Drumbeat: April 23, 2012

Rethinking peak oil

In recent years, Chinese scholars have been embracing “peak oil” theory in increasing numbers. The idea – first put forward by American geophysicist MK Hubbert in 1949 – is that individual oil fields, oil-producing regions and world oil production will display a “bell curve”: a steep rise in available supplies, narrow peak and subsequent rapid fall.

Proponents argue that world oil supplies will peak in the mid 2020s at an annual output of 40.3 billion tonnes, while China will see domestic oil production peak at 190 million tonnes per year by around 2015.

At first glance, their view that finite subsoil resources like oil will be harder to find and harder to tap appears very reasonable. But the peak oil model itself shows an inadequate empirical representation of historical patterns. World oil discoveries have peaked at least four times since 1950. Take the United States: here, there has been a major deviation between Hubbert’s projections and real figures of oil production. As economist Daniel Yergin has pointed out, at the end of 2010, US oil production was 3.5 times higher than Hubbert forecast.

Peak oil theory holds a static view of the world, and its models ignore price effects: lots of oil discoveries and high production mean that prices and profits wane, and incentives for further exploration decline. But ensuing oil shortages then restore these incentives. When incentives exist, the industry will continue to produce and is likely to produce even more.

Oil Drops From Three-Day High as China Crude Consumption Falls

Oil dropped from the highest closing price in three days in New York after a report showed that Chinese consumption growth is slowing.

Futures slid as much as 0.9 percent as Chinese customs data showed the country’s apparent oil demand dropped to the lowest level since October. A separate report indicated Chinese manufacturing may shrink for a sixth month. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. closed a recommendation to trade the difference between two futures contracts in New York.

Peak Oil Is Nowhere To Be Found On The WTI Futures Curve: April 22, 2012

And despite ongoing Middle East threats to global supplies and a complicated background comprised of market manipulation talk, government oversight proposals and pipeline changes and expansions, many analysts don’t believe prices are where they should be — simply because there’s too much oil in the market.

Mideast Oil-Tanker Supply Is Biggest Since October, Marex Says

The supply of the largest oil tankers competing to load cargoes of crude in the Persian Gulf rose to a six-month high on slower demand to charter vessels, Marex Spectron Group said.

There are 103 very large crude carriers available in the gulf over the next four weeks, Kevin Sy, a Singapore-based freight-derivatives broker at Marex Spectron, said by e-mail today. That’s the biggest local supply of the ships since Oct. 10, when 110 vessels were available, he said. Each of the tankers can hold 2 million barrels of crude.

Weather-driven demand boosts UK gas prices

LONDON, April 23 (Reuters) - British prompt gas prices rose on Monday morning as supply lagged demand amid colder-than-average temperatures forecast until the end of the month, while curve gas slumped with weakening oil prices.

However, average summer temperatures across Europe will be higher-than-normal between May and July, with the exception of southeastern parts of the continent, forecaster Weather Services International (WSI) said.

N.Sea Buzzard oilfield output shut after fire-traders

LONDON (Reuters) - Output has been shut at Nexen's North Sea Buzzard oilfield after a weekend fire which has been extinguished, traders said on Monday.

The Buzzard oilfield, the UK's largest, is set to return to full production in 24-48 hours, traders said.

Ambani Plans $12 Billion Expansion to Offset Profit Slump

Reliance Industries Ltd., owner of the largest oil-refining complex, will expand its petrochemicals businesses as it bets Indian demand for materials used to make plastics and polyester will help offset weak global fuel sales.

Qatar Investment Authority Has $30 Billion to Invest in 2012

Qatar, holder of the world’s third-largest natural gas reserves, is seeking to diversify its economy by investing in companies, industrial projects and real estate abroad. The Qatar Investment Authority, or QIA, has “much more” than $100 billion of assets, Al Abdulla said today.

China urges Sudan, South Sudan to protect oil firms

BEIJING - China urged Sudan and South Sudan on Monday to protect the rights and interests of Chinese oil companies that have established projects in the two countries.

"Chinese oil companies and their partners have major projects in both Sudan and South Sudan. Their legitimate rights and interests deserve substantial protection," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said at a regular press conference.

Lukoil Bulgaria CEO Seeks Short-Term Fuel Price Measures

Given the current crude oil prices on international markets, liquid fuel prices in Bulgaria could drop by BGN 0.09-0.10 per liter as a result of short-term measures adopted by the state, according to Lukoil CEO Valentin Zlatev.

In a Monday interview for Presa daily, Zlatev says that prices have already overstepped the psychological boundary.

He notes that drivers in Bulgaria now buy below 11 liters per fill up, compared to 17 liters a few years ago.

Argentina Aims to Pay Nothing For Seized YPF Stake, Nacion Says

Argentina aims to pay nothing for the 51 percent of YPF SA is seized from Repsol YPF SA last week, La Nacion reported.

Repsol warns potential YPF investors of lawsuits

MADRID (Reuters) - Oil major Repsol warned it could take legal action against companies that invest in YPF after Argentina seized control of the Spanish company's energy unit last week.

Argentina expropriated the 51 percent of YPF owned by Repsol, saying that the company needed to invest more to address the South American country's energy shortage.

Argentina's YPF Cuts Computer Links With Repsol

(Reuters) -- Argentine oil group YPF has cut computer links with parent Repsol, two sources familiar with the matter said Sunday, following Buenos Aires' plans unveiled last week to seize control of the leading energy company.

The move is the latest in a string of actions that have shut Spain's Repsol out of YPF, even before Argentina has implemented laws to provide the basis for the nationalization.

Europe loses oil argument to OPEC

OPEC countries have said they will not increase oil supplies to Europe, even though there have been requests for it to do so.

OPEC countries have decided that European consumers and producers should be able to cope with the current prices of oil and shortfalls from the boycott of Iranian fuel.

Report: Iran unplugs oil terminal from Internet

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran has disconnected its oil ministry and its main crude export terminal from the Internet to avoid being attacked by computer malware, a semiofficial news agency reported on Monday.

Mehr said an export terminal in Kharg Island and other oil facilities came under attack from malware and hackers but continued their work as usual.

Iraq Says Crude Exports Via Turkey Are Halted by Fault

Iraq halted crude exports from northern oil fields because of a technical fault at a pipeline network in neighboring Turkey, the Oil Ministry said.

The crude oil exports stopped at 7:45 p.m. yesterday, the ministry said in a statement on the website of the official National Media Center.

U.S., Afghanistan reach deal on strategic pact

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – The U.S. and Afghanistan reached a deal Sunday on a long-delayed strategic partnership agreement that ensures Americans will provide military and financial support to the Afghan people for at least a decade beyond 2014, the deadline for most foreign forces to withdraw.

Official: Sudan bombs S.Sudan, killing a boy

BENTIU, South Sudan (AP) — An official and a witness say Sudanese aircraft have bombed an area near Bentiu, the capital of Unity State in South Sudan, killing a boy and leaving at least two people wounded.

Maj. Gen. Mac Paul, the Deputy Director of Military Intelligence for South Sudan, said Monday that two Mig 29 jets belonging to Sudan dropped three bombs, two of which landed near a bridge that connects Bentiu, the capital of Unity State and Rubkona.

China Plans Shale-Gas Investment Floor to Tap Largest Reserves

China, holder of the world’s biggest shale-gas reserves, plans to speed up exploration of the resource by asking companies including PetroChina Co. (857) invest three times the minimum amount sought for crude oil areas.

China Shale Auction Likely Before July, Ministry Official Says

China will likely hold its second auction of shale-gas exploration areas before July, an official at the Ministry of Land and Resources said.

Accident at Russia’s Trebs Deposit Causes Oil Spill, RIA Says

An accident at northern Russia’s Trebs crude deposit, jointly developed by OAO Bashneft and OAO Lukoil, caused a “large” oil spill, RIA Novosti reported today.

The accident happened around 5:30 p.m. on April 20 and caused an uncontrolled oil blowout that rescue workers contained by around 6 a.m. today, the Russian news service wrote, citing an Emergency Ministry official it did not identify.

Electrical malfunction causes shutdown at Limerick nuke

LIMERICK — An electrical malfunction at the Limerick Generating Station early Thursday caused Exelon Nuclear to remove Unit 1 from service, according to a press release issued by the company.

The malfunction occurred “on the non-nuclear side of the plant,” according to Exelon,” but caused “loss of power to the plant’s main generator cooling pumps.”

Japan's Kansai Elec sees summer shortfall without reactors

TOKYO (Reuters) - Kansai Electric Power Co, the Japanese utility most reliant on nuclear energy, might face a power shortage of about 20 percent in July unless it can restart reactors taken offline after the Fukushima crisis amid safety concerns, the company warned on Monday.

Kansai Electric's expected deficit was the highest among four Japanese nuclear plant operators that forecast shortfalls for the summer, when demand peaks.

Getting a Charge out of Driving

The inherent gross inefficiency of the internal combustion engine surpasses even that of conventional thermal power plants. About 5% of the energy in the fuel actually moves a typical automobile. Battery electric vehicles, fuel-cell electrics, plug-in hybrids and others that eschew ICE technology get much more bang for the buck. California is proving this, as are many others.

U.K. Needs ‘Bolder, Broader’ RenewableEnergy Policy

The U.K. needs “much bolder and broader” renewable energy poicies to encourage technologies ranging from solar thermal power to liquid biofuels, said the Renewable Energy Association, an industry lobby group.

While Britain has “broadly positive” policies to spur offshore wind and wave and tidal energy, other technologies either suffer from “policy failures, or lack of political support,” including biomass combined heat and power plants, onshore wind, deep geothermal and anaerobic digestion plants on farms, the REA said today in an e-mailed report.

Q-Cells Resumes Solar Production Amid Investor Interest

Q-Cells SE, the German solar-cell maker that filed for insolvency this month, has resumed production amid a push to sell the company.

Floating Offshore Wind Kit Gets Spur From U.S., Britain

Britain and the U.S. said they’d fund work on offshore wind generation technologies that work in waters as much as 500 feet deep, a measure aimed at opening vast new areas of ocean to development.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and his U.K. counterpart Edward Davey said their departments will collaborate on ways to spur development of floating platforms for offshore wind turbines that can be stationed in depths beyond 60 meters (200 feet), the limit for traditional structures fixed to the seabed.

Japan May Announce Preferential Rates for Clean Energy in April

Japan may announce preferential price rates this month for electricity generated from renewable energy in a program that will start in July to encourage investment in non-fossil fuel power plants.

A five-person panel have been discussing the preferential rates, known as feed-in tariffs, since March 6 and will hold their sixth meeting on April 25.

In Hippie Holdout, a Fight Over Worms and Moats

The village has long prided itself on its pristine beauty and live-and-let-live attitude. But that was before the bitter dispute that pitted Mr. Hoffman, with his unconventional techniques for living in a what he calls a sustainable way, against county code enforcers whose demands for permits he has repeatedly ignored.

Seeing Green Mirages, a Film Review

We count on these things to solve our biggest problems, whether it’s the ecological crisis, malnourishment or peak oil. If you don’t believe in them, you’re a defeatist. But do they earn the blind faith we have in them? The documentary film Green Mirages, directed by Egyptian Nadia Kamal and Tunisian Habib Ayeb, about the Tunisian village of Demmer, suggests we shouldn’t, and points out some important questions to ask.

Does giving antibiotics to animals hurt humans?

WASHINGTON – The bacon Americans have for breakfast is at the center of a 35-year debate over antibiotics.

That's because the same life-saving drugs that are prescribed to treat everything from ear infections to tuberculosis in humans also are used to fatten the animals that supply the chicken, beef and pork we eat every day.

A Ban on Some Seafood Has Fishermen Fuming

GLOUCESTER, Mass. — Standing on the deck of his rusted steel trawler, Naz Sanfilippo fumed about the latest bad news for New England fishermen: a decision by Whole Foods to stop selling any seafood it does not consider sustainable.

Starting Sunday, gray sole and skate, common catches in the region, will no longer appear in the grocery chain’s artfully arranged fish cases. Atlantic cod, a New England staple, will be sold only if it is not caught by trawlers, which drag nets across the ocean floor, a much-used method here.

“It’s totally maddening,” Mr. Sanfilippo said. “They’re just doing it to make all the green people happy.”

Arctic fishing moratorium needed, scientists say

A group of more than 2,000 scientists from 67 countries has called for a moratorium on commercial fishing in the Arctic until more research can be completed on waters that were once covered by ice year-round.

The scientists said the loss of permanent sea ice has opened up as much as 40 per cent of the Central Arctic Ocean during recent summers, making industrial fishing viable for the first time.

Study: State needs to prepare for climate change

Wisconsin needs to move now if it wants to remain on the cutting edge of climate change preparation, according to a recent study by a national environmental group.

The state is one of only nine that have taken comprehensive steps to address possible vulnerability to global warming and climate change, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit, non-partisan advocacy group. However, those steps primarily involve planning, and the state needs to make implementation a priority, according to the council's first-of-its-kind state-by-state analysis.

Experts: Cuba To Suffer More Intense Droughts, Hurricanes

HAVANA (Bernama) -- More severe droughts and intense hurricanes will likely hit Cuba due to world climate change, experts have warned.

According to experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), there is evidence that some of the weather events in the area are caused by increased concentration of gases from greenhouse effect in the atmosphere.

Climate Change to Affect Corn Prices, Study Says

Researchers have found that climate change is likely to have far greater influence on the volatility of corn prices over the next three decades than factors that recently have been blamed for price swings — like oil prices, trade policies and government biofuel mandates.

The new study, published on Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change, suggests that unless farmers develop more heat-tolerant corn varieties or gradually move corn production from the United States into Canada, frequent heat waves will cause sharp price spikes.

Danger from the deep: New climate threat as methane rises from cracks in Arctic ice

A new source of methane – a greenhouse gas many times more powerful than carbon dioxide – has been identified by scientists flying over areas in the Arctic where the sea ice has melted.

A new source of methane – a greenhouse gas many times more powerful than carbon dioxide – has been identified by scientists flying over areas in the Arctic where the sea ice has melted.

The Arab Spring puts a strain on Jordan's ecology

Jordan is a dry country, but tries to manage its scarce resources wisely. Population growth has been slowing in line with prosperity and careful development might have supplied everyone without damaging the underlying ecology. But Jordan has an extra problem: repeated, sudden influxes of refugees.

Palestinians from successive Israeli conflicts already account for about one-third of the country's 6.5 million people. Less publicised waves of Iraqi refugees arrived in 1990 and 2003; the Jordanian government estimates that about 450,000 remain. Now refugees are arriving from Syria.

Peak Oil Is Nowhere To Be Found On The WTI Futures Curve: April 22, 2012

MarketWatch: And despite ongoing Middle East threats to global supplies and a complicated background comprised of market manipulation talk, government oversight proposals and pipeline changes and expansions, many analysts don’t believe prices are where they should be — simply because there’s too much oil in the market.

Spot crude is of course higher than it was 3 months ago, driven primarily by the Iran fears.

The world is awash in oil... at $117.05 a barrel?

3. Ignoring what the market is pricing in is a mistake many economists make. Not paying attention to "wisdom of crowds" could be costly.

The wisdom of the crowds is, far more often than not, dead wrong. But they could be right this time even though peak oil is here. If the economies of the world collapse then so will oil prices, even if oil production starts dropping precipitously.

Ron P.

"This ship can't sink!," around midnight, on the night of April 14th, 1912, 100 years ago this month

The article and the graph are clearly about WTI oil, which is now $80-85/bbl and has seen a significant drop in price since Feb. Cushing, OK, the center of the WTI market, clearly has historically high stocks of oil. Why take a piece on WTI and portray it as something else?

"The article and the graph are clearly about WTI oil, which is now $80-85/bbl and has seen a significant drop in price since Feb..."

I'm showing WTI currently at $102.23 ( http://www.oil-price.net/ ) and around a 4.5% drop since Feb. Maybe I'm missing something...

The article is drawing inferences from the long-dated futures, with 2017 trading around $85/bbl, down $5-10/bbl from January. 'Wisdom of crowds'. LOL, do these guys know how poor the liquidity is that far out on the curve? What crowds?

It's a stretch, to say the least, on par with political commentators who argue that movement in the DJIA during a presidential election year is due to one candidate or the other polling better.

Seriously. Crowds. Maybe 2000 contracts trade that far down the chain daily for any given date. Mostly hedgers for airlines and such.

Why take a piece on WTI and portray it as something else?

No one is doing that Falstaff. WTI goes up and down right along with Brent and other world benchmarks. If the economies of the world collapse, or into a deeper recession, WTI will collapse right along with Brent and other oil futures. Oil is oil, it is fungible.

Ron P.

It is interesting to see how the shape of the WTI futures curve evolves, but if $85/bbl falsifies peak oil, it is a sign of how much the cornucopian crowd is willing to shift the goalposts. Essentially, if the price moves down at all, cue the cornucopians. Ditto for reserves, right? Any hint of reserves growth and we get a brace of 'peak oil is dead' pieces.

IMHO, these shops have come to understand that the term 'peak oil' is a lightening rod for hits. Even if your article is only tangentially related, a mention of peak oil brings traffic. It almost doesn't matter which side of the issue you take, but if you want lay people to invest with you, the articles skew optimist.

... the term 'peak oil' is a lightening rod for hits.

I wish it were, but it's more likely to be a darkening rod for so many people.

This is nothing but a self-fulfilling prophecy. A bunch of people who trade oil futures all read that CitiGroup report on how the USA will become a net crude oil exporter in 10 years (LOL) and have now acted on the report by taking positions in alignment with that report.

This is like when Dick Cheney had his private intelligence team leak reports about WMDs that appeared in the NY Times and then went on television saying "Look, even the New York Times is reporting Saddam has WMDs!" This is circular logic.

Then those people deserve to lose all their money by following the report. Serious investor should often take positions opposite to what GS, JPM ,BOA and citigroup are publicly announcing as it is well known that these people often take positions in contrary to their report.

Perhaps off topic depending on your trust of the US federal government.

DHS buys 450 million .40 jhp

If the US armed forces can't use hollow point in combat.
And if they use ~70 million rounds / month in Iraq.
Then why does DHS need a 7 year 'war' supply of ammo?

Yes, I know you train with what you fight, but anybody know how much ammo the cops normally use per year?


Perhaps off topic...

Yes, very off topic.

Ron P.

Off topic, but interesting nontheless. According to the article, DHS is also planning to buy .223 (.556mm nato) rounds. Is this to offset declining sales to the defense department, propping up prices? Perhaps they're concerned that a surplus would mean much more of this ammo going into the civilian population, post Iraq/ Afganistan. This theory wouldn't really apply to the .40 cal (most civilians I know use .45ACP or 9mm).

Perhaps DHS is just saving up for a rainy day (as in martial law rainy day), the possibility of social unrest going forward. Are drastic restrictions upon sales of ammunition to the civilian population being considered (likely driving domestic manufacturers out of business)? Inquiring doomers want to know ;-)

This theory wouldn't really apply to the .40 cal (most civilians I know use .45ACP or 9mm).

My goodness ... I am very pleased that I have lived for 60 years in a society Down Under without ever knowing anyone who even owned a gun - hand-gun or rifle (or at least didn't ever talk about such ownership). Lucky me indeed.

Why are they buying hollow points that are not legal in war nor in international law?

Hollow point is a legitimate policing "tool". It will kill/wound/maim far more effectively than FMJ which is why it is used for hunting and to stop people charging with a handgun. FMJ is a war tool as it puts (relatively) small holes in soldiers which uses way more resources (doctors, medivacs) to keep them alive.

Ron: my "off topic" comment was relevant - The reason I posted this here was I'm just curious what form of domestic unrest would require one bullet for every resident of the USA + Canada?

Carrying a .357 handgun at work I would shoot a couple of thousand rounds a year for practice; and happily never shot anything but paper targets. So is this an unusual order, or is there actually some concern that the occupy movement is going to boil over when President Mitt does not lower the price of gasoline?

Hollow points also ricochet less, a consideration for urban police work.

Hollow points are also banned in the Hague Convention and it would be a war crime to use them.

Maybe PO should be called PCO, for "Peak CHEAP Oil."

It might convey the issue a lot more effectively. The bedrock of PO denial is to ignore the ever-increasing cost of production. But the average Joe does understand that having a ton of oil at $20 per gallon of gasoline is not much benefit to him.

Don't want to get into a big debate about renaming peak oil (although I have never liked the term). But peak cheap oil still does not adequately convey the big issue that future oil supplies will be rate limited and therefore create scarcity. Historically that has caused a bigger price increase than just the cost of production. Scarcity, which occurs when the extraction rate cannot keep up with demand is becoming the new reality.

The peak oil narrative is really about the transition from easy oil (abundant and cheap) to tough oil (slow and expensive). We should continue the drumbeat about the both the expensive and the slow aspect.

spec/TE - OK...I'll jump in with my very biased view. As far as I can tell there has never been much "easy oil". Just periods when lots of oil was discovered. Folks might think finding Ghawar was easy. I wasn't around then but IMHO I doubt it was that easy. Sure, with today's technology, it would be a snap. So would finding all those billions of bbls of oil we've produced from Gulf Coast salt domes with the aid of 3d seismic. But they didn't have 3d back then. How did they find those salt domes that didn't have a surface expression? The torsion balance (the "3d seismic" of its time) was one of the earliest geophysical instruments used in the exploration for salt domes along the Texas Gulf Coast. The most common torsion balance employed in the early hunt for oil in Texas was designed by Baron von Eoetvoes in Hungary and was not available until after World War I for commercial use. The first salt dome and oil-bearing structure that was discovered by any geophysical means was the Nash dome in Brazoria County in the spring of 1924, located with the use of the torsion balance. The pendulum method, another variation of the gravity method, also contributed to the discovery of oil in Texas.

I once knew a very old geologist who did some of the very first exploration work in Venezuela. And no...he didn't sit at a desk drawing maps. He hiked through some very nasty jungles with local guides as he mapped the surface outcrops. If he were still kicking today I doubt he would have called the effort easy. Likewise, I doubt the first hands who died in the deserts of the KSA would see it any differently. I can give you a firsthand account of how the effort has changed in the 36 years I've been doing it: it has never been easier to find oil/NG fields today than at any other time in my career. Yes...you heard correct but pay attention to exactly what I'm saying: it has never been easier to find existing oil/NG fields then it is today. I'm not saying there are a lot of those fields left to find. As a specific example there is a trend of shallow NG fields in S Texas where the historic success rate was less than 20%. Individual fields weren't very big but there were thousands of them. In the late 80's I began using simple 2d seismic and hit 23 out of 25 wells. Eventually 3d was used to chase more of them. In the last 3 years I've spent over $250 million drilling for deep NG/condensate reservoirs. Not only would none of my discoveries been made without 3d seismic but none of the wells would have ever been drilled in the first place.

Cheap oil? Not sure how we would define that. Adjusted for inflation (always a bit tricky) there have been times when oil was more and less expensive. And by cheap are we talking about what refiners pay producers or what producers spend to find the oil? For an exploration company the price of oil/NG doesn't determine their profit/success. It's how much it cost them to find the reserves (including all those dry holes), how much they find and then what it sells for. I've seen many companies go bankrupt during periods of high oil/NG prices. I know of companies today struggling to keep their doors open. Doesn't matter if oil is selling for $100+/bbl if it's costing you more than that to find it. Or worse, you're not drilling enough due to a lack of viable prospects.

O.K. Rockman - I concede your point. The oil is not easy and so that is not the correct metaphor.

But what I have been wrestling with is what is a better descriptor to use so that the peak oil community can better describe reality. Neither cheap nor easy works.

How about this? What we used to have (globally)was enough of a surplus of oil that it continued to fuel economic growth. The transition with peak oil is that the surplus is going away and we are moving into scarcity. We are going from high rate oil to low rate oil. That still does not satisfy me though.

I'm still wrestling with how to say it in a simple way but I think the peak oil community needs to have a clearer message. The simple term peak oil or even cheap oil does not connect with most people.

'enough of a surplus to fuel economic growth' -

This is getting closer. Because this Forum deals primarily with Oil, it is sometimes a bit nearsighted in framing the problem. Inadequate oil supply is the symptom of a dysfunction; the discussion usually assumes it is a cause of dysfunction instead.

The fundamental root problem is our belief in the Myth of Eternal Progress. It is the root of the tree of unsustainable practices. The thing about Oil is, it is so fundamental to our implementation of Industrial Civilization that it is where system failure shows up first.

Oil is the 'indicator species'; the canary in the coal mine; the item most short in supply that imposes it's own limit as the limits of the entire society.

The real problem is that demand is beginning to exceed available supply, but in a new way. Demand is growing exponentially, and supply is roughly linear if it grows at all. Malthus on Oil, if you will.

The problem is 7 billion humans - a lot of whom want the kind of life they have been shown on Television by Advertisers.

I don't think you need a new name. Peak Oil is at least as good as any other, so far. If you want to convey some particular viewpoint about the issue, I suggest framing it in terms that have meaning for your intended audience instead.

I suggest framing it in terms that have meaning for your intended audience instead.

OK, how about, Less Oil for YOU!

Maybe we could get the Soup Nazi guy from Seinfeld to make a PSA...?

If that's what Peak Oil means to you, then that's how you explain it. I wouldn't put it in a fashion that seems designed to offend people, however, unless I am trying to get shot down.

If you want to change people's attitudes and opinions, you have to start from the same assumptions they currently hold. If you want to explain an issue so that they understand, you have to grant them the legitimacy of their current position, and build from that.

I wouldn't put it in a fashion that seems designed to offend people, however, unless I am trying to get shot down.

Crimminey! Twas an attempt at humor, obviously a failed one... though the soup nazi comment does give me a modicum of hope since that was exactly the voice I heard in my head.

Now you're the one who's offended, and I am sorry; I did not intend for that to happen. It's a little tricky sometimes separating ideas from values. We all judge, all the time. What is surprising sometimes is how differently people can see an idea depending on where they start from.


Now you're the one who's offended, and I am sorry; I did not intend for that to happen.

LOL! No, I'm not offended in the least, I was just making fun of my own lame attempt at trying to be funny... vicious descending spiral >;^)

To be clear, no offense intended and none taken.

Let me see if I understand.

40,000 comedians in this country, all of them out of work, and you want to be one?


I wonder if we've passed Peak Comedy?

Now THAT could be funny!

“I've found out why people laugh. They laugh because it hurts so much... because it's the only thing that'll make it stop hurting"
But that's not all people laugh at."
Isn't it? Perhaps I don't grok all its fullness yet. But find me something that really makes you laugh sweetheart... a joke, or anything else- but something that gave you a a real belly laugh, not a smile. Then we'll see if there isn't a wrongness wasn't there." He thought. "I grok when apes learn to laugh, they'll be people.”

― Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

Comedy is 'Brutal Compassion'.. and probably helps explain that great death-bed line,

"Dying is easy. Comedy is hard."

Well, I blame it on Hofstadter. His comedic dialogs twisted my brain permanently. Blogging is a lot like writing a comedic dialog - especially when you are fortunate enough to get a co-respondent who co-operates.

POSCABU -- Peak Oil Society Can Afford Before Unrest

TE - Just poking some fun on a too damn busy Monday for me. LOL. I never cared for PO either but almost no one cares what I like or don't. After working in the oil patch for over 30 years I never heard the term "peak oil" until I stumbled into TOD. I don't even hear it spoken today by my cohorts. When I started in 1975 it was the "reserve replacement problem". Understand where the "replacement" part came from: public companies. The RRP didn't immply there wasn't a lot of oil/NG left to find or that it couldn't be done profitably. It meant that large public companies would have difficulty replacing produced reserves y-o-y. The bigger the company the greater the production volume. The greater the production volume the more new reserves you had to find. Which meant they would have trouble keeping Wall Street happy. The first half of my career was heavily focused on playing this game of musical chairs. Thanks goodness all I'm responsible for now is drilling wells and finding oil/NG at a profit. In the last DB I gave an account of the kabuki theater I used to participate in. It's not a pretty picture. I fought on both sides of the fence: company geologist pushing proved reserves vs. geological auditor trying to kill proved reserves. I was pretty good at it regardless of which hat I was wearing. LOL. Like the theory about how you find a cheat in a card game: get another cheat to watch for him. Or, more darkly: if you want to take out a sniper don't send a company of easy targets...send one sniper. Of corse it wasn't that potentially lethal for me but I've lost more than one contract by not being willing to violate SEC regs. OTOH there was often an auditor gig not too far down the road. LOL. But it is a very serious corporate game. I've seen more management canned for losing that battle than for drilling dry holes.


First of all, thanks for your detailed perspective.

I think you're twisting words a bit. For exploration companies the price of oil/NG is a huge factor in their success. Canadian tar sands, for example, may require oil to be at least $70. Outfits drilling in ND may require $70 + to be profitable, etc.

As far as "cheap" oil, since the price of oil was $22 just ten years ago and is now over $100, cheap oil seems no longer a reality. According to Gail the Actuary, oil prices in Europe (priced in euros) are at an all time high.

Brad – Nope...didn’t twist any words. Let’s try two real situations in which I personally participated. In 1980 I began working for Natomas North America. Their first oil patch investment was buying into a piece of an Indonesian wildcat that discovered a 1 billion bbl oil field. Their Indonesian company was called IAPCO. They had no oil patch experience before participating in that discovery. Feeling very sure of themselves they began exploring in the US just as oil/NG prices began to boom. I was the Gulf Coast Operations Geologist. Over several years they spent $550 million and discovered $140 million in oil/NG. And this was during the time oil prices spiked at $38/bbl. When they had a $100 million bond come due they couldn’t pay a $1. They filed bankruptcy and their share of the 1 billion bbl field was sold in a fire sale to Diamond Shamrock, the refiner, after oil prices had eventually crashed. And no…they didn’t go under due to the oil price crash. They went under the same quarter oil prices peaked.

Now flash forward to 1986. Oil has crashed to $10/bbl and NG to less than $1/mcf. I consulted for a small independent company (Cambridge Exploration) and drilled 23 out of 25 successful NG wells. My first (and biggest) discovery sold for $0.90/mcf. But the total cost to get those three wells drilled, completed and turned to the pipeline calculated out to $0.12/mcf. During my 36 years in the oil patch I have never generated as high a ROR as I did for this company.

Now, tell me again how high oil/NG prices allow companies to succeed and low prices cause failures. Again, I’m not making this up: I’ve seen a higher percentage of companies fail during high price periods than during low price periods. During the late 70’s boom there were more than twice as many rigs running as we have drilling now. Many were drilling crappy prospects. But many folks thought that it didn’t matter because high prices made success inevitable. We have a technical term in the oil patch for investors like that: “STUPID MONEY”. I’m not kidding…we really do.

And I’m not just talking small companies/investors. Texaco, Gulf Oil, Getty Oil, Phillips Petroleum, Tenneco. Not sure how old you are and if those names are familiar. And there are many dozens of smaller companies (but still significant) you probably never heard of. Though not the sole reason they aren’t still around but in many cases stupid money investments aided in their demise. In my personal experience nothing promises failure as much as unbridled enthusiasm fueled by high energy prices. Consider both Chesapeake and Devon. Their enthusiastic investment in the shale gas plays prior to 2008 brought both companies to the brink of bankruptcy.

A company’s success is determined by the price of oil/NG and their cost to develop their reserves. Natomas would have failed even if oil prices had peaked at 3X their level. To paraphrase the famous Texas comedian Ron White: You can’t fix stupid…no matter how high the price of oil goes. LOL

OK...I'll jump in with my very biased view. As far as I can tell there has never been much "easy oil". Just periods when lots of oil was discovered.

Yes Rockman ... I think that is the critical point too.

Oil exploration has always been constrained by available technology - so "easy oil" is a blunt shorthand for lots of oil being found with few shots at the ducks. In other words, the huge fields were found most readily (even under extremely difficult exploration circumstances), but ever since (almost) - each new find has been smaller and smaller and smaller.

I think peak oil is easy to understand and accept, once you recognise that the rate of exploration is way below production ... it's not really rocket surgery.

I am already paying over $10/ gallon (US) for diesel.

However, because the UK has had high fuel taxes for the last 15-20 years, this is only about twice what I was paying 15 years ago. And I now own a car that has twice the MPG I was driving then (and is bigger!) and I drive a lot fewer miles, because I now commute by bicycle, I am actually spending LESS on fuel in Sterling terms. Which is just as well, because I taking home less Sterling.

...and yet my disposable income has gone up as I have paid off all debt and reduced domestic energy consumption AND inherited property which I rent out.

Would $20 /gallon hurt? A bit. Would I drive less? No.

In the USA, as long as gasoline is cheaper than bottled water shipped from the island of Fiji, I will consider it cheap.

That day may never come, as the price of oil affects shipping costs, so if oil gets more expensive then shipping water from Fiji may become dearer and eventually uneconomic.

Though your point is taken, oil is incredibly cheap for the value it provides.

Also, love your handle. I was studying in the library today and someone was using one outside, it drove me away very quickly. My god, do we use oil for trivial things. Heck, even electric leafblowers are probably a waste of energy. It would also be nice if all those small engines (not just stuff like leafblowers and chainsaws but also mopeds) had to live up to the same emissions requirements as cars.

There is no island of Fiji:

The country (of Fiji) comprises an archipelago of more than 332 islands, of which 110 are permanently inhabited, and more than 500 islets, amounting to a total land area of circa 18,300 square kilometres (7,100 sq mi). The two major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, account for 87% of the population of almost 850,000.


BTW I also abhor leaf-blowers ... how useless can an object be? But OTOH, I think chainsaws are one of the greatest (noisy, dangerous) inventions ever.

BTW I also abhor leaf-blowers ... how useless can an object be?

If ever there was a machine that symbolizes the epitome of the mis-allocation of resources, gasoline powered leaf-blowers have to be #1 on the list!

While I am with you in my abhorrence of leaf blowers, I would also like to nominate "Monster Trucks" that do nothing but tour county fairs and urban arenas bouncing around on the roofs of the cars they sacrificially crush. Perhaps there is a metaphor in there somewhere?

These are all worthy objects of scorn..

But for me, it's the silent ones that I'm worried about.. There's a bunch of innocent looking little blighters all around me that are quietly spending my money, and doing Nothing of Value, to a great extent.

(I also have a huge pet-peeve about these frequently unneeded Solar Pathway Lights.. and egads there are tons of them on the Job-Lot and Home-Depot Shelves now. Made from the crappiest materials, and unlikely to last more than a season.. while taking that fine little droplet of PV and Hiding it under your 'Creeping Azaleas and Oozing Ficus' Hedges... ..I don't know deco plants)

Especially when blowing the leaves into the wind.


The top article:

Rethinking peak oil

A breathtaking silly analysis. Uses every strawman he can think of. But basically never brings up oil extraction rate as an issue. After all - we have all of these unconventional resources.

Worse yet, peak oil theorists do not take into account the assessment of unconventional oil resources, such as oil shale, oil sands, biomass-based liquids, coal-based liquids and liquids arising from chemical processing of natural gas. These could substitute for conventional oil when new technologies, such as steam injection for oil sands deposits, mature. Unconventional oil will very likely contribute to future production.

That is interesting - I thought all of us "peak oil theorists" (another strawman) were aware of unconventional resources and how slowly they produce. And we are also aware that biomass-based liquids, coal-based liquids and liquids arising from chemical processing of natural gas are not conventional oil. But apparently he is not.

I just thought the 40 billion tonnes of oil a year in the mid 2020's gave the article such a sound footing.

Peak oil theory holds a static view of the world, and its models ignore price effects

OTOH, I think this is somewhat true. I have not seen a time- or price-variant model of URR. The closest I have seen to that is just a range of possible URR.

I think price will have a token impact on peak oil. It will encourage a 'shark's fin' peak, because, as the price rises, more money is invested in oil recovery, sustaining output longer than a symmetrical Hubbert's peak, but at a greater and greater strain on the global economy. Less and less money (resources) are spent on maintaining infrastructure and expanding the rest of the economy. There comes a point when the economy will not support the higher price (in un-inflated fiat currency terms) and under-investment in maintenance leads to disorderly default - either economic or physical (eg. nuclear power station melt-downs) which cut demand and hence price and hence investment in expensive oil, leading to a sharper decline in production than a a symmetrical Hubbert's peak. Of course, we may see a stair step decline pattern.

In the end, the area under the curve, the URR, will probably less than than under Hubbert's curve, because by the time only the really expensive oil is left, we won't have the industrial infrastructure left to extract it.

I agree, the economist types place WAAYYY too much faith in their supply / demand charts. The problem is, oil is not produced, it is extracted. A perfect example of how simple language mis-translations can lead to catastrophic results. Engineers understand that oil is not "produced", but use the term loosely. But economists then take this "produce" term and blindly plug it into their charts. Voila, as price rises, then the market will just figure out how to produce more oil and equilibrium will be restored!!!

Rising prices will help to increase oil extraction rates for a while but as you say we will get these shark fin collapses from the economic damage from high oil prices. But eventually, it's no longer prices that will determine how much oil can be brought out, but geology, because the input costs will rise so high.

The other issue you mention is that even if we have trillions of barrels of this low quality oil shale etc. with such low energy returns, it may simply not be extractable to be able to produce useful products beyond burning for heat. You need a certain amount of surplus energy beyond EROEI, the "energy cliff", to power a society and these vast deposits may not be able to do it.

You need to keep in mind that supply/demand theory did work for natural resources for quite a long time so it should not be a big surprise to see that many economists still expect it to work. It worked while resources were still relatively plentiful because there were good deposits that had not yet been located or developed. The problem now in regards to oil is that we've pretty much run out of undeveloped large, cheap to produce oil fields. What we are finding now is small and/or very expensive to produce. Price increases are no longer capable of stimulating a large enough production increase to accommodate increased demand.

Economists have also been slow to realize the impact of higher energy costs on other resources. For example, copper prices had been stable for many decades even though the copper ore we are using is of a much lower grade than what it was decades ago. Technological improvements in mining and processing copper ore along with vast amounts of cheap energy are what enabled copper prices to remain stable in the face of the declining quality of copper ore. Now that energy costs have increased, the price of copper has risen significantly along with other metals that are extracted from low grade ore.

I don't expect this situation to last. A growing number of economists will come to understand that the old paradigm has changed. As with any profession, it takes time for everyone to adapt to change.

Tom's Murphy's recent post on Do the Math regarding the exponential economist vs. the finite physicist is quite illuminating. Apparently it made the rounds in economist circles. Just read some of the comments from economists rationalizing how they expect this "utility" to continue to allow for exponential economic growth with zero additional resource inputs, it's comical. Hopefully that attitude will change at some point, maybe not until it's too late, the problem is that economists don't understand how energy works so it's not really easy for them to see things that are blatantly obvious to scientists and engineers studying the issues.

Price increases are no longer capable of stimulating a large enough production increase to accommodate increased demand.

Is that right? I assumed sustained increased oil prices above $US70.00/bbl were the very thing that had made the Alberta tar sands, the Bakken shale oil - and much else - worth developing at all at this point in history. What am I missing here?

We should switch over terminology from "oil producing countries" to "oil extracting countries". I wonder if all this drill, baby, drill mania comes from the unconscious assumption that drilling for oil "produces" the oil. Cargo cult thinking maybe?

Once again you are trying to address a strawman called the peak oil theory. It is not a theory - it is a simple observation about the rate of extraction of any non-renewable resource. They all hit limits and then decline. Look at the historical data - with respect to crude oil all the data says it has happened. Forget the "theory" - forget the models. Look at what has happened.

The author of this piece is very careful not to do that. He ignores global extraction data and tries to argue from a supposed theory.

Upthread, Rockman wrote: "Not only would none of my discoveries been made without 3d seismic but none of the wells would have ever been drilled in the first place."

That is point of incorporating time-variant URR. The changes to URR might be marginal, but then again maybe not. As technology improves, as prices rise, wells will be drilled in the near-future that would not have been able to be drilled in the past. Even if only for curiousity's sake, I want to better understand that descent, to quantify it where possible.

Also, besides the improved drilling of new wells and EOR there may be tech improvements in GTL, CTL, or converting biomass to liquids. Also, we may see breakthroughs in energy efficiency - cars that get much higher mpg, etc. Will this happen fast enough to save the day (from extended recession) - probably not.

Ron - And here's THE important factor IMHO: price. We just sh*t canned our deep NG play that was working well with the greatly improved 3d seismic. And our 3d is some of the best (and most expensive) in the oil patch. And I just stuck 5 prospects into the back of the file cabinet. Very simply they just aren't worth drilling with NG under $2/mcf. The NG is still there and the probability of success hasn't changed. But the ROR is just too low.

So now I'll focus on an EOR project (horizontal well bores) I've kept in my back pocket for some years. Didn't look that great when oil was under $40/bbl. Looks good to my owner now. And the technology I'll be using is almost 20 years old and I'll be employing a rather simple apllication of it. Someday when NG prices increase sufficiently those dead NG prospects might see the light of day. If I'm still around.

Bottom line: all this new (most of which has been around for decades) improved technology won't find us much oil/NG if the price support isn't there. As I've mentioned before I drilled and frac'd my first shale well over 30 years ago. We've known those reserves were there long ago and knew how to get them out of the ground. We just had to wait until energy got expensive enough to develop them.

If Peak Oil is incorrect, as a couple of articles at the top claim, then does that mean the world's oil supply is infinite? Thats what they seem to be claiming.

One of of the most surprising things i learned from modeling 'limits to X' is that is that you do NOT have to assume a static view of the resource, only that the effort function is linear. Ie.. that the market responds to scarcity in a rational way by increasing effort to find and extract more. If governments declared 'war on oil depletion', and spared no expense, starting now, there could be a second, higher peak in a decade or so. If price mechanisms alone determine supply then its all downhill clockwork from here.

And the decline after the "government war on oil depletion" ended would be even steeper.

My favorite part:

Take the United States: here, there has been a major deviation between Hubbert’s projections and real figures of oil production. As economist Daniel Yergin has pointed out, at the end of 2010, US oil production was 3.5 times higher than Hubbert forecast.

I like the way it uses a single data point ("US oil production was 3.5 times higher than Hubbert forecast") and uses this to imply Hubbert was totally wrong on his prediction for the U.S. peak, when in fact, he was almost perfectly dead on (1971 vs. 1970). The fact that horizonal drilling, seawater injection and other improved recovery technologies have kept declining oil fields producing longer than a simple Bell curve model would predict does not change the fact that they *are* in decline and the U.S. will never reachieve its 1971 production peak.

Unfortunately, the average American is no match for the awesome power of half-truth, blind optimism, bias-confirming lies and propaganda.

Hubbert's estimate for the U.S. only included the lower 48 states. It did not include crude oil from Alaska and deep water Gulf of Mexico.

Predicting a peak of "40.3 billion tonnes" in 2020 translates to 40.3 G tonnes/yr * 7.33 b/tonne / 365.24 days/yr = 809 Mb/d which compares to the EIA's current production of ~75 Mb/c. The authors, Lin Shi and Yuhan Zhang, appear to have made a mistake or are predicting a phenomenal increase in oil production (C+C, liquid fuels or something else?) over the next 8 years.

Lin Shi is a teaching assistant at Columbia University and consultant to the World Bank.

Yuhan Zhang is a visiting research fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC.

They seem to be preaching far outside of their depth and getting everything wrong.

These people are doing everything exactly RIGHT for what they are trying to achieve. That is, please the powers that be and get mad money. A consultant to the World Bank? If that doesn't pay well, it sure will lead to something that does. The Carnegia Endowment for International Peace is a foreign policy think-tank, also a perfect way to enter the revenue stream that flows through the corridors of an imperial power.

I can't find a non-sexual metaphor for what these people are and what they do. They are selling themselves and selling comfortable ideas to those in power for a chance to ride the gravy train.

'the awesome power of half-truth, blind optimism, bias-confirming lies and propaganda.'

This is what I refer to when I speak of 'The Myth of Eternal Progress'. The facts are twisted to fit the belief that there will always be more, better, faster, cheaper, smaller, bigger, smarter, or whatever the salesmen are currently promoting as the latest fashion.

When you trace it back, it all springs from the same Myth - that an Economy can grow forever, without serious repercussions affecting the planet. No bounded system can be over-exploited indefinitely; yet our society is pretending that Economics is somehow divorced from the rest of physical reality.

Re: Getting a Charge out of Driving

This article begins by claiming that only 5% of the energy in the fuel for ICE powered cars actually moves the vehicle, blaming this low efficiency on the engine. However, a large fraction of the energy used by the accessories, such as the A/C, automatic transmission and power steering hydraulic pump(s) and electric accessories. These loads might still appear in a purely electric car and the heating load would need to be provided by a heat pump instead of waste heat taken from the engine cooling system. The other factor not mentioned is that gasoline engines are less efficient when compared to diesel engines, which would have been the better comparison with expensive electric drive systems.

The article links to a video presentation by Amory Lovins, who claims electric and hybrid vehicles will save our automobile centric culture lifestyles from the fate of the dinosaurs. Lovins repeats his usual claims that reducing vehicle mass leads to a compounding increase in efficiency. He does not mention the fact that this process also works the other way, although he does note that recent vehicle designs have resulted in lost efficiency as larger, more massive vehicles have hit the roads...

E. Swanson

Enthusiasts of electric cars as a viable mass replacement of vehicles are on the stage of "bargaining" in the Kübler-Ross model of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

I agree that they can't be a mass replacement for current car worship culture, but what else are you going to haul your corn harvest to market with? A donkey? I'll take an EV please.

I have no denial, anger, bargaining or depression about my EV. It is a great car and sometime I hope to hook up our solar panels to power it with the sun, then my "acceptance" of electric driving will be complete.

Which could perhaps work out for you, like some households manage to decrease their energy requirements by 90%, but the car culture of present will have to go, voluntarily or not.

But when you say it 'will have to go' .. it seems to make an Euclidean argument between 'To be or not to be'.. and it's simply not that simple.

Yes, you said 'the car culture of present', allowing for the idea that it will simply have to change (perhaps quite drastically).. but that is where the language is going in two directions, and needs to be kept clearer, I would say.

I frequently say that we're not going to 'not have roads'.. we'll still have wheels, and I would argue that we will still have motors.. so let's look at where this could head to in more descriptive visions than just saying that 'Cars are Hideous, and we have to get rid of that system.' It strikes me as creating an undirected rant without trying to help put forward a vision of how new balances might be struck.

You keep bringing up this meaningless deflection, and I don't know why. Yes there will be roads, and yes they will be used - just as Roman roads were and still are. And no doubt there will be wheels used and some motors for a while. And EV's could be quite useful for a while, although I think the industrial complexity they require and the "oil subsidy" they receive is being ignored. But that is not the issue and never was, and means little.

The issue is that the US has spent many decades building up our infrastructure mostly around one specific transportation system, and now that system is becoming non-viable thanks to the depletion of the required energy source. The premise is that this system can be preserved by replacing the conventional automobiles with EVs, replacing the energy stored in oil with other sources, and replacing the pipeline-based energy distribution system with the electrical T&D system.

In that context it's not relevant that you or a couple of people can make an EV go - we've been making them since the early 1900's. If it cannot replace a significant portion of the transportation system we've built our infrastructure around then that problem remains. And if we try to preserve it with EVs and fail, rather than building some more viable alternative, then the rest of the infrastructure we've built around the automobile also fails.

You call it meaningless deflection, but I say it is central to the oddly absolute nature of the harangues you guys throw at wheeled vehicles, conflating them and the entire reason for having them into some equally extreme and opposite desire for BAU. It has the same blind spot as do discussions about 'THE GRID' going down, as if it is simply one great Monolith, and its success or its failure is a simple Binary choice.

As you may notice from many of my opinions here at TOD, it is in that 'Rush to the extremes' that I am responding. I say clearly and regularly that our consumer and commuter culture is absurd and it is devastating to our biosphere.

My point is not to 'replace a significant portion of the transportation system we've built our infrastructure around' with EV's. It is to know which tools we can use on the roads that we will ALWAYS have in some form in order to move things and each other.

Your argument insists that the EV Automobile exists and is wanted ONLY to recreate the Commuter/Drive-Through Party that we are watching the end of.. some certainly hold that out, but I don't, and I don't see any recognition on your part that even back through those Roman Cities, we've had continuous cartloads of materials and people moving about. Bikes and Trolleys, Horseshoes and Shoeleather doesn't paint the whole picture of how we'll have operating communities and societies in the coming decades. To suggest otherwise is silly. Or do you have some other forms of 'Viable Alternatives' that you are looking towards?

How will Bakers deliver their Loaves to Market? Will Carpenters wait for the 9:15 to Elm Street with their lumber and ladder to get started on your Roof Repairs? Will Veterinarians just bike out to all the farms? A good number of cars out there are doing real and necessary work every day. I think it's highly unrealistic to try to discount this area of transportation so absolutely.

For somebody who claims to oppose either/or thinking, you're pretty obviously missing the point here, Jokuhl. Nobody is denying that automobiles have some place in society, if possible. The point is that "EVs" (coal cars) are indeed being promoted MAINLY/OVERWHELMINGLY (not only) as a way to perpetuate our wildly unsustainable cars-first transportation system. As such, they are MAINLY/OVERWHELMINGLY a dangerous proposition and a non-solution.

EV's are hardly "coal cars". They are the ultimate flex-fuelled vehicles.


Coal makes up less than 50% of the grid and its percentage is dropping every year. EVs are great flex fuel vehicles since we can easily generate electricity from natural gas, nukes, hydro, solar (which has dropped massively in cost in the past few years), wind (which is very competitive these days), nuclear (we did just approve 2 new plants), geothermal, coal, and even oil should it become plentiful.

And with EVs, people can take matters into their own hands and put up PV panels on their roof. For $10K in PV parts (and no subsidy!), you can fuel your EV with 10,000 miles a year for the next 30 years. Try that with a gas car.

The point is that "EVs" (coal cars) are indeed being promoted MAINLY/OVERWHELMINGLY (not only) as a way to perpetuate our wildly unsustainable cars-first transportation system.

If you are talking EVs like the Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf and a continuation of the suburbs as bedroom communities for long distance job commuters then I agree with you 100%!

However, I have a hunch that most of us who share jokuhl's views might be thinking more along the lines of electric bikes, scooters, solar charged golf carts, electric assist velomobiles, electric tractors, etc... These are nothing like your father's Oldsmobile status automobile. Furthermore they fill a completely different niche in the grand transportation scheme. They will be powered more by small local solar, wind, hydro, etc... than by our massive and currently unsustainable fossil fuel powered grid.

What part of BAU is unsustainable is it so damn hard to understand even though some of us keep repeating it over and over again?! Please stop putting words into our mouths and for once actually try to listen to what we are saying and actually doing!

We could use all the help we can get to promote real necessary change and your pretense that we are something we are not is very unhelpful!

"If you are talking EVs like the Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf and a continuation of the suburbs as bedroom communities for long distance job commuters then I agree with you 100%!"

I don't know I would agree with this assessment. The Chevy Volt can go up to 50 miles on one battery charge which would, if not entirely cover a commuter's driving distance, account for a majority of it.

Let there be no doubt about it: EVs would completely revolutionize personal transportation. It would transform transportation into, for the lack of a better word, a utility. There is also a cultural bias against EVs, in my opinion, in that EVs would remove the "macho" from automobiles. After all, it's hard to get excited about an electric motor.

Just like renewables pose a threat to incumbent interests, so do EVs. Hence, the no lack of naysayers.

I don't know I would agree with this assessment. The Chevy Volt can go up to 50 miles on one battery charge which would, if not entirely cover a commuter's driving distance, account for a majority of it.

The point is that the entire concept of commuting to a 'JOB' is no longer a valid! The financial system will no longer be making loans`that can't be paid back anyway. For the Chevy Volt to make sense BAU has to continue and it can't and therefore won't! GM is a dinosaur from a failed paradigm and so is the economic system that is failing all around us as we speak. The asteroid has hit.

There is going to be a major reset and there will be a new paradigm and the furry little three wheeled electric scooter mammals will rise up to fill some completely new transportation niches. They might be transporting food, medicine, tools etc... but they won't be transporting millions of people 50 miles to an office cubicle!

We're all entitled to our opinions.

But I agree Business-As-Usual is finished.

For the Chevy Volt to make sense BAU has to continue and it can't and therefore won't! GM is a dinosaur from a failed paradigm and so is the economic system that is failing all around us as we speak. The asteroid has hit.

I think you need to accept that not everyone agrees with you. And just shouting at people that they are wrong is unlikely to convince them.

I think you need to accept that not everyone agrees with you.

No worries there mate!

And just shouting at people that they are wrong is unlikely to convince them.

I agree, I've let my personal feelings of frustration get the better of me.

The point is that the entire concept of commuting to a 'JOB' is no longer a valid!

I agree that a major reset (desirable in my view, as a gradual orderly process, naturally, rather than a chaotic disruption) is a strong possibility in the future. The question is of course, in what timeframe?

It would seem to me that millions of people will still "need" to commute to jobs in city centres and suburban business parks, for a very long while yet. So it follows that EVs plus public transport are an integral part of the change process - how could they not be? The reality is that BAU will persist for a long time, becoming more disorganised, less economic, and disenfranchising more and more people - but it also seems the case that everything possible outside the ICE personal vehicle should and will be implemented.

I don't think any of that is particularly contentious, and support for EVs - even from GM - is a worthwhile strategic step in the change-down.

And to continue the analogy - it is worth noting that little furry mammals were around for millions of years before the asteroid, filling niches (burrowing, tree-tops, etc) that reptilian dinosaurs did not dominate. So isn't it worth promoting all manner of EVs (and electrified public transport) now, even while the ICE stegosaurus still rules I-95?

"It would seem to me that millions of people will still "need" to commute to jobs in city centres and suburban business parks, for a very long while yet."

And to chemical plants, which are zoned far from city centers and even suburbs for good and practical reasons.

Heck a simple sawmill near Prince George BC just blew itself half-way to orbit. Some things you don't want in walking distance of the residential areas.

Hundreds of millions of people commute to jobs every day in India and 1.2 billion Indians consume only 3 mbpd of oil! Granted, the culture of mindless consumerism will end. Most people won't have money to eat out all the time, go on vacations or buy the latest gadget. However, the US can easily maintain a good standard of living on 10 mbpd. The US currently produces 6 mbpd. Add Canadian imports, NGL and some biofuels and we can and will continue BAU a lot longer than you can imagine.

However, the US can easily maintain a good standard of living on 10 mbpd. The US currently produces 6 mbpd. Add Canadian imports, NGL and some biofuels and we can and will continue BAU a lot longer than you can imagine.

I agree. We use like 19mbpd now but if push comes to shove, we could easily get by on 10mbpd. Most of it is burned up in light duty cars. So if gas prices shot up, we could probably get by with a combination of higher MPG cars, much more public transport usage, carpooling, EVs, PHEVs, biking, telecommuting, walking, less recreation travel, etc.

Basically, we would just become more like Europe. Cities would become more dense. People would try to live closer to work. More buses would be added. More public transport projects would be installed.

Would it be hard? Yes. Can it be done? In the long run, we don't have any other choice.

And Europe has bankrupted itself trying to pay for the fuel to be "just like Europe".

Europe has it really tough because it's not any where near self-sufficient in fossil fuels, while the US is close or at self-sufficiency in Coal and Natural Gas. This is why the US has to move NOW to renewables.

"..they are MAINLY/OVERWHELMINGLY a dangerous proposition and a non-solution."

How Exactly? a 'Non Solution' to WHAT exactly? Dangerous to whom? The fact that 'a few of us can make a couple of them work' means that with some of them in any given community, while we don't still have 'Car Culture', we CAN still carry heavy things, we can get somewhere quick, like to a housefire or a heart-attack.. We still have an OPTION available which could be charged by Wind, Solar, Hydro, Exercise Bikes, Wood-fired Sterlings.

I get it. I get that you guys are SO mad about cars that ANYTHING that looks or tastes like them must be just as bad.

We have a SH!TLOAD of work to do to make any kind of a transition here. I really don't care whether some of the Prius or Leaf or Volt Owners and Makers are deluded about what this kind of car is 'supposed' to be promising us into our future. They're wrong.. but You're wrong too. We need tools and we need other tools that can move heavy toolboxes around to get to all the work that has to be done.. and the Electric Motor is an outstanding Arrow in this Quiver, whether it's pulling a sawblade, a drillbit or a set of Wheels. It has phenomenal power, it's simple to make them and rebuild them, and they can last a VERY long time. You sneer at it at your own peril.

And They just run on Coal, huh?

Is this where you are going to let me know how to avoid absolutism in my thinking?

Some encouraging news, Bob. According to this Bloomberg article, coal's share of US generation has fallen to just 39 per cent. Coal consumption in the utility sector was down 21.7 per cent in January, 2012, the most recent month reported (source:

Let's hope this trend continues to accelerate going forward.


I sure hope so.

Thx, Paul.

Naw, just wait till CH4 gets back to $15. I'd be really surprised if the % coal generation had much to do with the current penetration of renewables or nuclear. I'd say it's all about fracking and utilities building cheap gas peakers out of jet engines as fast as they can. I'm not an insider, that's just an educated guess from all I've read here over the years. Good news for now (unless you count all that GHG leaking out of the frack jobs), but I expect % coal generation to skyrocket in the next few decades if anything like electrical-grid BAU persists that long, at least US-wise. Conventional NG peaked already, right? And those frack jobs deplete like nothing, and Rock tells us we've known most of the frack hotspots for years, just waiting for the liquids content to make them economic, so I don't see that we have nearly the NG as we do coal, and so since we gonna "burn it all" (all we have the economy to extract that is), I expect coal to be *the* grid fuel sooner or later. Pray I'm wrong.


You are arguing with a strawman. I'm one of the people saying there are no absolutes, and that there will be much variation in the way things unfold and the ways in which people adapt, and the success thereof. Whenever we discuss EVs you want to jump in and say something on the order of "but they're really nice and they might be useful in the future". I regard that as trivially obvious and of no meaning, because it is NOT the discussion others are having about EVs. The general discussion about EVs is indeed one about preserving the car culture with EVs - using them just the way we use conventional automobiles right now. Our society generally believes that they will be driving EVs in the near future, and that cars will still be the primary transportation system. There is no other plan B transportation system. Every time someone points that out that this is not workable, you jump in with some comment about how there will be a few EVs around and that they'll be really useful, which is irrelevant and a different discussion (and a point which ignores the fact that it's an expensive transportation system that will not scale down well).

As for how bakers will get loaves to market - they'll live above their stores in areas where there is enough demand to support a baker, and in other places people will bake their own like they've always done. Farmers will learn to take care of their own animals, because getting the vet out will be time consuming and expensive. In towns carpenters will move about using whatever means they find suitable, be it a horse drawn wagon or some EV. In rural areas farmers often had an additional skill, be it carpentry or masonry or smithing that they used to make additional money, and many could do passable work themselves in a variety of areas.

People do not need to move about like we do now in order to have functioning society, but our society is not structured in a way to make that work anymore. The mirage of converting our automobile transportation system to EVs blocks discussion on the things we should be doing.

People do not need to move about like we do now in order to have functioning society, but our society is not structured in a way to make that work anymore.

I guess it will be restructured then.

The mirage of converting our automobile transportation system to EVs blocks discussion on the things we should be doing.

And that right there is the ultimate strawman argument because none of us are even remotely close to suggesting anything of the sort!

Our society generally believes that they will be driving EVs in the near future

Not wanting to jump into the fray of the main argument here, but I have to pick this nit. IMO, our society generally believes that they will be driving SUVs in the near and foreseeable future, powered by gasoline made from Tar Sands, Bakken and other frakked oil, Brazilian oil, offshore oil, polar oil, Iraqi oil, ethanol, and - a bit further down the road - shale oil from kerogen, about which they know nothing. In fact, you could apply that last phrase to all of the above, really. But my point is that most people (i.e. 'our society') see no roadblocks to full steam ahead BAU, save for some environmental extremists, who will be steamrollered when necessary. If they see EVs at all, they see them as a frivolous sideshow for liberal do gooders.

LOL! Tks for the reality check...

But my point is that most people (i.e. 'our society') see no roadblocks to full steam ahead BAU.

It's possible that it is even more than that - not only will SUV Dreaming continue into the sunset, but fuel will be $2.50 a gallon for ever (if you vote the right way of course), and god-fearing Americans can kiss "oil dependency" on those Arabs goodbye. Happy motoring!

"People do not need to move about like we do now in order to have functioning society,"

So you'll keep doing it? Keep putting words in my mouth?

Look, are we or are we not in GREAT NEED to make a TRANSITION from where are to where we're trying to get to? If, say we see the lie in the Yergins by this summer, and all the sudden, Gas Stations start buckling at a terrifying rate, and trucks are getting special deliveries of Diesel out on the Highways where they ran aground..

What do you think we should be doing, which WON'T require such steps taken, to squeak ourselves off of this precipice we've built? If you're in a town with NO GAS. I don't mean some Imaginary town that you can waggle your finger at, I mean YOU.. do you think you'd find helpful, possibly lifesaving even, the use of a Car, even for extraordinary purposes, like, for things the makers and even the owner NEVER envisioned using it for..

You can paint whatever kind of Ideal you like for where we 'ought to get to', or 'what the next world will or won't support'.. but what are you going to be saying This Summer, if it's already crashing down around you, even harder than Ireland (right?) is seeing it crashing already.. and you REALLY need to get your stuff, or your Gran, or some Emergency Food and Water supplies moved, or your kids and your neighbors kids out of harm's way?

People DO need to move, and currently, we need to move even MORE to alter our course away from the FF cliff.. as contradictory or ironic as that may sound.. is there really any question that we're highly vulnerable to being trapped by fuel interruptions, right when we may need to make a big move quick? Maybe your answer is 'Tough Luck'.. mine is, 'who's got some rope?'


For heaven's sake, I put no words in your mouth, those were my words. That's the world we've built, and EVs cannot keep it going. That need does not derive from your words but from the reality of a hundred years of constructing our infrastructure around automobiles. You seem oblivious that we need to keep moving around, which was my point. A couple of EVs here and there mean nothing - they don't address the problem.

If I cannot get gasoline this summer, just how do EVs help me, and beyond that help all of the other people like me, because it isn't just about ME? There's no way I can afford one, and there's no way we could produce enough to matter, or power them THIS SUMMER. Or next, or the one after that, because it's that aggregate need that is the problem. When the fuel is unavailable or so expensive that it may as well be, then the transportation system will have failed for all that use it. And EVs won't fix that. If the fuel supplies fail this summer and you and a few others are lucky enough to have an EV, well you'll be sitting pretty for a time - but it will likely be small help as the society, dependant on the fuel and not having EVs, crashes around you.

What on Earth are you suggesting anyway - that we'll build out an EV transportation system fast enough to replace what we've got before the fuel supplies crash (thought you were arguing against that)? Or that a couple of people with EVs will somehow mitigate the disaster for the masses?

We'll have fuel this summer, even if expensive and with occasional shortages, because the empire still functions and other places in the world are forced to go without. I'll keep driving the small, fuel efficient car I bought 13 years ago while working (within constraints) to move to a more local existence. That is the only realistic response. When at last the real shortages come, many will suffer, as many won't prepare partially because they still believe in the perpetual automotive fantasy. A small number of EV's on the roads will not make any difference, other than to their few owners.

I've heard that the roadway infrastructure, when not maintained, degrades surprisingly rapidly (compare also to rail and waterways). I am also aware that JH Kunstler believes that financing (what's possible at this stage) that would otherwise go to roadway infrastructure would be better put to use on railway infrastructure, for example. (I wonder how much oil is required for pavement, itself)

On top of some quotes about EV's in my recent post (below in this thread), I have a concern about how investment in EV's/their infrastructure/manufacture/shipping/consumer-need&demand-creation/etc. may setup some unintended consequences and slippery slopes that are hard to back out of once entrenched.

I trust you have done your own devil's advocacy for EV's? Let's hear them.

Ideas can look good on paper-- from some angles or through various colored lenses at least-- but practice is another thing, where the outcomes can be unexpected and hard to predict-- like in these turbulent times. Nuclear power plants are being discussed in this thread, for example, in context with EV's and the term, 'flex fuel' I think, and many of us know the dangers of nuclear. As for hydro-electric, for another example, there are some apparent issues with that too, such as with overdamming...

Anyone who knows anything about salmon knows the dams must go.
~ Derrick Jensen

Then there's the issue that...

...the inherent fossil-fuel dependence of renewable generation leads to a case of receding horizons. We do not make wind turbines with wind power or solar panels with solar power. As the cost of fossil fuel rises, the production cost of renewable energy infrastructure also rises, so that renewables remain just out of reach.
~ Nicole Foss

I'm unsure how EV's, if sufficiently established-- how many (more) people with EV's?-- would impact and/or compete with other energy demands/infrastructures. Chinese/India (coal power plants?) with more EV's? What would that do? Etcetera.

As the cost of fossil fuel rises, the production cost of renewable energy infrastructure also rises, so that renewables remain just out of reach.
~ Nicole Foss

For the last several years the cost of crude oil had been increasing while the cost of photovoltaic panels had been decreasing. The price of copper wire and lead-acid batteries have increased during that period. The overall cost of a PV system has decreased. The price of natural gas is currently low. Her assertion that that price of photovoltaic systems is primarily a function of the price of fossil fuels is incorrect.

And I'm often dismayed at the use of language like 'renewables remain out of reach'. People today will regularly claim something is 'unaffordable' when they are simply unCOMFORTABLE with the price and may have to make sacrifices to get it.

A lot of things are expensive or difficult, and whether we strive for them is a matter of the value we place on them.

Who knows where N Gas prices will go next, or it's ready availability. With this in mind, how much will you value the fact that you'll get Electricity steadily and with no price fluxuations once you've got the PV hardware?

Well gee, who to believe in this overspecialized world, ay?
But ok, perhaps, sure why not-- or for now... Maybe there has yet to be a shakeout and some realignments where that's concerned. Foss' 'primarily' seems about the fundamentals of supply and demand. The horizon may yet begin to move.

At the same time, this global (fundamentally uneconomic) economy has been described as fragile/non-resilient, and in natural systems dynamics, unpredictability/chaos, and the sudden shifts and changes that can come with them can change the pictures overnight. EV's and PV's, etc., rely on layers of complexity.

The US Electric Grid: Will it be Our Undoing? - Revisited

...The interconnections of electricity with petroleum, natural gas, and other operations could be the topic of another post.

If we cannot get the electrical grid upgraded, it seems like we will need to downgrade our expectations for applications such as electrified rail and plug-in electric hybrid cars. These will work much less well if there are frequent electric outages in much of the country. We may also need to downgrade our expectation for newer renewables because of the intermittent nature of their output, and the inability of local grids to handle this type of input. Efforts at higher efficiency may also be hindered, if we are unable to make the grid "smart".
~ Gail Tverberg

With regard to the price of natural gas, incidentally, and as an example, it is also important of course to take a look at costs, such as to the environment, groundwater for ex.. BAU doesn't seem to do a very good job at that either.

If we all knew more, say, holistically, about what we were talking about, maybe agreed with each other too, BAU would look nothing like it does.
But our systems are too complex for their/our own or nature's good, and so it seems that not one of us can really know completely for certain about them. So as long as it continues as being out of our complete hands/control/understanding maybe, in a sense, it makes us all misguided, and anything closer to guided could prove to be closer to our proverbial Olduvai.

How Many People Can Live On Planet Earth (full BBC programme)

...And the human population is increasing by more than two people every second, two hundred thousand people everyday, nearly 80 million people every year... Each additional life needs food, energy, water, shelter, and hopefully a whole lot more... Today, we are living in an era in which the biggest threat to human well being, to other species and to the Earth as we know it, might well be ourselves... The issue of population size is always controversial because it touches on the most personal decisions we make, but we ignore it at our peril...
~ David Attenborough

Gail's remarks appear to be based on a conclusion first, and then justification.

One, it is matter of priorities for the grid. If power is short, just blackout some residential suburb and keep the trains rolling (perhaps asking them to slow down to save power#)

Railroads can have 99.9% power reliability while suburban neighborhoods are on 20%, or 60% of the time blackout.

# DC Metro subways agreed to reduce speed during a power shortage there.

Two, in much of the USA, electrified railroads would need to bring their own high voltage lines with them. This necessity is a virtue in many ways.

The RR transmission lines will be new, 50+ years away from the age problems of many of today's transmission lines.

They will connect major cities (that is where RRs go) through less populated areas. They can get power from City A, City B, City C or from lightly populated areas in between. Electrified RRs will be able to source power from wide geographic areas and multiple power sources and types.

If, say, most power came from solar PV, many lower priority trains could just operate on sunny days and pull over the rest of the time (a waste of rolling stock & inventory), but grain, lumber, bricks, (coal), Chinese imports, manufactured goods, etc. would get to their destination.

Best Hopes for Realistic Assessments,


Thanks for the encouraging elaboration, Alan. Indeed, best hopes for RA's.

Because the world is not past peak natural gas and peak coal, I do not think the time is nigh for a receding horizon for renewable energy sources. If we do not convert within the next 50 years, then such a receding horizon might occur in the second half of this century. Timing is an important consideration for one can be correct in the underlying principles but totally wrong in the timing. Additionally Foss does not consider in depth the possible substitutions of non-fossil fuels in the life-cycle of renewable energy systems.

Wind turbines and photovoltaic panels use minimal water and release small amounts of pollution compared to thermal electrical generating stations powered by fossil fuels and nuclear. They move society in the right direction reducing water consumption and pollution, but reducing them might encourage human population to increase squandering the achievement and moving society in the wrong direction. Do we die trying or atrophying?

I do not perceive substituting distributed renewable energy systems for coal and nuclear power stations nor electrifying long distance freight rail lines, per Alan Drake's proposal, as continuing BAU. BAU is exponential population and economic growth forevermore which probably will not continue as the cheapest, most versatile energy sources decline. If we do not reduce human dependence on and consumption of fossil fuels, a receding horizon will be reached some day. Some want to hasten collapse and others want to try to avoid it while the majority go about their routine blissfully unaware. A few yeast battling against the group....

I'm pretty much in agreement with you, BlueTwilight, including perhaps the BAU semantic, which may have been more appropriately-termed industrial civilization.

I got up this morning with a curious thought it my head. Unsure what it means: "We want to eat our industrial civilization and have it too.".
(Maybe it means 'we' want our [EV] gadgets come hell or high water.)

But then, if we are a few yeast battling against our own, maybe some industrial-strength drinking is involved. ;D

"We" may be the generations that grew up with automobiles as our method of transportation. If the younger generations entering the work force have difficulty finding jobs or can not afford cars and fuel, then they will find ways to get along without them. Transitions that require decades or generations are slow in a human lifetime, and a PHEV is a good transitional vehicle due to its ability to use multiple fuels.

"What on Earth are you suggesting anyway - that we'll build out an EV transportation system fast enough to replace what we've got before the fuel supplies crash (thought you were arguing against that)? Or that a couple of people with EVs will somehow mitigate the disaster for the masses?"

You keep insisting on Silver Bullets, or instead insisting that I'M proposing silver bullets. Magical rescues and Glorious Salvations.. THAT is 'the Level of thinking' that I believe Einstein would have been referring to when he said that it cannot repair what that same level of thinking had disastrously wrought.

Bikes are BB's
EV's are BB's
Trains are BB's
Community Farmer's Markets are BB's
Solar and Wind are BB's
Reducing your Travel needs are BB's

etc, etc, etc.

The 'Devil' isn't technology. It isn't Capitalism or Socialism. It isn't Religion. .. It's the mentality that insists that some things are Devils and others are Angels.

EV's aren't 'angels' to me, and they aren't 'dreamy'.. they're tools that will work for a long time without oil.

You talk about your solution and say "That is the only realistic response." Even if it's good in many ways, there are still a LOT of other things we need to include in our responses.. a statement like that seems far too narrow.

Keep pluggin', Bob. Necessity will be the mother of invention, and we'll see all sorts of solutions going forward. My plan is (maybe soon) to sell my truck while prices are good and do something radical (like when I went off grid). As for on-road transportation, perhaps a pedal assisted electric trike that doesn't require licensing. For off-road, I'm looking for a used electric golf cart with potential.

I'm leaning toward lead-acid batteries because they're cheap and rely less on complex industrial systems to manufacture/recycle (they ain't rocket science). The weight/range tradeoff will become moot when vehicles dependent upon non-standard, unavailable lithium batteries become part sources. One can always upgrade to lithium if they are available. Keep your engineering flexible, simple-off-the-shelf, locally repairable, etc., solar chargable. No telling what guys like us will come up with.

Tempered with a care of earth and care of people attitude and approach, I imagine guys like you will become progressively invaluable to your communities if you already aren't.

BTW; what about a small old internal combustion engined vehicle and some home-distilled alcohol?

I think the most over-looked problem is the road maintenance. Out here on the gravel, that county grader every month or two and the loads of rock every year or two are really appreciated. If gas hit $10 and they stopped coming, I'd sell our Prius and keep the 4wd truck. Sure, we wouldn't go much, but it would beat not going at all. I've never examined the suspension on a golf cart, but I doubt it could handle a gravel road that hadn't been maintained in living memory.

A lot of the conversions are from lithe, little Pickup Trucks. In any case, the motor and drive-train have less parts to be shaken loose.. the Golf Cart image is really a bit of a stereotype. EV's can take a lot of different forms..

These are $10k.. I think I'd find a burnt out gas model and do a conversion, but it shows another form these come in now.


It's a strange debate.. It's not really about the machine, but about what they think the other guys think the machine is really for.

A wide variety of disparate ideas and a lot of creativity are great, and I've nothing against your silver BBs, but as I've said too many times now, the national discussion of EVs is not about BBs. It's about silver bullets, but mostly about denial and continuing without change. YOU may understand that change is inevitable, but few accept that, and they picture themselves following the dreams of the past. They figure that all our shale oil will allow us to keep on driving for now, and those EVs they heard about will keep it going after that. Cars forever.

Henriksson's comment above was

but the car culture of present will have to go, voluntarily or not.

whereupon you felt the need to jump in with the "there will still be roads" nonsense, which was never disputed. Feel free to continue to joust that windmill, if it makes you feel better that someone somewhere will be using an electric vehicle of some sort. Meanwhile, others of us are trying to have a different discussion on the fate of the present transportation system, which will in fact be going away because we don't have the energy to continue it.

Written by Twilight:
When at last the real shortages come, many will suffer, as many won't prepare partially because they still believe in the perpetual automotive fantasy. A small number of EV's on the roads will not make any difference, other than to their few owners.

A conversion necessarily begins by making one before making many. Because the conversion was not proactive, it will likely be incomplete although the number is still increasing.

Having the only functioning vehicle in a neighborhood when the real shortage arrives would make that EV owner the go-to man. He could fetch supplies for the neighborhood. He would probably become a profitable taxi service.

Means of Transportation to Work
Trend of how people commuted to work from 1980-2009
(Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet)
There is a lot of waste that can be cut, but with 310 million people in the U.S., I suspect there is a minimum operating level for crude oil to keep the system going. It is best not to test that MOL without some options, such as EV's, available.

Written by Twilight:
As for how bakers will get loaves to market - they'll live above their stores in areas where there is enough demand to support a baker, and in other places people will bake their own like they've always done. Farmers will learn to take care of their own animals, because getting the vet out will be time consuming and expensive. In towns carpenters will move about using whatever means they find suitable, be it a horse drawn wagon or some EV. In rural areas farmers often had an additional skill, be it carpentry or masonry or smithing that they used to make additional money, and many could do passable work themselves in a variety of areas.

That shifts the problem to how the bakers will get the ingredients and whether there will be sufficient energy to cook, if the farmers, deliverymen and maintenance people do not have transportation to do their jobs. Farmers taking care of their own animals means no drugs, greater losses to disease and therefore less productivity. Additional work for farmers, like masonry or smithing, means less productivity. There is not enough pasture left for a significant number of horse drawn wagons unless the area for crops or ethanol is reduced. Presumably horses are more time consuming than automobiles because they have a slower top speed and require more attention. If we do not successfully develop EV's now, then there will be none available for carpenters to buy later. With the economy in such a bad state due to a lack of adequate transportation, declining productivity and high unemployment (the baker and vet are out of business) people will seek the cheapest housing by increasing occupancy putting the carpenter out of business too.

Consider the timing of this scenario which is probably more than 50 years away. The Baby Boomers will be history and the present workforce will be replaced with a younger generation accustomed to be more energy efficient. The U.S. will probably be able to reduce its wasteful consumption enough to operate within the liquid fuels production of North America within the next 20 years (the time frame of net crude oil exports dropping to zero). EV's and PHEV's will help to make this happen. Once it is accomplished, the significant drag of importing expensive crude oil will be reduced for the U.S. economy. The U.S. might be dependent on a foreign supply of natural gas and peak natural gas may have passed. World population will probably be declining in 2060. EV's are not a distraction. They are a necessary part of the transition away from fossil fuel and to keep the system functioning.

After watching America Revealed: Food Machine narrated by Yui Kwon, it does not seem difficult to retrofit those circular fields in Kansas to power electric tractors. Install wind turbines and photovoltaic panels in the unused corners, connect to the electric utility grid, install a reeled, rotating power cord in the center, connect the power cord to the tractor and drive in a spiral. A battery would only need to be large enough to travel the distance between several sockets. When not running a tractor or irrigation pump, the farmer sells electricity to the grid.

Yair . . .

After watching America Revealed: Food Machine narrated by Yui Kwon, it does not seem difficult to retrofit those circular fields in Kansas to power electric tractors. Install wind turbines and photovoltaic panels in the unused corners, connect to the electric utility grid, install a reeled, rotating power cord in the center, connect the power cord to the tractor and drive in a spiral. A battery would only need to be large enough to travel the distance between several sockets. When not running a tractor or irrigation pump, the farmer sells electricity to the grid.

I have not watched America Revealed but I have read lots of well meaning explanations as to how centre-pivots can be used to carry a cable out to an electric tractor and till a field in spirals...??????

The simplistic notion doesn't work as you'd think. Have a think about think about it for a moment.

The proponents of the idea seem to forget about periphial speed . . . that is to say if the tractor is working at four miles an hour at the outer end of a sixbay pivot how fast is that outer end of the pivot travelling when the tractor is working in the centre?

We have been working on this concept for a long time and I possibly know more about the problems involved than any one around but our obvious solutions are not seen as being necessary or viable...It may well be different when I am dead and gone in ten or twenty years


The central area must be large enough for water and electrical connections and be equal to or larger than the turning radius of a tractor or harvester. Maybe a diameter of 30 feet is sufficient. If the field has a radius of .5 miles and the cable is dual conductor 8 AWG copper with a diameter of .4 inches (including insulation), then the dimensions of the spool could be about 2 feet diameter and 1.5 feet high which is not particularly big. I assume 600 V and 20 A with an 11% power loss in the conductor. Is 10 kW enough to power a tractor? The mass of the copper is:

5280' * PI * (.1285"/2)2 * 8.4 g/cm3 = 113 kg

Because the mass and thus angular momentum of the spinning spool is small compared to the tractor's, I do not see a problem. If necessary, a higher voltage would allow for a smaller conductor and spool. If the tractor is pulling an attachment that is 30 feet wide, then the turning radius of the inner most track would be 30 feet. At a speed of 4 miles / hour the tractor would complete the circle in 32 seconds and the pivot would turn at ~1.9 revolutions / minute. This is not particularly fast and the tractor could always slow down on the inner track.

What am I missing?

Clearly much is dependant on the rate at which change happens, and the faster it is the harder it will be. Also, to a great extent this is not repairable, which is what collapse means. The structures we've created will not work indefinitely, including the fact that we've destroyed the farmlands surrounding our cities - that used to feed those cities. I don't know how much of it will be recoverable, so in some places there will be few bakers - and therefore few people.

One of the points I've been making is that the proponents of EVs neglect the how embedded the automotive transportation system is in our industrial society,and that it is a system not just the car. Even if we do develop EVs now, and it is not a big deal in terms of product development to make an EV itself, that does not mean we'll have the industrial capacity to make producing them viable in the future with much less oil. You can have all the EV's you want but if the roads and power gridd are not maintained they are of no use.

That topic is the return of electric cars to American roads... Most of them are pricey, and all of them have their share of drawbacks, mostly in terms of range and reliability... almost all the electricity these vehicles use will be generated by burning coal and natural gas, and the easy insistence that the grid can easily be switched over to solar and wind power has already been critiqued at some length in this blog...

...the best way to reduce your ecological footprint isn’t to replace a petroleum-powered car with an electric car, it’s to replace it with a bicycle, a public transit ticket, or a good pair of walking shoes...

...the vast majority of electricity in America and elsewhere comes from coal and natural gas, and so choosing an electric car simply means that the carbon dioxide you generate comes out of a smokestack at a power plant rather than the tailpipe of your car... the processes of turning fossil fuel into heat and heat into electricity, storing the electricity in a battery and extracting it again, and then turning the electricity into motion is less efficient still, so you’re getting less of the original fossil fuel energy turned into distance traveled than you would in an ordinary car. This means that you’d be burning more fossil fuel to power your car even if the power plant was burning petroleum, and since it isn’t – and coal and natural gas contain much less energy per unit of volume than petroleum distillates do – you’re burning quite a bit more fossil fuel, and dumping quite a bit more carbon in the atmosphere, than a petroleum-powered car would do.

...An automobile, petroleum-powered or electric, is a very complicated piece of hardware, and every part of it comes into being through a process of manufacture that starts at an assortment of mines, oil wells, and the like, and proceeds through refineries, factories, warehouses, and assembly plants, linked together by long supply chains via train, truck or ship. All this costs energy. Working out the exact energy cost per car would be a huge project, since it would involve tracking the energy used to produce and distribute every last screw, drop of solvent, etc., but it’s probably safe to say that a large fraction of the total energy used in a car’s lifespan is used up before the car reaches the dealer. Electric cars are as subject to this rule as petroleum-powered ones.

...the energy cost of manufacture needs to be taken into account. If you buy a used car – let’s say, for the sake of argument, a ten-year-old compact with decent gas mileage – instead of a new electric car, you’ve just salvaged the energy cost of manufacture that went into the used car, most of which would otherwise have been wasted, and saved all the energy that would have been spent to produce, ship, and assemble every part of the new car. Since it’s a ten-year-old compact rather than a brand new e-car, furthermore, you’re not going to be tempted to drive it all over the place to show everyone how ecologically conscious you are; in fact, you may just be embarrassed enough to leave it in your driveway when you don’t actually need it, thus saving another good-sized chunk of energy. Finally, of course, the price difference between a brand new Nissan Leaf and a ten-year-old compact will buy you a solar water heating system, installation included, with enough left over to completely weatherize an average American home. It’s a win-win situation for everything but your ego...

Most Americans buy most of the things they used new, and dump a great many perfectly useful items into the trash; the more conscientious package them up and donate them to thrift stores, which is at least a step in the right direction. As a society, we have been able to afford this fixation and its attendant costs – new houses, new cars, new computers, new everything – because we’ve been surfing a tidal wave of cheap abundant fossil fuel energy. As we get further into the territory on the far side of peak oil, and as peak coal and peak natural gas come within sight, that state of affairs is rapidly coming to an end...

A saner alternative, though, is to move directly into the stage that will follow scarcity industrialism – the stage of salvage economics...

One of the reasons that Thoreau’s concept of voluntary poverty got rebranded "voluntary simplicity", and repackaged as a set of fashionable lifestyle choices that imitate authentic simplicity at a premium price, is the stark panic felt by so many middle class Americans at the thought of being mistaken for someone who’s actually poor. Those of my readers who decide that the advantages of voluntary poverty are worth pursuing are going to have to confront that panic, if they haven’t done so already. Like all supposedly classless societies, America makes up for its lack of formal caste barriers by raising caste prejudice to a fine art; the cheap shots at small town America mentioned toward the beginning of this blog are an expression of that, of course, and so is the peer pressure that keeps most Americans from doing the sensible thing, and buying cheap and sturdy used products in place of increasingly overpriced and slipshod new ones.

We are all going to be poor in the decades and centuries to come. Yes, I’m including today’s rich in that... buying cheap used items frees up money that can then be applied to something more useful.

...buying used goods instead of new ones isn’t going to put any significant number of Americans out of work. Very little is actually manufactured in America these days, and most of what is, is produced and sold by conglomerates that pump money out of American communities and into the black hole of the financial economy. Nearly all used-goods stores, by contrast, are locally owned and circulate their earnings back into the community, where they generate jobs by way of the multiplier effect. The calculations would be fiendishly difficult, and you won’t find a mainstream economist willing to touch the project with a ten-foot pole, but I suspect that when the differences just listed are taken into account, buying used goods actually yields a larger number of jobs than buying new ones – and while thrift store clerks don’t make as much as corporate office fauna, to be sure, I have to admit to a suspicion that the former contribute a good deal more to the world as a whole than the latter.

In time to come, those who cling to the narrowing circle of scarcity industrialism will likely discover that most of the freedoms that remain to them are going to have to be handed over as part of the cost of admission; those who choose otherwise – and there will be a range of other options, though you won’t learn that from the mainstream media – will have to give up a great many expectations and privileges that are standard issue in the industrial world just now in order to preserve some degree of autonomy and individual choice...
~ John Michael Greer

If the public had been able to foresee that the private automobile would lead to the despoilation of huge swaths of prime farmland to build roads and highways; the emptying out of many of America's and the world's cities into suburban sprawl; high blood levels of lead in children (from leaded gasoline which is now outlawed); a sedentary lifestyle that would contribute to an obesity epidemic that reaches down into children younger than 10; a nightmarish number of people killed and maimed on roadways each year; air pollution that regularly threatens human health; climate change through the production of greenhouse gases; and dependence on a fuel supply--petroleum--that has led to several wars and which regularly undergoes huge price swings; if they had known all that, would the public have agreed to allow the private automobile to become the dominant form of transportation in the so-called developed world?

It's time to let go of the car culture so we can rid ourselves of its myriad ill effects. And, it is time to let go of the electric car fetish that is merely an extension of that ruinous car culture.
~ Kurt Cobb

In order to deliver 30 kWh to your house to fully charge the Leaf’s 24 kWh battery bank, for example—incorporating the charge efficiency this time, the source of electricity becomes a highly relevant factor. Two-thirds of our electricity comes from fossil fuel plants, typically converting 35% of the fossil fuel thermal energy into electricity. Only 90% of this makes it through the transmission system, on average. If your electricity comes from a fossil fuel plant, the 30 kWh delivered to your house took about 95 kWh of fossil fuel energy. The 73 miles the Leaf travels on a full charge now puts it at an energy efficiency of 130 kWh/100-mi. The MPG equivalent number is 28 MPG. From a carbon-dioxide standpoint, you’d be better off burning the fossil fuel directly in your car.
~ Tom Murphy

For both the hybrid and the electric car, the issue of how to get enough lithium for the batteries obtains, at least for now, given the current state-of-the-art battery technology. Most of this rare metal now comes from one place, Bolivia, and everybody wants "a piece" of it. Electric vehicles in large numbers depend on either coal or nuclear powered electric generation, each presenting special hazards. Both hybrids and electric cars would depend on the old installment loan purchase system -- at least to work in the current mode of suburban living, long-range commuting, and interstate highway travel.


In the meantime, there are still those who hope (as described above) that various alt.energy systems will insure the continuation of our Happy Motoring habits. This is an idle hope... Even if President Obama mounts an "infrastructure stimulus" program, it will not keep up with all the necessary routine road repair that our highway system requires. The extreme financial hardship faced by localities and states insures that they will have to postpone a lot of expensive highway maintenance -- even if the federal government fixes a big bunch of bridges and tunnels -- and so we face the interesting prospect that our roadway systems will enter their own deadly zone of systemic failure even before the whole car issue is settled.
~ JH Kunstler

A lot of good points are raised in the quotes which have been discussed here already many times.

Business-As-Usual is finished. That's clear. The continuing rate of consumption of fossil fuels is unsustainable.

The divergence in viewpoints regards what can be done about it. The "doomers" say it's all over, don't even bother trying to do anything about it.

My view is a catastrophe can be averted if society pursues renewables and EVs aggressively as soon as possible.

With regard to the use of Lithium in EVs, as I've mentioned before, extending the Grid to EVs is the best solution. This would obviate the need for Lithium, at least to the extent it otherwise would be required. Yes, it would require a massive investment, but the payoff would be huge -- as in the survival of modern society. Given the alternative, I believe this is a "no-brainer" decision.

And how do you think your notion of 'modern society' is working out for us, and, ostensibly contradictorily, if, as you say, BAU is finished?

Yes, it would require a massive investment...

Should be interesting to see how/when/if that happens, given, for example, the mountains of debt, bankruptcies, unemployment and austerity measures floating around.

If someone is obese, does that necessarily mean he is worthless, or a bad person?

No, but it is highly likely he will drop dead if he tries to run a full marathon before he gets back into shape!

This has been a really good discussion, and I hope we can continue onto the next drumbeat.

One item I didn't see mentioned was inter-urban electric trolleys. At one point you could almost get from NYC to Chicago by those things! They were usually operated by a rural electric cooperative, with the trolley being fed from the wires within the road right of way and the tracks off to the side of the (two lane) road. The trolleys ran frequently enough that one could get into town and back the same day. Obviously, they were not on every road or even every major road, but the rural primary arterials often had them.

Interurbans were well developed in Maine as well. I look forward to their return.

I just sat in a Community meeting this evening with a City Councilor I know, who is likewise eager to see Trolleys and other Rail-based systems reintroduced.

Others remain unconvinced.. the idea is still too foreign (in a couple senses) to many of my neighbors, and the investment scares them.

I'd rather it stay in this Drumbeat, especially since the discussion has gotten rather heated. Keep it all in one place, and don't bring old flamewars into new threads.

...the best way to reduce your ecological footprint isn’t to replace a petroleum-powered car with an electric car, it’s to replace it with a bicycle, a public transit ticket, or a good pair of walking shoes...

More food would be necessary to displace the energy in the petroleum. Conservation of energy still applies. Modern agriculture is also dependent on fossil fuels.

No you will save more energy because you will be more healthy by exercising anyway while going to your destination and can cut transport energies to go for deliberate exercise in gyms or to go see doctor if you fall sick easily.

In all my discussions of Green Transit I explicitly mention buses and shuttles so that implies a place for non-Rail based transit however it is powered. Actually Mandel and Perl in "Transport Revolutions: Moving People and Oil without Freight" recommend "GCV"s,
i.e. GridControlledVehicles like trolleys powered by overhead electric lines. Their argument is that direct electric power off a grid is way more efficient than with heavy batteries and the conversions required for batteries to supply power as well as the extra load of carrying the batteries. But this would require expensive infrastructure investments.
On the other hand it is unfortunately very much true at this point in time that most of
the people like the Lovins, Google, Obama's Administration and most of even the "progressive" punditocracy just see electric cars as magically fixing the issues of
the current energy-guzzling polluting Auto Addicted transit. As has been trenchantly pointed out by James Kunstler and others (the Green Metropolis author for instance) Amory Lovin's wonderful "Green Lab" is out in the middle of nowhere totally inaccessible by Green non-Auto transit, worse yet most of his employees actually work in a non-Green site again not accessible by Green Transit. The Obama administration in cahoots with both Republicans and Democrats in Congress wasted $7.5 Billion on the "Cash for Clunkers" trade-in of more fuel efficient cars. At the same time 150 Green public transit systems have been cut all across the US since 2008.
In my own state of New Jersey, my teabag Koch-funded Gov. Christie axed the ARC tunnel project and then took the $4 Billion so he would not have to raise the gas tax and continue wasting $7 Billion to build new lanes and flying overpasses on the NJ Turnpike and Garden State Parkway which have lost 7% of their traffic. In Ohio, teabag Gov John Kasich axed the Stimulus project to simply restore Rail from Cincinnati to Dayton to Columbus to Cleveland, Ohio on tracks which have existed for decades and are extant.
Gov Kasich's Transportation Secretary used to be head of the Paving Lobby group.
Lest you think it is just Republicans in thrall to the Auto Addiction lobby, neoliberal Democratic Gov Cuomo of New York wants to waste $5 Billion on "quickly" building a brand new cars only Tappan Zee bridge supported, again, by the Obama Administration.
Likewise soon to be former Gov Scott Walker of Wisconsin cancelled a Green Transit project, as did teabag Gov Rick Scott of Florida.
The issues around Auto Addiction are a lot more than just energy usage. It also causes 30,000 deaths per year vs a handful for all of Green Transit Rail, uses 12x the land area, is a proven cause of the US obesity epidemic, and consumes huge amounts of resources for 300 Million cars.

However the possibilities for Rail are a lot more than we would think in our Auto-Addled society.
For example in the fascinating book "Train Time" by John Stilgoe, he points out that both New York and Chicago had rail tunnels to the basements of major downtown Dept stores precisely to supply their shelves unobtrusively and cheaply. Even more amazing is the Railway Express Agency ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railway_Express_Agency ) and the US Post office which actually supported 1 day delivery of US mail before airmail by Postal Rail cars which sorted the mail as it sped across the US at over 100 MPH and did not even have to stop but picked up and unloaded mailbags via hooks as they passed! These things have been forgotten since the US destruction of an incredible Rail network by Auto Addiction and the Railroads desire to survive with only large freight.
I am not a doomer but perennially a Pete Seeger optimist who believes we WILL adapt in some positive ways. Washington, DC is building 2 new Lines (Purple and silver, restoring trolleys. Atlanta is actually proposing a 1 cent tax with 50% for MARTA perhaps finally overcoming their racist Transit heritage. Young people are opting out of cars, moving to cities and have actually decreased auto mileage 23% and increased walking, biking, and public transit by double digits. I.e. see Portland which is exploding with young people attracted by its biking and transit oriented development.
As a member of several Rail groups, primarily populated by aging Rail boosters who remember when the trains used to run, I am repeatedly hit over the head with how difficult it actually is to restore even existing tracks. The ARC tunnel to NYC would have taken until 2017 to actually get built. Even more daunting for Northern New Jersey will be the I-287 Rail corridor which would connect 10 major Rail lines and provide a "Beltway" of Rail for New Jersey and into New York. Distracting money and energy on chimeras like just switching our existing cars and trucks to EVs is a huge mistake. We need to face reality head on and invest NOW in Green Transit.
Or as James Kunstler has said for years, we will not be going anywhere!

It's interesting to note that a WW II Willys Jeep which was an extremely rugged, 4 wheel drive vehicle capable of towing a load only had a 60HP engine. Today, even a Smart Car has more power than that and many people are driving vehicles with over 200HP. Why can't someone build a car with a small engine, light weight (minimum of powered accessories) and 6 speed manual transmission? Sure, it would not have the acceleration we have become accustomed to and you'd have to downshift to get up hills but it would use a lot less gas and less resources in its construction.

Why can't someone build a car with a small engine, light weight (minimum of powered accessories) and 6 speed manual transmission?

jstewart, I agree with your question. I suppose, as gasoline prices increase we will see smaller engines.

From above:

Tiny lightweight cars would return collision death rates to the levels of the late 1970s/early 1980s, or worse.

From Wikipedia:

The Volkswagen 1-litre car is a two-person concept car produced by Volkswagen. The 1-litre car was designed to be able to travel 100 km on 1 litre of diesel fuel (from L/100km, the International System of Units unit of fuel consumption: equivalent to 235 miles per U.S. gallon or 282 miles per Imperial gallon), while being both roadworthy and practical.[1]

For aerodynamics, the car seats two in tandem, rather than side-by-side. There are no rear view mirrors and it instead uses cameras and electronic displays. The rear wheels are close together to allow a streamlined body.

The external dimensions of the car are 3.47 m (11.4 ft) long, 1.25 m (4.1 ft) wide and 1.10 m (3.6 ft) tall. There is 80 L (2.8 cu ft) of storage space. Empty vehicle weight is 290 kg (639 lb).

The body and frame are designed with crush/crumple zones and roll-over protection, and the tandem seating means large side crush zones. Volkswagen claims protection comparable to a GT racing car.

The engine is a one-cylinder 299 cc (18 cu in) diesel producing just 6.3 kW (8.4 hp). It drives through a six-speed transmission that combines stick-shift mechanics, weight, and drive efficiency with automatic convenience and efficiency controls.(Emphasis mine)

So no, smaller doesn't mean we have to go with lower crash standards. Also, from an actuarial standpoint, even if they turn out to be less safe, there will be fewer of them at the start, so they won't unduly slant the tables. And as their numbers increase, there will be fewer SUV's out there, so the safety of small car drivers will be increased (your chances are better if two Yarises (Yarii?) run into each other instead of into bigger vehicles.)

The car companies make choices. Bad, if not downright evil, ones. And then spend billions on advertising and propaganda (Motor Trend and Road and Track and NASCAR) to make you want what they make, and other billions on lobbying so the government doesn't force them to do the right thing and make something like the 1- litre Car.

Also, the cross-sectional area of very small cars such as the VW1 or smart car is about half of that of a big SUV, so the probability of a collision is also about half.

Here is a tiny car I discovered yesterday cruising the web, the Voisin "biscuter" :
And which was quite successful in Spain after WWII

I have to wonder what you're trying to accomplish. The world's (and especially American's) consumption of Oil was/is simply gluttony unprecedented in world history, something you are no doubt aware of. And yet, you're trying to hold it up as something normal and anything less is inferior. Maybe you were a big fan of the East German Women's Swim Team?

Top Gear UK reviewed the even smaller classic P50:

Top Gear : Jeremy drives the smallest car in the world at the BBC - Top Gear - autos

Jeremy drives the Peel P50, the world's smallest production car to work and even takes it into the lift in this hilarious clip from BBC's Top Gear.

My parents drove one of these Biscuters in the mid-1950s in Madrid... they would always joke that it got totalled in a collision with a bicycle (the cyclist was OK).

My 1982 M-B 240D (4 speed manual transmission) has 71 hp and about 3,000 lb.

28 to 30 mpg in the city (observed)

It "accumulates momentum".

Best Hopes for Lower Hp,


Why can't someone build a car with a small engine, light weight (minimum of powered accessories) and 6 speed manual transmission?

Because no one would buy it.

Trust me, a lot of people are buying them right now! You do realize that the US is not the only place where people buy cars, right?


My family is looking at one of these down in Brazil, either a flex fuel or a gas/LGN model.
My vote is for the 1.0 L flex fuel 5 speed manual version.

Small, light weight cars are being built almost everywhere except in the US, it seems! The example below is still in production, and more than 2 million have been built.


It has been said before but is worth repeating. Where fuel prices are high and/or income low, then small cars are the norm. The Matiz, that I drive, is an example. 1 litre engine (0.8 litres in the lower spec vehicles), tiny footprint - ideal for city street parking. Reasonably fuel efficient. 5-speed manual transmission. Carries 4 adults - 5 if you don't mind getting friendly.

Now, that said, getting the idea of driving a small car accepted by the mainstream US public is a challenge for a far better man than I. The latest derivative of this small car is reported to be going on sale in the US in spring 2012 - I doubt I will see it replacing those 150s, 250s and 350s that are deemed critical in moving youngsters to the malls and the food supplies home for the next 3 days...!

"It's interesting to note that a WW II Willys Jeep which was an extremely rugged, 4 wheel drive vehicle capable of towing a load only had a 60HP engine."

Horsepower got redefined a few times too. Witness the humble lawnmower with a 22" blade. The one I pushed around as a kid had a 3.5 HP motor. The one I have now has a 5 HP engine. And of course, according to BHP numbers, my Aveo has 106 BHP, and with a suitable transmission and tires, should be able to outpull Dad's 4020 John Deere at 88 HP. Ok, I'm cheating on that one, the 88 HP is the PTO rating for the gas tractor.

Beware of HP numbers, especially over time.

Or service. John Deere has their marine service engines in 5 ranges. M1 being full power for days at a time, and M5 being ski-boat or something similar. For one engine, (4045) the ratings are 107, 121, 135, and 150, for M1 to M4 respectively. Same engine, same displacement, different duty cycles.

That Jeep would have been rated for 60 HP for a long time under harsh conditions. The Mustang? 400 HP for long enough to get to 70 without melting the pistons. On the other hand, that 4045 JD diesel weighs just over 1000 lbs. It just might adversely affect the handling of that Mustang. Do you really need the Mustang engine to pull a barge up and down the Mississippi for the next 10 years? There is such a thing as the right tool for the job.

Witness the humble lawnmower with a 22" blade. The one I pushed around as a kid had a 3.5 HP motor. The one I have now has a 5 HP engine.

And the one I push around has no motor whatsoever and consumes only the calories used to push it! The old-fashioned manual rotary push mower works just fine so long as you keep the grass under control. It is really easy to push because it is much lighter than any kind of gas-powered mower without the ICE spewing forth its pollution and unlike electric which also consumes energy, it requires no plug.
Fortunately I have finally seen the totally manual push mower in several Green catalogs and even at my local Hardware Store so it appears to be making a slow comeback!

I have had the idea for years that "WorkBikes" or somebody like that could easily put
together a tricycle lawn mower similar to the adult senior trikes in Florida which would
be ridden like any tricycle and just spin the rotary blade behind it allowing much larger
areas of lawn to be mowed quickly without using ANY power except calories to cycle it.

"Why can't someone build a car with a small engine, light weight..."

There are small cars made in China. There is a $5000 electric car made in China. It uses lead-acid batteries. ""Mini electric cars are getting popular in rural areas as farmers need something affordable to carry them around," said Wei Xueqing, vice chairman and secretary general of Shandong Automobile Manufacturers Association." I don't think the cost is loaded with 8 airbags. Even the Chinese government wants to sell the $60,000 electric car, not the $5000 one. There are more efficient diesels made in other countries that are banned in the USA.

Everything is the way it is because that's how the for-profit system wants it. The most base urges are catered to with the most extravagant and inefficient products. America could live much more within its means if the speed limit was reduced to 40 MPH... even better: automatic pace-and-space... it would allow other types of transportation to share the roads, too... but it's not macho and exciting. Vroom Vroom! Zoom Zoom! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2qScMHSRqY

Shifeng Electric Car

20hp utility vehicle

even better: automatic pace-and-space

Not sure exactly what that refers to, beyone the self-evident, but it reminded me of this, which I read awhile back, by a guy who experiments with eliminating traffic jams single-handedly by allowing space in front of his car. Quite fascinating.

Wow! I have been doing this on I95 when I drive the company truck and thought what was happening was just my imagination playing tricks on me. Now I'm going to do it even more deliberately and try to observe the results even more carefully.
BTW by driving like this I've also significantly increased my mpg.

Another way to save gasoline (not diesel) is to get a dash-mount vacuum gauge that is attached to the vacuum manifold. Ever notice that you can be driving up hill, not be going fast enough for your liking, then press more on the gas pedal... and the engine noise "changes" but you are not going any faster? More fuel is being burned - and wasted. The vacuum gauge would have shown less vacuum. As examples, when the engine is idling, the gauge will read about 20 inches of mercury - in.Hg - (about the same as 20 feet of water). When driving, try not to let the gauge indicate less than 10 in.Hg: either let up on the gas pedal or shift to a lower gear or range. This can make a dramatic difference in the amount of gas you use.

KD - I noticed this phenomenon waaaay back when I first began driving, knew intuitively that passing that point was wasting fuel, and learned to drive just below that 'line'. Thanks for (kinda) explaining to me what it is.

A video:

Notice how he has his gauge mounted so that it is in the driver's field of view (but not so good in an accident!). In my common situation, overloaded, I actually apply gas based on the gauge, not the speedometer.

Explanation? It would take some searching.

I've often made my best efforts to take the spring out of Traffic-Jam 'Rubberbanding' with a conscious effort to remain at a steady speed..

But my negative feedback is usually on a different order, since most of my daily life now has eliminated any form of Rush-hour Driving, or driving much at all.

Net effect? I have to say 'I show how much I care' by not caring about traffic jams at all! Take That, Traffic Jams!

I like Amory Lovins' goals but he tends to be a bit over-optimistic on what particular technologies can achieve. For example, Carbon fiber is an awesome material. However, due to long cure times and expensive molds, it is just so much more expensive than stamped steel body parts that no one uses it except in high-end expensive vehicles.

But things are moving in the right direction . . .

Use of carbon fiber certainly added to the cost and time of putting the Boeing 787 Dreamliner into production. They claim it uses 20% less fuel than comparable aircraft. While I haven't been able to find information to confirm this, I suspect the reduction in fuel consumption is not exclusively due to use of carbon fiber. This means that improved fuel economy, but not as much as 20%, could have been achieved at much less cost using conventional aluminum construction. We are reaching the point of diminishing returns in trying to reduce the fuel consumption of jet liners.

Carbon fiber has some neat properties, but that doesn't mean it's superior to steel or aluminium for all purposes. The engineer must pick the most suitable material, which includes things like cost, manufacturability, repairability, etc.

Another step function down could be the flying wing. See B-2.

Another smaller step is market optimization.

The 787-3 (for short range flights) is not optimized for short range flights. Too heavy, wings wrong shape, etc. OTOH, it's siblings 787-8 & -9 are optimized for their markets.

Cheaper design and carbon fiber construction might lead to small runs of optimized a/c.

Engines have at least another -10% fuel economy left.


Amory Lovins reminds me of Michael Moore. They could both be making a real impact on their causes with intellectually honest contributions. But instead they would rather throw spitballs at easy targets and win popularity contests with their peers.

I just find that to be a petty criticism.. or spitballs, if you will.

Lovins has a long list of real accomplishments developing energy improvements for clients, as well as in depth arguments on a wide range of topics. He is out there in public forums making reasoned and backed-up pleas for coming at design and energy issues with ingenuity AND calculation.

Michael Moore added more to public awareness with his documentaries than most any other 'protest' media I can think of. See Bowling for Columbine again, and tell me how inneffectual he has been.

From the "Danger from the Deep" article:

We suggest that the surface waters of the Arctic Ocean represent a potentially important source of methane, which could prove sensitive to changes in sea ice cover," the researchers write. "The association with sea ice makes this methane source likely to be sensitive to changing Arctic ice cover and dynamics, providing an unrecognised feedback process in the global atmosphere-climate system.

Here's a link to the New Scientist article on the same study:


Here, they ID the methane source as methanogenic bacteria blooming near the surface under the newly ice-free (much of the year) conditions:

So where does the gas come from? Since the 1970s, scientists have known that ocean surface waters are rich in methane. It seems to be made by marine bacteria trying to survive in waters that don't have many nutrients in the form of nitrates. "This source appears to be a likely candidate to explain what we observed.

It would be interesting to know how certain the "appears to be" should be taken in that last sentence. As we all know, there are enormous sources of methane in the seabed of the Arctic. If that is the source, and this is a sign that the seabed permafrost and clathrates are destabilizing, that would be a whole other level of concern. Of course, any new major sources of methane are a concern. And as they point out in the first quote, more methane in the Arctic means more energy to set off the next source of feedbacks.

It is worrying to have a completely new and unexpected exacerbating ("positive") feedback showing up like this. It would be nice to have a few surprises in the other direction--unexpected major "negative" (or damping) feedbacks that might help save our sorry @$$e$, however little we deserve it.

Is there any more info on the cooling sun thing that undertow (I think it was) posted on this week?

dohboi - you posted this while I was digging up the link for the discussion you started friday regarding recent global methane data. I thought that perhaps as it came up late Fri aft., many didn't see it, and it seems worthy of further discussion. I encourage anyone who didn't see dohboi's animation, or the comments, to take a look. This appears to be a major positive feedback loop kicking in...

dohboi - perhaps you would post the animation here again?

Please don't re-post previous comments. Pointing people to the previous discussion is fine, but don't re-post comments. Especially so early in a new Drumbeat.

See thread at http://www.theoildrum.com/node/9136/888830

I created a couple of 2 frame animations.

Feb 2012/March 2012 http://picasion.com/pic52/5ccec796fa2df73defa1458017f9ac43.gif
March 2003/March 2012 http://picasion.com/pic52/852e4e2c3d8bce1161ffe5979e67a27c.gif

Also complete March 2003-March 2012 as a video (1 sec per month) http://vimeo.com/40750379

The previous thread is still open if anyone wants to comment there.

Edit: Missed Leanan's comment. Just posted the links for quick reference rather than bandwidth consuming inline images but delete if you want to trim thread.


I just took a longer look at the video you created the other day. After stepping through each frame month by month it is very obvious that the lowest concentrations of methane in the Arctic occur in the months of May, June and July when the area is most exposed to sunlight. This validates the point that Dohboi made the other day about the role that sunlight plays in breaking down methane in the atmosphere. What is a bit counterintuitive is that these are the months when you would expect the highest levels of methane being released, be it from the ocean surface or melting permafrost.

Is it just me or is the science of Methane's role in Climate Change less understood than that of CO2? Or is the science of Methane's role more complex making it more difficult to explain and/or understand?

Undertow - Thanks for re-posting the links. That seems a good compromise re: Leanan's request. And sorry that I had lost track that it was you who had created the animations from the linked data posted by dohboi. Excellent work.

Saw it on Friday. Very scary, indeed.

Hold on now --isn't increased methane "production" supposed a GOOD thing? I mean, the U.S. and Canada have something like "100 Saudi Arabia's" in natural gas and this is how we'll become "energy independent" real soon, right? All we need to do is place a giant collection funnel over all that melting permafrost (and ocean) and we're all set to become net energy exporters for the next millenium! (Cue cornucopian quotes from WSJ, Daniel Yergin, etc.)

There was the thread in the previous Drumbeat at http://www.theoildrum.com/node/9139/889101

What I can't find is the paper (and/or presentation) "Early Reversal of the Sun's Polar Magnetic Fields and Asymmetric Sun as Observed with Hinode - Saku Tsuneta (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan)". All I can find is the abstract at http://www.stsci.edu/institute/conference/faint-sun/posterList (Space Telescope Science Institute). That and press reports of the research are all that seem to exist online. There's a carefully worded press release at http://hinode.nao.ac.jp/news/120419PressRelease/index_e.shtml

Polar Field Reversal as observed with Hinode

...In striking contrast to the north polar situation, the magnetic flux of the south polar region has been very stable, and maintains the plus polarity (Figure C). These latest Hinode observations suggest that the global magnetic field of the Sun will become different from the normal bipolar configuration.

Observations of the polar magnetic fields are the key for understanding the cyclic solar dynamo. Their results will shed light on the origin of the solar magnetism, and will contribute to our understating on the Sun's effect to the solar-terrestrial environment.

I've been reading through a few papers from the last decade that examine the Maunder Minimum and quadrupolar solutions have been discussed previously. There also appear to also have been periods where the Sun attempted to enter a Grand Minimum but failed. Without seeing the new paper, I have no idea how confident the predictions are or over what time-scale.

So the question remains - Where is the latest study that's causing such a fuss?

Just noticed in the formal press release.

contribute to our understating on the Sun's effect to the solar-terrestrial environment.

A Freudian slip? Is that supposed to be "understanding" or did they really mean to say "understating"? I saw it as "understanding" until I read it several times.

Simple linguistic difficulty, by the look of things.

"Our understanding on X" is not idiomatic English. Nor is "our understating on X". In both cases the preposition should be "of".

Similarly, "the Sun's effect to the solar-terrestrial environment" is not idiomatic. The preposition should be "on".

The evidence suggests that the phrase was intended to be "contribute to our understanding of the Sun's effect on the solar-terrestrial environment." Sometimes a mistake is just a mistake.

Yes, but note the word "understanding" itself does appear in the quoted extract, in the previous sentence - "Observations of the polar magnetic fields are the key for understanding the cyclic solar dynamo".

An attempt at summing up the current situation at a recent Solar and Geo-Physics Conference .

How Unprecedented a Solar Minimum (PDF)

The author's conclusion is that a Dalton type minimum rather than a Maunder minimum is more likely - which they point out means colder as well but not for so long.

But they don't really know and suggest ultimately: "We should probably stop making predictions about the impending solar maximum, but will our egos let us?"

Assuming the count of sunspots correlates with the solar power output, reviewing the 400 year historical sunspot count (graph) shows there were cycles with low counts followed by several with high counts. There were cycles with low counts followed by several with low counts. There is too much variety to make a projection about the next solar activity cycle from this data.

Even if the solar power output decreases to help compensate for global warming, it will not compensate for the acidification of the oceans.

With insolation (energy from sun) down and GW up, we will still have Climate Chaos.

Even if the two were to evenly balance (NOT likely) in globo, the regional differences would still be quite substantial. Weather patterns would change dramatically, and the transition would be quite unstable.

Not good for farmers for one. Or ocean currents.


As we all know, there are enormous sources of methane in the seabed of the Arctic.

As we also know, the seabed of the Arctic cannot warm up fast enough to cause the methane apocalypse in the next few decades. The seabed is not the source. Let it go.

"As we also know, the seabed of the Arctic cannot warm up fast enough to cause the methane apocalypse in the next few decades. The seabed is not the source. Let it go."

Citations? And what's this "we" stuff?

Recent changes in shelf hydrography in the Siberian Arctic: Potential for subsea permafrost instability


...The permafrost modeling indicates, however, that a significant change in the permafrost depth lags behind the imposed changes in surface temperature, and after 25 years of summer seafloor warming (as observed from 1985 to 2009), the upper boundary of permafrost deepens only by ∼1 m. Thus, the observed increase in temperature does not lead to a destabilization of methane-bearing subsea permafrost or to an increase in methane emission. The CH4 supersaturation, recently reported from the eastern Siberian shelf, is believed to be the result of the degradation of subsea permafrost that is due to the long-lasting warming initiated by permafrost submergence about 8000 years ago rather than from those triggered by recent Arctic climate changes. A significant degradation of subsea permafrost is expected to be detectable at the beginning of the next millennium [i.e., 3000 A.D.]...

(emphasis mine)

The undersea methane is just too far down to be triggered quickly by AGW. Thank God for that. CO2 and possibly land-based permafrost methane are the real problems, and they are bad enough as is.

I was going to read the article, but $25 was too much for an article recommended by you.

The undersea methane is just too far down to be triggered quickly by AGW.

This is obviously untrue.

SOME of the methane is too far down, etc. to be warmed soon - and some is just 0.1 C away on the surface or 1 cm away from the permafrost melting.

The seafloor temperature increase of a remarkable +2.1 C (from the abstract you did not quote) will move the subsea surface boundary for stable methane clathrates down to much lower depths. And 1 meter of permafrost does contain significant amounts of methane hydrates as well.

The mechanisms for formation of methane clathrates (precipitation and perhaps bio-digestion of organic matter#) suggest that the subsea surface and first meter of seafloor are the richest area. This is a SWAG, but a reasonable one.


# I am quite unsure if such low temperature digestion occurs in the mud under the Arctic Ocean as it does in warmer waters.

From the abstract I do not think they modeled changes in current, as in warm water from the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans flowing across the ESAS. The Arctic sea ice is melting mainly from below from warm water, not warming from "changes in the Arctic atmosphere." After the sea ice is mostly melted, I suspect the warming of the Arctic Ocean will accelerate. Based on the rate of decline of Arctic sea ice volume, that time is rapidly approaching.

This paper was received by the Journal of Geophysical Research on April 18, 2011, before Natalia Shakhova's, Igor Semiletov's, et al.'s expedition to the ESAS in the Autumn of 2011, and Semiletov's statement in December 2011 that the diameter of taliks were greater than 1,000 m, about 50 times larger than he had previously observed.

The ESAS is estimated to contain 1,400 Gt of carbon. Dmitrenko's model suggest that the bulk of it will not be released for 1,000 years. However, even a 5% release, 70 Gt, would have a significant impact on global warming.

So basically the deep methane is an "extra" problem to look forward to later. Oh goody.

Hey Jersey Patriot,

Your use of "we all know" must not include some discoveries recently:

Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane - a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide - have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region. The scale and volume of the methane release has astonished the head of the Russian research team who has been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years. In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Igor Semiletov of the International Arctic Research Centre at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, who led the 8th joint US-Russia cruise of the East Siberian Arctic seas, said that he has never before witnessed the scale and force of the methane being released from beneath the Arctic seabed.

(Independent, emphasis added).

That release isn't due to AGW. It's part of the post-Ice Age warming.

HUH ????

One type of warming releases Arctic methane, but another doesn't ?

We have had enough Global Warming already - especially in the Arctic - for long enough, to increase releases of methane.


The most recent events trump prior papers that could not be in reference to things that did not yet exist. There are new developments:

The researchers found significant amounts of methane being released from the ocean into the atmosphere through cracks in the melting sea ice. They said the quantities could be large enough to affect the global climate. Previous observations have pointed to large methane plumes being released from the seabed in the relatively shallow sea off the northern coast of Siberia but the latest findings were made far away from land in the deep, open ocean where the surface is usually capped by ice. Eric Kort of Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said that he and his colleagues were surprised to see methane levels rise so dramatically each time their research aircraft flew over cracks in the sea ice. "When we flew over completely solid sea ice, we didn't see anything in terms of methane. But when we flew over areas were the sea ice had melted, or where there were cracks in the ice, we saw the methane levels increase," Dr Kort said. "We were surprised to see these enhanced methane levels at these high latitudes. Our observations really point to the ocean surface as the source, which was not what we had expected," he said. "Other scientists had seen high concentrations of methane in the sea surface but nobody had expected to see it being released into the atmosphere in this way," he added.

(Independent). The methane hydrates expand 164 times when the lattice cage melts or pressures change in relevant degree.

That article doesn't mention the seabed at all. It's talking about the sea surface as a possible source of emissions. dohboi cited a New Scientist article that talked about methanogenic bacteria as a possible source of additional sea surface methane. He then started talking about the seabed as the problem, which just isn't warranted by the science. My issue is his talking about the seabed as the source. It just isn't.

If it's only just warm enough to crack deep water sea ice, it simply isn't warm enough to melt clathrates under a mile of cold, dark water. It's important to keep these things straight, because crap like dohboi's post is bad science and makes AGW look like a sham (when it is incredibly dangerous).

Actually the seabed is a potential source, and one of giant potential. This means if the current increase is due to sea-surface biogenic emissions rather than the first salvos of clathrate decomposition the excrement is well and truly headed for the rotary impeller, because this is an additional source.

the excrement is well and truly headed for the rotary impeller, because this is an additional source.

Right you are, that was my reading of it as well. I believe that was the gist of dohboi's comment as well, despite the rant from Jersey Patriot. Don't get me wrong, the point that this new source is most likely NOT from the deep sea bed is well taken, but unfortunately that completely misses the point.

This looks like a new and unanticipated source of methane, one that is in addition to the shallow sea clathrates off of Siberia and the melting permafrost observed on various land masses.

A new source that is very much sensitive to current and ongoing levels of Arctic warming as it is released when sea ice melts.


Getting the science to be rightly understood is now a "rant". Huh. Well, please let P.Z. Myers know that he should stop "ranting" about evolution.

Actually PZ tends to rant about creationists and ID, evolution, not so much... >;^)

Assuming a near surface biogenic source.... I want to propose two possible future trajectories:
(1) This is due to imbalanced ecology, the flora&fauna haven't had time to adjust to the recent loss of sea ice. Things will return to a new normal after a few years.
(2) This is the new normal, less sea ice in this region means more methane.
There is a huge difference between them.
If the claim it is due to not enough Nitrates, that suggests a possible geo-engineering mitigation strategy (just add Nitrates).

The articles I posted stated clearly that warming was causing the super plumes:

One of the greatest fears is that with the disappearance of the Arctic sea ice in summer, and rapidly rising temperatures across the entire Arctic region, which are already melting the Siberian permafrost, the trapped methane could be suddenly released into the atmosphere leading to rapid and severe climate change.

(ibid, Independent, up-thread). The text "already melting the ... permafrost" is unambiguous.

I thought that until the recent unpleasantness, the trend in the Holocene was a slow cooling.

Yep, just keep whistling pass the graveyard.

There's not much to whistle past. If AGW has triggered clathrate release, it's already way, way too late to do anything. Switching light bulbs and planting a few more trees won't stop the entire Arctic seabed belching methane into the atmosphere. Might as well get comfortable.

Fortunately, that's not the case just yet.

You didn't say "it wasn't the case yet". You said "it can't happen". Big difference.

We don't know if some sort of tipping point has been reached yet or not, and your sunny prattling doesn't really prove anything one way or the other.

Yes, and the paper he cites is based on the "permafrost modeling" compared to the scientist who was "astonished" at the force and magnitude of his substantial onsite observations.

In this arena it is quite common for the models to be very wrong, and thus they must be updated regularly.

Scientists place "their astonished eyes" above theoretical models.

Well Jersey Patriot,

We have your opinion and the opinion of the scientist who has been studying that specific area for 20 years.

An expert who says this methane release is sudden, never seen before, and caused by current warming that is melting the ice and the permafrost.

He was talking about the ESAS. This study is talking about the sea ice over the whole Arctic region, of which the ESAS is only a part. Two different studies talking about two different regions with two different (probable) causes. dohboi is trying to drag one into the other without any evidence, and that is not good science.

If I said, "Humans evolved from birds," it would not be an attack on evolution or biology to correct me: "Humans evolved from earlier primates, not birds." Likewise, I'm not attacking AGW by pointing out it can't be responsible for melting deep Arctic Ocean clathrates just yet. I'm attacking dohboi's speculation.

Good enough.

We are going to have catastrophic Climate Chaos.

That is a certainty. To use your term "it IS the case".

The remaining issue is how deep and how fast will the Climate Chaos overwhelm the world.

Major conservation - far beyond "Switching light bulbs and planting a few more trees" will reduce the toll that Climate Chaos takes on humanity and the rest of nature by slowing the process and reducing the maximum.

Best Hopes for Trying to Mitigate,


I agree that a maximum effort must be made to mitigate the ultimate devastation that will be caused by Climate Chaos. Sometime in the next two or three hundred years the earth may begin to heal again. Which of the following human conditions will exist at that time?

A. Nearly 1 Billion people have survived with functioning governments, adequate resources, new technologies and the scientific knowledge of what has been occurring for the past few centuries.

B. The only surviving population will consist of a few hundred thousand aboriginals who have yet to develop a written language or develop the simplest of tools?

The decisions that humanity makes in the next decade may decide whether the answer is A or B.

The worst case is

C. The Greatest Extinction

But that will take more than one decade of concerted effort by humanity. But "So far, So Bad". We are track for "C." ATM.

Best Hopes for Sanity,


While the Independent article Dredd posted references a study that used fly-over data collection, so the sea surface was the proximate source, the accompanying graphic strongly implies that the sea bed is the ultimate source.

BBC: Iranian oil terminal 'offline' after 'malware attack'

Iran has been forced to disconnect key oil facilities [from the public internet] after suffering a malware attack on Sunday, say reports.

The computer virus is believed to have hit the internal computer systems at Iran's oil ministry and its national oil company. Equipment on the Kharg island and at other Iranian oil plants has been disconnected from the net as a precaution.

Oil production had not been affected by the attack, said the Mehr news agency.

However, the attack is believed to have been responsible for knocking offline the websites of the Iranian oil ministry and national oil company.

The terminal on Kharg Island handles about 90% of Iran's oil exports.

For the moment, could just be any old malware floting around the net + targeted attacks against websites are an every day occurrance... no source of further info so far. Article mentions Stuxnet but there is nothing in my opinion to indicate anything like that in this case yet...

PS: Technical description of Stuxnet: http://www.symantec.com/content/en/us/enterprise/media/security_response...

Also an earlier related news:

Oil cyber-attacks could cost lives, Shell warns

Ludolf Luehmann, an IT manager for Shell, told the World Petroleum Conference in Doha that the company had suffered an increased number of attacks.

Mr Luehmann said Stuxnet showed energy giants that cyber-attacks could have a real-world consequence on business processes:

"If anybody gets into the area where you can control opening and closing of valves, or release valves, you can imagine what happens. It will cost lives and it will cost production, it will cost money, cause fires and cause loss of containment, environmental damage - huge, huge damage."

Stop networking your computers. So, you have to hire someone to walk around to do updates bug deal. Stop letting the employees surf the web. Disconnect from the web for industrial control computers.

Limerick Nuke

No worries! Just a minor malfunction “on the non-nuclear side of the plant,”
Are the main generator cooling pumps, pumping? No, it seems they just can't!

No problem here! The reactor system in no way depends on these pumps!
So why do I think, Exelon management are just another bunch of chumps?!

Wake me up when you've got something that beats this:

Just saw your reply to my comment on From Here to Eternity.

While the issue at the Limerick Nuke is not related to long term storage of nuclear waste I do feel that the thinking process is related. How for example can someone state with a straight face that a main generator cooling pump failure is not relevant to the nuclear part of the`system?! And if a thousand people should die in a pipeline explosion you would still be comparing apples to oranges in terms of long term safety of nuclear power plants because 100,000 years from now that pipeline will not be having any impact on anyone while all of the waste from all the nuclear power plants around the world will still need to be kept safe.

How is it possible to safely extract all of the energy from such material. The people in the video seem to be of the opinion that this can not be done. Therefore they are investing a considerable amount of time and energy in this project. Perhaps they are just wasting their lives...

They can say it with a straight face because it isn't part of the nuclear side systems?

I'm not familiar with the architecture of the Limerick plant, but the statement itself implies a Pressurized Water Reactor architecture where the water that cools and moderates the reactor core is isolated from the water that is converted to steam and run through the generators.

A plant like that has to be designed to be able to shut down the generating side safely without impacting the reactor side of the plant to pass certifications. It's the sort of thing that needs to be done deliberately fairly often for normal service (high pressure steam is vicious on machine parts, I have no idea how anyone ever thought the BWR design was reasonable).

So the event there is something to note, but not worth getting excited about.

On the other topic, there is an answer to your concern about long-term storage but I'm not sure if you'll like it.
1. Embed the waste in glass at a density that gives a similar activity ratio to natural uranium ore.
2. Drop it in a deep hole with no easy natural access (there are several of these that were created by underground nuclear bomb tests).

This reverts the problem to something close to the original, natural state without putting up any markers that might draw people to it.

On the other topic, there is an answer to your concern about long-term storage but I'm not sure if you'll like it.

Actually that's not too far off from what the people in Finland are doing.

Too bad we're not doing anything here. Limerick is 12mi from my home.

"On the other topic, there is an answer to your concern about long-term storage but I'm not sure if you'll like it."

It doesn't matter if I like the idea. What matters is that none of these "solutions" are being implemented on any scale or timeframe that matters. Meanwhile, wastes are piling up at reactor sites worldwide; @12,000 tons annually. We either need to deal with it or stop producing it. IMO, it's that simple. Time is short, according to my world view. Many of these facilities are reaching (or beyond) their designed operational lifespans. This should give any engineer cause for concern. The time will come when operators will simply walk away from the mess they've created and societies will have neither the means nor skills to deal with it.

I think you are getting ahead of where we are on civilization's timescale.

We have time to reprocess a lot of the high-level stuff into new fuel and burn it down more, ideally in new-construction facilities that would be safer in all modes than what we have now.

We definitely should be already separating out the unusable fractions and disposing of them now, but I'd note that it seems to be a subset of anti-nuclear folks that is stopping that. This would be a natural side-effect of doing fuel reprocessing.

"I think you are getting ahead of where we are on civilization's timescale."

You are, of course, entitled to your opinion...


It is indeed only an opinion, as is yours.

At least you've studied history, I can see where you get your opinion. I just happen to disagree with it.

Perhaps that chart needs a mirror image, on the right, to show future trends.


We definitely should be already separating out the unusable fractions and disposing of them now, but I'd note that it seems to be a subset of anti-nuclear folks that is stopping that.

In pro-nuke mythology "anti-nuclear folks" seem to be endowed with god-like powers.

Given that nuclear power is widely used in autocratic societies like China, Russia, Pakistan, where citizen movements like anti-nuclear have no power at all, how is possible that "a subset of anti-nuclear folks is stopping" separating out the unusable fractions and disposing of them now? Do you really think that the Chinese Communist Party Central committee cares what "anti-nuclear folks" think??

A much more realistic explanation is that nuclear waste reprocessing is very expensive, dangerous, and difficult so bureaucracy puts it off as long as possible, tending towards forever. The conspiracy-minded attempts to blame "anti-nuclear folks" for all the shortcomings and short-cuts in the nuclear fuel cycle gets tiresome and is not convincing to anyone outside the cult of the nuclear true-believers.

That's OK, in anti-nuclear theology the pro-nuclear forces have hidden millions of deaths from medical science in a feat of sleight of hand that would have surpassed Stalin and Houdini working together.

The French reprocess, so it isn't the case that nobody is. The Japanese must have been, since one of the problematic reactors at Fukushima Daiichi was running on reprocessed fuel. I expect the Chinese will too, they don't have a historical record of wasting resources that they recognize as such. I really can't speak to the other countries there, but there is no reason they won't if it is a purely economic decision.

The USA neither reprocesses nor disposes. Every plan to do so is killed by non-economic political factors, which is funny since we are supposed to be a capitalist nation.

No location is ever good enough, no plan safe enough.

I'm not going to claim that this is *all* about anti-nuclear forces, but the arguments sure sound familiar to me.

After the British screwed up, I think the French are the only ones doing it with commercial reactor fuel (to make bombs doesn't count).

The French made the Japanese MOX fuel now scattered across parts of Japan.


"...one of the problematic reactors at Fukushima Daiichi was running on reprocessed fuel."

IIRC, the MOX in unit three was reprocessed using weapons grade plutonium from decommed Soviet stockpiles, paid for in part by US taxpayers:

But, as with most issues relating to nuclear energy, the use of MOX is a source of some controversy. Proponents say that burning MOX in nuclear reactors is a sensible way to dispose of weapons-grade plutonium from Cold War nuclear stockpiles, as the U.S. plans to do with 34 metric tons of surplus plutonium at its planned Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF) in South Carolina. (Some countries also reprocess spent nuclear power plant fuel to produce MOX.) Critics say that MOX is riskier than standard fuel and that there are better ways to dispose of excess plutonium.

"I think it's a magnificent solution," says David Jones, senior vice president for the back-end business group at Areva, a Paris-based nuclear fuel manufacturer with U.S. headquarters in Bethesda, Md. Areva is half of a partnership that is the prime contractor to the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) on the $5-billion MFFF project. "You're taking something that was designed to be dangerous, and you're turning it into something that benefits society," Jones says.


Further, my primary doubts are born out by the costs factor; added to the list of so-called solutions that society can't won't afford:

Reprocessing would be very expensive.

Reprocessing and the use of plutonium as reactor fuel are also far more expensive than using uranium fuel and disposing of the spent fuel directly. In the United States, some 60,000 tons of nuclear waste have already been produced, and existing reactors add some 2,000 metric tons of spent fuel annually. The Energy Department recently released an industry estimate that a reprocessing plant with an annual capacity of 2,000 metric tons of spent fuel would cost up to $20 billion to build—and the U.S. would need two of these to reprocess all its spent fuel. An Argonne National Laboratory scientist recently estimated that the cost premium for reprocessing spent fuel would range from 0.4 to 0.6 cents per kilowatt-hour—corresponding to an extra $3 to $4.5 billion per year for the current U.S. nuclear reactor fleet. The American public would end up having to pay this charge, either through increased taxes or higher electricity bills.

Any schemes to reprocess or viably dispose of this material (spent fuel), especially in the US, are essentially dead in the water, and the problem is being compounded daily. Since the pro-nuke folks have virtually no leg to stand on regarding this most foul of industrial wastes, I stand by my position. The clock is ticking and the costs are mounting. Show me the progress; show me the money... Yet another problem that societies must deal with, and likey won't.

The point where I diverge from your logic here is that there are lots of things that are too difficult/dangerous to do that end up getting done anyway if people decide that they *need* to be done.

Things like deepwater oil drilling.

So regardless of whether it is difficult and dangerous, if we are reliant on nuclear power for a significant amount of our electricity (which seems likely to happen for exactly the same reason) then we will most likely end up doing significant fuel reprocessing as well.

The combination most certainly won't result in power that's "too cheap to meter", and will probably result in human tragedy down the line, but it will be done and trying to stop it just ensures that when it is it will be a rush job and even more likely to cause serious problems over a shorter term.

Better to put the resources into making sure it's done correctly instead.

But the problem with THAT response is the same as trying to compare Nuclear to Coal.

The people who are objecting to Nuclear, a power source which shows clear signs that we cannot control it when it goes wrong, and threatens a bevy of many VERY long-term toxic issues with Mutagenic and Teratogenic properties.. these opponents are not saying that they SUPPORT deepwater drilling or Coal as the viable alternative to Nuclear. We generally are working to undo ALL such options.

'Doing it correctly', if it is at all possible, needs to also be reasonably expected within human nature to be run responsibly and openly, and more important, it needs to be a likely scenario that it can be 'done right' within the Bureaucratic and Business Cultures that are required to CREATE Nuclear Power That environment seems to repeatedly show some of the worst parts of our greedy and secretive natures, when people are offered the possibility of controlling great amounts of power and money.

"these opponents are not saying that they SUPPORT deepwater drilling or Coal as the viable alternative to Nuclear. We generally are working to undo ALL such options."

In my case, I've determined that, in their current form, my best option was to go it alone. That said, whatever the projected cost is to cleanup the mess, tripple it. Put it smack on the ratepayers. Again, this is unlikely; why piss off today's voting ratepayers when you can charge it to the future (with interest)?

Nuclear has a very high energy density, I don't think you realise how much of a difference that can and has made regarding safety.

It is very difficult and dangerous to work with nuclear material up close precisely because of that energy density, but that same property means that many fewer people need to get that close to it. Even long-term dodgy designs like the BWR have safety records that are the envy of the energy industry because they produce more power with fewer people on-site. This means that even as far as ordinary industrial accidents go they come out ahead over time.

More modern designs take into account the properties of the fuel and the surrounding materials to trigger shutdown and cooling mechanisms automatically in the event of various failures. Failing into a safe state is the #2 design goal after "produces usable power". Some of the newer designs even fall into the category of "fail and forget" since they fail into a safe state that they can be left in permanently without additional hazard (this is one of the key advantages to some LFTR designs).

Fossil fuels in general are more dangerous because of their intermediate energy density. High enough to cause massive destruction, but low enough that millions of tons need to be processed annually to meet the energy demands of our society.

Oh, and as far as the mutagenic hazards go? Got those already. You don't really believe that nuclear power is special there, do you? Chemicals and viruses already do quite enough damage there as things sit.

"Oh, and as far as the mutagenic hazards go? Got those already. You don't really believe that nuclear power is special there, do you? Chemicals and viruses already do quite enough damage there as things sit."

Yeah, we need all the mutagenics we can get, as we seem to be reaching an evolutionary dead end ;-/

Just saying it isn't a hazard special to radiation, and on top of that radiation isn't specific to nuclear power work.

And somehow, you continue to thoroughly ignore the main point, which is that it is NOT a battle BETWEEN Nuclear and FF, and I'm not sitting here championing EITHER. Both are poisonous, both have enough energy density that they are great at creating corrupt bureaucracies that work against their own people, that hide behind whatever is convenient, while they take shortcuts in the safety requirements that they can keep out of public and regulatory view.. that, or they simply develop better relationships with the Regulators.

"Chemicals and viruses already do quite enough damage there as things sit."

.. right.. as Hanford, Chernobyl, Dunrea, Fukushima, the Kursk, and a growing list of others (as their pipes wear through), are sitting there actively adding to this long-term mix. These things you KEEP comparing as if they were Countering Forces , are Complementary Ones.

It's a bit like saying that coal miners may as well smoke since they're likely to get black lung disease eventually.

You can't stop the world, no matter how much you might want off.

Given that the choice to consume power is made in a positive sense every day by most of the world, how that power is generated is important.

I have chosen positive advocacy towards the best options I see, and that includes nuclear by my best evaluation of hazards vs. rewards.

It also includes solar and wind and some instances of hydroelectric.

Getting rid of all fossil fuel power production (including mobile) is the only possible way to recover from the ongoing pollution disaster we find ourselves in. Cutting off alternatives because they aren't perfect isn't a choice that leads there.

I have chosen positive advocacy towards the best options I see, and that includes nuclear by my best evaluation of hazards vs. rewards.

Then I assume you have also chosen positive advocacy towards things such as global population reduction, reduced consumerism and energy conservation in general.

BTW don't know if you had a chance to watch the Into Infinity video but I'd be curious as to why you think those people are creating that depository and what your views are regarding the inherent risks of socio economic collapse impacting reactors and nuclear waste storage sites around the globe.

Fred - Into Eternity... Into Eternity... Into Eternity...

(grins) [ducks]

OK! ROFL!! Into Eternity... Into Eternity... Into Eternity...Into Eternity... Into Eternity... Into Eternity...Into Eternity... Into Eternity... Into Eternity...

.. and MY argument is not saying 'Nuclear Isn't Perfect',
it's saying 'Nuclear is a Disaster waiting to happen.' Some of it is already happening, and our reaction as a culture has been so tepid that it shows pretty clearly that we're not paying attention to the hazards at Numerous similar sites, or around similar Inherent shortcomings of the culture and vulnerabilities in its basic assumptions that surround this industry.

Good luck.. but I say the writing is already on the wall.

In Britain's billion pound plus (2.3 from vague memory) fuel reprocessing facility at Windscale, it was the operators that stopped reprocessing - not anti-nuclear activists - by a gigantic screw-up.

Now scrapped.


And the waste is about 300 metres from the Irish Sea:


Ouch. What I said here is wrong.

I looked it up and this facility is a Boiling Water Reactor. How many of these bloody idiotic things did they build?

It's still most likely nothing to be worried about, but the concern level is up a notch.

"I looked it up and this facility is a Boiling Water Reactor. How many of these bloody idiotic things did they build?"

A lot. They were cheaper. Lower pressure so less expensive pressure vessel; no separate boilers, so fewer pressure vessels.

The hidden flaws, were, well, hidden.

It is also more straightforward to get the BWRs to load follow to some extent -- say from 100% to 60% and back quickly enough to match the usual day/night demand profile. Commonwealth Edison in Chicago does this, although it's not as profitable as running the nukes full out all the time. One of the reasons that ComEd joined the PJM exchange is reportedly so they can keep the reactors at high power output and sell the excess into East Coast markets.

Hey Fred - Just thought I'd note that the film in question is Into Eternity. From Here to Eternity is a classic starring Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr and Donna Reed.

For those who are just joining this conversation cont'd from Sat., here's the link to the IMDB review and to Part I on youtube of Into Eternity.

LOL! Blame it on my pain killers! Good thing I'm not driving.

Oh right, forgot about your surgery. How's the elbow? What's the prognosis?

What's the prognosis?

Back to kayak diving in 12 weeks! That of course is my prognosis not the doctor's. but he doesn't know me all that well yet >;^)

And how do you manage to not flip the kayak getting in and out of the water?

Just wondering....

And do you anchor the kayak off the reef?

Hey paleo I could probably do a full dissertation on this subject but the short version is, lot's of practice, which means you have to flip a few times. Especially launching and beaching in heavy surf. And yes sometimes I do anchor my kayak. You also learn that if you don't tether everything to your kayak this can become a very expensive sport... I'm happy to report that after 12 years of doing this I very rarely flip anymore!

You live in Seattle? I'm in Ballard.

About as far from the PNW as possible and still be in the continental US, Hollywood Beach Florida. Though I have a soft spot for a lady who lives in Seattle and`I was up there visiting her in February. She took me for a quick tour of Ballard.

Indeed, the accident at Three Mile Island in 1979 started with a pump problem in the secondary (non-nuclear) circuit. It also took the failure of a pressure relief valve in the primary circuit plus a number of other factors to create the conditions that caused the reactor core to melt but the fact remains that a problem in the secondary circuit started the ball rolling.

Feeling peaky - The economic impact of high oil prices

This essay from The Economist is surprisingly favourable to peak hypothesis.

There's some discussion of that article, as well as links to others' reactions, in the April 20 Drumbeat.


Does giving antibiotics to animals hurt humans?

It can and does, but it depends on the circumstances.

A main concern is the disruption to communications between human-microbe symbionts in a way that can, among other things, break down and/or disrupt our immune system.

Talking peak oil here is a little like preaching to the choir. But, when talking to laymen, that have a life, it is often important to have some very easy analogies to help with the discussion. We often talk about analogies for a peaking oil field, like the glass with crushed ice and using a straw to get every last drop of soda. But, what about some other topics?

I was thinking of EROEI, Energy Returned On Energy Invested.

Say you propose a simple scenario. A man/woman needs to go 5 miles to the next town for something. He could walk, or he could just get on the motorcycle outside his apartment and ride to the next town. In this case, the choice is fairly easy, starting the motorcycle is a little effort if the payback is an easy ride to town.

Now, bump up the Energy Invested just a bit. The motorcycle is not just outside the apartment. It is at the neighbor's house, which is one block away. If the man was to think this through again, he would still find it a good option to walk (maybe even the wrong way) to the neighbor's house to get the motorcycle, if it still means an easy ride to town.

Next, move the neighbors house one mile away, in the wrong direction, and add in the fact that it needs gas. Now what? The man might say forget it, and just walk the five miles to town.

After the person you are talking to feels confident that this is an obvious truth, then show them a picture of a pumpjack well in Texas vs something like the Hibernia offshore platform. Then ask them where they think this is going? When do they think they will also be walking to town?

When do they think they will also be walking to town?

My guess is they still won't make the connection. Daniel Kahneman talks about why this can be so difficult for most people.


there are two ways of looking at a problem; the inside view and the outside view. The inside view is looking at your problem and trying to estimate what will happen in your problem. The outside view involves making that an instance of something else—of a class. When you then look at the statistics of the class, it is a very different way of thinking about problems. And what's interesting is that it is a very unnatural way to think about problems, because you have to forget things that you know—and you know everything about what you're trying to do, your plan and so on—and to look at yourself as a point in the distribution is a very un-natural exercise; people actually hate doing this and resist it.

The problem is that everybody 'KNOWS' that they will 'ALWAYS' drive and most people are simply incapable of getting outside of that frame.

I'm reading "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Kahneman right now. It's interesting becauase he so clearly lays out a number of almost hard-wired ways of how we process information, and how it influences how we come to conclusions. And how those conclusions so often are completely wrong.

Yes, I read it just recently myself. Good read.

I was thinking of EROEI, Energy Returned On Energy Invested.


I've also had the troubling discussing Peak Oil with people. Even when talking with people who are receptive to the conversation, they have trouble following the issues, particularly if they have a limited technical background. After two years here on TOD, I find EROEI to be a useful descriptor within this community. However, I'm beginning to think of a systems approach to the discussion. After 30+ years of systems engineering in the defense industry, I had to learn to think in terms of the costs through each stage of a development program. I'm beginning to think that there is an EROEI curve associated with the total producing life of any given oil well. There is the non-recurring energy expended during the initial exploratory drilling phase which has to be amortized over the producing life of the well. As we've learned, the rate of recovery for a producing well increases initially, finds its peak and then begins to decline, which indicates that the EROEI during production is not a static figure. I'm wondering if it would be either possible or useful to plot EROEI and $$ Costs on the same chart. If Rockman has the time and/or patience to comment we may find that this would not be a useful tool. Just wondering??

I'm guessing he would say that once you go to the upfront expense to locate the oil field, then lease the land, then drill it, etc. Then, you are going to pump it dry, and sell the oil for what ever the market will buy it for. :^)

Edit: But, that is a little off topic from what I was thinking. I was trying to keep it "simple, stupid". If you could make a series of 10 or 12 pictures to go along with my simple analogy above, most people might get it. Kind of like the "are we smarter than yeast?" thing from old TOD posts.

I've always thought an analogy that people will get quickly for EROEI is to compare it to a Cash Machine, where the amount the bank charges you starts going up, and the amount of cash you're allowed to withdraw goes down. (a function of the URR of your accounts, no doubt)

If you are taking out a twenty, but they're charging you two, then four, then eight.. when do you start saying 'this isn't worth it any more..'..?

Another one, similar to your driving one but perhaps more visceral, is to say,

"You make 100 dollars a day with this job, but with gas prices, your commute costs you twenty.. and as it goes up, now it costs you fifty to get to this job and back.. How much can you take? How much profit do you need over the cost to get to work, to make it worth going?"

Those damn banks!!! I love to hate them, and their fees. Hehe

I was actually trying to stay with something more energy = real effort, kind of thing. Because people need to understand that you can't just get politicians to change some rules here or there, and then everything works nice again. I think that is the problem we have now, everybody seems to thing that if the tax code was just tweaked a bit in their favor, that everything would work out fine. If all the fiat money in the world was redistributed evenly, there still wouldn't be enough real energy or food or water.

Sure, good point. Tho' I do think the Commuting one at the end is pretty close to a real EROEI situation.

At that point, I think it could make sense to get some of the real field numbers out of the Ultra-Deepwater Wells and just show where their EROEI numbers have gone to since the old days where it just blew up out of the ground in a geyser, and see if that doesn't help their synapses click.. ?

Heck, I can't even get my wife to think straight about it. And she's pretty sharp. But she's dialed into corporate management thinking that past performance is the best predictor of future results. And the past says growth to her.

My Dad, we're traders so he's got a good understanding of it. The best way I can explain it to my old college buddies? Oil is like an 8 ball. The first half lasts 5 hours and the second half last 5 minutes and when it's almost gone it's a bitch to find more. They get it then.

I've found understanding/belief went straight along gender lines with the people I've encountered.

The gas tax you don't even know you're paying

Between 2007 and 2010, more than 70% of the increase in U.S. oil drilling took place on federal territories, representing 3.5 million barrels a day, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. Since then, oil drilling in the U.S. has climbed higher, topping 6 million barrels a day in March for the first time since 1999. The appeal of drilling in the U.S. has grown in recent years, as oil companies develop new technologies to capture energy resources locked in North America that were previously seen as out of reach. Big Oil also has grown tired of the legal and financial uncertainties that often plague their drilling activities in more exotic and restive regions, such as Venezuela and Nigeria, North Africa and the Persian Gulf.

Yet Americans might be shocked to learn how much the oil companies are paying for the privilege to drill on taxpayer-owned territories. As of this writing, the starting bid for leases on parcels of land that allow an oil company to drill for 10 years is $2 an acre. And it's been that way since 1987. It is as though oil prices haven't budged from $20 a barrel. According to the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. agency in charge of land leases, there are no plans to revise the lease pricing system anytime soon....

...Earlier this month, the Obama administration announced plans to expedite the approvals process for leasing and drilling federally owned lands by introducing an automated permitting system. The move comes as Big Oil pushes for greater access to energy-rich U.S. territories, particularly out West and in the Gulf of Mexico. What has not been acknowledged is that oil majors already hold more than 76 million acres of oil and gas leases (about half onshore and half offshore), but have neglected to explore nearly 50 million acres of it.

Why the rush to lock in yet more leases? Perhaps it has something to do with the BLM's stated interest in raising its long-depressed royalty rate of 12.5% for the first time since 1987.

My understanding is that leases have an expiration date if not produced..? And this: "According to the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. agency in charge of land leases, there are no plans to revise the lease pricing system anytime soon..." followed by this: "Perhaps it has something to do with the BLM's stated interest in raising its long-depressed royalty rate of 12.5% for the first time since 1987."....so royalties may rise but not lease rates (for clarity).

I don't know, but sounds like there may be some cherry picking of data in those numbers which help one political story or another. I can see how a company would lease many acres in a potential area, especially at low costs. Then after more detailed inspection, spend money developing only the most promising spots. This would leave all the other acres to look untouched.

eastex - Here are some uncherry picked numbers directly from the feds to contemplate. Effective just till 1995 but it was the most recent summary (http://www.boemre.gov/itd/pubs/1997/97-0007/fos95.htm) I could find quickly. The focus is on the offshore fed waters but since that's where the vast majority of the action is on govt lands it gives a good flavor.

"Through 1995, the U.S. Department of the Interior has offered more than 1.13 billion OCS acres for lease in 117 lease sales. In those 117 lease sales the oil and gas industry paid about $57.1 billion in bonuses to lease 77.0 million acres."

All those juicy acres we could have leased for almost nothing and the oil patch only took less 7%. What fools we must be to not gobble up all that cheap land. OTOH we did pay a total of $57.1 BILLION for those leases we did take. And on average also gave the feds about 20% of all the oil/NG produced out there. Just last year that amounted to around $10 BILLION in royalty to the tax payers. And as far as that $2/acre BS...that's for all those onshore fed leases that almost no one bids on. For the record I officially give you the rights to go lease all those acres for yourself...you can have my share. BTW: I've never leased a single acre of onshore fed leases in my career. They mix the offshore and onshore metrics as a way to cloud the issue IMHO. The average OCS lease went for $104/ac in the last sale in 1995 in this summary. And OCS lease blocks are around 5,000 acs so that's a tad over $500,000 per lease block. You can't just lease what you want...you have to take the whole block. And the payment doesn't stop with the lease bonus. We have to pay a yearly rental until we establish production or give the lease back. The feds estimated the FIRST year rental on the two 1995 lease sales would be around $21 million. BTW: the highest AVERAGE BIDS PER ACRE - sale 19 - 1974 - $5,050/acre. Or $25 million per lease block. And yes: all fed leases automatically expire after the primary term unless commercial production has been established. Every acre of fed land under lease today will expire in no more than 10 years (and in most cases less than 5 years) if they aren't producing.

BTW the record highest bids offered in any one lease sale in one particular OCS area: Sale 40 - 8/1976 - $3.5 billion. Of that amount the feds accepted $1.13 BILLION. Does that impress you? It should more than you think: that was a lease sale off the EAST COAST coast of the US. Do I need to point out how much oil/NG we've produced off those leases? LOL. By comparison: the Gulf of Mexico. Highest bids offered - sale 33 - 3/1974 - $6.5 billion. Of that amount the feds accepted $2.1 BILLION oil patch $'s.

Here's a quick summary: Total area offered for offshore leases by the feds: 1.13 BILLION ACRES. Total leased by the oil patch: 77 MILLION ACRES. Or less than 7%. I won't bother with onshore fed oil/NG leases. Compared to the offshore it's a tiny footnote. Just think how much oil/NG there must be left to produce from the 93% of the fed offshore leases that the oil patch stupidly didn't take at those dirt cheap prices. In fact, I think the tax payers should demand that the govt use their money to develop all those reserves. That way the citizens get 1005 of the production instead of that lousy 20%.

Just amazing ain't it: all the facts one can find with just a few mouse clicks. Guess that explains why everyone is so well informed. LOL. They have it completely ass backwards IMHO. Folks shouldn't be upset about what's under lease but what isn't under lease. But those open leases really won't make much difference, will they?


23.04.2012 20:26
The technical suspension of trading to be extended

The situation has been recognized as an emergency. Further actions will be announced shortly.


Russia Will Not Reopen: "The Situation Has Been Recognized As An Emergency"

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/23/2012 12:42 -0400

One temporary halt and three delay attempts later, and we get.... this.

Yes, this is the Russian stock market.

Хорошо.... I called Peggy. She said the MICEX is closed anyway. Call back in the morning (Moscow time).

The MICEX closed due to a "technical problem" and did not re-open.

Russia Stocks Sink Most in 2 Weeks on China; Micex Halts Trading

(Bloomberg) Russian stocks sank the most in more than two weeks as commodities slid after data showed China’s manufacturing contracted for a sixth month. The benchmark Micex suspended trading, citing problems with the way deals are displayed.

...Russia’s Micex-RTS Exchange halted trading on its main market, citing problems with the way deals are displayed, according to a statement on its website today. Trading is halted until 7:35 p.m., the exchange said.

And that news item was before the more recent announcement (direct from the MICEX exchange at 20:26 Moscow time) that the suspension continues indefinitely.

"I'm short Russia. Russia will continue to disintegrate" - Jim Rogers (2012)

I think Russia is in a pretty good place now with oil (and ng in Europe) prices being so high. Russia can't afford to see oil prices go lower, though. If a world wide recession occurs and oil prices plummet watch out below.

Russia has the world by the balls, and China is in the process of crashing. Rodgers is all in on China.

China is all mouths and no resources. Russia can keep shipping Iran weapons and keep the price of oil high. They can light the candle and bankrupt the west, while being the only functioning exporter in the world if the middle east blows up. The ball is in their court, most finance guys don't get it though.

Rodgers wears blinders.

This may not be related to this particular topic, but I've been thinking the last few days: Say peak oil actually gets into mainstream media after it happens and the major exporters simply cut off their customers, pending investigation as to how long their reserves will last or just an act of panic to preserve the remaining stock for their own population. Won't that make things just that much worse? I can't recall having seen anyone writing about this, it seems like the rationale is that exporters (Saudi, Norway (my dear Norway), Russia) will just keep going as usual.

It depends on their leadership and culture. Saudi and others heavily subsidise their society and need a lot of foreign money to keep this going. They have to export a lot, until they collapse which could happen at a fast rate. I guess Norway could not maintain a high quality of life without fossil fuels. Maybe they could block fjords to make tidal electricity generators??

Norway is already a major exporter of hydroelectricity.

Best Hopes for the Norwegians,


Most of which is exported to Germany, from whom we get mostly coal-generated electricity in return :)

I agree with the sentiment that Norway is screwed without fossil fuels, per capita we use more oil than the US (which is why my stand is to downsize the amount we export despite its unlikeliness).

I guess Norway could not maintain a high quality of life without fossil fuels. Maybe they could block fjords to make tidal electricity generators??

Assume they can produce unlimited amounts of electricity. There's still the fundamental question of what level of technology is required to "maintain a high quality of life" and how many people does it take to support that tech? So much of today's tech is dependent on ultra-large-scale digital integrated circuits: not just computers per se, but TV, the phone network, cameras, cash registers, thermostats, etc. Standard design practice for control functions has become a microcontroller with some sensors and actuators. A state-of-the-art fab line is an $8-9B project, and is dependent on a whole range of other capabilities in mechanical, electrical, and chemical engineering. Lose any of those and you lose the ability to fabricate the integrated circuits.

How large a population does it take to build and maintain one or more fabs? You have to have enough demand to keep the line in operation; you can't declare a Manhattan Project every time you need to build a new fab. At the same time, you also have to be producing doctors and lawyers and the people who run the dry cleaners; everyone can't be a top tech person, unless you've managed to automate all of the non-tech functions. My own estimate is that the minimum population to support our current tech is around 30-50 million.

Dropping back from the digital tech comes with its own set of risks. You have to reinvent (and produce all of the equipment for) analog television. Much of the copper for simpler telephone networks has been pulled out of the ground and replaced with IC-dependent fiber optics. You don't produce today's antibiotics and other wonder drugs with 1940s facilities.

A state of the art fabs cost about 10 billion as you say. But a 20 years ago tech level fab is cheap to build with today's know how, say 0.2 billion. As I recall the world was OK in 1992.

We did *NOT* have high definition TVs !

But 8086 tech could do most jobs ICs do today.


No they can't. A lot of embedded processors are state of the art, clocks, watches, iPods, controllers etc a lot of them have advanced RISC processors and DSP's which have mushroomed only in the last fifteen or so years. A lot of real time processing is actually impossible without them. Also you have GPS, Wi-Fi which depend on advanced low power (a function of gate size) processors to work, if you want to run them on 8086's you'd have to carry batteries the size of backpacks.

But the 8086 is 30 years ago. Fabs from 10 years ago can still build a lot of great stuff.

I'm working with a start-up that is building a chip for the 350nm process which is pretty ancient. And the chip is very small so we can fit many thousands on a single wafer. This allows the chip to be dirt cheap. There are advantages to using the older stuff.

Well you have chips for different markets and requirements. As far as embedded goes, 350nm consumes a lot of static power, it's unsuitable for anything but the most rudimentary tasks that have to be performed nowadays.

The point however is that if you want to build a simplified ecosystem yes we can make do with 350nm but then you can kiss goodbye to the recent advances in gadgetry. I can think of Motorola StarTac and dial up 56k modems. No more YouTube. No more predator drones as well.

It'll be interesting to see what levels of tech do turn out to be economically and energetically supportable.. but like the 'Going back to Horses and Plows' discussions.. it still must be rememebered that if we were to build some Horse-drawn Ag solutions today, they would not be on Wooden-spoked wheels with Wrought-Iron rims.

Even with a fallback, we've learned things that can be applied to make the next wave, whether High or Low, into another new synthesis.

Yea but imagine the horror of not being able to play Angry Birds on the bus and we might have to go back to Sony Walkman :-)

Ask Hitchcock.. we might be playing 'Angry Birds' for real pretty soon. Seagulls would probably be more than happy to bomb us with some new strains of Influenza if only they could.

Wait what?!? We can't have clocks and music players if tech goes back a bit?

Did I say clocks..scratch that, I meant fancy watches with GPS...music players..we'll go back to first gen iPods. Sorry no video.

Well this seems like an appropriate place to discuss the "Green Touch" initiative started by Bell Labs which includes a number of telecomm companies.

Join our mission to deliver the architecture, specifications and roadmap to increase network energy efficiency by a factor of 1000 from current levels.

Originally it was estimated that network energy efficiency could be increased by 10,000
times but the Bell Labs engineers thought 1000 times was a more viable objective.
What do IEEE savvy people on TOD think of this?

It all depends on how "network efficiency" is defined. E.g., most current web pages push through the network 1000x the number of bytes actually needed to convey the intended information, what with CSS and javascript and navigation menus and linkage to social media etc. And that's before adding in the advertisements and the superfluous video clips. My rule about bandwidth: build it and they will come (and fill it with fluff).

Personally I could live without both Youtube and predator drones. I also think that what's going to bring things like Youtube down is that it already costs oodles of money to run that, but it's being paid for by advertisements. In a contracting economy, when will the cost be shifted from no-longer-willing advertisers to the users? Will the users then flee?

Start with the basics from a purely network point of view, you will gain a lot (maybe not 1000) by simply moving the "last mile" to fiber. Copper is still the standard, sure a few neighborhoods here and there are pure fiber but most places are still copper for thier final interconnects.

The catch is all that new fiber costs some energy to make, probably as much if not more than copper. Copper is also easily recycled, fiber not so much.

Well, one of the things that will be 'interesting' in a downturn, is the inevitable weeding out that will happen.

As is often said around here, it will often most certainly 'not be pretty'.. and could kill many (things, ideas OR people) that might well be fit, but were just unlucky.. but it should also reveal with that dropping tide which of these things can justify their existence in substantive ways, even when naked.. especially when naked, I should say.

Most of the OPEC nations aren't exactly farm country. But oil has enabled a much larger population than the middle east can physically support (true globally, but more so there-It's a desert!)

So the Saudis will face a starving populace and rebellion, or they will take our food for their oil. The final act of the play will be oil exporters sending oil to food exporters in trade. And when the oil rationing hits here, the farmers will get first dibs (well, after the military).

Say peak oil actually gets into mainstream media after it happens and the major exporters simply cut off their customers, pending investigation as to how long their reserves will last or just an act of panic to preserve the remaining stock for their own population.

I doubt it, because the mentality of making money is in the taking of profits 'now', before the world economy degrades even more due to ever higher energy costs from a shrinking export oil supply. Remember, this is just the oil production plateau, with already high oil prices nixing growth and balooning developed governments debt loads. Once the world economy collapses due to that debt load bubble bursting, all those reserves of oil will probably be abandoned. The high cranking world economy machine that's still operating but listing to port, will after the collapse no longer support a high tech, very expensive oil extraction process.

It actually seems like there is a near panic by all oil producing countries to extract the stuff as fast as possible. Azerbajan is probably just embarrassed by such a high decline rate, they are making excuses that make is sound like they intelligently looking to secure the future for the people of their country.

Oil exporters hoarding oil is a common criticism against Export Land Model. However, no one actually hoards the oil when their is profit to be made. The people in charge of the decision are either corporate executives who only care about short term profits or government officials of national oil companies who only care about tax revenue. None of these decision makers care about the citizens of their countries.

Mexico: gets loans to drill more to stop the decline. They must have money to pay off the debt.
Canada: drops the Kyoto Convention to develop the tar sands to pay for their health care system.
Russia: desperate for tax revenue to balance the budget.
Saudi Arabia: desperate for money to subsidize domestic gasoline, buy imported food and quiet rebellion.
Venezuela: kick out the Americans to get better deals from the Chinese.

Every exporter of crude oil becomes dependent on the revenue and faces economic disaster when the foreign income stops. I doubt anyone will hoard, but some might collapse during phase 2 of Export Land Model when their oil exports decline enough to make their revenue decline.

I have predicted for years that eventually oil producers will start to hoard their oil, hold it off the market in order to keep it for themselves, or keep it in the ground for "future generations" as the King of Saudi Arabia put it. Well, this could be happening right now in Azerbaijan:

UPDATE 1-Azerbaijan aims to extend oil production term

Azerbaijan is reducing extraction rates of its vast oil reserves in order to extend the duration of its production, the State Statistics Committee head said, a move that could lead to lower than expected economic growth in 2012.

"Azerbaijan is artificially reducing extraction of oil in order to extend terms of its production," the Committee's Arif Veliyev told reporters on Monday.

Of course this could all be spin to explain the recent decline in Azerbaijan oil extraction. Their production fell 10.7 percent last year and is down another 5.8 percent in the first quarter of this year.

Ron P.

This anouncement sure sounds suspicious. If they had actually decided to voluntarily reduce production, why wait until after the fact to say so? My take is that Azerbaijan is pumping all out just like all the other oil producing countries in the world.

Did the gasoline price at the pump peak early this year? I thought we would get another bump up because of the change over to summertime grades. Did the drop in Brent crude have such a quick impact, or did we just quit demanding some of it?

Gas prices in Sweden passed 16 kr/l a few weeks ago, for the first time ever. Last time I looked at a price sign (this last week end) it costed 15:33.

http://www.oil-price.net/ shows falling prices as well.

My take on this is that we just witnessed yet another "recovery" beeing killed by high oil prices.

Energy fun & Great Images as norm with Nat Geo.
"Like food, air, and water, energy is essential to human existence. The hopes of billions for a better life depend on plentiful and accessible sources of energy. But with the world’s population fast approaching seven billion, how do we meet the growing demand for energy in a responsible, equitable, and sustainable way? It’s a question we must ask ourselves as a society and as individuals. That’s why National Geographic, in partnership* with Shell, has launched The Great Energy Challenge."


I screwed-up one of our lighting retrofits rather badly but, as it turns out, dropping the ball was a hidden blessing.

We've been doing a lot of pole lighting lately and at one car dealership I had specified a Philips 830-watt AllStart ceramic metal halide lamp as a direct replacement for their 1,000-watt probe start metal halides (1,100-watts with ballast). It's a simple and relatively inexpensive bulb swap that doesn't require a ballast change, and although the wattage savings are somewhat modest, the quality of light is vastly better (90 CRI versus 65) and the customer also benefits from longer service life (24,000 hours compared to 15,000) and superior lumen maintenance. Unfortunately, this particular wattage is rated for base up use only and these lamps are mounted horizontally; of course, I discovered this after the fact. To further complicate matters, the ballast capacitors are old and weak and the AllStart lamps are much more sensitive to this -- weak capacitors results in difficult starting, short lamp life, severely reduced light output (up to 60 per cent) and an unmistakable greenish hue. With lamps failing just about every other day, it soon became apparent that we had a major problem on our hands.

The only reasonable solution would be to replace every lamp and ballast, at no charge to the client, which is what we're in the process of doing now. But having dug myself this deep I figured we could replace these 1,000-watters with 330-watt AllStarts. We'd sacrifice some lumens along the way, but we'd also cut this portion of their lighting load by two-thirds and since the 830s aren't cranking out the light that they should, it should be pretty easy to match what they have now. I'm pleased to report that the gamble paid off.

The four heads shown below have been retrofitted with the new 330 AllStarts and I'd rate their performance as more than adequate. Fixture wattage drops from 1,100-watts to 370, 550-watts more than what we could have achieved with the 830s alone.

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/Img_1287.jpg

The pole on the left in this next picture is fitted with two 830-watt AllStarts and the one on the right, two of the 330s. To the naked eye, brightness comes in at about the same, although our light readings are slightly lower under the 330s. Still, you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference and, if asked, many respondents would likely guess incorrectly.

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/Img_1288.jpg

We're also replacing all of their 400-watt metal halide wall packs with 205-watt AllStarts and pulse start kits. The client seems genuinely pleased with the results thus far, and we'll save 86,400 kWh a year more than what we had initially budgeted.

However, the big pay-off could come down the road as this dealership is one of several owned by a local firm. One of their sister locations has reportedly one hundred 1,000-watt pole lights and twenty 400-watt wall packs, and if we can persuade them to do the same there, we could potentially bag another 339,000 kWh/year for our efforts. Carry this right across the board and you're looking at some pretty big numbers.

I can only wish all of my screw-ups were so fortuitous.


Please keep up these reports. Its really fascinating to read them. If I may be so bold, I would be interested in knowing your business model. Do you get a cut of the savings enjoyed by the customer or perhaps you get paid by the utility (since they don't have to generate so much).

Thanks, BB. I like to share examples like this because I feel that we should be pursuing these sorts of opportunities far more vigorously, especially at a time of rapidly escalating costs and growing uncertainty with respect to new supplies.

The bulk of our retrofit work is carried out on behalf of Efficiency Nova Scotia (http://www.efficiencyns.ca/), although we do a fair amount of business with other clients as well. The team I manage handles the small business side of things and removes between 75,000 and 100,000 kWh/year of incremental load from the grid each week. We could easily double or triple that, but the logistics become that much more complicated. The opportunities are out there; just a matter of better organizing ourselves so that we can capitalize on them.

Addendum: I just received the results of a Efficiency Nova Scotia survey of our lighting retrofit clients in today's post. Three hundred and fifty of our past clients were randomly selected for interview and the results are encouraging. The money quote:

... Of the three key factors measured, 99 per cent of customers surveyed were completely or mostly satisfied with the contractor's levels of efficiency in installation, 97 per cent were completely or mostly satisfied with service attitude, and 94 per cent were completely or mostly satisfied with professional appearance.

Looks like I'll have to stop shopping at Village des Valeurs and work on my attitude problem. :-(


3.9 - 5.2 GW, let us say 4.5 GW PA. Impressive.


Thanks, NAOM, although it's 4.5 GWh per annum (if it were GW, I'd be over the moon).


Still, a bit over half a megawatt (if I've got the math right). Nothing to sneeze at. Well done!

Thanks, clifman. That sounds about right, i.e., 0.5 MW(a) x 8,760 hrs/yr = 4.38 GWh.

To satisfy my curiosity, I ran a couple of reports. Last year, our small business retrofits eliminated an estimated 1.4 MW of lighting load and in the first three months of this year the reduction is pegged at 391 kW, or 1.56 MW on an annualized basis. January and February were relatively slow months for us for a couple of reasons, but March and April were back on track and we'll press the pedal to the floor as the year progresses.

One of the nice things about our work is that much of the reduction occurs at system peak. Note too that these numbers do not reflect the corresponding reduction in cooling loads, where applicable, nor the additional demand reduction work that goes undocumented, e.g., we often put commerical DHW water heaters on timers to lock-out their operation during peak times and/or de-rate these tanks by disconnecting one or more elements. For example, here's a cut and paste from a client e-mail regarding two high capacity water heaters that at one time served multiple showers (it had been a police station) but have been since relegated to hand washing duty:


With regards to the two 36.0 kW electric water heaters that serve this facility, I would recommend that they be de-rated to 6.0 kW each by disconnecting all three top elements and two of the three bottom elements. The one remaining element should be more than capable of meeting all of your domestic hot water requirements.

The 60.0 kW reduction in demand would reduce your demand charges by $6,504.48 a year (60.0 kW x $9.034 per kW, per month x 12 months/year). It would also shift 12,000 kWh of energy each month to NSP's lower cost second tier, for an additional savings of $4,063.68 a year (60.0 kW x 200 kWh/month, per kW x ($0.09646 - $0.06824 per kWh) x 12 months/year). Taken together, this represents an annual savings of $10,568.16, achievable with no discernible loss in performance.


I'm always looking for others ways that we can reduce customer demand and improve load factor, and I derive a perverse pleasure from whacking electric water heaters down to size.


Um, did put PA but it's ok, just keep up the good work.


Sorry about that; I interpreted this to mean the elimination of 4.5 gigawatts of demand over the course of the year, as opposed to 4.5 gigawatt hours in energy savings.


One could question why it is necessary to have the entire area of a car dealership brightly lit all night, every night. If it were my call I would only use bright lighting in the areas clearly visible from the road and us just enough light for the rest so that it is not pitch black. If security is an issue, I would install motion activated lights in the dimly lit areas which would have the added advantage of "announcing" the presence of bodies in the area.

Where I live, many auto dealers are not on thoroughfares that are heavily traveled at night so, there is no point in using much lighting at all. As a matter of fact, none of the new car dealers have these big open lots I see in North America. They have a fairly small, enclosed show room with one of each of the models they sell, while the actual cars being sold are stored in bonded warehouse type lots, sometimes a few minutes away from the dealership. You go into the dealership, look around, choose a model, take a test drive and then choose from the available colors, options etc. The vehicle is then taken from the bonded storage, the duty paid and prepared for the new owner.

It is likely that when the decline starts in earnest, auto dealerships in North America will be among the first to go out of business. AFAIK many already have, since new car sales fell from over 16 million per year to a rate corresponding to under 10 million in early 2009. See


When they go out of business, their consumption will drop to zero.

Having said that, you work continues to be an inspiration to me!

Alan from the islands

I struggle with this as well, Alan. With our first kick at the can I thought... OK, they have this number of lumens now, we can swap-out their current lamps for these other ones and keep things more or less where they are now and shave 15 per cent off their load at a very modest cost. It was only after we ran into problems with the hardware (and I'm fully to blame for this) that I began to question why we need so much light in the first place. Maybe we could cut light levels by more than half and still produce results that are completely acceptable to the client. My only lingering doubt is that this dealership is right next door to another one that is even more brightly illuminated and so the contrast between the two could cause us problems.

But I agree; we don't need car lots illuminated as brightly as the mid-day sun at 02h00 and 03h00 in the morning. Once LEDs become more cost competitive, we could look at various dimming solutions (e.g., full brightness whilst the dealership is open for business, 75 per cent between closing and midnight, say, and 50 per cent beyond that), but that's probably a couple years down the road as yet.

I haven't tracked new car sales in Canada, but my impression is that everyone is doing just fine, thank you, e.g., there's certainly no shortage of shiny new Dodge RAMs tooling about town even with regular unleaded selling between $1.40 and $1.45 a litre.


It was a mistake for me to imply that the two north American economies are in the same shape and will suffer the same fate at the same time. One is a net oil exporter while the other is a net oil importer with all the attendant implications for balance of trade and national debt etc. I should remember that since, I have a cousin who works in the oil patch in Alberta and has visited the island two winters in a row, supporting the word around here that tourist arrivals from Canada are up significantly. So yeah, I guess that Canada might experience BAU for a while longer while the US goes through the throes of restructuring.

Alan from the islands

It looks like the crisis in Europe continues to widen. The New York Times has several articles related to it:

Dutch Governing Coalition Resigns After Failing to Pass Austerity Budget

Call for Growth Rises to Counter German Push for Austerity

In Europe, Now What?

While perhaps this is more TAE material than Oil Drum, the fact that the Dutch(!!!) government fell pretty much puts this in a new category. You can't blame it on Southern Europeans being lazy, corrupt, or disorganized, that's for sure. As we all know, Brent has been near $120 for quite a while... How much of this is oil and how much is other things is the question for us here.

Considering that Europe is suffering so much, IF this is due to oil, that suggests that the European model of high fuel taxes, lots of public transit, and growing renewables is not enough. If it is NOT due to oil, then we could say Europe just never thought their clever unity plan through very well. In any case, I think the developed world is entering a phase where growth is over.

Europe has one last secret weapon: the monetary nuclear option which they would only use if the situation reach dire proportions or when they have fully prepared for its execution by roping in the Eastern powers.

Comments are closed for the Solar Cities article, but I thought this graphic might be of interest to TOD readers:


World Population by Latitude (Bill Rankin, 2008)

From Radical Cartography:

Roughly 88% of the world’s population lives in the northern hemisphere, and about half the world’s population lives north of 27°N.

Taking the northern and southern hemispheres together, on average the world’s population lives 24 degrees from the equator.

The image was not available from flickr.

World Population by Latitude (Bill Rankin, 2008)

By longitude

Taking the northern and southern hemispheres together, on average the world’s population lives 24 degrees from the equator.

Awhile back on another forum I proposed the "40 by 40 degree" hypothesis, which states:

SHOULD average summer temperatures reach 40deg celsius in the temperate zone BETWEEN 40deg north and 40deg south of the equator, THEN at least 40 percent of the population will be forced to migrate, or face starvation.

Try it yourself: Open your favorite physical map of the world, now cover up everything between 40deg north and 40deg south of the equator. What do you see?

In the northern hemisphere the largely unpopulated and currently somewhat inhospitable landmasses of Siberia, northern Canada, and Greenland. Mostly taiga and tundra, but that could change. In the southern hemisphere the prospects are slim, not much but open ocean and Antarctica.


Wait a second, 40N is a bit further south. Maybe the northern 70% of the US lower 48 (Canadian border is at 49), most of Western Europe, all of Russia and Japan...

Like I said, at least 40% of the population. Or did you miss that bit?


Graphic: The ranges of how many carbon atoms (carbon number) in Natural Gas, NG Condensate, and Light Crude through Oil Shale... -Really Nice-

Really nice paper on petroleum fluids - -Really Nice-

Like the first graph. It goes into my graph collection.

Yes a really useful graph - thanks

Considering the trend of the oil industry towards the utilisation of heavier asphaltenic crudes, heavy oil, tar sand and oil shale and the increased utilisation of miscible flooding techniques for recovering and transportation of oil, the role of heavy organics deposition in the economic development of petroleum fluids production will be important and crucial.

Pipeline atherosclerosis - another interesting EROEI issue from using heavier petroleum which, though obvious, had not occurred to me.


Yes, thanks. We are sure working our way up the scale, eh? Though I listened to a scary talk about the apparently innocuous nat gas at the bottom of the scale that I will link to in a fresher Drumbeat soon.

South Sudan's Salva Kiir says Sudan has declared war

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir says Sudan has "declared war" on his country, following weeks of fighting along their common border. Mr Kiir was speaking in China, which is a major buyer of oil from both countries but has long been an ally of Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir.

So 500,000 bopd is now out of production for the near future. Are there any spill over effects other than this?

Survey: Maine ranked 'most peaceful' state; Louisiana last

The annual United States Peace Index finds the country overall more peaceful than at anytime in the past 20 years, with Maine finishing first as the "most peaceful" state and Louisiana placing last for the 11th year in a row.

...The survey, once again, notes a strong correlation between peace and economic opportunity, health, education and social capital.

If that's true, seems kind of odd that there's less violence than any time in the past 20 years.

If that's true, seems kind of odd that there's less violence than any time in the past 20 years.

Probably just some kind of lag artifact until reality catches up with perception. Sort of the calm before the storm.

I'd guess that the real issue is demographics. It's young men who usually (though not always) commit violent crimes. The baby boomers are past that age now.

Detroit crashed early on and is rated the least peaceful metro area, so time lag may be a factor. It would be interesting to rate unemployment along side the peace index. Detroit is showing 10.2%, more in the middle of the list. Maine is showing 7.0% unemployment. If there is a corelation, it seems to be weak even though the MSM often blames unemployment for high crime rates. Methinks it isn't that simple.

That's an illuminating list. No real surprises at the top (low unemployment) - mostly oil & ethanol boom region MSAs. But the bottom is dominated by CA MSA's. I had no idea CA was in such bad shape - several with near or 20+ percent UE. And these are official stats. Wow.

One thing I noticed...Hawaii is in the top 10, despite being the most ethnically (and probably religiously) diverse state. Some have argued that ethnic homogeneity leads to lower violence; Hawaii doesn't fit that profile.

A lag artifact of legalized abortion? Less angry youth on the street who would've had a poor upbringing?

It's no wonder people are unable to grasp reality when one gets this kind of reporting in the media :-

9 Ways the World Might End (or not)

"Peak Oil" (slide 7) and Climate Change (slide 8) are ranked against "Sideswipes from other Planets" (slide 1) and "The Rapture" (slide 6).

In small, grey lettering beneath each slide is "Probability" and "Impact". Most of the first slides rate a probability of low. Peak Oil, however, rates a probability of high and an impact of medium. Climate Change has an impact of high.

I wonder how seriously people view these issues when presented this way, since the real likely occurrences are shown after the unlikely occurrences, already biasing the reader.

How people take it will vary. But I think it is great they at least brought it up. The concept is something people will need to get used to.

In a Change, Mexico Reins In Its Oil Monopoly


my favourite bit "When Mr. Narváez arrived, he monitored the wells with different colored Post-it notes on a wall. Now he has a computerized system.."

$9B for 65000bpd, seems incredible.

$140,000 per bpd of production. Six figure plus capital costs per bpd of new production are pretty common, especially in the tar sands play in Canada.

Six figure plus capital costs per bpd of new production are pretty common, especially in the tar sands play in Canada.

One of our clients carried out an exploration program in a European country (which I can't name) last year. It cost them about $7 million, for which they got a 60% interest in two prospects which were drilled. The first one was a dry hole, the second one found oil, but rather less than we had hoped. At present we are waiting on equipment for an extended production test, but my best guess is it will produce about 200 barrels per day for 3-5 years. You could say that is $35,000 per barrel per day, or $58,000 (since they only get 60%). There may be enough area in the discovery to drill a second well.

But at about $100/barrel after operating costs, it will only take about a year to recover the capital cost. Any production after that will be profit. But they would not have taken on the investment if this was the most likely outcome. This was a basin where all the obvious prospects were drilled half a century ago, and it is only the current high prices which have made new exploration worth considering. New technology (such as 3D seismic) helps, but less than you might think, by reducing risk. High prices make higher risk acceptable. We estimated the probability of success of the better of these two prospects (the one that was successful) to be about 40%.

Note that the entire post-2005 cumulative six year outlay by the global oil industry, for capital and operating costs, has only served to keep annual crude oil production flat, and of course, we have seen an ongoing decline in Global Net Exports.

Good for a chuckle.
This should have an enormous return on investment (sarcasm): still I suppose the game is to pull in as many sucker investors as possible and then do a runner......

Asteroid mining: how it might work – interactive


Along with gold, platinum and other metals, the company hopes to find water, which could provide the raw material for rocket fuel, raising the possibility of fuel stations for passing deep-space rockets

No, no! What they should do is just bottle the water in 1 liter spaceship shaped faux titanium canisters call it Asteroid Pure Levitating Mineral Water and sell it for some absurd astronomical amount... How could they not make out like space bandits... The future will be filled with incredible investment opportunities!

Currently about 250 people are born every minute, I'm sure that a rather significant portion of those will turn out to be suckers...


If you can't find it in space, go underwater ...

World's first sea-floor mine signs first customer

... Sea-floor mining is a new industry that has, until now, been little explored due to the abundance of untapped mineral sources on land and the unknown risks associated with undersea environments.

But Nautilus believes up to one-third of the world's minerals could eventually come from the sea floor, with land reserves being run down and demand ramping up for resources, particularly from China.

Oh, this is great. Cus there are sea floor real estate that is not yet already destroyed by bottom trawlers. Now we can feel secure in knowing none of those bottom-of-the-sea creatures will get away. I was worried there for a while.

I haven't LOL'd over a post like this in a while. Thanks. I totally agree.

Really, how stupid are we (as a species)?

still I suppose the game is to pull in as many sucker investors as possible and then do a runner

Nope. This is the endeavor of gentleman explorers. A previous empire might have claimed such expeditions to be for the Glory of King and Country. Now they are wrapped around a libertarian philosophy and free market opportunity. But the end result is the same: incredibly wealthy, ambitious men setting their sites on lands unknown - mostly for the adventure.

Home prices lowest since 2002

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Home prices hit new post-bubble lows in February, according to a report out Tuesday.

The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index of 20 cities recorded a decline of 3.5% from 12 months earlier. Home prices have not been this low since November 2002.

"Nine [housing markets] hit post bubble lows," said David Blitzer, spokesman for S&P. Those nine markets include Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Las Vegas and New York....

Did someone suggest we're adapting to peak oil? But wait! There's more...

..."Some [cities], which have declined considerably over the last five to six years now have begun to exhibit an uptick in home prices," said Luis Vergara, a director with Mission Capital Advisors.

Phoenix prices climbed a robust 3.3% year-over-year. Miami recorded a gain of 0.8% in the last 12 months. Even Las Vegas[!!] appears to be turning more positive, with home prices down only 8.5% year-over-year, compared with a drop of 9% in January.

Phoenix, Las Vegas and Miami; our most sustainable cities on the rebound :-0
Atlanta, still getting slammed...

Even Las Vegas[!!] appears to be turning more positive, with home prices down only 8.5% year-over-year, compared with a drop of 9% in January.

So slowing decline by 1/2 of one percent, from -9 to -8.5, is 'turning more positive'!?! That's some spin!

Oil Spilled In Russian Arctic

An oil spill in the Russian Arctic affected an area of up to 8,000 square meters after workers tried to open an old well, causing oil to gush uncontrollably for 37 hours, officials said Monday.

The oil well was in the area operated by a joint venture between Russian companies Lukoil and Bashneft, which received the license to work on the northern Trebs field last year.

The accident was most likely caused by breakage of an old well's corroded plug when workers attempted to operate it, said Viktor Ivkin, head of the Nenetsky autonomous district emergency ministry branch.

Researchers study costs of 'dirty bomb' attack in L.A.

A dirty bomb attack centered on downtown Los Angeles' financial district could severely impact the region's economy to the tune of nearly $16 billion, fueled primarily by psychological effects that could persist for a decade.

"We decided to study a terrorist attack on Los Angeles not to scare people, but to alert policymakers just how large the impact of the public's reaction might be," said study co-author William Burns, a research scientist at Decision Research in Eugene, Ore. "This underscores the importance of risk communication before and after a major disaster to reduce economic losses."

free access http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/risk.2012.32.issue-4/issuetoc

10 Articles on risk analysis, and not one of them can conceive of the impact of a global risk.

The Really Slow Food Movement

The New Dawn Traders have a different vision of global trade that flies in the face of centuries of transportation technology. In February, a group of ten environmentalists, led by Englishman Jamie Pike, rented the wooden sailboat Irene and set off on a five-month journey plying old trade routes: beer from England to France; olive oil and wine from Spain to Rio de Janeiro; cocoa and coffee from Brazil to the Caribbean; and rum from the islands to England.

To the nostalgia-fueled New Dawn Traders, it’s the journey that makes the product, and by the very nature of geography, some things should be rare. It’s easy to take our globalized reality for granted, but the world is a big place, and it takes enormous resources to whisk items from Chile to Chattanooga, or Togo to Tokyo. Economies of scale and cheaper, faster modes of transport have made these former luxuries commonplace, but historically speaking, this is a very recent phenomenon.

Philippines sees gas in China-claimed reef

MANILA — The Philippines said Tuesday it was hoping to help secure its energy future by developing a natural gas field in an area of the South China Sea also claimed by China.

The comments come amid high tension with China over territorial disputes in the South China Sea and with Manila and Beijing locked in a standoff over the Scarborough Shoal.

also Philippine South China Sea gas find may fuel China tensions

Nuclear Famine: A Billion People at Risk--Global Impacts of Limited Nuclear War on Agriculture, Food Supplies, and Human Nutrition

Over the last several years, a number of studies have shown that a limited, regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan would cause significant climate disruption worldwide. Two studies published this year examine the impact on agricultural output that would result from this climate disruption.

Among the specific findings outlined in the report:

Corn production in the U.S. would decline by an average of 10 percent for an entire decade, with the most severe decline (20 percent) in Year 5. Soybean production would decline by about 7 percent, with the most severe loss, more than 20 percent, in Year 5.

There would be a significant decline in middle-season rice production in China. During the first four years, rice production would decline by an average of 21 percent; over the next six years the decline would average 10 percent.

Resulting increases in food prices would make food inaccessible to hundreds of millions of the world's poorest. Even if agricultural markets continued to function normally, 215 million people would be added to the rolls of the malnourished over the course of a decade. The 925 million people in the world who are already chronically malnourished (with a baseline consumption of 1,750 calories or less per day), would be put at risk by a further 10 percent decline in their food consumption.

Significant agricultural shortfalls over an extended period would almost certainly lead to panic and hoarding on an international scale, further reducing accessible food.

Report: http://www.ippnw.org/pdf/nuclear-famine-ippnw-0412.pdf

also http://www.ippnw.org/nuclear-famine.html

Kinder Houston Area Survey reveals more Houstonians support Mass Transit

One of America's most automobile-dependent large cities may be heading into a new era, according to the 31st annual Kinder Houston Area Survey conducted by Rice University. Among the findings in this year's survey: Houstonians support mass transit, feel better about the economy and say relations between ethnic groups are better than ever.

A large and growing proportion of Harris County residents emphatically support improvements in mass transit, and majorities are now calling for more opportunities to live within walking distance of shops and workplaces. Fifty-six percent of the respondents in Harris County and 61 percent in surrounding counties said that the development of a much-improved mass transit system is "very important" for the future success of the Houston area. A majority (51 percent) of Harris County residents want more taxpayer money to be spent on improving rail and buses rather than on expanding existing highways.

"The romance with the automobile, which has been the essence of Houston for most of its modern history, is clearly fading," Klineberg said. "The suburbs are more crowded, gas prices and traffic congestion are soaring, fewer households have children at home, and the lure of urban amenities, both in downtown Houston and in suburban 'town centers,' is generating a sea-change in area residents' living preferences."

Didn't the Onion use this exact headline a couple of years ago? (Brief Search - Ah, here it is)

Report: 98 Percent Of U.S. Commuters Favor Public Transportation For Others

Your link has an extra /< br />/ on the end.

Desperate, Drought-Stricken Brits Are Digging Wells

Home owners are digging boreholes on their land to get around the hosepipe ban, with reports of increasing demands for alternative sources of water.

Most houses in England are built on layers of water-storing rock such as chalk or limestone, and with drought affecting 35 million people, many are trying to tap the supplies beneath their homes

... "People are more aware that you can obtain a water supply from the ground without a license these days and for that reason it is becoming much more popular, especially now there is a hosepipe ban," he said.

... tragedy of the commons

City On Flood Alert Ahead Of Monster Rain

Dublin is bracing itself for some monster rain over the next few days.

The capital is on major flood alert as forecasters warn up to a month’s worth of rain is to be dropped on the city in the space of 36 hours from tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon.


First, dig enough holes that you can connect them with tunnels and caverns.

Second, move a remnant of industrial civilization underground in a desperate bid to survive the converging crises of global ecological overshoot. We will call these people the "Morlock".

Third, condemn the surviving population of surface dwellers to being little more than feedstock for a system of institutionalized cannibalism. We will call these people the "Eloi".

Finally, thousands of years from now, as the Earth slowly recovers to the paradise it once was, a stranger appears out of nowhere in an odd contraption he claims is a time machine...


The 'Eloi' have mastered that 'not know'in how to read' and 'slack-jawed' obeisance to 'large talking heads' [TV] parts already.

Also, half are obese ... [think marbled fat].

This of course begs the question how would a time traveller arriving today from 150 years ago think about what we have accomplished good and bad?

Since the government declared drought about 3 weeks ago it has rained heavily every single day, with no end to the rain forecast. Who says God has no sense of humour?

Is that porous rock vulnerable to subsidence, if its water content starts going away?

Being 'Over water' Might become worse than the American homes that are Under it..

Greenhouse emissions must decrease by 3% a year

"To keep below 2°C of global warming, with a chance of 50% or greater, requires greenhouse gas emissions – mainly carbon dioxide – to fall by 3% year-on-year, and starting at the latest, two decades ahead from now," Chris Huntingford of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology told environmentalresearchweb. "This represents a massive challenge to society; the global economic crisis we are currently experiencing has, at most, created a temporary dip in emissions for 2010 of less than 1%."

" ... and starting at the latest, two decades ahead from now,"

Isnt it a little late for April Fools jokes.

What the fluff? We have already missed that train. Now the "hope" is we can avoid 3 degrees,or at least 4.

Death Valley's 113°: hottest April temperature on record in U.S.

An unprecedented April heat wave brought a second day of sizzling temperatures to the Western U.S. yesterday, where temperatures ranging 20 - 30 degrees above normal have toppled numerous all-time April heat records. Nearly every weather station in the Inter-mountain West has broken, tied, or come within 1 - 2 °F of their all-time record April heat record since Sunday. Most notably, the 113°F measured at Furnace Creek in Death Valley, California on Sunday, April 22 was tied for the hottest April temperature ever recorded in the U.S.

and Heat wave shifts to central US -- drought-hit West Texas in the crosshairs

also Record Heat Expands Into Plains

That is 45 Celsius. Quite warm for spring. Wonder what the summer will be like.

That heat wave is rather amazing. Yesterday's record high data (23 April) shows this:

Out of a possible 5,343 records: 285 (Broken) + 52 (Tied) = 337 Total

More records may appear as the data comes in later. Only 9 record low minimums were set as the snow piled up over the North Eastern US. At the top of the list is Yuma, AZ, which broke their previous record of 100 F by 9 degrees. For 22 April, we find:

Out of a possible 5,688 records: 186 (Broken) + 47 (Tied) = 233 Total

Many new records beat the previous records by 4 or 5 degrees F. Simply stunning, to say the least. We saw a few more snow flakes this afternoon...

EDIT: As of 9:30 PM EDT, the 23 April max high temp record count is up to 378.

E. Swanson

Listing for 500 records set over Ap 22 and 23.

Ap 22 was quite a hot day here, no record, but the anomaly was that it been so cool this year up until the weekend. Perhaps once has it broke 70, mainly 50's, then bam, mid eighties. My wife was running a leg for a 100K relay at the end of the day, it really hammered her and the other runners so unused to those temps.

At least that's dry heat, just drink plenty of fluids and not just water. OTOH, if it gets that hot with high humidity, eg tropics, then that would be some serious bad.


"dry heat" is what farmers call "drought".

Not really in a desert. I have been in a desert town at 45C, which happened to be a cool patch in the middle of a heatwave, it was dry but no drought - there was no expectation of rain normally. If there was usually decent rainfall, well it would depend on the season too, it might. How about here, we can run 6 months without rain but that is our normal thing, wet season/dry season. There may be no rain, right now, humidity can drop to the 50's but I would not call it a drought. When mid June comes our humidities will be heading for the 90's and the rains will get very wet, maybe a foot of rain in an hour or less. If we didn't get rain until mid July then I might well call that a drought.


Occupy Earth Day: An Expose of the Corporate Propaganda Systems that Undermine Systemic Change Activism

... Part of this story starts with Keep America Beautiful (KAB). Formed shortly after the first Earth Day in 1970, KAB seems on the surface to be an innocuous litter-cleanup group. However, according to the Greenpeace Guide to Anti-Environmental Organizations, KAB is actually a sophisticated greenwashing operation that is funded and governed by the waste and packaging industries as well as the corporations most responsible for selling the disposables that become litter – companies like McDonald's, Altria (formerly Philip Morris), Nestle, Anheuser-Busch and Coca-Cola. KAB supports trash incineration (the dirtiest way to deal with waste) and opposes bottle deposit bills, which would increase recycling.

Meat Consumption in China Now Double That in the United States

More than a quarter of all the meat produced worldwide is now eaten in China, and the country’s 1.35 billion people are hungry for more.

... Traditionally China’s pigs were raised in small numbers by households feeding them crop waste and table scraps. As many American kitchens today have a garbage disposal, Chinese kitchens had a pig. Indeed, the written Mandarin Chinese character for “home” depicts a pig under a roof, signifying the animal’s longtime domestic importance. But now the ramped-up demands of a richer and increasingly urbanized society have taken more pigs out of the backyard and into specialized livestock operations, where they are fed grain and soybeans.

... Altogether, China harvested the largest grain crop of any country in history in 2011. A full one third of that harvest is going to feed animals to meet the growing demand for meat, milk, eggs, and farmed fish. Since the agricultural policy reforms of 1978, China’s feedgrain use has shot up more than ninefold. In 2010, China replaced the United States as the world’s number one feedgrain user.

As oil booms, so does crime in the Northern Plains

GLASGOW, Mont. — Drug crimes in eastern Montana have more than doubled. Assaults in Dickinson, N.D., have increased fivefold in just two years. And the once-sleepy town of Plentywood, Mont., has seen three assaults with weapons in the past few months — a prospect previously unheard of in the tiny community tucked against the Canada border.

Booming oil production has brought tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenues to communities across a wide expanse of the Northern Plains. But it also has brought more crime, forcing law enforcement from the U.S. and Canada to deal with spiking offenses ranging from drug trafficking and gun crimes to prostitution.

Government officials predict the boom could last another decade or more as companies tap into a reserve estimated by the U.S. Geological Survey to hold more than 4 billion barrels of crude. Oil company executives say there's even more, upwards of 20 billion barrels that will be extracted using drilling techniques that were only recently perfected.

Meanwhile, here in the city, petty theft is on the increase. With so many construction workers unable to find jobs, they are starting "scavenging" and "landscape" businesses. There has been a proliferation of unlicensed "Garage Doors and Construction" companies posting flyers on people's garages. Sometimes several in one day.

Some are honest businesses - many are covers for would-be thieves.

Now, it's one thing to put one's unwanted items in the alley for a scavenger to take, and quite another to have them actively scouting one's property for anything not nailed down that they can carry away for sale.

Yesterday I had my compost bin stolen - silly me - I should have painted my address on it in big letters. The contents were dumped out and the bin removed. As someone said, the contents are probaby worth more than the bin. Nevertheless...

Last year, I had a 5-foot Asiminia (PawPaw) in a pot stolen from my front porch.

People have had aluminum siding, copper wire, even downspouts removed.

I spent an hour yesterday marking all my rain barrels and containers.

Study Claims Design Flaws Caused Nuclear Leak

Changes at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station that “crammed” 400 additional tubes into one generator resulted in a radiation leak, according to a recently released study by an environmental advocate.

The extra tubes weakened the generator’s foundation, claims the Washington, D.C.-based Friends of the Earth, and removal of a supporting “stay cylinder” to prevent vibration caused the tubes to rub against other apparatus, which resulted in the leak in January and the indefinite shut down of both nuclear steam generators. The cause of the leak is also under investigation by nuclear officials.

Today, a day after a 3.9 earthquake struck a few miles west of San Onofre, Irvine’s City Council will consider sending a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission demanding closer scrutiny of the plant’s safety as well as permanent off-site storage for spent nuclear fuel.

Some Japanese Towns to Stay Dangerously Radioactive for at Least a Decade

The airborne radiation levels in parts of Fukushima prefecture are expected to remain at or close to dangerous amounts at least until 2022, according to a new government report written about in the Japan Times. Government officials project annual radiation dosages to exceed 50 millisieverts in the towns nearest the plant, a level which the government has said makes areas off-limits to the thousands of affected evacuees.

As many as six of the seven municipalities around the Fukushima plant will likely maintain dangerous levels of radiation for a decade, Al Jazeera reports.

... "The government says a lot of things but in terms of concrete action it's done absolutely nothing. We're on our own," local farmer Sakuma told CBS News.

Rats, fleeing sinking ships?

Insiders are selling. Should you?

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- First quarter earnings have been decent, if not spectacular. And many corporate executives are issuing cautiously optimistic guidance for the rest of the year.But while insiders' lips are saying one thing, their wallets are saying another. The level of insider selling among S&P 500 (SPX) companies is the highest in nearly 10 years. That is not good.

Sure, executives have many reasons for selling their stock. They may have automatic plans to sell shares every now and then, regardless of the stock price. They may be selling for diversification purposes.

They may also need the cash for a variety of personal reasons, like sending their kids to college, buying a house or getting a divorce.

....or making sure their doomsday bunkers are well stocked :-0

What was that video clip of the trader predicting a great cave-in of the markets.. Anybody still got that one on the radar? I think we're closing in on his prediction timeframe. (EDIT: It was Sept 27, it seems..)

I know his character got pretty well assassinated soon after, tho' whether that supports or defeats the point is up to you..

Right, found it..

Alessio Rastani: I will say this, listen. I would say this to everybody who’s watching this, this economic crisis is like a cancer. If you just wait and wait thinking this is going to go away, just like a cancer it’s gonna grow and it will be too late. What I would say to everybody is get prepared. This is not a time right now to wishful think that the Government is going to sort things out. The Governments don’t rule the world, Goldman Sachs rules the world. Goldman Sachs does not care about this rescue package neither does the big funds. So actually, I would actually tell people, I want to help people. People can make money from this, it isn’t just traders. What they need to do is learn about how to make money from a downward market. The first thing people should do is protect their assets, protect what they have because in less than 12 months, my prediction is that savings of millions of people is gonna vanish and this is just the beginning.

Just a little Tuesday afternooon Doom-porn.. even if it was maybe just a 'Yes Men' attack, it sure delivers the goods!

BBC financial expert Alessio Rastani: 'I'm an attention seeker not a trader'


Gotta respect his honesty. I suspect we have a bit of that going around here. Anybody else want to confess?

Who do you think hasn't been honest, Big Guy?

Did you see the Yes Men's response to it?

"We Yes Men heard about it right away, because soon after the broadcast, people started emailing from all over the world to congratulate us on another prank well done. They couldn't imagine that a real trader could possibly speak so candidly about the market, so they assumed Rastani was one of our posturings.

He wasn't. Rastani is small potatoes, but he's a real trader. And he said nothing that would suggest otherwise; he simply described what he does, more honestly than a true insider would, but quite accurately. "


The level of insider selling among S&P 500 (SPX) companies is the highest in nearly 10 years. That is not good.

Not good is right, because insiders are the only ones that really know what's going on. All the rest of us are just waiting to see what happens. Often if insider selling occurs at a particular company, it's a big warning signal to get out of that stock. But if insider trading is widespread then the suggestion is a big market correction is in the offing. Why exactly? - I guess we'll find out soon enough.

They expect tax rates to go up after the election, whoever wins, and so are taking their gains and exercising their options now while the rates are lowest.

Not all possible reasons imply another crash.

A market correction does not mean a crash. It could mean a drop in the DOW of say 3,000 points, and could explain insider selling, but does not in and of itself infer a crash.

The Federal Reserve has helped a lot in printing money and injecting it into banks, which have then injected it into the stock markets, engendering unsustainable rallies that do not reflect underlying fundamentals.

Of course, without an expanding energy supply those fundamentals will remain bleak. Sooner or later, this artificial rebound will pop, and insiders were probably well aware of that.

The only way to prevent a major correction from taking place? More quantitative easing (money printing) and more money injection to keep the artificial rebound alive.

Of course, without an expanding energy supply those fundamentals will remain bleak. Sooner or later, this artificial rebound will pop, and insiders were probably well aware of that.


Frontline: highly recommended-- Watch Now: Money, Power and Wall Street: Episodes One & Two

This expose` reinforces my belief that peak oil only played a minor role in the meltdown of 2008; a from-the-horses-mouth tale of how an out of control financial system blind-sided BAU, Obama, the American people,, even themselves, through the feeding frenzy around CDOs, CDSs, and derivatives. Europe got sucked in and we're seeing the results..

This has only begun to play out, and peak oil has barely hit us yet.

Good program. I also watched The Crash of 1929.

It seems we don't learn from our mistakes. One commentator made an interesting remark - we have a 30-year memory of financial events. In other words, basically, one generation, before we forget what happened and do it all over again.

"It seems we don't learn from our mistakes."

...perhaps because the ones making the biggest mistakes don't have to pay for them; are, in fact, profiting. From their point of view, they likely aren't considered mistakes at all.

A little off topic but is there any new peak oil movies out? These are the ones I know of:
Australia Pumping Empty
What a way to go: Life at End of Empire (5 Stars)
End of Suburbia
A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash (5 stars)
How Cuba Survived Peak Oil.

Any other recommendations... All of the above are very good.

Well, they're all the same. I have these in my collection besides the ones you listed.

Arithmetic, Population & Energy - Oil, Peak Oil, Hubbert Curve - 1994
Blind Spot
Crude Impact
Escape From Suburbia

Nothing you haven't seen, but I guess I ate them up nevertheless :)
Didn't exactly alleviate my darkened mood of late. And reading about possible shark fin production curves here just makes me want to shoot myself in the pasture.

Is Australia Pumping Empty worth watching? Where can it be found?