Drumbeat: April 14, 2012

Oil and coal-backed groups far outpace Obama, allies on energy ads

WASHINGTON -- Energy has become a touchstone issue in the presidential race, and groups backed by oil and coal dollars have spent far more money on ads bashing the president’s record than the Obama campaign and its allies have spent defending it, according to a new analysis by the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning Washington think tank.

Relying on the groups' own announcements and data provided to press clients by Kantar Media/Campaign Media Analysis Group, the Center’s Climate Progress blog calculated that in the first three and a half months of 2012, “groups including Americans for Prosperity, American Petroleum Institute, Crossroads GPS, and American Energy Alliance have spent $16,750,000 on energy attack ads.”

In comparison, the Obama campaign and an affiliated "super PAC," Priorities USA, “have spent at least $1.67 million defending the president’s energy record,” the analysis reported.

Upton: Allow more domestic drilling

WASHINGTON (UPI) -- Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., Saturday called for more domestic oil drilling and a hold on further regulation of U.S. refineries.

Upton, in the weekly Republican media address, said President Obama's energy policies were contributing to higher gas prices.

What You Should Know About Exxon Mobil’s Latest Ad Campaign

If you were watching the Masters golf tournament last weekend, you would have noticed it was laced with ads from Exxon Mobil calling for….better science. That’s right. The very company that funded decades of science denial takes it back. Sort of. ExxonMobil ranks high in a short list of powerful institutions that has done this country an enormous disservice in undermining the overall credibility of the scientific method in general, and climate scientists specifically.

Oil Caps Fifth Weekly Drop Since February

Crude capped its fifth weekly decline since February as China’s economic growth slowed to the least in almost three years and Saudi Arabia’s oil minister said the kingdom is determined to see lower prices.

Futures dropped 0.8 percent after the National Bureau of Statistics said gross domestic product in the world’s second- biggest oil-consuming country expanded 8.1 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier. There’s no shortage of oil supply, and Saudi Arabia is working toward damping prices, Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said today.

Gas prices could head lower for summer

The recent run-up in oil and gasoline prices may have run its course - for now.

Thanks to easing demand from a slowing global economy and increased production from Saudi Arabia, the oil market is coming off a two-year cycle of tightening supply, according to the International Energy Agency. That's helped snap a 13 percent surge in oil prices since the start of the year.

Saudis committed to lower oil prices

Al-Naimi recorded output in March at 9.9 million bpd, when he said Saudi Arabia was prepared to produce at its full capacity of 12.5 million bpd.

He identified $100 a barrel as an ideal price for producers and consumers earlier this year.

Brent traded above $120 a barrel yesterday and has risen about 13 percent this year as tightening US and European sanctions target exports from Iran.

There are some analysts who believe the world is at ‘peak oil’, meaning we will never increase oil extraction by significant numbers; certainly, not enough to meet growing needs.

Mexico candidate suggests Pemex sell stake

Mexico's ruling party presidential candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota said on Thursday that oil monopoly Pemex should consider floating a minority stake, adding to calls for a more radical reform of the state-controlled giant.

Spain Government: Argentina Relations On YPF On Right Track - Report

MADRID – Spain's energy minister indicated Saturday that concerns about Argentina's forceful intervention in the local unit of Spain's flagship oil company appear to have diminished in the last 48 hours.

Scotland Offers Tax Break to Oil Companies Stung in U.K. Budget

Scotland Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said he wants to entice investment in the oil and gas industry and become a hub for offshore wind developers by reducing corporate taxes levied in the U.K. government budget.

“The budget was difficult for us,” Ewing said today in an interview at Bloomberg News headquarters in New York. “Oil and gas producers want stability and we’re giving it to them. The tax-equity grab is not what people expected from the U.K.”

Shelling in Syrian neighborhood kills 1 after cease-fire

BEIRUT (AP) – Syrian troops fired shells into rebel-held neighborhoods in the central city of Homs on Saturday killing at least one person, activists said. It was the first reported death from alleged government bombardment of a residential area since a cease-fire went into effect two days ago.

The Crisis in the Sudans: The Urgency of U.S.-China Cooperation

The nexus of oil, war and humanitarian catastrophe is an opportunity for the powers involved (increasingly Beijing) to come together to press for a solution.

12 killed in al-Qaeda attack in Southern Yemen

SANAA, Yemen (AP) – Al-Qaeda fighters attacked a security checkpoint in a southern Yemeni city on Saturday and killed four troops while losing eight of their own, a security official said.

Russia Says Iran Needs ‘Real Incentives’ to Resolve Nuclear Row

World powers should offer Iran “real incentives” to allow full monitoring of its nuclear program rather than demanding an immediate end to uranium enrichment, Russia’s top official at talks in Istanbul said.

India replaces China as Iran’s top oil client

GENEVA: India has vaulted to the top of the list of Iran’s oil customers, overtaking China, in a first-quarter buying surge ahead of tighter sanctions against Tehran this summer, data published by a leading industry consultant showed.

Iran employs off-radar oil shipping tactics to counter Western sanctions

LONDON: Iran is concealing the destination of its oil sales by disabling tracking systems aboard its tanker fleet, making it difficult to assess how much crude Tehran is exporting as it seeks to counter Western sanctions aimed at cutting its oil revenues.

Most of Iran’s 39-strong fleet of tankers is now “off-radar” after Tehran ordered captains in the National Iranian Tanker Co. to switch off the black box transponders that are used in the shipping industry to monitor vessel movements, oil industry, trading and shipping sources said.

“Iran, helped by its customers, is trying to obfuscate as much as possible,” said a senior executive at a national oil firm that has done business with Iran.

Obama forms group to streamline natural gas policies

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- President Obama issued an executive order Friday, establishing a meeting of the minds to work on natural gas policies for his administration.

The executive order creates a new working group made of representatives from at least 13 government agencies, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, among others.

China's Unconventional Gas Pursuits Threaten Australian LNG Build Up

China has aggressive plans to increase the role of natural gas in meeting its burgeoning energy needs. Estimates suggest that the country may as much as quadruple its gas consumption levels last year by 2020 and is looking to meet this demand from a number of sources including LNG.

The opportunity has prompted oil majors like Chevron and ConocoPhillips to start work on multibillion dollar LNG projects in Australia to target demand from Asian markets and in particular from China. Chevron is presently involved in two giant LNG projects in Australia – Wheatstone and Gorgon. However, LNG imports suffer from a cost disadvantage over domestically produced gas or gas imported through pipelines.

On That U.S. Natural Gas Storage Surplus

But for low prices ushering in a gas revolution in the U.S. Power Economy - we now burn enough gas to meet the nation's electrical needs to find ourselves compliant with the EPA's new stringent regulations ... for 2015 - that surplus would be around 350 Bcf bigger. Price is working and outpacing policy, fancy that ...

As it stands today, we're burning about 4.5 Bcf more natural gas, per day, to meet the electrical demand needs of the U.S. Power Economy, than we were this time last year, weather adjusted. This represents an enormous share grab at the hands of natural gas, which went from 20% to 27% of the national generation mix in just one year - sending coal off the grid, from 47% to 38%.

B.C. mayors steel themselves for fight against Kinder Morgan pipeline

Local governments on B.C.’s west coast are girding for a fight with energy giant Kinder Morgan over its $5-billion pipeline expansion plans to move more Alberta oil to the Vancouver Harbour for transport overseas.

A phalanx of mayors is vowing to fight the project, including coastal communities far from the pipeline but exposed to increased oil tanker traffic.

Atlantis papers show familiar BP pattern

We now know why BP wanted to keep information about its massive Atlantis platform in the Gulf of Mexico a secret.

Thousands of pages of internal documents and emails, recently released in a long-running lawsuit, reveal ongoing safety issues, deficient design documents and a pattern of problems that are disturbingly similar to some of the company's past operating failures.

Florida seeks to delay approval of BP settlement

(Reuters) - The Attorney General for the State of Florida has asked a federal court to delay granting preliminary approval of BP Plc's $7.8 billion settlement with businesses and individuals suing over the massive 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Attorney General Pamela Bondi, representing her constituents, said in a filing in Louisiana federal court on Friday that there is not enough information available about the settlement terms.

Brazil Judge Transfers 2nd Chevron Oil Spill Lawsuit To Rio Court

RIO DE JANEIRO – A federal judge in Brazil transferred a second civil lawsuit against U.S. oil major Chevron Corp. (CVX) for the company's role in an offshore oil spill to a Rio de Janeiro court, according to court documents obtained Friday.

Cuts at Environment Canada mean fewer left to clean up oil-spill mess

The unit at Environment Canada that responds to oil-spill emergencies will be dramatically scaled back and most of its regional offices will be closed to meet the cost-cutting demands of the federal government.

“My entire program, which is about 60 people nationwide, got notices” saying their jobs could be eliminated, one of the employees who works for the Environmental Emergencies Program said Friday. “Everybody in the program is going to be vying for positions because the organization is being cut in half.”

Total: Gas leak ongoing at Nigeria plant

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — French oil firm Total SA said Saturday that a natural gas leak at one of its plants in Nigeria's crude-rich southern delta may have been going on for weeks.

The leak at its Obite natural gas site has forced the company to evacuate those nearby and led to daily monitoring of air and water surrounding the plant in Nigeria's Rivers state. However, Total's Nigerian subsidiary hasn't made any public statement about the leak since it likely began following an incident March 20, though the company has given near-daily updates about a similar leak at a plant off the United Kingdom in the North Sea.

Milne to propose real-time monitoring of gas wells

State Rep. Duane Milne (R-Chester) thinks that gas wells in the state should be watched, just in case.

At a press conference at Rajant Technologies in Malvern on Monday, Milne announced that he is planning to introduce legislation to require the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the state’s county emergency management organizations to implement constant real-time safety monitoring and communications with each natural gas well in the Commonwealth.

A New Oversight Panel on Fracking

In an effort to streamline federal regulation of the domestic natural gas boom, President Obama on Friday announced creation of an inter-agency task force to ensure what he called the “safe and responsible development of domestic natural gas resources.”

Spain Risks Breaking Law on Power-Tariff Deficit, CNE Says

The Spanish government risks breaching the legal limit for the deficit in electricity-system revenues should demand fall short of its forecasts, the country’s energy regulator said.

“There are elements of uncertainty during 2012 that could lead to higher costs or lower revenues,” the Comision Nacional de Energia said in an e-mailed statement today. Those include “a declining trend in demand.”

Two nuclear reactors declared safe

Two idled Japanese nuclear reactors operated by Kansai Electric Power Co have been declared safe and will need to be restarted, Japanese trade minister Yukio Edano has said.

Mr Edano made the comments at a news conference after Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, two other ministers and himself met to discuss whether to allow the first reactor restart since last year’s Fukushima atomic crisis.

Energy conservation costly, experts say

DUBAI // At Microsoft offices across the Middle East, high-efficiency lights and motion sensors installed in meeting rooms, kitchens and bathrooms ensure that lights are turned off when the rooms are not in use. Timers on copy and printing machines automatically turn off these devices after 7pm each day.

Such steps have cut consumption by 10 per cent, the company says, but it will not reap the financial benefits: there are fixed rates for energy and water in many of Microsoft's buildings across the Gulf, including its headquarters in Dubai Internet City.

This disconnect is a deterrent to saving energy for many other UAE organisations that, like Microsoft, do not own the buildings in which they are located.

Abengoa Hits Three-Year Low on Italy Solar Cuts

Abengoa SA, the Spanish low-carbon energy developer, fell to its lowest in almost three years in Madrid as Italy’s solar subsidy cuts raised investor concerns that other euro nations may reduce support for the industry.

Germany Expects Installation ‘Rally’ to Beat Solar Cuts

Germany’s solar industry expects an installation rush over the next six months as developers try to beat planned subsidy cuts in the second-biggest market for sun power.

Greenhouse gas rules drive up truckers’ costs

Canada’s truckers – including drivers of full-size pickups – are facing rising vehicle costs as Ottawa joins with the United States in imposing new greenhouse gas emissions standards starting in 2014 model years.

But the higher upfront costs should be recouped in a few years of operating the vehicles as trucks become more fuel efficient and reduce their consumption of high-priced diesel.

How Green Are Electric Cars? Depends on Where You Plug In

IT’S a lot like one of those math problems that gave you fits in sixth grade: a salesman leaves home in Denver and drives his electric car to a meeting in Boulder. At the same time, a physicist driving the same model electric car sets out from her loft in Los Angeles, heading to an appointment near Anaheim.

For both, the traffic is light, and the cars consume an identical amount of battery power while traveling the same number of miles. Being purely electric, they emit zero tailpipe pollutants during their trips.

The test question: are their carbon footprints also equal?

The answer may be a surprise. According to a report that the Union of Concerned Scientists plans to release on Monday, there would be a considerable difference in the amount of greenhouse gases — primarily carbon dioxide — that result from charging the cars’ battery packs. By trapping heat, greenhouse gases contribute to climate change.

Don’t Kill the Electric Car

Even when plugging into a less-than-ideal power supply, driving electric provides environmental benefits by helping conserve the nation’s petroleum reserves.

Rethinking Some Old Habits, One of Them Close to Home

Readers who give up print newspapers and switch to digital devices will gain a benefit many have probably not thought about: they will be slashing the carbon emissions associated with their news habit.

I was invited this week to participate in a "show and tell" at a local "Maker Faire"

Maker Faires are described like this :-
"Maker Faire is the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth—a family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement.
Part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new, Maker Faire is an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors. All of these “makers” come to Maker Faire to show what they have made and to share what they have learned."

It is being held at a nearby high school.

I'm somewhat in two minds about it.

On one hand, I like the idea of making things and innovating to solve problems - it appeals to my inner "geek".
I think we have a lot of problems that need solving, and we are going to need a lot of small ideas put together to make that happen. Especially, I like the idea that schoolkids are being encouraged to be "Makers" rather than "Consumers". They are, increasingly, finding themselves launched into a world where less and less is going to be provided for them, and they are going to have to get creative about providing for themselves and their communities.
Also, I like the knowledge-sharing and "tinkering" aspect, which is all about inventing for the fun of it, and not for financial reward.

On the other hand, Maker Projects seem to be largely technology-driven, and as the following TED presentation by the founder of Maker Faires states, human beings have always striven to control the world, and shape it to human desires. Somehow, I find this to be wrong - the incessant need to have "control" over the natural world has a lot of unintended consequences, while the quest
for the new and novel makes us unhappy with what we have.


As someone on this forum pointed out, recently, most of our problems are caused by solutions.

I'm curious what folks here think about this type of event in terms of its ability to shape the thinking of the next generation.

Well, I'm extremely biased in my opinion on technologies, being a geek and a hoarder of every kind of technology and device...

However what I have come to realize (eventually) is that there are limits to what we can do with this stuff - and unfortunately we are very good at naive wishful thinking and distracting ourselves from the real underlying problems - especially if we don't understand or make things ourselves...

As an example - the ideas behind permaculture, or holistic design should really be there to shape our thinking towards a 'real' sustainable living: towards systems analysis, quality management - all based on the 'laws' of ecology. Understanding and flowing with the world - rather than an endless futile struggle to fight it...

However the way this is presented to the public (or how they choose to view it) is through some 'gimmicks' associated with permaculture: herbal spirals, rocket-stoves, various gadgets for water collecting etc. Of course there is nothing wrong with giving practical examples of what kind of things "permaculture thinking would lead to"- but these "things" aren't permaculture themselves. Any one of these devices or techniques can be traced back to the Whole-Earth catalogs - or even to the Farmers Almanacs - published over a hundreds now - providing advice to farmers of the day. In other words you can spend all your time building/buying/adopting each and every device and technique advertised in permaculture literature - and they will sure work for you - but your still aren't necessarely doing permaculture...

We should really shun the idea that 'a device' or 'a technique' has some inherent value (through association with the "ideologies" of permaculture or pseudo-science like biodynamics) - because this leads away from thinking holistically ... well, thinking all together.

We should instead pick and choose what ever works for the situation in hand. Only then can we retain our ability to critically evaluate our techniques - and develop them further - or discard them as inappropriate. And above all, accept the fundamental shortcomings and limits to their use against physical reality.

I for example am planning a kind of lifestyle that combines finnish, south-korean, japanese farming traditions - with a lot of ideas from permaculture (and with none of the Waldorfian ideas). The fact that I'm a 'maker' already - actually has taught me what the limits are: what I can actually make, whats worth making etc. and above all, what's useless, futile, inefficient etc.

PS: I can see now that this is really a problem with the 'consumers'. A 'maker' can both understand how things are made/how they work - the underlying dependencies, requirements and limits, rather than just the product or result. A consumer can only see the surface of the 'trick' and makes choices based on other peoples expertise.

I guess that is why most of us are here at TOD - because we used to be just 'consumers of oil' - and now that we can understand some of the limits of its use - we have the ability to make informed choices as to how we are going to have to live in a world where the production and use are far more complex and troublesome then it looks at the surface.

The difficulty seems to be in the "evaluation". People inventing things in the basement, for example, often don't know what the purpose of the thing is going to be in real life - they tinker for the fun of it. Then somebody looks at the thing and says "hey, that would be great for solving x...".

And then they go and take whatever thing the inventor made, and use it ways the inventor probably never thought of, or even intended. And it gets adapted, and changed over time, to do even more things the inventor never intended.

I'm not sure we have enough command of the "chain of events" to ever know what can happen with the thing we build in the basement. How do we build "fail-safes" into the process to prevent the basement thing from taking over the world?

"they tinker for the fun of it"

An escape
An exploration of the universe
In pursuit of pure beauty
To be in a safe space that is rational and predictable
Attempting to solve a problem that has impressed them
Seeking attention/entertaining others/exhibitionism
Seeking distinction
Self definition
Pure amusement
Hoping to generate income
Proving a conjecture
Channeling anger/grief
Compulsive twiddling

Tinkering is tied to stratified stability: To tinker is to work with existing materials and concepts in pursuit of a goal within their scope. Few people are tinkering in the chromoelectric realm: there are no supporting elements available at Home Depot. There is little work being done on the improvement of typewriter linkages: That stable level of technological development is part of a long-ago strata that now has little meaning since all such mechanisms have been obviated through synthesis using logic engines and electromechanical actuators. So tinkering often uses the vocabulary of the day, the parts and pieces found lying about. This is the primordial ooze.

The tinkerer often has no sense of business.

Just another player...

Join Together

Theo Jansen

Boy, there is a strong urge around here to make sweeping generalizations.

I found many of the above conclusions to be pretty unnecessary to even state. Some may apply here and there, some to me, but to put them forth as General Rules.. particularly trying to describe peoples' motives is a bit like making predictions, and there's usually a lot of cloudy projection within it..

There's one that I'll pick on in specific.

"So tinkering often uses the vocabulary of the day, the parts and pieces found lying about.." - I think that this misses the fact that many of the pieces that can be found lying about are from the earlier ages, whether people are looking at old pictures and designs (ie, rebuilding DaVinci or Tesla inventions), or using scrap gadgetry from the junk shops and attics and old barns. Personally, I'm frequently mixing some modern electrical componentry into a human-powered tool idea from centuries ago. I've found out that I'm Steampunk before I even knew the term existed..

Jansen makes some great stuff.. as much a sculptor and animator as he is an engineer.


The list? It is intended as just a "pick-and-choose" list of possibilities as to drives. It was generated in response to the general gist of "people make this stuff without societal controls".

The paragraph is about the range of things made. The word "often" was included in connection with "of the day" for just the sort of happy occasion you are enjoying pursuing tools. The Reverie/reminiscence/anachronism of recreating Tesla's inventions in commercial form has fed me and my dogs in years past. It would be a surprise if the scraps you are using include the vacuum tubes of days so long ago.

It is fun. Just take care your time does not slip away as you stare into that fire.

Well, it really does take many forms.. and that's what I meant about how ascribing motives often leads one into projecting. It's got to be done a bit carefully.

The term 'Tinkering' itself has a tendency to lead one thinking about it into assumptions of diddling and being disconnected with consequences.. as above, this applies sometimes, but there are just countless forms it takes. Some of it is downright, unauthorized engineering.. while others are doing extremely fine work, but with no specific goal.

There IS some long staring into fires and into junk drawers (and a very pleasant creative process, at that).. while in my case, what comes out at the end is installations for science exhibits at a childrens museums and botanical gardens, camera and lighting equipment that is put to real work, robots and puppets for school workshops.

Sorry if this all sounds defensive, but I don't deny that I rancor at the kinds of presumptions of 'frippery' for casual domestic inventiveness, about the same way that I feel dismay at the comments that treat renewable energy or EV's with such a hard line on every detail of their sustainability and economic value, far and above how these folks are treating the BAU junk that most consumer money is going towards.

I'm not really apologetic that I think such stereotypes are in fact very detrimental to the attitudes which can give us some opportunity for generating our own solutions and our own power. Sometimes, the critiques seem to carry the admonition that those who don't follow the 'Authorized' paths are a little bit off, and we need to watch out for them, and probably shouldn't follow their (unproven?,intermittent?,offbeat?) example. I don't think that was your intention.. but it does seem to be part of the subtext of such definitive passages..

Did you always have the ability to stare into junk drawers and come out with installations for science exhibits ? Were any other family members interested in this activity ? Did you learn anything special in order to do it ? If you have kids, can they do it too ?

Those questions may seem odd, but the place I'm trying to get to is whether you just had an ability, or whether it was learned, or developed in some way.

For example, my dad was a tinkerer - he always wanted to be an engineer, but didn't get into engineering school. He was always off building things in his workshop - like the time he created a device for keeping toast warm. It didn't actually work, but that wasn't the point really - he just got pleasure from thinking through the problem and designing the solution with the bits and pieces he had at hand. One more step, possibly, and he might have built something that worked.

I don't claim to have great engineering skills, but I don't have any fear of experimenting with bits of wood and a hand-drill either, in order to fix stuff around the house. I can build a passable raised bed, for example, and construct squirrel-proofing. I think I learned something from him.

On the other side, my mother was a great crafter - she could do anything from crocheting to rug-making to cake-decorating. I'm not bad at that stuff either.

My point being - I think they were learned skills.

st: In my case at least it was a combination of interest, opportunity and motivation as a kid. My dad was an office worker, had no handyman skills, but my buddy's dad was a carpenter with a woodshop at home--that's where I spent a lot of time. My buddy & I used to dumpster dive as youngsters too, having no money, & we thrived on "tinkering" or making good things out of junk. So I grew up with some skills at improvising and being continually poor as an adult, put them to good use over the years. That has been the chief attraction of "homesteading" for me--to improvise a comfortable and resourceful lifestyle on a very low budget. In fact the confidence of being able to improvise has helped to prevent me from falling into the classic American consumer debt trap. Kids and adults with a relatively unlimited budget have little incentive to think of other ways to achieve a goal.

Hi S-T;
I don't have a sense of whether I have a Tinkerer/Gadgetry 'Gene'.. I do know I am hugely drawn to the 'How Things Work' puzzle, which is why the TOD discussion is such an interesting realm for me. But I had parents who were teachers in the Arts, and we built crafty stuff at home, practical bits out in the shop, at the sewing table, and building cabins and such out in the woods.. so there was a constant presence of source material to trigger whatever proclivities I or my family seem to have for creating things from scratch, trying out different combinations, and hybriding old good ideas with new good technologies, to make better syntheses..

I usually tell people that this is my personal Crossword Puzzle, as for me, like your dad, the problem-solving is extremely addictive and satisfying, or should I say perpetually UNsatisfying, as I have to do it again and again? .. Anyway, I have worked to find ways to see that it is both conceptually alive and exploratory, but also has totally practical applications throughout my life.. no less as a Landlord than as an Artistic Consultant.

Be that as it may, I am frequently putting before the world untried ideas, and have to be ready for them to disappoint, and to remember that such processes only grow through falling down and getting up again.

As my wise friend Wendy used to say.. "If you can't make a fool of yourself, you probably can't make anything of yourself!"

(Poverty helped.. even tho' we were at a prep school, the Arts teachers were anything but wealthy, despite the kids we were in class with.. so if we wanted to solve a problem, we'd look first at the junkpile, before any thought of shopping for off-the-shelf solutions was deemed possible.)

As I've considered "tinkering", it seems to me that tinkering with "stuff" is too limited. I've done a lot of tinkering with stuff such as designing low profile solar water collectors. But, at this point I'm far more interested in agriculture.

My agricultural tinkering involves a lot of variety trials, trying different methods for fertility, growing techniques and blah, blah, blah.

I think we should open up tinkering to any action that is nor exactly mainstream.


And how about tinkering with words??
One of my jobs is a proofreader/editor. I tinker for hours with words.

Actually I love it.

People can tinker in the kitchen, in the garden, with their business accounts, with their sewing projects, with pet arrangements, fishing lines and nets, cars, computers, math puzzles, cleaning projects, making wine, etc....the list must be endless.

Doesn't it mean, for grown-ups, the best kind of play?? Endless, varied, sweet.

It's where you can meet your real self!

It is at play that is work where we are happiest maybe.

My agricultural tinkering involves a lot of variety trials, trying different methods for fertility, growing techniques

Perhaps you can get some tinkering ideas from Rex Research

Or instead of burning your stick pile, make the sticks into char and bury the char.

Tests have shown that adding charcoal to the soil can improve tomato yield by as much as 9 percent.

I've never commonly used the word, myself. The place I really like it is in the book title "Tinker, tailor, Soldier, Spy"*.

I've made my way in the world in this manner of "tinkering". The work itself involved/involves engineering, art, science, and technique. You should lose any rancor or ruffling centered on ideas of permission/authority/officialness about delving into these fields. Working examples speak very loudly of skills. Much of the world waits for next innovations to come out of garages. Academics have supplied me foundations I would have never even guessed at... I've proven solutions they'd never considered. We are all "standing on the shoulders of giants".

The story of longitude is one of measuring time. The first practical instrument was not produced from within the houses of academia.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2AijRoXnvE ... just for the synopsis
"Mavericks and accidents, not experts, are responsible for many advances in society and organizations. ... in complex situations, experts can fall victim to their own thinking, and fail to see innovative solutions to novel problems."

The PBS 2-hour story in many pieces:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tinker_Tailor_Soldier_Spy ... which brings up a fine bit of it: the Matryomin...

The US Patent & Trademark Office search files are a great place to get ideas for tinkering on just about anything and to see working examples with drawings. It's a lot like a library for tinkerers.

Quite by accident I recently discovered that my hometown has a thriving "maker" scene:

"It's like the Discovery Channel — with beer!"

Being myself a geek at heart I am planning on attending an open house at a local "makerspace" today. (http://www.airlighttimespace.org/)

Like you I have no illusions that it will be anything but technology, and then more technology, but who knows? At the very least it will be a nice break from the relentless beat of eco-doom in my head.


Please report back on your experience !

A good time was had by all!

At the last minute I decided to dig an old project out of my closet, a wireless video rig that was intended to fly on a kite or RC airplane, but never got off the ground after I found out one needs a ham license to operate at the 2.4GHz bandwidth. The batteries had long since died, and there was something wrong with the power supply on the transmitter, but the project was a hit anyway as it occupied several tech heads at the electronics bench for an hour or two as they gleefully got into the guts of it with soldering guns, multimeters, power supplies and, I kid you not, an old oscilloscope. Sadly, we never did get the thing working but at least it firmly established my geek cred.

The space is used by both artists and tech geeks, so it was a diverse crowd. I enjoyed meeting people and quaffed some quite drinkable homemade beer. I was encouraged to stop by some of the other makerspaces, there's one near my place with a group working on autonomous robots for a "robothon" challenge this summer.


Oh, and yes, somehow I did manage to lay a heavy line of doom on one unfortunate fellow who accidentally brought up the word "sustainable" which, predictably, was all it took to set me off. He got the crash course on limits to growth and global ecological overshoot, and while he appeared to be genuinely interested I have a feeling he was probably just being polite.


My Grange started The Grange Center for Self-Reliance late last year. To date we have put on three seminars dealing with crop production/gardening with a wider variety of topics coming up. What I found interesting is that the attendees were people who really had quite a bit of expertise (many of us have been doing it for 30-40 years) and didn't need to attend whereas our expectation was that the majority of attendees would be those new to gardening.

Therefore, I doubt that Maker Fairs will lead the next generation into new areas unless they are already interested in the subjects. And, frankly, I think what people need to learn are old skills not new technology.


It's interesting that your group attracted people who already had skills - possibly in order to share with peers ?

The question I'm pondering is whether certain skills are transferrable - if someone who can solve the problem of, let's say, building a household robot, can also solve the problem of repairing a tractor.

If so, then having kids participate in any "Maker" activity would be good grounding for a life with less energy, because it wakes up the problem-solving part of the brain. If the only thing they learn is how to plug something into an outlet, it seems it is poor preparation.

Hi Spring Tides,

Even though all of us had gardening skills, I think most people find that they learn something new even after years of experience when they talk to others. For example, I'm the terra preta guy while another one is the bee guy.

As far as transfering skills goes, I think it really depends on the person. I've been a research chemist, a plant manager, a certified organic grower, built three houses for us and have overhauled engines. However, I have other friends with a background similar to mine who have a hard time changing a light bulb.


Glad to hear it's moving forward. I remember talking about it here with you before the first seminar. Are you thinking in terms of outreach? Perhaps you could encourage attendees to invite/bring friends, neighbors, and grandchildren?

"As someone on this forum pointed out, recently, most of our problems are caused by solutions."

I believe that comment was originally ascribed to the late Eric Severide, a journalist often seen on CBS TV in his later days.

As for tinkering and making, I think of it as fun stuff we humans can do to keep busy whilst traveling in our giant airplane, train, car, spaceship, boat, that we have almost no control of over its destination or speed, but with a few knowing the fuel tanks will evenutally become empty and the least that will happen is it will cease to continue moving and the lights and a/c will go off.

Thanks for attributing the quote.

I think "tinkering" is a very old activity that has led to a lot of the basic "advances" we've made. I'm sure even ancient cave dwellers, once they had a full stomach, retired to a quiet corner and tinkered with arrows to see if they would fly better.

I wonder more about the direction of the tinkering, rather than the activity itself.

Some tinkering highlights come to mind in our human "Progress":

1) Improved arrows and hunting technology => megafauna extinctions, large-scale ecological changes begin in earnest.
2) Invention of agriculture at scale => cities and trade, beginning of sustained CO2 buildup in atmosphere, climate change.
3) Invention of steam engine => Industrial Revolution, extraction of fossil fuels, metal ores begin in earnest, increased CO2 buildup in atmosphere, climate change.
4) Invention of nuclear power => seeds of complete planetary annilation sown. Humans finally acheive Peter Principle.
5) Invention of Green Revolution => 'feeding pigeons in park' syndrom unleashed on witless humans at scale, assuring mass starvation, perhaps extinction.

Not a pretty picture, in hindsight.

Not pretty, but nice!
LOL #5

Not a pretty picture, in hindsight

I prefer to blame the cyanobacteria that changed the earth's atmosphere during the Proterozoic.

If they hadn't started producing Oxygen, none of this would have happened! >;^) Humans don't seem to be much smarter than most chloroplasts and they are already drastically changing the chemistry of the atmosphere and the oceans once again.

The Universe doesn't seem to care too much whether it's humans or cyanobacteria that are changing things on earth.
Our home world just happens to be one minuscule blue planet orbiting a rather unexciting star in just one of hundreds of billions of galaxies. Not to mention that the Universe consists of 70% dark energy, 25% dark matter, and only 5% normal matter.

Actually that is a very beautiful picture IMHO! It means that humans are pretty much completely irrelevant...

Maybe someone should give the rich and powerful the memo, eh?

"I prefer to blame the cyanobacteria that changed the earth's atmosphere during the Proterozoic."

The bastards!

if a bunch of bacteria could change the earth's atmosphere why do people have such a hard time accepting that humans could do the same? Do they believe that we are not smarter than bacteria? If so whatever happened to Intelligent Design?
But then again logical consistency is not a hallmark of that lot.

Humans have a pass card, that exempts them from such causation, issued by $DEITY.


As someone on this forum pointed out, recently, most of our problems are caused by solutions.

"Dialectical materialism is a strand of Marxism, synthesizing Hegel’s dialectics, which proposes that every economic order grows to a state of maximum efficiency, while simultaneously developing internal contradictions and weaknesses that contribute to its systemic decay."


Always remember that 95% of ...everything... a person has in their life....is useless crap. Unlearning is a difficult task, with the Sheep of modern society, bleating in ones ear.

Technology, or what most believe on this site to be Humanity's Saviour, modern tech, is truly no different. 95% is useless crap, created only for destruction, and rape of the Natural world.

Nature, and She is, a "Harsh Mistress", will shape the thinking of the next generation, regardless of any technology. Make your discussion about what it means to part of a society that is currently killing everything on this planet. See what the response is from the Sheep.

Choose Wisely,

The Martian.

"Technology, or what most believe on this site to be Humanity's Saviour"


I can't imagine how you could draw such a conclusion reading this site. The postings that I read here, in general, show an incredible understanding of our situation nonwithstanding the situation of the writer.

Of course there are exceptions, but they are just that.


And think of all those useless jobs directly and indirectly involved in producing all that useless crap, and the wasted energies and lives involved. And the thefts/controls in the form of taxation, licenses, and tickets, etc..

Slavery and imprisonment abounds.

Advertising exists only to purvey what people don’t need... advertisers sell their services on the basis of how well they are able to create needs where there were none before. I have never met an advertising person who sincerely believes that there is a need connected to, say, 99 percent of the commodities which fill the airwaves and the print media. Nor can I recall a single street demonstration demanding one single product in all of American history. If there were such a demonstration for, let’s say, nonreturnable bottles, which were launched through tens of millions of dollars of ads, or chemically processed foods, similarly dependent upon ads, there would surely have been no need to advertise these products. The only need that is expressed by advertising is the need of advertisers to accelerate the process of conversion of raw materials with no intrinsic value into commodities that people will buy.
~ Jerry Mander

The Matrix is everywhere... You can see it when you... turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work... when you go to church... when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind.
~ Wachowski brothers' The Matrix

... human beings have always striven to control the world, and shape it to human desires. Somehow, I find this to be wrong ...

Gosh ... the top 20 or so posts here have been pretty cosmic - so I will endeavour to be both banal and grounded.

I actually think the human experience is (and always has been) about "control" over the natural environment - for good and bad. Or at least having the ways and means to avoid most of its nasties and inconveniences, which arose with big brains - and the manual dexterity to make a big brain a useful tool.

By almost every definition - wealth (and comfort/safety/longevity) is the capacity to not be subject to the whims of nature on a day to day (or century to century basis). The poorest people on the planet are those that have not had the chance (or the desire) to make the leap away from living close to the ground, in every sense. Subsistence farmers, and the remaining hunter-gatherers - are the extreme form of this type of human existence, but it also applies to millions (billions?) of often urbanised people in Africa, Asia, and South America.

I like the fact that nature is "out there", and not in my face, as it was 100,000, 10,000, 1,000, even 100, years ago. If I wish to commune with nature, I visit a national park, or go to the beach, or shop in the hippie aisles of the local Whole Foods store ... which is just about all the nature I need on a weekly basis.

If I wish to commune with nature, I visit a national park, or go to the beach, or shop in the hippie aisles of the local Whole Foods store ... which is just about all the nature I need on a weekly basis.

Very few of those places are free of man's control over nature. There are those of us who like a bit more contact than that...... There have been cities for a long time before fossil fuels, and doubtless there will be after too, so you can rest assured there will be ways to isolate yourself. However, without fossil fuels I doubt we can have such a large percentage of people quite so isolated from the natural surroundings.

It's not a question of isolating oneself from nature (kids having no idea where milk comes from, people driving everywhere instead of walking or cycling, being convinced of Intelligent Design without ever understanding life's history, etc), but I don't think that is the main issue.

The human story has always been about using our intelligence to control resources rather than being subject to what nature provides. It seems to me that it stands us out as a totally different kind of animal ... in just about every way that matters.

But I agree that it has had massive downsides, since the first crops were harvested in the Middle East, right through to today - with a combination of environmental destruction and outrageous population overshoot. And anyway - with Peak Oil and much else on our doorstep, there is no going back - it is one huge egg that cannot be unscrambled ... so it won't end well.

Re: Upton: Allow more domestic drilling

"Today we're knocking at the door of a brighter energy future, one that promises abundant, secure and cheaper North American supplies, as long as Washington doesn't create artificial obstacles," Upton said.

Upton presents the now standard Republican Party mantra in the buildup for the November election, a promise of lower fuel prices if they are elected. It's just another repeat of the same disinformation we've heard many times in recent months. To bad the message is likely to turn out to be just another false promise on the slide down from the production plateau...

EDIT: HERE's a link to the video.

E. Swanson

The Republicans can promise all they want, but everybody here knows that oil prices will remain high in real terms as far as the eye can see. If nominal oil prices go higher, it's because we've inflated the currency. If they go lower, it's because we're broke.

Both parties are being rapidly discredited, in my opinion. Interesting times.

Both parties are being rapidly discredited, in my opinion.

You mean they can go further down?

"Both parties are being rapidly discredited" - yes, but there is a space between being discredited and being pushed out.

I am taking a course on Japanese Edo literature. Literature during the Edo period is known for it's satirical elements and for the commercial aspect - although people tend to talk about "feudal" Japan, Edo era Japan was sort of proto-capitalist. Speculators worked financial markets and real estate markets, money was an everyday concern, businesses flourished and their owners became rich (despite being officially on the bottom of the caste system)... Even for people in the country, it was not exacly classically feudal. This created a tension as the old feudal caste system and closed country policy were in tension with realities of the society.

However, one aspect that shows within the satire is that most people pretty much accepted that the system couldn't be changed. There were banned books and true subversives, but for the most part, it was like people watching South Park today - they laughed at the messed up system and hypocrisy, but laughed knowing they weren't going to try to overthrow it.

I think that both parties are long since discredited, but on the whole there is not enough strain within the system to create revolutionary fever. I do wonder, though, if peak oil will be the strain, like Perry's boats were in Japan, that leads to a radical change in the system.

The really scary situation, IMHO, is that the polarization is doing a good job of blaming the problem on "the other guys". So the discrediting is bifurcated. No one is owning up to the fact that neither party is offering real solutions, only counters to the goals of the other, whatever they are at the moment. I guess that means that we are in for a period of back-and-forth policy shifts, neither direction addressing the fundamental problems. Nothing will change as long as the biggest campaign doners on both sides are profiting from business-as usual. It just has to get more broke before anyone seriously tries to fix it.

Well I have some sympathy for both sides because there are no easy real solutions. At least Obama is a bit more honest about that. Of course, he could hardly do otherwise because if he had an easy solution then why hasn't he implemented it yet. But the 'drill, baby, drill' plan really won't work as advertised by Newt. Open up everything to drilling and it won't make much difference.

I still wish the two sides could do a 'grand bargain'. Open up ANWR and some OCS in exchange for using the money to support alt-energy. But I guess the sides are too polarized to actually make progress on anything. The GOP seems dead set on not passing anything these days since anytime Obama signs something into law they think that is some 'victory' for him.

ANWR is a wildlife reserve. It should not even be part of the discussion.

I shows how desperate the oil crisis has made us.

Refuge actually. (Same thing.)

They never want to say that word so they use the acronym ANWR.

But it is a stumbling block that prevents us from admitting there is a real problem since some people think it would solve everything. So it needs to be removed.

I've never heard so much open talk of revolution in my life, even back in the 60's. The leadership seems quite aware and has been busily getting its ducks in a row:

Patriot Act - loss of rights - monitoring of communications
Defense Act - attack on habeas corpus*
H.R. 347 - attack on right to assemble**
Would like to make videoing/photographing police illegal***
Would like to restrict the internet
Would like an internet "kill Switch"****

...I'm sure there are more.

In peacetime. In revolution, habeas corpus can be suspended anyway.
Habeas corpus in the 21st Century

EVERY law is abused. During protests, people not even involved were dragged into compromising positions and charged.



It's interesting you say that. I am too young to have seen the 60's, which are always painted as a very active time with lots of protests and movements trying to change society. Yet there is more talk of revolution now? It's surprising.

It's true that TPTB really have set up a sort of police state. I pretty much take it for granted that I'm on some list somewhere already, even though I am not involved in any organization and haven't participated in protests. I just assume I'm being watched in some way. I think many people who were sympathetic to OWS did NOT participate because of fear of getting on some list, or being arrested, or being pepper sprayed or tazed. But I wonder if, for all of that, TPTB could stop it if it really reached that point? Perhaps they just hope to postpone the reckoning past their lifetimes, which is just as good.

Well, as long as the police and military are on their side and the protesters get painted as upstarts that are mad over nothing, they are safe. The "99% vs 1%" meme really took off, though, and income inequality is a topic of conversation, which can't make them happy.

but everybody here knows that oil prices will remain high in real terms as far as the eye can see

Republican's who claim oil prices are high due to inflation and money printing can point to the value of Silver from 1964 and the retail price of Gasoline of 1964 VS today.

(the Austrian school of economics)

This year worse than 2002 drought

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado — The Eagle River basin is melting four to eight weeks earlier than normal this year because of below average snowfall, warm spring temperatures and wind, according to the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, presenting what could be the worst water supply year in Eagle County history.

This year's local water supply is shaping up to be worse — much worse — than 2002, the worst drought year Colorado had seen in about 250 years.

and Western states prepare for dangerous fire season

Fire experts say this year's drought, low snowpack and record-high temperatures in much of the West portend a dangerous installment of what has become a year-round wildfire threat.

also A state-by-state glance at Western fire season

Eagle County: It might get so bad that unlimited outdoor water use would have to be halted! The horror!

Indeed ... as an Australian who visits the US reasonably often, the water use (and mis-use) always hits you between the eyes. Australia is the best country on earth (just ask any Australian), but I have lived almost my entire adult life with water restrictions that I think many Americans would find draconian in the extreme.

But they are not hard to get used to ... and water use per person has dropped considerably over the last decade or two. Our lawns go brown in summer, and our cars are not sparkling clean, but so what?

As Midwest storm bears down, forecasters use more urgent voice in tornado warnings

The National Weather Service is testing phrases like 'catastrophic' and 'unsurvivable' to describe looming storm systems in a bid to engage Americans’ survival instincts. Saturday's tornado-bearing storm was called 'high-end' and 'life-threatening.'

Whether more alarmism will actually help break through a “cry wolf” immunity that many Americans exhibit toward tornado warnings – even sirens – is an open question.

Huh? What kind of a moron doesn't heed a siren warning of an imminent tornado?!

Maybe the National Weather Service should cut to the chase and just come out and call a spade a spade... they should issue the following warning: "If you are too f*cking stupid to take shelter, you are probably going to die and we really don't give a sh*t!"

In hurricane country, if you can't take a hint, they usually ask you to write your social security number on your torso with an indelible marker... It makes identifying the body easier.

I know, I live in South Florida about two miles from the beach!

Living in the north end of hurricane alley, I can confess to being guilty of being blase sometimes about warning sirens in the past. I usually do try to check to see where they are, but if it looks as if it is in some far corner of our rather large county, I don't usually cower in the basement right away.

In the last couple years, though, we have had two tornadoes whip through neighborhoods just a couple miles from ours with very little warning, so I'm a bit more jumpy these days.

As you stated that you live near Macon, I think you should be more worried. Georgia has been hit repeatedly by tornados and one of the worst in history went thru Gainesville in 1936. there have been a few which hit the Atlanta area as well, one year there was one of which hopped over my front yard and another year, there was one which hit the Governor's Mansion. I hope you have a basement or some such to go to for shelter, otherwise, it might be wise to start digging in the backyard...

E. Swanson

One of the Atlanta TV stations installed a new,"state of the art", high-resolution radar last year that covers our area. If the weather alert radio sounds a warning, I usually bring up this site which shows pretty amazing, highdef in near real time; hook echos are quite evident and highlighted. I watched a small F1-2 take out my favorite feed store, about 15 miles away, as it happened a couple of weeks ago. I was also able to determine it was going to miss us. It's much better and more real time than the NWS radar. Score one for the private sector.

I built our walkin closet, just behind our bedroom, as a safe room. It's below grade, two walls poured concrete, and two 6" walls reinforced both sides with 3/4' plywood. Our root cellar, behind the kitchen is 4 walls poured concrete with a steel storm-rated door.Strong ties and hurricane straps everywhere. Since the Navy, I sleep through most anything, so my wife has to wake me up WTSHTF ;-)

I used to live in Macon. Now I'm in Minneapolis. A twister ripped up a swath of south Mpls in '09, then another hit the north side last year. Before that, it had been a couple decades at least since anything had come through, and we all started believing the urban myth that tornadoes don't tend to hit larger cities.

Wake up call.

And yes, we do have a basement. Lots of homes in Macon don't.

Oftentimes folks in rural areas aren't able to hear the sirens, so they have to depend on the radio or TV for warnings. Usually you keep an eye on the sky, and if you see nasty looking clouds coming in, you automatically turn on the radio.

Sure whatever. Too often when the siren goes off, it means the sky is clear and blue, but there's a dark cloud two counties away which is headed out of the region. Yawn.

What kind of a moron doesn't heed a siren warning of an imminent tornado

Ones who live in concrete dome homes?

The domes come with a hurricane, earthquake and tornado guarantee. .
The sturdy concrete construction combined with the dome shape make these innovative homes nearly impervious to tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes.

Yes this is true. But I suspect much of it is enjoying things while the going is good. Might as well.

And then the 'flood' came and swept them all away.

FRESH the movie

"The underground documentary that became a massive grassroots success, FRESH is the embodiment of the good food movement.

FRESH began as a grassroots effort for a grassroots movement, and it’s been tremendously exciting to see the movie spread like wildfire. Within a month of our launch in April 2009, we received over 20,000 visitors and hundreds of screenings were organized. Today, FRESH is a community of over 100,000 advocates for healthier, more sustainable food, a film that’s used all over the world as a platform to raise awareness and connect people to solutions in their community. But that’s not good enough."

Footage taken inside the cafo brings home the horror of the industrial food system, contrasted with organic farms and producers, both rural and urban.

One of the foodies I admire most says this is her favorite foodie movie.

I decided to do a table at the local farmers market this year - so I'm in prep mode. Watching the movie was inspirational. I have pots of seeds and seedlings all over the yard...

Our weather has been really dry - with all the big storms further south, somehow the clouds keep drying up before they reach us. I've been watering the veggie beds daily.

EDIT : we got thunderstorms last night, finally, and more on the way. We're expecting a half-inch tonight.

... this is her favorite foodie movie.

Are there a lot of foodie movies out there to choose from?


I'd give you a run down of them, but I'm a bit short on time, now. Here's a few that pop into my head: King Corn, Big River, Food Inc, The Real Dirt on Farmer John, Super-size Me, Fast Food Nation...(Those are just some I've seen--there are many others, and a lot of the PO films discuss problems with our food system.)

Those are some of the documentaries. Here's a list of fiction-based movies that centrally involve food:


This morning I walked to the Farmer's & Fisher's Market and bought

- Strawberries
- Blueberries
- Broccoli
- Green onions
- Beets
- Black Drum filets
- Shrimp
- Cucumber
- Squash
- A orange-pine apple sugarless Popsicle (made from frozen juices - my "treat")
- Some pesto to put on pasta

Checked with the 90 year old bee keeper-honey seller, it will be another month before the light honey I like is back. Buy a half gallon each year.

I thought about making a second trip to pick up a 25 lb sack of brown jasmine rice (very low on wild red rice naturally mixed in this year). I am out of his brown rice (I freeze it to make it last - brown rice can spoil), but French Quarter Fest was calling !

Took the streetcar there and back :-)

A fair percentage of my food comes from these weekly trips - the % varies by time of year. I eat little meat, and most seafood comes from this market.

Best Hopes for eating local - at least in New Orleans it is a treat :-)


PS: Why does the Catholic Church treat eating seafood as penance ? Every Lent we celebrate here :-)

Seafood (including beaver) is a legalistic end-run around abnegation, much like wigs as hair coverings.

"PS: Why does the Catholic Church treat eating seafood as penance ? Every Lent we celebrate here :-)"
When I was a kid in the 50's the Catholic Church required the faithful to eat fish on Friday. They later dropped that rule. A friend of my parents who was one of the finest people I've ever known but not religious at all said: "What!! How can they do that?! What about all those poor bastards burning in hell that ate fish on Friday?! And now they just change it?! I was around 12 yrs old. It started me thinking...

"...The Catholic Church required the faithful to eat fish on Friday."

The Catholic Church never required the faithful to eat fish on Friday. However, The Catholic Church did require the faithful to abstain from meat on Friday. Fish was fine, but you didn't have to eat it.

And nearly all callenders had fish symbols on the Friday's. It was generally assumed people liked to eat animal food every day, so fish was assumed..

Re PS: LOL: some years ago I was in Japan for a week with a group from the Midwest, on a cultural exchange. Let's just say the food aspect was entertaining: Midwesterners and fish - even nicely cooked fish, the Japanese don't eat it all raw - didn't mix overly well on the whole. That despite the fact that the Friday fish fry is still alive and somewhat well around here.

So, aside from fish being a dodge around the old Roman Catholic meatless rules, some folks like it, and some folks hate it. And actually, that makes it a lot like other things bandied about around here - to the great frustration of utopian idealists, such as those who expect to remake the entire housing or transportation system from scratch at the arbitrary snap of a finger, one size will not readily fit all. Not even in a matter as minor as fish.

Meet Allan Hill, the man who lives In Detroit’s abandoned Packard Auto Plant

Perhaps the biggest shortcoming of Detroit "ruin porn" is it inherently ignores the very real people who still live in the city. Now there's a convergence — the amazing story of Allan Hill, the man who legally lives inside the city's abandoned Packard Auto Plant.

What's most surprising about this moving mini-documentary is Hill's "quality of life" doesn't look as terrible as you'd imagine, nor does his reasoning for choosing to stay in the largest abandoned factory in the world seem so unsound.

... a change of pace from all that 'doomer porn'

*laughs a bit due to the 'don't kill the electric car' article.*
the truth hurts doesn't it? you can ignore everything before it's day to day use and call the device green all you want, nature won't care. it's use isn't green if it's powered by electricity not made in a 'green' way. electricity made in a green way is not green if the devices used to generate the electricity depend on non green non renewable resources. the car isn't green as it's already made a single trip around the world 'just' to make those batteries.

this also reminds me of the idiocy of the movie 'who killed the electric car' which lays the blame on the auto industry and the oil industry.. never mind the fact that in the 90's gas was a buck and a half or less, the ev's they are talking about were 40k and above and going up against cars less then half that price in the market. not only that but they still had the 75-100 mile range and you could only charge them at home since you and the other people who leased them had the proper equipment. yes the people who had them liked them, but would they buy the car? hell no. no sane or non rich and trendy person at that time would of bought one. they realized that and stopped the program because they did not want to waste more money then they already had. the destruction of the cars can simply be explained as they did not want their rivals to pick one up and tear it apart to reverse engineer any tech they made for the car's.

if industrial civilization lasts in any way shape or form, between now and then the future of the car is not electric, hybrid, bio-fuel, or hydrogen, it's smaller. scion/toyota iq or smart for two size or smaller. for those who absolutely positively HAVE use other means of transport other then public, walking, and normal bikes.

And it's probably a share/rent-type of thing.

'who killed the electric car'

I watched the movie.

To this day, still seems conspiratorial to me.

Strange that an entire car model was 'lease only' and that the mfgr wouldn't want to sell once the leases had expired. Are their any other cars that were only leased and never sold, like was done for the EV1? I cannot remember any.

Seems to me that there is nothing too exotic about batteries (especially back then), electronic motor controllers, and electric motors that would make them like a corporate SR-71 blackbird, would they?

luxary cars were leased before that.

also just because to you now there seems nothing there worth stealing. this was 15 or so years ago, electronics had only started to become mainstream in cars and elsewhere. it was one of the first for the past 70+ years electric car that was more then just a glorified golf cart aimed at mass production possibly.

there was something in them. either the control circuitry or the motor that they did not want the other car companies to get a hold of. either because they were in the process of or had already gotten a patent on.

the simple truth of the matter is that no matter how good you 'think' a product is for what ever cause you back. if it CAN'T be sold, NO company will make it. yes the people who had the ev1 liked it, but too few did to make such a expensive car worth it.

The motor controller was made by A.C. Propulsion:
The same house licensed technology in the Tesla
-no alien technology-

They Did Not want to see any success with the EV-1. The EV-1 had the worst ads ever made:

EV-1 nuclear ad
I want one! I want my happy family to die and the world to end! And that music sure has me in a cheery mood to reach for the wallet!

They would do things like show the car from directly overhead and tell nothing about it:
Someone pointed out that European car ads look down on the car as a tool:
...while American car ads look up in worship:
But cars are never seen looking straight down from above... the image is unrecognizable.

There were public charging stations for the EV-1, even at Costco.

People cried when their EV-1s were taken to be trashed. In a related story, one electric pickup-truck owner sadly remembered that his truck "cost nothing to run"*. Many offered to buy the vehicles.


*Now... we can't be having that, can we...

Years ago, I saw a TV report on the fellow who developed the drive for the EV-1. He built his prototype in a Honda Civic and also used a small trailer mounted motor/generator to provide extra range. An electric car with such a setup could have no range limit. The recent hybrid designs have engines which are too large, IMHO, as a design like the original VW 1-Litre using a small diesel engine would provide much better mpg. As an aside, we considered hybrid cars back in the middle 1974's when I was working with a group in response to the Arab/OPEC Oil Embargo. At the time, the available electronic components couldn't handle the power levels required for AC motor drive...

E. Swanson

The little trailer solves a lot of problems. I've seen some online. AAA has a tow-truck with a generator for recharging electrics.

The new electronics are mostly IGBT (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor) based switching power conversion. Silicon-carbide IGBTs exist now. The batteries are being stacked to 750 volts in some work.

The recent hybrid designs have engines which are too large, IMHO

Not just your opinion, but performance over efficiency in todays car market.

If it wasn't for legislation it would be performance over safety, too.

prototype in a Honda Civic and also used a small trailer mounted motor/generator to provide extra range.

The Volt was consciously designed based on that trailer.

Bob Lutz wanted to make a pure EV, and a GM exec remembered that trailer...

GM definitely sunk a LOT of money into the EV1... But they were also a funder of the Heartland Institute, an 'libertarian' think tank with some notorious positions, notably on global warming. My feeling is that it was a "conspiracy" in that they didn't want to make it and hoped it would fail, but due to what I've heard about GM corporate culture from various auto sites and their comments, this was a very emotional failure. There was malice, but from an intellectual point of view it was pure incompetence.

As an example - let's take Bob Lutz as the perfect symbol of GM, as he helped drive the thing into the groud but also helped them be very successful while gas was cheap. He's super macho, former fighter pilot, performance car freak who pretty much didn't believe that anything about "environmentalism" was true. A real poster boy of American manhood. Do you think he thought much of small cars? Or of how to be a leader in fuel economy? Or peak oil?

Apparently this was the case throughout GM - if you worked on small cars, you were looked down on, denied promotion, and thought of as "unmanly". Look at what happened to Saturn, which was created to make small cars - it was subsequently slowly destroyed by neglect after Roger Smith left. The EV1 was the epitome of everything GM culture hated, so they had to kill it. It was created basically on orders of a left-wing, coastal state (California, which had zero-emission laws), it was small, it was "eco", and it not fast or "manly". GM basically had an autoimmune response to the EV1.

Now, GM put together the Volt, which is still no Prius - if they had kept the EV1 and developed it over 15 years, they would be ahead of Nissan's Leaf and probably would have the technical know-how to take on the Prius as well (GM has worked on hybrids for years as well, behind the scenes). But they put their emotions ahead of their intelligence, and they failed.

Its also true that California had laws on the books requiring every manufacturer to build a certain percentage of cars that were "zero emission" in the relatively near future. I think GM built the EV1 as a prototype of what they would need to build to sell into that market. It was an honest engineering effort to prepare for that eventuality.

Unfortunately California rescinded the requirement. Not suprisingly this was done partially because the automakers (here comes my conspiracy theory)sold legislators all around the country on the hydrogen fuel cell. Once they got the legislators off their backs they dumped the EV1 and said "OOPs, no fuel cells either. Wanna buy a truck?"

IIRC, the Nickle-Metal-Hydride batteries used in the Prius were developed primarily on GMs dime, then the rights were sold cheaply to Toyota.

I've sen crazy things happen with that auto-immune thing. I worked for a company who was cleverly manuveured by Sun into designing and building a high end computer that fit into their line, even though other companies that had done similar things with Sun had been manuveured into giving up and selling the product to Sun for a few cents on the dollar. Well, we were bought out by SGI, who considred Sun to be their worst enemy. Organ rejection was fast and complete. The product line was soon to them for the promise not to lay off any of the employees. They reportedly made a billion dollars off it -though ultimately their ship begin sinking within a few years too.

Auto-immine reaction, often results in expensive research and development being firesale sold off for pennies on the dollar. But usually the purchaser has a better idea of how to use it, so overall the system kinda works.

Concerning the Volt, it fails because one has to have a JOB, and one that pays well, to afford payments for a $40,000+ car, even with low to no interest financing. The Volt is a failure of both GM and the federal government to anticipate the broad, systemic economic effects of an end to cheap and abundant fossil fuels. It'll be mass transit for the masses, eventually. Meanwhile, the lower and former middle class continue getting about with the leftovers of a bygone era, much like certain Central and South American countries. Auto repair should be a big business in future, paid in all kinds of "currency".

I think you need a job for pretty much any car. But after $7500 tax-credit, it is only slight above the average $30K spent on a new car today. Yeah, it is expensive. I think the pure electric route is better if you want electric on a low budget. You can get the Mitsubishi-i for less than $20K after the tax-credit.
It is a very compromised vehicle though . . . small 4-seater with 62 mile EPA range.

The Leaf is a little pricey right now at $35K before tax-credit but everyone is hoping they drop the price once they get the Smyrna, Tenn plant up & running making Leafs.

GM put together the Volt, which is still no Prius

I'd say it's better than the Prius. Sure, the gas MPG is only about 37, but that's only about 20% of miles driven.

Better acceleration, much better overall MPG...

To this day, still seems conspiratorial to me.

Conspire - v. con·spired, con·spir·ing, con·spires. v.intr. 1. To plan together secretly to commit an illegal or wrongful act or accomplish a legal purpose through illegal action.

If one can show the illegal act, then you don't need the 'weaker' wrongful act.

the truth hurts doesn't it? you can ignore everything before it's day to day use and call the device green all you want, nature won't care. it's use isn't green if it's powered by electricity not made in a 'green' way.

Well so what if it isn't 'green'? I hate the fact that EVs just pigeon-holed as 'green'. That is part of it but not all of it.

It is also about reducing foreign oil usage. Powering those EVs with natural gas, wind, coal, nukes . . . that's all 100% domestic power.

But for the most part, EVs are greener than gas cars. Only in some places that have very heavy coal-powered generation are they near break-even or worse. But even then, it could be a temporary thing as the grid is getting cleaner all the time. Natural gas & wind were the #1 and #2 new sources of electricity installed in the USA in the past few years. And you can always throw some PV panels on your roof and 'grow your own'.

your moving the goal posts back to the only the generators. natural gas is cleaner but not green, wind & solar are not green and are not a alternatives to fossil fuels as they are needed to make them. they are whats called fossil fuel extenders as use a bit less fossil fuels then the current way but are still dependent on them.

but lets ignore that because it brings up the uncomfortable fact that nature doesn't care about where 'you' put the goal posts or hang the curtain and ignoring everything behind it. it sees the whole picture and nothing else.

the fact of the matter is the only way you can 'say' ev's and plug in hybrids are better is if you ignore everything that goes into making them. but since you do that with wind and solar it's not that much of stretch.

wind & solar are not green and are not a alternatives to fossil fuels as they are needed to make them

LOL at posting that on an internet web site from your computer.

You might as well just off yourself if you are going to go that extreme. Take the argument to its logical conclusion.

this also reminds me of the idiocy of the movie 'who killed the electric car' which lays the blame on the auto industry and the oil industry.. never mind the fact that in the 90's gas was a buck and a half or less, the ev's they are talking about were 40k and above and going up against cars less then half that price in the market.

I'm a huge proponent of EVs but I'll say that the EVs were just not practical at the time. The batteries sucked and gas was cheap. That is the main reason they died.

However, the auto companies did handle the situation badly crushing the EV-1s and abandoning the EV. If they kept a small little program working in the background, they would have been in much better shape when oil hit $147/barrel. They would have had EVs & PHEVs available. But instead the pushed the hydrogen boondoggle as a distraction. The oil company lobbyists helped them with this. In reality, the oil companies royally screwed over the car companies by helping make sure the auto companies were completely dependent on oil-based cars. So in 2008, the oil companies made world record profits and the auto companies went bankrupt. I hope the learned their lesson. The oil companies are not their friend.

badly only in hindsight. completely and utterly normal and correctly if your looking at it from their point of view.
forward looking vision only looking ahead at least a quarter and at most a year and not any more. They also are not governments or university's all parts of the organization have to make profits. no or a very limited scope of research is allowed to be a loss for a 'just in case' even that they don't see past their limited forward looking sight.

as for any thinking there is any kind of conspiracy like relationship between oil and auto industries are ignoring how 'small' the car market is to oil companies.

"The recent run-up in oil and gasoline prices may have run its course - for now."

Despite the fact that this pattern repeats itself nearly every year, pundits always seem to be surprised at the rise and subsequent decline of gasoline prices in the spring. They throw out all kinds of explanations except the one that is consistent year after year: The transition from winter to summer gasoline almost always makes prices rise from January through April or May. It would be similar if they scrambled to find a new explanation each year for why the snow seemed to dissipate as we head toward summer.

Of course that isn't to say that there aren't underlying supply issues that are causing the base price to be higher in subsequent years. Of course there are. But the springtime rise, flattening, and decline is nearly as consistent as springtime itself.

I think the steam car could make a come back. Runs nicely on any combustible.

Runs nicely on any combustible.

Even Soylent Green?

Sounds a bit dystopian, but recycling all that captured solar biomass solves some rather serious problems of what to do with disposing it all, once a die-off really gets going.

I swear Dr. Suess's The Cat in the Hat is a brilliant piece on handling any mass disposal problem. I think he was writing to a larger audience than just children. The Lorax also comes to mind, now a movie. I assign those books to my graduate students, who of course think I'm crazy.

There is no doubt that Dr. Geisel wrote to a larger audience!


Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel, 1904-1991) was a life-long cartoonist: in high school in Springfield, Massachusetts; in college at Dartmouth (Class of 1925); as an adman in New York City before World War II; in his many children's books, beginning with To Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street (1937). Because of the fame of his children's books (and because we often misunderstand these books) and because his political cartoons have remained largely unknown, we do not think of Dr. Seuss as a political cartoonist. But for two years, 1941-1943, he was the chief editorial cartoonist for the New York newspaper PM (1940-1948), and for that journal he drew over 400 editorial cartoons.

I assign those books to my graduate students, who of course think I'm crazy.

Silly grad students, what do they know? >;^)

Could we possibly ban "Soylent Green" from Drumbeat - gosh it is clichéd.

NADA: 7 million car buyers to be pushed out of the market by fuel economy rules

If the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration makes its proposed 2025 fuel economy standards official, cars are going to be more expensive, and that's going to shut millions of buyers out, argues the National Automobile Dealers Association. "If the price of a vehicle goes up by the government estimate of almost $3,000," says David Wagner, an analyst for the NADA Used Car Guide, "millions of people will no longer be able to finance a new vehicle." The proposed standard is aiming for an average of 54.5 mpg for both cars and trucks by 2025, and is predicted to add $2,000 to the cost of a vehicle. Add to that the $1,000 or so that's going to be added to the price of vehicles as the current fuel economy requirements phase-in between now and 2016, and the $30,000 average price of a new car rises to the point where lower income buyers may not be able to qualify for financing.

In exasperation I had to add the following comment to the fast growing stream of comments

Jeffrey J. Brown, an independent petroleum geologist in the Dallas, Texas area has collaborated with Sam Foucher, researcher at Computer Research Institute of Montreal in examining oil production, consumption and net exports of various oil producing regions around the world. If current trends continue, they estimate that Saudi Arabia will approach zero net exports sometime between 2027 and 2031. That's right people, these guys are projecting that SA will go from their peak rate of exports of 9.1 mbpd in 2005 (8.1 mbpd 2011 estimate) to a big fat zero in about 15 to 20 years time! NADA should worry about how they're going to deal with the consequences of that!

Alan from the islands

I like this comment from that article:

They also destroyed 3 million cars .... in the misnamed "Cash for Clunkers." That's 3 million cars that unemployed and barely employed youngsters could pick up for a couple of thousand dollars apiece to at least make themselves employable.

In current American society do people need their own vehicle to be "employable"? Probably most people do. What happens to such a society under your scenario of oil prices rising sharply over the next 20 years?

"In current American society do people need their own vehicle to be "employable"?"

It's a function of where you live and who you work for. My boss won't even go for a 4-10 work week. Everyone must be at work during the core work hours. In fact, we have three different starting times for three different groups of workers. That makes mass transit pretty much unworkable as well since you can't get enough people going the same direction at the same time to make it cost effective.

In low end jobs with different start-end times (like restaurants) staff routinely carpool and then wait on the employer's convenience as to when they may work/leave.

P.S. My company doesn't favor 4-10's since getting 5-10's from the same person for the same pay works out a lot better for them.

That's 3 million cars that unemployed and barely employed youngsters could pick up for a couple of thousand dollars apiece to at least make themselves employable.

And it has put some of the smaller used car lots out of business.


his legislation would establish a 5-year, $50 million grant program through which states, localities, and nonprofits could apply for funding to strengthen existing low-income car ownership programs or create new ones. Studies show that people are more likely to find steady employment and earn a decent wage when they have access to a car.
"For many low-income families, getting to a job can be even harder than getting hired in the first place. Entry-level jobs of low-income workers are increasingly found in the faraway plants, warehouses, strip malls, and office parks of suburbia," Congresswoman Moore said. "This bill would assist these workers in getting to their place of employment, whether it is in a factory in a neighboring town, or during the graveyard shift when public transportation does not run."
In recent years, a number of states and non-profit organizations have developed programs to assist the working poor with the purchase of a car by making available-for subsidized sale or lease-donated vehicles or vehicles purchased wholesale from dealerships that have been repaired to good working order.

Only the last ones may be the 'clunker grade' units.

Lets see if this person who understands how important it is for the working poor to have car transportation understands what happens with 'cash for clunkers'?

Gwen Moore voted in favor of the Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act.
Voted YES on $2 billion more for Cash for Clunkers program.

$2 Billion for the rich or $50 million for the poor spent over 5 years.

Alan, you know that the most likely response to that comment is "the US is sitting on more oil than Saudi Arabia right now, if the government would just get out of the way!"

Of course! To which my response would be the following questions. What exactly was it that happened in 1970 when US crude production peaked? What legislation was enacted and which government agency was set up to protect the environment? Just askin'.

Alan from the islands

Careful there - you'd play right into their hands. From Wiki:

The EPA was proposed by President Richard Nixon and began operation on December 2, 1970

And the first Earth Day was in 1970, so clearly US PO was all the fault of the envirowhackos!

Right, I guess that settles it then! Drill baby drill!! ;-)

Alan from the islands

ITUNES U, which is available through the ITUNES program has some great lectures series. All the items are free.

Petroleum Geology by Stephan Luthi, University of Delft (mentions Heinberg and Simmons in first lecture!)
Organic Agriculture and Theory by Kathleen Delate, Iowa State University
Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior by Stephen Stearns, Yale University

These are some good ones. The files are pretty large 200+ Mb.


Looks like another GISS miss, more than a few people are getting fed up with Jim Hansen and Gavin Schmidt and their climate shenanigans. Some very prominent NASA voices speak out in a scathing letter to current NASA administrator Charles Bolden, Jr.. When Chris Kraft, the man who presided over NASA’s finest hour, and the engineering miracle of saving Apollo 13 speaks, people listen.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!

49 former NASA scientists and astronauts sent a letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden last week admonishing the agency for it’s role in advocating a high degree of certainty that man-made CO2 is a major cause of climate change while neglecting empirical evidence that calls the theory into question.

Really? What empirical evidence?

There is not a single climate scientist in the entire list of 49 consignatories and most of them are engineers and not scientists.


Now, however, new study released from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland measuring the global temperature variance during the past 100 years has found the sun’s heat and variable cycles have indeed made a significant, measurable impact and greatly influenced Earth’s climate.

In fact, the influence extends as far back as the Industrial Revolution.

Goddard’s research shows that the solar cycle’s ups and downs directly affect the temperatures and long term climate. During solar minimum they discovered about 1.36 watts per square meter of solar energy hits Earth’s mesosphere; solar maximum escalates to 1.40 watts per square meter.

It’s well-known that the sun passes through cycles of 11-year and 22-year intensities. Currently, the sun is on the upswing towards solar maximum when sunspot activity and solar flares will peak. The height of the maximum is expected during 2012-2013. Earth now cooling

After the current peak, NASA and other space agencies believe the sun will go unusually quiet for the next 30 years or more.

Edit http://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org/2010/02/anatomy-of-ipccs-himalayan-...

So you think scientists that play with mathematical "models" are a more reliable source than ENGINEERS who build things that get tested in the Real World? Pretty naive attitude on your part!

I grew up making fun of engineers (and their 'designs'), now I am one. Let's just say that engineers aren't noted by those living in the real world as particularly grounded. I'm guessing those writing to NASA are self-selected for an un-grounded inclination.

What's the difference between an engineer and a trampoline?
You take your shoes off before jumping on a trampoline.

(As told to me by an old Skunk Works engineer.)

Climate change denial is an American phenomenon.

Speaking as an engineer (and many examples here @ TOD have shown that I am), the Scientists at NASA have 1000x the credibility of these engineers.

Engineering is a limited range discipline. Science is not.

The names I know on the list are eminently unqualified to evaluate climate science except as lay people.

Best Hopes for Stop Denying Reality,


PS: I wonder how much the Koch Brothers paid them ?

Those guys are all old mission-control-types who can't get over the fact that they can't bark out orders any longer and expect everyone to snap to attention. With a little lost glory of NASA not being about manned space program anymore, just scientists at Goddard studying our environment.

The scientists are probably laughing at them in e-mails, and then someone will hack the e-mails and then reveal how uncivilized the scientists are for making fun of NASA's "Right Stuff".

And it goes on and on and on ...

"Most mathematician's mechanical ability stops at the other end of a fork."

(Told to me by the grandson of Alexander Moszkowski.)

Climate change denial is an American phenomenon.

I can think of at least 3 other countries with a fair amount of media attacks on climate science. It is interesting that brazil is the most concerned country and china is the least. Maybe religious folks care more than nihilists.

Global Warming Seen as a Major Problem Around the World

That would be interesting to know. Are they Murdoch countries?

"Engineering is a limited range discipline. Science is not."

You have it backwards. Engineers (and yes I am one, and I also have a chemistry degree) have to consider many factors in an analysis and design, as the item being engineered has to interact with the rest of the system and the environment. Scientists get to define the exact scope of what they are working on, and therefore limit their range more than an engineer ever gets to do.

On a side note, my dissertation ended up being on the limitations of non-linear mathematical models of process systems. That was not what it was supposed to be when I started it. People who are suspicious of the models are entirely justified. The fact the model matches the past perfectly is irrelevant to, and in no way guarantees that it will work in the future.

It was a discouraging Ph.D., and I went back into industry afterwards.

Although this is a subject that one should be careful about when making generalizations, I would be willing to venture the following observations:

- engineering education, at least at the undergraduate level, tends to deal with problems that have straightforward solutions.
- engineering oriented organizations reward people for "getting the job done", but success is often measured in a narrow context (e.g., one can do very nicely by meeting the milestones on a project that is doomed because of fundamental flaws and getting promoted to another project before things fall apart). Promoting yourself is at least as important as doing good technical work. Furthermore, it helps to believe that your work is more important than that carried out by other people.
- some engineering problems, particularly those of a system engineering nature, involve complex design/technology choices, trade-offs, and uncertainties. However, many engineers have narrow specializations.
- people who are successful in a specific domain often have an inflated sense of their expertise in areas that they are unfamiliar with.

Depending on their backgrounds, abilities, and personalities, engineers can differ radically. Some are de facto scientists and some are little more than technologists.


Some are de facto scientists and some are little more than technologists.

And, just to underscore why the US (or any?) political process is unlikely to ever solve such issues as PO or CC, the typical voter/consumer/joe sixpack would not at all understand the distinction.

Well said.

Some engineers do the same few tasks repetitively for an entire career -- "designing" things from cookie-cutter standards. If they are not intellectually curious they will not know anything outside of the cookbook--"30 years of seniority and one year of experience," we say. These are your technologists. Some engineers vary recipes. Some engineers write the cookbook. Some engineers cook from scratch. Some engineers develop ingredients, methods, and tools.

It's a spectrum. Multi-disciplinary engineers, with intuitive understanding, strong theoretical grounding, hands-on capabilities or at least understanding, creativity, curiousity, common sense, adjustable focus (big picture and narrow focus), and task orientation are extremely rare.

I know now (with a little more perspective) that most of the engineers I made fun of growing up were trying to fit a standard way of doing something to a non-standard problem due to lack of awareness of the problem, lack of ability to alter the standard solution, or lack of freedom to deviate from standard. More rare were the folks who simply had no idea what they were doing and were unaware even of the standard solution, or were trying to deviate but couldn't cook from scratch without making a mess in the kitchen.

A few of the people I was making fun of were right, and were compromising their solution to the problems I saw, to address an issue I didn't see.

I'd say the exact same things apply to scientists.

Engineers tend to work with and for conservative organizations, while scientists are somewhat more likely to work for progressive universities, etc.

The difference is cultural.

On a side note, my dissertation ended up being on the limitations of non-linear mathematical models of process systems.

Negative results don't get nearly the credit that they should. I'm a big fan of work that tells me "where the ice is thin," ie, conditions under which the model may behave badly.

Earth now cooling

Oh, mmkay!

So you think scientists that play with mathematical "models" are a more reliable source than ENGINEERS who build things that get tested in the Real World? Pretty naive attitude on your part!

First of all, I know a few real life scientists and have yet to meet one that plays with mathematical "models"!

Yes, I absolutely think that someone who has a Doctorate in climate science and has made a career of it to be a much more
reliable expert than some engineer, no matter how good they may be.

I wouldn't go to my plumber for heart surgery either, but might just be me...

When I replied to your first comment I thought you were just pointing out some climate change denialist site, I hadn't realized that you were actually one of them. I have no interest in further discussion with you.

Denialists have bypassed the logical part of their brain - and just listen to their inner monkey that cannot accept reality.

They then use scraps of logic to justify their emotional, non-rational decisions.

Unless, of course, they get paid.

True for the most rabid Peak Oil denialists, and Climate Denialists.

It took me a while too understand this. But it is quite true.


Denialist. Skeptic. Atheist. Socialist. (And the like).

All rather emotive words that really don't help folk like myself sort fact from BS. I listen to an idea that perhaps the sun's heat output (or whatever) goes through cycles, and it sounds kind of reasonable to me that this might be an explanation for recent rapid global temperature rise. But if I pose this idea to Auntie Liz the Greenie, I'm called a bald-face denier.

What the?

All I'm trying to do is get off the fence.

Cheers, Matt
Average Joe

If you want to sort fact from BS here are 3 good sources:




The first one is a U.S. government report by the United States Global Change Research Program. The second was started by a physicist who specializes in climate change communication, and addresses in as much detail as you want the "denier talking points". The third is by Joe Romm, a physicist who was Acting Assistant Secretary of Energy for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in 1997, where he oversaw $1 billion in R&D, demonstration, and deployment of low-carbon technology.

Thanks for the links, Stoaty; I'll particularly have a good look at the second one (language seems a little more favorable to my limited IQ).

Perhaps it has something to do with where one lives. Here on the desert continent that is Australia, we've been pummeled by drought and flood lately; one minute Tim Flannery (on his $200,000 government salary) tells us the dams will never again be full, then when they are, it's all about the extremes. For those of us (almost all) who have no expertise, we can only let our eyes and ears determine an opinion. As good as all the science is, most of it is undecipherable by folk such as myself, so determining fact from fiction remains a great frustration.

There are those who say PO is a great turning point; there are others who say the Earth's centre is 6000km down and we've barely scratched the surface. What to believe? Dismissing the existence of God seems like child's play in comparison.

Cheers, Matt

The earth's center is 6000km down. But, if you think about the effects of heat and pressure, only the top few km are accessible.

It's irrelevant how far down the earth's center is. In any petroleum producing area there will be some particular formation below which you will find no oil. You have to figure out the geological history of the area to know what that formation is.

Generally speaking you will find no oil before the start of the Cambrian Period, about 570 million years old, which marks the point when animal life exploded all over the planet and oil formation really started. That's not 100% true, but it is 99.99% true which is good enough for most practical purposes. Geologists refer to deeper formations as the Pre-Cambrian Basement and lose interest at that point (although sometimes they may drill a few hundred feet into it just to check their geology.)

Of course, it's difficult to explain to creationists who think the earth is only 6000 years old why they won't find any oil deeper than the Cambrian.

Even where younger sediments have been deeply buried, doesn't the heat/pressure cook out any hydrocarbons anyway? So even if there once was oil in them thar formations, once its been deeply buried you can assume it is no longer there?

But, even if it was. And I'd bet there are a lot of very valuable minerals in the mantle (diamonds for instance), we just can't get it out, and instead must search for the very rare instances where geological processes have brought stuff up to the surface.

If the oil has been buried too deep at any point in its geological history, it will have become too hot and been cooked to natural gas by thermal cracking. This has happened to a lot of the world's oil.

However, some of the oil may have ended up becoming diamonds if it was buried deep enough - not that it does anybody any good unless they are brought to the surface by volcanic action (Kimberlite pipes).

The problem, Joe, is that when people have an agenda separate from just discovering the truth it has been prove quite effective to use anectodal evidence or outright lies to discredit the work of real scientists (and engineers!). This has proven to be so much the essence of the climate debate that most people who have tried to understand the subject simply throw up their hands.

I think if you try to understand the situation by taking seriously the arguments on both sides and studying them you will never have the time to figure out what is happening unless you are a genuine climate scientist.

My approach is to look at who is saying what. This has to go beyond the logic of what is called "argument by authority". When I see anything posing as news about climate science I try to find out if there is a connection between a credible organization and the news source. I have seen so many of the denier "sources" with links back to the Heartland Institute or affiliate people and organizations that I simply dismiss them out of hand if there is a connection. A large portion of them have that linkage. On the other hand I have faith in the IPCC, an organization composed of literally hundreds of climate scientists who have affiliations with hundreds of governments science departments.

I'm comfortable with this approach because I simply don't believe the fundamental position of the the deniers that these thousands of real scientists are engaged in some kind of "liberal conspiracy" which is being exposed by the organization that was paid by the tobacco companies to deny that smoking is bad for your health.

I've had some back and forth with the folks at realclimate. They are willing to share their thoughts, and uncertainties, as well as show why the science points where it does. They really are quite good at their profession. I have enough knowlege to have trust in what they are doing. Mostly the other side engages in character assasination, rather than real scientific argument -which is always welcome [although continual rehashing of discredited talking points is not apreciated]. Of course for someone new to the debate, the talking points may appear reasonable, so misinterpretaion of whether someone is a troll, or is interested in making a good faith effort to understand is always a possibility.

Thanks JJ,

I'm actually married to a science teacher and her old man was an environmental advisor to Shell Australia for a number of decades. The father-in-law is a "believer", the wife a "skeptic", me the fence-sitter. Then there's the doctor, engineer and IT guru that are the sibs; a few glasses of red around the dinner table and the conversation can get quite jovial!

My problem is not with believing or not, it is with the use of emotive terms. As such, I would disagree that many people have agendas (on either side). For a host of reasons, we are for the most part incredibly uneducated about our climate and those who choose to learn more should not be branded "denialist" (for me, conjours a term like racist). If I hear a marine biologist claim warming seas may be good for coral growth in reefs (or some such), should I immediately assume he has an agenda? Why would he put his name to such a claim, put his face on TV for all to see?

FWIW, I also consider the term, "alarmist" equally offensive. Labelling: Not on, IMHO.

Cheers, Matt

The real scientists agenda is to figure stuff out and promote understanding. Get a layer of two away from the science, and things usually become more confrontational. But, at the science level, it is all about trying to figure stuff out, and the uncertainties of knowledge and how to reduce them. As I said earlier, some of the 'denialist" stuff, is packaged to look like science, but it doesn't stand up to rigorous scrutiny. But even after having been refuted a zillion times, the same points keep being recycled. Thats where the acrimony from the AGW side comes from, a good faith opponent would retire arguments that have been decisively refuted. There is a huge asymmetry of integrity.

If your wife and her father are on opposite sides of the fence and the three of you are close, staying ostensibly neutral isn't a bad choice, even if you do come around to the majority view.

This has to go beyond the logic of what is called "argument by authority".

Yes, but at some point you have to go there or you won't touch people. Once people have hitched their mental wagon to a particular authority they will tend to believe that authority on any topic, even if it is outside that authority's expertise.

I think it's tied into our sense of loyalty, and anyone who is willing to question their authorities is automatically considered disloyal and untrustworthy.

Mere physical facts never enter into the discussion.

Joe, Atheist and Socialist don't have much to with this particular discussion.

As for Denialist and Skeptic please see my comment posted a few days ago:

I listen to an idea that perhaps the sun's heat output (or whatever) goes through cycles, and it sounds kind of reasonable to me that this might be an explanation for recent rapid global temperature rise.

Try educating yourself at a reputable climate science site such as realclimate.org

Hi FM,

I get that mankind is doing it's bit to give Mother Earth a hard time, though I'm still hopeful she'll bite back. My beef was with the use of words such as "denialist" and "skeptic"; if an argument is posed I haven't heard before, I'd like to consider it before dismissing it or not. Unfortunately it seems, if I ask the wrong person, I'm immediately tarred as a denialist, quite an emotive tisk-tisk.

How can one be called a denialist (or skeptic) because they might consider various suggestions, especially when one has no particular expertise other than "gut feeling". Similarly, how can one be branded an atheist because they doubt a God created everything; if God doesn't physically exist, what's to believe? And apparently socialism is a terrible thing to consider, even though I very much enjoy being social and would prefer a far greater distribution of wealth.

I guess my beef is being labelled. Particularly with words that are 100% black and white. Who enjoys that?

Cheers, Matt

PS. Re your link to, "The lure of solar forcing", you lost me in the first paragraph. Though I very much enjoy the quality of comments at TOD, much of the tech stuff washes over my head, no matter how many re-reads. A great personal frustration.

Hey Joe,

I very much respect your honest effort to inform yourself about our many predicaments.

To be clear there is a very significant difference between denialism and skepticism and I do not consider you a denialist nor would I wish to label you as such.

I believe this statement from the denialism blog really puts it in a nutshell:


Denialists are not honest brokers in the debate (you'll hear me harp on this a lot). They aren't interested in truth, data, or informative discussion, they're interested in their world view being the only one, and they'll say anything to try to bring this about.

So skeptics are honest and willing to change their views if presented with evidence while denialists are not.

Hope that helps clear things up a bit.


Where misunderstanding of intent comes in. If a guy like you repeats the same (to the listener) tired old arguments, the first assumption, is that he is doing it out of political partisanship, rather than because it genuinely sounded good to him. We humans have to continually work on communication. When someone says (or writes) X, our minds are also thinking, why is he saying that?, has he got an agenda?, is it bacause of Y. Many of these conjectures about the speaker can be completely wrong, but unless they are discussed, misunderstanding will ensue.

Now, science is based to a substantial degree on skepticism. But, skepticism directed towards testing the truth (or not) of propositions about nature. Some on the other hand, brandish skepicism as a weapon to dismiss anything the other guy say's.

Matt, I agree with Fred's comments, but want to add a bit more. All good scientists are skeptics, as it is their duty to question any new finding. Nobody gets a Noble Prize without challenging old interpretations of data from the natural world.

I use the word "denialist" to try to separate out real skepticism from dogmatic refusal to accept the state of scientific knowledge which has been steadily gathered and which supports the basic concept of Global Warming. Then too, there are people who apparently are paid to spread denial of science and those people I especially include within my definition of the "denialist camp".

The problem is that for the majority of the public, it is impossible to understand even the basics of the situation, given the general lack of scientific education within the public. A prime example is the influence of solar forcing. Does solar variability impact climate? I think there's little doubt of that and solar forcing has been included in the study of past climate change at least as far back as 1988 when James Hansen hit the news with his testimony before the US Congress. But, does solar variation explain the trends seen in the temperature record? I think solar does not answer that test. The denialist camp repeatedly makes this claim, but in so doing, they also ignore other forcing influences, such as volcanic eruptions and changes in ocean circulation, without which their arguments are little more than loud talk, IMHO...

E. Swanson

There are very well known 11 year cycles in sunspots - which have been shown to be related to increases and drops in solar radiation since we got space based measurements (since 1977 from memory).

I looked up the values and the average for a solar max year is 0.07% brighter than for a solar minimum year. Much larger values for single day spikes (which I am sure the deniers will grab onto).

The earth has a LOT of water and even more rock. These serve to moderate the temperature swings. It takes about 30 to 40 years for an increase in energy (say from less energy irradiated away due to more GHG, or more solar energy coming (due to orbital dynamics or a more active sun) to be fully realized.

So the small variation from the solar cycle is dampened by the thermal mass of our oceans.

So far, the solar cycles have been pretty stable since Climate Chaos first began to be noticed.

There is some informed speculation that the solar cycle will drop for the next 11 or 22 years. Not yet supported by data (it ain't happened yet). Just informed speculation so far.

As far as orbital dynamics, from memory they are heading towards a cooling trend. And they take 1,000s of years to have an impact, not the mere decades that we are seeing.

On interesting statistic. Prior to 1950, the number of record highs and lows for the 365 days of the year at weather stations away from major cities were about 1 to 1 before 1950. That ratio has climbed to where we have 11 record highs for every record low. Something has changed.

And to demonstrate that we humans are conducting a massive uncontrolled experiment on our atmosphere

Look for the second graph on this site - data from 1958


Hope that helps.


That last solar minumum was very low and prolonged (in terms of magnetic activity), but the sun is quite active now -even though (or maybe because of) the delay of the start of this cycle. Where it is going, noone really knows.

TSI (total solar irradiation), only a changes a bit during the cycle, and I don't think the observed variation (of temps) with the cycle is in phase with it. Ultraviolet radiation varies much more, and this effects the upper atmosphere (like where the ozone layers are). How these changes transmit to changes at the surface is not understood.

Thanks Alan,

I guess I'm making comment as I observe my fellow Joes and Janes. And perhaps it's made more difficult in Australia as most of us still see ourselves as financially "OK" (whatever that means). We've all seen Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth", with graphs like the one you've pointed to. But it's still BAU as far as I can tell; bills, mortgage and flat screen TVs come first. At a recent Court Party (and after several amber ales), I posed to most what they thought about GW/CC, did they believe the science. Lots of fence sitters like me, but a greater leaning to "denial" (there's that damn word again! :)).

I don't see this position changing any time soon, so really, what does it matter what I believe - do you reckon I can convince my wife of 22yrs to wear an extra jumper in the cooler months, rather than ramp up the ducted heating? And she's the math/science teacher of year 12s!!

Cheers, Matt


You have raised some excellent points about labeling people. To me labeling people idealist or skeptic is going to happen no matter what. But it becomes meaningless until you carefully define what the subject is.

Take me for example. I have no problem accepting that warming is going on. I have no problem accepting that humans are contributing to that warming. Therefore I have no problem accepting that there is a huge potential problem heading our way. To me anyone who denies those things is a denier.

But my normal orientation is to rely heavily on actual data. And I think the actual data backs up the observation of global warming. On the other hand I have spent a large part of my career doing mathematical modeling of complex systems into the future and I know how problematical that can be. Therefore when I read the IPPC reports (yes I actually read a 700 page version of the IPPC) I come at them in a skeptical manner. Making long range (80 years) predictions of temperature changes in extremely complex multivariable systems that are highly adaptive I simply do not accept that they are that predictive.

So if the subject is climate change, and whether it is human influenced I do not consider myself a denialist or even a skeptic. About the year 2100 predictions of temperature on the planet earth I am extremely skeptical.

Thanks Texas,

I think it's a bit like a Michael Moore doco (intended for Mr & Mrs Joe Ave) - while most is honest and good-intentioned, it only takes a little bending of the truth for the nay-sayers to rip into the overall theme. I agree completely humans are upsetting the balance "somewhat", but is it enough to really matter in the "long term"?

I had an hour to myself yesterday; intended to crack out the banana lounge and read a book in our garden, in our leafy suburb of our "most livable city" (Melbourne, Oz - yay us! :)). Instead I simply stared at the blue sky, listened to the birds and fell asleep thinking, shucks, are things really that bad? Of course, the neighbour's bloody mower woke me up!!

Cheers, Matt

I think it's a bit like a Michael Moore doco (intended for Mr & Mrs Joe Ave)

Welcome to this forum, but I think you are playing the "Joe Average" card a bit too hard. It comes across as an anti-elitist, anti-intellectual shtick, even if that isn't your intention.

I also live in Melbourne (Moonee Ponds - lucky me), and really - there isn't enough space in this Drumbeat to articulate all the planning, growth, transport, resource use, water, and other problems our fair city faces. They are enormous, if you look at the Big Picture.

I think the only rational position to take, is that Global Warming is occurring fast, and as a result of humans adding CO2 and other agents to the atmosphere. That is the baseline - and from there you work through how you will deal with these things.

I have young nephews and nieces (in their 20s) who are getting married and buying or building McMansions out in the sticks (Craigieburn etc) - I try to talk to them about how unsustainable that will be over 20-30 years (both as a result of Global Warming and Peak Oil), but I do not get a good response. All they see are the four bedrooms plus 3.5 bathrooms plus study plus home theatre.

We can only provide advice - we can't force anyone to take it.

I listen to an idea that perhaps the sun's heat output (or whatever) goes through cycles, and it sounds kind of reasonable to me that this might be an explanation for recent rapid global temperature rise.

First you have to prove that Earth is indeed undergoing a natural warming cycle. Second, you have to prove that human generated greenhouse gases haven't made your assumed natural warning cycle even warmer. If you can do that, then you've just proven that most of the real climate scientists are wrong. If you can't do that, then you have to entertain the possibility that the climate scientists are correct.

I never understood why most climate change deniers always assume that we're in a natural warming cycle versus being in a natural cooling cycle that's being overwhelmed by greenhouse gases??

The key word is "natural." They want to believe that the warming is natural (global climate is beyond the ability of humans to influence) which allows them to argue that humans can not and have no responsibility to interfere with it. They do not want to pay for their pollution whether it is in the form of money, inconvenience or decreased standard of living.

Lets give Joe the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully he can try to evaluate the data himself. Be warned there is a lot of misinformation (some cleverly packaged) out there. You fell for one of them. As long as you investigate in good faith, you deserve respect.

In any case, Sun connections have been investigated for decades. There is about a .1C global temp effect over the elevenyear cycle. But, it is a cycle, the planet is also undergoing a longterm warming of >.1C per decade, so the solar signal isn't overwhelming, in fact it requires sophisticated statistical techniques to uncover.

Some who start out as denier's can change if they make good faith efforts. Judith Curry -who wasn't a climate scientists made denialist claims, and got Koch funding for the BEST project, which hoped/expected to overturn the warmist case, but their data analysis simply confirmed it instead.

Thanks Enemy,

I think I made the mistake of using the sun-cycle example in the first person. It was meant to be in argument against the use of the term "denialist", which I kind of find offensive (like being called an "Athiest" - don't believe God exists? How can one be called something if they don't believe that thing actually exists?). I have an IQ of 105 and to be perfectly honest, most stuff just doesn't stick; it takes me hours to absorb what you guys and gals soak up in minutes. Hours I don't really have.

For the record, I jumped onboard Al Gore's initial bandwagon when it came to town, bought half a dozen of his DVDs, four of which I delivered to local radio stations. Since then, PO and Limits to Growth (really, why isn't LTG the number one subject?) have taken up front row in my mind. Seems kinda simple to just consume less, have less children, rather than save up for expensive solar panels and such.

Thanks again for all the responses and links.

Cheers, Matt

I don't mind being called atheist -because it is accurate. Of course denialist is used mostly with inteneded offense, becuase there is so much dishonest discourse (which doesn't imply that someone who naively picks up a meme is dishonest).

I think you're on the right track.

Al Gore is a hypocrite and a dope - typical of many Americans who profess to call themselves liberals. Ignore anything written or produced by him.

Peak oil and the ongoing collapse of global industrial civilization is much more important than AGW. Besides, nothing much can or will be done about AGW.

I think you have absorbed a bit too much ideology in your worldview, and a few more years will broaden your perspective, if you don't insist on wearing blinkers. I know the attraction of categorical thinking, but beware...

Note I'm only a few years older than you, but I've seen my perspectives change dramatically over time...

Denialist. Skeptic. Atheist. Socialist. (And the like).

All rather emotive words that really don't help folk like myself sort fact from BS.

Hey - I don't think the last three are emotive words, and certainly aren't in the same paddock as the first term. I am very happy to be described as S(c)eptic. Atheist. Socialist. - however you're raising some straw men indeed, linking those to nut-fudge "Denialist."

Denialists have bypassed the logical part of their brain - and just listen to their inner monkey that cannot accept reality.

They then use scraps of logic to justify their emotional, non-rational decisions.

Great post Alan! Really no other way to figure it. My opinion includes they have a follower mentality. People are either followers or leaders, and even if they are only leaders of themselves, they have the ability to process information, do some critical analysis of the data and form an independent conclusion. But followers have a farm animal mentality in which they seek out leaders as decision makers to determine their stances on complex topics. They even become proficient at parroting their leaders arguments. In that sense they are no different than a water buffalo with a rope tied to its nose ring, as their brains are directed to whatever conclusions those leaders want to take them. In that sense a right wing leader has a great deal more power than a left wing leader.

There are also those of us who are neither follower, nor leader, so either get stuck in a rut through circumstance or pull their finger out and do something for themselves and dependents.

Cheers, Matt
Rut Guy

Computer modeling is used quite extensively in several areas of chemistry.


Not to mention Biochemistry... software for protein structure prediction is known to be pretty successful. Though I'm sure your average civil engineer who builds bridges in the 'real' world could probably show those grant hogging Biochemists a thing or two. Wait till the protein structure denialists hear of that conspiracy!

Got an expanation as to why climate scientists do not calculate a Global Warming Potential for water vapor? For a "Blue Planet" covered by water? For a climate model that is based on carbon dioxide "forcing" AGW through additional evaporation of water (a circular argument)?

Water is the dominant species of greenhouse gas


But I realize most of the TOD crowd doesn't get out too much. So I do not expect you to change your minds. But the general public is changing their minds. So get ready to do a lot more crying about "deniers".

Denier argument #34 (yup, some of these arguments are so common they have been cataloged, numbered and debunked):


Edit: for more detail see http://maths.ucd.ie/met/msc/ClimSyn/heldsode00.pdf

Water vapor is well known, and part of the models. It is considered a feedback, as it responds to temperature pretty quickly. It is a positive feedback because some warming leads to more water vapor, leads to more warming. That is why the sensitivity of the climate is as high as it is. Essentially it works as a multiplier to any other driver of temperature change. They all work in conjunction to modify the climate.

BT, everyone here knows perfectly well about the water vapor feedback. Perhaps it is you who needs to get out more?

A moment's thought would make clear to you that the ready availability of surface water on the planet means that whenever some other forcing comes along to warm those waters up, wv will provide a powerful feedback. It is exactly its ready availability that keeps it from being a forcing.

FF, on the other hand, had been mostly safely sequestered away, until we started un-sequestering it a couple centuries ago. Now that added C is heating up all the open water on the planet, with a result that water vapor has increased about 5%, with big effects on the intensity of storms.

Again, a moments thought would have made this clear to you.

But then thinking is such very difficult work.

And a moment can seem such a very long time.

Ohh, heck, its become a mainstay of mechanical engineering too. You can only get so far with only doing experiments. Even multibillion dollar jetliners that a bet the company affairs for the likes of Boeing, were designed with "numerical" windtunnels (i.e. computer analysis), for decades now. Pretty scary when the first time such an "experiment" see's real fluid flow (instead of computer), is during the test flight! But thats been standard now for decades.

Matters little if the change in the "hot" of the Earth is from CO2, the Sun, or whatever.

CO2's effect on ocean acidification ALONE should be worth taking action.

Yet the "action" taken is nothing more than the enrichment of the class who buys favours from politicians. Politicians who then demand the 'rest of us' pay for Carbon control efforts that divert 70% of the money into the class of entities who privatise the profits and make public the losses.


The "Carbon Dioxide is gonna kill us" crowd hasn't shown how they are going to prevent the 70% useless effort. Nor are the bulk of them taking their own effort via their own hands like burying Carbon in their own Carbon Victory gardens.

Obviously the scientists are working in their area of expertise, the engineers are just acting on political instincts. You are asking the equipment technician to overrule the Doctors judgement about the patients ailment.

Just as a note triggered by your words... If you are a patient in an American hospital, and no-one with your interests at heart is paying attention, you are doomed. The doctors make really bad mistakes. The nurses make really bad mistakes. The technicians make really bad mistakes*. The engineers designing the equipment make really bad mistakes*. Orders are given and executed, and then forgotten, and so given again. Meds are calculated for a situation, the situation changes, and the meds are not recalculated. You have to watch out for yourself, or have somebody watching out for you.

It's the system's goals that matter. The European model of regulation has often been preemptive: Things are restricted before glaring problems are created. Here, profits are maximized until glaring problems arise... like with so many medications in the last decades in America (to continue the analogy). Europe stopped the use of plastics that leach Bisphenol-A into food to head-off a easily understood problem... America just re-approved them since no toe-tags say "Bisphenol-A".

Corporate America is not watching out for you. If the hospitals used the same wording in reply to this charge that the corporations have launched into their media, then the hospitals would be saying "We ain't your mama" and "What, do you want to be healing in some nanny hospital?".



Therac 25 - The original Nancy G. Leveson IEEE article (pdf). A modern horror story.

Thanks... I think... gristly grizzly grim

The author of this piece of work, Terrence Aym, has written a book about paranormal stuff. He apparently lacks a basic understanding of the atmoapheric sciences, as he states that the TSI is 1.40 watts per square meter at solar maximum and 1.36 at minimum. The actual value outside the atmosphere has been measured by satellite and it ranges from about 1363 watts/m^2 at maximum to about 1360 at minimum, a difference of about 0.2%. The author is off by a factor of 1000...

E. Swanson

C'mon Eric, give a guy a break! He just left the kilo (k) of that power figure, that's all. He really meant kilowatts per square meter (kw/m2). What's up with this complicated metric system anyway? I've never heard of a kilo-yard, kilo-ounce, kilo-pint so, if one is not trained in the sciences or engineering, what's the big with this kilo (k) prefix. Jeez! You engineering/science guys can be so picky >;-)

Alan from the islands

What's up with this complicated metric system anyway? I've never heard of a kilo-yard, kilo-ounce, kilo-pint so, if one is not trained in the sciences or engineering, what's the big with this kilo (k) prefix. Jeez!

True, it's mostly Greek to those who haven't grown up with it! Seriously though, I assume most people can count to ten using the fingers on their hands. Multiplication and division by tens isn't that hard either.

BTW, 0.9144 km is equivalent to 1 kilo-yard >;^)

"I've never heard of a kilo-yard, kilo-ounce, kilo-pint"

But there is a ksi, short for thousands of pounds per square inch. It's used in material science.

It could be worse, at least we got rid of drams and minims, at least in engineering and science. Although some shotgun shells are still listed in dram-equivalents.

And alcohol consumption is often measured in drams, as in, "I've only had a wee dram of Scotch so I'll have nay problem walking home. I'll pick up me car in the morning."

I think the point is if the author doesn't even get units right, then you can assume his is just an uninformed opinion. (I presumed maybe he was talking about the absorption of UV by a narrow atmospheric layer not TSI, so perhaps we have misunderstood).

Attacks on climate science by former NASA staff shouldn't be taken seriously
A letter from former administrators, astronauts, and engineers at NASA expressing climate change scepticism does not deserve parity with the agency's peer-reviewed climate scientists


So you think scientists that play with mathematical "models" are a more reliable source than ENGINEERS who build things that get tested in the Real World? Pretty naive attitude on your part!

Well, I am an engineer, and I think you have to look at the model and the data for either group. FYI Hansen's basic model incorporates sunspot cycles. I have read Hansen's work and that of others, and I think Hansen is fairly objective with an added dose of the precautionary principle (which I think is pretty reasonable given the potential ramifications).

Let's deconstruct the article you quote:

Goddard's research shows that the solar cycle's ups and downs directly affect the temperatures and long term climate. During solar minimum they discovered about 1.36 watts per square meter of solar energy hits Earth's mesosphere; solar maximum escalates to 1.40 watts per square meter.

It's well-known that the sun passes through cycles of 11-year and 22-year intensities. Currently, the sun is on the upswing towards solar maximum when sunspot activity and solar flares will peak. The height of the maximum is expected during 2012-2013.

You won't find Hansen or any of the other major climate scientists disagreeing with this. This is pretty basic stuff that has been understood for many decades. It is already in their models.

After the current peak, NASA and other space agencies believe the sun will go unusually quiet for the next 30 years or more.

That would be rather serendipitous, but probably won't happen. I can't find any references to NASA or other agencies stating this as their position. The only reference I can find is to scientists mentioning the 30 year low of the Maunder Minimum period hundreds of years ago. The sun has actually become pretty active this year (solar flares, sunspots, etc).

Another proverbial nail in the coffin for the AGW theory is the fact that the Earth has been cooling since 2007.

Maybe for a couple years coming out of the sunspot minimum, but not any more.

Despite the fact that certain NASA scientists keep clinging to AGW (those with the largest government grants tied into the theory), the model has been showed to be flawed and some heavyweights are weighing in against it including one of the world's great paleoclimatologists.

George Kukla, 77, retired professor of paleoclimatology at Columbia University and researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory has stated categorically that "The only thing to worry about global warming is the damage that can be done by worrying. Why are some scientists worried? Perhaps because they feel that to stop worrying may mean to stop being paid."

During a lengthy interview with Gelf Magazine, Kukla explained: "What is happening is very similar to the time 115,000 years ago, when the last glaciation started. It is difficult to comprehend, but it is really so: The last glacial was accompanied by the increase of a really averaged global mean surface temperature, alias global warming.

"What happened then was that the shifting sun warmed the tropics and cooled the Arctic and Antarctic. Because the tropics are so much larger than the poles, the area-weighted global mean temperature was increasing. But also increasing was the temperature difference between the oceans and the poles, the basic condition of polar ice growth. Believe it or not, the last glacial started with 'global warming!'"

Sadly, Kukla's statement in the last paragraph is completely opposite of the actual observed trends over the last couple of decades. Data overwhelmingly show that the polar areas have been WARMING dramatically compared with the tropics, thoroughly discrediting his view. Without AGW we would be slowly heading for an ice age in the next 10,000 or so years, but the next 100 years are what the climate scientists are really concerned about.

This is just another denier hit piece with quotes from people who have not really studied the details.

So you think scientists that play with mathematical "models" are a more reliable source than ENGINEERS who build things that get tested in the Real World?

This seems an odd complaint, for multiple reasons. Scientists have built unpopular models before; lots of physicists hated quantum mechanics, but tunnel diodes and flash memory work. Engineers in more and more fields use computer models of increasing complexity as a critical design tool. Sure, they eventually build something, but they may build hundreds of virtual systems before settling on the final design. And certainly if I want an opinion on climate evolution over time I would ask climate scientists, with or without models, rather than ask -- to pick a couple of examples from the list of signatures on the letter -- engineers who work on flight crew training or solid rocket boosters.

This article at a site named Helium by Terrence Aym on April 03, 2011, begins with:

Under mounting pressure from scientists that reject the politically popularized man-made global warming and climate models—the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) theory—the American space agency NASA has admitted that all past warming trends were driven by solar activity.

What is the link to this "new study released from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center," and why did Aym omit any specific reference to it? Earth's Energy Budget Remained Out of Balance Despite Unusually Low Solar Activity (NASA GISS, Jan. 30, 2012) states the opposite:

A new NASA study underscores the fact that greenhouse gases generated by human activity — not changes in solar activity — are the primary force driving global warming.

We don't need no denier porn here. For a more level-headed report of this non-event, see:


See also some of the views of former astronaut Harrison Schmitt, who was one of the signers:


I think I will stick with climate scientists, rather than those with no expertise in the field.

Edit: Here is a useful link to get background on Schmitt: http://www.desmogblog.com/harrison-schmitt

Just curious, with everything else aside, do any of these idiots even know that the Communist Party is a legally established political party in the US?

Probably not. For an interesting book see "The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science--and Reality" by Chris Mooney. Brief article here:


Well I tend to agree certain attacks on deniers while they may seem well intentioned making someone feel like an idiot is not a way to make them agree with you. That being said I look at peak oil and global warming from a selfish position I guess. The problems are so big and so intrinsic that to argue with deniers is a waste of time-- I don't think we are going to get out of this one before we run out of whale oil. So there is no room for them on the Ark. I want to survive the upcoming catastrophe and hopefully profit a little from it. I am thinking if oil has one more downturn in price I am going all in on my chips but I have been waiting a long time for that. I have Republican friends and democratic friends and here is there outlook---Peak oil Republican--there is plenty of oil out there we just need the liberals to get out of the way so we can drill it and make gas cheap again. Democratic view--- there may be peak oil there may not...we just need the government to invest in alternatives and our problems will all be solved---conservatives need to get out of the way so we can get things done.

Here is additional information on one of the signers of the petition:

Dr. Harrison (Jack) Schmitt – JSC, Astronaut Apollo 17, 10 years

born July 3, 1935), American geologist, a retired NASA astronaut, university professor, and a former U.S. senator from New Mexico (republican).

According to Wiki: Harrison Schmitt he has been denying anthropic climate change for a while.

Moonstruck: Climate science denier Harrison Schmitt, appointed to head NM environment agency, believes enviros and scientists like Holdren are communists, Climate Progress, Joe Romm on Jan 27, 2011.

he believes the leaders of the environmental movement are communists, and that when these communist environmentalists are appointed to government positions, citizens need to “wake up” and “take control of their government again.

Schmitt is a disgrace to science, engineering, exploration and American history. If one carefully examines each of the signatories, I suspect one will discover they are all ideologically driven dingbats.

Seems a terrible pity (looking back in retrospect) that Apollo 17 made it safely home to earth.

RE: driving electric provides environmental benefits by helping conserve the nation’s petroleum reserves.

I see that people really believe this, that buying and driving electric cars will "provide environmental benefits." As if driving an e-car literally cleans the atmosphere a little bit with each mile.

The fact is, driving an electric vehicle remains an orgy of personal energy consumption. It's still an extravagant use of energy. And rather than being a benefit, buying and driving an electric car harms the environment -- much more than any one in a long list of personal transport choices. A switch to a "renewable" source would be an incremental improvement but not a fundamental change in this reality.

Electric cars ----> bad for the environment

At least, let's get this straight.

While I agree, I think by that standard nearly everything you do in an industrial society is bad for the environment. Your house and roads take up space and destroy habitat, your food may cause more greenhouse gases than your car and is cruel besides, your water is either draining some river that probably barely flows into the sea anymore or is draining an aquifer that will never recover, if you eat fish you're destroying the ocean's ecosystem, etc. Ride a bike or walk? Is your work even close enough? Are the roads safe enough? Are there alternatives in bad weather?

Electric cars are not as bad as ICE vehicles. They are in fact a big improvement, if just for effiency's sake. Right now, though, many people are completely dependent on cars to get to work, run errands, etc. Quite simply, the built environment is the biggest problem, and you can't unbuild it or rebuild it in a day.

You can tell people the truth, that what they do is wrong on some level... But in a society built on rivers of blood, it doesn't mean anything, and is even counterproductive. It's like asking everyone to be a monk. Frankly, I would rather have people use the electic cars if they are going to use a car.

I would think switching to an e car, is a half way step (half way to switching to a bicycle). With an e-car, you gotta think about the energy consumption, don't want to run out of charge. Your total energy being limited, means you had better pay attention. maybe the engendered attitude can spread to other things.

You don't think expensive gas will make people pay attention to their energy consumption?

It's true that 'just living' is energy intensive these days. But driving is one of the most, if not the most, energy intensive and environmentally damaging aspects of 'just living.'

Of course I understand that driving an e-car is an improvement over driving a regular car. But I argue the improvement is incremental at best. Most of the environmental benefit gained by not driving a gasoline car will be cancelled by driving an e-car.

And most of the people who think they are "dependent on cars to get to work, run errands, etc." are, in fact, not.

You're saying don't let the perfect become the enemy of the good. I'm saying don't fool yourself about what is good. If you take something that is really damaging, and call it "good" because it is somewhat less damaging than what you were doing before, it might actually become an obstacle in the way of meaningful improvement. It might become an excuse keeping you from making the most meaningful lifefestyle changes -- like not driving so damn much.

I'm reminded here of nat gas vs coal

Incidentally, I don't have a car - I commute by bike. I'm just saying you can't undo what has been done in a day.

As for "dependent on a car" - last place I lived, there was literally NO public transit that served the area. So don't tell me that people in the US don't need them. They do, if they want to keep their jobs or get jobs (late buses that don't run often are a great way to get fired from a job) and live somewhere they can afford. Remember that the median household income is 51k, and 1 in 8 people in the US is on food stamps. People ARE taking public transport, but few things widen your opportunity more than a car. Especially in the US, where even a crappy system by world standards is considered "good" public transit. If you're wealthy, you can move into a condo in the city or move near your job, but if you're less wealthy you rarely have those options. If you're poor enough, you don't have a car anyway.

Planetary justice and human justice have to meet up. Otherwise, people will try to put themselves first and predictably suffer from it. I'm just talking human nature. To be honest, I'm a doomer and expect none of this to mean much in the end. But if are going to try to do things better, we have to deal with what we have first.

Agree. We have to play with the cards (car dependent society) we have been dealt. BTW I've come to the conclusion the dealer is a sadist :-)

'Fundamental Changes' have to be done in steps. Getting ourselves out of the Happy Motoring world will still involve powered, personal vehicles. EV's CAN be powered from clean sources.. they DO remove local pollution sources in favor of stationary power that can be better monitored and cleaned, etc..

'Electric cars ----> bad for the environment'

That's just being didactic. How about ..

'Discussions on the Internet ----> bad for the environment' ..


'Cutting a hole in the body cavity -----> bad for the patient.. but is it worse than leaving that bullet in there?

'Cutting a hole in the body cavity -----> bad for the patient.. but is it worse than leaving that bullet in there?

Ouch! Well, Imagine having holes drilled in you elbow so they can insert screws and wires... that's what
I'm looking at on Monday due to having had my elbow shattered at work last Friday morning... While
I'm a pretty good bush doctor, this isn't something I can just fix myself. If I were living out in the boonies by myself, I'd be pretty much up the creek with no paddle. If we are truly headed for collapse someone with this kind of injury would at the very least lose the functionality of their arm... Made me think even more deeply about our general predicament and how oblivious most of us are to the consequences of peak fossil fuels on our civilization.

Giving up our SUV's will be the least of our problems...


Sheesh, You're typing pretty good, Fred.. whooda guessed?

Yikes! Best wishes for your paddling joints! Get better!


Tks! I'm already thinking about designing a better cast. I need something that will immobilize my elbow, is water proof and allows a good circulation of air. Right now I'm studying the wrist and elbow guards I normally wear for roller blading... Who knows there may be a whole new world of opportunities about to open up for me. Anyways, a traditional plaster cast is not something I am looking forward to wearing for six to eight weeks in the heat and humidity of South Florida. Hey, if life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

Your reaction is atypical of the public, and typical of TOD. One of my buddies makes a nice retirement income selling (for a couple hundred bucks, proven to save more than that thru reduction of follow-up surgery), durable medical equipment he developed for recovery in response to his own medical inconvenience.

Oww. Hope it comes out OK, not too much pain, and the regaining of functionality. Did your employer violate safety standards? They were invented for a reason. Hopefully he is paying for it?

This is a workman's comp claim. We were moving from one warehouse to another and I was lowering some vertical steel rack supports that were stacked against the wall, had been doing this all month long. I had lowered one about three quarters of the way down when the two remaining ones shifted and fell on top of the one I was holding up... that was too much weight for me to bear and I got knocked to the floor landing on my elbow...bummer.

Let me echo EoS's wishes... I hope your procedure goes well and that you recover from your injuries quickly and comfortably. And, remember, no flirting with the pretty nurses unless for therapeutic reasons.


Fred, I echo everyone else's wishes, except I say flirt to your heart's content... (you probably have a cartoon for that!)

LOL! Tks!

This is the sort of thing the doctors are very good at. Be well!

Fred, you are correct, elbow reconstruction is one for the pros. Post operative physical therapy has no doubt improved in the last 25 years. I had the wires and posts put in after a nasty fall. I really worked on getting the full range of motion back, even at the cost of some pain. The hardware came out a year later. It's mostly functional and fine now, I just have a barometer in one elbow.

Yes. Discussions on the internet and the like are also 'bad for the environment.' So is, say, going for a hike. Everything we do has impact. But driving a 3000-pound vehicle filled with electronic devices, seat heaters, defrosters, etc. is orders of magnitude more damaging and also incredibly extravagant and unnecessary. We don't see it because we're in it. At some point, if we're lucky, we'll look back and laugh.

No Green Buttons for driving. We will not save the world through driving.

E-cars are part of the denial phase.

Sorry, I think you're in denial with this line of argument. We have to move away from this system.. and it will not be 'One, Two, Three.. Everybody jump 2000 feet to the right!' .. Electric power can be used very cleanly, and it can mimic todays cars so that it works in the system we're currently IN.. but that change, that one step in a long long journey, is a fundamental shift just by virtue of the mode of power it uses.

One more thought, in response to the idea about 'People feeling good about themselves'.. thing is, I think we've done a hell of a lot to give people all sorts of ways to feel bad about themselves, and adding to that, when people do something productive, they're STILL told that they should feel bad for trying to feel good about doing something positive.

I think it's an empty critique, and implies that there's something wrong with the satisfaction of making smart choices, making tough choices, and making sacrifices.

There IS a bunch of marketing BS and so on.. but I don't agree that EV's are just toys.. they CAN be in some cases, but they can and are also being productive, non-polluting vehicles in the system we're in right now.. we've got to start from HERE.

"What if it's all a big hoax and we make a better world for Nothing!?"

For all the US based fans of the Ford Ranger pick-up truck, as I have pointed out in a comment on a previous drumbeat, the Ranger is alive and well, just not in the US. The following article was written by a high school batch-mate of mine who now writes for one of the two major newspapers in my neck of the woods:

New Ford Ranger redefines utility

The all-new Ford Ranger powertrains have been engineered to give customers a superior combination of power and torque at class-leading fuel efficiency. Three new engines are available to suit every purpose and pocket.

So, all you Ranger fans can go on down to your local Ford dealer and harangue them about why Ford is not selling that model in the US. Another small pick-up truck that will not be making it's way to the US is the Volkswagen Amarok since apparently Volkswagen has decided not to try and compete with significantly cheaper "full size" US built pick-up trucks, even though the most fuel efficient Amarok can deliver 31mpg (diesel) on the combined driving cycle.

Question is, why is small such a bad word when it comes to automobiles in the US. I tell you, it borders on crazy! Take this quote from a guy who commented in an article linked to in another post of mine:

Also, what other things are sacrificed to give me the extra mileage? Is it the weight of the car, so it can be blown off the road easier (believe me, a light car can be blown off the road with a big enough gust).

That is just wrong. Can anyone here confirm that they have any record of a small, light production car being "blown off the road with a big enough gust". For another example,I was once told by a rent-a-car counter agent in Miami that, at 6ft.3, I wouldn't fit in a Mazda 323 and that I should consider upgrading to a bigger car. I had to tell her I knew I could fit just fine seeing as how that size car is all we drive in Jamaica.

Alan from the islands

Ford dealers may be panicing a bit, not having the Ranger in their lineup. I've now received three offers from dealers to buy my '05 Ranger back, and the book value on my model has actually increased a bit. Perhaps I should sell while there is demand. It's my forth Ranger.

I've e-mailed Ford several times that I would buy a diesel model if it were available. The response is always the same: "We have an excellent line of full-sized pickups available at a dealer near you". Jeez...

Whatever happened to the Courier pickup, like this one from Brazil?



Whatever happened to the Courier pickup, like this one from Brazil?

It's doing just fine thank you! I think it now has a really nice flex fuel engine built in Brazil...


In 2010, the factory started the Sigma 1.6 engine production, with a global platform, which equips the Focus assembled in Argentina, and the New Fiesta assembled in Mexico for North American and Brazilian markets. Lightweight, durable, economical and with low noise and emissions, is the first flex-fuel Ford's engine with block, cylinder head, crankcase and aluminum pistons. It is the most modern line of Ford engines in Brazil and around the world, with technology and latest generation equipment to ensure the manufacturing processes

But it uses way too little gas or ethanol to be sold in the US.

Partly it is marketting the car industry makes more profit selling bugger cars/trucks. So they create demand for them. Part of that is making the owners/drivers of smaller cars feel inadequate. This is a price Americans pay for the worship of the freemarket corporate profit maximizing system. The culture is perverted by the corps, and they don't even realize it.

I love my Ford Ranger! It's the perfect size truck. I might've traded for a different Ranger had they continued sales here in the USA. As it is now, I will drive my truck till it dies a painful death on the side of the road someday in the future.

I was looking at cars recently and was quite surprised at what I found. Among other things:

- a full size sedan needs at least 250 horsepower to be considered a competitive product.

- a seemingly monstrous crossover vehicle was not nearly wide enough to carry a 4x8 sheet of plywood lying flat. Curiously, this vehicle was wider than most traditional minivans that could. I suppose one could have carried it on the roof rack, but the vehicle was high enough that placing it there would have called for the services of a couple of full size men.


2/3rds the HP of the large combine harvester featured in the food machine video someone posted!


Can anyone here confirm that they have any record of a small, light production car being "blown off the road with a big enough gust".

The old, rear-engine VW Beetle was prone to being blown off the road, but that was because it was a high vehicle and the rear-engine design put the center of pressure ahead of the center of mass. The suspension was designed to be affordable more than stable. When a gust of wind hit it, the car would suddenly change direction and if you weren't paying attention you could end up in the ditch.

However, it wasn't the lack of mass that was the problem. The rear-engine VW van was even worse because of its increased windage ("sail area") combined with the rear-engine layout. I use to give the drivers lots of space because you never knew what they were going to do in a gust.

Modern front-wheel-drive cars put the center of mass well forward of the center of pressure, and are quite low to the ground, so they are quite stable in wind gusts. Nothing is going to blow a Honda Accord into the ditch. OTOH, a big SUV or 4x4 truck is likely to end up upside-down in the middle of the highway if you swerve too hard, which an Accord would never do. If you lose it on black ice, an Accord can skid absolutely sideways down the road at 75 mph with little chance of flipping unless you hit a barrier. I've had this demonstrated to me, although not deliberately.

The biggest problem nowadays is semitrailers. We have winds here known as Chinooks which can hit hurricane force, and they are always blowing semitrailers off the highways (well, not always but sometimes). Lack of mass is obviously not the problem.

Unfortunately these memes refuse to die down. If anything I'd want people driving small cars, not just because they are more efficient but also because they are safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Giving people a car that looks like a tank is not a very bright idea.

Vehicle size versus pedestrian safety is not so simple as larger is worse. Ignoring for the moment issues of visibility (avoiding collisions), the mechanics of the impact need to be considered. How high/low does it impact the legs. Does the body roll over soft parts that give (hoods are made soft for this reason), or smack into something unforgiving, etc. etc. A well designed vehicle takes all these things into account in making its design tradeoffs. They do both real and simulated vehicle versus test dummy experiments.

Vehicle size versus pedestrian safety is not so simple as larger is worse.

In 99% of the cases it is. High mass equals higher momentum and high CG vehicles like SUV's tend to pull people under the vehicle which almost always results in fatal trauma.

I suppose the inherent stability of big, heavy cars is why my old Cherokee had a roll over warning sticker on the sun visor.


Having lots of mass is of no benefit when it is located too far above ground level. It tends to make the vehicle fall over on its side during hard cornering, hence the roll over warning sticker on the Jeep.

Yup, I should have put a sarc tag in though but the same goes for most of the SUVs I see around here whereas the compacts are centred much lower. Saw a little old lady take a mini around a roundabout, couldn't keep up with her on a motorbike! She could handle that car well and it did.


'92 Mazda 323 was the first new car I ever owned. Truly a Great Little Car - the GLC having been its predecessor. Got 36+ mpg, and I could carry a sofa bed in the hatch. When the ex got it in the divorce (hence moving the sofa bed to my new digs...), I liked it so much I wanted to buy another. But by then, they'd stopped making it. And Mazda's replacments got less mpg...

So I got a Honda Civic that got 42+ mpg, but could no way fit things like sofa beds. When it came time to replace that a decade later, they'd beefed up the Civic, and it got less mpg...


"Can anyone here confirm that they have any record of a small, light production car being "blown off the road with a big enough gust"."

I can't, but I will state my Aveo (2500 lbs) is a handfull in a strong cross wind. Part of my commute is on a bluff parallel to a lake. When the wind is up and coming across the lake and going turbulent when it hits the bluff, it's time for both hands on the wheel. On the motorcycle it can also be very interesting, as in full bank while still traveling in a straight(ish) line.

Small consolation perhaps, but Detroit's full size pickups are starting to get better gas mileage, e.g., Ford's Ecoboost. The 2013 Dodge RAM will reportedly get 20 per cent better mileage with the introduction of Chrysler's (ZF) new 8-speed transmission (see: www.allpar.com/model/ram/dodge/2013-ram-powertrain.html). Dodge will also offer a 9-speed ZF transmission in its passenger line-up that will reportedly boost gas mileage by up to 16 per cent (see: www.allpar.com/mopar/transmissions/ZF9.html).


Dinosaurs mating.

Could be, but given that some 13 million cars and trucks were sold in the U.S. last year and another 1.6 million in Canada, I'll happily accept a 20 per cent boost in fuel economy until such time as we reach Nirvana [or maybe the Love Shack, if it happens to be on the way].

I got me a car, it's as big as a whale and we're headin' on down
To the Love Shack
I got me a Chrysler, it seats about 20
So come on and bring your jukebox money


Yes. Twenty percent is nice, but if oil prices are rising ten percent per year, in no way is this rate of improvement enough to enable BAU.

I believe that Ford basically sabotaged the Ranger in the United States. Being very intent on steering people to the F-150 and up gas hogs, they offered in the end as a V6 option only the four liter engine (correct me if I am wrong) so as to make the differential fuel mileage between it and the larger F150 negligible. We have a 2006 three liter V6 Ranger (our 2nd Ranger), same engine in our Escape, good mileage, but the 4 liter in the Ranger is a joke. As in the above article, the new Ranger looks great, but until they offer it for sale in the USA I will hang on to my current one, baby it along over the years if necessary. We have a large farm and even considering this have no need for a large pick-up truck, and I am amazed to see people who live in the city, or on small plots of land, who think they can't get by w/o a large truck.

Kevin Spoering

Plenty for sale in Oz, 2.2l & 3.2l diesel and only one petrol engine at 2.5 litre. Looks like others thought the 4l V6 was too thirsty as well as it is not available any more.


Its, twin brother the Mazda BT50

The Mazda BT-50 looks like it only comes in diesel, with the 3.2l being a inline 5 cylinder engine

And when bought as a cab chassis and a drop sided tray top installed as most working vehicles are in Oz are, then loading with a fork lift is a breeze and the famous 8' x 4' sheet fits without any problems. I don't know why the drop sided tray top tray top is not seen on American roads.

Or there are others to choose from,


There maybe a few more makers to choose from, but these are the most popular. Happy window shopping

The ability to carry a 4x8 sheet of plywood laying flat between the wheelwells and still be able to close the tailgate used to be the hallmark of the "full-size" American pickup truck. Nowadays, not very many of them can do it, regardless of size. They are huge in size, but they have very little useful cargo capacity. I tend to think of them as "toys for big boys" rather than "useful vehicles".

I can lower the front and rear seats on the passenger side of my 1.7 L Toyota Matrix and carry two or three dozen 8-foot long 2x4 studs in it with the hatch closed, which is extremely useful, particularly since I can use the seat belts to lash them in place. It can't carry sheets of plywood or drywall without a lot of fiddling, but neither can most modern pickups, so the Matrix is good enough for me and gets far better fuel economy. If I need plywood or drywall I'll order it and have the company deliver it to me.

The ability to carry a 4x8 sheet of plywood laying flat between the wheelwells and still be able to close the tailgate used to be the hallmark of the "full-size" American pickup truck. Nowadays, not very many of them can do it, regardless of size.

This makes me wonder even more why the drop sided tray top is not used in the USA, as all the trucks I referenced when fitted with a tray top will fit a 8 x 4 sheet easily.

PS And how do you load a pick up with a fork lift without damaging the tail gate when the fork driver screws up?

My family's never owned a pickup that wouldn't fit a standard sheet of plywood or drywall. If the tailgate is in the way, you remove it, it takes just a few seconds since they introduced quick-removal-tailgates when I was a kid. That did lead to an increase in tailgate theft, which led to an increase in locking tailgates.


But that still leaves the weight near to or behind the back wheels, where as the weight needs to as far forward as possible, just behind the cab. I would love to see what a truck would look like with a pallet of bricks loaded on from the tail gate. Where as with the drop sided layout, the load can be loaded directly where required.

I see pros and cons to the drop sided layout. I've no doubt it's useful in many circumstances, I'm not sure of the compatability with the 'toss a pile in the back without securing it' American method of quick loading misc junk, however. Use of rollers when loading (something I've had to do many times) is one way of solving the problem you mention. One of my folks' pickups had a small crane we'd attached. We also had a small fixed crane in the back yard. We've never had a forklift in-house. I think most masons here use a flatbed with low stake sides, similar to what you are talking about.

I'm going to guess that the real reason for the typical bed wall height has to do with 49 CFR 393.102(c)(2) and the perceived undesirability of tiedowns being necessary for most loads. I further suspect that drop sides of this height would be incompatible with width requirements when dropped, hence the preference for stake-sides on flatbeds.


Thanks for the conversation, my gut feeling has always been that regulations was the reason, but no American I have spoken to, and I work with a few have had the knowledge to put forward any sensible suggestions.

The regs on tie downs seems interesting, as it says , chains, wire ropes, straps and cordage can be used. But then says

"(f) Use of tiedowns. (1) Tiedowns and securing devices must not contain knots."

How do you use cordage/ropes with out tieing knots? Does this mean ropes can't be used? Thinking back to my time in the US, I couldn't remember seeing loads tied down with ropes, so maybe that is the case.

As for securing loads in/on a tray top. if the load fits below the sides, then a dedicated tarp is normally pulled over the top and secured. Not sure how this fits the 20% strength of the load weight? But surely this is also the same for pickup style back end as well, they are just deeper to start with
If the load is higher than the side boards, then it is secured by ropes, or for the less capable, ratchet straps. This also reminds me, I don't recall seeing too many flat bed trucks of any size in the US. One assumes the securing regs must have something to do with it.
One last point, the drop sides travel through 180 degs when opened, therefore dose not add the width of the vehicle when open.

Re: Two nuclear reactors declared safe

All atomic power to halt 'momentarily'

Operations at all of Japan's 54 nuclear power plants will be suspended "for a moment" starting on May 6, trade minister Yukio Edano said in a speech in the city of Tokushima Sunday.

His comment suggests the government will be unable to restart reactors 3 and 4 at the Oi plant in Fukui Prefecture by May 5, when the Tomari nuclear power plant will go offline for a regular inspection.

All 54 reactors except for No. 3 at the Tomari plant have been taken offline for scheduled checkups. They have stayed offline because operators have been unable to overcome safety concerns sparked by the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 plant last year.

...Edano visited Fukui Saturday to assure Gov. Issei Nishikawa that the Oi reactors are safe to restart and there is no possibility of a meltdown. But Nishikawa did not immediately consent to the request, apparently prompting Edano to conclude that the chance of firing up the Oi reactors before May 5 is remote.

I wonder what the Japanese are doing for power in the meantime? Burning fossil fuels like they're going out of style or doing without?

I'd say it's obvious - they are doing both.

Hello Drummers,

Can anyone point me to a website which presents the science, facts and figures of climate change / AGW. I'm not after a 'scenarios' site; who will drown first etc. but a clearly explained tutorial of the science, and the experiments which have led to the data sets collected. All for the layman.

Or maybe a documentary?

Much obliged, thanks

realclimate dot org. Search the archives.

You know, I don't have a good, one stop answer to your question. Hmmm..

First things that come to my mind are:

The Discovery of Global Warming (Weart)

The CO2 problem in 6 easy steps (Schmidt)


For video ...

Lectures on Global Warming (Archer)

The Biggest Control Knob (Alley)

How Do We Know? Physics, Forcings, and Fingerprints (Alley)

In addition to Real Climate, I suggest The 'Science of Doom' blog

And my own cut at this:


In general, I would suggest that you break the issue into a few pieces to study. With my own comments ...

1) Do CO2 molecules absorb longwave radiation?
RB: Unequivocally. Known since the mid-19th century.

2) Does this absorption cause atmospheric heating?
RB: Yes. About 1.5C for a doubling of CO2. A key factor is the absorption spectrum overlap and gaps with water vapor.

3) How do feedbacks play into the overall climate change expected with changing CO2?
RB: Requires modeling. Water response is a key feedback, as are clouds. Current best [educated, modeled] guess ... 0.5-3C of additional warming for a doubling of CO2.

potholer54's youtube series is perhaps a hybrid of what you seek. He presents clear, lay accessible science and debunks myths in short videos.


Some of the discussions that happen on this site have been happening for a long time. Sometimes I come across things that remind me of that fact. Today I came across this article.

Why Don’t We Have… SUN POWER (Sep, 1953)

The answer to that one is simple and well known. See Lester Brown just now over at energy bulletin- the economic system doesn't count costs right. If they did, says Lester, we would all see that solar and its derivatives are FAR less expensive than fossil fuels. Eg- true cost of gas is about 3 or 4 times as much as we pay by the simplistic methods of present economics.

Until we put up with the true costs, like a bunch of silly teenagers we spin merrily along toward the precipice.

If we do face up to true cost, then all the "natural forces" of the market actually do move us- fast- in the right directions,

And, i gotta add, why don't you good folks here make this remark more often when you endlessly quibble about costs, surely you all know this full well, no?

I'm probably not the best person to ask why people on this site do things the way they do because I've been on this site less than a year. In fact I haven't even been paying serious attention to energy issues for all that long(maybe a year and a half in all), but I've really learned a lot during that time. Now I feel like I'm starting to get a handle on the basic information. What I'm still struggling with is the human, economic and political aspects. Some things I’m struggling with is how people should live, how they should use energy and how exactly energy and economics connect to each other. In regards to your post, how should an economic system count costs(in detail) and exactly what effects would changing the economic system have on society as a whole?

The science behind climate change is so complex that a roomful of Cray computers have to chew on it for decades, so I go with something much more simple when trying to arouse reality thinking among my friends who deny it exists.
The amount of carbon an average U.S. driver puts into the atmosphere every six months from burning gasoline equals the weight of his or her car. (Most cannot fathom that so I ask them to imagine filling their car with heavy jerry cans instead of a gas pump and see if they can guess where that mass went.) So every year they've been driving, they've put two cars into the air; and add the carbon from home heating, electricity and all the crap we buy and you're getting close to one person's annual contribution.
Then I tell them if they could drive vertically at 60 mph for one hour they would come to the end of the atmosphere. This addresses the popular perception that the sky is endless. A back-lit photo of the earth from space also helps show how thin the atmosphere actually is. (On their vertical trip they have to watch out for all the other 2-car deposits made by every other average American driver every year.)
If my denier friends don't lash out at me as a commie, some at least begin to think differently -- and more critically.

Nice one, Jay!

The science behind climate change is so complex that a roomful of Cray computers have to chew on it for decades, ...

I'll see your 'roomful of Cray computers' and raise you a 2 yr old Dell Laptop (or a cluster thereof). ;)

I used to work for CRAY. This stuff is now done by clusters of mostly commodity PC chips. The workstation in my office, is more powerful then that roomful of CRAY's back in its heyday! I really loved that tech, but it could not compete against the attack of the commodity chips...


Some of the "public" details of advanced supercomputing. The "non public" poop is that there is a parallel development group at ORNL (UT-Batelle) that will be outfitting a new and HUGE data and encryption cracking center in Utah, so that the intelligence folks can sort through and really make use of all the personal data they are alleged to be collecting about us. Here is one article on that:


[I have examined the coding options (tags allowed) at TOD and cannot for the life if me figure out how to embed a web link in a word or phrase. Could somebody give me a clue? My email address is at my TOD "profile. Thanx -- Lizzie]

Use the HTML anchor tag like this:

<a href="http://www.theoildrum.com">The Oil Drum</a>

to produce this: The Oil Drum

Or the fact that the volume of oil burned globally, is something like 3 cubic kilometers (and that doesn't count the other fossil fuels). Now imagine a mountain that volume added to the edge of your metro area every year! We are effectively adding whole mountain range volumes of stuff to the atmosphere every day.

Expert says all Pa. oil, gas waste put into rivers needs treatment; loophole should be closed

PITTSBURGH — A former top environmental official says Pennsylvania’s successful efforts to keep Marcellus Shale wastewater away from drinking water supplies should be extended to all other oil and gas drillers.

An AP analysis of state data found that in the second half of 2011 about 1.86 million barrels — or about 78 million gallons — of drilling wastewater from conventional oil and gas wells were still being sent to treatment plants that discharge into rivers.

In jurisdictions with more oil and gas experience (e.g. Texas, Alberta) they don't allow drilling wastewater to be sent to treatment plants or discharged into rivers at all. They require it be injected into deep geological formations using water disposal wells.

Rocky - It' still hard to believe the Yankee disposal rules laws. And I read the report: there are no loop holes...these are the speccific laws on the books. They still specifically allow it to happen. And let's not forget La: when I'm drilling in a wetlands area I have to ring my location with a 2' dike. And what do I have to do with rain water that accumulates in side the dike? Yes: I have to have it hauled off and disposed. Yes...RAIN WATER. And imagine what they would do if they caught me dumping frac fluid on the ground. And some folks say the oil patch lobby controls the rules down here.

And if the companies threaten to stop drilling if the change the laws thelocals should just call their bluff. It hasn't stop us from drilling down south. I've spent $millions during my career dispose of oil field waste properly. Don't care to see those operators up there playing by a different set of rules.

Yes, Rockman, it's amazing the type of regulations you get when the regulators don't really understand the oil and gas industry. OTOH, in places like Texas and Alberta, the regulators are frequently old oil men and have a very good understanding of what the oil industry is up to, and what they do and don't need to crack down on.

The whole hydraulic fracturing debate in the mainstream media departed from the world of reality long ago, and it's quite difficult to correct people's misconceptions nowadays. In the old days when only the oil companies and the regulatory boards knew what the companies were up to, it was a lot simpler.

As far as disposing of oilfield wastewater in civic water disposal plants the rule of thumb is: DON'T DO IT. The plant can't handle it. OTOH, injecting oilfield wastewater into an old oil field has little effect other than to raise reservoir pressures and improve oil recovery. The latter is one of the reasons the oil companies won't stop drilling if you order them to do it. Other than that, it's just a cost of doing business.

Oil worker's death renews debate on safety of extraction method

SACRAMENTO — California's largest oil company failed to warn employees of the dangers in a Kern County oil field where a worker was sucked underground and boiled to death last year, state authorities found — and then they fined the firm $350.

"They let Chevron off the hook way too easy," said Ed Crane, secretary-treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 12-6, the union that represents oil field workers. "A guy died, for God's sake. If people aren't being trained properly, how does $350 handle that? Chevron is not going to pay attention to that."

That's pretty bizarre. I've never heard of anything like that happening before. It sounds like a one-chance-in-a-million accident. It also sounds like we don't have the whole story.

Low seafood catches remain a mystery

Catch numbers and conventional wisdom among shrimpers, crabbers, oystermen and fishermen suggests that the poor haul coincided with the BP oil spill of 2010, which leaked an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

... “The discussion was how come there’s mortality in the oysters,” he said. “They fluoresced the same color a fresh tar ball did.”

Porter then sent the samples to a laboratory. The results indicated the oysters’ tissue contained 200 parts per million of total petroleum hydrocarbons and 31 parts per million of diesel.

“That is significant in the oysters,” said Porter, “so the question is anyone looking at the crabs and the shrimp this way?”

Mining giant Glencore accused in child labour and acid dumping row

Glencore, the commodity and mining firm worth £27bn, stands accused in the Democratic Republic of the Congo of dumping raw acid and profiting from children working 150ft underground.

The revelations come as the notoriously secretive Swiss-based company, which floated on the London Stock Exchange last year, seeks to merge with mining firm Xstrata in a £50bn-plus deal. When Glencore floated in London, five of its partners became billionaires, but the biggest winner was Glencore's chief executive, Ivan Glasenberg, whose stake is worth £4bn. The company was founded in 1974 by Marc Rich, once one of the FBI's 10 most wanted fugitives, but now pardoned and outside Glencore.

... an investigation by the BBC's Panorama has found Glencore dumping acid into a river and it discovered children as young as 10 working in the Tilwezembe mine... Undercover researchers at Tilwezembe found under-18s who climbed down hand-dug mineshafts 150ft deep without safety or breathing equipment to dig copper and cobalt. ... Panorama was told that 60 miners died there last year, making the mine one of the most dangerous in the world.

...Glencore's acid waterfall stank of toxic fumes when I visited it a few weeks ago. ... A Swiss NGO tested the acidity of the wastewater and found a pH value of 1.9, where 1 is pure acid and 7 neutral.

When I met Glasenberg, I presented him with a bottle of Glencore water from the Luilu river and invited him to wash his hands in it. Expressing no enthusiasm to do so, he said: "Not really. I can see what it is.


Types of slavery in Democratic Republic of the Congo mining zones

Himalayan mountains buck glacier melt trend: study

(Reuters) - Some glaciers in the Himalayas mountain range have gained a small amount of mass between 1999 and 2008, new research shows, bucking the global trend of glacial decline.

The study published on Sunday in the Nature Geoscience journal also said the Karakoram mountain range in the Himalayas has contributed less to sea level rise than previously thought.

Note to self: The world is a complex place, don't extrapolate known scenarios everywhere.

A few places will have decadal reversals. The fraction of glaciers shrinking versus those gaining mass is well over 95%. Kinda like the ration of high temp records to low temp records.

I know, and the study notes that too. It says that Himalaya bucks the trend which means that most glaciers are actually melting. Anyways the point I am concerned about is that this will now discredit the IPCC, which IMO will be a tragedy because they got most of their predictions correct except a few, which is how reality works but not the public mindset.

It's true. Most of the glaciers in the Rockies, Alps, and Andes are shrinking, but I didn't see much sign of the glaciers in the Himalayas shrinking.

I have walked past or on glaciers in all these mountains, and that was my observation.

Unfortunately we are going to see this highlighted as a refutation of AGW :(


NAOM - Yes...always dangerous to over reach if an effort to prove your point. I haven't seen it lately but at one point someone was using the retreat of the glaciers at the Columbia Icefield in Alberta as an example. Unfortunately you can stand on the ice field and see the markers on the opposite side of the road showing where the ice once extended in the 1800's...long before the industrial revolution. One could argue that AGW accelerated the process but I think when you have to start splitting hairs like that you're losing a good bit of the argument.

Rockman, yes, it's not a good idea to overgeneralize because an opponent can always find counterexamples to shoot down your argument.

The example of the Columbia Icefield is particularly illustrative because it was advancing from about 1200 until about 1900, when it started its modern retreat. I can remember a period of time during the 1960s when it started advancing again, and the highway people became quite concerned because they were afraid it was going to bulldoze the highway out of existence. After all, when white men first arrived in the late 1800s, they couldn't go through the valley currently occupied by the Icefield Parkway because it was blocked by ice.

It was unfortunate that AGW proponents started pounding the drums predicting the disappearance of the Himalayan glaciers, because to anyone who looks hard at them it is obvious they are not going to disappear during the lifetime of anyone who is alive today. They are huge and they are not really shrinking very fast, if at all.

They should pick something more typical like Glacier National Park in the US, or as we like to call it, "Used-To-Have-Glacier National Park". It actually does have a few glaciers left, but they are shrinking fast. Don't generalize that to the Himalayas, though.

Getting the Market to Tell the Truth

Moving the global economy off its current decline-and-collapse path depends on reaching four goals: stabilizing climate, stabilizing population, eradicating poverty, and restoring the economy’s natural support systems. These goals—comprising what the Earth Policy Institute calls “Plan B” to save civilization—are mutually dependent. All are essential to feeding the world’s people. It is unlikely that we can reach any one goal without reaching the others.

The key to restructuring the economy is to get the market to tell the truth through full-cost pricing. ... For energy specifically, full-cost pricing means putting a tax on carbon to reflect the full cost of burning fossil fuels and offsetting it with a reduction in the tax on income.

The failure of the market to reflect total costs can readily be seen with gasoline. The most detailed analysis available of gasoline’s indirect costs is by the International Center for Technology Assessment. When added together, the many indirect costs to society—including climate change, oil industry tax breaks, military protection of the oil supply, oil industry subsidies, oil spills, and treatment of auto exhaust-related respiratory illnesses—total roughly $12 per gallon. That is on top of the price paid at the pump.

That first paragraph is great from the standpoint of seeing just how easy it is to define the major obstacles to a sustainable future, but at the same time just how difficult any of those four plan B goals will be to solve.

How are 7 billion people going to be fed without the energy from fossil fuels? How is procreation controlled, when religion is fighting that control or even in China wth the one child law the population has continued to increase? To eradicate poverty would require a much more progressive redistribution of wealth, at the same time the US is seeking less progressive taxation, and the US has led this FF crazed world economy, so it would seem likely other country's will follow suit, so there will be even more poverty. Restoring the economy's natural support systems? Not even sure what that means.

In any case, humans are much like yeast or the frog that does not realize the water is rising in temp., in that we only react to crisis, not plan to avert it, because to do so would not garner as much profits in the short term.

And in those countries where the population is tending towards stability or gradual decline mass media and pundits from every part of the spectrum grossly exaggerate the decline and predict a imminent "population implosion". There are a great, great many people who have themselves utterly convinced the worlds population is about to crash and we need to up the birth rate almost everywhere.

But this is complete nonsense and is based on a combination of ignorance of demographics and wishful thinking. If the problem is overpopulation after all, that cannot be solved except by pain and sacrifice lasting decades. If its underpopulation, then that can be solved by...more copulation. You can see which problem people would much rather believe in.

Yes, erring on the side of more copulation I am sure will be the one chosen.

Thanks ever so much for putting that one up, Seraph. You are a splendid public servant and deserve a lot more pay than I have given you.

Didja notice the response to my little note above? INSTANT change of subject. Down to Crey vs laptop. A nothingsubject fit only for backyard gossip.

Same as I get in my own dear family.

time to take a nap in my foxhole with my flakjacket over me.

Too many McMansions in the suburbs, not enough cute little affordable houses in the city - that appears to be the problem the post-peak-oil generation faces.

U.S. overbuilt in big houses, planners find

40 million houses too many - one explanation for falling prices

America has too many big houses -- 40 million, to be exact -- because consumers are shifting preferences to condos, apartments and small homes, experts told the New Partners for Smart Growth Thursday, holding its 11th annual conference in San Diego through Sunday.

Relying on developers' surveys, Chris Nelson, who heads the Metropolitan Research Center at the University of Utah, said 43 percent of Americans prefer traditional big, suburban homes but the rest don't.

"That means we are out of balance in terms of where the market is right now, let alone trending toward the future," he said.

He estimated that this demand suggests a need for 10 million more attached homes and 30 million more small homes on 4,000-square-foot lots or less. By contrast, demand for large-lot homes is 40 million less than currently available.

"Is it any wonder that suburban homes are plummeting in price, because there is far less demand of those homes than in the past," he said.

Has anyone ever heard this statement?

"When the kids leave we're going to downsize, then use the extra money for our retirement."

I don't recall seeing any 'small' houses in, say, Vancouver (except a few small gated communities) so I'm curious where these 'downsize' houses might be found.

Then there is the price - a one bedroom house in Darwin was $250,000, a five bedroom next door was 350,000. So there is little benefit to 'downsizing'.

Interestingly our 1912 northern railway town* is comprised of mostly 1100 sq ft houses, few of which have been expanded. So our new 1200 sq ft McMansion is getting disparaging comments about not fitting into the neighbourhood.

[*Charles Hays was planning on developing the port of Prince Rupert but died on the Titanic (one of the few bodies recovered), and fortunately nothing ever really happened since!]


$100,000 sounds like plenty of benefit to me. Especially when you consider taxes.

My parents are planning to downsize, and they already know where they'll move. The condo we lived in when I was in grade school. They figure that as they age, they won't be able to handle home maintenance, lawn care, etc., and in a condo, they won't have to. It's also closer to their families.

For baby boomers who are retiring, downsizing is a good idea. Take the money you save and put it into travelling while you can still travel. Make sure it is too small for your kids to move back in with you.

The lower maintenance effort of a condo is useful for many people, although I know a lot of people who like to putter around in the yard, and work on the plumbing, and they would prefer a tiny little cottage on a moderately large lot, but with insufficient room for the offspring, of course.

My grandfather retired to a small farm just outside of Vancouver with the intention of raising chickens to support himself. However, as Vancouver expanded he found himself in the suburbs, so he found it was far more lucrative to sell off a building lot here and there rather than raise chickens, particularly since he was getting too old to keep up that much property.

He eventually had about 8 different bank accounts under assumed names ,and always paid cash under the table for everything because he was sure there was some kind of law against anybody having too much money, although we tried to persuade him there wasn't. People develop funny ideas when they get old. When he died at the age of 99, they knocked down his tiny little 600 square foot two-bedroom cottage and built three McMansions to replace it.

The best description of the housing market I have read is
"the current stock of housing represents a previous generation's preference"

I expect that we will have both a surplus and a shortage of housing. Anybody who talks about " the real estate market" doesn't really know what they are talking about. The ten years prior to 2008 were an aberration - in that there was an national trend to housing. I think it is one reason that the regulators got it so badly wrong- they were still operating under the old paradigm in which housing was regional and a national bubble was not possible. Greenspan in fact testified to that.

The boomers have distorted the market by virtue of the size of their cohort. In the 70's a lot of single family homes were converted into multi-family housing to meet the needs of the boomers. In the 90's we built a lot of McMansions to meet their needs. The problem is that the generation following the boomers is too small to be able to absorb all the large homes that boomers want to get rid of. Simultaneously the stock of small urban homes that both the echo boomers and the retiring boomers are demanding is too small.

The McMansions could be converted into multi-family homes. Though they are often so shoddily built it might not be worth it.

There was a discussion of peakoil at the highschool using the usual illustrations. One of the kids suggested reversing the peak,that it looks like a century of coasting down hill is coming to an end. Now comes the slog uphill. Thinking of a low-lying property nearby known as Miss Minnie Ball's Bottom, we suggest, should the inverted peak become popular, it be known as Hubbert's Bottom.

That's a good visual analogy. Now the hard slog back up the other side is beginning.


Operations at all of Japan’s 54 nuclear power plants will be suspended “for a moment” starting on May 6, trade minister Yukio Edano said [...]
His comment suggests the government will be unable to restart reactors 3 and 4 at the Oi plant in Fukui Prefecture by May 5, when the Tomari nuclear power plant will go offline for a regular inspection.
[...] They have stayed offline because operators have been unable to overcome safety concerns sparked by the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 plant last year.

Sick of the nuclear posts? Ok how's this for happy talk?

A recent report by ABC has confirmed what many have claimed for years; infrastructure jobs are going directly to foreign countries, particularly China.
Regardless of the fact that US law usually requires American companies to be picked first for infrastructure jobs, multiple Chinease companies are currently working on U.S. bridges and roads throughout the country.
In California, officials actually claimed that American companies simply could not do the work as fast or as cheap yet multiple U.S. firms have stated that they would have gladly provided the workers.

How happy - can't even hire citizens for infrastructure work. Lets get some copper wire and magnets. We dig up Franklin D. Roosevelt and put the magnets on his corpse. Wrap the copper round his tomb and even though the gap is quite wide, the speed of his spinning should still generate megawatts of power.

Excluding foreign companies would be a violation of the WTO agreement we have signed.

Robots now jumping across buildings and running like Cheetahs.

The asymmetry of power just keeps getting bigger every day with technology.

How long till human involvement in wars disappears altogether? Would be a tragedy on an enormous scale. Imagine the power to wage wars without worrying about casualties.

Thing is, we can program and direct our machines to kill.. but they so far don't have our particular DESIRE to do it, unlike the projection we paint into our dystopic visions of Robotocratic Futures.

Left to their own devices, they would probably play with oilcans and stare at the stars.

I remember science fiction stories where the characters find themselves on a planet with little flying war machines still on duty and not another soul to be found.

In another, the act of war is replaced with a simulation and a quota: