. The chain reaction in a supercritical mass increases rapidly in intensity until the heat generated by the nuclear reactions causes the mass to expand so greatly that the assembly is no longer critical. Fission weapons require a system to assemble a supercritical mass from a sub-critical mass in a very short time."


Note that the masses wind-up assembled within a closed neutron-reflecting "tamper" made of tungsten carbide.


Bumps happen by accident most often by allowing a slurry to collect in a container that is large enough in diameter that a neutron will likely hit something exciting before it sails through the vessel's wall.

Many pulsed reactors were made that brought supercritical masses of beautifully machined and precise shapes together for, well, it was always supposed to be for just a moment. Everything fails in every mode, so eventually many of these "blew up". The mounts and mechanisms that held and approximated the sections would be twisted and deformed as the reaction ran-away.

Sometimes, during a bump event, people in other rooms would see a flash of blue light. This was Cerenkov radiation from within the orbit itself as neutrons exceeded the speed of light in vitreous humor. Those further away would more likely survive: Distance is your friend.


Godiva before and after:


What you are missing is the potential size of the "fizzle" yield. It is quite tricky to get even the 20Kt blast of Fat Man with Plutonium. It is relatively easy to get to 1kt and getting less than 0.1kt is almost impossible with sufficient plutonium - that's easily gleaned from public documents going all the way back to some declassified FatMan memos themselves. The big problem with Pu-238 is pre-detonation caused by spontaneous fission starting the chain reaction at the worst possible moment (the instant criticality is possible). That's also an advantage as you don't need a neutron initiator to be sure you actually detonate.

Probability tables for the blast level likely achieved for given compression times are in the public domain. Even with a lot of spontaneous fission there is always a small chance you can get "lucky" and you'll get greater than 1 kiloton just by bringing sufficient mass together. It is often said that the Little Boy type gun detonation could not be used with Plutonium. Only half true. Ted Taylor estimated a 1 kt blast if they had used Plutonium in a Little Boy type bomb.

Your referenced Pu-239 demon core was a long way below bare sphere unreflected critical mass. It was never capable of generating a kiloton class blast without a lot of help. The Godiva devices were designed specifically so that there was not sufficient excess U-235 above critical mass for a really significant detonation before the reaction mechanically self-quenched. If, however, you had brought two highly pure U-235 cores for Godiva together by dropping one on another. Well don't try it at home.

Pu-238 has the lowest bare sphere critical mass off all isotopes of plutonium.

On a slight tangent but there was a US bomb (and a British one for that matter) that used multiple critical masses.


The Mark 18 nuclear bomb, also known as the SOB or Super Oralloy Bomb, was an American nuclear bomb design which was the highest yield fission bomb produced by the US. The Mark 18 had a design yield of 500 kilotons. Noted nuclear weapon designer Ted Taylor was the lead designer for the Mark 18.

The Mark 18 was tested once, in the Ivy King nuclear test at the Enewetak atoll in the Pacific Ocean. The test was a complete success at full yield.

The Mark 18 bomb design used an advanced 92-point implosion system, derived from the Mark 13 nuclear bomb and its ancestors the Mark 6 nuclear bomb, Mark 4 nuclear bomb, and Fat Man Mark 3 nuclear bomb of World War II. Its normal mixed uranium/plutonium fissile core ("pit") was replaced with over 60 kg of pure highly enriched uranium or HEU. With a natural uranium tamper layer, the bomb had over four critical masses of fissile material in the core, and was unsafe: the accidental detonation of even one of the detonator triggers, would likely cause a significant (many kilotons of energy yield) explosion. An aluminum/boron chain designed to absorb neutrons was placed in the fissile pit to reduce the risk of accidental high yield detonation, and removed during the last steps of the arming sequence. [1] [2]

The bomb was designed as the first of megaton class fission bombs should fusion bomb research come to nothing.

Britain detonated one with a fake (allegedly) boosted fusion stage until UK designers worked out how to do it properly. the yield was 720 kilotons.


Orange Herald was a fusion boosted British fission nuclear weapon, comprising a U-235 primary surrounded by lithium deuteride. 'Herald' was suitable for mounting on a missile, utilizing 117 kg of U-235. However, Britain's annual production of U-235 was only 120 kg at this time, which would have made such weapons rare and very expensive.[1]

Two versions were designed - an "Orange Herald Large" with an overall diameter of 39 inches (1.0 m), and an "Orange Herald Small" with overall diameter of 30 inches (0.75 m).[1]

The Orange Herald Small version was tested once, yielding 720 kT of explosive power on 31 May 1957, during the Grapple 2/Orange Herald tests on Malden Island in the Pacific.[2] Orange Herald remains the largest fission device ever tested.

It is thought that the fusion boosting failed to increase the yield. A higher compression but smaller fission pit American weapon, the Mark 18 Super Oralloy Bomb, had a yield of 500 kilotons from a pit with slightly over 60 kilograms of highly enriched uranium, around 8 kilotons per kilogram of uranium, about the practical maximum 50% fission yield efficiency for very large or very highly boosted fission weapons. Even with less compression, the larger 117 kg pit of HEU in the Orange Herald Small should have had a roughly similar efficiency - the observed 720 kiloton yield equals over 6 kilotons per kilogram of uranium.

I really wouldn't like to be flying around with one of these things.

If you want a real thrill, check out how many nuclear bombs were lost at sea.

Talking about this?

A number of nuclear cases involve ships or submarines colliding at sea or, in some cases, submarine nuclear power units becoming unstable and the subs having to be abandoned. According to Greenpeace No Nukes there have been more than 120 submarine accidents since 1956. The most recent incident, in August 2000, was the loss of the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk in the Barents Sea. The Kursk is the seventh nuclear submarine lost, five of them Russian, two American. There are 92 known cases of nuclear bombs lost at sea.

I particularly love this

The NATO attack on Serbia in 1999 (the Kosovo war) killed more animals than people. “Smart” weapons, such the Tomahawk missile is supposed to hit a postage stamp at 300km or more (200 miles or more). But only two out of thirteen actually hit the target. One skimmed over the house of a small farmer a few miles off target, straight up a track, through bushes, and exploded in the farmer’s field, killing seven sheep, one cow and a goat. The farmer kept the missile nosecone as a souvenir.

Must've been the wind.

The fish have the bomb!

Actually, the "demon" plutonium core cradled within it's spherical beryllium reflector of two halves constitutes a super-critical system. One of the monkey's best researcher's was sacrificed when he lost control of the top reflector while lowering it precisely "just enough" onto the bottom reflector and core assembly. For this kind of manual exploration of the system's behavior, it would have been much wiser to have been raising the bottom reflector up into proximity with the core and top reflector against the force of gravity. Simple oversight... like all the other accidents.


...but, 1kt from tossing scraps in a bucket? What kind of bucket? I've got a bucket right here! ...Hold on a moment... there's a van pulling up... It's not DHL...

There is a trick with Plutonium in certain forms where temperature rises result in increase in density (and perhaps not in just in the most obvious one). You might not want to think too far down these lines but then again that might be a dead end. "The Curve of Binding Energy" is a recommended read in any case. Never having designed a nuclear weapon (and, I must add, with absolutely no desire to do so!) I'm going on hints by others who have. And the feasibility of an incredibly simple terrorist plutonium bomb roughly in the 0.1 - 1 kt range was apparently proved decades ago.

Not sure I would call the demon core top reflector incident an accident as those performing it knew well the danger and had been warned not to do it that way but persisted.


Slotin, who was given to bravado, became the local expert, performing the test almost a dozen separate times, often in his trademark bluejeans and cowboy boots, in front of a roomful of observers. Enrico Fermi reportedly told Slotin and others they would be "dead within a year" if they continued performing it.[2]

I wonder how things would have gone if they had lowered two halves of a core that would be greater than two unreflected critical masses (when assembled) together (each hemisphere would be just sub-critical on its own). If you did it with almost 100% pure U-235 you might even get the halves to join before the chain reaction starts just by dropping it.

Ah you've got these vans outside as well :-)

Re density, that is why the plutonium is alloyed with gallium.

Re critical mass, you need c.mass and c.density. The supercritical masses are hollow to keep down the c.density to sub-critical.


Yes but that's conventional bomb design for convenience/efficiency and safety (and potential fusion boosting). There is, of course, no actual need to start with plutonium/gallium alloy or with hollow masses. You can even create a simple 1 kt plutonium oxide bomb.

Mysterious Arctic Illness May Have Spread to Polar Bears

A mysterious disease that swept through populations of seals in the Canadian, Russian and American Arctic last year and was associated with high levels of mortality, may have spread to one of the seals’ principal predators. Scientists with the United States Geological Survey reported observing polar bears with hair loss and skin lesions in the Beaufort Sea, near Barrow. These symptoms are similar to those that affected ice seal populations in the same area last summer, ...

Gas tax take down, riders up at TransLink

The gas tax that goes to TransLink increased this month from 15 to 17 cents a litre and the hike is expected to raise an extra $40 million a year.

But concern that the gas tax may be an increasingly unstable source going forward is one reason area mayors have talked about using other revenue sources, like a vehicle levy or road pricing, to fund TransLink's longer term expansion.

TransLink says 8.6 per cent more passengers took transit in Metro Vancouver last year, setting a new ridership record.

This confirms what I've seen first hand, buses and trains are more packed than ever. On the other hand, a 8.6% year-over-year increase in transit ridership seems too good to be true. Maybe the stats are being misreported?

One thing that is beyond dispute is that high gas prices do make people drive less, which leads to less gas tax money for the various levels of government. In other words, as demand for transit increases, the ability to pay for it decreases.

Bingo. As a doomer I'm a firm believer in "no way out."

Look if you ride the bus or take a subway or train, you will likely be paying high prices as demand increases, the same high prices that are needed to support such a system. Sure, as you get rid of your car you will be saving a whole lot. But a good chunk of that will then go towards payment for alternative means of transport. And your ability to go where you want, when you want, at high speeds, will decrease, thereby limiting your avenues to increase income.

Moreover, the less people use oil, the more oil there is out there to burn for the people still burning it. This is game theory 101 at work. As long as you have a vehicle to burn oil, even over small distances, and as long as your income can support such expenditure, it makes sense to do so. You can cut back on a whole lot else which will free up income to support the oil habit. And, as everyone does so, the economy will decline, leading to unemployment which will of course further dampen the ability to construct or pay for alternative transport.

No way out.

Look if you ride the bus or take a subway or train, you will likely be paying high prices as demand increases, the same high prices that are needed to support such a system.

Why would it do that? There are considerable economies of scale in public transit. It doesn't cost much to add another bus to a bus route, or more particularly, add another car to an elevated rapid transit train (which is what Vancouver has).

In many cases, you don't even have to do this because the vehicles already have available space. It doesn't cost any more to run a bus with 40 passengers than 10, or a train with 800 passengers rather than 100.

Lots of spare capacity on this Vancouver Skytrain.

Believe me, this picture was not taken on a weekday at 5:00 pm. There's such crush loads at downtown stations during the evening rush, that some people don't even dare getting onto the train right in front of them and instead end up waiting for the next train, which is usually just as full. That's just the way it is: empty trains on Sunday mornings and packed trains during rush hour. Not sure if there are any effective ways of dealing with this problem.

Well, there is an effective way of dealing with the crowding problem: Buy more trains. The only problem is, how do you pay for them? Borrowing is one solution, raising taxes are another. Ultimately the same people end up paying for it.

At this point in time, knowing where fuel prices are going in this post peak oil era, I would say that increasing gasoline taxes would be a good source of capital. In the long term, people are going to be hit with sky-high prices anyway. Why not get them used to it now before the crunch REALLY hits? Once they are riding the (hydroelectrically powered) trains, they will be grateful for it when TSHTF and nobody can afford to drive.

I don't think the squished commuters realize how energy efficient a packed train is. You can squeeze commuters into the trains like sardines, yet there is very little marginal energy requirement per extra passenger. That's one reason why Japan is so energy efficient.

Despite all its many detractors, Vancouver's Skytrain system has been a huge success. It now carries more than 400,000 boarded passengers per weekday. On the two older lines (Expo/Millenium) new vehicles were purchased just before the Olympics to ease overcrowding. But now even that isn't enough. There's talk about replacing the smaller older vehicles, some of which are 27 years old, with newer bigger ones. The rush hour service frequency on the combined Expo/Millenium line is one train every 108 seconds in each direction. Although this automated system was designed for a 90-second frequency, this has proven to be impossible in practice because of people jamming open the doors to get in, which prevents the train from moving on schedule. Making the trains longer would involve lenghtening the platforms, an expensive proposition, expecially in underground stations.

You need to push people away from the obsession of the 9-5. It's ridiculous that the roads are empty, then half an hour later they are wall to wall traffic.

Well, there is an effective way of dealing with the crowding problem: Buy more trains.

It's often not as simple as that. Most public transport systems operate as spokes on a wheel, bring commuters from the suburbs to (usually) 2-3 main stations in the city centre.

Timetabling and traffic control are already very complex at peak times, and many systems (especially those with subway lines and bottlenecks) do not have the capacity to safely or logistically add more trains. Or if they do, it increases waiting times, with more trains stationary but not at stations.

Not very many rail systems (excluding the New York Subway) are running close to their maximum capacity. In addition to buying more trains, they can change the signalling and move toward automated train control. You can run a rail system at very, very high capacity if you really want to. All it takes is money.

As I say - this can be a simplistic response. Timetabling and getting the trains to mesh properly is a big issue in a lot of city systems - adding more trains is often not the best solution.

You missed it by the proverbial mile. Oilman knows what is going on.
Why do you think Canada is converting the filthy tar sands........because people are using less oil?
We are burning at peak, exploring, drilling, fracking and pumping everything we can get our hands on.

Let me know when the next EV, hybrid, bus or train, stops Joe down the road from driving his SUV, pick-up or GTO. They get on their knees and thank the naive do-gooders every day. So do the oil companies and the government.

As I've said umpteen times it was never good enough to simply get efficient, use less or even offset. We had to sequester an amount of CO2 equivalent to what we WOULD have used. We had to leave it in the ground. Obviously we are doing the exact opposite.........that's the problem.

...as demand for transit increases, the ability to pay for it decreases.

Well, yes, but not exactly. What's going on is that as demand for transit increases, the ability to have somebody else pay for it may diminish. So in transit-dependent places, the (still-massive) subsidies get diluted, making fares as expensive as driving alone - as in roughly $1.25 per klip (zone) in Copenhagen, each of which generally gets you only a very short distance; or, at longer distances, 40 to 80 US cents per mile for the Japanese Shinkansen. One way or another the piper gets paid, and there's really no way around it.

What's going on is that as demand for transit increases, the ability to have somebody else pay for it may diminish.

Problem is that as transit users pay a higher fraction of the cost of providing the service, transit demand goes down because of the higher fares. This is a self-perpetuating phenomenon. Fewer people using the system because of high fares will lead to decreased ridership and less fare revenue to pay for the service. Maybe walking or cycling is the way to go.

Yes, that's the old bus-company death spiral. Raise fares, cut service, get fewer riders, rinse and repeat into oblivion. Except when the place is so overcrowded that there aren't choices, which is why the trunk lines in Japan aren't in any imminent danger.

Fewer people using the system because of high fares will lead to decreased ridership and less fare revenue to pay for the service.

Yes, but if there are more riders, the costs will rise, and if you are subsidizing the service by taxing gasoline, and driving is declining, then your revenue shortfall will increase. That is the problem in the case of Vancouver. They are victims of their own success.

One solution: Work with the riders so that they expect and feel comfortable with higher density in trains/busses. (Rider etiquette plus minor changes in set-up to improve rider experiece)

It's not so much that people are not comfortable with high density, it is that they can't breath if you crush them in too tight. The more immediate concern is that the doors won't close if people can't jam in tight enough to give them room to close, and I think the Vancouver Skytrain is having that problem.

The advantage is that if the train stops suddenly, nobody will fall down because it is physically impossible. I don't know if you have ridden trains packed like this, but that is what they are doing.

This was my commute until I moved city a year ago. (And transport wise I perfered the metro to the diesel buses and taxis I use now)


I find that the following measures help and are not always used:

Teaching etiquette:

fast walkers on the left, slow walkers on the right, nobody stops on an escalator

don't bring large items, small items are held by your side (knee height) or between the knees.

enter by the sides of the door, exit by the middle, let people exit before entering

let your co-passengers know when your stop is approaching to be able to negotiate an exit (entering/exiting has to be a group effort, not an individual action)

if your stop if further down the line pack into the middle of the train, away from the doors

don't wear spikey/poofy hair, ball caps etc, don't put music on loud earphones, use good hygene, don't get on if you're going to cough/sneeze, use deodorant, don't use stinky perfume

Improving the environment:

good lighting, great ventilation/airconditining, calming but not stupid music

good demarcation of travelways, waiting areas, quees, garbage cans

care taken in organizing traffic patterns

clear announcement of when the next train is coming, when next stop is approaching, when doors will shut

1/3 of ad space dedicated to rider ettiquette, 1/3 to beautifull landscapes (vacation/tourism ads) 1/3 commercial

metro police on hand to weed out any unpleasant riders

metro police on hand to weed out any unpleasant riders

Skytrain have their own cops. You'll never see one on a train at rush-hour, though.

When Oil prices are high, govt revenues are almost always down, unless you are an oil producer. And in those times the most common strategy is 'Austerity', not expansion of railway lines. Union jobs are the first to go usually.

Few governments have the foresight of building railways by taxing gasoline even more. It would amount to admitting that we can't frack our way out of this.

There are fixes. High density and fast (fast is cheaper to operate since most costs are per hour not per mile). Serving affluent passengers helps.

DC Metro gets less operating subsidy than paratransit - the buses get 80+% of the subsidy with rest going to ADA requirements and the subway.

Best Hopes for Fewer road subsidies,


Gas tax take down, riders up at TransLink

It's just economics 101. If you increase the price of a commodity, people will use less of it and switch to alternative commodities.

In this case, private automobile transportation is a commodity. If you increase the price, people will move to the best alternatives, which are walking, bicycling, or riding public transit.

So, basically the policy was a success, if the intent was to move people out of cars and into public transit, which I think it was in this case.

New Orleans RTA is reporting +15% ridership growth (on top of +18% last year). A small % may be due to special events - a good Mardi Gras, BCS Championship, but there is fundamentally strong growth. Almost half the ridership is on our streetcars.

Best Hopes,


U.S.-backed battery company's sale to Russian tycoon sparks anxiety

Department of Energy invested millions to develop cutting-edge technology to power electric vehicles, but that know-how is now in foreign hands

The company tapped the country's top scientists at Argonne National Lab in Illinois, and U.S. taxpayers pledged up to $118 million in federal stimulus funds and $80 million in state and local incentives to help Ener1 produce cutting-edge battery technology for electric cars and the U.S. military.

A little more than a year [later] ... the company's technology is owned outright by Boris Zingarevich, a Russian businessman with ties to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, a fact that concerns some technology experts in the U.S.

Zingarevich acquired Ener1 out of bankruptcy ...

"In the case of Ener1, neither the Department of Energy nor the Navy checked on foreign ownership before awarding the company grants and research and development contracts. The Army, which also awarded contracts, said individual employees underwent routine background checks as contractors, but scrutinizing the company's ownership structure was not part of its purview."


Has anyone, with full technical understanding of nuclear reactions and credibility in the profession, put forward a rational worst/best case scenario based on known facts?

Yes loads including the NRC and other US official bodies. We know that they have done this because they are referred to in FOIA NRC communications. However they are referred to as "Must be kept secret" in the emails and details of the simulations are not available. Any detailed discussion gets blacked out by the censors.

However the Prime Minister of Japan at the time has said their own simulations showed virtually the entire Japanese main island could be made uninhabitable in the worst "bounded plausible" scenario and Japan would effectively end as a nation.

So rest assured that the best analysis is dire but we don't get to actually see it.

IOW the usual MO when it comes to "the good of the people".
Would this Ambassador Murata have had access to this level of secret analysis does anyone know/care to hazard a guess?

can you find reliable references for the PM's statement?

He's made similar statements many times in many interviews. Most of which I've already posted to TOD. He now campaigns for the phasing out of all nuclear power worldwide.

Japan's ex-PM Naoto Kan feared 'uninhabitable Tokyo': report

In a separate interview, Kan told the liberal Asahi Shimbun daily that the government had run a simulation of a widened evacuation zone up to 300km around the Fukushima plant, which would affect Japan's capital and the entire Kanto region.

"When you think of the chances of an accident that could make half the country uninhabitable, you cannot possibly take that risk, even if it was once in a century," he said.

When you think of the chances of an accident that could make half the country uninhabitable, you cannot possibly take that risk, even if it was once in a century

Well...yes... at half your land per century, your second generation of kids would see the total destruction of Japan before they died of old age.

Political time frames make dog-years look positively methuselan.

Well here on TOD you have a couple of pro-nukers who've claimed there are no problems and you have a Japanese health official who claimed happy people don't get sick from radiation.

Actual people involved in the industry like "lets a have a nuclear Navy" Rickover is quoted thusly:

"In May, 1983, my father-in-law, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, told me that at the time of the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor accident, a full report was commissioned by President Jimmy Carter. He [my father-in-law] said that the report, if published in its entirety, would have destroyed the civilian nuclear power industry because the accident at Three Mile Island was infinitely more dangerous than was ever made public. He told me that he had used his enormous personal influence with President Carter to persuade him to publish the report only in a highly "diluted" form. The President himself had originally wished the full report to be made public. In November, 1985, my father-in-law told me that he had come to deeply regret his action in persuading President Carter to suppress the most alarming aspects of that report."

You have British formally saying Energy Secretary Chris Huhne apologised to the families for replacing bones with broomsticks

and Mr. Sinclair's observation - It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.

In this environment you are seeking 'a credible professional'? Would the General Electric workers who resigned over Fukushima years ago be such? Would R4ndom be such?

“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.”

Galileo Galilei

And every special interest goes out of it's way to ensure that this doesn't happen, I get it.

How long though, before this disaster blossoms into something that cannot be hidden by any methods?

I am not a nuclear professional anymore. Haven't been for over a decade.

Now I'm just a moderately well-informed guy who calls anti-nuclear trolls out on their BS.

You and Undertow trot out lots of hypotheses and unsupported statements about how dangerous nuclear power is while coal and gas power do *everything* you attribute to nuclear and you don't bat an eye.

Let's just say that I might suspect a conflict of interest, and it isn't mine.

I want to phase out CO2 producing generation as well. But I'm not stupid and I'm not marching to shut them all down immediately right now any more than I am marching to shut down all nuclear power right this moment. I am against new nuclear builds based on current planned designs.

If someone wishes to publish the actual complete US and Japanese worst case simulations then I am happy to debate them with you fully referenced. In the absence of such publication, combined with a general understanding of the physics involved, then I will fear the worst. Especially when those who I know have seen them, are deeply troubled.

Nuclear power, as practised today, is not safe enough for me. If we can find a way to do it safely then I'm all for it so I do support properly controlled research even though that will always have some inherent danger in itself.

By the way, are you specifically referring to me and/or Eric Blair when you say you are someone who "calls anti-nuclear trolls out on their BS." I hope not.

In the Cattle to Hat ratio, as I mentioned upthread on another issue, it seems that your post is below a couple of Undertow's where he has posted Quotes and Links, while your offering ascribes Motives to him, WITHOUT any backing.

Fukushima's four reactors can't do much at this point to hide behind Coal and Fossil Fuels in order to look innocent and clean. We don't have the tools to handle them now, and the same would go for any of the other reactors and SFP's that dot our countries, were they to have a bad day.

Quotes and links are all very nice.

But the GIGO rule applies, and apparently links to government agencies and peer-reviewed papers that show that there hasn't been significant damage even in the case of serious nuclear incidents rank lower than links to *anywhere* that supposes that there has been or will be damage that would *still* be less than coal and natural gas.

It's the incessant hammering on the point as well, if anybody, anywhere says *anything* bad about nuclear power, Undertow has it up here within 24 hours.

Reports showing that it isn't nearly that bad somehow pass his notice, however. Like the official US NRC report on the Fukushima incident which I waited for 3 days after I ran into it before posting it to a Drumbeat simultaneously with someone else, neither of our postings had any comment from any anti-nuclear poster indicating that they even bothered to read it.

But of course, since it came from the NRC they must be biased and not a trustworthy source, I guess.

So while I have no evidence to believe that Undertow has an interest, he definitely has a strong and clear anti-nuclear bias.

And Carthage must be destroyed.

Like the official US NRC report on the Fukushima incident

Read it. Far more fascinating is to read the NRC discussions (well the bits that aren't blacked out) obtained under FOIA.



The U.S. 50-mile radius adequately protects public health, but the Japanese 20-kilometer (12 mile) radius may not protect the health of the general public, pregnant female radiation workers, or radiation workers who remain longer than 2 weeks near MP32.

Here we have location 30km away and outside the then evacuation zone. In the two weeks after the sensor coming back online on March 23rd, the cumulative dose was 12 millisieverts. A survey team in the area a week earlier, found 300 microsieverts per hour with all of the population still in place so you can do your own ballpark estimates for the actual external dose these people received while the official sensor was offline.

Japan finally evacuated the area April 11

Radiation in Namie-machi, Fukushima Almost Exceeded OSHA 90-Day Limit for Radiation Worker in 14 Days Last Year

The cumulative radiation dose at MP (monitoring post) 32 in Fukushima Prefecture from March 23 to April 4, 2011 was 11,630 microsieverts (or 11.63 millisieverts), almost exceeding the OSHA 90-day limit for radiation worker of 12,500 microsieverts in 14 days.

My guess is if the radiation had been measured from March 11, 2011, it would have surpassed that limit long before March 23, 2011.

...Akougi is located at 31 kilometers northwest of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, outside the no-entry zone. The district was finally declared planned evacuation zone on April 11, 2011, because the annual cumulative radiation dose was expected to exceed 20 millisieverts.

There was a evacuation shelter in Akougi, with people living there until March 30, 2011.

According to the MEXT data, as of March 26, 2012, the cumulative dose at MP32 since March 24, 2011 is 125,760 microsieverts, or 125.76 millisieverts.

What sort of contamination do you think is causing these sort of levels 31km away (and in the general NW "plume"?) The NRC documents from the time said it was from SFP 4 fuel pool fire. If not that then can you suggest a release mechanism for the amount of Cs on the ground and the Cs isotope activity ratio that doesn't involve a release from unit 4 as the German Official Study also stated?

Radioactivity from Fukushima Dai-ichi in air over Europe; part 2: what can it tell us about the accident?

Kirchner G, Bossew P, De Cort M.

German Federal Office for Radiation Protection, Köpenicker Allee 120-130, 10318 Berlin, Germany.

It is shown which information can be extracted from the monitoring of radionuclides emitted from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant and transported to Europe. In this part the focus will be on the analysis of the concentration ratios. While (131)I, (134)Cs and (137)Cs were reported by most stations, other detected radionuclides, reported by some, are (95)Nb, (129m)Te, (132)Te, (132)I, (136)Cs and (140)La. From their activity ratios a mean burn-up of 26.7 GWd/t of the fuel from which they originated is estimated. Based on these data, inventories of radionuclides present at the time of the accident are calculated. The caesium activity ratios indicate emissions from the core of unit 4 which had been unloaded into the fuel storage pool prior to the accident.

R4ndom's position is the only harm is official deaths - and he claims zero. So why are you worried at all about this?

And at the start of the problems at Fukushima - r4ndom was claiming it was not any kind of thing to be worried about.

But not to worry - the old designs are having their operating life extended - so what could og wrong possabillly with plants with known design defects?

Yeah, eric, when some of us stated over a year ago that, if the fuel rods were exposed, a meltdown was virtually assured, we were slammed as being alarmists.

When we said that the hydrogen explosions were indicative of melting/'burning' exposed spent fuel (even fuel rods), we were told not to be premature and alarmist.

When we said that a widespread release of radioactivity was inevitable, likely ongoing, we were again called over-reacting alarmists.

Other things I suggested: Once the cores becomes damaged, areas of brief criticality could occur; damage to the facilities, post explosions, would make any efforts to reestablish control of the reactor systems, especially cooling, ineffective, if not impossible; Suggestions that these genies were out of their bottles were also scoffed at.

Now that ALL of these things have come to pass, we are told by the same folks that "it isn't so bad; nobody has died" ?! It seems some folks have been wrong all along.

Like my mommy used to tell me when I was six; "clean up your mess, then we'll talk".

Written by:
"it isn't so bad; nobody has died"

Nobody has officially died from exposure to radiation from Fukushima Daiichi NPP. Don't expect TEPCO nor the Japanese government to ever admit the truth.

Bodies are notoriously hard to hide when you have thousands of people looking for any excuse to shut you down.

I have never claimed that deaths were the only harm, but you can't see that because you don't read what I actually say.

I harp on the deaths because for *every other energy source out there today* I can spend a little bit of time with Google and find recent deaths.

There is a clear, bright line of harm when someone dies. It cannot be taken back or fixed.

So when people say that nuclear power is so dangerous, I have to insist that they come up with at least a few bodies, or it still looks safer than every alternative to me.

If that is too high a standard for you to accept, so be it, but it is *my* standard.

So now you finally admit to having read it.

As such a prolific poster on issues to do with Fukushima and nuclear power in general:

You should have been the one to post it in the first place.

That you didn't is a clear indicator of your bias in my eyes.

But of course, since it came from the NRC they must be biased and not a trustworthy source, I guess.

Those involved in the Nuclear industry have a history of being honest and forthright - right?

Organs and bones were illegally harvested from the bodies of dead nuclear industry workers at Sellafield without their consent over a period of 30 years, an inquiry found yesterday.

Oh, well then it must just be those other places - in America the land of the free and the home of the brave no Men of Honor would ever do such things.

[Rickover] said that the report, if published in its entirety, would have destroyed the civilian nuclear power industry because the accident at Three Mile Island was infinitely more dangerous than was ever made public

Nuclear Expert: Fukushima spent fuel has 85 times more cesium than released at Chernobyl — “It would destroy the world environment and our civilization… an issue of human survival

If the exclusion zone around Fucushina Diichi should have had a radius of 50 miles and I assume there is enough heat to mobilize the atoms, then 85 times more emission of 137Cs would expand the radius to 461 miles encompassing most of Japan but not the world. There were pieces of active fuel rods lying on the ground at Chernobyl which were scooped up by biobots. I do not see how there could be enough power in the spent fuel rods in reactor building 4 and in the common spent fuel rod pond more than a year after the disaster to vaporize all the atoms. They would probably have to fall into a single compacted pile to generate enough heat which is unlikely. The potential collapse of reactor building 4 is a problem for Japan that needs to be proactively cleaned up.

If the exclusion zone around Fucushina Diichi should have had a radius of 50 miles and I assume there is enough heat to mobilize the atoms, then 85 times more emission of 137Cs would expand the radius to 461 miles encompassing most of Japan but not the world.

You are right! the world probably wouldn't even miss Japan all that much. I'm sure the rest of the planet could easily absorb and relocate all the Japanese people onto a hastily constructed artificial island or maybe send them out to colonize the moon and Mars!

Reality Check:

As of February 2, 2012 in 31 countries 435 nuclear power plant units with an installed electric net capacity of about 368 GW are in operation and 63 plants with an installed capacity of 61 GW are in 15 countries under construction.

I'm sure they are all 100% safe with zero possibility of anything like 'FUK D' happening anywhere else.

However, given the very real possibility of the collapse of industrial societies, on which the continued safety of such plants depends... due to things such as hitting resource limits, climate change, social unrest, wars, famine, etc... etc... Not to mention that many of these nuclear power plants currently operate in flood zones, near major fault lines and might be subject to the consequences of myriad natural disasters such as powerful hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and maybe even a black swan or two. What could possibly go wrong?

Don't worry, be happy!



What could possibly go wrong?

A CME at the end of the year - a bright new flash in the sky leading to 'fun'.
December 15 -16, 2012: Triple Line Up Neptune – Mars – Venus
December 17 – 18, 2012 : Triple Line Up Jupiter – Earth - Mercury
December 17-18, 2012 : Conjunction Venus – Mercury and the Sun
December19, 2012 : Conjunction Saturn - Mercury and the Sun=
December 20, 2012: Midpoint Conjunctions Saturn – Venus - Mercury and the Sun
December 21, 2012 : Conjunction Saturn - Venus and the Sun
December20- 21, 2012 : Triple Line Up Neptune- Mars - Mercury
December21 – 22, 2012 : Triple Line Up Jupiter – Earth – Venus"


Hey Eric, thanks for that cheerful tidbit!

Think about that for a minute… No food... water...gasoline...radio...internet...

In short: almost nothing will be left... Hundreds of millions in Europe and the US would surely die. But this is not all... All nuclear reactors will melt down... because the cooling of the reactors fails.... Thus, a Super Solar storm has the potential to cause a Fukushima type accident at every nuclear power plant in the world! And worse... The fuel assemblies in the spent fuel pool will melt... Catch fire, and radioactive fission products will be released into the atmosphere... Because there is at least 10 times more spent fuel then in the reactors... The world will be confronted with the equivalent of thousands nuclear reactors melting down...! Will this be the end of human life on earth...?

Damn Mayans! At least I won't have to worry about paying my bills >;^)

Seriously though, harnessing Nuclear Energy, has got to be the stupidest idea humans ever came up with!

Rather amazing, isn't it? We've created a functioning and armed Doomsday Device, and the builders won't even admit it exists or that they built it!

... it would go off automatically without human aid and despite human intervention...

It's just sitting there waiting for nature to trigger it.

It's just sitting there waiting for nature to trigger it.

And it seems she has more ways of triggering it than are dreamt of in our vain philosophies. What a colossal clusterfvck we have managed to create, eh! My sincerest congratulations to all the pro nuclear energy crowd!

In a nuclear power plant, virtually all wiring - safety and non-safety related - is inside metallic conduit until the power goes out to the transformer yard. This gives Gaussian cage protection from electro-magnetic pulses.

The greater risk from a solar storm 10x worse than, say, the one in the 1860s is that society would fail from a collapsed electrical transmission & distribution system AND that the plant operators (some of them) would not mind the store long enough to safely put the spent fuel to rest.

Absent giant earthquake, all it takes is adding water to spent fuel pond for a few years (like 4) and it will be cool enough.

After a SUPER EMP, a few reactors might release, but the vast majority would not.


"Absent giant earthquake, all it takes is adding water to spent fuel pond for a few years (like 4) and it will be cool enough."

Yes, but it takes power from the now collapsed electrical transmission & distribution system to deliver that water to the sfp. Look at Fukushima, there was power only a few miles away and yet there still was a large release. Fuku 4 sfp isn't an example of "safe". If even a regional part of the transmission system had collapsed, there's not going to be a way to get the water to the sfp in time to prevent a major problem.

How about if instead of the solar storm, society is on it's way down because of other problems (PO, CC, Financial blowup) and the system is collapsing from lack of infrastructure maintenance, like I see all around now? Same result, no power to keep things safe inside the plant. How long are unpaid nuke plant workers going to stick around? Of course there are those on here who have said that a Fuku event every 10-20 years is no big deal and is worth the price.

In the former Soviet Union, workers showed up for non-critical work (not as essential as keeping an nuke safe) for over a year w/o pay.

Nuclear power plants can run on "low" and run pumps for as long as needed. If Fukushima had not been itself a complete mess from the earthquake & tsunami and the infrastructure for the surrounding area was wiped out. Absent that, it would have easy - very easy - to keep water in the spend fuel pond.


Remember that in the US that workers aren't living in state-supplied housing and eating state-supplied food. With the budget cuts reducing food-support and it being "socialistic" for the state to supply anything, I don't think you're going to find the same type of dedication. Non-paid workers need to eat and live somewhere.

As far as the plant being undamaged, I don't think it's fair to always assume the best-case situation and declare that it's "easy - very easy". Reality doesn't work that way. It just seems that whenever someone is trying to make the case for nuclear power safety, that's what's assumed. I know a nuclear supporter will be upset that a nuclear-opposer chooses something closer to worst-case but it's more realistic.

It is not "more realistic". You are creating a house of cards - an unrealistic construct - to justify your fears.

Enough workers own their own homes.And money may be valueless top pay rent with. If foreclosures are being processed, then we are not in collapse.

A nuke that generates enough power to run pumps and keep the local area lit, will find support in the general population to "keep going".

I could believe that one nuke, somewhere, might be at the site of a major natural disaster as society collapses. And a Fukushima/Chernobyl could result. But only one.

And, outside an external disaster zone, how difficult is it to pump water ?

I would be all in favor of solar PV panels onsite for water pumping - with old style mechanical windmill back-ups.

And I am NOT "pro-nuke". I have upset many in the pro-nuke crowd before.

I am in favor of conservation and renewables first - and HARD !

But after that has been pushed as hard as we can - then I prefer nukes to making Climate Chaos worse.

Best Hopes for Hard Choices,


My comment on a Washington Post article today.

I am surprised that, in addition to buying all the fossil fuels it can, Japan is not also installing as many solar panels and wind turbines as it can. Just looking at other nations, Japan should be able to install over 5,000 MW of solar panels (mainly rooftops - from rural homes to factories and warehouses) and 8,000 MW of wind in 12 months. That 13 GW would replace four or five nuclear reactors - and significantly reduce Japan's oil imports.

By all accounts, the Japanese are doing a superb job with conservation.

International LNG prices are linked to the price of oil, but cheaper (like 70% to 85% of the price of oil). But Japan is limited to the volume of LNG they can import today - so they are buying about 400,000 b/day of oil to generate electricity. Which is supporting world oil prices.

In the next 5 to 7 years, Japan can build more pumped storage (hydroelectric plants that pump water uphill at 3 AM when there is excess wind), and quite a bit of wind and solar generation. And burn LNG to "fill the gaps".

But even with a shrinking population (down a couple of million in 7 years), extraordinary conservation and maximum solar and wind, it will not be enough.

And LNG, like oil, releases CO2 and is finite. It too will deplete - and creates Climate Chaos.

I am afraid that Japan, and the rest of the world, will need to find a way to generate nuclear safely. Perhaps a "super safe" design built inside a mountain.

For as bad as Fukushima is - Climate Chaos and resource depletion will be worse.

Humanity has painted itself into a corner with only bad vs. terrible choices left.

FYI, when I visited Japan some years ago, I saw many houses with solar on the roof--far more than even the liberal enclave where I live in MN. It looked like most of them were for hot water, though.

According to ?Wiki: Wind power in Japan Japan had a total of 2,304 MW of wind capacity at the end of 2010. 342 MW of capacity is the most Japan has ever installed in a single year.

"..how difficult is it to pump water ?"

Alan, how many pieces to this need to be detailed to answer that question?

I really appreciate the rest of your answer, but this one is the one that is (one of many) crucial ones to the security of Nuclear Power.

Climate is already being affected.. so River Temps in France, Lake Levels Rainfall patterns.. Water isn't hard to pump.. IF

- you have water,
- you have intact pipes in the right places,
- you have working pumps,
- you have power to run them
- you have people to man them...
- you have cashflow, replacement parts, truck access..

You know all this, of course, but each of those IFs becomes a link in a chain that makes it increasingly complicated to pump water continuously in more and more fraught times.

Pumping water is easy, in Theory.. till there's a hole in the bucket.

I tend to agree with Alan here. Fuku, also was difficult to access, i.e. they could just bring in a diesel powered pumo, because the roads were impassable. The EMP case isn't convincing to me. [That doesn't me I think nukes are the answer, just that even during a strong energy descent, we would be able to caretack such critical facilities.

The EMP case isn't convincing to me.

Given Man's past inhumanity to Man - and the ability to generate EMPs only needs a a few missiles with nukes on them. In the grand economic struggle and the way mankind treats its fellow man - do you really think no Nation-State won't use EMPs?

A CME (think sun vomit) is known to happen. Sometimes the CME is big, sometimes small. At times these CMEs are directed at Earth. Past CMEs have crashed the power grid and set wires and batteries on fire.

So what would it take for you to be convinced? Seeing it?

With your sarcasm you are perhaps unintentionally advocating the wet dream of the nuclear power industry: externalize the cost of a nuclear power accident not just upon the tax payers of the host country but upon all the people of the world. I omitted another sentence from my post that is related to the sentence about biobots at Chernobyl. After being stripped of all assets to help pay for the mess, present and former executives of TEPCO would make great biobots to hoist the spent fuel rods from the rubble of reactor building 4. TEPCO needs to clean up its mess to protect the rest of Japan and the world. The exaggerated dire plea of world catastrophe to the United Nations makes the former ambassador an advocate for the nuclear power industry.

I do not see how there could be enough power in the spent fuel rods in reactor building 4 and in the common spent fuel rod pond more than a year after the disaster to vaporize all the atoms.

The conversion into 'vapor' would be by fire.

And that fire would result in the particles being released into the biosphere.

Remember that the bioactive/bioaccumulating materials as shown by the baby teeth study got above ground bomb testing stopped.

Remember that the bioactive/bioaccumulating materials as shown by the baby teeth study got above ground bomb testing stopped.

Wow. So science actually convinced the government that mankind's actions were harming the atmosphere so we changed our behavior?

Ah, the good old days. Apparently god wasn't looking out for us back then so we had to be responsible for ourselves.

Would they burn? If they are still hot enough, I thought the heat, steam and air oxidizes the zirconium alloy cladding producing hydrogen which could ignite. Or does the zirconium alloy burn?

The most active fuel rods in the spent fuel pool were removed from reactor 4's core after being shut down on November 29, 2010. They have not been active for 16 months. Supposedly they have been melting, smoldering or burning intermittently for the last 13 months which should have reduced their mass. All of the other spent fuel rods are older, cooler and less radioactive.

If one of these spent fuel rods was placed on a concrete slab outside in sunlight today, would it ignite?

Using a more plausible scenario, if one of these spent fuel rods was buried under the rubble of a collapsed building where there would be minimal oxygen, would it ignite, melt or otherwise mobilize the radioactive atoms?

The references that I have found for the duration that spent fuel remains in a spent fuel pool give a range from 3 to 10 years under normal operating conditions. These durations are meaningless for this analysis because plant operators are storing the spent fuel rods in the pools longer than the minimum time to delay spending money on dry cask storage. How long must one wait for them to cool off?

Major explosion rocks petrochemical plant in Taiwan

... The explosion and ensuing fire hit a butadiene storage facility at the CPC Kaohsiung refinery, which had had a poor safety record more than a decade ago before improvements were made.

The fire is believed to have been caused by a fractured pipe in the factory's distillation tower, Lee Shun-chin, head of the refinery, said at a press conference.

also Fire at Numaligarh Refinery after explosion

After an explosion at the hydrocracker plant at Numaligarh Refinery, a devastating fire engulfed the plant around 6.45 pm today. Fire tenders from Golaghat, Bokakhat, Dergaon and Jorhat [Assam, India] have reached the spot to douse the fire.

While TOD is having a good wallow in general doom;

"The death rattle of the German solar manufacturing industry is afoot."


"The stock is trading at 13 euro cents. The stock sold for 38 euros per share when the company went public in 2005."

The Malaysian plant may continue operations, the German plant is all but dead.

Also, REC shut down another operation in Norway. I think they are down to only one wafer plant still running there. Their Singapore operation is breaking even at best.

I'm sure that Q-Cells' joint ventures with Evergreen and REC (EverQ) didn't help. The Chinese just blew right past'em....

Home Office website blocked; 'Anonymous' hackers blamed

The hacking group Anonymous is alleged to have blocked access to the Home Office website, apparently in response to government plans for e-mail surveillance.

The website has been blocked; earlier a message was posted blaming a "high volume of traffic".

A message on Twitter claiming to be from Anonymous said it was responsible.

As of posting I can confirm I can't access http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/

Can you explain what the Home Office is, for us Yanks?

Home Nation (ie UK) affairs (there's also the Foreign Office of course). In their own words: "We're the lead government department for policies on immigration, passports, counter-terrorism, policing, drugs and crime.".

Not to mention MI5.


The Home Office is the United Kingdom government department responsible for immigration control, security, and order. As such it is responsible for the police, UK Border Agency, and the Security Service (MI5). It is also in charge of government policy on security-related issues such as drugs, counter-terrorism, and ID cards. It was formerly responsible for the Prison Service and Probation Service, but these are now under a newly created Ministry of Justice.

Thanks. That would be half a dozen different agencies at least, on this side of the pond.

Thanks, Ghung. Click that link and it goes directly to Skynet.

What are we looking at here?:


Legend : "The Elgin G4 wellhead assembly with a clear view of the source of the gas leak coming out of 4 ports (release points). Localized deposits of condensate and drilling mud were expelled on the wellhead area of the Elgin Well Head Platform at the beginning of the leak and have solidified."

Here is a much better image download:

The image is dated April 5th on the Total/Elgin site. Undertow posted it initially. Initially, I presumed this was underwater. The TOD Elgin thread (now closed) has many Total.com links that go to blank pages right now, not documents with drawings. The image has shiny wet spots and a dull dry spot, so it looks to be in air. I understand, now, that he wellhead is on the platform:

"The visual inspection confirmed that the leak is coming from the G4 wellhead at WHP deck level. In parallel, a ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) survey confirmed no underwater gas leak."

An opinion:
"...from the look of that picture, the wellhead has completely parted company with the hanger... those holes are probably where the tie down bolts used to be."

Total prepares parallel operations to stop Elgin gas leak

One response plan involves workers pumping mud into the well using a floating support vessel. Total is working with the UK Health and Safety Executive to agree to conditions under which regaining access to the Elgin platform can be undertaken for the well-control operation.
Total chartered a boat and a rig with dynamic positioning capabilities for the mud pumping.
Meanwhile, Total already mobilized two rigs to drill the relief well and backup relief well. Both rigs will move to Elgin after final suspension of their current operations. Both rigs already are working for Total.

As to what we are seeing ? my guess is that the tubing 'grew' due to temperature changes.

The Jobless Generation

From Milan to Manila, Seattle to Santiago, the global economy is failing to provide good job opportunities for college graduates and others entering the workforce for the first time. After getting slammed during the 2008--09 financial crisis--when the global youth unemployment rate posted its largest increase on record--young people are discovering that their job prospects remain bleak three years later. Those in the world's richest nations got hit the hardest. Persistent recession and budget cutting have brought the situation to crisis proportions in some developed countries--like debt-burdened Greece, where youth unemployment is more than 51%.

Over the past two years, the share of Americans ages 18 to 24 who are employed, at only 54%, is the lowest on record, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center. In 2007, more than 62% were employed. The International Labor Organization (ILO) figures that 75 million people ages 15 to 24 are unemployed globally--or 2 out of every 5 jobless--and there is little hope of significant improvement. Without action, this army of young jobless could become "a lost generation," warns Gianni Rosas, the Geneva-based coordinator of the ILO's Youth Employment Programme. "We are in a situation where our kids are worse off than we were 20 years ago," he says. "We are going backward."

. . . In many countries, schools simply are not preparing students for the labor market. Too often, students choose courses of study that are mismatched with the needs of the economy, because of either personal choice (as in the U.S.) or the structure of an educational system that funnels top talent into certain sectors (as in Egypt). The result: a skills gap between what graduates are trained to do and what companies actually desire. One possible solution may be apprenticeship programs like those found in Germany, where youth unemployment is lower than in much of the rest of Europe. High-school-age students spend part of their time in classes and part on the job, absorbing the skills companies require.

Given the tsunami of Cornucopian Disinformation about energy supplies out there, I think that the chances of any near term general recognition of resource limits are pretty low, and I have begun to conclude that perhaps we should focus on reaching common ground with people who may or may not agree with us regarding Peak Oil/Peak Exports. I have often wondered when we were going to see the "Student Loan Protest Marches On Washington." With the Occupy Movement, we have probably already seen it start to happen.

In any case, I wonder of we should try to focus on encouraging efforts to bring back vocational/apprenticeship and agricultural training in US high schools, together with the same type of training in community colleges.

A related article: The War on Youth


I vaguely recall Richard Heinberg predicting in The Party's Over that there would be increasing diachronic conflicts as a result of PO and consequent economic decline.

In any case, I wonder if we should try to focus on encouraging efforts to bring back vocational/apprenticeship and agricultural training in US high schools, together with the same type of training in community colleges.

I do believe this will be needed - but the large existing investment in the current educational approach will resist - and restrict strongly. But the likely shrinking budgets of that current education system as economic conditions gradually worsen may drive a transition to a different type of training as the need for it becomes more obvious.

I have been intrigued by Greer's earlier writings about a transition to a home/neighborhood economy and away from the current market economy during the "Long Decline". That home/neighborhood economy, which used to be the predominant one, is one which will need the vocational/apprenticeship and agricultural training that you suggest.

skylar: In any case, I wonder if we should try to focus on encouraging efforts to bring back vocational/apprenticeship and agricultural training in US high schools...

Texas_Engineer: But the likely shrinking budgets of that current education system as economic conditions gradually worsen may drive a transition to a different type of training as the need for it becomes more obvious.

In the early 1970's in Tucson, AZ the High School (Sahuaro) that I went to was one of two in the city that had an amazing vocational program. In the "Industrial Arts" building, there were classes on Electronics, Sheet Metal Work, Welding (Gas & Electric), Machine Shop, Blacksmithing, Woodworking, Auto Shop, Photography, Printing, and Drafting. I took full advantage of as many as I could. I ended up in a career of electrical engineering & Computers, but the wide variety of knowledge I acquired has been invaluable to me.

A friend that went to school with me there was terribly disappointed later when his son attended the same school. Due to ongoing budget cuts, all but the Auto Shop had been eliminated. I'm afraid that what's left of these type of programs will be totally eliminated due to additional budget cuts before anybody figures out that these were incredibly valuable to the students and the community. The programs now are totally geared to the students who are college bound.

Hey Aug and others,

I left a career in aviation to become a shop teacher 18 years ago. During this time I have watched our school district shut down shop after shop to save money, while an unlimited support of computer based tech courses proliferated. Now, I am just one of 4 high school shop teachers left in our district of 6,000 students. When my son graduated I urged him to become an industrial electrician in the patch, with the option of formalizing into electrical engineering. He and I work the same number of days per year, and he makes twice as much money as I do. A new teacher or nurse starts at 1/3 of his wage. When he is off work he has no worries about politics or Govt cuts. Why anyone would go into a universtity track before obtaining a trade is beyond me? Do you want student loans and minimum wage jobs for 4-5 years? Or, would you like to make $30-40 an hour if you go back to school and need summer employment?

Anyway. it could be worse. Lake Washington school district near Seattle has simply phased out all shop offerings. Of course, by forcing academics on all they are simply supporting the academic scam the ptb have grown up with. I think this is where Bill Gates lives.

The only good thing lately has been watching the computer classes self destruct as almost all file sharing work has moved to India from local business. However, there is still a hard-core group of geeks in our high schools who think they will become rich playing video games and doing digital art. Or make movies. A truly irritating aspect of all this is having to listen to the education 'critics', which is everyone these days. Everyone has been to high school so they are an expert. Bill Gates even gets into the act. A silver-spooned child steals...ooops, co-opts an operating system and then tells us all what the schools are doing wrong and what students need to learn to be successful.

I have given up on our Provincial school system. Teachers are doing their best, everyday, (well...most of them), but parents have abdicated responsibility and expect 'the system' to ensure a middle class existence for all. Just show up and skate, you deserve to make the team. When the hue and cry arose about failing and falling graduation rates, the answer was to dumb things down, offer paths for the lazy to 'grad'. It has become a joke. I see kids attending ceremonies unfit to work in the real world, wearing 1,000 dollar dresses or a rented tux, celebrating a 'participation' achievement. These are town kids. However, there are no town jobs left beyond fast food and service.

Fortunately, my home is rural. My local young neighbours, for the most part, know how to work and help around the house or farm. Boys can weld, fix a dirt bike, drive machines, sometimes operate excavators and back hoes. Practically everyone splits wood. My rural neighbours do not need a primary teacher to teach about avoiding a 'dog bite'. They put on play clothes after school and go outside!! Imagine that. They stay away from the dogs that bite.

I think in many ways this recession has been a good thing, although very heart rending, of course. Folks are starting to understand the meaning of living within ones means. They are starting to learn that a job is not a God given right, but something to earn and work for, to appreciate the....everything is really about survival. Many of you on this site are geologists. I have friends who became geologists and they worked damned hard to break into it; shitty field work, mundane office duties and reports, being away from home. I flew copious amounts of drill mud and drill steel over the years. I spent many nights in 'camp'. Everything of value is like that. My 18 year old students are where I was (mentally and with work) when I was 12 or 13. For those of you readers over 50 you simply would not believe how hard this attitude of expectaion and entitlement is to kill. I don't see any lessening of it. I just see anger because the world isn't an oyster on a half shell, and now you have to work to get somewhere....maybe even move and live in a camper for awhile while you get established.

For what its worth, and we all have these pesky opinions, NA will not begin to heal until more parents assume responsibility for their children's development, attitudes, and career preparation. Parents have to teach 'living within one's means', and that the solution to fulfillment is not debt and buying stuff. Folks have to learn that food does not come frozen out of a box or plastic bag. They might have to change their own tires instead of golfing that Saturday, or going shopping or out for lunch. A student last week, who works at Mac D, told me about one adult who had to use three credit cards before one would work and purchase the family lunch!! This kind of crap has to go. I had one student who owned a $6,000.00 dollar bike to race down ski hills. What kind of crap is that?

Obviously, we need shop classes and pre-apprenticeship opportunities at high school. For myself, I will continue to hire local students to roof and help with projects as needed. (I am a carpenter and work on the side). And I will teach them as we work together. For all of you who can do things like build or fix, I urge all of you to take a kid under your wing and do the same. It is a very satisfying way to give back to your society. Hey, OFM did/does it. Don't wait for the schools to figure it out, because the schools and school systems are run and controlled by agendas and academic climbers, not teachers or parents.

respectfully, Paulo

...One possible solution may be apprenticeship programs like those found in Germany, where youth unemployment is lower than in much of the rest of Europe. High-school-age students spend part of their time in classes and part on the job, absorbing the skills companies require.

...In any case, I wonder of we should try to focus on encouraging efforts to bring back vocational/apprenticeship and agricultural training in US high schools, together with the same type of training in community colleges.

I am always dubious about picking up one part of the German model, rather than taking the whole package. Germany -- or at least that part of Europe that is today Germany -- has a 150-year history of making political and economic decisions that favor labor over capital. In short, it's been a good place to be a worker for a long time. This contrasts with the last 150 years in the US, where except for some sporadic episodes, things have favored the capital side. Germany has also taken steps that require labor and capital to work together -- like putting one or more labor representatives on the boards of directors of big corporations.

To some extent, pushing vocational training in the US is similar to the assertion that we need to push more students into STEM majors in college. If vocational training got you a stable good-paying job, students would move that way. If a STEM major got you a stable good-paying job, students would move that way. But training is only part of the task; I'm more concerned about the commitments that private sector businesses make, or -- as has been a regular occurrence in Germany -- commitments that the private sector has imposed upon it.


I have a friend who has a biology degree and works in a lab at a hospital. Last I checked, he was living at home. Another friend managed to become a manager at a store after his degree... He's also living at home, though he has enough to afford a rather nice used car. These are my friends that are doing well. I had another friend who was making good money, and had a nice apartment, but lost his job and then moved to Belgium (to live with his twin brother, who teaches English there).

Okay, give people vocational training... Will that get them a job? STEM majors have been shown to be just as much of a crapshoot as humanities. So now everyone needs an MA just to get a job that pays them enough so they don't have to live at home? Simply, all the money is pooling at the top. There may be less to go around overall, but of what there is it's all getting sucked up at the top by administrators and older professionals. And these guys think they earned every penny, and aren't about to raise pay unless forced to.

My only beef with the German system is that it is tracked early and reinforces class bias. I actually think everyone should learn a trade, EVEN IF they are going off to college. Having a two track system that starts early is just another caste system. There is no reason people can't leave high school with many different skills.

I'm not at all convinced ag and vocational training would solve the problem. Are there going to be enough ag & vocational jobs to absorb these kids?

I used to hire people for an engineering development group. It was FAR harder to find a really good technician than a good engineer. I got a few interns for summer work from Germany. These young people were excellent- they could weld, machine, make sheet metal layouts, do electrical and basic electronics work and lots of other such like things. One worked directly under me on my own pet project and we made very speedy progress. End of summer, he went back, progress stopped. I could not do it all myself, and my engineer, a smart guy with a grad degree, was hopeless on such tasks.

Now, the same place still has lots of engineers, and lots of unfilled tech jobs.

I'm not questioning whether there are some jobs for such people. I'm questioning if there are enough for a whole generation. Obviously if your story is common, we could do better than we are now. But could we absorb 1% of today's unemployable with such traing? Maybe ten percent?

So, would that company be willing to pay for training to make an equally competent tech out of some of the people with less training now? If you need techs, why can't they train them up themselves? Sure, it would take time, but they're not getting anywhere now anyway.

This is what I see as a big part of the problem. Companies expect young people to train themselves by going to school and taking out debt. What if that job isn't there when they get out? What salary guarantees can they expect?

I think the institutionalization of training has caused some of this. In the 50's and 60's, many people got jobs out of high school and worked their way up, with training being provided by their employer. That's all gone, now everyone is expected to get secondary education from some institution, but who pays? And where is the job at the end?

Right. That's what actually happened. A totally green kid would walk in the door with evidence of good general intelligence and talent in hardware, and would train on the job, with the already skilled people as mentors. Almost all our really valuable techs came up that way, probably no surprise.

The problem was, if we hired a tech from a tech school, we got a far less skilled person than those Germans were. My point was that they were doing a better training job than we were.

"What if the job isn't there?". Same problem for EVERY job! My advice to kids- go get more skill at whatever you are good at, and then go try to sell it.

Also, way back when I was in high school, everybody was a farm kid with lots of hands-on hardware experience, and/or a car nut who spent his spare time messing around with some jalopy. So people who knew a pipe wrench from a screwdriver were common. Now, they know how to push buttons on a computer game. Pretty damn worthless, IMHO.

And, I don't like remarks like the one I have just made. Sure, everybody like me is superior to everybody like you young guys, who are hopelessly stupid parasites. Yep, I remember my father telling me that when he observed that I could not make canoes out of trees the way he liked to do.

It's the problem of complexity, everyone wants to take up a managerial position nowadays. While the world needs more people to do dirty trench work.

eos - Granted it's just one industry but it's a rather large one: the oil patch. Virtually 100% of the field operations are conducted by "technicians". Even hands with degrees such as chemistry or electrical engineering have almost no exposure to oil patch technology. The service companies do nearly all the work and thus hire most all the folks who actually do the operations. Thus they have extensive training and mentor programs. Even most geologists coming out of school with master's degree have little exposure to the oil business and the tech we use daily.

In the oil patch it's almost always about on the job experience. One of the very best drilling enginners I've ever worked with had only a high school degree. I can promise you had he been on the DWH he would have seen the well kicking and would have shut it in before it blew out. What all of our recruiters look for is trainability. The MS for geologists doesn't make you much smarter in the ways of the oil patch but shows you capability/attitude about learning.

Yeah, the student loan credit market is probably a big bubble yet to pop. Like the housing market, a lot of money in loans has been given out to educate students . . . and now they graduate with big loans and no jobs. It is going to be ugly. At least you can walk away from your underwater house. It is very hard to do that with your student loan. They even survive through bankruptcy.

South Korea Raises Prospect of a North Korean Nuclear Test

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea appears to be preparing for its third underground nuclear test even as it presses ahead with assembling a long-range rocket for its planned launching of a satellite this month, a South Korean government spokesman said Sunday.

Unconfirmed South Korean news reports in the past two years have alleged that North Korea was digging new tunnels at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site in Kilju, near the northeastern tip of the country, to follow up on two underground tests it conducted there in 2006 and 2009.

On Sunday, the government spokesman, who requested anonymity because he said he could not speak on the record on intelligence matters, said satellite images showed a growing pile of earth near the entrance of one tunnel, and government analysts said they considered it a potential sign of preparations for a test. A large amount of earth is needed to seal a tunnel before detonating a nuclear device inside.


Jonathan Foley talks about how agriculture is destroying the environment

Written by Tim Worstall in We're Not Going to Run Out of Oil Based Fertilizer, April 7, 2012:
The only time oil does ever enter into the equation is when the IRA or similar tries to mix the ammonium nitrate with derv to make a great big bang: and while that may indeed be a tradition in some parts of the world it has little to do with lawns or fertilising them.

While correct about natural gas being used to make nitrogen based fertilizer, he overlooks the part that uses diesel and gasoline to transport and apply the fertilizer.