Drumbeat: April 25, 2012

Saudi Arabia Builds Up Crude Inventories: Goldman

Saudi Arabia appears to have been building crude oil inventories in lower domestic demand months in a scramble to offset the risks of “limited” effective spare production capacity, Goldman Sachs said on Wednesday.

In a note to clients, Goldman Sachs cited a crude oil inventory build of 35.4 million barrels in the period December-February, based on numbers from the Joint Organizations Data Initiative (JODI).

The reason the increased production was not pooled into exports, Goldman Sachs analysts argue, is grounded in an anticipation of “a substantial increase” in demand that cannot be covered by “simply raising production levels”.

The logic behind the build-up in stocks, which amount to 390,000 barrels per day (bpd) in that period, is not the possibility of shortages resulting from escalating tensions with Iran. Rather, it is primarily in preparation for the strains of peak domestic demand that the summer heat brings to the Kingdom.

Oil Trades Near One-Week High as U.S. Stockpiles Decline

Oil traded near the highest level in a week in New York after the American Petroleum Institute said crude inventories fell in the U.S., the world’s biggest consumer of the commodity.

Futures were little changed after rising 0.4 percent yesterday. U.S. stockpiles decreased by 985,000 barrels last week, the industry-funded API said. An Energy Department report today is forecast to show a gain of 2.8 million barrels. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said crude prices will rise as demand growth outpaces production capacity.

Prompt gas prices rise on undersupplied system

(Reuters) - Prompt gas prices rose on Wednesday morning as the market was more than 20 million cubic metres (mcm) undersupplied and the immediate weather forecast showed a continuation of cool and rainy weather.

Gas for day-ahead delivery was up 0.65 pence a therm to 59.60 pence at 1010 GMT and within-day gas was trading around 58.70 pence per therm.

A disruption for China, and the rise of small nations

By the end of the decade, Israel will probably satisfy all its own natural gas requirements, and become a serious exporter of liquefied natural gas. Argentina might produce the world's third-largest volume of shale oil. Mozambique seems likely to become one of the largest LNG exporters in the world. And the United States may meet most of its own liquid-fuel needs.

Which is to say that the geopolitical fabric with which we have grown up seems to be unraveling in spots, and a new patchwork taking its place in Africa, the Middle East, North and South America, and beyond. Settled power and influence are giving way to a maelstrom of moving parts.

In a Change, Mexico Reins In Its Oil Monopoly

The tiny National Hydrocarbons Commission, created by the Mexican Congress in 2008 to increase regulatory oversight of the company, is proving to be a surprisingly sharp thorn in Pemex’s side.

The five-member panel of energy specialists, which has a staff of 61 and an annual budget of about $7 million, has begun to confront the company’s executives over where and how they drill for oil. With a raft of new regulations and its own blunt assessments of the practicality of Pemex’s projects, the commission is pushing the company to explain its plans.

Iran plans to expand oil tanker fleet ahead of sanctions

Iran’s oil shipping operator NITC is expanding its oil tanker fleet with the first of 12 supertankers to be delivered from China in May, fortuitous timing for the Opec member as Western sanctions force Tehran to rely more on its ships to export oil.

Shell Paid Most Production Taxes In Nigeria, UK Last Year

LONDON – Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB.LN) paid $22.6 billion in corporate taxes to governments worldwide last year, and collected some $88.1 billion in excise duties and sales taxes from fuel and other products on behalf of the states where the company operates, the Anglo-Dutch major said Wednesday.

"We encourage and support government efforts to use energy revenues effectively. In resource-dependent countries, oil and natural gas revenues can be a major driver of development," said Chief Financial Officer Simon Henry.

Eni and Rosneft to team up in Russian Arctic

(Reuters) - Italy's Eni and Rosneft are expected to agree on Wednesday to search for oil and gas in the Russian Arctic, in Russia's second major offshore deal in two weeks after U.S. ExxonMobil joined forces with the state oil firm.

Under the pact, to be signed in the presence of prime minister and president-elect, Vladimir Putin, Eni will also work with Rosneft to develop acreage in the Black Sea that U.S. Chevron Corp had abandoned.

Encana operating profit rises on hedging gains

(Reuters) - Canada's largest natural gas producer Encana Corp's first-quarter operating profit rose, as it realized higher prices for natural gas, helped by its hedging program.

Encana, which is seeking partnership deals for many of its properties as a way to cope with weak gas prices, said results were helped by its commodity price hedging program, which contributed $358 million or 49 cents per share in after-tax gains.

Nabucco Faces ‘Terminal Blow’ as Hungary Woos Russia Link

The Nabucco natural-gas pipeline project to ship Caspian fuel to Europe may have been dealt a “terminal blow” as Hungary seeks to attract a rival link planned by OAO Gazprom, Russia’s gas export monopoly.

2 More Forties Crude Cargoes Deferred Amid Buzzard Woes -Trade

LONDON – Two more cargoes from the May loading program of North Sea Forties crude have been deferred amid a production halt at the Nexen Inc. (NXY)-operated Buzzard oil field, North Sea traders said Wednesday.

Video: Reducing Oil Dependency

Robert Rapier, author of Power Plays: Energy Options in the Age of Peak Oil, talks with Alan Colmes about alternative energy.

What Happened to Peak Oil?

A new high may ease anxiety over oil supplies for the moment, but it’s sure to be a temporary respite. All the challenges that have weighed on the outlook for raising production over the past decade are still with us. Discoveries of big, easily recoverable supplies are dwindling. Yes, U.S. consumption of oil has reportedly fallen 10% since 2005, but world demand keeps rising, mostly because of increasing growth from China, India, and other emerging markets that are rapidly industrializing and using ever larger quantities of fossil fuels.

Yet the peak oil theorists, if not wrong in the long term, seem to have been premature in warning that the summit for production was upon us. In 2009, for instance, one forecast for global oil production via The Oil Drum warned that output was set to fall by more than two million barrels a year. A decade ago, geologist Ken Deffeyes’ widely read book Hubbert’s Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage opened by stating that “global oil production will probably reach a peak sometime during this decade.” The 2009 edition of the book makes the same forecast.

Global Crude Oil Prices: Why Volatility Is Likely To Endure

Crude oil, albeit in decreasing proportions, will likely remain significant in the global energy utilization mix for the next few years. The impact of the commodity's price on the global economy is therefore palpable. The issue of peak oil is resurgent and there are current concerns - even if somewhat mitigated - about an oil price shock.

Home Run for Peak Oil

Today, more than the recent past, the peak oil denial industry is making heroic efforts at sidelining peak oil by describing it as controversial. Calling it controversial is an effective way of discrediting the concept, and ignoring its troubling implications for the global economy and human society.

Making sure that there is no full public discourse on why oil prices rise anytime there is the slightest tremor of economic recovery, in lockstep with equities, dragging up all other commodities with oil, peak oil denial is based on a single premise. This basic premise is contrary to fundamental laws of physics - that finite geological resources, of oil, will somehow last forever.

Peak oil spells bad news for input costs

PEAK oil may force farmers to change the way they farm and where they export, according to Sydney University Agriculture and Environment senior lecturer Dr Lindsay Campbell.

Mr Campbell believes farmers will face an increase in the price of chemicals, nitrogen, phosphate and freight costs, caused by increasing energy costs stemming from peak oil.

"It will change the way farmers operate," Dr Campbell said.

How did dinosaurs get miles under the earth?

The Bakken formation in North Dakota, Montana and Canada now is estimated to hold up to 4.3 billion barrels of recoverable oil, only it’s available primarily when the price of oil is above a bargain rate – as the oil is located miles deep and drilling costs are substantial.

So a new book about oil, “The Great Oil Conspiracy: How the U.S. Government Hid the Nazi Discovery of Abiotic Oil from the American People” by New York Times bestselling author Dr. Jerome Corsi, asks how did the dinosaurs that died and became part of those “fossil fuels” get to be tens of thousands of feet under the surface?

City Council bans sale of city water because of 'fracking' concerns

Saline, MI - A moratorium has been placed on wholesale water sales in the city of Saline.

The move came April 16 during a City Council meeting after members talked about a possible threat to the groundwater supply from "fracking." The moratorium is in effect until city attorney Allan Grossman can research the legality of an outright ban on sale of city water to companies that have projects outside the city limits.

Thousands of tons spilled at oil field in Russia

MOSCOW (AP) — Up to 2,000 tons of oil have spilled from a major field in northern Russia after workers struggled to contain the leak for two days, officials said.

The accident happened at the Trebs oil field in the Nenets Autonomous District on Friday following work on an exploratory well. The oil had been gushing for nearly two days before the workers finally capped the well Sunday morning, Emergency Ministry officials said.

Engineer first to face criminal charges in 2010 BP spill

The first criminal charges in the 2010 BP gulf spill were filed on Tuesday against a former BP engineer accused of intentionally deleting hundreds of text messages about the size of the spill.

It's clear from the court document unsealed with the case that the Justice Department's criminal investigation of the massive BP blowout includes this aspect: Did BP or its employees intentionally understate the amount of oil flowing from the well?

El Nino May Cool U.S. This Summer, Cutting Electric Need

The possibility of an El Nino, a warming of the mid-Pacific Ocean, has forecasters predicting lower temperatures across the U.S. this summer, which may mean less electricity will be needed to run air conditioners.

May will probably be warmer than normal, and then “we are expecting a much different type of pattern” than last year, said Todd Crawford, chief meteorologist at Weather Services International in Andover, Massachusetts.

EDF Wins Reprieve as Hollande Cools on Greens Nuclear Pact

Electricite de France SA, Europe’s largest power producer, may get a boost from frontrunner Francois Hollande’s backing off from a nuclear pact with the Greens, who flopped in the first round of the elections.

Socialist candidate Hollande has distanced himself from an accord with the Greens to shut 24 of France’s 58 nuclear reactors by 2025 in light of union support for the industry and the perceived threat to jobs.

The Future, Post Peak Oil

Solar, wind, biofuels, nuclear and geothermal energy may have their limitations but they're not going away. In the age of peak oil, alternative energy has yet to hit its prime.

PG&E customers can pay more to be greener

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. wants to give its customers a way to support more renewable power - for a price.

California's largest utility on Tuesday proposed offering its 5 million customers a "Green Option" that would help fund wind farms, solar plants and other forms of renewable energy generation throughout the western United States.

Solar Silicon Falling 9% Widens Slump That Hit Solyndra

Polysilicon, the raw material used to make most solar panels, is forecast to fall another 9 percent from its lowest in a decade as a supply glut narrows margins throughout the industry.

Upgrades to Grand Central Terminal to cut Energy Consumption 30%

The largest energy efficiency project that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has ever undertaken with the New York Power Authority is underway in Grand Central Terminal and it will reduce annual carbon emissions by 10,000 tons.

Should we return to the gold standard?

An alternative to the gold standard might be to use a commodity in greater supply, such as oil or silver, as a basis for currency. The next task would be to get other countries to agree to the new monetary basis. "Perhaps you could link all currencies to some basket of commodities," McAvity says. "But who would trust anyone to mind the basket?"

More universities charging more tuition for harder majors

A growing number of public universities are charging higher tuition for math, science and business programs, which they argue cost more to teach — and can earn grads higher-paying jobs.

Insight: U.S. barnyards help China super-size food production

In a country where pork is a culinary staple, the demand for a protein-rich diet is growing faster than Chinese farmers can keep up. While Americans cut back on meat consumption to the lowest levels seen in two decades, the Chinese now eat nearly 10 percent more meat than they did five years ago.

China's solution: to super-size its supply by snapping up millions of live animals raised by U.S. farmers as breeding stock - capitalizing on decades of cutting edge agricultural research in America.

Green Carts put fresh produce where the people are

NEW YORK — On the busy commercial strip along Knickerbocker Avenue in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood are all the shops one might expect to find in a poor area branded a “food desert”: two 99-cent stores, a check-cashing center and plenty of pizza and fried chicken joints. But thanks to Alfonso Victor and Elena Ferreira, there’s also an oasis of fresh fruits and vegetables. Just about every weekday for the past three years, even in the depths of winter, the couple has set up a produce cart here, piled high with pineapples, tangerines, lettuce, tomatoes and specialty items for the area’s Latino community, such as plantains, yucca, hot peppers and cilantro.

Victor, from Mexico, and Ferreira, from the Dominican Republic, are two of more than 500 vendors who participate in New York’s Green Cart program, which puts fruit and vegetable carts on the streets in low-income areas with high rates of obesity and diet-related diseases. Though green carts are only one of several city strategies designed to encourage consumption of more-healthful food, there is early evidence it is working: In New York’s high-poverty neighborhoods, the percentage of adults who said they ate no fruits or vegetables during the previous day is slowly dropping, from 19 percent in 2004 to 15 percent in 2010.

Images from space track relentless spread of humanity

The past century has been defined by an epic migration of people from rural areas to the city. In 2008, for the first time in history, more of the Earth's population was living in cities than in the countryside. The U.N. now predicts that nearly 70% of the global population will be city dwellers by 2050.

Looking back through the decades, these snapshots from space -- created exclusively for CNN by NASA's Landsat department in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey -- reveal the impact of this vast population shift on cities around the world.

Fees and Anger Rise in California Water War

SAN DIEGO — There are accusations of conspiracies, illegal secret meetings and double-dealing. Embarrassing documents and e-mails have been posted on an official Web site emblazoned with the words “Fact vs. Fiction.” Animosities have grown so deep that the players have resorted to exchanging lengthy, caustic letters, packed with charges of lying and distortion.

And it is all about water.

‘Taking the Waste Out of Wastewater’

Fourteen states suffering under drought. Water use in Southwest heads for day of reckoning. Water-pollution laws violated more than 500,000 times in five years. Ruptures in aging water systems cause pollutants to seep into water supplies.

The above reporting from The Times speaks to a growing reality: the United States faces a water crisis. In making the feature documentary “Last Call at the Oasis,” I found the flow of evidence bracing in its breadth and acceleration, but the underlying dynamics are not new: we use more water than the system can naturally replenish, and we abuse the supply we have. During, say, periods of drought, we might fitfully curtail our consumption habits, but when it comes to long-term management strategies requiring long-term sacrifices, we balk. Isn’t clean and abundant water a basic right? We just need to find more water!

The Water Fight That Inspired ‘Chinatown’

Six decades before San Diego squared off in court with its neighbors — including the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power — over the cost and reliability of its water deliveries, an even more ferocious battle was under way. The farmers of the Owens Valley were actually dynamiting the aqueducts taking their water to Los Angeles, prompting the city to send in guards with machine guns to guard its infrastructure.

Putting communities at the heart of Iranian desertification projects

One professor at the Allameh Tabatabai University, Esmail Kahrom, has called on the government in Iran to improve water management, which he believes has increased desertification across the country.

He said last year Iran had jumped to the top position for soil erosion, from second place in 2010, which he has blamed on the drying up of ponds and lakes, the retreat of groundwater supplies and deforestation and vegetation elimination.

Mexico puts climate change action into law

Europe is doing it, Brazil is doing it, and now Mexico is doing it too. The country has passed a package of laws committing it to act on climate change. It is only the second developing nation to set greenhouse gas emissions cuts in the letter of the law.

With environmental spotlight on Greenland, more tourists want closer look

(CNN) -- There's a good chance you've seen more of Greenland in magazines or on TV recently.

With its ice cap and glaciers melting at a rapid rate, the island is at the center of climate change conversation. The stories are troubling, but it's not all bad news for the folks in Greenland.

You see, the increased attention has helped Greenland. Its tourism business is, by Greenland standards, booming.

Is this village in Alaska home to first climate change migrants in US?

The villagers of Newtok in Alaska could have gained the undesirable title of America’s first climate change refugees.

The community in the west of the state has undergone drastic changes as melting permafrost has literally shifted the ground beneath them and the loss of sea ice has removed a vital storm barrier.

'Gaia' scientist James Lovelock: I was 'alarmist' about climate change

James Lovelock, the maverick scientist who became a guru to the environmental movement with his “Gaia” theory of the Earth as a single organism, has admitted to being “alarmist” about climate change and says other environmental commentators, such as Al Gore, were too.

Lovelock, 92, is writing a new book in which he will say climate change is still happening, but not as quickly as he once feared.

Corsi is a friggin idiot whose mind is too wrapped up in his conspiracy theory belief systems to have any basic understanding of science, especially geology. Unfortunately the trend in society is to turn away from rational thought and science in a big dumbing down and so more and more people end up becoming believers in such crap, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Given this environment and how easily people are fooled by the likes of him, it becomes a good business model.thousands to be made selling books full of so much mental crap.

Which is why I have decided to pen the new book about the biggest threat that humanity has ever faced: tthe Decaying Moon Orbit: how the Moon is spiralling towards earth and the big NOAA coverup, and why it matters to you and your family."

In this popular tome, which will require no peer reviewage, I will show how NOAA covered up such evidence as tides - lulling us into a false sense of security by telling us that these are normal and even predictable, when in fact these provide compelling evidence that the Moon has now become too close to the earth. This is a bigger conspiracy than even Watergate and Monica Lewinsky. In fact, our government has been hiding this terrible fact from us ever since the Washington administration. We are all frigging doomed!

And don't forget... When people complain that there is absolutely no evidence of such a coverup, just say "see? proof!"

Sounds like your book will be a smash hit. Have you started working on the screen play yet? There would be a great opportunity for some 3-D animation in that one. Don't forget to add in the Mayan calendar end-of-time angle...

E. Swanson

Crazy people tend to say crazy things, and my theory is that most people are going crazy, just at different rates. I am of course completely rational. My talking rabbit told me I was.

Yeah, I figure that we are all a little bit crazy, but the people who don't know they are crazy are insane...

E. Swanson

In the first century, the Mediterranean world was a rich stew of religions and world-views:

In the first three centuries of its existence, Christianity was only one of many religions in Rome, a small but rapidly growing cult in an empire whose religious practices were as diverse as its populace. The Persian savior Mithras was the focus of a mystery cult whose initiates were primarily military men, and fertility cults, such as those of Isis and Magna Mater, had spread throughout the empire. Many other gods, especially local and household deities, fulfilled a variety of supernatural roles, overseeing the welfare of the living, from marriage and childbirth to illness and death. These gods rest firmly outside the Greco-Roman pantheon that we associate with classical antiquity.

The point here: This is the normal human condition -- lots of narratives and tribalism, no proof, resolution only by authority or force. The previous two centuries have been unusual in discovering the usefulness of testing narratives against evidence. Many people still know what they know, backed up by habit and authority (or preachers or pundits). The idea of using logic and evidence was more wide-spread when the schools were functioning better. Schools are now being turned into profit centers to produce not citizens but consumers (of products, political and mercantile). Oligarchs are taking advantage by encouraging people to be proud of ignorance and suspicious of "elites" and intellectuals. Pay no attention to the money behind the curtain.

The quote is from an exhibition at the Onassis Center in New York City, The Transition to Christianity, 3d to 7th Centuries, Thought-provoking show.

Good analysis. Well stated.

I tend to look at current trends when thinking about how the future may unfold. And I'm a doomer!

Obviously, kids are the future (by definition). Looking at the trends in education... is not heartening. College has become shockingly unaffordable.

The adults of today are the products of the first TV generation. The adults of tomorrow are the TV, texting and Youtube generation.

As to citizens of the USA being ignorant and apathetic?

I don't know and I don't care!

As to citizens of the USA being ignorant and apathetic?
I don't know and I don't care!

Unfortunately, I live here and have to live under policies implemented by some rather nasty and self-serving financial oligarchs who completely manipulate and control most of the unthinking 99% with astonishingly effective propaganda. If I didn't have to live with the consequences of those policies, I probably wouldn't care either, but unfortunately I do. Apathy is a(nother) luxury I cannot afford.

Harm, did you miss the nicely paralleled irony?

College is supposed to be unaffordable now. In the last few decades higher education has stopped being about learning for most of the students. It's about socioeconomic class. You prove that you are worthy of being middle class by demonstrating that your parents were middle class.

If you doubt it, then just look at the studies about how little college graduates actually know when they graduate these days.


Michiu Kaku seems to agree.

Be sure to go short in cheese futures because the market will be flooded when the moon hits the earth!

Though you might want to go long on crackers and wine.

Casey - I found an approach that so far has stopped every abiotic supporter cold in their tracks. First, I fully acknowledge that abiotic oil exists and that much of what we have produced so far may have an abiotic origin. Second, force them to acknowledge that oil/NG can only exist under known physical limits. They can't argue with that: if the temp gets to high oil and even NG will break down. Third, all oil/NG ever discovered on the planet has accumulated in a geologic trap of some form: structural, stratigraphic, fracture systems, etc. And we have all the technology needed to find those traps that would have to exist within the temp limits of oil/NG.

So take an extreme position and assume all oil/NG has had an abiotic origin. And we've thus found most of it already. Exploration geologists working in undrilled areas worry about a source of hydrocarbon generation within that region. No matter how many potential geologic traps might be mapped if here has been no history of oil/NG generation then there's no point in drilling. But there are very few spots on the planet that haven't had hydrocarbon generation evaluated. Thus back to the basic problem for the abiotic oil crowd: it doesn't matter how the oil was created. The critical aspect is finding where it's accumulated. Even the most avid abiotic supporters admit that abiotic generation would take millions of years just like biotic generation. IOW there is no abiotic oil pump out there creating new reserves that would mean anything to the human time frame.

Hey Rockman, I did a few hours of research on abiotic oil a number of years ago, and published the below as a post at peakoil.com. I think it is still the best rebuttal to abiogenisis I have run across, and worth posting here. I'm curious as to what the very knowledgeable people at theoildrum.com think about his take on abiogenesis.

The following rebuttal to abiogenesis of petroleum is copied from a 2004 badastronomy.com post by Australian Geologist / Astrobiologist Dr. Jonathan Clarke, who gave me permission to re-post it as I desire. I sent a copy to local Sonoma County, California author/activist Richard Heinberg, whom I had met a couple of times. He replied that it was the best comprehensive rebuttal to abiotic oil he had seen up to that time.

The fact remains that the abiotic theory of petroleum genesis has zero credibility for economically interesting accumulations. 99.9999% of the world's liquid hydrocarbons are produced by maturation of organic matter derived from organisms. To deny this means you have to come up with good explanations for the following observations.

1) The almost universal association of petroleum with sedimentary rocks.

2) The close link between petroleum reservoirs and source rocks as shown by biomarkers (the source rocks contain the same organic markers as the petroleum, essentially chemically fingerprinting the two).

3) The consistent variation of biomarkers in petroleum in accordance with the history of life on earth (biomarkers indicative of land plants are found only in Devonian and younger rocks, that formed by marine plankton only in Neoproterozoic and younger rocks, the oldest oils containing only biomarkers of bacteria).

3) The close link between the biomarkers in source rock and depositional environment (source rocks containing biomarkers of land plants are found only in terrestrial and shallow marine sediments, those indicating marine conditions only in marine sediments, those from hypersaline lakes containing only bacterial biomarkers).

4) Progressive destruction of oil when heated to over 100 degrees (precluding formation and/or migration at high temperatures as implied by the abiogenic postulate).

5) The generation of petroleum from kerogen on heating in the laboratory (complete with biomarkers), as suggested by the biogenic theory.

6) The strong enrichment in C12 of petroleum indicative of biological fractionation (no inorganic process can cause anything like the fractionation of light carbon that is seen in petroleum).

7) The location of petroleum reservoirs down the hydraulic gradient from the source rocks in many cases (those which are not are in areas where there is clear evidence of post migration tectonism).

8 ) The almost complete absence of significant petroleum occurrences in igneous and metamorphic rocks (the rare exceptions discussed below).

The evidence usually cited in favour of abiogenic petroleum can all be better explained by the biogenic hypothesis e.g.:

9) Rare traces of cooked pyrobitumens in igneous rocks (better explained by reaction with organic rich country rocks, with which the pyrobitumens can usually be tied).

10) Rare traces of cooked pyrobitumens in metamorphic rocks (better explained by metamorphism of residual hydrocarbons in the protolith).

11) The very rare occurrence of small hydrocarbon accumulations in igneous or metamorphic rocks (in every case these are adjacent to organic rich sedimentary rocks to which the hydrocarbons can be tied via biomarkers).

12) The presence of undoubted mantle derived gases (such as He and some CO2) in some natural gas (there is no reason why gas accumulations must be all from one source, given that some petroleum fields are of mixed provenance it is inevitable that some mantle gas contamination of biogenic hydrocarbons will occur under some circumstances).

13) The presence of traces of hydrocarbons in deep wells in crystalline rock (these can be formed by a range of processes, including metamorphic synthesis by the fischer-tropsch reaction, or from residual organic matter as in 10).

14) Traces of hydrocarbon gases in magma volatiles (in most cases magmas ascend through sedimentary succession, any organic matter present will be thermally cracked and some will be incorporated into the volatile phase, some fischer-tropsch synthesis can also occur).

15) Traces of hydrocarbon gases at mid ocean ridges (such traces are not surprising given that the upper mantle has been contaminated with biogenic organic matter through several billion years of subduction, the answer to 14 may be applicable also).

The geological evidence is utterly against the abiogenic postulate.




You'd think that presenting someone with those facts in a reasoned logical manner should convince them.
Unfortunately you cannot argue rationally with someone whose world view was not arrived at by basing it on being rational.

Geological evidence simply can't compete with certain deeply held beliefs...



You can't wake someone up who is pretending to be asleep.

- ancient Navajo saying

I thought the funniest line in that interview was the "average american doesn't think oil is infinite" and that "peak oil" was a popular theory.

That was far funnier than any talk of making oil boil up from the centre of the earth.

Thanks for that one - it's a keeper!

d - Excellent tech argument. Unfortunately useless with most of the abiotc folks IMHO. They ether don't the educational basis to follow the logic or are unwlling to listen to the entire explanation. Or, as I'm found of saying: Don't try to teach pigs to roller skate...it only frustrates you and p*sses them off. LOL It's really just easier to agree that abiotic oil exists and then challenge them to tell me where do I need to drill up what we haven't already produced. Essentially you should expect the classic deer-in-the-headlight response. Where the oil was formed isn't nearly as important as finding out where it is now IMHO.

the ones I have encountered will probably respond - just wait and the places you have already drilled and think are depleted will refill with abiotic oil. It is amazing that some of the people who actually believe in this crap are educated and what most of us would regard as gainfully employed.

I don't know how much oil there is left and reading the oil drum almost every day for over 6 years has not made me confident one way or another whether we have or will soon reach the peak. Especially after the thousands of record temps since the beginning of March, I am concerned that abiotic oil is just another excuse to burn, baby, burn, and drill, baby drill without concern with the impacts of all that burning. In any event, we should take a precauationary approach to both the oil and global warming issue. But we won't. And we are not.

Further, we will probably go through an entire campaign season with nary a mention of global warming except from those who are in deep denial or who, like Romney, pretend to be. I think Romney is smart enough to figure out one way or another whether he or we should be concerned.

My more immediate concern is that we will run out of water in the Colorado mountain town in which I live. Our biggest snow months are historically in March and April. Since 1 March, we have had almost nada.

Ugh. Yeah, he is a birther. He spews a lot of opinions for the conspiracy-minded far-right fringe.

Yeah, it is all nonsense. But the sad thing is that it has an effect on real politics. It is an extreme constituency that Bachmann pandered to with $2/gallon gas and Newt pandered to with $2.50/gallon gas. These are the true believers that 'drill, baby, drill' really will just solve all our energy problems.

Well, perhaps this extreme & crazy view can be used to help discredit the broader supply-side solution view that is flawed because we simply do not have the reserves for such a 'solution' to work.

Given this environment and how easily people are fooled by the likes of him, it becomes a good business model.thousands to be made selling books full of so much mental crap.

Well ... to be a bit fair to Corsi - or at least not to blame him entirely - the People have been lied to for generations by Government and ruling class vested interests. I think the only rational position to occupy is one in which you believe (until shown proof otherwise) that governments plus lackeys lie all the time, to suit their own strategic interests.

In such a context, anyone with a conspiracy theory to peddle is likely to get a willing audience. And believing Corsi is no more ridiculous (in the scale of things) than listening to "Mittens" Romney, or that fool Newton Leroy "Newt" Gingrich, is it? I know why dinosaur remains are 5000m deep after 150 million years - but it is still possible those devilish Krauts worked out some pretty clever CTL techniques too.

According to Corsi, oil is made deep underground from... COAL!

And coal is made from... *crickets*

According to Sarah Palin, God dumped a bunch of oil here on Earth for our enjoyment. Enjoy.

And according to economists, God will create more oil in the ground, if we just throw enough money on it.

That is the missing bit, F-T assumes coal as the input.
CorsI is a master manipulator of those who refuse to ask questions.
I have learned that most skeptics attracted to this sort are actually blind followers.

Is the moon crash related to the nazi abiotic oil wells on the moon?

Good article yesterday by Alvarez on Alternet.org about the spent fuel pools at Fukushima. Could someone look that up and post the link? I'm doing paleo fieldwork in California and just brought my wife's iPad. Thanks.

HERE's a link from the Huffington Post. Is that the one?

E. Swanson

That is the one.

The Japan Times had an article a fortnight ago by a nuclear engineer who'd done a study on Fukushima:

The most important lesson of Fukushima No. 1 plant, therefore, is that we should have multiple sources of electrical supply and cooling heat sinks. This is not to say that "you should not put all of your eggs in one basket." What I want to say is that we should have eggs and apples in a few different baskets.

The Japanese government has tried to explain and offer excuses for the disaster in Fukushima, but no one in the government has accurately analyzed the situation. They continue to claim that the magnitude of the earthquake and tsunami was a natural disaster far beyond anything anyone could have imagined or planned for. But is this true? Was it a catastrophe that could not have been avoided? My analysis takes a totally different point of view.

It shows in documented detail (pr.bbt757.com/eng/) that if you want to operate a nuclear reactor, then you should not assume anything about potential disasters — be they earthquakes, tsunamis, terrorists or a plane crash. No matter what happens, if you are operating a nuclear reactor, you must find a way to bring it down to a cold shutdown in any type of emergency. We now know from the Fukushima disaster that this will require electricity and heat sinks. It is a pretty simple principle.

But there is also another important lesson to be learned, and it applies to all operating nuclear facilities around the world: If you have to assume something, then you are not prepared. —Kenichi Ohmae, an MIT-trained nuclear engineer and management consultant

[I give up -- can't get the blockquote to cover different paragraphs in one block.]

"[I give up -- can't get the blockquote to cover different paragraphs in one block.]"

It was a good try, though! :-)

You have to assume something about the threats. Otherwise if you don't cap the upper limit... If an M 15 earthquake hits the thing is toast -but thats not useful. They coulda sudda assumed that a descending subduction zone EQ could have been as strong as the biggest observed one (the 2004 Anadaman quake -which was a bit stronger than the March 11 one -that would have been sufficient.

All they had to do was look at the historical record. That area is well known to be prone to tsunami, they have occured in the recent past, and they have occured continuously enough that some of the smarter people in the area put up stone markers before Meiji (1868) saying, "don't build below this if you care about your children".

It's classic hubris. The thing is, pretty much ALL of Japan is prone to bad earthquakes and/or tsunami. The plants on the opposite Japan Sea coast have been damaged by earthquakes (thankfully in minor ways) before. The most powerful nuclear site in the world (the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant) is on that coast, and it had to be shut down for 21 months after a moderately severe earthquake (6.6). I would not hesitate to say that Japan is the poster child of a place that "needs" nuclear but is a very bad place to actually HAVE nuclear.

It would be nice if us humans would realize there are limitations on what we can do. Some things are just stupid. Nuclear power in Japan is actually pretty obviously stupid, once you take into account the failure modes and the small landmass.

I give up -- can't get the blockquote to cover different paragraphs in one block.

Because you're doing it wrong. You're putting in the opening tag but not the closing one. You need to close your tags. Like this:

<blockquote>I give up -- can't get the blockquote to cover different paragraphs in one block.</blockquote>

If you use Firefox, there are several extensions that make posting HTML code easy.

Or just don't use it. If you don't understand HTML, just post in plain text.

Leanan - any chance of getting this - [a href="http://www.theoildrum.com"[The Oil Drum]/a] moved to the bottom of this page? It's perhaps the most commonly used HTML, and hard to remember precisely, so one has to either click to 'More ... formatting options' then copy & click back here, or keep a doc open with it saved in (which is what I try to do). Anyway, just a simple request. Thanks.

If it were up to me, I'd remove all of it. People who know HTML don't really need it, but it encourages those who don't to post the most screwed up things. Every once in awhile, the whole thread gets screwed up by bad HTML in a comment.

And my first reaction to reading that was "I want to learn how to do that".

Just to clarify my own comment/request - when I said 'this page' and 'here', I meant the 'Reply to comment' window, where the "Allowed HTML tags" are at the bottom.

That's what I meant, too. Some people have no clue what those tags are, but paste them in anyway, just to see what they do, since they're listed right there. It can make quite a mess.

I'm pretty sure that I put the close-blockquote code at the end of the passage, but only the opening paragraph was set as blockquote. I've posted before without having this problem -- Firefox may have been cranky that day.

I confess that I "don't understand HTML," but I can mostly use the simple commands successfully (always checking PREVIEW to see if I got it right). I post frequently on another site that uses HTML, and I refer to the Drum Beat comment summary for guidance. (I second the motion to put the LINK code on the first page -- someone here a couple of weeks ago couldn't find it. But maybe she was one of the ones you're hiding it from!)

Thanks for the help, Leanan -- your dedication to informing and refereeing day after day is inspiring.

HTML tags are generally paired. You need a close-blockquote tag for every blockquote tag, or the result is...what you got. Sometimes worse. :-)

I know that HTML tags must be paired -- miss an /i and the rest of the book will be italic. I put the /blockquote tag at the end of the passage, but only the first paragraph of four was set as block-quote. I tried putting the block-quote tag at the first of each paragraph, which gave me four separate block-quotes. Eliminating the spaces between paragraphs allowed the passage to set as one quote, but was hard to read.

Thank you, Leanan, for taking time to think about this. In future, I'll either get it right or take what comes. I left radio just as dials and meters with needles were being replaced by digital; I left television just before tape machines and color; and I retired from copy editing just as computers were replacing blue pencils (I used brown). Come HTML, the mind is willing but the memory is weak.

Mudduck, you could have easily fixed your problem even after you had posted it. Just hit the "edit" button and make the necessary changes. The "edit" button stays up until someone replies to your post. Then you cannot make any changes after that.

However you can check for mistakes by simply hitting the "preview" button instead of "save". The "preview" allows you to see exactly what your post will look like before you save it to the list. You can also check out any links in "preview" mode and fix them if they don't work. After you get everything right, then hit the "save" button and post it to the list.

Ron P.

I think you ran into a "feature" meant to fix some of the problems bad HTML coding causes. Super G has it set up so that open tags are automatically closed. (This doesn't work all the time, and works with some browsers better than others.)

Rather than jamming paragraphs together, try separating them with a break or paragraph tag. (It's okay to use those singly.) That way, there won't be a blank line between paragraphs (though it will look like there is), and there won't be a close tag automatically generated.

IME, whether you suffer this problem or not depends on the site you are copying from. Most work with multi-paragraph quoting, but some don't.

Copy Plain Text 2

Very Handy.

I believe you need to use the <br> tag. When you just space the paragraphs as you would in normal text you get the behavior displayed. I don't remember how I figured it out but basically:


will achieve the result you are looking for as opposed to



which gets the mess you saw.

Leanan, might I suggest that the line at the bottom of the "Compose tips" page the reads,

"Lines and paragraphs are automatically recognized. The <br /> line break, <p> paragraph and </p> close paragraph tags are inserted automatically. If paragraphs are not recognized simply add a couple blank lines."

be ammended to read :

Except in the case of text between blockquote tags, lines and paragraphs are automatically recognized. The <br />line break, <p> paragraph and </p> close paragraph tags are inserted automatically. If paragraphs are not recognized simply add a couple blank lines. To insert a line between paragrahs enclosed within blockquote tags, use the <br> tag at the end of the preceeding paragraph.

Just a suggestion.

Alan from the islands

Darwinian, yes, I know about "edit," and frequently use it. And I mentioned that I always "preview" to see if what I typed will post as intended.

Ah, Leanan -- you explain the problem: automatic closing of tags. I never thought of using a paragraph tag. That would fix the problem. As you say, Amateurs!

Thanks to others for the helpful info. Off topic, to be sure, but may contribute to smoother postings in future.

People believe weird things sure enough. The usual suspect, Jerome Corsi, obviously plays on people's ignorance with his latest screed "The Great Oil Conspiracy: How the U.S. Government Hid the Nazi Discovery of Abiotic Oil from the American People" By chance, I listened to this master manipulator on a conspiracy theory radio show Coast To Coast AM the other night. His "e-book" is about 100 pages long and within that span he is able to link abiotic oil with Nazi scientists who apparently perfected the Fischer-Tropsch process.  This nutcake actually believes that the F-T process takes place deep underground and that everything is a conspiracy to hide that fact, and also hide the secret Nazi recipe.  The opposing nutcase host George Noury ate everything up and  said everything made perfect sense.. 

"Host: George NooryGuest: Jerome Corsi Hours 1 & 2 - Author Dr. Jerome Corsi discussed how Nazi chemists developed a series of equations during WWII which demonstrated that oil can be formed synthetically. Known as the Fischer-Tropsch equations, they indicated that the mixture of hydrogen and carbon with various catalysts under intense pressure and heat, produced hydrocarbons-- such as what is made in the mantle of the Earth on an ongoing basis, he explained. It doesn't take dead plants or animals, dinosaurs, plankton, algae or former living matter to produce oil, and the Nazis understood this, he continued, adding that some of their scientists were brought over to the US during Operation Paperclip to continue their research after the war. However, documents of their research into Fischer-Tropsch were largely lost or hidden, said Corsi, who suggested that the US government and Big Oil conspired to bury their findings because they didn't want the public to know that the planet naturally produces oil, abundantly on a deep earth level.. The science of abiotic oil continues to be suppressed and ridiculed, while the "fossil fuel" explanation for oil persists. He pointed out that a fossil is not the animal or plant itself, but the structure of the animal or plant typically filled in by various minerals that have hardened into stone over the ages. Corsi reported that the Russians have long been aware of the Fischer-Tropsch process, and this may be why their country has become one of the top producers of crude oil. He called the U.S the "Saudi Arabia of shale oil," and has concluded that America could actually become a top producer of oil and natural gas. While the print edition of his new book, The Great Oil Conspiracy, won't be out until later  in the year, it's currently available as an e-book."

 What makes it nauseating in the end is that these people think that the relatively sane among us "want America to fail". This manipulation will not end as long asthe public falls for these tactics of fantastic tales and pure projection. The cloying video of "If I wanted America to fail" is here:


This manipulation will not end as long asthe public falls for these tactics of fantastic tales and pure projection.

Yet I had still had high hopes when I saw this title:

Alternative Energy: a Reality, Not a Choice

For now, we need every alternative energy that's cost competitive and efficient. Cold fusion —at one point the be-all, end-all solution — is still stuck in the lab.

Then again the author's name alone, should have been a clue, that the article itself might be a bit of a let down... Is that really his name or is that just part of the joke?

Are there any serious competent well informed journalists who understand math and basic scientific concepts left?!
Or has it become a necessary prerequisite of the profession to be a card carrying ignoramus?

There are three kinds of people. Those who understand math, and those who don't.

Actually it's only 10 kinds >;^) but I failed a Turing Test! http://xkcd.com/329/

Corsi has a phd in political science so the tried and true technique is to bury him in logic and math.

Lets get the numbers together for Bakken wells and fit the depletion models. I did this the other day on a drumbeat but didn't get any feedback.

This probably doesn't work for the ignorant but it works for the policy wonks. You see, policy is a part of political science.

How did a dinosaur get all the way down there is kind of a straw man argument. I thought most oil was from decayed and trapped plant and bacteria, much of which predates dinosaurs. Does it matter if oil is biotic or abiotic in origin? In either case the earth is finite so there is only so much of it and if it does replenish itself overtime, which could be true with either theory, it would likely be at a very slow rate as to not be of much use.

I thought most oil was from decayed and trapped plant and bacteria, much of which predates dinosaurs.

While some oil predates dinosaurs, most of it was formed during the age of dinosaurs, 90 (Cretaceous) and 150 (Jurassic) million years ago. And it all came from algae.

About Peak Oil

Oil was formed in the geological past under well understood processes. In fact, the bulk of current production comes from just two epochs of extreme global warming, 90 and 150 million years ago, when algae proliferated in the warm sunlit waters, and the organic remains were preserved in the stagnant depths to be converted to oil by chemical reactions.

Ron P.

So in fact it does matter whether oil is abiotic or not. It matters because we have science on our side and they don't.

I heard about an interesting law strategy recently called the ”can't know” argument. This says that nature is so complex and chaotic that science becomes irrelevant to proving litigation one way or another. Corporate lawyers love the attack on science because it gives them freedom to tell their clients to keep on poisoning and polluting to their hearts content. We can't know climate science or fossil fuel or anything as long as tools such as Corso exist. That's what he is there for, he has no pride, and the BAU feeds on FUD.

Hear hear!

... as long as tools such as Corso exist. That's what he is there for, he has no pride, and the BAU feeds on FUD.

Yep, he's part of the Deception Industry and actually takes great pride in his abilities, which get him top dollar. And that's why so many eagerly work for the Reactionaries--they have hundreds of billions of dollars available to spread FUD far and wide.

At least we as a civilisation is doing all the right things to ensure that future generations in some 100million years has plenty of oil and gas then. All it now takes is that we start to bury people organic waste in the right way when the decline really hits? Then "we" are "soon" ready for round two.

Actually I doubt it. Our AGW heat pulse will be only a few tens of thousand years long -that sounds huge in human terms, but in geologic terms is pretty short. I don't think any Anthropocene organic deposits will be very thick.

And maybe too radioactive.

Radioactive Oil. Twice the energy, half the life.

Nuclear Oil - I like that!

Clearly, global warming is just a gift from Jesus. Time to make more oil!

My Yankee cousin - Not that there aren't enough reasons to ignore his claims already but in reality the process of getting those dinos buried that deep is well known. It can be difficult for folks to grasp the scale of geologic processes and the time spans. I grew up in New Orleans on top of one of the greatest sink holes on the planet. Geologists call them geosynclines. You can drill a well to 25,000' below ground level and find sandstone rocks that were originally deposited in a few feet of water. So just like those dinos how did those sand grains get from the surface all the way down to that depth? Nope...there wasn't a 25,000' deep hole there at one time. As the sands and muds were deposited the ground was slowly sinking...very, very slowly. And this process went on for many tens of millions of years. And it continues to go on today. The shoreline of Texas and La. is continuing to subside. Even without any sea level rise from AGW most of the Gulf Coast beachfront property will very slowly migrate inland. You can drive on blacktop roads directly into the Gulf of Mexico as a result of subsidence that has occurred since those roads were laid down 50 years ago.

... It can be difficult for folks to grasp the scale of geologic processes and the time spans.

Reason for their difficulty: A belief that everything happened within the past 6,000 yrs. [vs 140,000,000 yrs].

Fortunately I read the linked article on WND before I ate my breakfast. Corsi is a complete conspiracy driven nut-case. I also read the comments on the blog page. Sadly, they all seem to be jumping for joy that the world is awash in abiotic oil and "Damn them Nazi/Communist/Government/Big Oil Conspirators".

I think it's time for me to publish my new diet book entitled "The Extreme Right-Wing Nut-Case (Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh et.al.) Weight Loss Program". It's a simple 3 step program:

1. Eat your favorite meal.
2. Listen to one of the nut-cases for 15 minutes.
3. Commence projectile vomiting.

The German army of WWII was nearly all on foot, with horse-drawn artillery. The army of *Kaiser Wilhelm* was more mechanized. Germany's status as the world center of science was severely curtailed during the Nazi era, but there was a little left to make "Wunderwaffen" and "Nazi moon base" tropes popular...

My understanding is that weapon research in Nazi Germany was highly fractured in the sense that a senior Nazi official could acquire and allocate research resources for anything they personally thought was a good idea. The Western Allies had a more focused approach to weapon research where overall priorities were set (radar and antisubmarine research was of the highest priority) and research proposals were examined by a committee of experts to ensure that only the best ideas were pursued and duplication minimized. In my view, allied research was more effective at developing weapons that could be deployed usefully during the war whereas Germany squandered resources on ideas that were too futuristic or which even if perfected would not substantially impact the course of the war.

Interesting. They did start up a number of great concepts some of which were valuable to the victors years later. Sortof an less well managed Darpa, where people with ideas to sell had a chance to get funding.

I'm not wasting my time even looking at this Corsi stuff, but yeah, if the Nazis had discovered oil wells that refilled themselves, one wonders how they lost that war. They certainly enjoyed 5 years of conquests before the world's true oil power of the time started fighting back.

In large part the Germans lost the war because Russian soldiers were standing on resources they needed to fight with.

See "Inside the Third Reich" by Albert Speer

He should know. He was Hitler's Minister of Armaments and War Production and the only one on trial at Nuremberg who pled guilty.

edit: spelling

And why they were so intent on reaching the oil fields of Azerbaijan....

In today's articles above.

Home Run for Peak Oil

Good summary of the predicament.

Re Lovelock, it looks like he's gone emeritus -- I saw video of him at a book signing last year, talking about how there were no effects from Chernobyl fallout. One person pointed out that there have been a lot of sick children in Ukraine, to which he replied dismissively, "They're fine."

Lovelock is in the end-state of the catastrophist worldview: since the catastrophes he predicted haven't come about in his lifetime obviously he was wrong about the causes of those catastrophes and is now busily recanting them all.

But many of the predicted catastrophes are happening right now, including global warming; he's just blithely unaware of them.

Humanity is still here and still doing all the evil stuff that was supposed to have killed us off by now.

So no, his catastrophe has gone the way of so many others before, so that must mean that the stuff that was supposed to have caused the catastrophe must have been wrong.


He obviously decided he couldn't wait anymore.

Unfortunately, the increase in record-breaking disasters is occurring globally:

And I guess all those who derided him earlier will be trumpeting his new book.

I couldn't detect any rationale for his change of heart in the article, other than more should have happened in 12 years. He was eaten for breakfast by the greens after his position on nuke power came out, I guess they'll be washing the dishes now.

Funny he should change as other timelines move closer to his original position.

Edit: I wonder if the "we can do anything" hubris of his WWII generation is playing a role.

Yeah, he has a very big blind spot on nukes.

Note, however, that he did not say that GW wasn't happening. Just not at a pace he had anticipated.

In the late nineties/early aughts, it looked like we were on our way to another half degree at least this decade. And there were indications that feedbacks could kick in that would drive things even faster. In 2006, Lovelock predicted a 10 degree C rise in global temperatures within a decade (though, iirc, he hedged "or two). He is just being honest in saying that that was getting a bit ahead of things. The Brits are much more willing to admit when they are wrong than Yanks, in my experience. I find that rather refreshing.

Note that no climate model was likely to incorporate the two coal plants a week that China built through the last decade or so, each plant generating tons of aerosols that act to shield the earth from solar energy, nor the calming that the sun has been going through recently. These are the most likely reasons for the stalling in the rise of GW over the last decade (though the stalling was at a higher level than ever seen in any other decade on record).

But a national or global economic slowdown, or just the continuing and accelerating efforts of China to clean up these coal plants, could very quickly add perhaps up to two degrees C to global temperatures. That could spark a number of other feed backs that could take us at least close to Lovelock's 10 degree C increase.

So in a few years, if he's still alive, Lovelock may be again admitting that he was wrong this time, though right earlier.

Hence my exhortation before deciding who is right or wrong on these prognostications:


Greer veered off course a bit this week to contemplate, from a longer perspective, Lovelock, climate change, and the ongoing methane releases: Seascape With Methane Plumes--

Read James Lovelock’s more recent and strident books, or any of the good-sized bookshelf of parallel literature, and you’ll find the claim that failing to support the climate change movement amounts to dooming the planet to a hothouse future in which, by 2100, the sole surviving human beings are a few “breeding pairs” – that’s Lovelock’s phrase – huddled around the tropical shores of the Arctic Ocean, with catastrophic methane releases from the Arctic regions among the driving forces behind that lurid scenario. It’s a compelling image, but once methane plumes actually start boiling up through the waters of the Arctic Ocean, you’ve just lost your rationale for further activism – or, really, for anything else short of jumping off the nearest bridge.

That’s the dilemma in which the news from the Arctic has landed climate activists. Having by and large bought into the idea that once the methane starts rising, it’s all over, they have very few options left. It’s a self-created dilemma, though, because methane releases aren’t a new thing in the planet’s history....

...All that’s certain at this point is that something potentially very troubling is happening in Arctic waters, and the possibility that it might have destructive consequences on a local, regional, or continental scale can’t be ruled out. Panic is the least useful response I can think of, so I’ll say this very quietly: if the news from Arctic waters in the months and years to come suggests that things are moving in the wrong direction, and those of my readers who live close to the shores of the northern Atlantic basin happen to have the opportunity to move inland or to higher ground, it might not be unreasonable to do so.

"Get thee to higher ground".. So spoke the Archdruid in the days before the deluge. And they, the few, were saved from Gaia's wrath.

Re Lovelock, it looks like he's gone emeritus

What do James Lovelock, Tim Smit, Christopher Booker and Al Gore have in common? They are the bestselling environmental authors in the UK over the last decade, according to "Nielsen BookScan" data published recently by "The Bookseller". Lovelock has amassed about £1.1m in sales from all his books.


Lovelock knows exactly what he's doing.

This was on ZH. The data is from Economist's 2012 cost of living report. Interesting numbers. Inflation is quite clear in majority of the cities in the most critical items viz energy and food.

Obviously the residents of Tokyo need to be buying their bread in New Delhi...as for the residents of New Delhi, let them eat cake! >;^)

On second thoughts, the prices seem a bit inflated. I had just posted them directly without looking at them. The price of $2 for a kilo of rice in New Delhi is a bit misleading. $2 will get you the finest long grain rice available which is used in parties. The price of regular rice is close to $1/kilo.

As you note, price is dependent upon what type of sliced bread or rice. For example, we have some every good organic bread grown, baked and distributed here in Oregon that sells for over $8/kilo, whereas "basic bread" can be had for about $3/kilo. So, the table ought to have an asterisk attached.

As long as they compared the same quality of bread/rice there is no difference. The point is the same.

If they compare the price of gourmet bread in 2012 to wonder bread in 2007 it is intentionally misleading. But gourmet to gourmet, or wonder to wonder is accurate.

Interesting, about the same here but different continent.


Inflation is the reason we went to bar code pricing. (:

Why did we go to industrialized medicine patient bar coding ? I'm not kidding, everything is controlled by "a just machine that make big decisions programmed by men with compassion and vision" - Donald Fagen.

Prob a dead thread, but yes, even in rural hospitals, we're going to patient bar coding, and delivery/checking systems for meds. The theory is it reduces human error.

Yep, they can then blame the machine. If the barcode says to give 10X the safe dose then it will be given as "that's what the machine said and if I change it I get blamed".


Cost of Living.
Goto the AIER site and scroll down to their calculator.
Enter your hourly wage or the price of a loaf of bread, a gallon of gasoline etc.,select a date and click "calculate".

The Seven (Not So Magnificent) Major Net Oil Exporters in the Americas & the Caribbean

They are: Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador and Trinidad & Tobago

Their combined Total Petroleum Liquids Consumption to Production ratio (C/P) went from 48% in 2004 to 56% in 2010, which would imply that they could collectively approach the 100% mark around 2033. Their combined net exports fell from 6.2 mbpd in 2004 to 4.8 mbpd in 2010.

Using our standard approach (estimating the area under a triangular shaped net export decline curve), their estimated post-2004 combined Cumulative Net Exports (CNE) are about 31 Gb. The estimated post-2004 50% CNE depletion mark would be around 2014.

The BP data base shows that the seven (net) exported a cumulative 11.5 Gb for 2005 to 2010 inclusive, so estimated remaining post-2004 combined Cumulative Net Exports from the seven countries would be about 20 Gb. US net imports are currently running about 3 Gb per year.

Note that the 2002 to 2010 increase in net exports from Canada could not even offset the decline in net exports from Argentina over the same time frame (BP data base for both countries).

RE: In a Change, Mexico Reins In Its Oil Monopoly

Hey Jeff, I know you're busy putting the final touches on you little 'show and tell', but did you read that article up top about Mexico?

Some good up to date money numbers from a country that peaked and the gov relies on that cash for a significant portion of the budget.

"sales of $111.5 billion" last year, and "spends $20 billion this year to find and pump oil".

Sounds like an example of your "stage - 2" is coming to a country south of the border soon, where they make less money on exports than they spend on digging it up.

The interesting thing about Mexico is that an extrapolation of the three year increase in their C/P ratio (Consumption to Production, Total Petroleum Liquids, BP), which went from 52% in 2004 to 60% in 2007, provided what now appears to be a pretty accurate estimate (around 2018) for when they might approach the 100% mark. (Circa 2009, I was guessing they might hit zero net oil exports by the end of this year.)

In any case, assuming they approach zero net oil exports around 2018, estimated post-2004 Cumulative Net Exports (CNE) from Mexico would be about 4.0 Gb, and they have shipped about 2.9 Gb for 2005 to 2010 inclusive, suggesting remaining (post-2010) CNE of about 1.1 Gb.

CNN iReport starts its own garden club - From garden to table.

"Too broke? Too busy? Too...nope. We're having none of that. We challenge you to grow one thing to eat: Herb, vegetable or fruit."

About as main-stream as one can get.

Re: More universities charging more tuition for harder majors

A growing number of public universities are charging higher tuition for math, science and business programs, which they argue cost more to teach...

Okay, I understand the science majors (although the article's examples tend to be engineering rather than science) because of things like labs. And business because business profs seem to command much higher salaries. But math? Granted that it's been 35 years since I finished an undergraduate math major, but they had to be cheap classes to teach. The profs didn't seem to get paid more, and with a couple of exceptions where computers were involved, it was a textbook, a blackboard, and chalk.

Three thoughts on that:

One, many of the universities combine the math department with the computer science department. And the combined department has a medium sized budget for lab computers, etc.

Two, the professors are in demand outside the school for high tech jobs, so they demand more money.

And third, in a tight jobs market, more students are desiring a degree that has real chances of helping them get a JOB! Supply and demand.

Selected data from a table published by the Chronicle of Higher Education. For the 2009-10 school year, how much more or less full professors earned, by discipline, relative to the average full professor of English language and literature:

Discipline                        More/Less
Fine Arts                          -12.4%
Education                           -4.3%
Philosophy                           2.1%
Mathematics                          7.2%
Physical sciences                   12.9%
Social sciences                     16.8%
Health professionals                18.9%
Engineering                         25.2%
Computer and information sciences   28.4%
Economics                           41.2%
Business administration             50.9%
Law and legal studies               59.5%

So your point two makes sense only if "math" includes something else. Straight math profs appear to be relatively cheap. Still relatively cheap; for the 1980-81 school year, they commanded a 7.6% premium over English professors, essentially the same.

It's somewhat ironic to see tuition hikes for STEM majors at the same time that so many are bemoaning the declining number of STEM majors in higher education. One of the few "bright" spots in STEM enrollment these days is in math classes at two-year community colleges, where enrollment is up sharply. The bad news about that is almost all of the increase is in "remedial" classes; people are taking the math they should have taken in high school.

What about average class size? I tended to think of math classes as relatively small. Of course grad student TAs may be used a lot.
Not so sure about the cost of comp-sci equipment, these used to be very expensive, but stuff like 8core workstations only cost a few thousand bucks today, whereas a supercomputer with much less power back in the day cost millions.

What about average class size? I tended to think of math classes as relatively small. Of course grad student TAs may be used a lot.

I'm sure it varies a lot. All disciplines (at big schools) have 700-seat lecture hall introductory classes. Most schools have requirements for how many students must sign up for a class to "fly", and I suspect that you'll find that senior-level specialty courses have comparable numbers of students across many departments. My experience many years ago was that the math department actually had more of those giant lecture sessions because they had to teach calculus to all the engineering and science students. Ditto for physics and chemistry, of course.

My state school (graduated BSEE '97) taught math (including calculus) in classes of 30 or less.

I went to massive state U (40,000 students). I never had a math class with more than 30 students. I had some advanced placement so I missed the real low level stuff. But, all the stuff that math/science majors took was in that category. Departments like the big into classes in the 700 seat auditoriums, as they bring in a lot more funds per prof.

I had a similar experience at ASU, I took vector calculus and a differential equations class my first semester in nice small sessions with real profs (they taught the first two semesters of calc the same way at the time). I did have to spend time that semester in "Intro to Engineering" with 300 or so students (they had breakout recitation sessions with TA's). Both my physics classes were over 100: a sophomore class on waves with a recitation breakout, which was to follow freshman Mechanics and E&M; and a junior level Classical Mechanics class which I took as an elective to make up for credit on courses (statics and dynamics) the EE department chair waived for me. My 8086 assembly language class was over 100 with a prof who mumbled facing the chalkboard (but with breakout hardware and software labs, great TA's, and a good textbook).

I took just 2 non-STEM classes, both English, both tiny--one grad level (selected to fulfill 3 separate requirements and fit into my odd schedule) my freshman year, one semester of freshman English my senior year (after somebody's departmental ego got bruised about it being waived for me I appealed to the Board of Regents and lost, despite an A in a grad-level course which included significant composition, the recommendation of that instructor, as well as 5's on both AP English exams). I satisfied all the rest of my non-STEM credit requirements with AP credits (Macro/MicroEconomics, U.S. History, Comparative Government, Chemistry, Biology, etc) so I missed a lot of courses which are likely to have been 300+. I informally audited a junior level poly sci (it was in the same classroom and scheduled in between two of my engineering classes) which had 30-40 students.

Once I got to my power EE tech electives, almost all classes were under 20. Some of the courses I took this way were being taught in HUGE sections more recently, but this was a anomaly due to the world renowned prof teaching only one class per semester. His recommendation is about 50 percent of why I got this job 13+ years ago at age 19. He died a few weeks ago in his mid-80's, still teaching (he graded our finals ~16 years ago the same week he had a heart attack).

My congratulations to your state school, assuming that full math faculty (ie, asst prof or up) were teaching those smaller sections -- math in a giant lecture hall, with most faculty-student interaction being with TAs, is a bad model (IMO). It takes a serious commitment to do small sections. If there are 40 full faculty members in the math department, and 400 incoming engineering/science students every year, and assuming the usual three-semester calculus sequence, with a 30-student limit every math faculty member is teaching a calculus section every semester. Back in the day -- but I'm an old fart -- the math dept would never have made that demand on the faculty.

Or perhaps they've turned the TAs into "faculty"? My most recent experience, about ten years ago, was with an economics dept -- where as a first-year grad student w/o an undergraduate degree in econ, the dept was willing to turn a 25-student intro-to-econ section over to me entirely, with no oversight. Scary.

Hard to keep track of how faculty are structured these days. A lot of schools have two classes of faculty -- tenured and tenure-track positions with a light teaching load, and post-doc instructors with a heavy teaching load and no tenure opportunity (and often a limited-term non-renewable contract).

"So your point two makes sense only if "math" includes something else."

I go back to my first statement. The math department and comp sci are combined. The reason for that IS that the professors are the same people. Have you ever looked at the names of the required classes for a comp sci major?

Numerical Analysis
Mathematical Foundations of Computing
Analysis of Algorithms

I believe I had to take 11 semesters of MATH course work for my comp sci major, and that did not include classes similar to the ones listed above, which were taught by mostly the same eggheads.

I'm not being intentionally obnoxious, just ignorant :^) My point with the little table is that academics who track compensation make a distinction between math profs (who are paid on a par with English profs) and CIS profs (who are paid like engineering faculty). If the distinction were the exception rather than the rule, they wouldn't bother.

And yes, I was a double major math/comp sci and not only looked at the names of the required classes, but took them (and as a senior, TA'ed a couple of them because there were no comp sci grad students in the separate comp sci dept deemed qualified). While most of the math-related CS courses were cross-listed as math classes, some of them were specifically identified as "can't be counted as electives towards a math major".

Possibly relevant questions (honestly for information, as I've never spent time in a department that was math AND comp sci): do the faculty who teach analysis of algorithms also teach first year calculus to engineers? Or do they teach first year programming classes to engineers? Do the same faculty that teach numerical analysis also teach real analysis or ring/group/field algebra? Or is there a dichotomy, where part of the faculty teach these (CS) classes, and part of the faculty teach those (math) classes? If a dichotomy, how does the compensation compare on the two sides?

Now you're getting way to specific for my knowledge. I have to admit that some of the entry level (first year calculus) math classes seem to have been taught by a few professors who never taught comp sci related courses. I was just speaking from the hip when I was trying to say that very many math professors appeared to be cross teaching. It may have always been about the money. If you were a math professor who could teach some comp sci courses, you would be paid handsomely.

This discussion has now gone on so long, that I have forgotten how it was related to the world coming off of the undulating plateau of oil production, and heading into a new era of the dark ages. :^)

I teach college. College is in just as serious trouble as anything/everything else. The gulf between the assumptions attracting the customers and their prospects after finishing is wider than ever and growing by leaps and bounds. A higher-educated society is simply incompatible with a corporate capitalist world. The latter rests on the constant aggressive automation and cheapening of employment, as well as on ridiculous assumptions about the agricultural and ecological basis of its own industries.

IMHO, the only way to rescue schooling at all levels is to inject environmentalism into the core of the mission, and reduce the divisions between "disciplines," except at the very end stages, where some division make good sense. Wood shop, gardening/farming, and home ec also need radical revival.

For the second time today, I say... hear, hear!

(I teach college, too.)

A higher-educated society is simply incompatible with a corporate capitalist world.

Agreed! Unfortunately I doubt TPTB will allow`things to change much if we just resort to asking them nicely...

The student loan debacle is going to crash higher education for the most part. Perhaps it can be rebuilt more as you suggest at some point. I expect we'll see more trade/tech schools and OJT; such turned out to be more valuable to me than my college education. That said, the MSM is still touting selling a college degree as the best path to success.

Student debtor stories submitted by the 99%

... Years ago I went to college to study accounting, and like millions of other Americans I took out loans to pay for it. A few years later I got a temporary job in the accounting department at Bain & Co., and after 6 months of reliable work I was thrilled to be offered a full-time position.

However, just a few weeks after starting in my new position the company fired me because my debt-to-credit ratio was too high. I later learned that 60% of employers now check credit reports, which typically include student debts. How are you supposed to pay off your student debts if you can’t get (or keep) a job BECAUSE of your debts? And what do my student debts have to do with my ability to do a job well anyway?

Wasn't Mitt Romney CEO of Bain & Co.?

However, just a few weeks after starting in my new position the company fired me because my debt-to-credit ratio was too high.

Simple due diligence by our financial masters who have perfect governance and risk management strategies in place. You were too far in the hole ... therefore you might be tempted to fiddle the books, or enter into unseemly arrangements with your clients. I can understand that, so quit whingeing and get a job flipping burgers.

You forgot to add, live in a house that is the size of the fridge in your burger joint, eat only off the bottom of the food chain, and grow everything on the roof of your shoe box house, that you have planted in the back of your parent's yard, so that you can pay off those student loans with your wages from the burger joint that might give you enough money to buy seeds to grow your own food with, but not really much else after you pay off the loans, buy your way to work at off the wall hours, because even with a college degree, you have to start the morning and close shifts first. Never forget, that even when you get your loans paid off they will still be in your credit record and the IRS might think you owe them more money because of them, as they were a gift from uncle sam that you only paid so much on, and didn't give the Gov't enough money for getting them, so somewhere in all this, you will have to pay as much as they want you pay, especially if you ever miss one single payment and they tack on an extra charge, which could add 15% extra to your loan in one single shot.

Bottom line,, never get a loan for school ever, unless you want to pay forever and ever to someone called, the Gov't, or their bankers.

I have had student loans, and it will take me 25 to 50 years to pay them back if ever, I just never made enough to pay them. The bank will write off a credit card loan in about 5 years, or so, the Gov't will hunt you down till you are dead and then get your family to dig you up and make you work to pay them off, or maybe they should just sell my organs like the chinese are doing for dead people.


It is just supply and demand. With China, India, Brazil, Russia, Egypt, etc turning out millions of highly trained high tech graduates each year the value of a degree is in the is the same as in China about $1000 per month.

In an energy-constrained world, and in particular one where oil becomes increasingly scarce, does this matter? Without a sufficient degree of global trade, the price of an engineer in China or Brazil should have no effect on the price of an engineer in North America.

It's hard to build self-consistent mental models of the future world if things are going to wind down. That's one place where the Doomer mindset has an advantage: if global civilization simply crashes everywhere, completely, the rest of the picture is pretty easy. It's complicated if you start with "it'll be a slow slide down, which may stop at some point" or "different regions will be able to make different adjustments".

I reside in an upscale suburb of Portland, Oregon. My son's college-prep (but public) high school does not offer wood shop!

Woodshop! Sharp edges! Machines! Incipient litigation! (I never did get my block squared, but I still have the letter-holder I built in 1947. Mother used it until she died ten years ago.)

Unfortunately, I bet they don't have band or choir, either. Band was my big socializing experience, though I never rose above third-chair third cornet.

My high school in suburban AZ offered flight training (they owned a Cessna 152 or 172) when my older siblings were in school in the late 70's to early 80's. By the time I was there in the early 90's it was just ground school. We did still have tractors and large animals, we did still operate chainsaws to cut firewood, and cut meat, and have automobile lifts, and bandsaws, and welding, etc. By the time my youngest sister was there (early 2000's), the chainsaws and tractors were gone.

Classic but always worth revisiting:


Up top: Saudi Arabia Builds Up Crude Inventories: Goldman

In November 2011, production reached the highest level in 30 years, hitting 10.047 million bpd. Since then, it has hovered just below the 10 million bpd mark, according to JODI.

Demand Won't Affect Exports: Saudi Officials

Officials of the world’s largest oil exporter have long maintained that total production capacity was 12.5 million bpd, and repeatedly dismissed suggestions of domestic demand affecting exports....

...Ramped-up government spending, taking into account energy-intensive infrastructure such as desalination plants, are seen as supporting demand in a year where the IMF [cnbc explains] expects economic growth to reach six percent.

More confirmation (if we needed it) that:

1. KSA has little spare capacity and can no longer be considered the world's swing producer.

2. With an expected growth rate of 6%, ELM is becoming self-evident.

3. Even with reduced exports for 2011, KSA realized near record revenues from its exports due to high per-barrel prices. No reason to risk shortages (domestic or in exports) during its own peak demand period. It seems they've become comfortable with ~ $120 oil (or have little choice).

On that subject: Saudi oil puzzle, continued

It would appear that Saudi Arabia — the central bank of oil — is pumping oil at the highest rate in nearly 30 years just to put the crude oil into storage.


I think the answer is obvious. Saudi is gearing up for a much higher domestic demand as it get unbearably hot in that country. Electricity usage goes way up in the summer there. If they have enough oil in storage then they can keep exporting at a constant rate even as domestic demand increases.

Ron P.

If that is really the reason, that is just crazy. That oil is worth so much more on the international markets. They should be buying up solar panels and wind turbines like crazy and installing them everywhere. Even though those renewable sources of energy are expensive, they are cheaper than the money they can get by selling that oil on international markets.

They should trade tankers of oil to China for container ships filled with solar panels. This will also create jobs for their unemployed population to install the panels.

Thats exactly what I've been thinking. Also a few thousand gallons of white paint applied to roofs and walls......

In the end, it isn't going to make much difference. How does the saying go?

"My father rode a camel. I drive a car. My son flies a jet-plane. His son will ride a camel."

Well, they could stretch it out so it will be the great-grandson that has to ride the camel. ;-)

It's too late for this summer. Highs in Riyahd are forecast to be above 100 °F every day next week (lows above 80 °F); demand for electricity is on the way up now. Diesel-fired generation is what they have, accounting for 65% of their annual production. So there's no choice but to burn oil for A/C this summer. The stockpiling simply helps level their exports, rather than having those dip during the months of peak domestic demand.

While the Saudis have announced plans to get up to 10% of their electricity from solar by 2020, the agreements they have signed over the last couple of years suggests that they plan on eventually depending much more heavily on nuclear than on solar. As for the unemployment issue, how can a country where 80% of the workforce are foreign nationals have a 10% unemployment rate for citizens? There are already a large number of construction jobs -- adding more isn't going to fix the problems.

As for the unemployment issue, how can a country where 80% of the workforce are foreign nationals have a 10% unemployment rate for citizens?

You, too, can see through Saudi propaganda. My sources for Saudi give 20% as the unemployment figure for university grads and 38% for total Saudi representation within the labor force.

I lived in Saudi Arabia for five years. Most Saudis will not do menial jobs. Also, employers, even Aramco, would rather have expats. There are many Saudis that can do just as well a job as the expats but most of them don't have enough wasta to get promoted. Only Saudis with wasta get promoted and most of them are highly incompetent. So employers would rather hire expats where promotion goes strictly by one's ability to perform.

Of course Aramco would rather have an all Saudi force if it were possible. And they could if it were not for Wasta. But it is their culture and culture is something very difficult to change.

The wonders of wasta

What is wasta? In Arabic, it roughly means "connections" or influence, and is arguably the most valuable form of currency in much of the Middle East, far more effective than bribes and certainly more effective than following due process.

It is of course an obviously unequitable and counterproductive phenomenon. At a simple level, it puts incompetent people into jobs they ill deserve and will ill manage. As this article notes:

"Intercessory wasta angers unsuccessful candidates who have outstanding credentials, and creates dependencies among those who are less capable, yet obtain power and position because of their wastas."

Wasta is the only reason Saudi has such a high unemployment rate. It is also the main, but not the only reason, there are so many expats in Saudi Arabia.

Ron P.

Thanks for that, Ron. The Chinese have a similar concept: Guan Xi (I think that's spelled correctly), but it promotes dynamism, among other things.

What happened to the oil Saudi Arabia shipped to start the newly expanded Motiva refinery in Port Arthur, Texas? I thought they reduced their exports in the winter so they could send enough to start the refinery in the spring. Goldman-Sachs is not known for releasing honest analysis to the public.

Knowledge is (Dal) Power
Dr. Jeff Dahn builds better batteries to power cars of the future

The High Precision Charger (HPC) Dr. Dahn and his students built in the Dunn Building is the world’s only automated high precision charger system for testing lithium-ion batteries. It’s now possible for Dr. Dahn to make statements about battery lifetimes in three weeks that previously could have taken several years.

With the data from the HPC, Dr. Dahn's team will be able to help develop lithium-ion batteries that last 10, 20, or even 50 years. Hopefully these batteries will cost less, and store more. This has generally far-ranging implications – simply consider every electronic device that has a Li-ion battery in it – but specifically, this has important implications for the automotive industry, sustainability and clean tech, and the health sector.

See: http://www.dal.ca/news/2012/04/25/knowledge-is-dal-power.html


HiH, call us when that "hopefully" goes away. You might also call again when somebody can offer a sane reason to spend a huge swath of whatever the sustainable production of electricity might eventually prove to be running automobiles instead of keeping the lights on in hospitals and factories.

Makes me wonder how the medical supplies, patients and doctors will be getting to and from those hospitals..

Huh? Why must it be either-or? Battery-driven vehicles plus well-lit hospitals at the same time!

Bloomberg: Housing Declared Bottoming in U.S. After Six-Year Slump

New homes sold at an annual pace of 328,000 in March, up 7.5 percent from a year earlier, the Commerce Department said. The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey forecast a rate of 319,000. The pace of sales for February was revised upward to 353,000, a two-year high.

We were slacking a bit on consuming our share of the available world oil exports lately. Maybe this will get us back in the driver's seat!

Again, I thing one of our new catch phrases around here is appropriate, "What could go wrong?"

Don't get your hopes up too much ...

July 26, 2011 - Housing May Be Bottoming Out

Jun 9, 2010 - California housing market hits bottom, nation may follow:...

November 24, 2009 - Economic survey: Job losses to bottom out in 1Q

Economists expect home prices to gain 2 percent next year, after bottoming out in 2009.

February 10, 2009 - Metro Housing Bottom: 2010 Report Predicts Twin Cities' Recovery Will Lag the Nation's

… Nationally, the housing market should bottom out during the fourth quarter of this year…

Aug 19, 2008 - …Area home sales jump in July...

…I think prices are bottoming out in Sacramento

Why would it be a good thing if more people are going into debt that they aren't going to be able to pay off? Why is it a good thing for housing prices to become unaffordable?

Falling prices, as long as they affect the banksters, has become a bogeyman.

Think about it:

Falling prices for oil - good! Falling prices for computers - good! Falling prices for labor - good!

Falling prices for stocks - bad! Falling prices for bonds - bad! Falling prices for housing - bad!

It's propaganda, people.

I own 100% of my house. There is now big bad bank involved. If the current resale value of my house goes down, then my investment in it is down. If my car resale value goes down, then my investment in that car goes down. If people can't get as good a pay for a college education, then my investment in 4 freak'in years of school goes down.

However, I did not invest in future gasoline deliveries, so if the gas price goes down, then it is good, because I still need to buy it at the then current price.

My point is that not all things that have value are owned by a big bad bank, some are owned by individuals like me. The personal economics of family investments like a car, house, or college are real.

On the other hand, if our perceived wealth our homes does go up, then we feel better about using our Sears credit card for that cool new deck furniture I saw in the junk mail. And then more oil is consumed building it and shipping it. And, then the oil price goes up, and the world turns...

I own 100% of my house (shared with my wife).

It is my home. I paid what I paid for it, plus a bit of interest to the bank, plus tax to the government, plus fees to the selling agents, etc.

It is now worth more or less than I paid for it, but so are all the other houses round here. It's relative value hasn't changed, I don't intend to sell, and if I do it will be to buy another house which will have gone up or down by a similar relative amount.

My home is what I value. The value of my house is a meaningless number.

Exactly, and this is what I mean when I say that money is not wealth and wealth is not money.

Your home is a large portion of your wealth. What money you have can give you access to other wealth, but it is what the money can get you that makes it valuable rather than anything intrinsic to the money itself.

New home sales don't make up that big a percentage of the market.

Mad cow disease confirmed at California dairy

The cow died at a dairy in central California and was taken last Wednesday to a transfer station in Hanford, Calif., owned by Baker Commodities, said Baker spokesman Dennis Luckey. The cow was older than 30 months, so its tissue was tested, but the sample came back "inconclusive," Luckey said.

Another sample sent to the USDA came back positive Monday night, Clifford said...

...Dairy cows are usually sent to slaughter for meat when their milk production begins to decrease, generally at 4 to 6 years old. If it appears to be diseased — but not if it has mad cow disease — it is sent to a rendering plants, where the carcass is ground and cooked at high heat to turn it into protein for animal feed...

Just cook the crap out of it; that'll fix anything :-0

It was a change in the rendering process to one that employed a lower temperature that lead to the original BSE epidemic in Europe.

Although hot enough to kill pathogens and viruses, it was not hot enough to unravel the crystalline prion protein structure that causes the disease through auto catalysis. Feeding processed animal protein to herbivores was never going to be a good idea. Cows lack the biochemistry to break down the animal proteins in their gut, making the transmission rates much higher than in carnivores or omnivores.

Cows should be fed on grass.

Although hot enough to kill pathogens and viruses, it was not hot enough to unravel the crystalline prion protein structure that causes the disease through auto catalysis.

Great - what is that temp?

Hot enough to cause your non-stick coating to gas off a bit should do the trick.

Yum! Fry me up a mess o' those prions!

The sample can be reduced to ash and still be infectious.


The objectives of thermal destruction are
to convert dead animals or plants into inert
gases and sterile ash and to deactivate pathogens.
Some thermal methods can deactivate
transmissible spongiform encephalopathy,
which require exposure to very high
temperatures (about 1,830 °F, or 1,000 °C) for
at least 15 minutes (Brown et al., “Infectivity
Studies of Both Ash and Air Emissions from
Simulated Incineration of Scrapie-Contaminated
Tissues,” Environmental Science &
Technology, 2004).


The sample can be reduced to ash and still be infectious.


If it is ash, it is not protein. Therefore I don't see how a prion could exist when burned to ash. In fact, I don't believe it.

The sample may be burned to the appearance of ash. It can still contain microscopic particles of crystalline prion. Although prions are organic proteins made of an amino acid chain like all other proteins, the BSE causing agent is a prion protein which has folded up into an abnormal shape which triggers both the catalysis of other molecules of the (naturally occurring ) prion to refold itself into the abnormal shape, and these refolded molecules to coalesce into a crystalline form that is resistant to both oxidation and 'denaturing' (the unfolding of the amino acid chain , which normally destroys the biological effectiveness of the protein without changing it chemically). These crystals then grow inside the neural cells of the victim, eventually rupturing the cell and causing brain damage.

Yes, I know what prions are and how they work. Perhaps some can survive the sample appearing to be burned to ash. But if the prions are burned to ash, they are no longer prions.

Surprised the heck out of the researchers, too!

"New studies on the heat resistance of hamster-adapted scrapie agent:

"One-gram samples... brain tissue... exposed for either 5 or 15 min to dry heat at temperatures ranging from 150°C to 1,000°C. ... disease transmissions were verified."

"Exposure to 600°C completely ashed the brain samples, which, when reconstituted with saline to their original weights, transmitted disease to 5 of 35 inoculated hamsters. No transmissions occurred after exposure to 1,000°C."

"After 8 weeks of ashing, UV-ozone treatment reduced the infectious titer of treated material by a factor of at least 10^5. A small amount of infectivity, however, persisted despite UV-ozone treatment. When bound to either montmorillonite clay or quartz surfaces, (the prion) was still susceptible to degradation by UV-ozone."

Being bound to a surface improves the survivability of the prion's infectious effect. Clays have been proposed as a support structure, a scaffolding, upon which molecules can organize.

After the theory of the bearded chemist, nothing surprises me about crystals.

- bearded (ex) chemist.

Call up the USDA and ask. My stepfather works for them as an animal inspector for 1/3 of a southern US state. He says essentially the same thing-cooking meat to any temperature associated with edible food, even burning it to a crisp, will simply not destroy the very simple prion that causes BSE.

What is that temp? In terms of eating a steak, it doesn't matter. heating to a specified temperature is not an accepted method of killing the disease, like it is for bacteria. Surely, that simple fact is located on a website somewhere where BSE is a concern. They may not mention it much in public in the US.

it is know 500 deg (aka char the meat to charcoal) will destroy - but the parent seems to be claiming a different temp and perhaps time will do the job.

I agree. I thought after the first wave of BSE they had stopped feeding cows to cows, but it seems like they did nothing of the sort.

What does it take to change things? This is the SIMPLE stuff that could be fixed with a law less than a page long.

It is prohibited to feed cattle remnants to cows, but not to pigs or chickens, which can then be fed back to cows.

To learn all about the source of CJD/Mad-Cow/Scabies/Elk Wasting Disease, pick up "Deadly Feasts" - forget the author, but he wrote another called "The Hot Zone" about the Ebola Virus. Basically, though, a man named Stanley Prusiner uncovered the mystery while investigating Kuru-Kuru, a disease affecting tribal people in New Guinea.

What the tribesmen did was eat their dead (cooked in bamboo sticks) in funeral feasts, leading to the eventual conclusion that cannibalism is what causes CJD and its variants - feeding cow-meal to cows (mad cow), sheep eating placenta (scabies), people eating cannibals (CJD).

My take was that perhaps brain degenerative disease is a built-in natural mechanism to prevent cannibalism in higher invertebrates. A Darwinian concept, if you like.

One thing I recall about prions, whether from this book or another source, was that a prion can't be reliably destroyed except by disassociation in chlorine - you can heat it to charcoal, eat it, and it will still be as if you'd never heated it at all. It's a basic protein, as is RNA/DNA.

The sheep variant is called "scrapie", not "scabies" - that's something else entirely.

I don't think it's a mechanism to prevent cannabalism - first off, it didn't! Secondly, cattle and sheep do not eat their dead in nature - it took humans to think it was a good idea to feed ground up dead animals to herbivorous animals. No selective pressure there.

And RNA/DNA are not proteins - they are nucleic acids. And most proteins are readily de-natured by even moderate heat. I seriously doubt you can heat prions "to charcoal" and have them still be active. Making charcoal involves getting rid of non-carbon stuff, leaving behind nearly pure carbon in the form of charcoal. At those temps, nitrogen is oxidized for sure. No nitrogen, no protein.

Which isn't to say that prions aren't nasty resistant pathogens in a weird class of their own.

Ugh .. tongue-in-cheek ... apparently I don't know/remember everything ... thanks for the correction (assuming you ARE correct).

Well, I am an evolutionary biologist and an ecologist, so I do know somewhat about these matters. :-)

But your general point (that prions are tough buggers) is true. Cooking your beef to "well done" will not denature them. Fairly concentrated chlorine bleach does the job, but is not so tasty. OTOH, the prions are only in neural tissue, so unless you enjoy feasting on cow brains and spinal cords you should be OK. Probably want to steer clear of hotdogs, though...

The cleanliness issue at meat processors is THE beef. As noted, prions are almost indestructible--unless--treated with concentrated clorinated cleaners. Unless properly sanitized, prions will cling to meat processing equipment and thus be able to contaminate whatever is being processed by that machinery. IMO, we will never be able to cull all diseased animals prior to processing; so, the only solution to obtaining food safety is proper sanitation--a very late 1890s idea--AND proper inspection of said machinery, which doesn't happen nearly often enough. Poor sanitation can injure/kill a lot of people in a hurry. Cutting USDA's staffing budget invites such a happening.

As noted, prions are almost indestructible--unless--treated with concentrated clorinated cleaners

Ahh so the heat treating claim I asked about isn't true. Its why I asked for clarification.

Cutting USDA's staffing budget invites such a happening.

Have they lowered the laws too? Or have he laws increased just so the government can bury you if you are determined to be "a problem"?

One of the last time 'round here on TOD prions came round a now dead poster claimed the prions that would be from cows can't infect fish and fish prions don't effect mammals. Is that claim true?


As I read it, scrapie can be destroyed by high temperature and pressure cooking. BSE infectivity can be reduced, but not eliminated.

(I've not read the link yet)

Thank you for the link

They have this problem with surgical equipment, too. If exposed to prions, it cannot be sterilized by ordinary means. Though I believe heat does work; it just has to be higher and longer than for bacteria and viruses.

This was one of the selling points of the turkey parts plant; thermal depolymerization was supposed to be a safe way to deal with mad cow carcasses.

Good point Leanan,

Some years back, about the time I was reading the book I mentioned in a few posts up, "Deadly Feasts", the mad-cow topic came up in a conversation I had with my younger brother, a physician. Apparently, they teach this transfer ability of CJD in medical school - how CJD disease sticks to the brain electrode-probes or some-such (I'm sure I'm mixing in my own knowledge) from brain surgery and there is at least one anecdotal/actual case where CJD was transferred from one patient to another by insufficiently sterilized equipment.

It was an interesting conversation, actually, because my brother had a very similar recollection of everything I had just recently read of, including the name Stanley Prusiner, etc., but it had been years since he'd studied it in med school.

FWIW ...

Yes, very high temps and pressure will destroy prions; but, how do you treat a massive piece of machinery? That's why Indusrty is stuck using chemicals that must be diligently applied and properly inspected to ensure the job was done correctly. John Stauber is likely right about the need to change animal feed regulations, which will hypothetically solve the issue. But if that happens, the machinery still needs to be cleaned and inspected.

Mad cow disease case in US was a 'one-off' caused by a mutation

Do you buy this explanation?


I do. Such sporadic mutations do occur, including in humans. Most cases of "classic" Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease are caused by such random mutations (as opposed to the familial type, which is inherited).

Yes, the Kuru was caused by prions that came from eating the brains of their ancestors, to show great respect. The discovered cure was to stop eating the brains, no matter how cooked. The disease subsided.

The prions, phages, and viruses are arguably not organisms, they are machines. Compare this link with this link.

There is a difficult conceptual zone separating machine and organism, which does cause some debate.

But machines came first, which means that chemistry is a fundamental part of cosmology, and all that chemistry of machine evolution comes before organic evolution, in the sequence of time.

The US exporting it's factory farming prowess: U.S. barnyards help China super-size food production

In a country wrestling with food inflation, China's population spent 25 percent of its annual income on food in 2010 - compared to Americans spending only about 10 percent.

One solution to rising food prices: chicken. A chicken drumstick cost half or less the price of a pork loin, said Wang Xiaoyue, a senior analyst with Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultant Ltd. It also takes about half as much grain to produce a pound of chicken meat, compared to a pound of pork, Wang said.

That has helped fuel more imports of broiler breeder chicks from U.S. farmers. So has expansion by fast-food chains, including McDonald's Corp. McDonald's, which ranks China as its third-biggest market worldwide, opened a record 200 new stores in China last year, and has unveiled plans for more....

...But the impact of a vastly larger, more efficient, livestock sector in China would cause a major shift in the global market, particularly for grain demand.

China could need an incremental 20 million to 25 million metric tonnes of corn in the next few years just to keep up with the growth of the swine industry, according to a recent research report by Rabobank.

King Corn, going nowhere but up. So it goes... we'll be writing about peak corn in a few years.

I had a conversation with a Chinese student today - here on a 2-year study visa. She just started working at one of my clients. She said the big debate in China is whether to keep any of the "old" things - artworks, buildings, etc - or just "throw it away" (her words).

I guess this demonstrates how to throw it away.

In the USA, the student and her employer are breaking the law as she has no right to work, only study.

These particular students are interns who get credit through a special university program for their part-time work hours, while they are in process of completing their degrees. They are placed by contacting the university - not through a public outlet. They may get paid a small stipend.

If they want to get jobs after graduating they, of course, have to get work authorization.

Thanks for providing the clarification.

Unless the employer is the university where she's a student -- that's specifically allowed.

That's one of the reasons that foreign students are eager to take TA positions -- TA is one of the few jobs they're legally allowed to hold. Another reason, particularly at state schools where there's in-state and out-of-state tuition rates, is the trend towards compensating TAs with in-state tuition rates for a certain number of credit hours. Foreign nationals can seldom qualify for the lower in-state tuition rate any other way, so their "pay" for the TA job is better than that of a US grad student who has lived locally long enough to already qualify for in-state rates.

'Agent Orange Corn' Debate Rages As Dow Seeks Approval Of New Genetically Modified Seed

"WASHINGTON -- A new kind of genetically modified crop under the brand name of "Enlist" -- known by its critics as "Agent Orange corn" -- has opponents pushing U.S. regulators to scrutinize the product more closely and reject an application by Dow AgroSciences to roll out its herbicide-resistant seeds.

The corn has been genetically engineered to be immune to 2,4-D, an ingredient used in Agent Orange that some say could pose a serious threat to the environment and to human health."

I wonder of this is planned for domestic use or export ?

Food for Thought.


Now, Obama has the Dept. of Justice going after small farmers under the post-911 “Bank Secrecy Act” which makes it a crime to deposit less than $10,000 when you earned more than that.


The Department of Labor is poised to put the finishing touches on a rule that would apply child-labor laws to children working on family farms, prohibiting them from performing a list of jobs on their own families’ land.

The 'Obama seizes farmers money' article looks somewhat disingenuous. Under the Bank Secrecy Act, banks file CTR (Currency Transaction Reports) to the Treasury for cash transactions of $10K or more. Banks also have to file the CTR if they believe the customer is deliberately structuring his/her deposits as to avoid the 10K threshold. Also a bank would be required to file a SAR (Suspicious Activity Report) for customers trying to avoid the CTR filing. Both forms go to the Treasury. I'm just guessing here, but I think this farmer owed back taxes and that's why money was seized.


The teller supposedly told him that paperwork would have to be filed and he decided not to deposit more than $10K. He told the truth and it was used against him when they filed. Nobody is really talking about why the money is being kept.
With the way small business in general and specifically farmers, ranchers, butchers etc. Have been treated by the government lately I am not shocked.

Separate case in another article about this one: "iTaylor’s Produce Stand, on the Eastern Shore, was stung last year after the feds seized about $90,000 from its bank accounts. In December, pursuant to a civil-forfeiture settlement agreement after no criminal charges were filed, the stand’s owners got back about half of the seized money.”

I wasn't commenting on whether or not it's a good regulation. The Bank Secrecy Act has been in force since 1970 BTW. The author of this column wants readers to come away with the idea that Obama called the Justice Department and told them to take money from people that aren't putting all their money in the bank.

Classic right-wing paranoid Obama-hating spinning (i.e., lying).

On the other hand, nothing to do with Obama per se, but it is amazing how the banksters are allowed incredible leeway not provided to ordinary people or small businesses.
For example contrast this treatment with the way Goldman-Sachs was allowed to declare itself a "deposit bank" during the financial meltdown and thus save itself by getting money for almost 0% at the discount window. This was of course during Bush, Henry Paulson and Timothy Geithner's tenures.

And if the person in charge had an (R) after their name, would you be defending them in the same way?

At what point does "the buck stop"?

(I'm far more interested in the use of Law to abuse farmers rather than a discussion about Obama BTW. Odds are that law will still be there after Obama dies of old age)

It's the "War on Drugs" in action, who really knows for sure what those small farmers are growing, eh?

I'm sure the Bush DoJ did the same sorts of things, but the conservative editorialists had conflicting loyalties then.


Governments failing to avert catastrophic climate change, IEA warns

Ministers attending clean energy summit in London to be gravely warned about continuing global addiction to fossil fuels

Van der Hoeven, whose deputy will present the IEA's findings to the Third Clean Energy Ministerial, put the blame squarely on policymakers, and challenged ministers to step up.

She said: "The current state of affairs is unacceptable precisely because we have a responsibility and a golden opportunity to act. Energy-related CO2 emissions are at historic highs, and under current policies, we estimate that energy use and CO2 emissions would increase by a third by 2020, and almost double by 2050. This would be likely to send global temperatures at least 6C higher within this century."

IEA urges governments to seize the opportunity to accelerate clean energy deployment

... The report notes that many technologies with great potential for energy and emissions savings are making halting progress at best. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is not seeing the necessary rates of investment to develop full-scale demonstration projects, and nearly half of new coal-fired power plants are still being built with inefficient technology. Vehicle fuel-efficiency improvement is slow, and significant untapped energy-efficiency potential remains in the building and industry sectors.

In addition, while government targets for electric vehicles (20 million by 2020) are ambitious, as are continued nuclear expansion plans in many countries, translating plans into reality is easier said than done. Manufacturers’ production targets for electric vehicles after 2014 are highly uncertain; and increasing public opposition to nuclear power is proving challenging to address.

Presentation to Ministers

also Agency plea over climate warning

So the same old BAU solutions - rather than cutting demand with Green Transit, ending Wars, insulating buildings, cutting needless consumption the EIA wants to throw money down the ratholes of carbon sequestration, more poisonous life threatening nukes and electric car fantasies...
So they still don't get it do they?

There is a book by the name "Six Degrees" which goes through the changes on the Earth as the temperature moves up to a six degree increase. Not a pretty picture.

Also comes as a documentary. Scary movie, realy.

Can it be downloaded? Gotta link?



The moderators may delete this post if they find pointing to torrent sites against their code of conduct so hurry up.

I thought it was a good read, and probably only a few bucks as a used book. I do think we as TOD members should avoid linking to sites that might get TOD in trouble. If you really want to read the book and can't afford it, I'll mail my copy to you.

Is this the movie?

Six Degrees Could Change the World National Geographic, (2008 TV)

Study Finds Warm Ocean Currents Cause Majority of Ice Loss From Antarctica

... "We've looked all around the Antarctic coast and we see a clear pattern: in all the cases where ice shelves are being melted by the ocean, the inland glaciers are speeding up. It's this glacier acceleration that's responsible for most of the increase in ice loss from the continent and this is contributing to sea-level rise."

"What's really interesting is just how sensitive these glaciers seem to be. Some ice shelves are thinning by a few metres a year and, in response, the glaciers drain billions of tons of ice into the sea. This supports the idea that ice shelves are important in slowing down the glaciers that feed them, controlling the loss of ice from the Antarctic ice sheet. It means that we can lose an awful lot of ice to the sea without ever having summers warm enough to make the snow on top of the glaciers melt - the oceans can do all the work from below.

The Antarctic presents the western and eastern ice sheets.

The old model assumed that the eastern sheet was fixed, and would not melt for centuries.

That has proven to be an erroneous model.

It was recently discovered that the entire continent is composed of "rivers" of glacial movement, so that when ice falls off into the ocean, for example having been induced to do that by warm currents as you mentioned, the interior ice flow moves closer to the coast to replace what fell into the water.

A constant flow was discovered to be the reality, rather than a mobile western sheet but a fixed eastern sheet. See e.g. this link.

East Antarctica is a big deal. If it melted what would it cause what 100M of sea level rise? West is only something like 5M, and Greenland is similar. But most of the Ice is in the East.

Even Greenland and west sheet would be a big deal .... IIRC there is 80m total sea level rise in all the ice.

Interesting how our understanding of how the earth reacts to warming has evolved in the past five years.

I always like to point out that in the event of a 100-meter sea level increase, most of California's Central Valley goes under water. Unless you build and maintain one hell of a dam across the Golden Gate passage into San Francisco Bay. Consider:

City             Elevation
Stockton            4m
Sacramento          8m
Lodi                15m
Modesto             28m
Fresno              90m
Bakersfield        123m
Redding            151m

Redding is at the extreme north end of the Central Valley, Bakersfield at the very south, just over 400 miles away. Call it 20,000 square miles of the most productive farmland in America.

Ditto for the Willamette Valley in Oregon, from Portland almost as far south as Eugene (131m).


"If it melted what would it cause what 100M of sea level rise?"

One sees different numbers at different times, but as you say it is a big deal, especially the eastern sheet.

I have read papers by some scientific teams that say total melt of the Arctic / Greenland, combined with Antarctica east / west would cause a ~215 foot (~70 meter) ocean level rise.

What the Navy and Port Authorities now understand is that the "lifeblood" of civilization flows through ports. International trade would be impacted at ~1 meter, destroyed at ~3 meters. Ports are vulnerable, thus, civilization is vulnerable.

"Civilization" is threatened now, and will become endangered sooner rather than later.

The human species would not be wiped out utterly in any case, but "civilization" would be.

All the talk about "how much it would cost" to stop polluting ignores the ultimate cost of not doing so.

Trouble is that the cost of not doing it does not come within this year's financial budget.



Solar Panels Cause Clashes with Homeowner Groups

The government wants you to install solar panels at your house, and will even give you a tax break to do it. But your neighbors? Maybe not.

Homeowners associations around the country have banned or severely restricted the installation of solar panels, and the solar industry has pushed back to halt the practice. A recent attempt in Georgia to expand the right to go solar had support from environmentalists and some Republican lawmakers concerned about private property rights but it succumbed to opposition from developers and real estate agents.

"It's like living under communism - someone gets to dictate every possible thing you do," David Dobs said.

... welcome to Amerika. If you don't like it - do svidaniya

One of the many reasons I avoid buying anything that has to deal with a HOA.

Fortunately many states have laws that preempt such HOA rules and thus render them unenforceable.

A bigger deal with HOA rules vs. novelty (of ANY kind) is that even if the law will protect you, socially you are a "weirdo" and your property becomes "odd" and so is harder to sell in many cases. For example, xeroscaping is actually protected under law in Florida, and in the subdivision I lived in, water restrictions were a regular occurence and so lawns would die. Nevertheless, people would go and do the same damn thing - they would put in a new lawn. Or they would drill a well and cheat the restrictions (I think there was a legal loophole for private wells, but not sure), and of course those that had wells would then pressure those without about their dead lawns.

You COULD just rip the useless thing out and plant native plants and things that are adapted to the on again, off again pattern in Florida... But your neighbors would probably drive you crazy, even if they couldn't use the HOA against you. They would almost certainly try, though.

And then when you sell... Anything even slightly different makes it harder to sell a house, in my experience. Your interior paint is a bit (even very slightly) on the colorful side? "How could anyone live with that?" and there walks away another potential buyer. The bottom and the top of the market are somewhat more tolerant of difference (because the rich just remake the house, and the lower middle class deal with it or change it themselves), but the middle is mostly very conformist.

The first rule of buying a house as told to me by my parents, you will be redecorating so do not look at the furnishings or the wallpaper. Funny that these people would happily buy a house with a HOA which will incur them sometimes considerable cost but balk at wallpaper color.

Most buyers can't make a rational choice and imagine how it will be for them after they make whatever changes they are gonna do, they just respond the the first impression/ambience.

All of the above regarding HOA is just further confirmation that this culture is insane.

Ice Mission Shows Precise Changes In Arctic Sea-Ice Thickness

Scientists have produced the first map which shows the changes in the thickness of Arctic sea ice through the entire winter season. The map is the most accurate and extensive yet.

also http://planetearth.nerc.ac.uk/news/story.aspx?id=1203

Mechanical Motion Rectifier Leads to Better Energy Harvesting

Mechanical energy is all around us, whether in the form of a vehicle's vibrations, ocean waves, or vibrating train tracks. However, much of this energy is irregular and oscillatory - for example, road bumps cause a vehicle to move up and down at random intervals - but energy harvesting works best with regular, unidirectional motion. To address this problem, a team of engineers from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook has developed a new type of energy harvester that converts irregular, oscillatory motion into regular, unidirectional motion, in the same way that an electric voltage rectifier converts AC voltage into DC. Among its applications, the energy harvester could be used in regenerative shock absorbers, which have the potential to save US drivers billions of dollars per year in fuel costs.

A solenoid and rectifiers would do exactly the same output with no gears to chew??

Maybe the benefit is more force obtained via gearing. A solenoid would be nothing more than a lightweight kiddie generator.

Remember those headlight generators for bicycles - the ones with the wheel that rubbed on the tire - why didn't they just glue on magnets, etc... because the gain was too small, the light too dim.

You talking about bottle dynamo?
That was a bad design. See Hub dynamos, can give up to 6 watts. Enough for a bright light with modern LED's.

One reason you would want to design a mechanical solution like this is where you are feeding multiple oscillating inputs into a collective source, like a flywheel intermediary that feeds a generator.

If you were just to take this motion into a single generator, you lose too much of its practical generating ability at the slow speeds during each reversal.

That's a fun mechanism.

I've got some roller clutches that have come off of Nordic Track Exercisers.. they're really interesting.. they grab without any marring of the shaft, and they release and freewheel almost completely clean and silent.. not like a bike cluster, buzzing along..

I have been playing with a flywheel/treadle frame that uses these in One direction, but have looked at the scheme to run a belt or rope driven version that draws from both directions, a bit like the one mentioned above. Just a bit cheaper.

I did some quick sanding on the Exercise bike sander today, about the first time I remembered to just walk over and do a quick cleanup of a new-cut piece. Very Convenient!


Yair . . . In the industrial context we used to call them "sprag clutches".

Some Allis Chalmers power-shift crawler tractors even had them to provide a push start function so they could be started in reverse . . . simple and trouble free.

I have often done some doodleing to figure out how to use the concept on a float to draw some energy from ocean waves.


I've sometimes played with sketches of a pair of booms that hold your sailboat to the dock, and they are rigged to extract from the movement of the boat.. of course, you have to make sure you don't rip your boat and your dock apart in the process.. but that to some degree comes down to 'not extracting EVERY little bit..'


A very old mechanism. Often used in bike transmissions, and can be arranged to give infinite shiftless speed ratio, that is to say, down to zero, all at (theoretically) 100% efficiency. Usual problem is life of ratchet. Maybe could fix that with the new very strong magnets.

Drilling Into Big Oil's Big Job Claims

Big Oil is about to report big profits this week.

So the industry is trying to focus people on a different story -- that it is a big jobs producer, worthy of its tax breaks and public appreciation in this time of still high unemployment.

And it launched an ad campaign saying it could create another million jobs in the next seven years if it gets greater freedom to drill wherever it thinks it might find more domestic oil.

The jobs cited are based on research by energy industry consulting firm IHS CERA ... [and] that job count comes from the broadest possible estimate of oil jobs. It includes everyone ... such as a clerk at a Wal-Mart or a stripper serving the workers drawn to one of those North Dakota oil boomtowns.

The oil industry was one of the few recession-proof sectors, piling up $290 billion [$290,000,000,000] in profits over the last four years, according to Thomson Reuters.

Residents evacuate after gas leaks from oil well

A gas blowout prompted more than 60 residents to evacuate their homes by Wednesday amid fear of an explosion at an oil well being drilled into the Niobrara Shale formation in Wyoming.

Natural gas began spewing into the air Tuesday from the well about 10 miles northeast of the town of Douglas. Witnesses told television station KCWY-TV that the roar of escaping gas could be heard six miles away.

The leak occurred after the well had been drilled and while steel casing was being installed down the well hole. Oil-based drilling mud spewed from the ground, along with the gas, but was mostly being contained to the drilling site, according to Chesapeake.

Foreign firms vie for Libya oil industry revival

... Security also remains one of the biggest concerns of foreign companies returning to Libya. The numbers of expatriate workers still have yet to return to pre-war levels.

"One of my biggest concerns is that fighting, such as tribal clashes, can easily start," a Libyan worker at a European oil and gas company said. "The situation is still unstable."

Encana slows natural gas production as low prices linger

Encana Corp. is slowing its natural gas production in response to lingering price weakness, the energy giant said Wednesday as it reported a profit for the first three months of 2012.

The Calgary-based company said it is aiming at reductions totalling 600 million cubic feet per day gross before royalties compared to last year through reduced spending, production shut-ins and other measures.

Expansion of Natural Gas Pipeline Through Connecticut Proposed

A Houston company [Spectra Energy Corp] is looking into expanding an existing pipeline to bring additional supplies of natural gas to southern New England with the goal of lowering energy costs.

... estimate increasing pipeline capacity in New England by about 15 percent would save gas and electric customers up to $651 million a year.

Japan Fears Nuclear Plant Sits atop Active Geological Fault

A nuclear plant in northwestern Japan may be sitting right on top of an active geological fault, the country's nuclear watchdog has said, raising the risk that the facility may never resume power generation for fear of an earthquake.

The fault fracture zone under the No.1 and No.2 units of the 1,517-megawatt Tsuruga plant could be an active fault that could move jointly with a confirmed nearby active fault, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) found in a site survey on Tuesday, a spokesman for the plant's operator said

How inane. Japan is one massive fault zone with many hundreds of faults, most of which are active. To construct a nuclear water kettle anywhere in Japan is to build it close to or atop a fault. Japanese and others have pointed out this fundamantal fact for decades, yet it's seemingly a new discovery everytime a reactor is found to have been placed on one.

What I don't get is; don't they LOOK before they build? In Sweden you can't build a railroad without first making a geological survey.

Here's a pdf showing active fault regions in Japan

Here's the current status of Nuclear reactors in Japan

Here's a map showing Nuclear Reactor locations in Japan

Here's` a quick juxtaposition of active fault zones and reactors which I just created.
The maps are different projections and not perfectly scaled to each other but you can get the idea...

SCAF appeases masses: Egypt pulls plug on gas treaty with Israel

... The gas was supplied under the terms of an agreement signed by the Egyptian government and Israel in 2005, brokered by businessman Hussein Salem, a friend of deposed former President Hosni Mubarak. It guaranteed nearly 2 billion cubic meters of Egyptian gas being exported annually to Israel for a 20-year period from the Eastern Mediterranean Gas (EMG) Company – a partnership involving Salem, the Israeli Merhav group, the Ampal American Israel Corp., the Thai firm PTT, and American businessman Sam Zell – at a price below half the cost of extracting and transporting it.

Despite objections raised by some Egyptian MPs at the time, the agreement was rubber stamped by parliament, thanks both to the dominance of the then-ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) and the fact that a presidential confidant was involved (Mubarak’s sons Gamal and Alaa were also rumored to have been paid commissions by Salem for facilitating the deal). EMG was also granted a three-year tax exemption from 2005 to 2008 by the government.

... 2005 agreement set prices from US$.705 to a maximum of US$1.75.

This did not prevent Mubarak’s government from concluding further agreements with Israel in late 2010 to increase the quantity of gas supplied from 1.7 to 2.9 billion cubic meters/yr, for a 20-year period starting in 2010 and at the old prices.

Wind pushes plastics deeper into oceans, driving trash estimates up

Reporting in Geophysical Research Letters this month, Proskurowski and co-lead author Tobias Kukulka, University of Delaware, said that data collected from just the surface of the water commonly underestimates the total amount of plastic in the water by an average factor of 2.5.

In high winds the volume of plastic could be underestimated by a factor of 27

With all this natural gas, who needs oil?

"It's a no-brainer. We could jump-start the economy overnight, put 100,000 people to work – easy – and help the environment," says Mr. Mann, a former Volkswagen technician who's as comfortable talking about global energy solutions as he is around a socket wrench.

... "What I don't understand is what we are doing sending billions of dollars overseas to buy oil when we've got a 100-year supply of natural gas right under our feet?"

What I don't understand is what we are doing sending billions of dollars overseas to buy oil when we've got a 100-year supply of natural gas right under our feet?

Perhaps because there isn't any 100-year supply.

Also what gets forgotten is if we find ways to draw on that NG 10 times faster it will only last 1/10th of the time, and then we'll be importing NG, just like we're importing oil.

a former Volkswagen technician who's as comfortable talking about global energy solutions as he is around a socket wrench.

Technician = mechanic. I've known some very good mechanics, and some very smart people who were mechanics, but what has that to do with this guys qualifications to understand the issue? "We've got gas, let's burn that!" Do you even need to be a mechanic to understand that a vehicle can run on NG? Most forklift operators have figured that out.

Plus, "Quick! Convert 200M automobiles to run on NG by next Tuesday!"

Nah, instead we'll build a GTL plant or two!

Shedding Light On Debate Over Organic vs. Conventional Agriculture: Study Calls For Combining Best of Both Approaches

Can organic agriculture feed the world?

... A new study published in Nature concludes that crop yields from organic farming are generally lower than from conventional agriculture. That is particularly true for cereals, which are staples of the human diet - yet the yield gap is much less significant for certain crops, and under certain growing conditions, according to the researchers.

The yield comparison is not entirely relevant. "Unsustainable" generally implies that some things will not continue regardless of how much people might want them to. Perhaps the yield of organic agriculture would look much better compared with the actual alternative - nothing.

Why not folar feed synthetics and shoot for organics in the soil?

Liberty scraps offshore liquid gas terminal plan

A company that proposed building a liquefied natural gas terminal off the central New Jersey coast has withdrawn its application, saying it will start over on a new plan in the future.

Liberty Natural Gas LLC had applied to the federal Maritime Administration and the Coast Guard to build a facility 16 miles off Asbury Park.

Equipment Maker Caught Installing Backdoor Account in Control System Code

A Canadian company that makes equipment and software for critical industrial control systems planted a backdoor login account in its flagship operating system, according to a security researcher, potentially allowing attackers to access the devices online.

The backdoor, which cannot be disabled, is found in all versions of the Rugged Operating System made by RuggedCom, according to independent researcher Justin W. Clarke, who works in the energy sector.

RuggedCom switches and servers are used in “mission-critical” communication networks that operate power grids and railway and traffic control systems as well as manufacturing facilities.

RuggedCom, which is based in Canada, was recently purchased by the German conglomerate Siemens. Siemens, itself, has been highly criticized for having a backdoor and hard-coded passwords in some of its industrial control system components.

This is what I call the 'cowboy' approach to system design. Thinking that what you do is always correct, and users are fools and you must always be around to fix things.

The problem is, people don't always continue working for the same company and sometimes they die without giving their passwords to the workers who follow them. I think that having a backdoor is a form of insurance for a company against such difficulties. For example, I've worked on the gate for one of those exclusive communities that the well-to-do seem to want to live in. The gate has a built in system to allow fire and police to quickly open the gate without a code...

E. Swanson

From the great state of Maine....

Historic Day for Tidal Energy in the US

Maine regulators have directed three utilities to buy 4 megawatts (MW) of tidal electricity from Ocean Renewable Power Company, making it the first state to commercialize ocean energy.

Installation of the first unit began in March and in Cobscook Bay and will be finished by late summer, feeding electricity to the grid by October 1.

In fall 2013, the company will add four more devices with a total capacity of 900 kilowatts, enough to power about 100 homes.

The 4 MW project will supp[l]y electricity for over 1000 homes by 2016.

However, it's this next bit that I found especially interesting:

The term sheet sets the price to be paid for tidal power at 21.5 cents per kilowatt hour, much higher than typical rates of 11-12 cents. The rate will rise 2% a year and makes the project feasible.

In making the decision, regulators looked at what the cost of fossil fuels would be over 20 years and decided they would likely be even higher. In fact, they see tidal energy being cost-competitive in as little as five years.

See: http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/23643

Presumably all that low-cost natural gas currently flooding the market will have been needlessly squandered within five years' time.


Great stuff, Seraph; thanks!

I spent a good part of the day out in the field lending a hand to the boys as we rush to complete various projects by month end.

This included swapping out 75-watt halogens at a retail store for 12-watt EnduraLED PAR30s -- socket wattage falls by 84 per cent, lamp life increases from 2,500 hours to 45,000, no more worries about UV fading or heat related damage and the displays looks fantastic.

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/Img_1301.jpg

The one thermostat for this building is located on this elevated platform and the enormous amount of heat given off by these halogens was causing the air conditioning to cycle on and off pretty much year round. Of course, the rest of the building was freezing and so staff were using electric rads at the opposite end to keep warm. Switching to LEDs should eliminate the need to simultaneously heat and cool the same space which will further drive down their utility costs.

Other odds and ends... there are three decorative pendants that had been fitted with 100-watt incandescents, now sporting 8-watt LED A19s.


There are five more fabric pendants in their window displays, again, originally fitted with 100-watt incandescents, now illuminated by 3-watt EnduraLED BA11s (why these things hadn't burst into flames prior to this is beyond me). The 50-watt halogens PAR20s in their cabinet cases have been likewise fitted with 7-watt EnduraLED PAR20s.


The 4-lamp prismatic troffers that you see here will be replaced by Lithonia 12-cell volumetric parabolics; these volumetric fixtures will provide a comparable amount of light but will use 75 per cent less energy (43-watts versus 180) and their more stylish construction will add to the overall appearance of the store.

The client is absolutely thrilled with the work completed thus far, and can't believe the reduction in her lighting load or that she won't have to replace her new lamps for ten or fifteen years (I'm told that they use to go through a half dozen halogens every other week). This sort of feedback and genuine appreciation is a big part of why I enjoy the work that I do.

No more coal fired plants !


I trust HIH you charge a GREAT DEAL for your expertise and innovative solutions.

Thanks, Cargill. Fair to say that my business partner is highly profit motivated, but that has never been the main driver for me. I enjoy the creative aspect of working with light and finding the right tool to do the job and, in the process, wringing out every last kWh that I can.

I spend a lot of my time looking for ways to lower our cost of service. For example, we're currently working at a car dealership that is undergoing extensive renovations. This drive through area was originally illuminated by twenty-four F40T12 strips and rather than re-lamp/re-ballast with T8s (the default option), I opted to yank out what they had and install six new T8 high bays.

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/Img_1299.jpg

Our firm could have made more money by retrofitting their existing hardware or by replacing these T12 strips with new T8 strips on a one-for-one basis, but this alternate approach shaved several hundreds of dollars from our project costs and all of these savings were passed on to our client; it's just the right thing to do.

Oh, one other thing... we changed the switching so that the front row of high bays can be left off whenever there is sufficient daylight; the three over the service writers' workstations should still provide plenty of light for what they need to do.


Global food price rise on costlier oil-World Bank

Global food prices rose in the first four months of 2012, pushed higher by volatile world oil prices, strong demand for food imports from Asia and adverse weather conditions in parts of Europe, South America and United States, the World Bank said on Wednesday.

If current food production forecast for 2012/2013 do not materialize, global food prices could reach higher levels and required close monitoring, the World Bank cautioned.

Developing economies were hit by a food and energy price crisis in 2008, sparking social unrest and prompting food export bans in some countries that pushed prices higher

World Bank Food Price Watch Report

There is an uneasy seen/unseen economic mystery to the unconventional NG situation. The low cost is not the Spindletop type of low cost or the pure government subsidy low cost. Someone is currently paying the higher costs suggested by Berman and others. The cost will not suddenly change when the NG price goes up. The economy as a whole is probably not benefitting from the low NG price. So the companies are drilling on Wall Street, but does it stop there? Is it just the company stock and bond holders at risk or is there a wider hazard? It is only a few billion dollars for a few companies, maybe 100 billion total. Not a lot of money but could the capital have been allocated better?

jim - "Not a lot of money but could the capital have been allocated better?" But allocated where? Some other trend? If you mean is there a better place for the Chesapeake et als to spend as much monies as they have: then no IMHO. These companies are drilling the various shale plays because they are the only game where they can budget enough money to drill enough wells to replace their depleting reserves. I'm personally very pleased to see all those fat budgets going after unconventional plays. We're a relatively small player that goes after convention plays. And there aren't enough of those left in the onshore US for us let alone have Chesapeake et al competing with us for what is left. Last year I gave back $40 million of our budget because I couldn't find enough conventional projects. I'll probably give back even more this year now that we've shut down most of our deep conventional NG plays due to the current low NG price. Now I'm focused on EOR from old conventional fields.

The public companies have to replace their reserves y-o-y...that's the prime metric Wall Street uses to value public companies. Hypothetically assume that CHK decides to drill only the top 25% of their drilling inventory when ranked on the basis of potential profitability. Obvious the company's profit would be much greater. And they wouldn't need to borrow as much money. Heck, they might be able to drill all those wells out of cash flow and not borrow a penny. Of course, if they followed that plan and year after year they failed to have a net increase in their reserve base how would the WS brokers pitch their stock? Profitability is nice but if they have a continually shrinking reserve base where would future profits come from? So the potential stock buyers would only have dividend income as a reason to buy CHK. Have you looked at their dividend yield lately? Looked at the debt they are carrying? Bottom line IMHO is that most of these pubcos have no choice but to drill the unconventional pays because there aren't enough conventional wells left to drill to satisfy their demand.

Or more simply: how many stock brokers pitch equities to their clients for which there's no reason to expect the price of the stock to increase? Just not a lot of commission to be made that way.

Perhpaps jimkell means could the capital have been spent better on something else our society needs. If so, then I agree completely. The rush to produce as much NG as possible has put us in a position of figuring out how to get rid of it all by shipping it overseas where prices are higher. Meanwhile, the industry will contract and the stock brokers will move on to push some other flavor of the day. Now, having said that the capital could have been spent better, that's not saying that it would have been if it had been in the hands of others. From what I've seen, business leaders are generally pretty self interested, short sighted and influenced by fads and fashions. If the money hadn't been spent on drilling for NG that isn't needed it would have likely been spent developing new energy drinks, hot dog warmers or other crap that nobody needs.

Or it could have been spent by government to subsidize wasteful consumption or overbuilding housing or creating a new bomb.

When you come right down to it -- what the hell is there to invest in that would make any sense? Mass transit? Insulation for older homes? Subsidizing solar energy? Nah, let's blow it on overdrilling for NG.

King - The basic problem is that the capex CHK spends doesn't belong to society anymore than your or my money. It belongs to the shareholders. CHK is legally obligated to invest it for the benefit of those shareholders. If CHK magement woke up tomorrow morning and announced they were out of the drilling business and were going to build wind turbines that might be beneficial for society. But not very beneficial for their shreholders' equity. Consider the huge capex Apple spends making high priced toys for adults. Not very beneficial for society's basic needs, eh? How would their shareholders do if Apple stepped away from the electronic toy market?

In a sense all public companies are trapped in their biz plans IMHO. CHK is an oil/NG exploration company. We can debate whether they're doing a good job of that at the moment. But there are folks who own the many #billions of their stock who bought their shares with the expectation of them building on those skills. Suppose you had just invested a big chunk of your retirement money in Company A that made Product X and made a nice profit doing so. But management has a vision of doing something else of greater benefit to humnity. And now you just lost a big chunk of money. Of course a company could try a slow transition. Unfortunately from what I hear CHK may not have enough capex to carry on BAU let alone develop a second biz model.

The basic problem is that the capex CHK spends doesn't belong to society anymore than your or my money. It belongs to the shareholders.

Shareholders mattering? That's the old-thinking right there.
Summary of the videos - Shareholders who are also "the 99%" were denied access to a Wells Fargo shareholders meeting. About 1500 people were denied access who were waiting to go into the meeting. They were even holding up their share certificates, yet they were not allowed to go into a meeting that was their right to.

I know that every single financial commentator in the media, and every junior professor teaching Economics 101, would agree with you - but I still think it is BS. Share price is (and always has been) a chimera - and the share value should be based on dividend alone - after all that IS the return on capital, if you aren't silly enough to be counting on future capital gain.

And if you ARE counting on capital gain to make the real money, then you're probably in the wrong business. I think it's nuts that explorers spend a fortune on high-risk unconventional prospects, to allegedly build reserve inventories, and just to prop up a share price that might not be realised for years and years. Nuts.

I remember a point made somewhere in the comments of the last month which was very surprising to me. Someone said that the output of the Shell GTL plants (don't remember which one - Pearl or Bintulu) is so clean that it can be drunk. Is that true and if true, how? The information I was able to find is that the higher alkanes, while being less toxic than the lighter, volatile ones, still have very adverse effects even in low doses.

Found this on a site about Bintulu:

GTL products have certain advantages over the same products made from petrochemical feedstocks; namely that there is virtually no sulfur or aromatics in the product. This results in a colorless, odorless, and clean-burning product. (I have actually seen people drink fuel produced by a GTL process to show that it is non-toxic, but I wouldn’t recommend doing it).


Of course, there are many different products made at these plants... maybe some of it is ethanol. That would qualify as drinkable, if not totally non-toxic!

some of it is ethanol. That would qualify as drinkable, if not totally non-toxic!

Ethyl Alcohol is toxic. Getting drunk is your brains way of 'dying' from the toxin.

Sudan War

Very interesting and informative conversation about Sudan:

I've listened to the coverage commonly allowed on the American airwaves... It's an empty list of names and very current events... with no background or history.

It is a war over oil. Over two and a half million people have been killed for this bit of oil, so far. China came in and developed oil fields in one half of Sudan with pipes running across the other half to get the oil headed out to China. Political lines were redrawn to put the oil region under profitable control... like was done with Kuwait.

Sudan bought weapons on credit. This is a national debt that must be serviced. They got, on credit, a billion dollars worth of MIG29 fighter jet aircraft from Russia. These are pretty toys for the buyer's to display: against unsophisticated civilians, the airborne weapon is bombs... bombs that can be just pushed out the back of cargo planes... which is what they are doing.

So, a foreign country came in and paid off the few locals that had men and weapons (leadership). The plan was to pump the oil out from under the rest of the natives. But, trouble broke out because the leadership only controlled the oil patch, not the vast tract crossed by the pipelines. So, another foreign country allowed the leadership to deliver their country into debt in exchange for the weapons needed to eliminate any human impediment to the flow of oil to the first foreign country. Banks were made happy all the way around. Over 2,500,000 people were hacked and blown apart.

In the small numbers, people are nice: the little lost dog on the freeway getting saved, the children rescued out of a burning house by the neighbors, an extra big helping and a smile from the lunch-man... nice. In actions that affect big numbers, numbers in the millions... people are crap. That is the bottom line to most everything worried over here on The Oil Drum. On the big scale, in matters that make a real impact... There is something very wrong with the human animal. There is something very wrong with those that rise to power. Enjoy the sweet little things. Run like hell when the herd goes mad.

South Sudan president: Sudan has 'declared war'


Funny how I knew that there was friction between Sudan and South Sudan because South Sudan has oil but no port.

From US radio news (MPR to be precise).

They may or may not be bringing all that into their reporting now, but it has salted their coverage of the situation since South Sudan was formed.

It was clear from the start that this partition of Sudan was grossly unstable. The side with the oil has no infrastructure, and the side used to being in power and control has no oil. And the oil from the South has to cross the North to get out - it's an insane arrangement.

Nice summary.

Yes, the Abyei area was supposed to get a vote on whether it is part of the north or south as well, but because LOTS of oil is there and it's on the border, the north blocked it. The north has been booming do to oil, and much of that is from Abyei.

That said, there is a lot more than oil causing this war. North and South Sudan are culturally and ethnically distinct, though naturally these distinctions are not on a clear border but rather in mixed zones (this is pretty normal in human history - German and Poland never had a clear border because German and Polish speakers lived side by side over a wide area). The non-Arab, non-Muslim South (along with regions like Dafur) has resented being ruled by an Arab dictator who has pushed Islamic law.

I think these conflicts would probably have occured eventually, regardless of oil, in the modern climate of ethnic/liguistic/religious nation state ideology. Europe had many decades of many wars leading up to the current, fairly "purified", ethnically based states. Sudan is caught in the same trap, which led to the breakup into Sudan and South Sudan. This is the same trend as occured in the breakup of Yugoslavia. Basically, in order to form a modern nation-state, you need ethnic and/or religious cleansing. Not that these things didn't happen before modern nation-states... People don't need oil as an excuse to kill each other. We are tribal animals.

That said, you can't ignore oil. Oil has fueled the war, and oil will continue to do so. And nothing goes together like oil, Arab dictators, and ethnic/religious conflict!

Bankers and politicians will kill for oil or gold or pension fund surpluses. They are a self selected sub group of humans.

"They are a self selected sub group of humans."

Shouldn't that be "self-selected group of sub-humans"?

By the end of the decade, Israel will probably satisfy all its own natural gas requirements, and become a serious exporter of liquefied natural gas. Argentina might produce the world's third-largest volume of shale oil. Mozambique seems likely to become one of the largest LNG exporters in the world. And the United States may meet most of its own liquid-fuel needs.

I may be old-fashioned, but over my 60 years on planet earth, the one characteristic of the oil & gas industry is that it hasn't changed all that much - and certainly not too much during each decade. Sure - nations rise and fall in their rate of extraction - but nothing outrageously dramatic happens too quickly.

So these claims seem to be wild-eyed journalism - for all that to happen in just eight years - someone perhaps looking for a story on the dreary business pages.

Let's just take the last one - if 'most' is 50.01%, then I'd say, sure, maybe. We're at about 56% now and headed down thanks to ELM. But I don't think that's what the journo is intending to imply.

Oil palm surging source of greenhouse gas emissions

The study, conducted by Yale and Stanford researchers, found that about two-thirds of lands outside of protected areas in the Ketapang District of West Kalimantan Province in Indonesian Borneo are leased to oil palm agribusiness companies. If these leases are converted to oil palm at current expansion rates, by 2020 monotypic palm stands will occupy more than a third of regional lands and intact forests will decline to less than 5 percent from approximately 15 percent in 2008.

The researchers were surprised to learn that 50 percent of oil palm plantations were established on peatlands through last year. When peat soils are drained for oil palm cultivation, they begin to release carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. The study found that if oil palm expansion continues, with no restrictions on peatland development, almost 90 percent of oil palm's greenhouse gas emissions will come from peatlands by 2020.

Could the Mekong's water destabilise Asia?

... The paper Dams, Power and Security in the Mekong says proliferation of dams could destroy the livelihoods of millions, devastate the economies of Cambodia and Vietnam, and force many to migrate: "The social ramification of such migration is often resentment in the receiving communities against new arrivals. There is documented evidence of this exacerbating ethnic or political tensions leading to violent conflict."

"The forced relocation of hundreds of thousands in the Mekong Basin, similar to that witnessed with the removal of 1.4 million people during construction of the Three Gorges' Dam in China, is just the beginning," adds Baker, a student at the University's Centre for International Security Studies.

"In the longer term, the havoc wrought on fisheries and the impact on agriculture brought about by these dams is likely to create a food security catastrophe."

Turkey starts oil, gas search in north Cyprus

Turkey began exploratory drilling for oil and gas Thursday in the breakaway Turkish north of ethnically divided Cyprus, heightening a dispute over who is entitled to the Mediterranean island's potential fuel riches.

The move counters an offshore gas search by rival Greek Cypriots in the island's internationally recognized southern half that has touched off vociferous protests from Ankara and Turkish Cypriots.

TPAO President and CEO Mehmet Uysal said drilling will reach a total depth of 3,000 meters (9,850 feet) and will take four months to complete. He said the investment in the search for fuel in northern Cyprus could cost as much as $400 million.

Work begins on Chernobyl shelter on anniversary

... The 20,000-tonne arched structure that spans 257 metres, known as the New Safe Confinement, is designed to last for a century, and will contain hi-tech equipment to carry out safe decontamination work inside the ruined reactor.

The construction of the shelter is expected to cost 990 million euros and to be put in place in 2015, while the decontamination work on the site will push the total cost up to 1.5 billion euros ($2 billion).

As the president visited the site, some 1,000 Chernobyl clean-up workers rallied in Kiev over cuts to their benefits in the latest of a string of angry protests over the austerity measure ... According to Ukrainian official figures, more than 25,000 of the cleanup workers, known as "liquidators" from then-Soviet Ukraine, Russia and Belarus have died since the disaster

Shell says high prices eroding fuel demand

... "In oil products, our underlying volumes were flat," Shell Chief Financial Officer Simon Henry told a news conference. "Demand is being eroded by high prices."

He noted flat volume in Europe and the United States, along with firm demand for branded fuels in Asia-Pacific.

... Shell believes the crude market is "fundamentally well supplied," Henry said, echoing the view of other players such as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries that there is no shortage and geopolitical tensions - such as over Iran - were supporting prices.

Seraph, thanks for all your posts. This one in particular gets me due to that wonder phrase "well supplied". Demand is being eroded by high prices, yet the market is well supplied. How can you even respond to a statement like that?

Cognitive dissonance.

Clearly, both IOC and NOC are reading from the same hymnal.

Oil is supplied from a well. That's all it means ;-)

That pun was actually funny.

Demand is being eroded by high prices, yet the market is well supplied.

Don't they teach Econ 101 anymore?

Pipeline agenda behind change in fisheries policy, critics charge

Fish habitat will no longer be protected in Canada under a new law from the federal government [Fisheries Act].

The budget implementation bill tabled today in the House of Commons by the Conservatives will narrow protections only to fish themselves.

Critics say the bill is designed to fast-track pipelines, which will now be able to pass through streams without undergoing environmental reviews. ... NDP MP Fin Donnelly alleged the government was clearing hurdles for the proposed Enbridge pipeline that would be built from the Alberta oil sands to the west coast.

From the horses mouth, so to speak...

Harper Government Commits to the Responsible Protection and Conservation of Canada’s Fisheries

“We have been clear that the current rules governing the protection of fish habitat are indiscriminate and unfocused and do not reflect the priorities of Canadians,” continued Minister Ashfield. “We are committed to making sure our rules protect the fisheries that Canadians value and the habitat that supports them."

  1. If only fish had been a little discriminating in their habitat choices it wouldn't have had to come to this.
  2. And, you better be a charismatic fish if you want to survive... long enough to be harvested.

P.S. The backgrounders at the bottom of the above link are good examples of the baffle-gab and spin we are now governed by in Canada.

Heavy rain and flood warnings in United Kingdom - little benefit to England drought

Residents in flood risk areas have been offered free sandbags to help protect their properties from rising water levels despite much of the country being declared in drought.

Off-topic. Nuke if inappropriate.

Was out to the farm the other day to pick up some manure and noticed this.

If anyone has an interest in raising Scottish Highland Cattle and lives in/near Connecticut, Snow's Farm has a couple of calves for sale.

Anyone heard from Heisenberg lately? He's been quiet for a few weeks. Where y'at, H?

I don't know where he is, but I measured him traveling at 56.78993 MPH.

Well I laughed. That was geeky that it was great.

Good one! (Talk Nerdy to me.)

or as the T-shirts at the Boston Museum of Science now say, (StarWars theme..)

"Come over to the Dork Side. They have Pi."

Exxon Mobil profits hit by lower oil production


That seems like a fairly sharp decline but it may not be so steep net of dispruptions: http://www.wikinvest.com/concept/Peak_Oil/Bulls/Exxon_Production_Drops

I wonder will they really be able to lift production as they say for the next four years or so.

mass - I suspect you're correct. XOM is blessed and cursed by their huge size. Their reserve base is so huge that below ground factors can't change that number very much y-o-y...neither up nor down. Above ground factors would have an easier job of it but even then a 7% drop in production is huge for a company that size IMHO.

I wonder about an even bigger oil company - Saudi Aramco.

A -7% drop there would have "ramifications".

Best Hopes for Ghawar,


‘Dirty’ Energy Co. Yanks Paper Bragging About Apple’s Power-Guzzling Ways

The utility company that supplies power to Apple’s Maiden, North Carolina, data center has pulled a paper from its website that bragged about Apple’s energy-guzzling ways.

“This was the best-kept secret in the data center world,” said Duke Energy Director of Business Development Stu Heishman, according to a copy of the report, which had formerly been located on a website run by Duke’s business development group.

... “We fully expect Apple to be one of our top ten customers in the Carolinas,” Heishman said in the report.

Data center operators such as Apple are “the type of customer where the meter spins and spins at an exponential pace,” said Clark Gillespy, a Duke vice president of economic development, according to the report. “It may be the most ideal customer we could have.” Their top concerns include “power cost and reliability,” Gillespy said. “We were able to convince Apple that we were capable of providing the low cost and reliability they needed for their operations.”

That isn’t 100 percent on-message with Apple, who says Maiden will be “the greenest data center ever built,” gaining 60 percent of its power from on-site renewable sources.

Cambodian police shoot anti-logging activist

A prominent Cambodian anti-logging activist who helped expose a secretive state sell-off of national parks has been killed in a remote southwestern province, police have said.

Chut Wutty, director of the Phnom Penh-based environmental watchdog Natural Resource Protection Group, died after military police opened fire near a Chinese-built hydroelectric dam in Koh Kong, said Colonel Kheng Tito, a spokesman for the National Military Police, said on Wednesday

World's glaciers 'out of balance'

Earth's glaciers are seriously out of balance with the global climate and are already on their way to losing almost 40% of their volume.

That is the assessment of scientists after studying a representative group of 144 small and large glaciers around the world. Their figures assume no further warming of the climate.

However, if temperatures continue to rise as models predict, the wastage will be even higher, the team says.

This means a certain amount of mass loss is already locked into the system even if there is no further warming.

"Glaciers will move up in the terrain, they will become smaller and thinner and they will adjust to the climate conditions.

On the other hand, we expect the climate will warm continuously in the future, meaning that the glaciers will become even more out of balance, and that means the glaciers will commit even more volume to sea level rise."

What they are saying here is that as the world gets even warmer, the balance will be even more off, and the melt will go even faster (measured in volume/year).

Population and consumption key to future, report says

Over-consumption in rich countries and rapid population growth in the poorest both need to be tackled to put society on a sustainable path, a report says.

An expert group convened by the Royal Society spent nearly two years reading evidence and writing their report.

... or they could have read LTG 40 years ago

"This is an absolutely critical period for people and the planet, with profound changes for human health and wellbeing and the natural environment," said Sir John Sulston, the report's chairman.

"Where we go is down to human volition - it's not pre-ordained, it's not the act of anything outside humanity, it's in our hands."

... at least for the next 3 years - after that we're spectators.

The Royal Society People and the Planet Report

Still spectators, or as I like to say, "This is going to be hard to watch."


The "arabic spring" turns bizarre after islamist takes over. I thought they would oppose against this, but aparently no.

Allowing necrophilia with a spouse within 6 hours after death may be a diversion to distract attention from the real news: Egyptian woman are about to lose their ability to be educated and employed as Islamic fascists take over Egypt.

Also I suspect a political destabilization of the Egypt/Israel border. This means high chnces of more troubles for the palestinans, as well as increased risks for warof one form, shape or colour or another. This is bad news...

While searching for material to send to my former college classmate who is the leading civil servant in charge of formulating the national energy policy for my island, I ran into the following article. Actually, digging a little further, I now realize that the money shot is from an article linked to in a post by Flakmeister in the March 30 DB:

German solar juggernaut rolls on despite tariff cuts

The interpretation seized on by Photon (and subsequently restated in English by Renewables International Magazine) is that this dip in daytime electricity price is entirely thanks to Germany's photovoltaics infrastructure. That has rocketed from an installed capacity of 6GW in 2008 to 25GW in 2011—amounting to half the world's installed solar power, with 7.5GW installed in that year alone. Renewables International estimates that a further 2GW may have been installed already this year.

It makes intuitive sense that solar power would make electricity prices more competitive during daylight hours, but what's striking is the scale of the effect. As veteran business and environment journalist Giles Parkinson put it at Renew Economy, "solar PV is not just licking the cream off the profits of the fossil fuel generators—it is in fact eating their entire cake."

Based on the above quote, is it a conspiracy theory to suggest that the entrenched electricity providers would do everything in their power smear and undermine the solar PV industry? According to that quote, solar PV in Germany has reduced the price of electricity when it is normally at it's highest, severely impacting the ability of utilities to make good profits during the time when PV is producing most of it's power. It also means that expensive peaking plants must be used for a shorter time but, what are the implications from load following plants? There is a good chance that more of the existing plant is going to end up being used less which makes more difficult to recover the capital spent to build that plant and thus to generate profits from it.

Bear in mind that the price graph in the article is for March 7! The installed generating capacity for PV in Germany was listed as 25GW as at the end of 2011, it has probably grown another couple of GW by now and will more than likely be up by another GW or so by the middle of summer. So if we see upwards of 50% of an estimated 28GW installed capacity coming on line in the course of a good mid summer's day, we're talking about possibly north of 15GW of solar PV power! This represents about a quarter of Germany's average consumption and more than one sixth of their peak. (figures pulled from a a post by apmon in the March 30 DB)

I will be monitoring the situation in Germany with interest this summer by checking regularly at the following page:


This should be an interesting summer in Germany since the growth in installed PV capacity since last year might finally destabilize the German grid, as has been feared.

This whole situation would explain why my local electricity provider wants to make sure that anyone using PV to generate electricity in my neck of the woods is paid at a rate that allows them to keep their profits. In addition the plan is to use net billing, a scheme that allows the utility to profit from every kWh that each PV installation generates. The alternative scheme, net meetering, would allow the owners of the PV installations to offset their electricity consumption at retail prices with the utility only being able to profit from net of the power consumed/produced at each premises. Otherwise, I guess they cannot see any upside to PV. Our only hope is that the government steps in and mandates that net meetering be instituted. In that event, I'm sure that there will be howls of protest, in which case the government could bluff them by threatening to impose Feed In Tarrifs.

Alan from the islands

A March 24, 2011 article (it's somewhat dated but I haven't come across anything more recent) reviews renewable electricity generation in Germany for 2010. Horror of horrors, according to the article, Wind and Solar accounted for more than 30% of electricity generated on certain days in February. Now, AS WE ALL KNOW, this simply defies the Laws of Physics and isn't possible.

Article at:


(See bottom of article for details on the 30% figure)

.. and what it says to me is that the cat is out of the bag, and more than upsetting the grid, (which it may do until we figure out how to store it.. like with EV's, Water Heaters and Overcooled Freezers.. very complicated stuff.) more than that, it will upset these rates the utilites have depended on, and make EVERYONE really reevaluate what to make of this 'undependable' source of energy.

Using the utility as your battery imposes a cost on the utility and by extension the other rate payers who are forced to pay for your on-demand power needs.

Saved me saying it, net metering is a subsidy program. At low penetration levels the costs imposed on ratepayers are dramatically less than the benefits received by the generator, however. If we are going to subsidize distributed renewables this makes it a good subsidy. As penetration rises, this becomes less true. That's true at both single install levels and full grid levels.

If net metered generation is "on-peak" and net metered load is off peak, and netted one-for-one, ratepayers could come out ahead up to a point. It would be unusual for a customer in this circumstance to install generation, however, it does illustrate part of why PV NEM has relatively low subsidy cost on A/C peaking grids.

On one hand I made my post to highlight the high and increasing penetration in Germany with it's effect on prices and the stability of the grid.

On the other hand I was referring to the situation on my island where, the grid is about 3% hydro with the rest powered by oil and a big debate is raging at the moment as to whether the old plant should be replaced by coal or NG fired plant, in an attempt to reduce the retail price from it's current US 41 cents per kWh. We have no FF resources but, we have upwards of 5 sun hours per day. If TPTB believed that Peak Oil is history or imminent, I'm pretty sure the interests of the incumbent generator would not be very high on the list of priorities.

Alan from the islands

Germany is reaching a tipping point where the current incentive structure must be rebalanced or it will begin to cause problems. Nobody has a continuing right to electrical services that a private party is required to provide at a loss.

If the grid doesn't work without the incumbent generator and a well-maintained grid, and they are investor-owned-utilities with cost of service rates passed thru to remaining ratepayers, you can bet that the costs of the incumbent generator (thought not necessarily the existing equipment) and grid maintenance WILL be prime considerations, since if they aren't the utility and the grid will fail. The tipping point where net metering is no longer an appropriate subsidy is different for different initial conditions. There may well be initial conditions where it is immediately inappropriate.

Petro State per Usual: Reading Alberta's Election

Why it's so hard to kick out or reform an oil-fueled government.

Just about every pundit and pollster alive predicted that the libertarian Wildrose party would surely end the Tories' 41- year long reign in Alberta.

But they got that dead wrong and history, once again, did not unfold as predicted.

The chatterati not only underestimated the enduring mechanisms of social control in a petro state, but failed to grasp its tortured nature.

In fact most of Canada's political scientists, a fraternity of the deaf and dumb, still don't have the courage to recognize Alberta as a highly dysfunctional petro state. Yet half its electorate (the equivalent of petroleum welfare bums) can't even bother to vote.

And no wonder: petro states are largely oblivious to elections and other changes because they rise and fall according to the price of oil.

Danielle Smith Is No Sarah Palin

Palin was braver against Big Oil. And more political truths Alaska reveals about Alberta.

The Wildrose Party, a political upstart made up of largely angry white people, sketchy Tories and climate change deniers, seems posed to replace the incompetent bunch of Conservative libertarians, panjandrums and climate change skeptics who have run Alberta into the ground.

Alberta's media have compared Wild Rose leader Danielle Smith to Sarah Palin, but she's no grizzly momma. Smith, a Fraser Institute libertarian, fronts a party that raises money by declaring: "Only when the government of Alberta supports and trusts its most important industry -- oil and gas -- will Alberta's future be truly secure."

Palin, the original "Drill, Baby, Drill" girl, knew better and acted accordingly. In her recently released emails the rogue Republican regularly expressed disgust with the way Big Oil bullied the state's politicians and electorate.

“Charitable” Fraser Institute accepted $500k in foreign funding from Koch oil billionaires

In four years alone, U.S. Tea Party architects the Koch brothers poured half a million dollars into Canadian right-wing think tank, the Fraser Institute.

As the Conservative assault continues against Canadian environmental charities, the Vancouver Observer has learned that since 2007, foreign oil billionaires the Koch brothers have donated over half a million dollars to the “charitable” right-wing Fraser Institute.

According to U.S. tax documents, the Fraser Institute received $150,000 from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation in 2008, $175,500 in 2009, and another $150,000 in 2010. The grants were purportedly for "research support" and "educational programs".

In addition, the Koch brothers have been said to have “substantial interests” in the Canadian oil sands and the building of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Though the two businessmen repeatedly claimed to have no connection to the proposed pipeline from Alberta to the Gulf Coast, Koch subsidiary Flint Hills Resources Canada was involved in the Canadian regulatory review process for Keystone as an intervenor.

In a submission to the National Energy Board, Flint Hills explained that it "is among Canada's largest crude oil purchasers, shippers and exporters. Consequently, Flint Hills has a direct and substantial interest in the [Keystone XL] application".

Hydro Quebec 2011 Annual Report (pdf)

In 2011, net electricity exports by Hydro-Québec Production accounted for 11% of net sales volume. They generated 24% of the division’s net income and 15% of the company’s net income.

Quebec has the same problem as most oil exporters, it implicitly subsidizes domestic consumption of the energy it produces and as a result doesn't have much left over to export.

Westexas, do you have an ELM for hydro-electricity?

Annual Report 2011: Message from the President and Chief Executive Officer

Net income totaled $2,611 million, up nearly $100 million from 2010. As a result of this performance, which was well in excess of the projections in the Strategic Plan 2009–2013, we will be able to pay a dividend of almost $2 billion to our shareholder, the Québec government.

In Québec, our customers benefited from a 0.41% rate cut and sales rose by $214 million. This increase is explained mainly by near-normal winter temperatures, compared with the very mild winter we saw in 2010.

Net electricity exports grew by $100 million, despite the decline in energy prices on markets in northeastern North America and the appreciation of the Canadian dollar. The price of natural gas, and hence of electricity, fell as a result of the sharp increase in U.S. shale gas production. The rise of the Canadian dollar heightened this effect.

"15% of the company’s net income" comes from exports, and net income was $2,611 million, so $391.65 million was the net income from exports. Note that exports were 24% of the production division's income. They make a lot more per kWh exporting than selling domestically.

The energy efficiency of the housing stock in Quebec is pretty awful and many houses are heated with electricity because it is so cheap. Quebec would be smart to put in place a really good building energy standard so that less electricity was needed for home heating, freeing it up for export which would increase Hydro-Quebec's revenue and hence revenue to the provincial treasury.

Marcellus water-use permits suspended

Authorities in Pennsylvania have temporarily suspended water-withdrawal permits for natural gas operators in the Marcellus Shale as unusually low levels of rain and snow in the region have limited the availability of the important drilling resource.

What makes this year unusual is how early the trigger levels have been reached, she said, adding that triggers started in June in 2010. Some passby requirements actually began kicking in as early as February this year for certain water withdrawals in northern Pennsylvania, SRBC said.

“It doesn’t bode well unless we return to some normal rainfall patterns,” Obleski said about the prospects of the suspensions being lifted. “We need sustained normal levels of rainfall.”

It's funny how climate change is screwing up the shale gas business model.

  • Warm winters → no heating demand
  • No snow → no water for fracking

h/t The Master Resource Report

The forces are building for a decline in production, an elimination of some drilling companies and an eventual upturn in the price of natural gas.

'Gaia' scientist James Lovelock: I was 'alarmist' about climate change

The alarm business (fire alarms, tornado alarms, tsunami alarms, etc.) is a good business. They know that people want to be warned "just right", not too soon, and not too late. It is the Goldilocks thingy.

Problem is, as new dangers approach, forewarning via alarms is not as exact, not as "just right", as it becomes with more science and more practice.

The graveyard business is in competition with the alarm business. Graveyards are doing better down in some of those southern states that deny global warming induced climate change. Tornado alarm companies are doing better now in or near those areas wiped out by tornadoes.

Alarming warnings save lives ... unless Goldilocks gets all rogue and mavericky then demands perfection. That alarming warning was TOO EARLY ... that alarm warning was TOO LATE ...

Some alarms must come a long, long time before the event warned about. Like early warnings of threatining asteroid impacts, or sea level rise taking out life sustaining international sea ports, because it takes decades of prearranging, planning, and then implementation. So decades of early alarms should not be condemned.

Some mistakes are too big to let happen without irritating degrees of alarming messages.