Drumbeat: April 30, 2012

U.S. 'dirty oil' imports set to triple

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. imports of what environmentalists are calling "dirty oil" are set to triple over the next decade, raising concerns over the environmental impact of extracting it and whether pipelines can safely transport this Canadian oil.

The United States currently imports over half a million barrels a day of bitumen from Canada's oil sands region, according to the Sierra Club. That number, Sierra Club says is set to grow to over 1.5 million barrels by 2020. That represents nearly 10% of the country's current consumption.

Opec oil production rises to three-year high

Opec oil output this month has been the highest in more than three years, and the organisation continues to produce above the ceiling set at its December meeting in an effort to calm an oil market worried about geopolitical tensions involving Iran.

Production by Opec members rose by 1 per cent on the month to reach an average pumping volume of 31.405 million barrels per day (bpd), according to a Bloomberg survey of oil companies, producers and analysts.

Growth was driven by Saudi Arabia, resurgent Libyan output and rising Iraqi capacity, offsetting a decline in Iranian production, which slumped to a 20-year low.

Oil prices hit by economic gloom

Official data Monday showed Spain had tipped back into recession -- another dose of grim news for a cash-strapped economy that has been hobbled by rising sovereign debt, soaring unemployment and deeply troubled banks.

"Crude oil prices started the week in negative territory, following fairly disappointing economic data from Spain that confirmed that the Spanish economy is sliding into recession," said Sucden broker analyst Myrto Sokou.

Dubai petrol subsidies in the billions

Dubai has spent billions to ensure that its motorists can fill their tanks cheaply, official documents show.

Federal legislation mandates that Emirates National Oil Company (Enoc), which is owned by the Dubai Government, and its subsidiary Emirates Petroleum Products Company (Eppco) sell petrol at subsidised prices.

As a result, the companies are losing money on petroleum sales, forcing the Government of Dubai to make up the difference.

Record-High Gasoline Further Burdens Consumers in Europe

Mumtaz Ozkaya, a leather-clothing salesman in London, is slashing his usual 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometers) a month of driving by 30 percent and taking cheaper vacations, as record fuel prices burden European motorists.

“Wages are still the same so I am cutting back on miles and also on holidays,” Ozkaya said in an April 23 interview at a Shell-branded service station near Old Street in the U.K. capital, where regular gasoline costs 143 pence a liter ($8.76 a gallon). “Whereas we used to go on holiday to a five-star hotel for three weeks that is now a four-star for two weeks.”

UK gas firms on tight system, lower LNG outlook

(Reuters) - British prompt gas prices firmed on Monday, reflecting an undersupplied system as gas flows from one liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal fell and the outlook for fresh LNG supplies waned after two weeks of heavy imports.

British gas for within-day delivery rose 2.25 pence from Friday's closing price to 61.25 pence per therm, a two-week high and day-ahead prices also rose, adding 1.85 pence to 61.20 pence.

4 ways to cash in on $100 oil

(MONEY Magazine) -- Given recent experience, you might naturally assume that the sharp run-up in oil prices over the past several months will soon cause the economy and financial markets to seize up.

After all, every recession since the 1980s has been either preceded or accompanied by just such a crude awakening. And every time oil soared above $100 a barrel and stayed there for a stretch -- in 2011, 2008, and in the early '80s (on an inflation-adjusted basis) -- the gears of global growth ground to a halt, stalling stocks.

Thailand: Is inflation spiraling out of control?

Think prices for food and fuel are high already? Even worse may yet come, argue some business leaders and economists.

While inflation, as measured by the consumer price index, stood at a moderate 3.4% last month compared with the year before, the numbers belie a rising sense of discontent that costs have spiralled in recent weeks.

Energy Transfer to Buy Sunoco to Add Oil, Gas Logistics

Energy Transfer Partners LP agreed to buy Sunoco Inc., a pipeline and gasoline station owner, for $5.3 billion in shares and cash to add oil terminals and transportation assets.

India ships in 10% less Iran oil in March vs Feb-trade

NEW DELHI: India shipped in about 10 per cent less oil from Iran in March from the previous month, Reuters data showed, its second straight cut since the United States urged consumers to rein in purchases to pressure Tehran over its nuclear programme.

India's imports from Iran were up a hefty 89 per cent in the month from a year ago, however, contrary to deep cuts effected by China and Korea, as refiners made up annual term purchases that were disrupted last year by payment problems.

Former Libyan minister drowned, autopsy results show

Former Libyan oil minister Shukri Ghanem died by drowning, according to preliminary post-mortem results in Austria.

Mr Ghanem's body was found in the River Danube in Vienna on Sunday.

Tensions heat up over oil, gas in South China Sea

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Tensions between China and other nations bordering the South China Sea are escalating, with the oil and gas resources that lie beneath those waters playing a central role.

Conservative projections estimate that the South China Sea contains 4.8 billion barrels of oil and 64 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to the United States Geological Survey. That's equivalent to Alaska's discovered oil reserves, and more than the discovered gas reserves in the Gulf of Mexico.

Israel must be prepared for future confrontation with Egypt, says ex-Defense Minister

In the summer of 2005, Israeli-Egyptian relations were rosy. Sitting around a conference table one day were executives from the Israel Electric Corporation and the Egyptian-Israeli East Mediterranean Gas Company. Sitting across from them were Egypt's petroleum minister and his Israeli counterpart, fresh from their meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Facing the cameras, which captured their visible excitement, the two signed off on the agreement that would bring Egyptian natural gas flowing into Israel.

Last week the optimism of that sunny summer day dissolved completely. The $500-million gas pipeline running through the Sinai peninsula was sabotaged 14 times in as many months. The IEC stands at the edge of a financial abyss. EMG is falling apart.

Aurora Oil Seeks More Shale Deals as U.S. Gas Prices Decline

Aurora Oil & Gas Ltd. (AUT), an Australian company developing shale holdings in Texas, said the lowest U.S. natural-gas prices in a decade have created opportunities for further deals in the Eagle Ford region.

“With the poor natural gas price in North America there are a lot of capital-constrained companies over there,” Jon Stewart, chief executive officer of the Perth-based company, said in a telephone interview today. “The volume of opportunities coming across our desk has really escalated.”

Spain's Repsol Accused Of Delaying Gas Supply To Argentina

BUENOS AIRES (BERNAMA-NNN- MERCOPRESS) - The current managers of YPF accused Spain's Repsol of deliberately delaying or ignoring contracts to supply Argentina with liquid natural gas (LNG) following the seizure of a majority stake in the company belonging to the Spanish corporation.

However the supply of that fuel is "guaranteed" with a greater domestic production and "new volumes" to be purchased from Bolivia, said a statement from the Ministry of Federal Planning which has taken over the seized YPF.

Chesapeake Tangle Goes Far Beyond CEO

Questions about Chesapeake Energy go beyond its chief executive’s dubious dealings. Aubrey McClendon’s personal stakes in oil and gas projects and the extent of related disclosure have put the $12 billion U.S. energy giant on the back foot and tied its board in knots. But investors should also be wary of the company’s monstrous complexity. It has convoluted off-balance sheet liabilities thanks to convoluted partnerships; hedging gains have dwarfed profit since 2006; and cash flow is consistently negative.

Exxon Mobil pipeline spills oil in Louisiana

(Reuters) - Exxon Mobil scrambled on Monday to clean up 1,900 barrels of crude oil that leaked from a pipeline in a rural area near Tolbert, Louisiana over the weekend.

The oil from the North Line crude pipeline was contained in the immediate area, Exxon said in a statement, and the cause of the leak from the 22-inch line was not immediately known.

Indian River power plant hangs in limbo in Port. St. John

The days of jet-black smoke billowing over Port St. John are over.

But while the skies are clearer, the future of two smokestacks at Indian River power plant remains cloudy.

How To Get Food on Every Table

We have enough food to feed everyone. But we need to produce even more. Here’s why.

How Washington lost the war on childhood obesity

At every level of government, the food and beverage industries won fight after fight during the last decade. They have never lost a significant political battle in the United States despite mounting scientific evidence of the role of unhealthy food and children's marketing in obesity.

Lobbying records analyzed by Reuters reveal that the industries more than doubled their spending in Washington during the past three years. In the process, they largely dominated policymaking -- pledging voluntary action while defeating government proposals aimed at changing the nation's diet, dozens of interviews show.

As America's waistline expands, costs soar

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. hospitals are ripping out wall-mounted toilets and replacing them with floor models to better support obese patients. The Federal Transit Administration wants buses to be tested for the impact of heavier riders on steering and braking. Cars are burning nearly a billion gallons of gasoline more a year than if passengers weighed what they did in 1960.

A Book Review Of ‘The Crash Course’: The Unsustainable Future Of Our Economy, Energy and Environment

The first thing to say about The Crash Course is that it is an impressive work of scholarship. It is reminiscent of Guns, Germs and Steel in terms of the scope and breadth of knowledge brought to bear by the author in support of his thesis – which is basically that we’re headed for hard times unlike anything humanity has seen.

The second is that it contains a few fundamental flaws.

The third is that you should read it anyway. His thesis is more than plausible; his research is meticulous; and no matter how much you think you know about sustainability, you will walk away from The Crash Course wiser, if sadder.

Without oil, modern civilisation doesn’t work

Treasury’s last Inter-generational Report contains, hidden away on page 91, a simple stunning statement: Australia’s oil will be gone by 2020. The timing could not be worse. By 2020 Peak Oil is likely to have rendered oil imports precarious and costly. And without oil, modern civilisation doesn’t work.

Don’t Hide Energy Innovation Under a Bushel

It’s easy being green these days for environmental activists – green with envy. The darnedest thing has happened in the energy arena, something that this Foundation frequently cites in opposing heavyhanded government mandates and regulation. It’s the innovativeness of Americans.

Not that it's slowing activists’ efforts to rein in innovation.

A long time ago, Americans faced predictions that oil was running low. "Peak oil" hasn't happened, thanks to innovation. Vehicles became more fuel-efficient, going farther on less, and businesses and appliances got more energy efficient even as their numbers increased. Improving technology enabled oil producers to locate and extract more resources.

Amid Rural Decay, Trees Take Root in Silos

At farms like the one run by Joshua Svaty, a former Kansas agriculture secretary, there are too many empty buildings to count, including an old barn occupied by a group of roosting vultures.

“Our farm is a vibrant operation,” he said. “But if someone visited, they might think it was abandoned because so many of our buildings are in a state of decay.”

This is because rural life has been reshaped by the new realities of industrial agriculture. Farms are larger and employ fewer people, so many homes stand empty. Tractors and other equipment have grown too big for old-time barns, which fall victims to disuse.

In an era of specialization, those growing wheat and corn are less likely to raise cows and chickens on the side, so livestock buildings — including the silos — are left to gather dust.

Wind Farms Might Have Warming Effect

Large wind farms might have a warming effect on the local climate, research in the United States showed on Sunday, casting a shadow over the long-term sustainability of wind power.

10 most polluted cities

The U.S. has significantly reduced its air pollution, but there's still a lot of work to be done. These 10 cities had the highest levels of year-round particle pollution, according to the American Lung Association's 2012 rankings.

Hate fossil fuels? Then buy up the reserves

Those with a desire to see a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels could do worse than to buy up reserves, according to a paper published this month. Researcher Bard Harstad argues that buying and holding extraction rights to fossil fuels is a more effective means of curbing their use than legislating to reduce demand.

At first glance it looks like a novel approach, though perhaps an obvious one when you think of it. For example, coal left in the ground cannot emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, so the more you buy and leave there, the more emissions are prevented. But tempting as it is to present the research in these terms, Harstad's argument is actually rather more subtle, and involves influencing fossil fuel markets—and not necessarily by buying in bulk.

US Navy lacks ability to operate in Arctic, games reveal

KODIAK -- In six oceans, the U.S. Navy is considered the master. In the seventh, the Arctic Ocean, it will rely on others.

As global warming opens the Arctic Ocean to commercial and industrial traffic, the U.S. Navy is pushing to catch up with Russia, Canada and even Denmark in its Arctic ability. If a crisis were to happen now, the Navy lacks the ability to act in the Arctic without the help of one of those countries or the Coast Guard.

Oil lobbyists approved Harper’s climate policy as ‘elegant’ approach

OTTAWA — The federal government asked the oil and gas industry last fall to review its foreign climate change policies, which were then approved by lobbyists as “an elegant” approach, reveals newly-released correspondence.

The government was consulting the industry about European climate change legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels, according to an email exchange between senior bureaucrats at Natural Resources Canada.

Report: World progress too slow on climate control

Each year, the International Energy Agency puts out a study of which technological advances are needed to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius. The 2012 report is out and the grades are dismal: Aside from a recent boom in wind and solar power, the world isn’t making much progress.

The IEA doesn’t just look at recent trends in greenhouse-gas emissions — those can rise and fall with the economy. Instead, it looks at which clean-energy technologies are coming online. If the world wants to avoid a 2C rise in global temperatures, then we’ll need a certain amount of low-carbon infrastructure in place by 2020, the IEA says. That means a mix of wind turbines, nuclear reactors, energy-efficient cars and buildings, and so on. And, for most of those things, countries are way behind. Here’s a rundown.

Rethinking peak oil

The article, of course, gets everything wrong. "Peak oil theory holds a static view of the world," No it does not. "its models ignore price effects" No they do not. And then the article goes on to list at least half a dozen other things that are simply not so. Perhaps the worst of them was this whopper: "World oil discoveries have peaked at least four times since 1950." No, world oil discoveries peaked in the mid 60s and have declined ever since.

But perhaps their biggest fantasy was this: "But on balance, China’s overall oil production is still trending upward, at an average annual rate of 2.1 per cent." Not even close. Chinese oil production has clearly peaked as the chart below shows. It is from the EIA but the JODI data yields an almost exact chart.

China oil production in kb/d. The last data point is December 2011


Of course if you go back far enough then China's overall production is trending upward at just over 2 percent. But China clearly peaked in November of 2010 and has been trending downward ever since. China obviously has recognized this fact and that is why, as the article states, "Chinese scholars have been embracing ‘peak oil’ theory in increasing numbers."

Ron P.

That's a reprint of an article that appeared last week. There's quite a bit of discussion in the April 23 Drumbeat.

Yeah sorry, I should have caught that. There are so many peak oil denial articles appearing lately that it is hard to keep track of them all. Seems the closer we get to the peak, or the further away it gets in the rear view mirror, the lower the cries that peak oil is just a theory by folks who have got it all wrong.

Ron P.

EIA data show that US net oil imports increased at 11%/year from 1949 to 1970, when US oil production peaked.

From 1970 to 1977, US net oil imports increased at 14%/year. In 1977, Alaskan North Slope production began to come on line via the pipeline (going over one mbpd in 1978), reducing net oil imports, and then consumption began to decline a couple of years later.

BP shows that Chinese net oil imports increased at 8.3%/year from 2005 to 2010. So, if Chinese oil production peaked in 2010 . . .

So, if Chinese oil production peaked in 2010 . . .

China will find their North Slope in 2017?
Do I win the prize?
Sorry, couldn't help it.

The South China Sea has some potential, but their might need to be a war first to determine ownership of the resources.

Great graph. While the press focuses on the mid-east and Bakken, the bigger story is Russia and China peaking. I find the big increase during 2010 particularly intriguing. It looks as if they made a major push on production only to start falling back toward the end of the year. Don't know if that's what happened, but it looks that way.

It is WAY too early to say that China is definitively past their maximum rate of production.

National output varies for all sorts of above ground reasons and 18 months of decline is simply not enough data.

Additional information on discoveries, technological progress, economics etc. could bolster the claim but the raw production data isn't enough. Several countries have shown production maxima followed by declines for a couple of years and then gone on to even higher rates of production.


This is true of course. But still one must wonder why "Chinese scholars have been embracing ‘peak oil’ theory in increasing numbers? Do you perhaps think these Chinese scholars know something we don't... about their own country?

Ron P.

That "Chinese scholars" comment is suspiciously indefinite, i.e. could mean an increase from one to two. Also the Climate Spectator source is something short of reliably mainstream, leaving the reader to trust the knowledge of the authors about whom no information is given.

I thought the rule was that one not positively identify the peak until 5 years after the event and removal of geopolitical factors.

Re: Wind Farms Might Have Warming Effect

From the BBC version of this article:

Wind farms can affect weather in their immediate locality, raising night-time temperatures on the ground, researchers working in Texas have shown. They used satellite data to show that land around newly constructed wind farms warmed more than next-door areas.

The result - published in the journal Nature Climate Change - confirms an earlier, smaller study from 2010.

The scientists believe the effect is caused by turbines bringing relatively warm air down to ground level. They suggest that turbines in other places might not produce the same value of ground temperature change.

Somehow, Fox News comes up with this headline:

"New Research Shows Wind Farms Cause Global Warming"

Unbelievable. The wording of the scientific article is very specific: they noted a slight increase in GROUND-LEVEL temperatures in the LOCAL area. This is the same effect that has been used by fruit growers for decades to prevent frost damage: they run large fans on towers to stir the warmer air down to where the trees are.

Just when I think I've seen the worst headline, a worse one comes along!

Did Fox just admit man can cause Climate change whoa nellie stop the presses the barn door just flew open.

Pure truth, like pure gold, has been found unfit for circulation, because men have discovered that it is far more convenient to adulterate the truth, than to refine themselves.


To speak the truth is the most difficult of all arts, for in its "pure" form, not connected with the interests of individuals, groups, classes, or nations, truth is almost completely unsuitable for use by the Philistine and is unacceptable to him.

MAXIM GORKY, Untimely Thoughts

The discovery of truth is prevented more effectively, not by the false appearance things present and which mislead into error, not directly by weakness of the reasoning powers, but by preconceived opinion, by prejudice.

ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER, Parerga and Paralipomena

To hell with the truth! As the history of the world proves, the truth has no bearing on anything. It's irrelevant and immaterial, as the lawyers say. The lie of a pipe dream is what gives life to the whole misbegotten mad lot of us, drunk or sober.

EUGENE O'NEILL, The Iceman Cometh

"Always tell the truth. This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest."
~ Mark Twain

...then, again:

Truth is mighty and will prevail. There is nothing the matter with this, except that it ain't so.

MARK TWAIN, Mark Twain's Notebooks

Tell the truth, nothing else irritates people quite so much...

Forget the source, maybe Mark Twain?

“Truth is not born nor is it to be found inside the head of an individual person, it is born between people collectively searching for truth, in the process of their dialogic interaction.”

Mikhail Bakhtin,
Russian literary critic
(d. 1975)

If you don't believe in the corporate truth, then you are probably a terrorist. The internet facilitates the spread of your terrorism while obscuring your identity.

Isn't this Mark Twain quote - regarding that stupid Fox title - the best?

A lie can travel halfway round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.

(Oh no, it isn't from MT .. but if the shoe fits ..)

Jonathan Swift is the earliest I have found expressing that sentiment (1710): "Falsehood flies and truth comes limping on behind.."

It is the customary fate of new truths to begin as heresies and end as superstitions.

T H Huxley

"Humor is truth, only faster." - Gilda Radner

The truth shall set you free.

My personal favourite.

The truth shall set you free, but first it will really piss you off.

That is actually... true.

But really annoying.

I have a question-

As I understand it CO2, methane, etc don't heat the planet only the sun's energy does so- those things determine how much of the sun's heat is retained in the atmosphere. So unless a wind farm bringing warmer air lower down increases the amount of solar heat that is retained it is pretty much irrelevant from a Global warming perspective. If we are talking about wind farms in higher latitudes it might even be be a good thing.

This is correct. It is only a redistribution issue.

But, never forget feedback. There may be a little bug down there who enjoy the heat, and do something that change the climate. We never know those things.

I fail to see how mixing cold ground air and relatively warmer air above ground, to end up with a composite air temperature is causing global warming. Isn't it just averaging out what's already there? It's not actually generating warm air, its just a net effect of mixing cold and warm air.

The fact Fox News would use the term global warming as something that is happening tells a lot about how they view renewable energy.

Not the only completely wrong headline they've posted on the subject.

Wind farms are warming the earth, researchers say

Not quite as bad as the one you're referring to, but just about. The content of the article isn't much better in contrast to what the paper and researcher actually say.

For example, Liming Zhou said: "Given the present installed capacity and the projected growth in installation of wind farms across the world, I feel that wind farms, if spatially large enough, might have noticeable impacts on local to regional meteorology".

And later: "Zhou and his colleagues found that turbulence behind the wind turbine blades stirs up a layer of cooler air that usually settles on the ground at night, and mixes in warm air that is on top.
That layering effect is usually reversed during the daytime, with warm air on the surface and cooler air higher up."

So - the question is (haven't read the paper): Are the night-time warming effects negated by the day-time cooling effects? (I'd guess not completely given that it tends to be windier at night than during the day).

Either way - the effects of wind farms are small compared to the effects of burning fossil fuels.

No the (local) day v night efects won't cancel (the paper actually said that). During the day -(except in unusual circumstances) the surface has excess heat which is convected upwards, leading to a decrease of temperature with height that is close to the adiabatic lapse rate (look that up I aint splaning it here), so the daytime effect is minumal. At night the surface loses heat by radiation, and usually "decouples" from the air/wind aloft (which means the wind doesn't bring down the warmer air above), so that it can cool quite a bit (maybe 10-20degrees) more than the air a hundred meters higher up. If the turbines are still spinning, they help to mix up these layers. The higher resulting ground temps mean more heat radiation will escape to space (versus no WTs), thats how these temps were measured btw. So far from the WTs there should be a slight cooling.

This was of course predicted (the headline). these folks will stop at nothing.
Actually the effect is easily expecetd, as additional nighttime turbulence will advect warmer air downwards. Of course the global effect should be slight cooling (the warmed trubine affected areas will lose more heat via infrared radiation).

Same trick used by fruit farmers for decades on frosty night during blossom season. How can you even have a discussion with folks who refuse to learn/deny/intentionally misrepresent the laws of thermodynamics?

If you believe in thermodynamics, then you are probably a heretic. The internet facilitates the spread of your heresies while obscuring your identity.

"Wind Farms Might Have Warming Effect"

No surprise. The energy the windmills do not capture is going to end up as heat. All that turbulence behind the turbines is air friction that makes heat. So it should warm up the area just down wind.

And that's not even counting the air mixing effect SW-PA mentioned.

The frictional loses are pretty small, that doesn't count for the groundlevel warming.

The simple explanation is that by impeding the wind, the windmill slows down the clearing away of the sun-warmed air at ground level.

With or without wind farms, wind energy is going to end up as heat. After all, there's friction in the air itself, which converts that kinetic energy into heat.

As mentioned upthread, there is probably a (very slight) net COOLING effect due to infrared radiation from the warmer surface into space at night. Yes, the ground warming could affect local convection in the atmosphere and possibly cause (very slight) variations in local weather, but the statement that "wind farms cause global warming" is a totally incorrect conclusion from the data presented in the study.

Regarding 'Big, Bad Food' Lobbying..

My wife is trying to pack a decent lunch for our girl today, as I try to cook a reasonable breakfast for her, and she tells me our Daughter has been begging to have just one piece of chocolate or a cookie in her lunch, like her girlfriends do everyday.

It may sound like a miniscule battle to fight, just give a kid one measly cookie, already.. but it is very clearly the camel's nose ('Joe Camel', practically) getting into the tent. The insistence on Sugar Snacks and Dessert at EVERY meal now has really become the battle cry. The stuff the food program puts out for Breakfast is not only way oversugared, but also food colorings and preservatives galore. One of the offerings is a rebranded form of Fruit Loops. Even our friends who also 'know' about better food choices are constantly making exhausted compromises, so they're not isolating their kids from the choices of other families our kids play with.. and having us all not seem like we're judging and preaching at each other by refusing yet another bag of Goldfish, Oreos, etc etc...

We're having the same issue trying to keep her from getting logged onto these truly hideous video games that are brainwashing the young. It's really NO exaggeration. The commercialism, sexism and either Hostility or Binary-thinking that they are all saturated with is completely insidious, and families do try to fight the good fight, but you don't do your health, spirits and your overall resilience any great favors by alienating the whole community (across complex class-lines on top of all else) because of your 'Impossibly High Standards'..

We haven't given up yet.. but it sure reminds me of carpooling in the late sixties, when all the other kids were jawing about Gilligan's Island, and my brother and I were tearing Mom's heart out, by sitting silent and sad amongst the Happily Indoctrinated Celebrants.. Non-negotiable, my a$$!~

As America's Waistline Expands, Costs Soar

From the article, my emphasis. Fascinatingly self destructive behaviour...

NEW YORK, April 30 (Reuters) - U.S. hospitals are ripping out wall-mounted toilets and replacing them with floor models to better support obese patients. The Federal Transit Administration wants buses to be tested for the impact of heavier riders on steering and braking. Cars are burning nearly a billion gallons of gasoline more a year than if passengers weighed what they did in 1960.


Our 8 year-old constant pleading "Can I have a (cookie) as my school snack like all my friends?"

My wife spent a day as a volunteer helper in her class. All her friends had fresh fruit, or low sugar snacks that day.

Well, that is good to hear.. and I'm sure it's a line my daughter would be capable of generating too.. but I'm still stunned to see the piles of cheap candy and slushies and cakes (made with awful ingredients, to boot) that are a perpetual part of the mix at School, at Family and Community Functions.

These are both TOUGH personal habits to break, and are being HEAVILY marketed to us, so that we do NOT break them.

Tell me about it! For a while we fobbed her off with home made snacks in recycled commercial wrappers, but that trick no longer cuts the mustard.

I am on day two of my new diet - replacing the triple chocolate muffin with two large bananas. This thread is not helping my sugar craving...


Great paper on Fructose.

I've substituted raw honey for all refined sugar, and probably a tablespoon a day, total, together with fiber e.g. oatmeal. Honey has the following carb profile, according to Nutrition Data :-

Amounts Per Selected Serving (28g or 1 oz)

Total Carbohydrate 23.1g 8%
Dietary Fiber 0.1g 0%
Sugars 23.0g
Sucrose 249mg
Glucose 10008mg
Fructose 11461mg
Maltose 403mg
Galactose 868mg


The video is a "must watch" too.

Honey is for all intents and purposes just as bad as sugar. Refined sugar (sucrose) is 50.0% fructose. Honey (per your figures) is 49.8% fructose (50.4% if you include the fructose fraction of sucrose). No significant difference.

Of course, if you use less honey than the equivalent amount of sugar, that's good.

The point is to use less, and use it in conjunction with high fiber, for example oatmeal or bran, which slows absorption.

I don't use it in beverages such as tea or coffee. I don't sweeten tea or coffee. It can be substituted in baking or cooking where the recipe calls for added sugar.

It has some micronutrients not found in refined sugar, for example phytochemicals, B-group vitamins and a list of minerals, and a small amount of protein, so, overall, it is more nutritious that refined sugar.


The ultimate place to get to is to reduce, if not eliminate, processed foods, where the fat content has been replaced by high-fructose corn syrup.

EDIT : of course, once honey has been "suitably" processed, heated, treated and whatever else, it probably has no more value than refined sugar.

EDIT 2 :-

For comparison, here's the carb profile of one medium apple :-

Total Carbohydrate 25.1g 8%
Dietary Fiber 4.4g 17%
Starch 0.1g
Sugars 18.9g
Sucrose 3768mg
Glucose 4423mg
Fructose 10738mg
Lactose 0.0mg
Maltose 0.0mg
Galactose 0.0mg


Since honey is mostly fructose, what is its nutritional advantage?

There may not be one. I'm an agnostic on the HFCS thing. Jury's still out, as far as I'm concerned. But there has been some interesting research suggesting fructose is worse than sucrose. If so, honey might be a worse choice than table sugar.

Sucrose is just equal parts glucose + fructose.

I think the issue is more the sheer quantity of sugar consumed, and the fact that it is used pretty much everywhere in processed food and beverages. Add to that the fact that HFCS is cheap.

That could be. But the study I linked suggests that either fructose is worse than glucose, or the ratio of fructose to glucose matters.

The way fructose is metabolized in the liver is not unlike the way ethyl alcohol is metabolized in the liver. So, using an ethanol analogy, one can have one small drink and not feel any side effects - the liver can deal with it. But, if one drinks too fast, or too many, one will certainly start feeling the effects, and probably feel pretty bad the next day. Alcoholics go on to develop serious liver dysfunction and problems with fat metabolism.

In a similar way, fructose has an impact on fat metabolism.

Glucose, on the other hand, follows a completely different metabolic pathway. To understand all this, the youtube link JoulesBurn posted is well worth 90 minutes.

Possibly it is the rate that fructose enters the blood stream, peak blood concentrations and the load placed on the liver that matter. Sucrase is secreted by the lining of the intestine and cleaves the sucrose into glucose and fructose before either enter the blood stream. The glucose can be used directly by most cells for metabolism and the excess is converted to glycogen in the liver. The fructose is all converted to lipids, citrates, and aldehydes in the liver.

On the other hand, all simple sugars and low-weight carbs are likely bad in excess. Except when seasonal fuits were abundant, they were unlikely to be a large part of our evolutionary diet.

I think that we underestimate the sources of fat and protein in our evolutionary diet. Clean water is an essential for life, and people still love to be by lakes, rivers and sea shores. Fish, crustaceans, shellfish, as well as waterfowl, shore birds, eggs, nestlings, and the small mammals in that environment, likely provided a significant role. European hunter gatherer settlements were often by rivers, and they feasted on the annual runs of salmon, herring, eels, and other fish.

In my opinion worrying about fructose vs glucose is probably beside the point. No matter where they lived, hunter gatherer or agricultural, people were not sedentary compared to modern standards. It's nice that glucose can enter most cells directly, but if you don't burn the previous doseage of glucose what does the cell do- double bunk?

Secondary to that, industrially produced food is really different. Googleing around it seems that 900g of apples has roughly the same amount of sugar as a 7-11 coca cola big gulp. Except that 900g of apples also has some vitamins and fiber, and requires a lot more chewing to get down.

It's true that industrially produced food is very different even from the way farming used to be. It's much lower in trace nutrients, because industrial agriculture exhausts the soil of them. The fruits and vegetables we eat also tend to be much cleaner than in the past, so we don't get the minerals that were in the dirt.

I don't know what I'd do if I had kids. It is tough to be the kid with carrot and celery sticks when all the others have potato chips, Oreos, and Twinkies. Nobody wants to trade with you, and you feel like you have nothing to offer in return when others share their treats with you.

OTOH, it's becoming more and more evident that obesity is very difficult to reverse:

Even after 10 years of maintaining a significant weight loss, the body doesn't readjust. Your brain still thinks you're in a state of deprivation, and it manipulates your body in ways you don't even notice: You're hungrier, less easily satisfied, and more frequently tempted by sweet and fatty foods; you are less inclined to exercise.

Much better to never get fat to begin with, and that means starting in childhood in our culture.

But then, restricting sweets makes them forbidden fruit, even more tempting.

Several yrs back when our kids were young, the springtime school snack was whole smoked smelt. A special trip to the coast to net them, then smoked at home. They loved them, and yes there was the eech factor and taunting, but it didn't seem to last. I think the novelty created an envy.

So many tastes are learned, you have to start as youngsters. The sweets never quite did get that forbidden fruit aspect. As adults, the sweets are nowhere near their diet.

Another sad tale of the times. In the late 70's, early 80's, there seemed no end to the smelt. The long drive was worth it, the fun and excitement I should have known couldn't last. On the Columbia, and the Kalama, you'd just dip a hand net from the riverbank and have buckets in no time during the run. Commercial fisherman along side you would be filling 4x4x4 and larger plywood boxes. It was not your everyday fishing crowd, the fish were too small for most anglers. Traditional cleaning was not worth it, we'd brine and then smoke them, eating them whole, fins, guts and all. The catch was scrutinized by the Wa dept Fisheries, I had hoped it would continue.

WA smelt fishing has been closed since the early 90's. They are slowly returning, but still not to levels that permit reopening a season.

offshore trawling is a technique the does not discriminate between species - local fishermen take the blame

There is no fishing method that perfectly discriminates, except perhaps harpooning. Long lines are famous for bycatch. But bottom trawling should be illegal - it's pretty much one of the worst things we do to this planet. No question.

As for local fisherman, often they deserve the blame they get. From what I understand, the Grand Banks were closed to non-Canadian fisherman when they collapsed. If you have a collapse within your EEZ, it's usually your own fault. If you allow bottom trawling in your EEZ, you get the results of that. Of course, fishing is only ONE of the things that is hurting the fish, with dams and pollution and everything else too, but overfishing is usually problem number 1.

When it comes to the rivers, lakes, and oceans, we've really screwed the pooch.

There's not many fans of the bottom trawlers, save the ship owners. Still, in the old argument of habitat vs harvest, it's becoming clear that we've altered the entire marine ecosystem to degrees that won't support the life as it was.

In the reef systems, reefs worldwide have shown that sanctuaries can repopulate and support adjacent sport and subsistence fishing areas. Yet what good are they as the sanctuary succumbs to acidification?

In an article I was reading last night referencing the salt water aquarium trade, the author was making a point that evolution proceeds on various levels, that collection is part of the mix. In this area, I see essentially that collectors are just a few folks who are trying to feed themselves in a world without gainful employment for most. They've found a niche, that they are good at, and are fighting mad someone is trying to tell them no. That they must starve or go to work in the cogs of the machine. A little melodramatic here this morning as I await a root canal, it comes down to too many people. As soon as one finds a way to make a living, the masses jump in, others will industrialize it to make a killing. As long as the reef can hold up under everyone's pollution and destruction. By no means limited to reefs, or the marine environment.

There are too many people. We are using everything up. We are eating the Earth. A few more mpg in the auto fleet is not gonna cut it. A few % increase in efficiency here and there is not going to cut it. "Improving" industrial agricultural "productivity" only to enable cramming yet more people on this poor, groaning planet is insane, retarded, absurd.

Without addressing overpopulation, it is all a waste of time. It's worse than a waste of time - it's a distraction and makes the ultimate reckoning that much worse than it needed to be.

We are no where near admitting this, as a culture. As a collective, we are demonstrably not smarter than yeast.


Brings back some memories...
70's, Kalama River. Trashcans full of the little buggers.

By the end of the decade, I think this problem will take care of itself.

Sugar prices

I'm not sure that it's quite as hard for your brain to "readjust" as that article claims. It's true that if you lose a lot of wieght but never "readjust" the composition of your diet (i.e., you keep on eating sugary, processed, high-carb foods) then most people will continue to feel perpetually hungry. Switching to a no-sugar low-carb diet can work wonders, though --even for the insulin resistant.

Problem is, what are we constantly surrounded by at home (TV junk food advertising), work ("free" pizza & donuts at meetings, vending machines), and on the road (fast food, restaurant food, etc.)? Very hard to buck the trend, especially when bad food is so cheap, plentiful and convenient for harried and time crunched working parents.

Yeah it's sort of a soft form of Orwellianism, all of this marketing and being surrounded by advertising and foodstuffs.

I remember trying to tell somebody once that all of the vending machines in America could disappear and nobody would go hungry or be malnourished. He wasn't having any of it.

At work there was a box of cookies that's been there for a few days. Guess what? I had one. It was good. If it wasn't there, would I have rushed to the store to get some cookies for lunch? Probably not. I might think of it for a second, but then I would just get back to whatever I was doing.

"You don't have to eat it if you don't want to" is the typical braindead response.

Peak oil will take care of it in good time.

Yup, I especially like it when the Faux News crowd goes into hysterics over the First Lady advocating (*gasp*) more fresh vegetables in kids' diets. "Food Nazi!! FOOD NAZI!!!"

What about cut-up fruit? Include some citrus fruit as the acidic juice will keep the rest of the fruit?

We made (still do sometimes) fruit roll-ups in the dehydrator. Pure`e various fruits in the blender and pour onto the pure`e trays available for most dehydrators. Use different colored fruits to drizzle on designs. Adding a little citric acid to non-acidic fruits helps preserve flavor. If too tart add just a bit of fructose, though kids seem to enjoy the tartness. You can sneak in other things like carrots as well.These treats seem to have a high coolness factor, especially if you spin'em right. Freeze beautifully...

...then, again, it's hard to beat a really great chocolate chip cookie and a glass of milk :-)

My kids seem to have lived thru the danger zone. Both are relatively thin at 29 (twins). They had some candy cookies cake and ice cream growing up but certainly not every day. They stopped drinking soda when they got their first tooth cavities in high school. The school stoppped selling that junk before they graduated. Both are near vegetarians, even though my wife and I eat meat regularly.

We must have said or done something right along those lines. One is a hospital dietician and the other is an animal nutritionist.

It's difficult to suggest ideas for the suburbs and apartmentland, none the less, many apples varieties will keep in a basement or cool spot long into winter and to spring, get a bushel or two in late fall. Some varieties are ripe by August. Sweet Winesap, Keepsake, Spartan, even Honey Crisp, Sweet 16 are excellent keepers, whereas Beacon, Lodi, some Gravenstein will come on early.

That's a frequent one that she gets.. today was a Mango. Dried Fruit 'Leathers'(like roll-ups).. There's a Seaweed Snack that's been ok.. It's about the peer pressure and the cool, crinkly shiny packaging, the validation that comes from having a real and recognized 'product'.

I know the difference, even she does.. but she's trying to find placement in her peer groups. As Leanan said, it's a tough spot to be in.. to be the different one.

I know people may call me weak and spineless for this, but I would just buy the cookies. I have been through this a bit with my own kids.

You sigh and make a suffering face. "This is just so you can fit in, I don't approve. This is a big sacrifice for me! Only one every day, etc. etc."

You can minimize it, in other words. Isolate the whole issue.

I live in a relatively rural area, and the level of obesity is just staggering now. I can't even fathom what it must be like to go through life and function like these people do. It's not like it used to be and primarily men with beer bellies and women with big hips - more and more people are just disgustingly huge, as in clumsy-I can hardly walk balanced-huge. This is no joke, it's starting to look like the future humans in the movie Wall-E. I don't know how half the people in my county can even go to the toilet.

I think fighting obesity is pretty much a lost battle at this point. Surely the only thing that's keeping people going is drugs and luck, and the way things are going it seems we're putting our faith in miracle drugs for the future. People in my area in general have no desire for a walkable downtown center, they want to eat whatever they feel like, and they don't seem to care that they look like walking trash bags filled with cottage cheese. It's going to take a lot more than photo ops of Michelle Obama "working" the white house garden to change things.

I think of these poor people as the vision of perfection to corporate America. These are the ultimate consumers: credulous, receptive, manipulated, unable to see what is being done to them and rendered unable to control their urges. Life is already much harder for them and if there are significant step changes their odds are much poorer than they might have been.

The article I posted mentioned drugs. That's why obesity is more expensive than smoking. Obesity makes you sick, but doesn't shorten your life much, thanks to drugs. While smokers offset the cost of their healthcare by dying young.

And I don't think it's that people don't care. They do, very much, as evidenced by the billions of dollars they spend on weight loss products. It's just biologically very, very difficult.

A full year after significant weight loss, these men and women remained in what could be described as a biologically altered state. Their still-plump bodies were acting as if they were starving and were working overtime to regain the pounds they lost. For instance, a gastric hormone called ghrelin, often dubbed the “hunger hormone,” was about 20 percent higher than at the start of the study. Another hormone associated with suppressing hunger, peptide YY, was also abnormally low. Levels of leptin, a hormone that suppresses hunger and increases metabolism, also remained lower than expected. A cocktail of other hormones associated with hunger and metabolism all remained significantly changed compared to pre-dieting levels. It was almost as if weight loss had put their bodies into a unique metabolic state, a sort of post-dieting syndrome that set them apart from people who hadn’t tried to lose weight in the first place.

There's a theory that dieting makes you fat...because of the rebound weight gain that occurs due to these metabolic changes.

Some people do successfully lose weight and keep it off, but it requires attention that borders on the obsessive.

“You find these people are incredibly vigilant about maintaining their weight. Years later they are paying attention to every calorie, spending an hour a day on exercise. They never don’t think about their weight.”

Not sure how I feel about the article. There were two instances where exercise duration was mentioned (one in your block quote). In your quote, it's worded in such a way that spending an hour a day on exercise is somehow viewed as extreme. And a lady in the article indicated that exercising 1-2 hours a day would take an impossible toll on her family life (and I thought she said her kids were grown too), and basically viewed as unrealistic. 60 minutes of exercise a day is not that much. If that's how low the author, or society, has set the bar then I find it hard to give much weight (pun not intended) to the rest of the article.

I also recall reading that a woman in the article who gained a ton of weight and lost it really had to consume something like 300 calories less to maintain the new weight than a similar woman who had never gained the weight in the first place. Again, 300 calories isn't that much, and I really don't consider it that drastic a price to pay in order to stay in shape. Sure it takes work to be healthy. it isn't easy and takes constant vigilance. But jesus, you only get one body and you have to live in it 24/7/365. If we can't be motivated to exercise even an hour a day then what has society come to?

One useful tidbit is how after losing the weight, muscle mass tends to behave more like slow-twitch fibers. This could support the idea that lifting weights might be more useful for long term weight loss than cardio, seeing that bodybuilding tends to increase fast-twitch fiber volume.

I'm not so sure about the level of care out there either, my personal observations are that they don't *really* care. Throwing some money at fad diet products or pills is the easy way to convince yourself that you're doing something, but it's not really what I'd consider a real effort. I mean Leanan, the number of people approaching what must be 250-300lbs that I see out in the parking lots is astounding. And 300lbs is a serious life and death thing, you're basically a walking corpse waiting to happen. We all know this, we've learned it since grade school, nobody can claim ignorance. But you almost never see obese people in a gym, or doing any sort of serious exercise. And I don't think many of them around here could even go to a gym if they wanted to, they're that big. But it takes years to get to that size, it doesn't sneak up on you. There was a time when it could be managed but wasn't. It's the sudden increase in numbers that are astounding me. I was at a Panera eating lunch some time back and my wife and I were looking around in disbelief. It was almost disgusting.

I don't think anyone wants to weigh 300 lbs, unless they are a sumo wrestler. The stigma against fat people is incredible in this country. People automatically assume fat people are dumb and lazy, which is probably why they make less money than thin people, even in jobs where it shouldn't matter. It's hard to move. So many end up on those scooter things. They may have to buy two plane seats, and don't fit in many stadium seats, restaurant chairs, or theater seats. If you're that heavy, the gym is pretty much out of the question. Too humiliating, even if you're physically capable.

It's the sudden increase in numbers that are astounding me.

They are astounding many, and that's why some researchers are looking to things like HFCS or the low-fat diets recommended ca. 1980. Obesity spiked even when physical activity remained stable in the 1990s, so something weird is going on.

One of the other recent changes is the huge amount of MSG in our food now, with all of the names it's allowed to be called. I have quite a reaction to MSG and so have been forced to pay attention to it. In my basic understanding, MSG is not a "flavor enhancer", but a drug which stimulates neurons (and can damage them), making the eating experience more pleasurable. So it's mixed into otherwise unpalatable crap and people love it.

Here's a suggestion: remove all the cars from the country, or recycle them into metal spades and whatnot.

Without a car, people are pretty much forced to walk or bike around to get what they need. Then they really can't get fat. There is a kind of naturally occuring limit:

what you can earn without a car (amount of money)
what food you can carry without a car (amount in kg or calories, about the same)

These two variables place a physical limitation on how much food you can buy and carry.

This limit will prevent obesity and promote exercise.

Without a car, I deal with this limitation every day. Hey, it's kind of a fun challenge.
And, voila, I am not obese!

It's the sudden increase in numbers that are astounding me.

I have a friend whose job takes him to at least three of South America, Africa, India and China each year. His Facebook status when he hits an airport in the US after two-three weeks in one of those places usually includes something about how the first thing you notice about America is "how fat we all are."

I've studied weight loss for years - I'm convinced that the answer is not to get fat in the first place - weigh yourself every day, exercise.

Diets have a 98% failure rate after five years. Would you take a medicine that fails 98% of the time and requires you to change your eating habits?

When I see the morbidly obese, I cringe - and wonder, how did they get so fat - at some point they must have known they were gaining. Apparently surgery is the only viable option for them - and that can have serious side effects.

I've studied weight loss for years - I'm convinced that the answer is not to get fat in the first place - weigh yourself every day, exercise.
Diets have a 98% failure rate after five years. Would you take a medicine that fails 98% of the time and requires you to change your eating habits?

I agree that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure --literally, but then what do you say to 2/3rds of Americans that are already overweight or obese? Just give up?

I would argue that not all diets are created equally, and that people should give up on the idea that a "diet" is something you only do when you are losing weight. Westerners --and especially Americans-- need to drastically and permanently alter their idea of what constitutes an acceptable everyday diet. Starting with elminating most sugars and foods based on refined carbs. Unfortunately, we have been taught for nearly 40 years that dietary fat is what makes you fat and that carbs are good for you --the exact wrong advice. Overcoming this misinformation and popular bias is going to take a very long time, assuming it ever happens.

It's a very strange thing. There is a person in my extended family who is quite large. She has more willpower in her little finger than I have in my whole body. She's tried this diet and that diet, and she really struggles, and has been for decades. But it is surely not a matter of "willpower".

I'm one of those obnoxious people who can eat as much as they want of whatever they want and not gain any weight. I'm 56 years old, and weigh the same as I did in highschool (5'10", 160 lbs.) I have huge compassion for people trying to lose weight - something weird seems to be going on.

Be assured that I have plenty of other health vices...

You know I'm 34 years old your junior and with the exact same weight and height, and the same "characteristic" of eating whatever and having absolutely no weight change in the past 3-4 years. In fact, previously in high school I was 10 pounds heavier and for some reason lost that once I got to college. I source the weight loss to my going through the ringer during my junior and senior years in an intensive engineering undergraduate program, where I was eating irregularly and not sleeping much. However, many of my friends in the program had their weight moving in the opposite direction, and all of them despise my lightheartedly for my "fortune." Honestly though, I felt more healthy when I was 170 lbs...

There is definitely something to be said about people having different physiologies. We all simply react differently to even similar circumstances.

Precisely my point.

Alot of it has to do with physiology, the way we're wired. There's some suggestion that thinner people burn more calories just the way they are. By moving around. Fidgeting etc. You don't have to be a marathon runner, and the calories burned daily add up.

Obese people tend to be sedentary, still, slow moving. Even before they became obese (that's how they became obese). They might have very active minds, and hearts of gold, but they just aren't movers.

There's probably a difference too in the hunger response and satiety, with thin people feeling fuller faster.

And different ways we react to the environment. Some people stop eating when they're depressed. I've seen this. And there's always bulimia, anorexia, etc.

Some people it's the opposite. Difficult to disentangle the web, especially with 7 billion people around, each one of which is a little bit different than the other.

Yes, there's plenty of evidence that genetics play a big role in obesity. Studies on sets of identical and fraternal twins show that some people will gain a lot more weight given the same number of extra calories a day, and some will lose more slowly when calories are cut, and burn a lot fewer calories when they exercise.

This story today is kind of interesting. It suggests that sleeping more can offset bad genes when it comes to obesity. This is an area that's getting more and more attention: the idea that sleep deprivation is linked to obesity, diabetes, etc. Thirty years ago, many experts thought sleep was a waste of time. There were self-help books that purported to teach you how to sleep 5 hours a night or less. Now, it's looking like sleeping at least 7-8 hours a night is as important as diet and exercise. And Americans are notoriously sleep-deprived.

Oddly, I can seemingly recall precisely when weight became an issue for me. Prior to the date, at the age of 22, I could (and did) eat anything, I was always energetic, and I liked all sorts of food (good, bad, and in between), and mostly I just didn't feel like eating too much, and if I did it didn't matter. Afterward, up until this day, my weight is a function of intentional exercise, and though I still like all the same foods I seem to gravitate toward the least healthy unless I both exercise routinely and actively strive to make better choices.

At least I know that if I exercise then I lose weight, and correspondingly if I don't then I gain it. I have learned that I can intentionally decide to exercise more easily than I can avoid heavy foods. I really feel for those who cannot exercise, as it is a continuing challenge for me even though I enjoy it.

Anyway, the event of note was one bad, flu-like spell. I of course 100% admit it's anecdotal, and could readily be all in my head or a result of shifting metabolism, but I really think some virus made semi-permanent changes to my brain-gut signaling pathways.

I feel like there is a separate part of my brain that is waiting to mindlessly grab a donut or get a second helping or order the deep-fried menu item while the rest of my brain is distracted by conversation or other activities, yet somehow routine exercise helps beat the urge into submission. I can only assume it's like this for addicts, where your own brain emotional-decision circuitry works to sabotage your rational-decision circuitry. Maybe that's where the little devil and angel on your shoulders come from? Are we all a little bit schizo underneath it all?

There has been some research suggesting that a virus might cause obesity. And that the intestinal flora of obese people is different.

I suspect thats a part of it. My ability to do sustained excercise changed permanently after a flulike illness. Prior to that illness, I could do as much intense excercise as I wanted. Since then, after intense excercise, I get tired (as in I gotta take a nap) a couple of hours later. So I just can't burn the amount of calories I could earlier. I refer to my whatever as micro-chronic fatigue syndrome (micro, because I can do normal functioning, and a decent amount of execrise still, but I can't go for the heavy stuff anymore).

Have a real cardiologist check out your heart.

I've studied weight loss for years - I'm convinced that the answer is not to get fat in the first place - weigh yourself every day, exercise.

Diets have a 98% failure rate after five years. Would you take a medicine that fails 98% of the time and requires you to change your eating habits?

You don't need to weigh yourself everyday, that just creates an obsession. Weight naturally fluctuates in the short term, once a week is more than enough.

What I bolded says far more about weight problems than perhaps you intended. If the medicine is taken and the diet is changed, it actually has a 100% success rate. But the medicine is sour and you need to take it regularly. You have to learn to like a little sour.

Throwing large amounts of money is not a solution. Short term solutions are not a solution. Also a lot of people forget that weight which took 5 years to accumulate is not going to disappear in a fortnight. If you have a "special" diet, you have already failed in my opinion.

"What I bolded says far more about weight problems than perhaps you intended. If the medicine is taken and the diet is changed, it actually has a 100% success rate."

My wife struggled with her weight for years. I kept telling her that I had a read a lot about vegan diets and how beneficial they were for cholesterol and weight. She finally switched and the pounds came off effortlessly. Similar story for me; I had high blood cholesterol and high blood sugar for years; switched to about 70% vegetarian diet and my cholesterol dropped from 230 (where it had been for 20 years) to 180. A follow-up checkup later on confirmed that my cholesterol was still 180. So now I advise people to reduce the meat in their diet if they can possibly do it. I have seen great health benefits, as has my wife.

The thing is...there's no evidence that high cholesterol is bad for normal people. Indeed, there's evidence that the opposite is true. People with low cholesterol die at higher rates than people with high cholesterol. The story of how cholesterol became the villain is quite amazing.

Likely people adapted over time to the locales in which they lived. Those with a metabolism to deal with a Mediterranean diet would be selected to survive in that locale, but a tropical dweller or N. European dweller might adapt quite differently.

Today, with a mixed culture and individual difference, it is unlikely that one size fits all, diet-wise. For some, a fat-centric meat diet with lots of cholesterol may work fine, and others with mostly grain diets may do well with theirs, and yet not the converse, with everything from heart disease to auto-immune issues arising from a mis-match. Those who argue that 10,000 years is insufficient for metabolism to shift are arguing a hollow point, given how quickly resistance for diseases can be sorted and adapted. What could be a more powerful selector than food availability?

To me the point that resonates is a life-long focus if you have a weight issue. That focus may take some trial and error to tune, but the long-term buy-in is a critical point.

I think the problem with diets is that they aim to lose weight too quickly. My uneducated guess is that if people lost weight at the same rate that they put it on initially then they would have an easier time not putting the weight back. There is probably some weight change that the body doesn't react to. Anything more and the body will feel like it is starving. Of course in a society that is looking for instant results that is not a path that anybody would follow.

A new "Sav-a-Lot" grocery store opened up in my area last week. I walked through the store on the second day and my general impression is that they sell lots of sugar and starch disguised as food, and at low prices of course.

It looks like some of the cost savings comes from not handling the products as much as at other stores. The cartons are designed so that they can just put the whole cartons out on the shelves, without having to take individual boxes out of the cartons.

And there are few if any name brands, mostly just the store brand. For example, there is only one brand of baked beans, called Cowboy Billys, which is the store brand.

Hopefully, as the cost of oil goes up and along with it other fossil fuels, sugar will become more valuable as a feedstock for ethanol production. Maybe Solazyme will scale up their production of oils from algae using sugar to feed the algae.

Seriously, on a fundamental level our civilization has used this bounty of cheap fossil fuels to produce a bounty of cheap, highly refined, high energy foods with extremely long shelf lives. This has proven tremendously profitable for the food industry and has provided us with more energy in our food than we need. Even in third world nations the diet is heavily influenced by the products of industrial agriculture and the food industry. The result is that in poor countries you will increasingly find malnourished, obese individuals who's diet consists of mostly grain, sugar and a little meat.

The supermarkets and corner shops in towns all over Jamaica, are well supplied with sweet and salty snacks and lots of sweet brightly colored juices and yes, kids here crave them as well. AFAIAC sugar is way too cheap. Peak Sugar won't come soon enough for me!

Alan from the islands

The 1st article above about obesity mentioned that obese people costs far more than thin people in medicaid, etc. because, unlike smokers, they don't die much earlier than thin people while racking up larger med bills. This seemed to conflict with many items that I have read during the 5 years that note that obesity and diabetic related complications can cut life span on average of 5-8 years. Obese people are also more likely to get almost every illness- including cancer. Does anyone have a more detailed link or article that can clear this conflict up?

Also, it was interesting in the comments section of the yahoo article to read that since overweight and obese outnumber thin there was little chance for legislative action to curb obesity bad food and overeating. Thin people are political prisoners in America.

Thin people are political prisoners in America.

Dang, I thought I already had it bad enough as an atheist and a card carrying member of the reality based community... at 6.0 ft tall and only 156 lbs, maybe it's time to see if Canada will offer me political asylum. >;^)

Well, if all the diametrically disabled, circumferentially challenged, clinically obese folk got their weight down to normal it would offset the effects of sea level rise for a few decades as the 'States would surely rise a few feet further above sea level.


We get a good sampling down here, the gringos stand out. That is not say there aren't any fat Mexicans but the gringos are on a totally different level. I have long held the view that bringing Canadians, Americans and Mexicans down to correct body weight would cause a considerable rise in the level of the North American continent.


Disclaimer: I am above my correct weight but working hard to get that down and I will do it and I will keep that level.

This is a fascinating documentary, non-judgemental and really quite inspiring. Well worth watching I think.

Focusing on two men whose bodies have been trashed by steroids, obesity and illness, this documentary chronicles the rigorous healing path -- including a two-month diet of fruits and vegetables -- that both attempt in a bid to rescue their health.


Thanks but that video is not available outside of the USA, another example of discrimination.


I don't think you'll find one article to clear it up. There's a lot of conflicting research. However, the 5-8 years might be before all the new drugs came on the scene. Also, some estimates show smokers live 20 years less than non-smokers, so even 5-8 years is not that much in comparison.

Surely, as readers of TOD - we understand the core constraints of the human body? It is an engine; a closed system. It burns fuel. There are 2 key controls: the rate of energy consumption and the rate of energy replenishment.

If you want to lose weight you have the simple choice of reducing the replenishment rate and burning down 'reserves', and/or upping the daily burn. Overall you balance the input/output accordingly, depending upon your desire to lose, maintain, or increase reserves. All the rest is hot air.

The simple rule to weight loss is eat less & move around more until you find the happy medium.

Random statistics for the day: average US 'soda consumption' in 2011 = 15.65 fluid oz /per day (approx 180 calories).


What does this have to do with life expectancy of the obese vs. smokers?

A Book Review Of ‘The Crash Course’: The Unsustainable Future Of Our Economy, Energy and Environment

Without oil, modern civilisation doesn’t work

This appears to be a "dovetail", which like "visionary" is not a type of video game.

It is like giving The Medal of Freedom to Bob Dylan.

It fits and will cause fits.

This appears to be a "dovetail", which like "visionary" is not a type of video game.

Dredd, your post doesn't make sense. It is a book report, nothing more. And a very good book at that, one which I read about six months ago.

The author of the article points out, what he thinks anyway, are several flaws in Chris Martenson's book. I think the author of the article is mistaken but that's another story. The author of the piece seems to think that there are several ways out of the predicament we find ourselves in. But then that is the way of cornucopians, they always see a silver lining in every cloud, a way out of every bad predicament.

I don't think that is going to happen but it helps a lot of people to sleep better thinking it will.

Ron P.

I have issues with Martenson. One is his presentation of other people's original work (with slight paraphrasing) without attribution. The other is his sophomoric understanding of how money works. Chris came out of the woodwork right around the oil/financial crises of 2008 and has comfortably embedded himself in the PO community as one of the professional scary people. Not a bad gig for someone who "stepped away" from biological science and management according to his wikipedia bio.

I have issues with every peak oiler but I believe the assets, of the vast majority of them, far outweigh their liabilities. But then I am also one of those "scary people" though not a professional one.

Ron P.

Hey there, this is the author in question.

One thing that drops my optimism a bit are actions that serve to splinter what should otherwise be allies as we all seek to nudge the world towards living within its ecological, resource based, and economic means.

As in the linked book review, I consistently get bashed, downgraded, and/or finger-wagged at by those in the climate change community seemingly because I have not adopted their framing and tactics. One area where we seem to differ is that I am 100% agnostic as to why somebody undertakes to make their life more resilient, yet quite often members of the climate change movement seem annoyed that I do not make climate change a central part of my argument set.

To be honest, I avoid climate change for a number of reasons although I am very glad people are passionately working at. (1) It is not my area of expertise and (2) I judge it to be a very poor motivator of individual action.

The number of people who can and do make constructive changes in their lives based on a highly intellectual, and distant threat - one that relies on statistical arguments and complex models covering a topic over which they personally have almost zero agency (e.g. "even if I stop all carbon use, China or someone will burn it up....") - and which will be either reinforced or countermanded by daily personal experience (i.e. 'weather'), is quite limited.

Certainly anyone who *can* be reached by such a strategy *should* be reached, but if we are being honest with ourselves we have to recognize that this portion of the population is limited, and therefore it might be wise to adopt a multitude of approaches as we work towards building a critical mass of awareness.

Again, I am agnostic as to whether someone moves towards resilience because of their scientific, political, religious, spiritual, or economic views, or any other views they may have. I applaud them all. On this front I consider myself to be allied and aligned with a whole host of movements, not in competition.

More personally, I am perplexed (and sometimes vexed) by those who seek to draw me towards their views by starting with the flaws in mine. That's one approach...but I prefer to seek understanding of the other's point of view before insisting I be understood.

At any rate, TOD has an awesome, lively and engaged community and I routinely swing through here on my tour through what's worth knowing on the internet, and so I felt it important to outline my views and approaches. In summary, I am more interested in honoring all the approaches that seem to be working rather than critiquing (if not bashing) the ones that don't conform to my own beliefs and views. On this front TOD is doing important work in the world and I am fully in support of all the past and future gains it will make towards surfacing energy considerations so that they may inform our national and even global discussion as we face the most important transition in human history.

All the best,
Chris M.

I am concerned with both Peak Oil and Climate Change. As individuals, we can reduce our consumption and thus reduce out impact on climate, but such efforts may be completely useless if the majority of the other people out there on the road keep on keeping on as before. Sure,Peak Oil may mean that emissions assumptions based on oil burning are going to be too high, but, on the other hand, our society may just decide to continue to ignore climate change and start burning some other form of fossil carbon, of which there appears to be more than enough to cause the worst projected of impacts. There's oil (tar) sands, from which oil will surely be extracted, even at greater depths than now being mined. There's still massive quantities of coal in the ground and oil shale, which isn't presently a source of oil, might be mined in large quantities, if only to be burned to produce electricity as if it were coal.

I've known about Climate Change and our oil problem for more than 30 years. So far, our government(s) appear to be unwilling to confront these problems up front, in spite of numerous efforts to get their attention. What will it take to spark the measures which could reverse course, when we are still roaring along at full speed down the freeway to the energy/climate cliff? Last year's drought in Texas (and Mexico) was very expensive to agriculture. Already this year, the US has experienced many instances of record high temperatures. Is anybody out there listening?

E. Swanson

I guess I count more on constraint than restraint. I do not believe we'll have the self restraint needed to keep us from doing many of the things you describe, but I do believe many of them will not provide the net return needed to make them happen. Also, I believe this empire will collapse due to the kinds of forces that end all empires, and that this will add an additional layer of chaos to the mix, making it difficult for such projects to happen. So we'll try, but that doesn't mean there are no limitations.

“Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity—myself, especially—are in a state of shocked disbelief,” Greenspan said. “I’ve been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.”

I've been reading "Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk", by Satyajit Das with considerable interest. It is the best coverage of the last four decades of financial deregulation/manipulation that I've read. In particular, it describes the various types of participants in finance, their interest, their competitive incentives, and their influence on governments. The breakdown in 2008 can be seen as the result of a plurality of interest groups pursuing their own short term interests to the ultimate regret of most.

During these same four decades, democracy has been described as going hand in glove with free markets. However, since the financial crisis, there has not been much discussion of whether democracy suffers from the same flaw as free markets. That is, does a democracy devolve into a collection of interest groups, each of which pursues its short term interests at the expense of long term viability?

I think that it is probable that democracy (or any system of government which allows multiple, competing interest groups, e.g. oligarchies) is doomed to failure in a resource constrained environment.

Is anyone familiar with Mancur Olson's "The Rise and Decline of Nations: Economic Growth, Stagflation, and Social Rigidities"? Das referenced it.

What will it take to spark the measures which could reverse course, .....

The simple answer is higher prices, as in, much higher prices. that's the only thing that most Americans will pay any attention to.

Thanks for popping in, Chris. While I've mentioned a few minor differences I may have had with your conclusions, I've posted several times that I've had success getting folks, especially fence-sitters, moving in the right direction (from my point of view) by turning them on to Crash Course.. This is far more important than details and fine points, IMO; reaching a broader audience and cracking biases. Good magic is where you find it. Folks here often pick bones with the likes of Kunstler, Greer, and yourself. Matters little as long as you guys keep pushing from the right end of things and challenging delusions.

Chris, on behalf of the TOD community, thanks for the kind words.

I am with you on climate change. Concerning climate change I am convinced of three things. 1. The globe is getting warmer. 2. It is mostly, and perhaps 100%, man made. 3. There is not damn thing we can do about it.

We can rant until the cows come home and perhaps 1 percent of the developed world population will reduce their carbon emissions a few percentage points. The rest of the world will do absolutely nothing. The difference we will make will not be detectable.

However there is not a lot we will do about peak oil either. But the effects of peak oil will have a much more dramatic effect and far sooner than global warming. We are deep into overshoot and environmental degradation and resource depletion is just a natural consequence of overshoot. There is only one cure for overshoot and we all know what that is.

Ron P.

"3. There is not damn thing we can do about it."

Substitute will for can, we can do much; we probably will do little.

As for more dramatic and sooner, also poor comparison IMO. The world at this point shows alot of moxy in finding new substitutes, high prices provide previous uneconomic supply, but I know I'm not telling you anything new. Just that it doesn't appear so cut and dried anymore. And I don't think we'll much pass, if at all, 75 for C+C.

Recall all TOD's earlier discussions pre 2008, about "demand destruction"? The economists hated the term, but it was telling to watch as the poorer regions of the world quit using oil. Would it have caused a rapid collapse if not for the financial one? In hindsight, I don't think so. Your prediction may be correct, the spiral may increase rapidly but nothing is etched in stone. I don't see an oil straw breaking the back, it's a whole bunch of sticks, a thorny, intertwined mess.

Substitute will for can, we can do much; we probably will do little.

You are thinking, I believe, of what could be done if everyone behaved in a certain way. In theory everyone could change their behavior. Obviously they won't because it is just not in their nature to do so. One thing you positively cannot change is human nature.

As far as economist hating the term "demand destruction", I don't think so. I believe it was economist who coined the term. It is economics 101 that high prices decrease demand. It was mostly us peak oilers who were shocked when it really happened.

I may be wrong when I say that peak oil, or more correctly resource depletion, will have a far greater effect and much sooner than climate change. There is no way of proving it one way or the other. But I would bet 100 to 1 that this will be the case. Collapse will happen, collapse is happening right now. And high liquid fuel prices is, I believe, the driving force behind it.

As all developed world economies are based on debt we must grow or collapse. The world runs mostly on liquid fuel. When the liquid fuel supply stops growing economies stop growing. The end of growth is the beginning of collapse.

Ron P.

I am thinking that if mankind quit all fossil carbon extraction tomorrow, we would stop warming by whatever degree isn't baked in already.

And we both know the likelihood/repercussions of that.

It was specifically Sailorman's definition to which I referred.

Take care, and thanks for all your tracking work, Ron

In 2003, we decided that we will do something about reducing our carbon footprint, sold our house and moved to Oregon where we were building a new no carbon using house and ordered a Prius. These actions benefitted both the climate and our budget. Some close friends liked what we did and followed suit. My daughter and her man are learning to live with just one car. And so forth. Almost all can; yet, only some do.

These actions benefitted both the climate and our budget

How did your actions benefit the climate?

That's kind of a useless challenge, but probably feels very satisfying to issue.

If you accept that carbon emissions ARE, in fact a key component to our climate distress, then the acts that help reduce your personal Carbon output ARE doing what you can do to lessen adding to the harm. Showing your family, neighbors and co-bloggers that you can achieve such things can help multiply the effect, for those looking to add their support. Sorry if it's going to be immeasurable at this scale.. it requires a certain faith in the mathmatics of addition.

There's always a perceived moral high-ground available for those who prefer to insist that 'Everything you do will ONLY have unintended downfalls, that nothing you do will ever help, and that your vote doesn't count, so why bother?'

I've accused you several times of claiming the moral high ground and now you think you can use against me.
For someone to buy a Prius and claim to be saving the climate, is simply the height of ignorance and you defend it, which of course speaks volumes for your perceptions of what needs to be done.

Consuming and engineering got us here and you think it's the path to salvation. The path to salvation was the exact opposite. If buying and using a Prius does not directly lead to fossil fuels being left unhurt, in the ground and off limits, then all that is happening is smug, uninformed people climbing to the top of their perceived moral high ground.

Big oil, big coal and all polluters love the way you behave. The world is dominated by multinational corporations desperately needing a continuance of BAU. Their agenda will never change while the consumer continues to consume. For every individual that decides to use less there are two SUV drivers that will use more.

Joe down the road, in the next county, state or country will simply continue to consume because of indifference, ignorance or necessity. Every path to using less must be offset by a concerted and active effort to leave FF's in the ground and unburnt. If that is not a goal then of course we'll continue to burn at peak, because the peak is and will be burning everything we can , according to the state of the economy and collective mindset of the populace.

...we can do much; we probably will do little."

As I've said before, there is no 'we' when it comes to the singular goal of reducing global warming. We are a hodge-podge of discombobulation; an embarassingly confused species (we like to call it diversity), unevenly distributed, unevenly motivated, and unevenly endowed. One of the only universal commonalities is that 'we' are all in the same slowly(?) warming stewpot. Even then, the effects of climate change will be as varied as our responses.

It's hard to be one of the first responders, one who has made personal change and progress a priority, while watching the neighbors aquire yet another fossil fuel toy or take yet another unnecessary fossil fueled trip while leaving all of their fossil fueled lights on. It feels a bit like the thread above about kids who don't have a sugary desert/snack in their school lunch, except that those sugary snacks don't make us all fat and diabetic. Too bad 'we' can't blow global warming bubbles around just the guilty.

Further, what percentage of global population has virtually no ability to make needed changes. We They are totally invested in their current condition, while others are totally invested in seeing that their condition does not change. Many simply don't care one damn bit.

I'm with Ron on this one... but still working on solutions, if only on a local level. Silly me?

I actually think that "can" versus "will" is much more than just word play.

Sure on a theoretical level the American consumer could cut their GHG by 50% and their failure to do so could be considered they "will" not do it. On the other hand if you judge policy by how realistic it is then cutting GHG by 50% is something that they "can not do". If Americans don't cut their GHG then all the developing countries agreeing to limit theirs below the American per capita is something the "can not do" not something that they "will" not do.

The reason "can" versus "will" matters is because it determines where we will put our resources- towards mitigation or adaptation. It might also mean that we make better choices- e.g. not getting onto the bio diesel bandwagon which has resulted in massive deforestation in Indonesia as they plant palm trees. As long as we keep talking about the problem in terms of of what we "will" not do we hold out the promise that Climate change can be avoided and we will divert resource and attention from adaptation which is ultimately what will allow us to survive.

Sometimes I feel that many of us are like spectators at a NASCAR event, just waiting for a big crash to occur. The debates get lively at times with differing thoughts about when and how spectacularly the crash(es) will occur and to whether the leader of the pack will be Peak-Oil, Climate Change, Global Economic Collapse or some other causation.

Rather than cheering for our favorite team to win the Crash Derby, we need to start collaborating, globally, to prevent any of our teams from winnning this event.

I'm trying not to let "doomerism" dominate my life but I'm finding that I no longer have the "contageous enthusiasm" I once was noted for having. As an anecdotal example of what we are facing is an experience my wife encountered the other day. She was working as a substitute teacher, here in Texas, when she met another teacher who was new to the school. This lady told my wife that "Jesus sent the Tea Party to Save America". Then she also went on to state that she judged another persons character by their source of news and claimed that she only watched the Fox News Channel for her information. When supposedly educated people display that level of ignorance how are we ever going to achieve a critical mass of awareness regarding what is currently happening in and to our world?

This lady told my wife that "Jesus sent the Tea Party to Save America". Then she also went on to state that she judged another persons character by their source of news and claimed that she only watched the Fox News Channel for her information.

I'd say "you've got to be kidding!" but stranger things have been said! If she'd added that "Obama is the Anti-Christ foretold in the Revelation" I'd believe she said it too. It's insanity - particularly considering there's the whole other 95% of the world population entirely oblivious to these things that shall come to pass, or not. LOL

Maybe consider such wild thinking Oil Addicts delusions of grandeur!

That dear, sweet lady was only declaring her membership, her allegiance, and her loyalty to the houses of truth, light, and goodness wherein the proper authorities dwell. To attend any other is to frolic in a sty and bathe in a fount of heretical and socialist filth... within the walls of such dark brothels, only terrorists can be spawned to spread their lies and their debilitating disease along the vital, vulnerable arteries of the internet to pollute our Homeland's precious bodily fluids.

Get the picture? For the dogmatist, truth is revealed by an authority. The dogmatist's identity is based on their source of authority. Any other source of truth is an attack on their source of authority and, therefore, on all that their source of authority stands for to them and upon them personally. When faced with a contradicting truth, they will attack the validity of the issuing authority rather than rationally examine any "fact". All other sources of any "truth" and the implied challenge to authority must be suppressed: banning and burning books, for example. Governments and corporations have the same need for the exclusive right to truth: the perfect trinity would be the theocratic fascist state championed by Fox News.

"Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, expressed opposition to the bill stating, “[It] is threatening the rights of people in America, and effectively rights everywhere, because what happens in America tends to affect people all over the world. Even though the SOPA and PIPA acts were stopped by huge public outcry, it’s staggering how quickly the US government has come back with a new, different, threat to the rights of its citizens."



When I first signed up for Face Book, there was an immediate listing of suggested "friends" to whom I might wish to be linked. Some of the names had no obvious connection to me, except that they had e-mailed me previously. My conclusion was that Face Book had mined the e-mail file on my computer for those links. Think about the privacy implications of that and where it might lead...

E. Swanson

That's supposed to be an optional feature of FB and I've never seen it scan local email folders myself without permission. Not to say that hasn't happened of course.

There was a recent UK court case where someone had been legally banned from contacting his ex wife. He allowed FB to scan his email contacts and FB promptly sent an automated friend request to his ex-wife. He was jailed for breaking the court order despite maintaining he had completely forgotten his ex-wife's email address was still in his contacts and hadn't realised she would be contacted on his behalf.

Could you have received these FB suggestions because the original senders contact list was scanned with their permission, not yours?

I logged onto Facebook... once, from my Yahoo account. I got an email from Reg Morrison, in Australia, with whom I had several email conversations with, saying that I had invited him to be a "friend" on Facebook. I had done no such thing. Then I got an email in my Gmail account, from my Yahoo account, telling me that Ron Patterson had invited me to be a facebook friend.

I have never touched Facebook since and will not again. But I still get emails informing me of mutual friends I have on facebook, about half of whom I have never heard of.

Ron P.

It's OK, Ron. They never heard of you either ;-/ I have a couple of dummy e-mail accounts which I've never used to send e-mails. One now has 1131 unread messages, all from accounts I've never heard of or e-mailed from that account. Spam filters, etc., are on and supposedly working.

It looks like Big Brother has been privatized. Then again, maybe that's practically definitive of when the Corporate and the Government become like the Pigs and the Men in Animal Farm.

We talk about improving the Signal/Noise ratio.. but often enough, I think we might consider helping to degrade it at the same time.. to follow with the end of the Wendell Berry Poem I've been picking from lately..

"As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction."

I signed up for FaceBook a year or so ago just to see what it was all about. I was totally creeped out in a matter of days, and deleted my account. I'm beginning to feel the same way about Google.

Club Orlov, today: Making the Internet Safe for Anarchy

There used to exist privacy protections written into US law, but they are in the process of disappearing as a result of new legislation, such as the CISPA bill making its way through Congress now. But whether or not a sweeping abolition of privacy rights makes it into law, your online privacy is gone...

...People now tend to communicate via cell phone voice calls, text messages, emails, posts to Facebook and tweets, all of which are digital data, and all of which are saved. Relationships between people can be determined by looking at their Facebook profile, their email contacts, and their cell phone contacts.

People I know accuse me of being paranoid, but here you go:

United States Patent, US7526426:

System and method for computerized psychological content analysis of computer and media generated communications to produce communications management support, indications and warnings of dangerous behavior...

My last IT gig was for a company which was, among other things, producing modules for a psyhcological profiling system supposedly for marketing, primarily by observing shopping and financial data. Even in the early 90s, the profiles were quite accurate, and went way beyond your shopping habits.

Google tracking not only what you search for but also what links in the search results you actually click on is so creepy that even Microsoft has resisted the temptation to do that with Bing. Bing's search results are the real URL. Google supplies search links which take you to their own servers before redirecting you to the destination.

If there is a service on the Internet that is free, YOU are the product.

I wanted to comment on a newspaper article yesterday. When I clicked the comments I was told "comments were now only accepted through Facebook". Needless to say I didn't.

I don't even like setting preferences in Google.

Me too.

By the way, did you delete your account, or did you just deactivate it? There's a hidden process that supposedly deletes your account but IIRC gives you 14 days to change your mind should you decide Facebook was your friend after all. I went through the process years ago, long before Facebook became the pervasive cloud-based juggernaut it is today - I believe my account was "deleted" and has been lost to time but I would be very suspicious about it now - all the pictures, etc., forever etched in some repository for whatever nefarious purpose the future holds. (666)

Yes, you have to go through a somewhat hidden process to actually delete your account. This can be easily found if you google it (and then Google knows you're quitting FB - expect invites for Google + :-)

If you so much as check in out of curiousity within the next 14 days, your account is automatically reinstated, and you have to go through the process again from the beginning.

I checked after a month or so, and FB didn't know me. Whether they actually deleted anything from their servers - who knows? They claim they do. In my case, there was practically nothing to delete - I never posted a single thing on it.

I have one, it's a necessary evil since people use it for events I often go to and it's easier for them than individually email everyone each time. The email I used was only for FB, the name I use on it is fake and all silly settings were turned off.

Click on the down arrow in the top left corner of Facebook and choose "help", and it will be able to tell you how to delete your account.

I have 404ed Facebook on my machine.


She was working as a substitute teacher, here in Texas, when she met another teacher who was new to the school. This lady told my wife that "Jesus sent the Tea Party to Save America". Then she also went on to state that she judged another persons character by their source of news and claimed that she only watched the Fox News Channel for her information.


That makes me sad. So much for any critical thinking skills being learned by her students. C'mon . . . how about using multiple information sources so you can check them against each other? And wasn't the Tea Party supposed to be kind of quasi-libertarian movement but it is now basically just the religious-right warmed over? Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

What worries me more is the damage that teacher may do on meeting other people who do not share their views.


I saw one guy with a shirt that said "Jan. 2013..end of an error" and "Nobama" under it, or something like that.

Not that I'm a fan of Obama, but that definitely put me off.

Look, I'm trying to tell everyone, that's the type of people we are! That's how Americans are. Go to other places in the world and people may be poor and dirty, but they don't behave like this, they don't show off or announce their views to the world.

It's part of the charm of the country, but "look at me" is getting old.

Written by OldLeatherNeck:
This lady told my wife that "Jesus sent the Tea Party to Save America". Then she also went on to state that she judged another persons character by their source of news and claimed that she only watched the Fox News Channel for her information.

What subject(s) does she teach, where did she obtain her degree, and in what subject is her degree?

The Tea Party was sent by the Koch Brothers suggesting she worships billionaires and their values.

Thanks for the comment Chris, the crash course is a great one stop shop for drawing lots of issues together. I somewhat understand your comments on climate change as its way outside our normal decision making sphere. The crossroad as I see it is the choice between renewables / nuclear / efficiency and unconventional fossil fuels, here air pollution / CO2 etc should lead towards the first of the two options but as always it's not that simple.


I haven't read your book, but your videos are well done and much appreciated - so please keep up the good work. I agree TOD is an awesome resource.


Chris M,

I you want an interesting example of a climate change denier who converted, check out this Navy Admiral.

IMHO, there are a multitude of things that can make a terrible future situation slightly better - and even a few that, in combination, can make it significantly less bad.

But no "solutions".

Best Hopes for Mitigation,


How's this for a mitigation slogan?

"Make the future brighter. Switch off your lights."

Fair enough Darwinian.

Can you squeeze in the point that people are dishonest until found out to be honest?

Books are the same way.

I do like the book reviewer's tendency to take prisoners, then treat them in the Nuremberg manner.

He redeems what he can even though he cannot agree with it, based on his current knowledge.

Dredd, I understand, I think, where you are coming from. But because the "Crash Course" did not come out screaming about global warming is no reason to get upset. Many people out there, and I believe Martenson is one of them, agree with me when they say there is not much anyone can do about it. China now dumps more greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere than does the US. If you think anyone is going to change China's collective mind, they are sadly mistaken.

I have read "The Crash Course" and it is an extremely good book. I also watched the three hour twenty minute video The Crash Course... twice and parts of it several times.

Yes, I think the reviewer is way off base. He criticizes Martenson for saying that changing politics will not fix the debt problem. Geeze, who believes it will? Then he criticizes Martenson for saying that technology will not buy us enough time to mitigate the energy problem. Well a lot of people here believes it will, I am with Martenson on this one also, it will not.

Then he criticizes Martenson for not addressing the climate change problem. Well the book is not about climate change, it is about the economy, debt and diminishing natural resources, oil in particular. Well hell, any book can be criticized for what it didn't say. And as I have said, many dozens of times on this list, that peak oil will have a far more dramatic effect on the global economy than climate change, and far sooner as well.

Anyway that is a valid point of view whether you agree with it or not. And if I were to write a book about the economy and peak oil, I would not devote a chapter to something I had no intention of addressing either.

Thanks for the link. It was very interesting, especially the video.

Ron P.

I just got a robocall that wanted me to take a political poll. I suspected it was a scam, and stayed on the line and took the poll just so I could find out what company was calling my do-not-call registered number so I could complain about them.

The poll was all about gas prices, and slanted right. ("Do you support the Keystone pipeline and the relief from high gas prices it would bring?" "Should Obama's primary goal be lowering gas prices, helping the housing market, or creating jobs?" "What is your greatest concern, high gas prices, jobs, or the size of government?")

But I don't think it was a real poll. It was a way to get around the do-not-call registry, since political calls and polls are exempt. They offered a free cruise if you took the poll, and that was the real purpose of the call. I hung up once I got the company's name, but I have no doubt that if I stayed on the line, they would tell me that to collect my free cruise, I have to pay the port taxes, and just give them my credit card number. (I looked them up, and yes, they are notorious scammers. They not only charge "port taxes," they keep charges various fees to your credit card as long as you let them.)

That's what is known in the industry as a Push Poll

A push poll is an interactive marketing technique, most commonly employed during political campaigning, in which an individual or organization attempts to influence or alter the view of respondents under the guise of conducting a poll. In a push poll, large numbers of respondents are contacted, and little or no effort is made to collect and analyze response data. Instead, the push poll is a form of telemarketing-based propaganda and rumor mongering, masquerading as a poll.

Ron P.

I know about push polls, but I don't think this was one. The point was not to influence political views; it was to get around the do not call registry and scam people out of money.

I just thought it was interesting that they picked gas prices for their "disguise."

Maybe they got a two-for-one deal. Money for the cruse scam, and some RNC money on the side.

Sounds like an ALEC creation.

Do the calls originate from OR or MD by chance? I've been getting a lot from those areas on my do-not-call cell phone.

My first statement when getting such calls is to ask " How much are you paying me for taking your poll?" And if they tell me nothing I remind them that they are getting paid to make the call, the company they are working for is getting paid for the poll, etc.... and that they are all trying to make moneyon my free information - And state again that I don't work for free!
Surprisingly I get a fair number of them that will pay me anywhere from $25 to $100 to take their polls. And I do get the checks.

Another example of the saying: You don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.

Leanan: Maybe the reason why they used the political questions was to find out how gullible the individual is? If you answered affirmative to the ideas then perhaps they might consider you to be a better target for current and future scams?

Classic hard sell technique, get the mark saying yes before you start the sales pitch.

Now that you mention it - yes. For example almost any piece of junk mail I get, on anything that can possibly be connected in any way to politics, including pieces from both of the big parties, will be formatted as a (usually short) series of loaded questions followed by a pitch to give the sender money...

This could drive down the cost per lumen-hour rather dramatically and allow LEDs to compete more effectively in applications where a compact, high-output light source is required:

Conquering LED Efficiency Droop: Overcoming mysterious phenomenon could lead to affordable LED lighting

WASHINGTON, April 30 - Like a coffee enthusiast who struggles to get a buzz from that third cup of morning joe, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) seem to reach a point where more electricity no longer imparts the same kick and productivity levels-off. Now a team of researchers from California and Japan has devised a new design for green and blue LEDs that avoids much of this vexing efficiency droop. The findings will be presented at the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO: 2012), taking place May 6-11 in San Jose, Calif.

By changing the orientation of the crystal structure in semiconductor films, the team created LEDs with high efficiency and extremely low droop. Droop, which is a dramatic drop in efficiency at high currents, is one of the main problems limiting the growth of the solid-state lighting market.

See: http://www.osa.org/About_Osa/Newsroom/News_Releases/Releases/04.2012/Con...

A number of Philips LED offerings including the L-Prize and EnduraLED/AmbientLED A19 lamps utilize blue LEDs to excite remote phosphors.


Drive the LED array at 60-75% of Imax and avoid the droop range and triple the emitter life, most of the time the eye can't even see the reduction, Many DC LED drivers have a dimming input. Anyone know good source for Phillips Xitanium LED Drivers, such as the 929000612003. 10-32 VDC Input?
Not sure about availability in North America yet, bet it selling like hotcakes where you need RELIABLE GRIDFREE lighting without the expense of high voltage protected wiring.

"...most of the time the eye can't even see the reduction..."

There is a really funny and ongoing example of that: LED flashlights with low and high settings obtained by turning on a second LED or doubling the effective current through one LED. The packaging will often have a drawing showing the dim low setting and the brilliant high setting... where, actually, turning on the second LED or doubling the effective current makes only a small difference in the brightness. The sensory response is logarithmic: it takes, for simple calculation, say 5.6 times the number of photons to make the light seem twice as bright. A real "bright/twice-as-bright" flashlight would have 6 LEDs with one or all six selected to be on. I've never seen one. The battery life would be so much longer for adequate light. Twice as bright isn't all that much, so one LED / thirty LEDs (~4X) might be the better setup. ...Shows how much more you pay to run the brighter lights.


I have a CREE XM-L T6 Flashlight, and I guarantee there is significant difference between high and low.

High = 1000MA X 3.7V = 3.7 Watt.
Low = 320MA X 3.7V = 1.18 Watt

Current to photos is semi linear till you approach where the droop kicks in. Often ~75% of the Imax limit. From a design angle, The eye may see little difference between 3 and 3.7 watts since at the top end. Very instructional to play with arrays that have a dimming control such as available here: http://ledsupply.com/led-drivers.php?gclid=CKfK6sWc368CFQpj7Aod30F2BQ
The latest generation of SM5050 RGB tapes are much brighter now and affordable. kit: http://www.amazon.com/Waterproof-Changing-LED-Lighting-Strip/dp/B0054U46...

My big lantern started to lose LEDs so I did a rebuild. The resistors that the maker put in significantly over-drove the LEDS to try and get more brightness. I changed the resistors to drive the new LEDs at less than their 20mA rating. Nice and bright:)


There are a lot of multi-LED lamps around that run on 3V batteries (2 AA alkalines or NiMH, etc) with no resistors at all - when the batteries are strong the LEDs are driven rather hard. I've modified a couple of such lamps, converting the many (24?) LEDs into 3 groups in series, plus a resistor, to run on 12VDC.

Moscow Swelters in Record Heat

Moscow sweltered in unseasonable heat on Sunday, with temperatures of nearly 29 degrees Celsius (84.2 Fahrenheit), a record for April since data collection began 130 years ago, authorities said.

The mercury had already climbed to 26.3 degrees on Saturday.

Several central and eastern European countries recorded unseasonably high temperatures on Saturday, with a record 32 degrees (89.6 Fahrenheit) recorded in northern Austria.

With all this going on it really makes me wonder - if you look at graphs of such phenomena from the past you'll see a spike here or there that turned out to be an outlier, and warming isn't about the yearly variation but the long term trends. But more rapid change can happen, and there are those methane reports...... What if?

There are just a lot of signs right now, and I have to keep smacking at the intuition to get it to shut up.

England has just had its wettest April in 100 years


straight after having one of its dryest and warmest Marches on record.

Parts of England are officially in drought and suffering serious flooding.

I saw the news on a swedish news web site. Titled "The moscowits enjoy the warm spring". I just thought the guy who wrote the article must have a record short memory. Does not anyone remember last time it got warm in Russia?

Official: Dolphin deaths in Peru still a mystery

(AP) -- Peruvian authorities are still trying to unravel the mystery of why hundreds of dolphins ended up dead on beaches in the country over the past 2 1/2 months. … the carcasses of 877 dolphins and porpoises were found between February and mid-April on the beaches of northern Peru.

… officials don't believe the dolphins' deaths are related to seismic oil exploration work that was carried out off northern Peru between Feb. 8 and April 8 by the Houston-based company BPZ Energy.

also Peru examines deaths of more than 500 pelicans

The government of Peru is investigating the deaths of more than 500 pelicans along a 70km (40-mile) stretch of the country's northern coast.
The Peruvian Maritime Institute (Imarpe) said so far 538 dead pelicans and 54 boobies had been found in various stages of decomposition, although most appeared to have died recently.

In addition, five badly decomposed sea lions and a turtle carcass had been found on shore, Imarpe said. Local media reports suggest more than 1,200 dead pelicans have been found in the Piura and Lambayeque regions.

It's a little depressing, seeing all these stories from Europe about how to fix their economy, and GET BACK TO REAL GROWTH!
If they only understood that long term growth was not in the cards, no matter which strategy they try. Austerity squeezes most and benefits a few. Now it looks like they will swing the other way, and invest heavily in THE FUTURE by building roads and bridges. Even if they figured out how to get 100% employment, there still wouldn't be enough energy. This peak oil thing is insidious.

This peak oil thing is insidious.

Some day it will dawn on all of them that it is as simple as the math doesn't work in our favor on a net energy decline.

I read the UK Guardian (online) newspaper and look or trends in peak oil awareness in the comment threads. Today was typical - the main economics threads generate hundreds of comments with almost none mentioning resource limits, energy or oil. Even an open letter to the Prime Minister from our (only) Green MP talking about renewable energy fails to mention oil or resource limits, although she is certianly 100% peak oil aware.

However, there is hope. Threads about fossil energy generate quite a few comments on limits and peak, and one comment on a thread comparing the curent recession to the 30s depression, which said that energy resource constraints means that there will be no recovery this time, got the third highest rating out of 100 comments. The PO crowd is our there, and they are a steadily growing minority among the Guardian readership. A few comment pieces in the paper even discuss the possibility of peak oil, although they are often hopelsssly garbled compared to TOD.

The real irony of the European meltdowns in countries like Spain and Ireland is that they were already on a more sustainable non-Auto Addicted Path than the US with more dense development and public transit available. Yet they fell into the US McMansion trap of building houses out in Exurbs along with highways to nowhere to reach them when they already had actual Towns, villages and non-Auto Transit. Of course it is these developments which crashed as they did in the US.
My brother has lived in Spain every 3 years or so and in my visits I noticed how although there were miles of agricultural areas that they did not have scattered houses. Instead there were some smaller work buildings and people lived in the village which was usually up on the nearest Mountain behind walls. Legacy of feudal castles but also it preserved town life for living without isolating people or requiring driving for every loaf of bread, meal, wine etc.
Although the Branson Report for the UK strongly advised much greater support of Rail and public transit, to save oil for Virgin Airlines planes ( ;-) ) of course the Tories will not support it.

Harvard Professor of Landscape (not Landscape Architecture!) John Stilgoe has several excellent books regarding the development of the American continent. Many on TOD will recognize his work Metropolitan Corridor concerning the impact of the railroads, but a related text that really explains suburbs and ex-urbs is Borderland: Origins of the American Suburb, 1820 to 1939. He argues, with many examples, that the desire to get out of the cities of the time was present early on, and what gave us suburbs originally was not the highway but the railroad. For those who love history, land development, and transportation, it's a fascinating read.

Domino Theory: Small steps can lead to big results

What if you could make a world-changing impact with one small act? Would you be more inclined to take that first step if you knew your action would gain momentum when aligned with the actions of others?

In 2002, while attending the Telluride Tech Festival, Herb Morreale began thinking about how small actions could set big results into motion. Those ideas developed into the domino theory, and the notion of “setting big things in motion.” In 2007, his theory inspired a blog and a nonprofit organization called Topplers (www.topplers.org)—so named as a reference to dominos toppling over.

The mission of the organization is to inspire and motivate people to set big things in motion using the domino theory as its driving philosophy. Topplers gives people the opportunity to participate in or start a movement and to connect with others, giving their ideas the momentum to grow.

Or you could just be the change you want to see in the world.

I'm just sitting here by Bellingham Bay, breeding those beets, doing what I do and writing about it. Yesterday, I planted 70,000 calories in 600 square feet, in four hours of working steadily but not that hard with a wheel hoe and a Japanese crescent shaped hand hoe. Three hundred square feet of heritage white wheat, enough for 20 generous batches of tortillas, 150 square feet of awnless malting barley, which will make ten gallons of small beer or five of heavy dark stout, and 170 feet of large favas. I planted some of the favas in a row, but I put most of them in at the ends of the wheat rows. They used to do that in the 14th century and I thought I'd give it a try.

More gardening, plant breeding and traditional food techniques at http://transitionwhatcom.ning.com/profiles/blog/list?user=0a99ghcin8jvu, or just search on Celt's Garden and it will come right up. I keep working on feeding ourselves from small spaces in our tricky maritime climate. It's working, slowly, baby steps at a time, as I share the seed and train people to grow their own.

I keep working on feeding ourselves from small spaces in our tricky maritime climate.

Just curious, do you know of anyone in the Puget Sound region that has successfully translated Masanobu Fukuoka's natural farming techniques to this climate? It seems like no till, no fertilizer, no pesticide could work here, with ducks to eat the slugs of course, but I'm just not sure what the crop rotation would be.



Good question. I know people who rotate chicken tractors with grains or gardens. But as far as the Full Fukuoda, I know no one who has figured it out. Fukuoda used flooding to control perennial weeds and draining followed by a grain rotation to control water borne disease and organisms. Pretty slick. Finding rice varieties that will grow around here would be a step in the right direction. So far, that's a work in progress.

Thanks, that's informative.

I thought I had read in One Straw Revolution that he sowed the seed for one crop directly into the chaff from the previous crop, which was left on the ground to both control weeds and provide nutrients to the soil (conveniently amended by the aforementioned pest control ducks). I didn't realize he also used flooding, I'll have to take another look at his work.

One wonders if there is another rotation that doesn't involve rice or flooding. What appeals to me the most about Fukuoka's work was his inspiration to observe nature first. The idea being to let the local ecosystem find its natural equilibrium, then do the minimum possible to tip the balance in favor of locally available foodstuffs.

From that perspective the task then becomes not replicating his particular system, but finding out what our ecosystem wants to do when left alone, and then using whatever foodstuffs are available from that to come up with a crop rotation.

Might not involve grains at all...


Scientists eager to drill in Arctic waters for answers about methane

The oil and gas industry is eyeing the energy riches under the Arctic Ocean, but scientists are even keener to start drilling in Canada's polar waters.

They say the Beaufort Sea, in the western Canadian Arctic, holds clues to several environmental mysteries of global significance - chief among them why so much methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is now seeping out of the sea floor.

In the past few years, dramatic plumes of the methane have been spotted by teams surveying waters off Siberia. A Canada-U.S. team has also found "extensive free gas release" on the Beaufort Shelf, which is pock-marked with holes the escaping gas leaves behind.

At one spot about 50 metres below the surface, the team's remotely operated vehicle found gas "vigorously and continuously" bubbling out of a sea mound, kicking up clouds of sediments.

The chemical signature of the gas seeping out from the Beaufort Sea floor indicates much of it is bubbling up through cracks and gaps in the permafrost that are liberating methane that has been locked under the sea for at least 50,000 years, Dallimore and his colleagues report.

Thanks for the link. At first I thought it was to be yet another article ultimately rewriting the Independent's story. The article suggests a much wider call to action, thankfully.

Pair it with Leanan's top post on the military preparedness for the Arctic. If the Navy is that unprepared, how can industry expect much different with oil cleanup should that need arise?

Yes, the article indicates venting from the Canadian shelf off the MacKenzie delta inaddition to the ESAS venting

The US Navy doesn't do oil spill clean up; that's the US Coast Guard's job. The USCG had a very terse critique regarding the expansion of arctic drilling, particularly citing the lack of port facilities for rig servicing and spill containment.

Here's a doomer's worse-case-scenario: Much of what is being seen is large deposits of natural gas which would have been slowly seeping upward, yet have been capped by a layer of frozen calthrates and sediment for thousands of years. Not only is the frozen methane being released, but also the unfrozen natural gas it has help prisoner for so long. Whoosh :-0

The chemical signature of the gas seeping out from the Beaufort Sea floor indicates much of it is bubbling up through cracks and gaps in the permafrost that are liberating methane that has been locked under the sea for at least 50,000 years, Dallimore and his colleagues report.

Hummmm, permafrost below the sea floor? How did it get frozen with a liquid water above it? How could it stay frozen with liquid water above it? Might be right, but it just doesn't sound right to me.

Has anyone else ever wondered whether the reduction in the ice layer in the artic ocean would lower the pressure exerted at sea floor level and that the reduction in pressure could be causing some of the solidified methane to sublimate to gas and rise to the surface?

That's what I thought when I first heard of the releases. Clathrates need a minimum combination of pressure and temperature to remain solid. Losing ice can lower both temperature and pressure.

No. The Arctic ice cover floats. If it melts it will not reduce the pressure by a single pound. If ice on land melts, the weight flows into the ocean and pressure on the land is less. But if floating ice melts no pressure is releaved.

Ron P.

No. Floating ice doesn't affect the hydrostatic pressure. The key I think is the temperature of the water in contact with the sea floor.

I don't know the physics but it is possible for methane hydrates to form below liquid water.

Methane clathrate also called methane hydrates

Methane clathrates are restricted to the shallow lithosphere (i.e. < 2,000 m depth). Furthermore, necessary conditions are found only either in polar continental sedimentary rocks where surface temperatures are less than 0 °C; or in oceanic sediment at water depths greater than 300 m where the bottom water temperature is around 2 °C.

Ron P.

Someone mentioned the other day that the permafrost came from above ground, and the land was subducted somehow to beneath the sea. So it was terrestrial permafrost that got sunk. Seawater in the arctic can be less than 32 degrees fahrenheit. So the water at the bottom of the arctic must be close to that. Would freshwater ice melt in 31 degree seawater?

Permafrost below the sea surface? How did it get there? Sea level rise. At last glacial maxima (roughly 18,000 year before present), sea level was over a hundred meters lower than today -and the planet -and especially the arctic was much colder. So this permafrost was only flooded by seawater a few thouasand years ago. Note also that the freezing point of sea water is 28F, four degrees below the melting point of fresh water/permafrost. As long as the sea water is below the freezing point of water, the permafrost can survive a long time.

Is the melting point of permafrost 0C? I'm just thinking that it is contaminated by all sorts of things, such as salts, that should depress the freezing point. Anyone any good information on this?


In the April 20th DrumBeat there was a lengthy discsusion about Arctic methane. Undertow created several animations and also a video using 10 years worth of data published by Dr. Yurganov. It will be interesting to see the April 2012 data when Dr. Yurganov gets it posted.

"BURN: An Energy Journal" - On Public Radio

"BURN is hosted by veteran journalist and master storyteller Alex Chadwick who is on a mission to begin a conversation we hope will start our nation on the road to a better energy future.

BURN is about sharing Energy stories. Alex is keeping a journal of discovery as he explores a subject that is a huge part of our lives..."

This was on Public Radio last night, and looks to be in most states.

I hope it will be a bit deeper than the usual fare.

They aired a segment of BURN here last week that was about oil. The intro sounded like they'll talk issues related to peak oil, but most of it turned out to be about the Deepwater Horizon spill's lingering aftereffects. There was a small segment at the end about "why is gasoline expensive".

Typical "public radio" punch-pulling. Take a look, for instance, at the "2009 Oil Consumption" chart at http://burnanenergyjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Oil-consumptio....

That is a profoundly deceptive graph, as it makes US oil use look like it was 11,000 bbl/d, when it was almost 19,000! What possible excuse is there for that outrage? They didn't have space for the proper graphic?

Why, for that matter, does that page not explain how automotive transportation explains the lion's share of the overall oil burn?

One wonders if such programs aren't intentional efforts at deflection. "Dream our energy future" my hind end!

I think the popular term now is "perception management".

New from Congressional Research Service [CRS]...

U.S. Solar Photovoltaic Manufacturing: Industry Trends, Global Competition, Federal Support

... The most widely used solar technology involves photovoltaic (PV) solar modules, which draw on semiconducting materials to convert sunlight into electricity. By year-end 2011, the total number of grid-connected PV systems nationwide reached almost 215,000. Domestic demand is met both by imports and by about 100 U.S. manufacturing facilities employing an estimated 25,000 U.S. workers in 2011. Production is clustered in a few states, including California, Oregon, Texas, and Ohio.

Domestic PV manufacturers operate in a dynamic and highly competitive global market now dominated by Chinese and Taiwanese companies. All major PV solar manufacturers maintain global sourcing strategies; the only U.S.-based manufacturer ranked among the top ten global cell producers in 2010 sourced the majority of its panels from its factory in Malaysia. Some PV manufacturers have expanded their operations beyond China to places like the Philippines and Mexico.

Overcapacity has led to a significant drop in module prices, with solar panel prices falling more than 50% over the course of 2011. Several PV manufacturers have entered bankruptcy and others are reassessing their business models. Although hundreds of small companies are engaged in PV manufacturing around the world, profitability concerns appear to be driving consolidation, with ten firms now controlling half of global cell and module production.

The competitiveness of solar PV as a source of electric generation in the United States will likely be adversely affected both by the expiration of these tax provisions and by the rapid development of shale gas, which has the potential to lower the cost of gas-fired power generation and reduce the cost-competitiveness of solar power, particularly as an energy source for utilities.

In light of these developments, the ability to build a significant U.S. production base for PV equipment is in question.

Quick reply:

The tax credit (the largest by far 'tax provision' referred to above) doesn't expire until 2017. Since solar panel prices dropped by 50% in 2011 alone (article, above), dontcha think the solar industry can handle losing the 30% tax credit 4 1/2 years from now?

Natural gas will not be inexpensive forever.

The US is not a significant production base for much of any new high tech products is it? This is a result of deliberate corporate and political policies, not an accident of nature.

"Congressional Research Service" Providing the data that Congress wants to hear so they can support the bills that the people who paid to put them in office want supported.

Subsidise people and tax machines and we can make stuff here in the US.

Not just the US.

"With prospects of continued negative operating results, REC decided on April 24 to close down the 650 MW multicrystalline wafer plant at Herøya currently in operation. Production at the plant is expected to discontinue in the second quarter. This comes in addition to the decision on March 20 to close the monocrystalline wafer plant in Glomfjord. About 640 employees are affected. REC will explore alternatives for potential future use of the facilities. "


About all that REC has left in Norway is a mailbox. Wafers, cells, and modules are all in Singapore now.

First quarter report is available in a link at the bottom of that page. Page 11 is interesting.

Video games can teach how to shoot guns more accurately and aim for the head

Just 20 minutes of playing a violent shooting video game made players more accurate when firing a realistic gun at a mannequin - and more likely to aim for and hit the head, a new study found.

Players who used a pistol-shaped controller in a shooting video game with human targets had 99 percent more completed head shots to the mannequin than did participants who played other video games, as well as 33 percent more shots that hit other parts of the body.

... Bushman said these results should give parents and policymakers pause.

"We shouldn't be too quick to dismiss violent video games as just harmless fun in a fantasy world – they can have real-world effects," he said.

Like teaching people how to use implements of destruction effectively?

The horror!

Best use of an implement of destruction is to not use it at all.

Your observations echo those of a fellow from Norway. From the article ...

... Some killers have credited video games for helping them prepare, ... For example, Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian man who shot and killed 69 people at a youth camp in Norway last year, wrote in a manifesto: “I see MW2 (Modern Warfare 2) more as a part of my training-simulation than anything else. You can more or less completely simulate actual operations.”

... "We stood three meters from him and wanted to beat him, but then he shot one of our friends in the head. So we just threw the stones and ran for our lives," Daudov said. ... The youngest victim, Sharidyn Svebakk-Bøhn of Drammen, just turned 14. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Norway_attacks

All of those victims had families. Killing is not a joke.

I didn't say best, I said effective.

If you are going to do something, for good or ill, do it correctly.

Your advice is falling flat.

They're talking about real nightmares we've been seeing people descend into, tied right into these games. Sometimes, it's not the place to try to get a laugh.

Right, I'm evil that way.

... ... hold on a second.

You thought I was joking?!

I haven't said evil.. yet. (That was sort of a joke)

Whether or not you are joking, I'm still trying to decide.. when you follow a story about Breivik with a 'Just Do it Right' comment, it could be some very dark humor, I suppose, but the delivery is still sketchy. To have such a smirking response to this incredible tragedy, just when the perpetrator is also busy smirking about how effective he was.. I guess your point is just not coming across to me.

If it's simply a philosophy of perfectionism regardless, then I'll quietly excuse myself and get back to work.

Perfectionism regardless.

I do admit it was insensitive placement and you have my apologies for any offense I have given by it.

Not as much offended as flabbergasted.

It's strange to insist on achieving excellence with No Regard ("Regardless") for the rightness of the actions.

I'm not against all forms of fighting and use of force, it is a necessary part of life. ..but it is not something to be done without keeping a constant eye on the bigger picture, the repercussions, the long-term results.

I'm in the US, where Boy Scout camps include shooting ranges (usually used with .17 or .22 rifles).

It's easy to forget from here that for Scandanavians that the recent shooting is all they have as far as "what it means to carry a gun".

I've got a lot of good memories from my childhood that include me with a rifle in hand.

This is not about the second amendment or marksmanship.

The point is that it's more important to be doing the right thing, if maybe imperfectly, than it is to achieve perfection and then find out that what you had perfected had caused irreversible harm.. because 'checking out the validity of your goals' took a lower priority on your totem pole. As I said, I am not talking about some blanket objection to guns OR video games.. but we DO have to be aware of what are the repercussions of the overwhelming availability and addiction to these particular tools and the boosterism of certain (paranoid, vengeful and death-is-justice) mindsets that accompany this culture.

As William McDonough said about Efficiency, 'Noone wants to see a super-efficient concentration camp.'

From Whit Stilman's 'Barcelona'

You can't say Americans are not more violent than other people?


All those people killed in shootings in America?

Shootings.. That doesn't mean Americans are more violent than other people, we're just better shots.

... all too similar to our other disagreements.

People get different things out of tragedy based on their background.

I grew up with guns and spent time in the military as an adult (even the navy requires that you be able to use firearms effectively).

I see a mass shooting and the first thing in my head is how much less bad it would have been had some of the victims been armed and skilled as well.

It is very much like some of our other disagreements.

To me it looks like you are trying to wish genies back into their bottles, and they aren't going.

The character holds a mask

To observe and learn is the best response.

That is some wonderful animating and conceptualization .. I think I'll still have to read the Twain to get the nuance, though.. even when he was despondent and claimed nihilism, I don't know that I'd believe Twain was ever sincerely beyond hope and care for his people. Depression is a funny devil, though, and it's afflicted many of the greats.

There but for the grace of Samuel go I, eh?

I do hope to get a chance to read more of the Cleckley book. Looks fascinating! Thx.

Meh. Videogames have become massively popular over the past 30 years. You can hardly find a young male that has not played them. If they really caused violence we would now be knee deep in blood. But instead, the crime rates have gone down. Same can be said about porn . . . you can easily find porn anywhere are on web but rape rates have gone down. So thankfully those simplistic views of linking videogames to violence and porn to sexual assault haven't proven to be true.

They're part of a continuum, and I do think they're doing real harm. I don't think they are a magic pill that will drive everyone who uses them crazy.. but they (including porn) are very effective at isolating people and allowing some to get to extremes of dehumanizing others and undermining any empathy in great swaths of people who have been allowed to buzz through life with less and less interaction and interpersonal responsibility required of them.

Maybe the crime stats have something to do with the fact that these games have, so far, just been getting MORE pervasive and available.. what happens when they start getting shut off? (Cue Big Organ Chord..)

... and as I think about, it seems equally possible for people to use Video Games and Porn at either end of the scale, some to bolster their angst and antisocial feelings, and others to relieve the very same pressures.. even if the numbers 'seem' to cancel each other, I would want to know more detail, and not just the bottom line.

Like the Sugars in Honey versus Table Sugar, it comes down to more than just counting the calories or the arrests in the police blotter.

Having fun worth $50, teaching self defense skills priceless.

If we are that influenced by games, why aren't we all kleptomaniacs or plumbers?

I was always told to aim for the body, you have a much higher chance of hitting the target. Especially when your total practice is with a pretend not-gun in a pretend world.

Shell Shale Gas Deal with China National Petroleum Corporation

Reports are now beginning to emerge drawing the China National Petroleum Company and Zhou Yongkang, a member of the all-powerful nine-member Politburo Standing Committee, into the unfolding political scandal, viewed as the most significant development/power struggle in China for many years.

According to insiders in China's southwestern province of Sichuan and China National Petroleum Corporation, Zhou Bin, Zhou's son, secured personal wealth of over 20 billion yuan (US$3.1 billion), mostly acquired with help from Bo [Xilai - former head of the Communist Party's Chongqing branch]. The young Zhou held power over the oil company and assignments of high-ranking officials in Chongqing, as well in Sichuan.

If the report is accurate, the business dealings of China National Petroleum Corporation, including the agreement recently signed with Shell, are likely to come under Chinese government scrutiny.

The facts appear to be as follows: Shell is a client of Hakluyt [corporate intelligence firm founded by titled Shell directors and former MI6 officers]. Neil Heywood [murder British MI6 agent] was a Hakluyt agent in China. Shell has been active in China with business activities in Chongqing, the city at the heart of the intrigue. Shell has recently concluded an important deal with CNPC, a state owned company reportedly controlled by a member of the leadership faction allegedly mired in this murky scandal, involving alleged corruption and murder.

Energy Transfer to Buy Sunoco to Add Oil, Gas Logistics

Energy Transfer Partners LP, owner of more than 17,500 miles of natural-gas pipelines, agreed to buy Sunoco Inc. for $5.3 billion, adding oil terminals and transportation assets

'Unusual event' declared at Salem 1 nuclear reactor after plant automatically shuts down

LOWER ALLOWAYS CREEK TWP. — An “unusual event” was declared at the Salem 1 nuclear reactor here after the plant shutdown and fire alarms sounded, a spokesman for the plant’s operator said.

According to Delmar what caused the reactor to trip remains under investigation, but testing was occurring on the reactor’s emergency cooling system at the time.

After the reactor shutdown, multiple fire alarms sounded, according to Delmar.

Navy Plan For California Blackouts Nears Completion

The U.S. Navy is nearing a first-time agreement to curb electricity use at its sprawling San Diego-area bases if power runs short in Southern California this summer, a deal intended to diminish the threat of blackouts while the troubled San Onofre nuclear plant remains offline.

State energy officials say Southern California could be hit by rotating blackouts this summer if a heat wave hits while San Onofre's twin reactors remain dark, though some activists insist adequate reserves are on hand.

Seems like an opportunity to add more PV MWs to those military bases, which should help in reducing the bases' peak demand load to the utilities.

Low natural gas prices may squeeze 2013 state budget

OKLAHOMA CITY - Low natural gas prices could have a larger impact on the fiscal year 2013 budget than originally anticipated.

In February, the State Board of Equalization used $3.64 per 1,000 cubic feet of gas in determining how much lawmakers would have to spend in crafting the fiscal year 2013 budget.

On Friday, natural gas closed at $2.06 per 1,000 cubic feet. The average in April was $1.99 per 1,000 cubic feet. State Treasurer Ken Miller originally said if the amount is just $1 off, it would cost the state roughly $50 million.

"A more in-depth analysis shows that a $1 lower price per 1,000 cubic feet would result in a loss of approximately $70 million to the state general revenue fund during the next fiscal year," Miller said.

If natural gas drops below a monthly average of $2.10 per 1,000 cubic feet, the gross production tax drops to 4 percent from 7 percent.

I think T Boone may be right on ng prices. My guess is that they will increase to $5-6 (~300%) next winter. His oil price forecast was more interesting.

T. Boone Pickens: Natural gas has bottomed

Pickens says that anything Saudi Arabia produces above 10 million barrels a day will come from storage and not new production. And it could come just as demand heats up.
Pickens forecasted prices for Brent crude -- Europe's benchmark -- to hit $150 a barrel by this summer.

I have no real sympathy for obese people, there's plenty of opportunity to be healthy. Maybe it's the consumer culture that leaves us so disregarding of our health? It's the most important and valuable investment that can be had. Quite startling that many of my friends and peers -- also in their early twenties -- have highly unsavory diets and unhealthy bodies, despite knowing full-well the dire could-be consequences. Cognitive dissonance, short-term gain over long-term gain, cultural shifts where obesity trends toward being the new normal?

I live in Norway, with some of the highest food prices in the western world, and have found it to be significantly cheaper to live off a healthy diet. I spent in excess of 3000NOK /mo (around $500) before, now around 2000 ($300~). Not following any particular regimen or fad diet: grilled chickens, eggs, potatoes (boiled and then fried with real butter), fresh fruit, plenty of vegetables and fish (mackerel, trout, salmon) are the staple of my cuisine. Sometimes whole-grain bread, but I'm not fond of it due to its high calorie density (one loaf is easily in excess of 2000kcal alone).

It could be that one generally eats less as a consequence -- at least until your fat percentage (not that mine has ever been above 20% at a maximum of 170lbs @ 6') is down to a level at which a caloric surplus can be warranted for muscle growth (something on the order of a meal extra, or 3-4-500 kilocalories).

Of course, people can do as they want, and they will, until nature decides it won't cater to our wants any longer (ie. peak {oil, water, phosphorous, Norway, population, etc}) :)

Ironically, many of the foods you eat have been labeled as unhealthy, at least here in the States. People did do what they were told to do nutritionally (cut back on red meat and fat), and the result was soaring obesity rates, far more than changes in activity levels can account for.

As Marvin Harris, Michael Pollan, Gary Taubes and others have pointed out, it's Big Food that writes the nutritional guidelines here in the US. And they have their bottom lines, not public health, as their priority.

The low carb and paleo fads have hit home in Scandinavia as well, but I know they're really just devices to promote caloric deficits (however, the anti-carbohydrate crowd will tell you otherwise in their ignorance). Not that I don't recognize the potential benefit of lowering the total daily carbohydrate load if you're a typical sedentary deskjockey.

The bottom lines are important (and key?), which is easy to deduce once you come to terms with how humans work (gain, profit, growth, consume, procreate).
We're just pattern-recognizing, instinct-driven decision-making machines after all (which is why we're in this god-awful peak oil mess--caveman's brain in a supposedly "modern" society is bound to go haywire upon reaching a certain level of complexity or a certain low with regard to energy sources)

I suppose I don't appreciate my grilled chickens loaded up on drugs (if that's even true, to the extent the media tells me/us -- I should really stop looking at mainstream media) to prevent deaths and maximize revenue, but since I'm one of those humans described above (myopic with regard to what's good for the planet, my country, my family and friends and myself), I prefer cheap, plump chickens who've endured horrible lives to their expensive, smaller free-range counterpart.

Whenever I walk outside I feel like my former identity is lost. I don't identify myself at all with my culture at the moment. My parents speak of the great future I am to have subsequent to my forthcoming graduation, which I know won't reach fruition (save for a few, hopefully good years -- can I hope for 10 good years post-peak-oil-awareness?). Ah well, I've lived 23 good middle-class years in positively one of the top countries in the world. My energy expenditures to date should account for some 10000 cavetime lifetime equivalents. Need to try sex once before I go, though. And not with an ugly chick, pls.

Bit of a rant, but whatever, I feel down.

Yes, you should really stop looking at mainstream media.

Nice rant. Try to get a job with the national oil co.

Which will lay off some 100-200,000 people in a decade?
I think I'll stick to the hopelessly unsustainable profession as a sysadm instead.

The low carb and paleo fads have hit home in Scandinavia as well, but I know they're really just devices to promote caloric deficits (however, the anti-carbohydrate crowd will tell you otherwise in their ignorance).

I don't think the low carb crowd would disagree. Gary Taubes' argument is that eating fewer carbs lowers appetite, and therefore keeps you from eating more calories. He has an explanation of the biochemistry involved in Good Calories, Bad Calories. Atkins' claim was the same. Not that you can eat 5,000 calories a day and not gain weight, but that minimizing carbohydrates in the diet makes it easy to eat fewer calories.

Or rather...eating too many carbs screws up your metabolism, making it hard to stop eating when you should.

Where I live, it's difficult to avoid carbs when you eat out. Rice and flour are relatively cheap, so restaurants load up their serving with cheap carbs to make them look big. I actually had some success convincing one of my lunch spots to allow diners to order the meals with vegetables instead of rice! They charge about $1 more but, i think it's worth it. I lost some weight.

Alan from the islands

Same thing from South Beach Diet IIRC, which was originally a diet for controlling blood cholesterol (and weight loss turned out to be a side effect). Basic trick was to reduce carb intake to the point that at the cellular level your body would dump carbs from storage into the bloodstream for use, but still keep the intake level high enough to keep your body from going into the starvation mode that others have mentioned.

Some years ago I went through the first few weeks of the South Beach bit with my wife. The three observations that I took away from that experience: (1) lost weight early on just the way that the author describes; (2) contrary to the author's claims, I was hungry almost all the time; and (3) physical stamina was decreased substantially.

I discovered the stamina thing the hard way. About ten days into the diet, I went on what should have been a routine 20-mile bicycle ride -- ten miles out and ten miles back. About the time I reached the end of the outbound leg, I "hit the wall." Absolutely exhausted, could barely keep pedaling. Even after a long rest, it took well over twice as long to do the return leg of the ride. Some research indicated that this was a known side-effect of the diet. Endurance sorts of exercise -- distance running, bicycling and so forth -- don't mix well with South Beach, at least in its early phases. I believe this is true for most of the other low-carb diets as well. Not a surprising conclusion, I suppose: if top endurance athletes use carb loading as preparation for racing, then carb starving presumably "unprepares" you for such an effort.

Glad your diet is working and that you've also saved money. Did you know that oily fish such at salmon are not only heart healthy but also act against mood swings?

I believe red meat (which you don't eat much of) is a rip-off . It takes seven pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef. In the American diet, added sugar is a huge culprit according the the Harvard School of Public Health.

As far as cost savings, a lot of healthy food is expensive per calorie - fresh fruits and veggies, for example - also salmon. This is compared to flour and sugar and junk food. I don't mind spending money for nuts, blueberries, etc. For example, a pint of blueberries cost me $3 and has only 100 calories. Most nutritionists agree that following a rainbow diet (different colors of fruits and veggies) is the healthiest way to eat. They also advise on eating healthy fats such as olive oil, and advise against trans fats (in french fries) and saturated fats (eg butter, lard). Simple changes like eating a handful of nuts a day can lower heart disease risks.

200grams of blueberries is approx. $7 here (around 7 ounces). Fruit is expensive. Or is it? Most of it has travelled thousands of miles to get to my local market. Some fellow said in another thread he didn't see apples from China, blueberries from Chile or Oranges from California any longer -- he saw the gallons of fuel it took to produce, package and transport them. I like that sentiment, and have been quite fond of walking in super markets these days, despite being 23, because it could be among the last years I see them fully stocked up on the rich variety (I read there are some 45,000 different items in your average American super market) of foods we've come to expect and demand.


Blueberries, more than I can possibly use, are free in the bog down the hill. Apples, more than I can hope to use (unless I get a cider-press), are free from the two trees in my front yard. Two apple trees that I planted 20 years ago = more apples than you would believe, even in a bad year. What a giving tree!

Bananas, on the other hand, do not do so well in New Hampshire, nor does citrus. Oh well...

I see articles about "we can feed the world and 2 billion more", but they're talking about crappy starch calories, not actual nutrition.

For the last 25 years, my mother has worked for a mid-size company with offices in America and Switzerland. The company routinely sends people on extended stays from one country to the other.

Within two months of arriving in America, almost every single Swiss person begins complaining of feeling sluggish and putting on weight, despite protesting that they're not living any differently. The Swiss office has a running joke about the "American Ten". Ten kilos. By contrast, the Americans who are posted to Switzerland almost invariably begin losing weight without really trying.

A close friend of my mother's was posted to Switzerland for a 2-year stint. He was born in America and had been fat basically all his life. His wife was fat, and his kids were fat, too.

The family moved to Switzerland. Without really trying, the entire family lost weight. He and his wife basically lost a pound/half-kilo a week for months on end. I forget the exact number, but he lost something like 65 pounds (30 kilos) without effort. He filed for Swiss citizenship and begged the company not to send him back to America. He said that if they sent him back, his whole family would die young of heart disease. I believe he's still there.

Great story, both tragic and elating. :)

I wonder what the difference is. More expensive food? More walkable neighborhoods?

More walkable neighborhoods would be my guess.

People wanting to walk, or at least appreciating its benefits, is my first guess.

I always read about "the benefits of walking" and think "shouldn't it be phrased the perils of NOT walking?".
We're not suited for sedentary livestyles, yet succumb to it nevertheless.

Corn? It's in everything. HFCS/sugar? Salt? Vegetable oils? Growth hormones? We concentrate so many things, and as you say, the poison is in the dose. Add a sedentary lifestyle...

Fructose is used more in America. To the point where the more popular packaged goods often have american versions and european versions. You could go outside of America, pick up the same foods and get a noticeably different product in terms of base ingredients, colourings and flavourings.

Unfotunately there seems to be little research into this.

I'd point to the dominance of crass consumerism in the US. If you've got six minutes watch this (related to a video posted by someone else);


Lots of ideas. Among them, way too much sugar or HFCS and fats in US food. Have you seen the "Go Large" portions at Burger King. Disgusting! The first time I visited North America I was astounded by what people considered a meal. No less than two eggs and six pancakes for breakfast! Sheesh!

Although this doesn't explain the difference, maybe it has something to do with the changing seasons. People increase their intake to deal with the cold of winter but, then fail to decrease their intake at the end of winter? I know I get hungrier when it's cooler but, here in the tropics its not too bad since, the difference between the average daytime and average nighttime temperatures is greater than the difference between January and July averages. (At least according to the classical definition of a tropical climate)

Alan from the islands

Just from interest, what would the typical Island breakfast be? Around here anything that involves tortillas though I tend to stick to banana and muesli and I MUST have that coffee;)


Hmmm... I've never really thought about it. I guess it depends on location, urban or rural, income, poor, middle class, wealthy and available labour, whether the caregiver has a job or can get up early to cook breakfast. For the employed urban folks, fed on a steady diet of US cable TV I would guess the breakfast has become what you see on TV, if you can afford it.

For rural folks and others who have someone to cook breakfast I'd say the staples are what you find at most cook shops for breakfast, cornmeal or oatmeal porridge, Ackee and Saltfish (the Jamaican National dish) Callaloo (green amaranth) and Saltfish or Brown-stewed Chicken all served with boiled yams, boiled green bananas, boiled or fried dumplings, boiled or fried ripe plantains. For the really poor I guess the only thing on the menu would be the porridge and maybe a sardine sandwich or just a slice of bread (butter optional).

The beverage would be hot chocolate or coffee, for the caffeine dependent or a choice of peppermint, ginger, lemon grass or other teas.

The weird thing about the Jamaican national dish is that the saltfish is actually imported salted codfish which was cheap and abundant "back then" but, has gotten relatively expensive and less easy to obtain as world codfish stocks declined. The ackee bears in pods that open up as they ripen which, if you cook and eat the fruit before sufficient time has passed between the opening of the pod and the cooking, it is poisonous and has been known to kill people. Just about every Jamaican knows how to deal with ackee but, AFAIK people from the rest of the Caribbean do not eat it.

As far as the rest of our staple go, we are well and truly screwed since they are mostly the imported products of industrial agriculture. I'm trying to do something on the family land out in the rural parts so that we can eat off it in a crisis.

Alan from the islands

Interesting, sounds like a good working breakfast to keep you going through the day. You need to be able to trust the one that cooks your Akee, don't upset the cook.


I wonder what the difference is. More expensive food? More walkable neighborhoods?

He told my mother it was a combination of things:

1. More walking. Driving makes a lot less sense, because things are so close and parking is such a pain.
2. More eating satisfaction. The Swiss eat a "bad" diet with a lot of full-fat dairy and animal fat. But the meals are really satisfying, so you stop a lot sooner than in America.
3. More drinking satisfaction. He lost the taste for soda pretty early in his stay. Also he drank Swiss/German beer instead of American. He said he could drink a thousand Miller Lites, but two Swiss beers felt like enough and he stopped.
4. Shame/Pride/Patriotism. "I was the only American and the only fat guy in the whole [expletive] city."

I wonder if it's all the "lite" food products that are the problem. They might be lower in calories, but if you eat more of them because you're not satisfied, it doesn't help.

Dunno if this is true or not, but someone said in an earlier discussion on this topic that if you want hogs to put on weight, you feed them skim milk. Whole milk doesn't do it.

I've mentioned this, having heard it through the Weston Price stuff we have been following, and just saw several separate hits on the subject, including advice on Sow Feed from the FAO.

As we walked toward her breeder sow we talked about pastured pork (a delightfully different meat from what you find in most stores and restaurants) and what Stacie feeds her meat pigs. She tells me she never feeds her breeders, who are lean and fit, skim milk. She uses skim milk, which she gleans by removing the cream from milk she gets from her two Jersey milk cows, to fatten her meat pigs.

Curious, I ask, “Why do you give them skim milk? Why not full fat milk to fatten pigs?” to which she replies, “Fat satisfies their appetites. If I give them milk fat my meat pigs won’t eat!”


It follows with the recipe for mixing this Skim Milk into a diet of Corn and other grains as an ideal fattening mix. It's not JUST the dose, but the old 'One-Two Punch', eh?

Wow, that's an interesting article. By a doctor, no less.

Researchers from Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute conducted a study that monitored the dietary habits of more than 20,000 Swedish women for a decade. It turned out that women who consumed full fat milk or cheese had a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) than the rest of the group. The results were convincing enough for the researchers to recommend that a glass of full fat milk every day will cut weight gain by 15%, and a portion of full fat cheese each day will cut weight gain by 30%. Alicja Wolk, professor at the Karolinska Institute stated, “The surprising conclusion was that increased consumption of (full fat) cheese meant that overweight women lost weight.”

Correlation is not causation and all...but U.S. obesity rates sorta track skim milk consumption.

WebMD slide show on "bad foods" that are good for weight loss:


The non-caloric sweeteners still activate the sweetness receptors in order to provide the taste sensation. This likely triggers the same reward circuits in the brain involving dopamine and seretonin. Recent studies indicate that this is similar to what happens with cocaine.

On the other hand, appetite is not decreased, since it depends on the sensing of glucose levels.

So you have a happy, addicted and hungry person after consuming diet soda.

I have often wondered if drinking diet soda increases appetite since I see many obese people drinking it. This article is more balanced than my quote but, hey, I want the science to match my personal observations.

Do Artificial Sweeteners Affect Your Appetite?

Apparently, the brain looks for calories when something sweet is consumed, and when it doesn’t get them, the scientists concluded, the brain sends signals that slow down metabolism.

Lite food is definitely a problem. Nature doesn't make lite food. We evolved to eat food as it's found in nature, not its lite variants.

The lipophobia that raced across America in the 1980s prompted food manufacturers to create low-fat versions of everything. When you take out the fat, you take out both flavor and satiety. To compensate for the flavor loss, the manufacturers added sugar (or high fructose corn syrup). Adding sugar reduces satiety even more. Now your cookies were 100 calories a serving instead of 120, but they made you twice as hungry. Yogurt was 80 calories a cup instead of 120, but 65 of the calories were sugar instead of 40. And so on.

Artificial sweetners are no better. Rats fed artificially-sweetened yogurt gain weight just as fast as rats fed sugar-sweetened yogurt, even though the artificial sweetener has no calories. So much for counting calories.

The trick is to fill with fibre but fat is needed to slow down the passage of food. Eating more slowly helps too as the registering 'full' takes time and fast, lite food is snarfed long before the body realises it is full.


Yes. I worked for a company with a Swiss rotation also and everybody says they love the
Transit system in Switzerland - basically you do not need a car and you can walk.
On the other hand Swiss and European visitors are shocked at the public transit available even in the metro NYC area which has more than anywhere else in the US.
It is the European visitors who are more likely NOT to rent a car but to use our
Company provided shuttles which are underutilized by most Auto Addicted employees. There are a number of studies which show obesity increases 6-8% due to Auto Addiction. It is not just the food but the drive from door to door with virtually no walking. Recent health studies show that even just walking 1-2 miles per day makes a huge difference in fitness, health and obesity.

As we used to say in California, the population on the beach decreases exponentially with the distance from the parking lot...

E. Swanson

What interests me about America is the extremes. Incredibly unhealthy and obese people on one hand and people who are absolutely obsessed with health on the other. Not to mention that America has the most extensive athletic infrastructure in the world and some of the best natural and outdoor places.

I have a feeling many in America just give up. After all, in America you have to be a "winner." If you can't win a marathon, might as well not even walk.

"What interests me about America is the extremes."

The "Doctrine of the Means" was not invented by an American. I had noticed that myself. One extreme to the other, nothing in the middle.

croûte au fromage

which is essentially an open-faced grilled cheese sandwich, often $20 in a restaurant

An interesting new development with respect to Efficiency Nova Scotia's Small Business Energy Solutions initiative. Word has come down from high that ENSC will now pay 100 per cent of the cost of retrofitting any lighting system where the expected energy savings are 5,000 kWh or less per annum (prior to this, the incentive was capped at 80 per cent). So our smallest clients will get a brand new, energy-efficient lighting system and won't have to pay a cent -- the cost of the new hardware, labour to install, electrical permit, man lift if required, recycling fees and disposal/destruction of any PCB ballasts removed from service will be paid in full by the Corporation. It doesn't get much better than this !


Wow, certainly good for business. Are you guys hiring?

We recently doubled the number of crews dedicated to our small business work in an effort to keep up with the demand, and now I find myself struggling to keep up with them !

We also have permission to target certain institutional customers that would normally fall outside of the programme (technically speaking, to be considered a "small business" the client's energy use cannot exceed 350,000 kWh per year). We're looking at a couple of hospitals that could prove to be exceptional opportunities for us. Hospitals are typically good candidates in that their operations are energy intensive and much of their lighting operates 24/7, e.g., hallways, waiting areas, nursing stations, labs and so on. The one I have in mind is quite large and perhaps 35-years old. I don't believe it has been previously upgraded and if that's the case, then the potential savings are enormous.

Every kWh saved is perhaps a half kilo of coal that won't be burned, so I'm rather anxious to get things started.


LOL, I was about to ask the same question!

A hundred percent subsidy sound ripe for abuse to me. Who would even bother to compute cost effectiveness or payback time, when someone else pays?

I get to decide what will or will not be included in our retrofits, so if there are areas within a facility that are low usage or that cannot be upgraded at a reasonable cost, then they will be excluded from consideration. The intended beneficiaries are churches, community halls, homeless shelters and other non-profits for which even a 20 per cent share could pose a serious financial hardship, especially if they don't qualify for on-bill financing through Nova Scotia Power (in some cases I've paid the client's portion out of my own pocket just so that the work could go ahead). The average cost per kWh saved for some of our larger retrofits can be quite low -- sometime as little as 1 or 2-cents -- so there's certainly some room to help out these smaller, less well served clients.


Good, answer. It sounds like someone was actually thinking when they wrote that one.

Looks like it's a go: Delta to buy oil refinery--

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Delta Air Lines announced plans Monday to purchase an oil refinery outside of Philadelphia, a novel approach to reducing its fuel costs.

A Delta spokesman said the company believes the purchase is the first of its kind by a major U.S. airline.

Delta (DAL, Fortune 500) will buy the Trainer refinery for $150 million from Phillips 66 (PSXWI), a company that is set to be spun off from energy firm ConocoPhillips (COP, Fortune 500) on Tuesday. The purchase is expected to be finalized by the end of June.

Delta will soon learn that running a refinery is only slightly more profitable than running an airline. And good luck supplying that refinery with anything but expensive Brent crude.

Isn't it better for Delta to invest in an oil producer like PBT, PWE, BTE or ERF?
Or even better to invest in a NG producer like ECA? I know planes don't fly on NG but NG prices will go up faster than oil prices once the LNG terminals are built and the US starts exporting NG.

Sure seems there must be something unique which we are missing.

The reduction of functioning brain cells caused by being part of the upper management of a large corporation?

It's one more indicator of the endgame; corporations locked into patterns that are doomed to change, desperately trying to extend their own BAU. Oil companies trying any technique available to coax more barrels out of the ground; financials using "unique investment products" because their old shell games aren't working; governments promoting austerity as "efficiency measures"; refiners dumping refineries on airlines? The list is long. As long as automakers can still sell gas guzzlers we'll be OK,,,right?

In 2010, US certified air carriers used 11,056 million gallons of jet fuel...

I'm really surprised how low that number is, equivalent to ~720,000 bpd, or roughly 1% of daily crude&condensate production.

If I'd have been asked to guess I would have thought 3 or 4 times more....

That's just US domestic carriers, excluding general aviation. It looks like jet fuel consumption peaked in 1999 at about 14.49 billion gallons. More efficient jets since then? Another significant decline after 2008. Go figure..

-10% fewer seats flying in 2008. And the seats sent to the scrapyard were the older, less efficient jets.

There are at least three generations of jets, based on efficiency, still flying. The under development A32xNeo and 737MAX will be another step (10+% better) towards greater efficiency.


I'm curious to know how many of those less efficient jets are still flying elsewhere in the world.


Seems things haven't changed much in 40 years... and the airliner producers suffer benefit from obsolescence like many industries.

Full text (ebook): THE JET MAKERS "The Aerospace Industry from 1945 to 1972"

Quite dated but facinating background.

People who are isolated, surrounded by an echo chamber, (over)confident in their own knowledge and abilities, and charged with continuing that which cannot continue (not that they are even aware of it). But I don't care - the sooner they sink these abominations called corporations the better.

Sure seems there must be something unique which we are missing.

Delta Buys Refinery

Delta is shelling out $150 million for the refinery, plus $30 million in job creation assistance it expects to receive from the state of Pennsylvania.

The state of Pennsylvania chipped in for a 1/6th of the cost. Your "free-market" capitalism is hard at work, subsidizing Big Business.

One commentary I saw suggested that Delta wants to optimize the process to maximize the fraction of fuel for jets. There may be some change in the chemical processing which allows this, but which the usual refinery doesn't do, given the market's demand for other fractions from the oil. Also, Delta would be able to target oil purchases from sources which would produce more jet fuel, instead of relying on an oil company to select the crude going into the refinery based on the market for all fractions...

E. Swanson

I was wondering the same thing, the bean-counter calculus changes at least somewhat. So if the refinery could choose either case
(A) Bau , or (B) 5% more jetfuel, but a million dollars a day lower profits, but with (B) the airline would save $2M a day under option B. Then the refiner as a separate business would choose, (A), while the airline plus refiner combo would choose (B). But, without actually buying the refinery couldn't the airline have found some other way to sweeten the deal?

If I'm looking for signs of peak oil, the desperate act of an airline purchasing a refinery is high up on the list.

Somehow I don't think that one is gonna fly...

On the positive side -

A year ago, local refineries could supply the local mid-Atlantic market. With closures, they cannot. So a local refinery will enjoy a transportation premium. The locals pay a dime more for gasoline, and the surviving refineries benefit from a better crack spread.

If the refinery does not use natural gas, it can be converted quickly & cheaply (as quick & cheap as anything in a refinery). Even with pipeline costs - Cheap NG as far as the eye can see. And Marcellus NG means minimal pipeline costs.


On the negative side -

Delta is likely to find massive "deferred maintenance".

Aircraft leasing rule - "All airlines whose name does not start with "Southwest" will go bankrupt".

Delta will go bankrupt "one day" and abandon the brownfield environmental mess in court.

Gasoline demand is down -6+% y-o-y in the USA. Might be down more in mid-Atlantic. Heating oil is switching very rapidly.

In a few years the market may change enough to make the demand not match the refinery supply.


Delta has filed Chapter 11 in 2005, so they've had practice. The trend is clear:

Airline bankruptcies in the United States

Yeah, I know about that one. I had some Delta preferred stock, which took a big hit. I still have a few shares after the conversion to common stock, but they aren't worth scratch, compared to what I had previously. Of course, the company is still alive and back to making profits again, after dumping their shareholders. Ain't capitalism grand (if you are an 1% executive type, that is)...

E. Swanson

There are two questions to ask here....

1. Why has no other airline done this before?

2. Why EXACTLY did the refinery shutdown in the first place?

Usually if no one else is doing it, or has never done it before, there is a good reason why. Im a pilot for Delta and while I hope this works, I remain quite skeptical!

I probably don't need to say it, but make sure you 'locate the exits, both fore and aft.'

AP - A valid point but occasionally there are exceptions. A couple of times I've pitched successful drilling projects which we're rejected by many because "if it made sense then someone other than a geologist drawing maps on his dining room table would have thought of it". One project generated a ROR to the client of over 200% and lead to a mini drilling boom for shallow NG in Texas by dozens of companies at a time when NG was selling for half of what it goes for today.

So maybe some Delta hand sitting at his dining room table thought of a valid angle. OTOH many people don't understand how expensive it can get when someone gives you a "free" horse. By the time the overhead, including the vet bills, added up my daughter's free horse was rather expensive. I suspect one aspect might have been ignored in the Delta economic analysis: future environmental liability. I've seen more than a few oil fields/plants sold at "bargain" prices because the owner wanted to ditch that liability. As someone mentioned earlier many refinery properties are never sold...just converted to some other use by the owner. Have you ever seen an old gas station torn down and then wonder why year after year no one built anything else on it? If Delta does its job right they'll do an environmental audit before they close. That might change their plans. The seller might also deny the audit: once such an audit is done the seller is required to make it available to any other potential buyer. Years ago a friend was selling his oil field. The envir. audit noted a single creosote railroad tie on the lease. It cost my friend $1,200 to have it disposed of properly. He had to show certified records that he paid the disposal company. Had he known it was there he could have thrown it in his truck and used it in his garden. So instead of spending $1,200 he would have saved $12 by not having to buy a tie at the hardware store.

I bet your daughter loves her horse... and her Daddy!

In no particular order.    :  )

aws - Nope...she didn't like him at all. LOL. He wasn't ridable by an adult let alone an 8 yo girl. I was lucky and sold him cheap to a pro horse trainer who thought he could mend his bad habits. Lucky horse since my next option was to put him down. But I did get her a worn out old roping horse that was content to haul around an 80# girl on lazy rides. Back to Delta's plan. There's a very old saying in the oil patch (and many other places): there's your plan and then there's what actually happens. I've reviewed hundreds of financial models that looked viable on face value but didn't take long to dismiss once you read the underlying assumptions. I recall years ago SW Airlines gained a huge advantage by buying a lot of jet fuel futures based upon the assmption that fuel prices would rise significantly. A brillent move? Yes but only because the assumption proved correct. Had fuel prices dropped they would have lost $billions. Just like the folks who have lost many tens of $billions based on the assumption that NG would stay above $8/mcf....or 4X its current price.

Like a wise man once said: "Predictions are difficult...especially about the future.

American Airlines had an oil company subsidiary back in the Eighties. They were participants with us in a field we were developing.

wt - I recall more than a few non-oil patch companies (including pipeliners and utility companies) back in the late 70's and early 80's boom that thought they could beat the system by participating with exploration companies on the upstream side. Most were skinned alive. Typically lambs to the slaughter. One pipeline company I worked with did a joint venture with a small independent. Drilled 18 dry holes in a row and the senior guys with the operator retired millionaires. Fools and their money...

Seems like I should get my driver's license soon if I ever want to drive.
And also take a few planerides, if I ever want to fly. :)

Go to a go-cart track,, and if you were meant to fly, you would have wings. Just trying to save your sanity ;-)

No, no, the line is "If God had intended for us to stay on the ground he would have given us roots.".

Or, as they say in general aviation circles: "Had God intended man to fly, He would have given him... more money."

Canada, IDB to fund Caribbean's green energy investments

The IDB said the fund aims to mobilise private-sector investment in cleaner technologies, "which often have higher initial costs and longer paybacks than fossil fuel technology".

"A key aspect of the Canada Climate Fund is its ability to level the playing field," said Hans Schulz, IDB's general manager at the Structured and Corporate Finance Department.

"Canada's partnership offers us a tremendous opportunity to expand our support for climate-friendly projects in our member countries," he added.

The IDB said projects supported may include renewable energy, energy efficiency, agriculture and forestry greenhouse-gas emission-reduction projects, as well as adaptation projects to reduce climate-change vulnerabilities.

Interesting where Tar Sands money ends up, Eh.

Alan from the islands

It's funny that the Canadian government isn't interested in funding these types of projects within our own country!

Happy May Day: Occupy calls for 'a day without the 99%'

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The Occupy movement is organizing a nationwide protest on Tuesday, asking Americans not to attend work or school on a day that's already a progressive holiday overseas.

In what Occupy organizers are calling "a day without the 99%," protesters are planning to participate in a "general strike" on Tuesday: no work, no shopping, no banking.

Most folks I know can't afford a day without pay or fear for their jobs. I wonder what percent of the 99 percent will actually strike (the ones who have jobs that is)...

"I wonder what percent of the 99 percent will actually strike?"


There needs to be an online site where people can lodge protests. I know that sounds counter intuitive, i.e. not out there in the streets, but like you say people cannot afford a day off. But if we could go to a website and click an icon to assert we are not happy about whatever is being voted on that day, it would be great. Sure, we the people only have the 'image of power' by way of voting (which many of us realize is a crock because we are just voting for similar flavors), but if we could actually log some really big online protest numbers, that might get some press that more people would accept as having some forcefullness to possibly influence policy.

I like the Occupy movement from the standpoint of people trying to assert themselves, but MSM downplays those protests due to relatively small numbers of people partaking in them. If we the people are ever going to gain back a modicum of power, we need to find new ways to assert our numbers in unison, and maybe online is the only way to achieve sufficient numbers.

"There needs to be an online site where people can lodge protests."

I'm sure TPTB would find that convenient:

Making the Internet Safe for Anarchy

From Wendell Berry's MANIFESTO -

Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute...


US Navy lacks ability to operate in Arctic, games reveal

That is a hoax according to Senator Inhofe, because there is no Arctic Ocean to float your boat in. Inhofe is at war with the environmental minded folk in the Navy who have subverted it. "We will not play these silly games!"


One minor correction to your blog post. Senator "Ignoramous" Inhofe is from Oklahoma not Kansas.

Carbon capture and storage plan scrapped.


"According to The Financial Post, TransAlta said the company had no buyers for the carbon dioxide (CO2) and no way to credit from the plan."

Other than that it was a good idea.

"While we are disappointed that Project Pioneer will not go ahead, we now know the technology works and we still believe there is a future for CCS"

A helpful reminder...

Let us assume that we commit initially to sequestering just 20 percent of all CO2 emitted from fossil fuel combustion in 2010, or about a third of all releases from large stationary sources. After compressing the gas to a density similar to that of crude oil (800 kilograms per cubic meter) it would occupy about 8 billion cubic meters—meanwhile, global crude oil extraction in 2010 amounted to about 4 billion tonnes or (with average density of 850 kilograms per cubic meter) roughly 4.7 billion cubic meters.

This means that in order to sequester just a fifth of current CO2 emissions we would have to create an entirelynew worldwide absorption-gathering-compression-transportation-storage industry whose annual throughput would have to be about 70 percent larger than the annual volume now handled by the global crude oil industry whose immense infrastructure of wells, pipelines, compressor stations and storages took generations to build.

Global Energy: The Latest Infatuations (pdf)
Vaclav Smil

How much of the fossil fuel infrastructure has been built in the last 20 years--as opposed to generations? Think BRIC. How does the volume compare when compared to all sources, not just oil?

5 arrested in alleged plot to blow up Cleveland-area bridge

(CNN) -- Five suspects, some of whom describe themselves as anarchists, were arrested after allegedly conspiring to blow up a bridge near Cleveland, the FBI said Tuesday.

"The public was never in danger from the explosive devices" because an undercover FBI agent was involved and the explosives were inert, the bureau said in a news release.

"The defendants were closely monitored by law enforcement," it said.

Authorities say three of the men are self-proclaimed anarchists who had considered "a series of evolving plots over several months."

These busts always have more than a whiff of entrapment about them.

I saw the story captioned on another forum as "FBI foils plot by FBI to blow up bridge."


It's a great gig if you can get it!

They should have stuck to Slacktivism.

French company uses wind turbine to create fresh water (w/video)

The turbines work by combining two current types of technology; traditional generation of electricity using wind as the driving force, and compressors commonly used by dehumidifiers and refrigerators. Anyone who has ever seen a dehumidifier in action can understand right away how the new turbines work. Air is pulled in, cooled and compressed, causing moisture in it to condense to water where it can be removed and used.

... fact follows fiction ...

... in Star Trek: Next Generation - The Inner Light


If the weather pattern doesn't change, rationing won't be enough. We will run out of water.

I suggest we build atmospheric condensers which could extract water from the air.

Each community would be responsible for its own. These atmospheric condensers could mean the difference between watering our crops... or watching them die.


Well. Very ambitious. Kamin, was it? I don't mean to quash your very creative idea but building atmospheric condensers would be a monumental undertaking. We could not hope to sustain such a project.

also ... Star Wars:

Water harvesters and Moisture farmers on arid Tatooine.

There may be regions where that makes sense, but this approach is most effective in obtaining the water from the air in humid zones, while the need for more water is most acute in drier zones?

When I lived in Arizona, we had days where the humidity was in single digits. Hard to squeeze any moisture out of that.

That's why Evaporative Coolers work so well.

I suspect that humanity will always eventually move to better locations or perish, if needed resources become too difficult or expensive to obtain where they live now.

There are a few areas where you get moist winds, but no rain. I think coastal Peru is one, where people have build moisture capturers. I suspect that only works when/where water has a high price per kilogram.

The Inner Light was a great episode, one of my favorites.

I've setup a Fujitsu 12RLS as a water supply, Fills a 500 gallon tank, with a kidney loop filter to take the dust/pollen out of the water. I need to go document the flows, I don't know since I don't have flow-meter on the pressure pump yet.

There are communities that harvest morning mists with strands of wool. Lines top and bottom are stretched between 2 vertical poles and strands of wool are closely strung between the lines. The wool traps moisture which collects and runs down the strands to be collected.


From Fed Reg: NRC on Threat of Nuclear Plant Insider Radiological Sabotage

In the Matter of Southern Nuclear Operating Company, Inc., Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation.

Re: Issuance of order for implementation of additional security
measures and fingerprinting for unescorted access to Southern Nuclear
Operating Company, Inc.

As a result of its consideration of current safeguards and security requirements, as well as a review of information provided by the intelligence community, the Commission has determined that certain additional security measures (ASMs) are required to address the current threat environment ...

... Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, also known as Plant Vogtle, is a 2-unit nuclear power plant located in Burke County, near Waynesboro, Georgia in the southeastern United States.

There are 2,364 total assemblies, 1,080 metric tons, and 208,504,800 total radioactivity in curies (Ci) in those pools

and www.ips-dc.org/files/3200/spent_nuclear_fuel_pools_in_the_US.pdf

curie (1 Ci = 3.7 x 10^10 disintegrations per second) and becquerel ( 1 Bq = 1 disintegration per second).

The war is not going well ...

US not reporting all Afghan attacks

The military is under-reporting the number of times that Afghan soldiers and police open fire on American and other foreign troops.

... In recent weeks an Afghan soldier opened fire on a group of American soldiers but missed the group entirely. The Americans quickly shot him to death. Not a word about this was reported by the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, as the coalition is formally known. It was disclosed to the AP by a U.S. official who was granted anonymity in order to give a fuller picture of the "insider" problem.

ISAF also said nothing about last week's attack in which two Afghan policemen in Kandahar province fired on U.S. soldiers, wounding two. Reporters learned of it from Afghan officials and from U.S. officials in Washington.

also Afghan War Poses ‘Acute Challenges,’ Pentagon Report Says

Shell's stance on wind power reveals a profound truth of capitalism

When pushed to choose between profit and survival, the oil giant chooses profit – irrespective of collective consequence.

They couldn't "make the numbers work". There's something so blithe – and enormously telling - about the excuse offered by the oil company Shell to explain why they were not investing in wind power in Britain.

Presented with an accounting fact – that, on Shell's terms, wind power is deemed insufficiently profitable – observers are expected to automatically understand their logic, nod in agreement and move on.

And they have, of course, been able to "make the numbers work" for heavily polluting tar sands. The high and fluctuating price of oil has gifted Shell massive, windfall profits from an asset which could be seen as a common global inheritance, one whose use carries an equally high cost. What makes the need for one set of numbers to "work" trump all other considerations, even the ultimate one of a climate fit for civilisation?

Cygnet hatching in Abbotsbury marks first day of summer

The first cygnet of the year at Abbotsbury Swannery in Dorset is the earliest since records began in 1393.

The hatching of the first cygnet is traditionally taken as a sign that summer is here (30 April 2012).

A swanherd has been keeping records of cygnets born at the colony of mute swans since the late 14th Century.

Anybody watching the oil price today?
I noticed the WTI pushed into $106 territory a couple of hours ago. But, the Brent didn't move. The spread is closing. What is going on?

Oil prices rose Tuesday after a strong showing by the US manufacturing sector signaled more demand for energy products. China's manufacturing also expanded ...

New GM Crops Could Make Superweeds Even Stronger

Herbicide-resistant superweeds threaten to overgrow U.S. fields, so agriculture companies have genetically engineered a new generation of plants to withstand heavy doses of multiple, extra-toxic weed-killing chemicals.

It’s a more intensive version of the same approach that made the resistant superweeds such a problem — and some scientists think it will fuel the evolution of the worst superweeds yet.

... Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. - Albert Einstein.

... Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. - Albert Einstein.

One could argue that Einstein himself fell into this trap in his later years with his futile attempt to unify the forces of nature on the basis of a geometric field while ignoring more mainstream approaches by other researchers.

Male sperm quality already reduced by 50% due to agri toxics already in use. And now they plan to up the dosage even more. This may be the cure to the population growth problem.

They are increasing their excess capacity.

Exxon has forecast it will be able to increase liquids production a small amount over the next five years as projects come online. Thus, Exxon is saying, at least for them, no decline in liquids production is forecast.

On the other hand, it is true that Exxon as historically overestimated it's rate of oil production increase. Also, I for one don't put much credence in their reserve replacement - the "reserves" may be very difficult and/or expensive to extract oil from in a timely basis.

Exxon has a higher credit rating than the US govt - that is, a lower credit default swap cost.

Sustainability Indicator:

This month's indicators:

70%: proportion of world's population that will be living in urban areas by 2050. 50%: world's population currently living in rural areas. $5 trillion: global investment in clean energy by 2020 to contain climate change. $409 billion: worldwide government subsidies given to the fossil-fuel industry in 2010.$66 billion: global subsidies for renewable energy in 2010. $90 billion: wealth of the richest 70 members of China's National People's Congress.$7.5 billion: wealth of all 660 top officials in the three branches of U.S. government.134: earthquakes last year in central U.S., where seismic activity is linked to fracking.21: average annual earthquakes in central U.S. in the three decades prior to 2000. ...

Stun guns not safe for citizens, but benefit police, study finds

... "The findings are quite complex, in that citizen injuries increased but officer injuries decreased," Terrill said. "Police agencies have to balance the findings. They have to consider whether this is a trade-off they can accept."

... the researchers found citizens were injured 41 percent of the time when officers used a stun gun only during apprehension. By contrast, citizens were injured only 29 percent of the time when no stun gun was used. (When stun guns were used with another restraint method, such as pepper spray or wresting the suspect to the ground, citizens were injured 47 percent of the time.) The study looked at 13,913 use-of-force cases in seven cities.

Garlic compound fights source of food-borne illness better than antibiotics

Researchers at Washington State University have found that a compound in garlic is 100 times more effective than two popular antibiotics at fighting the Campylobacter bacterium, one of the most common causes of intestinal illness.

"Campylobacter", says Konkel, "is simply the most common bacterial cause of food-borne illness in the United States and probably the world." Some 2.4 million Americans are affected every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The researchers found the garlic-derived compound, diallyl sulfide was as effective as 100 times as much of the antibiotics erythromycin and ciprofloxacin and would often work in a fraction of the time.

Garlic, huh? I wonder if Dracula is essentially a Bacterial Monster?

Considering all the talk of Honey up above, and which of its sugars was more important, I thought I'd point to its antibacterial properties. It would seem to me that these are working for you internally, and not just topically.. so there's more than calories to count, yet again.


Honey as a topical antibacterial agent for treatment of infected wounds

... There are now many published reports describing the effectiveness of honey in rapidly clearing infection from wounds, with no adverse effects to slow the healing process; there is also some evidence to suggest that honey may actively promote healing. In laboratory studies, it has been shown to have an antimicrobial action against a broad spectrum of bacteria and fungi. However, further research is needed to optimise the effective use of this agent in clinical practice.

I always use hydrogen peroxide and honey on cuts and scratches, especially in difficult to heal places like knuckles and joints. Works well on surgical wounds too. Cheaper and more effective than antibiotic ointments.

When cut I worry about getting flesh eating bacteria, so I use iodine (or is it iodide?) followed by neosporin. Most cuts are sealed over by morning. How much are those two? 7-8 bucks. It's worth every penny.

Hydrogen peroxide is about 89 cents for a 16 oz bottle. It's cheaper than bottled water.

I'll have to try it the next time one of the fur-heads leaves their mark.


Shell-Iogen plant cancellation raises doubts about new biofuel technology

For the climate-related technologies to be commercial viable, governments have to introduce regulations or levies that put a price on carbon dioxide emissions. Canada has done little to provide such a market incentive, and even major business groups have called for a more robust policy to put a price on carbon dioxide emissions.

“The whole environment now is just not right for any form of renewable energy really,” said Bill Cruickshank, an Ottawa consultant and former official at Natural Resources Canada.

“The focus on the tar sands is just unbelievable. What frustrates me is the lack of a big plan to meet our targets from Canada.

“The focus on the tar sands is just unbelievable. What frustrates me is the lack of a big plan to meet our targets from Canada.”

Harper Government = wholly-owned subsidiary of Big Oil & Gas

The Harper government is now collecting a few billion dollars a year in taxes from Big Oil & Gas, which explains their interest in promoting oil sands development. Every dollar spent contributes 5 cents to the national piggy bank. Every dollar in profits means 15 cents goes to the federal government and 10 cents goes to the Alberta government.

They need some way to pay for Canada's universal "free" medical care system. It is only fair that US gasoline consumers bear the brunt of the costs. The alternative would be for Canadians to have as bad a system as the US, and that would be just inhumane.

since no one has been able to get cellulosic ethanol to work at a production level, it really should not be a surprise that this plant has been cancelled.

That's a fair point. The same can be said for Carbon Capture and Storage, won't work and can't scale. Just this week TransAlta cancelled their CCS project.

CCS and cellulosic ethanol were just green-washing that the likes of Big Oil and Big Coal were happy to get behind to burnish their image. Did they really think that CCS and cellulosic ethanol were viable? Possibly, but the value was in the PR benefit. And now that they don't have to worry about presenting an environmentally responsible veneer with a friendly majority government that doesn't care at all about CO2 emissions they can happily jettison these projects.

Prime Minister's Office in 2009

This would be one of the world’s first large-scale CCS facilities and will perform several technological functions. It would integrate leading-edge, post-combustion, chilled ammonia capture technology with a coal-fired power plant to capture CO2. The CO2 would then be transported for use in enhanced oil recovery and to a permanent geological storage site, with the goal of demonstrating safe, secure, large-scale permanent storage in saline aquifers.

The Harper Government will invest $342.8 million in the project. Funding will be made available through the Clean Energy Fund ($315.8 million), and through the ecoENERGY Technology Initiative ($27 million).

And the cons were happy to use Iogen to create a veneer of environmental stewardship!

Ottawa station 1st in world to sell biofuel from wheat straw
Iogen vice-president Luis Scoffone, left, Transport Minister John Baird, centre, and Iogen CEO Brian Foody take part in the opening of the first gas station to sell gasoline containing biofuel made from wheat straw.

Further developments over at Chesapeake....

Chesapeake CEO McClendon to Lose Chairman Post

Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) will name an independent chairman to replace Aubrey McClendon and halt an incentive program that allowed the chief executive officer to amass personal stakes in thousands of company-operated wells.

McClendon agreed to a board request to terminate the so- called Founder Well Participation Program in June 2014, 18 months early, without additional compensation, according to a release today. McClendon will retain the CEO position and won’t relinquish any of the well stakes he acquired during the past 23 years, Michael Kehs, a Chesapeake spokesman, said today in an e- mailed statement.

See: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-01/chesapeake-energy-to-strip-mccl...


Here's an interesting retrofit approach:

WPI, UMass Dartmouth researchers explore pavement as alternative energy source

Basically, make hot water with buried pipes under all those roasting hot mall parking lots. Use the heat to drive a rack of ammonia chillers, save a bundle on A/C.

Basically, make hot water with buried pipes under all those roasting hot mall parking lots. Use the heat to drive a rack of ammonia chillers, save a bundle on A/C.

But a busy mall would be full of cars, and then the parking lots would have the cars blocking some of heat, right?
...Okay, yes, they did say 'lightly used' parking lots, but still seems a better idea would be:

Have all parking lots get shade with PV awnings above the parking lot, as its 'roof'

Then the PV could be used for generating electricity _and_ providing shade to the vehicles below ;)

I have a good friend who is the superintendent of all facilities and construction activities in an Arizona school district. They are beginning to cover some of the teachers parking lots with PV awnings.

They could use the access roads between the spaces. Also, there may be more parking during the evening with restaurants, cinemas, family shopping etc. One here has a lot of space by day that is filled at night because of the cinema.


I thought the headline meant they were going to mine the pavement like the oil sands. It has as much oil, right?

How about PV shade structures above, and rip out the asphalt, mine it, and plant shade loving plants below for food or whatever and to help cool the panels above?

This news might bring a smile to a few faces... it sure does mine.

Arch Coal earnings slide on weak US coal market

ST. LOUIS—Arch Coal Inc. said Tuesday that "severe weakness" in the U.S. market for coal used to generate electricity cut sharply into its first-quarter earnings and forced it to further curtail production for the year.

Falling well short of Wall Street's expectations, the St. Louis-based company's said its net income during the January-March quarter totaled $1.2 million, or a penny a share, compared with $55.6 million, or 34 cents a share, a year ago.


Other big coal-mining players also have reported weaker first-quarter earnings. St. Louis-based Peabody Energy Corp. -- the world's biggest private-sector coal company -- said last week that its net income was $172.7 million, or 63 cents per share, on a 17-percent rise in revenues, compared with $176.6 million, or 65 cents, a year earlier.

See: http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2012/05/01/arch_coal_earnings_sl...


Slackening gasoline demand hides pervasive gasoline inventory decline

According to MasterCard’s Spending Plus weekly survey of US gasoline demand, slightly lower retail gasoline prices have failed to stimulate gasoline demand, and it remains down more than 5% from last year. However that level of demand is still a slight improvement from late winter - when demand temporarily dropped about 6 to 7% from the comparable year earlier period.

Meanwhile, per the API weekly report released this evening, gasoline inventories continued their fall - down a rather large amount of 3.9 million barrels. While the voluntary API report is sometimes less reliable than the official EIA report (to be released tomorrow morning), the trends are clear: gasoline supplies are falling – especially in the Northeast. Northeast gasoline inventories were still suffering from refinery shutdowns and slowdowns, maintenance season in preparation for producing summer blends of gasoline, and generally falling imports from Europe and the Caribbean. Indications are that gasoline imports will fall further later in the year, although energy traders in the New York City area report that shipments in May will likely be higher than a very low April level.

In addition, there has been a great amount of interest by deal makers and state/federal governments to improve the output of Northeast refiners – and those plans appear to have been mostly successful.

The key question going forward is what happens this summer until the time that some NE refiners get back to normal operations. Also note that what is now the largest US refinery, the Motiva refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, (jointly owned by Saudi Aramco and Royal Dutch Shell) will not be fully operational until fall.

On the bright side, there is enough winter blend gasoline left to get the Northeast supplied up until the start of the summer driving season and enforcement of various EPA summer fuel standards around June 1. It remains to be seen after that if the NE has sufficient supplies to keep up with gasoline demand for the summer driving season. A faltering economy may turn out to be the gasoline consumers’ best friend – reducing demand enough to possibly match falling output by US refineries.

On a side note, jet fuel in the Northeast remains in short supply. The uncertain jet fuel supply situation may have been a motivating factor behind Delta Air Line’s move to acquire its own Northeast refinery.

Oil supplies up by 2.04 million barrels, API says
US gasoline demand dips, price declines- MasterCard

Could the difference in Winter demand have been a result of the extraordinary warmth and virtual absence of snow needing to be plowed in the 11/12 Winter season?

Ignoring weekly fluctuations, gasoline demand improved at the same time the weather became extraordinary warm in March - and it has more or less continued at that level since.

Somewhat surprisingly, gasoline demand hit its one week peak reading for 2011 in mid-March.

Because of these weather anomalies, it's a little hard to predict gasoline demand going forward from here.

I see. Thanks.