Drumbeat: May 9, 2012

Smart-Meter Defiance Slows $29 Billion U.S. Grid Upgrade

A growing consumer backlash against new wireless digital technology for measuring power usage is slowing U.S. utilities’ $29 billion effort to upgrade their networks.

States including California, Maine and Vermont have responded to customer concerns about higher bills and safety by offering them the option of keeping their conventional devices for an extra charge.

Crude Oil Falls for Sixth Day in Longest Drop Since 2010

Oil fell for a sixth day in New York, the longest run of declines in almost two years, after crude stockpiles increased in the U.S., the world’s largest consumer of the commodity.

Futures slid as much as 1 percent after dropping 8.6 percent in the past five days. U.S. inventories climbed 7.8 million barrels last week to 378 million, the highest level since August 1990, the American Petroleum Institute said yesterday. A government report today may show supplies rose 2 million barrels, according to a Bloomberg News survey. Crude is poised to rebound as global refiners increase purchases, Societe Generale SA said in a report.

Saudi says producers pumping enough to deal with Iran sanctions

TOKYO (Reuters) - Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said on Wednesday oil markets would remain well supplied even after fresh international sanctions against Iran take effect, as global crude oversupply is already as much as 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd).

Government slashes forecast for summer gas prices

Gasoline prices likely won't set any records this summer, thanks to a recent drop in the price of oil.

The government Tuesday slashed its forecast for average gas prices to $3.79 per gallon for the summer driving season. That's down from an initial estimate of $3.95 and below 2008's record average of $3.80.

The Energy Information Administration's revised forecast is encouraging news for the economy. Some economists blame high pump prices for so-so consumer spending this year. They were also seen as a factor in the loss of 35,000 retail jobs in February and March.

China Cuts Retail Fuel Prices for First Time in Seven Months

China will cut retail gasoline and diesel prices tomorrow for the first time since October after international crude costs fell to a government threshold for adjusting fuel rates.

Turning natural gas into diesel fuel

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Near-record low natural gas prices have hurt the industry, but a technology that can turn cheap gas into more profitable diesel could keep demand high and mitigate the impact of falling costs.

Christine Todd Whitman: It's dangerous to depend on natural gas

Today's natural gas market is still vulnerable. We should take advantage of our domestic energy resources, including nuclear energy.

Shale Gas: The View from Russia

The official shale gas story goes something like this: recent technological breakthroughs by US energy companies have made it possible to tap an abundant but previously inaccessible source of clean, environmentally friendly natural gas. This has enabled the US to become the world leader in natural gas production, overtaking Russia, and getting ready to end of Russia's gas monopoly in Europe. Moreover, this new shale gas is found in many parts of the world, and will, in due course, enable the majority of the world's countries to achieve independence from traditional gas producers. Consequently, the ability of those countries with the largest natural gas reserves—Russia and Iran—to control the market for natural gas will be reduced, along with their overall geopolitical influence.

If this were the case, then we should expect the Kremlin, along with Gazprom, to be quaking in their boots. But are they? Here is what Gazprom's chairman, Alexei Miller, recently told Süddeutsche Zeitung: “Shale gas is a well-organized global PR-campaign. There are many of them: global cooling, biofuels.” He pointed out that the technology for producing gas from shale is many decades old, and suggested the US turned to it out of desperation. He dismissed it as an energy alternative for Europe. Is this just the other's sides propaganda, or could Miller be simply stating the obvious? Let's explore. I will base my exploration on Russian sources, which is why all the numbers are in metric units. If you want to convert to Imperial, 1 m3 = 35 cubic feet, 1 km2 = .38 square miles, 1 tonne = 1.1 short tons).

More LNG imports for Japan

Japan's suspension of the use of nuclear power will lead to a further increase in imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), cementing the country's position as the world's biggest importer of the fuel.

Japan to take control of Fukushima operator TEPCO

Japan's government will take a controlling stake in the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant under a plan ministers approved Wednesday, effectively nationalising one of the world's largest utilities.

Tokyo will inject one trillion yen (USD$12 billion) as part of a 10-year restructuring aimed at preventing the vast regional power monopoly from going bankrupt.

Lessons for Japan from Chernobyl

Two nations, separated by tradition and culture, had been thrown together by disasters that changed the way the world thought about atomic energy.

Japan was a donor to Ukraine for the construction of a sarcophagus to cover the damaged Chernobyl reactor building. In the past year, the aid has flowed in the other direction, with Japanese nuclear officials visiting Chernobyl headquarters for guidance and with an agreement signed last month to cooperate on post-disaster response.

Exclusive: Chesapeake CEO arranged new $450 million loan from financier

(Reuters) - In the weeks before Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon was stripped of his chairmanship over his personal financial dealings, he arranged an additional $450 million loan from a longtime backer, according to a person familiar with the transaction.

Keystone Pipeline Divide Shows U.S. Highway Deal Elusive

Congressional negotiators clashed over TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL oil pipeline, underscoring the U.S. political challenge in reaching a multiyear surface transportation plan for the first time since 2005.

Statoil looks offshore in new tack for concession

MONGSTAD, NORWAY // Statoil, the Norwegian oil and gas operator, is shifting from its campaign to secure onshore rights in Abu Dhabi to an offshore bid.

Azerbaijan's natural gas pipeline to wealth

When it comes to the fate of the 50 billion cubic metres of natural gas that Azerbaijan hopes eventually to pump every year, the country is keeping all suitors on their toes.

Russia warns Turkey over Cypriot gas plans

On May 3, Moscow criticized Turkey's plans to explore natural gas deposits around the divided island of Cyprus, under the protection of Turkish naval and air power. Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry's chief spokesman, Aleksandr Lukashevich, cautioned Turkey that its actions "may exacerbate the situation on the territory of Cyprus".

First Nations set to protest Enbridge shareholder meeting over pipeline

TORONTO — West Coast First Nations are planning to protest today at Enbridge’s annual meeting of shareholders in Toronto.

The Yinka Dene Alliance and supporters oppose a proposed pipeline that would cross their territory.

An Old Texas Tale Retold: the Farmer vs. the Oil Company

But as the Crawfords discovered, when voluntary compensation agreements are not reached, Texas law allows certain private pipeline companies to use the right of eminent domain to force landowners to let pipelines through. This was true even for TransCanada, which has yet to get State Department permission to bring the Keystone XL across the Alberta border.

The Crawfords’ condemnation hearing happened in front of a district judge. They were not invited to that hearing — landowners in Texas do not get to go to the actual condemnation hearing. They are invited only to the next step, after the condemnation, when a three-person panel of county landowners decides on a value for the property being condemned.

EU Parliament Committee calls for diversification of energy suppliers

BRUSSELS (KUNA) -- The Energy Committee of the European Parliament has issued a report calling for opening up to new foreign energy suppliers and for lesser dependance on Russia for energy supplies to Europe.

The Committee in a statement Wednesday said diversification of suppliers, routes and sources is deemed necessary in order to secure EU's energy supply.

Middle Eastern sea routes vital to future oil and gas supply

As a result of the escalation of events in Syria, Iran's oil production has begun to be damaged. Additionally, the European Union voted to stop buying Iranian oil from this summer, but the Iranians did not wait and cut off oil sales early. From its position as the global "swing producer", Saudi Arabia has recently reiterated its pledge to keep the oil market well supplied if sanctions hit Iran. However, any military sanction on Iran is likely to cause a host of serious events, which may include closure of the Strait of Hormuz.

Speak to any oil professionals who work on shipping oil through the strait and they will tell you of its importance to the industry. About 18 million barrels of oil pass through the strait daily. An alternative route could be the under-construction Fujairah Pipeline, which on completion should be able to deliver most of Abu Dhabi's oil exports to the Indian Ocean.

China urges Philippines not to further damage bilateral ties

BEIJING (Xinhua) -- China on Wednesday urged the Philippines not to further damage bilateral relations, and expressed the country's willingness to jointly explore gas resources in waters off the coast of the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea.

Oil-Rich Angola’s Ruling Party Split Over Succession

Angola’s ruling party is gripped by a struggle over who should succeed President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, amid public rallies calling for the leader of Africa’s second-largest crude producer to quit after 32 years in power.

India tells US that Iran an important oil source

India said Tuesday it shared the United States' goal of preventing Iran from building a nuclear weapon, but insisted the Islamic republic remained an "important source of oil".

Visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged India to reduce its imports of Iranian oil, while a new US law will next month slap sanctions on nations that buy oil from Tehran.

Britain seeks delay to EU's Iran ship insurance ban

LONDON/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Britain is seeking to persuade fellow European Union members to postpone by up to six months a ban on providing insurance for tankers carrying Iranian oil, arguing that it could lead to a damaging spike in oil prices, European diplomats said.

A European Union ban on importing Iranian oil, which takes effect on July 1, will also prevent EU insurers and reinsurers from covering tankers carrying its crude anywhere in the world.

Indian corporation intends to import oil from Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan, Baku / Trend, A.Badalova / The Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) board will consider signing crude import agreement with the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR), K Murali, Director Refineries, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd., told The Economic Times.

Iran refutes claims on pushing Afghan Senate to scrap pact with US

Iran's envoy to Afghanistan has dismissed recent claims by some Afghan lawmakers and media outlets that accused Iran of seeking to sway the Afghan Senate in an attempt to prevent the approval of the country's recent strategic cooperation pact with the US.

Shooting to Kill Pirates Risks Blackwater Moment

Fear of pirate attacks is creating more violent and chaotic seas, where some overzealous or untrained guards are shooting indiscriminately, killing pirates and sometimes innocent fishermen before verifying the threat, according to more than two dozen interviews with lawyers, ship owner groups, insurance underwriters and maritime security companies.

Peak Oil to Keep Prices High, Commodity Report by Leading Financial Newsletter Profit Confidential

Michael Lombardi, lead contributor to Profit Confidential, reports that oil wells supplying the world with oil are declining at a rate of three percent to five percent per year. According to Lombardi, even if there is no economic growth in the world, roughly 3.6 million barrels a day more of oil need to be found to replace the wells that are running dry.

Less cause to panic about oil running out

But now a remarkable study says a strong chance exists that the worldwide demand for oil will peak by 2020 – and that this will most likely occur before any constraints on supply begin to make themselves felt. This startling conclusion has been reached after careful examination of the most recent academic and professional thinking on population, technology and public policy trends. The study was led by Ricardo Strategic Consulting in collaboration with Kevin J Lindemer and with industry-wide participation.

Jeff Rubin: Without growth, there's only one ending to euro debt crisis

If a strong-enough economic recovery were to take hold, Europe could grow its way out of its huge fiscal deficits and save the monetary union from collapse. That’s a good plan in theory, but the complication facing Europe, and indeed the rest of the world, is that it takes a lot of energy to fuel robust economic growth. What’s more, the most important source of energy for the global economy is oil.

Commuting Drives Up Weight, Blood Pressure

People who drive long distances to work are more likely to be overweight than their non-commuting counterparts, according to a new study that links urban sprawl with expanding waistlines.

Report: Fisker Karma blamed for Texas home fire

According to the report, the Karma car, which was not plugged in, caught fire less than three minutes after being driven into the garage and that the battery remains intact. Damage to the battery was blamed for Chevrolet Volt fires in government testing last year. The Karma, like the Volt, is an extended range plug-in car that also has a gasoline engine.

Solar Is Europe’s Most-Installed Power Source, Lobby Says

Solar power became the most-installed energy source in Europe last year for the first time as subsidies drove investment to records, the European Photovoltaic Industry Association said.

Soy-Crop Bust Spurs China to Drain U.S. Bins

U.S. soybean stockpiles are poised to drop to the lowest relative to consumption since at least 1965 after the worst drought in five decades decimated crops across South America, driving China to buy more from Midwest farmers.

Is healthy weight impossible for many Americans?

"People have heard the advice to eat less and move more for years, and during that time a large number of Americans have become obese," committee member Shiriki Kumanyika of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine told Reuters. "That advice will never be out of date. But when you see the increase in obesity you ask, what changed? And the answer is, the environment. The average person cannot maintain a healthy weight in this obesity-promoting environment."

An Effort to Bury a Throwaway Culture One Repair at a Time

AMSTERDAM — An unemployed man, a retired pharmacist and an upholsterer took their stations, behind tables covered in red gingham. Screwdrivers and sewing machines stood at the ready. Coffee, tea and cookies circulated. Hilij Held, a neighbor, wheeled in a zebra-striped suitcase and extracted a well-used iron. “It doesn’t work anymore,” she said. “No steam.”

Ms. Held had come to the right place. At Amsterdam’s first Repair Cafe, an event originally held in a theater’s foyer, then in a rented room in a former hotel and now in a community center a couple of times a month, people can bring in whatever they want to have repaired, at no cost, by volunteers who just like to fix things.

Dead Dolphins and Birds Are Causing Alarm in Peru

But even three months after officials began testing the dolphins, the government has not released definitive results, and there is growing suspicion among the public and scientists that there might be more to the story. Some argue that offshore oil exploration could be disturbing wildlife, for example, and others fear that biotoxins or pesticides might be working their way up the food chain.

E.P.A. Chemist Who Warned of Ground Zero Dust Is Reinstated

A senior Environmental Protection Agency chemist who argued that she was removed from her job in retaliation for accusing the agency of underestimating the toxicity of dust at ground zero has been reinstated with back pay by an administrative board.

After Kyoto, a new economics?

In the results of a survey out today, 800 sustainability experts from around the world have a clear message for governments: make greenhouse gases more expensive.

Diageo to end funding of Heartland Institute after climate change outburst

Diageo, one of the world's largest drinks companies, has announced it will no longer fund the Heartland Institute, a rightwing US thinktank which briefly ran a billboard campaign this week comparing people concerned about climate change to mass murderers and terrorists such as Osama bin Laden, Charles Manson and Ted Kaczynski.

An Inconvenient Lawsuit: Teenagers Take Global Warming to the Courts

Alec Loorz turns 18 at the end of this month. While finishing high school and playing Ultimate Frisbee on weekends, he's also suing the federal government in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

The Ventura, California, teen and four other juvenile plaintiffs want government officials to do more to prevent the risks of climate change -- the dangerous storms, heat waves, rising sea levels, and food-supply disruptions that scientists warn will threaten their generation absent a major turnabout in global energy policy. Specifically, the students are demanding that the U.S. government start reducing national emissions of carbon dioxide by at least six percent per year beginning in 2013.

No regulatory framework in place to curb greenhouse gas emissions

The federal government has promised to cut greenhouse gas emissions significantly by 2020, but it has not put the regulatory framework in place to achieve that goal, environmental groups and economists say, responding to the report of Canada's environment commissioner.

So far, only two regulations are in place for the transportation sector, while regulations for the electricity sector aren't expected to take effect until 2015 and no regulations are in place for oil and gas.

Alberta fires back at proposed EU fuel rules

The Alberta government has gone on the offensive against Europe’s proposed fuel-quality directive with a new study that shows the oil sands production is only slightly more greenhouse-gas intensive than crudes already used in Europe.

Alberta and the federal government have lobbied aggressively against the European low-carbon fuel proposal, saying it would discriminate against Canadian-based crude producers with an unscientific approach to reducing greenhouse gases (GHG).

'We have seen the enemy': Bangladesh's war against climate change

Devastating cyclones, floods and ruined crops have made Bangladesh 'the world's most aware society on climate change.'

Vietnam's climate woes ignite national strategy

HANOI - Vietnam, hailed as a development success story for lifting millions out of poverty and staying on track to meet all its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, is seeing its future progress severely threatened by the impact of global climate change.

Unprecedented climate-related catastrophes in recent years have turned government and citizen attention onto the pressing need for proactive climate change policies, although the speed of global warming is beyond Vietnam's control and depends more on major industrial nations' future greenhouse gas emission reductions agreed within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

New Zealand: National sea level rise planning standard dropped

The Government is dropping a proposal that would require councils to meet a national standard when planning for sea level rise.

The standard was meant to streamline planning and provide reliable guidance to local authorities about their future environment.

Rising temperature to hit wheat production in India, says report

The annual mean temperature in India is expected to rise by 3.5-4.3 degrees Celsius by 2098, badly impacting production of wheat - a major grain crop - and increasing malaria outbreak, according to India's submission to the United Nations (UN) released here Wednesday.

UPDATE 1-China car sales rise 12.5 pct in April

* Sales growth doubles from 4.5 pct March pace

* Demand expected to remain solid in May, June

* New models from autoshow to attract buyers

* Single-digit sales growth expected for 2012

* Market expected to hit 30 million by 2020-Ford


"There may be monthly ebbs and flows of the total Chinese auto market, but we see sustained positive momentum and growth of about 5 percent per year for the foreseeable future," the Shanghai-based Ford executive said in a statement made available to Reuters. "Today's 18.5 million market is expected by many to be around 30 million by 2020."

Congressman from Michigan on CNBC this am said that 2020 car figure was 200 million per yr.But then he was touting the Keystone passage asap.

Hello rising oil consumption..

China is often portrayed as a top down command economy but capitalism produces vast wealth that can be used to bribe leaders. Bribery is very prevelant in China. I wonder if the govt. can stop this car market even if they wanted to. If my math is correct, China will add 300 million cars in just 11-13 years (just estimating projected increases in sales here). That is almost as many cars as there are Americans! I can remember 12 years ago very easily. Seems unreal- that is 2024. This will not end well for anyone. BTW- I remember that about 5 years ago there were stories about how the Chinese were going to crack the US auto market in a big way with the Cherry (sic?) brand- whatever happened to that?

Lucky motoring!

The Smart Meters Aren't Transmitting

We opted out of the Pacific Gas and Electric "smart meter" program so our meter still gets read monthly (FWIW, that's a $75 one time up-front fee and an additional $10/month). Anyway, I was talking to the meter reader yesterday about smart meters. He related that the smart meters in a large part of my rural area aren't transmitting the data so he's still reading them. He didn't know what the problem was.

Aside from a certain irony, one has to ask how this added complexity is going to be affected in the future. I understand how new systems have problems since I used to be in charge of starting up new chemical plants. But, one has to ask about the reliability of the data, etc.

BTW, I asked him whether they have time-of-use smart meters since we've had TOU metering for 25 years or so. He didn't think they had them. I don't know if this is correct or not.


Regarding Smart-Meter Defiance Slows $29 Billion U.S. Grid Upgrade

I recently visited a friend who is converting a 'barn' into a residence. The electric utility was setting a meter, transformer, and burying the drop to the structure, and I noted they were burying fiber cable with the power line. I asked if they were hoping to sell broadband and the lineman told me they were, but the fiber also connected to the new smart meter to be installed. All new line installs include fiber now. He said it may be a while before many of these installations even have fiber access, but they're going ahead and burying the cables. They had previously buried fiber throughout the subdivision and I noted that the fiber was routed through the transformer as well (smart transformers?).

Several of my grid-connected friends have complained that ther bills have risen significantly since the new meters have been installed. Makes one wonder how much free energy they've gotten in the past.

Isn't it interesting that the first part of the "Smart Grid" to be implemented is the part that allows utilities to automate their meter reading and billing, saving the corporations money? What is the real goal?

Burt of PG&E said the devices are more accurate than traditional analog meters.

I'd love to see the data on that. I don't know what model they use, but some of these things are spinning disk meters with pulse counters on them, so for those the intrinsic accuracy is no different.

I duuno - slap a 60A breaker on the inlet and let people learn how to keep from tripping it.

What is the real goal?

To charge higher prices to the consumer, as they heavily discount large customers. But this is all good. While nobody likes higher prices, it's the only thing that will get people to stop wasting a resource.

Personally I hope prices sky rocket. The sooner they do, the sooner solar will be adopted. Humans only live in hot and freezing climates because energy has been artificially cheap. It's time we learned the true cost and started the road to sustainability.

I don't disagree with that, I just find the hype surrounding the Smart Grid (tm) to be fantastical, and basically propaganda to keep people lulled and distracted. As if that part is being handled and they should not worry about it, when I see very little evidence of anything actually happening. Including even agreement on what the Smart Grid is. As far as I can tell, Automated Meter Reading (AMR) is it.

Some of these PG&E meters are GE I-210+ units. From the manual:

The I-210 meter measures kWh energy and is rated as an ANSI C12.20 class 0.5 meter. However, it is expected that accuracy under many operating conditions and loads will typically be within 0.2%

You can drive a truck through the holes in the ANSI C12.20 standard, it's the easiest one to meet. The IEC standards are a real B#$*#^ to meet. And I just love that last bit - "sometimes, some of them might do better".

Basically, they've got a current transformer feeding a canned power measurement IC (several manufacturers make them), feeding an 8-bit micro handing communications. It calculates very little and appears to have no clock. It is anything but "smart".

About 15 years ago I did a stint at Itron, a major AMR solutions provider, in their BEMRS department (Base Electricity Meter Reader Subsystem) - basically quality assurance for their hand-held meter reader modules. What I did basically was confirm that the two programmers were doing their job right - one was the protocol driver guru who would write code that would drive the RS-232 serial port in a way to talk to a meter based on the manufacturer's specification - the other would write the higher-level code that interfaced between the aforementioned protocol driver and Itron's AMR management system. It was my job to know about each meter (Lyndis-Gyr, Schlumbeger, GE, etc.) and confirm the values being read out were proper - some commercial meters had layers of registers for things like power-factor calculations, and much more.

As a seasoned programmer, I would review the code to find the problems rather than via reviewing output which was the usual process and was rather appalled by the sheer ineptitude displayed in the source code - not necessarily by guys at the time I was working there - but the ones they had replaced who'd moved on to screw up someone else. Stupid stuff, too. I'd sometimes find bugs in the meter firmware itself, but that was rare and usually was of little significance.

Nonetheless, the more complexity in the system the greater the likelihood of error at each layer (except the very base protocol driver - hard to screw that up too badly) which of course are a variety of types of numerical conversions based on the meter brand (measured in kwh or kWH, etc.) rounded-up in favor of the utility (= sales + satisfaction). It's probable that any AMR system has errors throughout the chain of custody - obscuring the original values. And who's to question what's right? It's what the meter says, isn't it? Maybe. If the computer says it's so, it must be.

Residential customers are wise to chose non-AMR - they'll be billed at the meter's display values which are likely correct rather than some trumped up translation that when all's said and done is a rip-off.

My knowledge is on the device side of things. We don't make billing meters but stuff that is quite similar. All meters have sources of errors, but the claim that these have increased accuracy over the spinning disk meters just isn't supported by the manufacturer's specs, the (pathetic) standard under which it is rated, or the basic design technology used. They may be able to handle bi-directional power flow, but they don't do TOU and they're not more accurate. This isn't the Smart Grid (tm), that's hogwash - it's just a corporation saving money on meter reading and billing costs.

Humans only live in hot and freezing climates because energy has been artificially cheap.

Right, humans only evolved in blazing hot East Africa because of artificially cheap energy.

Jersey, the statement by Mkkby is basically correct. Though certain people can live in very hot countries and in very cold countries, because they have evolved ways to overcome and live in those extreme climates. And because of evolution, those people who could not adapt to those extreme climates simply did not survive.

Today it is an entirely different story. People don't have to adapt, those who would never be able to survive in such a primitive environment, survive anyway. And many have moved away from climates which their ancestors evolved in. They survive because they have artificially cheap energy. They create their own artificial environment, which they live in the vast majority of the time.

If all air conditioning and fossil fuel heat were to disappear tomorrow, the vast majority of people in very cold climates would not survive the first winter. And it would be a similar story for many people in extremely hot climates though, I believe, they would have a much higher survival rate than those in very cold climates.

Ron P.

In my opinion, most Scandinavians would survive colder weather because they almost all have truly excellent cold-weather clothing. I buy all my cold weather clothing either from Scandinavian countries or Canada and my sailing foul weather from Norway. Norwegian foul weather gear is primarily made for Norwegian fishermen, but it is also, IMO, the highest quality foul weather gear for recreational sailing.

Russian overcoats made to military specifications are also very good, but they are heavy.

It's not basically correct. It's blatantly, obviously, patently, totally false. Humans covered hot and cold climates long before anyone figured out fossil fuels.

In many hot climates, fossil fuels play essentially no role in climate mitigation. How much air conditioning is in south India? Brazil? Malaysia? Nigeria? Next to none. But they're full of people and have been for tens of thousands of years.

Cold climates are more difficult, since you need heat to survive the winter, but humans have been doing that for tens of thousands of years, too.

If s/he said, "Adjusting to extreme cold or heat without fossil fuels is going to be very difficult," that's very true. But "Humans only live in hot and cold climates because of artificially cheap energy [i.e., fossil fuels]," that's just false.

The key to living in cold climates was the invention of multilayer tailored clothing made from hides and furs about 35,000 years ago. The earliest needles and awls are from about that time.

Jersey, I don't think you even bothered to read the rest of my post. I said the same thing in my post as you said in your second sentence.

I lived in Saudi Arabia for five years. It often hits 115 degrees F in the summer and cools off very little at night. Not all Saudis have air conditioning but most do. And all expats from the west do. And even the barracks for third world expats have air conditioning.

But I stated that the effect in cold countries would be much worse. Apparently you never read that either. And I explained why.

Cold climates are more difficult, since you need heat to survive the winter, but humans have been doing that for tens of thousands of years, too.

And as Don Sailorman explained, the infant mortality rate then was perhaps 50 percent. Then woolen garments caused a population explosion. However then they had firewood, lots and lots of firewood. If fossil fuels disappeared, after about one year or so, there would be no firewood owing to the fact that the current population is many, many times what it was then. I would bet that without fossil fuel, and without firewood, the infant mortality rate would return to what it was in those days, perhaps higher. As I said most would perish after the first winter.

In those days they evolved, they adapted, gradually with a very high mortality rate. Today those adaptations are long forgotten. During the second winter the whole cold country world would be one big Donner Party.

Ron P.

Native Americans of various tribes were thriving in Minnesota and Canada four hundred years ago. They had a remarkable material culture incuding large birch bark canoes that were used on Lake Superior. Also they used incredibly effective fish traps made out of simple materials. They knew how to stay warm and comfy when it was 40 degrees below zero. Perhaps the various Eskimo tribes were the smartest or most ingenious of any population anywhere, when you consider the remarkable kayaks and umiaks they made. Also they had extremely effective hunting techniques and effective (but dangerous) whaling techniques.

Visiting eskimo and Native American museams is just fascinating. Also the books written by cultural anthropologists about the indigenous peoples of North, Central, and South America make good reading.

Alas, these remarkable technologies have been almost entirely lost. The only people who make birch bark canoes nowadays are white people who sell them to wealthy white people. Modern Native Americans much prefer aluminum canoes to birch bark ones, because they are cheap and easy to get and require no maintenance. They still harvest wild rice using traditional technology, however.

There are a lot more people now.

I would agree with you. And that includes hot-dry climates as well. Afar area -Danakill depression, is (sparsely) occupied. baghdad, has been a very significant city for thousands of years... I think cold is actually easier than heat, as adding insulation holds in heat. I can dress for virtually any degree of cold (-100F even [I would have to purchase the gear]), but dress for 150F? Not without a continuing supply of either water or AC!

In any case, if proper attention is paid to building appropriate for the climate, not that much energy is required to maintain reasonable indoor temps. We've been very lazy designwise, we could simply use brute force energy (high powered heating and/or cooling), to overcome crappy design. Given a decent time interval for the change (to low energy) we can adapt our dwellings and practices.

Exposure to extreme climates (without access to conditioned environments), would probably increase death rates substantially. People aren't acclimated and the first years would probably see the highest death rates. Young, old, and infirm would be the highest hit. Direct exposure would result in increased deaths. But you would also have increased deaths from indirect effects -- disease due to compromised immune systems being at the top of the list.

I remember seeing something years ago on TV about some white guy going to the Arctic and seeing how long he could hold his hand out in the blistering cold wind before it was too excruciating. He could only do it a few minutes. The Inuit guy could hold his hand out there indefinitely.

I don't get it, I'm 1/8 Swedish, 3/4 British and 1/8 Irish but I am a wimp when it comes to cold. I am a string bean and without my protective clothing I'd die in a few minutes. You'd think I'd be able to handle cold better. Our genes haven't degraded that much in a thousand years. Maybe I would have been one of the ones weeded out through natural selection otherwise. No matter how much pizza or anything else I eat, I cannot put on weight.

I suspect that early life experiences (maybe birth to just past puberty?) have a lot to do with environmental adaptation, perhaps even more than genetics. If you were raised in a climate controlled, calorie rich environment you probably will lack the adaptive behaviours necessary to thrive in a different environment.

I have a lot of difficulty with my athletes when the thermometer drops below 26C. They don't know when to huddle, they don't shivver or jump up and down to generate heat, they are disturbed by cold-induced muscle tension, they put on gloves and a scarf, but won't wear a real sweaters, they automatically turn on the air conditioning (!), they stand in the shade instead of the sun, and position themselves to catch breezes, and to top it off they are so convinced that rain water will give them the flu that they psych themseles into getting sick (they're swimmers, rain falling on them while they are in the pool should not cause 60% flu infection rates within 12 hours)

But then again I have to eat double the calories they do just to maintain my weight, and drink about 2.5L of water aday, and I sweat more than any of the locals...and I'm a sedentary coach, not an active person.

I have a lot of difficulty with my athletes when the thermometer drops below 26C

Is that water or air temp?!

and to top it off they are so convinced that rain water will give them the flu that they psych themseles into getting sick

Jeez! What a bunch of wusses! You should have them read Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer by Lynne Cox

Lynne Cox was the first woman to swim the five miles of 40 degree ocean from Alaska to Russia. In 2003, she became the first woman to swim one mile in the Antarctic ocean wearing only a swimsuit, cap, and goggles

BTW, just for the record 40F water temp is 4C... and I doubt many Americans can even swim 1 mile in the ocean in Florida during the winter when the water is about 26C?!

I have friends who did a wilderness canoe trip in the far north of Quebec last summer. At all times on the water they were wearing multiple layers of clothing topped with a dry suit. When they got to the Inuit village at the bottom of the river there were kids playing in the 4C water wearing only bathing suits.

The water temperature stays pretty constant, only the air temperature varies with the weather. I'm not sure that they're wusses. I just think that it is a clear exmle of how behaviour and perception affect people's tolerance of temperature.

Am I missing something? 26 degrees is uncomfortably warm for me. I would be too hot.

Then again i've noticed that people used to warm temperatures really hate England for the cold. They will be in full scarves and coat indoors while we are all in t-shirts and shorts outside enjoying the "warm weather".

I just think that it is a clear exmle of how behaviour and perception affect people's tolerance of temperature.

True and I didn't mean to disparage your athletes and at the end of the day calling them wusses might not be appropriate. Even so what I find more interesting is that you mentioned there was a 60% increase in their getting sick if they swam in the rain... that's what really got my goat as it is sort of a pet peeve of mine.

Perhaps because it has always irritated me when someone tells me to get in out of the rain and the cold or I might get sick. They rarely listen to a scientific explanation about being exposed to some cold virus. To be clear, I do swim in the open ocean, sometimes even through some major downpours, the only thing that gets me out of the water is lightning! And no, I don't worry about sharks, Portuguese Man O'war, maybe.

I have also done kayak support for long distance swimmers and a few triathlon meets, it never ceases to amaze me when some of the swimming pool trained athletes freak out and give up in the first 100 meters when they find themselves in open water for the first time...but you are right, they are not wusses, just poorly prepared from a psychological and behavioral perspective and probably lack a basic knowledge of science to boot.

There are people studying medecine, and a physiotherapist in the group plus a collection of kids who get good marks in the sciences. Its really a case of people sticking with their cultural assumptions. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people seemed to give up and die if a year-long interruption of fossil-fuel happened for the same reason.

BTW the younger ones,through example and motivation can be convinced otherwise... if their parents don't resist

There is a huge difference between the stiffness of cold and warm muscles. I can't recall the exact figure and the temperatures involved, my coach courses were a long time ago. OTOH, if the humidity is high then body cooling may start to be an issue, your 2.5l a day may be a clue. Sounds like you have a bucket load of psychological training to do on them.


Stiff muscles happen...that's why there are warm-ups :)

And lots of sports teams do include a coach from another culture on their staff... it helps identify all the weird hang-ups that people have and don´t notice

Heh, that's why I take a nice slow ride and step it up to start off a bike ride until all is warm and running smooth. Stiff muscles are just the normal state of unused muscles and need to reach a good operating temperature or they break under load. I do wish I could remember the detail of what we covered but it was compared to the difference between a block of butter out of the fridge and after it had been left to soften. Good idea on the cross culture though I wonder if this can cause clashes?

Had a further thought on your sweating. How are your salt levels? If I realise I am drinking a lot of water and want more I switch to a suero (home made or WHO) or Gatorade. Thirst cured, was low on salts especially potassium (why I use light salt). Just some musings.


I swell if i eat too much salt...lots of bananas and tomatoes for potassium. They say that gatorade should be alternated or mixed with water 2 or 3 to 1. Suero 2 to 1. I hate suero with a passion. Every time I get food poisoning or an amoeba I have to drink it and they are now associated forever in my mind.

Same here, Gatorade has a lot of sugar and little potassium, the balance in suero is better. I like home made where I can control the sugar, use light salt to get the potassium and add lemons to make it taste good that also adds citrate to help the absorption. Its cheaper too :) Heading for the rainy season hydration with salt replacement will be important for me. Tropical heat survival guide for those following this :)


I watched a documentary abou some swedish explorrs who walked across the far eastern Siberia in the winter. On the question "how can you even walk in that cold" they replied "if we stop, we die".

They came to a village, and stayed there for a while. The locals made water by sawing up blocks of ice from the river, dumping them on a sledge and drive home. You think they wore gloves? Their atitude towards gloves was, anyone wearing them in tempertures above -40 C was a "pansy".

I have never experienced -40 C. I have seen -30 though.

If... fossil fuel heat were to disappear tomorrow, the vast majority of people in very cold climates would not survive the first winter.
~ Darwinian

Unsure about that, and I'm even tempted to say, nonsense.
For one, it is an artificial scenario; for another, if it nevertheless occurred, there's warm blood, clothing/bedding/fabrics and room-/house-/bed-/etc.-sharing.

I've biked year-round in Canada, and have often arrived home bathed in sweat, after relatively low-energy biking in sub-zero temperatures.
If you live in the north in any case, you understand the north-- irrespective of artificial tropical climate bubbles.

Where do you live?

Okay perhaps I should have said "They would not likely survive the "second winter". It would take them perhaps one year to strip the land of all trees and bushes large enough for firewood. After all they would have to cook their food... as long as the wood lasted. And it would take perhaps a month or so to strip the land of all wildlife, and then another few months to kill every domestic cow, horse, sheep or goat. Then they would start on the dogs. And after the dogs have all been eaten they would almost certainly do as others have done when all sources of food were gone, start eating their own dead.

Warm clothing would help of course but people unaccustomed to living 24 hours a day for months at a time in sub zero temperatures would likely succumb to the elements soon. That is considering their diet of mostly raw human carrion. And having to eat it frozen makes it even harder. It would be easier in the summer of course. But one would have to consume it quickly because in the hot summer it would quickly spoil.

Okay, okay, I am being gross, but intentionally so. That is because the very idea life would continue almost as usual after fossil fuel, but just a little harder, is itself gross. But perhaps I should not use such harsh language and just use the term you used... nonsense.

After a few generations, they might come to believe that the rubble amid which they live is the remains of cities built by gods.

I currently live in Alabama but I spent 14 months in Alaska and have lived in Massachusetts, Michigan and Seattle among many other places.

Ron P.

Well again, it is artificial, while the truth or reality-- what actually unfolds-- can be completely different/unexpected and/or lie somewhere in between extremes.
And yes, there is the matter of our species' historical record of resource management.
Nevertheless, this is a different context, and migrations, etc., do happen.
Maybe those in the north will see fit to head toward what was formerly Alabama before cannibalism sets in. ;)

"Okay perhaps I should have said "They would not likely survive the "second winter""

Your first analysis is correct. The majority are dependant on the system, not just for heat but for food and other basic requirements. In addition, those with homes equipped to operate on fossil fuel won't be able to heat there homes using wood. You can't burn wood in a NatGas or Oil fired furnance. Even those with wood stoves or wood burning furnances would face serious challenges to cut and transport wood to their homes without fuel for the chainsaws or trucks to move it to there suburban or city home. Cities and suburbs have few trees that are close by and those few trees would be all gone well before winter is over. Also pine and other similar trees that dominate cold regions can't be used for indoor wood stoves.

Perhaps people would resort to home canabulism where they use wood present in their homes (ie burn the furniture) or tear down abandoned homes for fire wood. If perhaps there is sufficent wood if the homes are constructed of wood and there are sufficent number of abandon homes nearby.

However, the biggest challenge would to find sufficient calories to survive. I suspect that long before the oil deliveries stop coming people will be forced to leave the extreme cold regions because of the lack of food. A major war or perhaps a CME event might cause a sudden loss of oil and NatGas access causing a sudden die-off in cold regions. People living in Rural areas would like fare better since there would more game to hunt, but they will quickly deplete all game in a matter of months even in rural regions. Rural regions are likely to have better options for firewood available.

"Also pine and other similar trees that dominate cold regions can't be used for indoor wood stoves.'

Not true. I live in NE Washington state. Coniferous trees, Douglas Fir and Western Larch are the primary fuelwood trees. Pines, Spruces, and true Firs are also burned but are not equivalent in BTUs.

I concur. We often use pine and other soft woods (poplar, soft maple, etc.) for a quick/hot burn. Getting the stove up to temp and building a good coal bed is essential to our strategy before loading in dense hardwoods. Since going to this mix and installing our water heating coil, the stove pipe stays clean and emissions have dropped dramatically. On moderately cold nights we may not use hardwoods at all, especially if we're just making hot water.

Many folks I know make the mistake of not firing their stoves hot enough. Softer woods do leave more ashes, but we clean the fire box daily and use them as soil amendments. Little gets wasted. It's all fuel to me, and the softwoods grow back faster.

"We often use pine.."
You can if you don't mind getting sick. Creosote contains carcingens. Creosote can also set your chimney or stove pipe on fire. But what do I know, You're the expert right?


"..You're the expert right?"

Seems I am; expert enough to not breath the fumes from my woodstove,, or truck. BTW, I cleaned my stove pipe (all 21 feet) last week. It was so clean after a full season it wasn't worth the effort except for inspection purposes. Must be doing something right.

Maybe you should take a course or something :-/ Suggest you start here.

All wood is chemically similar, regardless of species. It is mostly the density and moisture content that influence its behaviour in the fire and its value as firewood. Dense hardwoods like maple and oak have a higher energy content per cord and so release more heat per firebox load. They also produce long-lasting fires and coal beds. Softer woods like birch, pine, spruce and poplar are less dense, burn faster and do not produce a long-lasting coal bed when burned.

Traditionally, hardwoods were the preferred firewood, especially in central and eastern North America, but softer woods make excellent fuel for spring and fall use. Those who heat with wood in the coldest parts of North America have only softwoods like spruce and pine and light deciduous trees like birch and aspen to burn and they still manage to stay warm. The newer advanced technology wood stoves, fireplaces and furnaces can function well with a wider variety of wood species because of their better control of the combustion process than older conventional stoves.

The other trick, beyond what Ghung said, is that proper stoves include some form of secondary combustion in a tight envelope, so the gases that would have formed creosote are burned off.

With our masonry stoves, we barely even had any ash accumulation, and the output particulates in the smoke were absolutely minimal. You couldn't see it coming out of the chimney, aside for heat-lensing of the air.

"We often use pine.."
You can if you don't mind getting sick. Creosote contains carcingens. Creosote can also set your chimney or stove pipe on fire. But what do I know, You're the expert right?

Well, you clearly aren't an expert. In the western states and up here in AK, lots of people burn lots of spruce, fir, pine, and other coniferous wood. And they have been doing it since forever. You will no doubt be amazed to learn that a great many of them even manage to stay healthy and grow old.

Spruce burns well, but the energy content per weight is very low. Here in Sweden, old timers don't want to burn spruce for heat. To much effort. But it does burn alright.

When I do my solo hikes, spruce is my main fuel. It is abundant, easy to start up with, and quickly turn into a hot fire. Ideal for cooking. But it burns out fast, so you need to keep adding fuel. Still no problem if you have a clear cut area nearby (and most of the time, you do), then you can quickly assemble piles of wood. But for long term cooking I would prefer birch, if I ever needed long cooking in the field.

I have never tried it, but they (as in old saimish people who still has the knowledge of the old times) say you can not maintain a fire with only green pine. Not enough heat output to overcome the energy input requiered to maintain the pyrolysis process.

Measured by weight, Doug Fir has a greater heat content than Hickory. The upshot of this is that Doug Fir burns much cleaner than most hardwoods. You just have to put up a greater volume of the wood. I can burn DF for a couple of weeks in my newish soapstone stove and still not have to shovel ashes. Also leaves a cleaner chimney.

Yair . . . I have lived in warm climates all my life and wonder if some of the commenters here have ever really suffered cold from the POV of one not accustomed to it.

Forget being hot, hungry, thirsty, or any other human discomfort. When you are cold, seriously cold all else doesn't matter. You cease to function . . . and it doesn't have to be that cold.

If folks who live in heated houses and drive in heated cars to heated offices didn't have power or gas for a winter I believe a lot of them would die.

I bloody nearly did. I drove south to a broken down dozer in the high country. I was under it for six hours pulling out the transmission. The spanners used to freeze to the mud when I put them down.

I think it was only minus four or five with no wind chill but I was unconcious when the the boys got there next morning so don't tell me BS about unacclimatised ordinary folks being able to function in the cold.


If you live in the north in any case, you understand the north-- irrespective of artificial tropical climate bubbles.

When I lived in Northern Wisconsin, it was transplants like me who thrived in -30F. The natives were just foolish macho-types who would go out grossly underdressed, then whine and curse about the weather. Its really all about attitude, research and acquire the proper clothing, and you'll enjoy it. Pretend if you don't think about or prepare for it, then it won't happen, and it hits you pretty hard.

I think your true north macho types would come around in short order in Darwinian's scenario.

I don't think so. A considerable number of my male students who came from the area near Grand Rapids worked in the woods, cutting trees down and then hauling them. It is hard physical labor, even with chain saws. Every one of these students I talked with on this topic told me that they invariably worked in shirt sleeves, because if they wore more clothing they would get too hot and sweat profusely--even if the temperature was minus 40 degrees.

For thirty-one years I walked to and fro from home to work during the winter time--only about 2 1/2 miles from one house I lived in and about three miles from the other house. Sometimes I walked when the windchill was minus 60F or even colder than that. As most Minnesotans know how to do, I layered my clothing. Invariably, when I had walked about three quarters of a mile, I would get too hot and would begin sweating, so I had to strip off one layer of clothing. After about 2 miles of vigorous walking I would have to strip off another layer of clothing. By the time I got to the building where my office was, typically I was in shirt sleeves.

Minnesotans and other Americans who live with very cold weather and Canadians have a number of skills not found in people who live farther south. For example, when I was a kid around seven years old, one of my favorite pastimes was to race my bicycle on clear ice. Most of the White Bear Lake boys were proficient in riding their bikes on ice, and I cannot recall any significant injuries from my years of bicycling on ice, and none of us ever used a bicycle helmet.

Even though I'm seventy-two now, I can still ride my bike (with unstudded tires) on ice and through snow, but I seldom do so, because if the chain gets wet, then you have to take it off the bike, dry it, and lubricate it asap. That is too much hassle for me.

I think the basic point is whether the current density of population can be maintained without FF's or any other modern day technology and the answer is quite clear, no it can't, it's hard to argue that. Most powerful civilizations of the past grew up in a region where one didn't have to burn wood in the stove just to survive the night and it's quite clear why, when one has to work three-four hours extra a day just to survive, it's hard to create economic value.

Counter examples from different times in the last 1,000 years - and before coal became widespread - Russia, Sweden, Poland and the Mongols.

Other examples in slightly warmer, but still DAM cold in the winter, in Central Europe and, to a lesser extent, Central Asia. Even northern China requires considerable heat in the winter..

Dealing with cold is a drag on economic productivity - but not enough to stifle conquest and empire building.


I did add the word 'Most' didn't I :-) The point is that it's very hard and numbers are fewer, and Mongols were raiders like the Huns, their empire disintegrated almost as soon as the third generation arrived. I wouldn't call them a civilization. The economic power base of Chinese civilization was in the river fed deltas of eastern seaboard, not in the North.

All ancient civilizations required vast sources of timber, cultivable land (and by definition a comparably sunny climate) and ready source of water. These are harder to find in very cold regions, which is why the examples you mentioned were dwarfed if we take warmer civilizations such as Mesopotamia, Romans, Greeks, Mayans or the Egyptians. Even the Romans depended on the Egyptian 'grain' to feed their population. An embargo by Mark Antony had Rome in a crisis.

Yes, you did use the word "Most".

And there is much more to civilization than conquest & empire (see the Mongols).

Sir Issac Newton and Leonhard Euler may have been the first great mathematicians that needed heat almost every night in the winter. And that heat could have come from coal.

Best Hopes,


If full Collapse comes, the weaklings (urbanites and suburnanites mainly) will try to move south in a hurry. However, I think most of the farmers and many rural and small-town people will stay, and some will thrive. For example, my son-in-law who lives in the woods just within the borders of Grand Rapids, MN every year legally takes four deer with little effort. (Two deer tags for him and my daughter during the archery season and two more deer tags during the firearms season. He never poaches deer.) Frequently he goes moose hunting too, and he invariably is successful in moose hunting. He is an expert fisherman and catches about four or five hundred pounds of fish per year. They live in four acres of woods, and if they were only to heat the kitchen, he would have a sustainable wood lot. He is a general contractor, and he built his own house to much higher standards than you will ever find in a Twin Cities house built during the past fifty years--masses of the best quality insulation and triple glazed glass windows, plus top-quality and experately hung door.

I know who I'm moving in with if there is danger of rioting and burning in St. Paul.

Minnesota is blessed with abundant resources. More than ten thousand lakes, and of course there is the Mississippi River and other rivers. Most of southern Minnesota has some of the best soil in the world for growing corn and soybeans. Minnesota is the #1 producer of turkeys in the U.S. (Texas is #2) Northwestern Minnesota (near Fargo and Moorhead) is one of the best places in the world to grow sugar beets and similar crops. Minnesota has lots of good pasture land and both beef and dairy cattle thrive in Minnesota. Northeastern Minnesota has vast reserves of taconite--a kind of iron ore which is economically viable despite having substantially lower percentages of iron than the richer grade ore that was the mainstay of Minnesota's mining business for the first fifty years of the twentieth century. Finally, Minnesota has superior human capital, compared with most other states--high levels of education, low levels of crime (except in a couple of neighborhoods in Minneapolis. Per capita, Minneapolis has about double the number of murders than does St. Paul. Some years ago, Minneapolis was nicknamed "Murderopolis," but murder rates have gone down substantially over the past fifteen or twenty years all over Minnesota).

My son-in-law and my daughter have two huge deep freezers full of meat and fish, but they also give a lot away, because the freezers (maybe forty cubic feet in all) are usually stuffed full. He knows how to salt and smoke fish for preservation without freezing. Indeed, he knows a lot of things, such as how to make his own arrows.
Now my twelve year old grandaughter, who has been fishing since the age of three, is showing a strong interest in bow hunting and will probably go with her father as soon as she is strong enough to handle a bow powerful enough to get clean kills of deer with one arrow.

No need to explain, I don't think we are going back to stone age or even Iron age, basic technology will be with us even if collapse occurs, which gives the North an advantage because it isn't highly populated and has a well educated population.

No one on this blog ever explains why we (N Americans) will get a full collapse. If the US is forced to halt all oil imports (unlikely) it will still end up consuming 9 mbpd of liquid fuel. With a population of only 300 million, per capita consumption would be comparable to most European countries and much higher than most Asian countries. To the best of my knowledge, the Europeans and Asians have not turned to hunter gatherer lifestyles.

In addition to a lot of domestic oil, the US has incredible natural resources; it is number 1 in arable land, number 1 in NG production, has massive coal reserves, lots of fresh water, etc.

We will have an increase in poverty and unemployment but no collapse as envisioned by many people here. The greatest threat to most Americans is not a slide in the Olduvai gorge, but depreciation of paper wealth in relation to physical/hard assets.

I agree that a drastic and swift collapse in the U.S. due to Peak Oil is unlikely. I have never been a fast-crash doomer. However, from what I know about anthropology, sociology, history, and economics, I cannot rule out a collapse that would kill more than half the population over a couple years.

In my lifetime, I have usually worried about the wrong things. For example, in 1957 I thought the chances of a knock-down drag out total thermonuclear war between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. was was about 50%, and I made some intelligent preparations for this possibility. I bought a 200 c.c. Zundapp motorcycle that was thrifty on gasoline, very sturdy and very reliable. It easily jumped curbs and did well off-road. I bought a top-of-the-line bush pilot's survival kit from the Olney company in Pennsylvania and also a very reliable Mossberg semiautomatic .22 rifle with good iron sights on it, together with five hundred rounds of the best .22 ammunition I could find. My plan was to jump on my motorcycle and bike up to Desolation Valley in the mountains that I knew well from hiking trips, an area that nobody lived in. Indeed, I practiced this plan and found it entirely feasible. With a full tank of gasoline (mixed with a little oil because my Zundapp was two-stroke) I could go nonstop from from Berkeley to Desolation Valley (close to Fallen Leaf Lake and Echo Lake, both of which I knew well from summer hiking and fishing trips) in roughly two-and-one half or three hours. The main flaw in this plan is that while in 1957 almost all Soviet thermonuclear bombs were designed to be carried by heavy bombers--which would give several hours of warning before a first-strike, but a few years later they had developed big ICBMs that could carry very large hydrogen bombs, and the Soviets produced these big missles as fast as they could. The warning before a first strike by ICBMs would probably be no more than half an hour. See "Doctor Strangelove," the funniest and truest movie about thermonuclear warfare ever made.

I think most folks here are in the catabolic collapse camp, barring some major black swan event. Peak oil is only a catalyst; abundant, cheap oil has enabled our ascent, lack of same will reveal our brittleness. My main concerns are our systemic reliance upon centralized complex systems, debt, and a population who has little knowledge of self-sufficiency. Indeed, one of the first things that comes up from a google search of "self-sufficiency" is a financial calculator:

The Self Sufficiency Standard measures how much income is needed for a family of a given composition - ranging from a one person household to a large family - in a given place, to adequately meet its basic needs without any public or private assistance.

Since the great depression, the number of Americans involved in agriculture has dropped by a factor of about 25, slightly over 2% in 2010. The good news is that more households are growing at least some of their own food, though the median size food plot is only 96 squre feet. And what are the inputs required, and how will that work out if many more suddenly need to start growing?

Our society has many weak links, and few redundantcies. I have several ways to heat my home, all essentially independant of the others. I now have two independant water sources, including weeks of storage. My home functions well with no electricity, though I have multiple, redundant ways to provide it. While we have several food sources, we still have a reserve that could get us through tough times. This isn't some doomsday prepper mentality, it's just how things evolved here for various reasons. All of these are weak links for the vast majority of folks who take continuity for granted.

History tells us that continuity; financial/economic, essential services, governmental, availability of energy and food, etc. can be interupted or changed in the short term, and the unprepared, those who feel entitled to all of these things often don't react well (as in the Balkans). We're not the people we once were, though we like to think we are. We are well armed, if that's any reassurance :-/

Katrina cemented my feelings on this. How many thousands didn't or couldn't heed the warnings? How many more would have been killed or begging for help had there not been enough fuel to evacuate? How well did a relatively healthy nation, "the most wealthy and powerful nation on earth" respond?! Our national debt has nearly trippled since then.

Best hopes for resilient community building and distributed, local solutions. Best hopes for increased awareness, less delusion, and a wakeup call.

...civilization has a fractal structure — that is, the same patterns that define it at the topmost level also take form on smaller scales. The long-lasting cities in Italy and China mentioned at the beginning of this essay maintained urban life through the fall of empires precisely because of this fractal structure; a single city and its agricultural hinterland can survive even if the larger system comes apart. The recent spread of Peak Oil resolutions and projects by cities and towns across America is thus a very hopeful sign. It’s going to take drastic changes and a great deal of economic rebuilding before these communities can get by on the more limited resources of a deindustrial future, but the crucial first steps toward sustainability are at least on the table now. If our future is to be anything but a desperate attempt to keep our balance as we skid down the slope of collapse and decline, these projects may well point the way.
~ John Michael Greer

The difference between previous civilizational collapses and 'this one' is that this one is/will/seems to be global. And, or so, Greer's fractal mention makes this even more intriguing.

Will the US increasingly be on a Canadian tar sands IV drip?

I imagine you've already heard of or viewed 'How Cuba Survived Peak Oil'.

The United States of America would collapse with EU/Japan levels of oil because of

- Our Built environment
- Zero Oil Free Transportation alternatives.
- Our existing vehicle fleet
- The American "We Can't Do It !" spirit.



As usual, you are 100% correct. During World War II gasoline was rationed to 3 gallons per week for each car, and the national speed limit was set at a strict 35 m.p.h. But streetcars went most everywhere urban or suburban people wanted to go, and you sometimes could go fifteen or twenty miles (e.g. from Mahtomidi on White Bear Lake to downtown Minneapolis for a nickel). Where streetcars did not go, buses did, but the Twin Cities had a most excellent streetcar system, and IMO the Metro area should restore it to exactly where it was in 1947. Then they should build onto that streetcar system to get it to most suburbs and even perhaps part of the exurbs. There is, however, a huge political blockage: There are powerful special interests that would be hurt by this change. Even the rail line that goes along University Avenue from St. Paul to Minneapolis had a very rough go of it and it took years and years to get it approved and then to do it.

Oh, by the way, Minnesota is one of the few states where most Republican governors and legislators will cooperate with most Democratic governors and legislators. We also have one of the cleanest systems of state government, with a negligible amount of corruption. If Minnesota is not #1 for clean and effective state government, it is probably #2.

A map of the streetcar lines in 1933 (for a much smaller Twin Cities).

Click magnifying glass for detail

Best Hopes for a Return !


P.S. I checked and the Central Corridor (University Avenue) Light Rail Line - the second one, is now 46% complete !

And there is one commuter rail line - the Northstar.

Any plans after that ?

I don't know about future plans. When I was an undergraduate in sociology I seriously thought about City Planning for a Master's degree. I took some city planning classes but did not like them--mostly oriented toward increasing accommodations for more car traffic in the future and how to finance multistory parking lots in congested areas of downtown and other parts of the inner city. Nobody had the faintest intrest in bringing back the streetcars; nobody thought it was possible, and nobody thought it was desirable. Were I to get involved in city politics, the main plank in my platform would be: Bring back the street cars! My political base would be the elderly, most of whom have fond memories of a great many streetcar rides.

During World War II gasoline was rationed to 3 gallons per week for each car, and the national speed limit was set at a strict 35 m.p.h.

Could you imagine someone trying to do that today? They'd be called a commie/socialist/etc.

Instead, with the Iraq war about to be launched we got:
"Nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes." –Tom DeLay, March 12, 2003


OK, you have a point, but we can afford to spend more on oil because in the US food, NG, electricity and basic housing is ridiculously cheap compared to the EU and Japan. My prediction is that as the price of gasoline starts rising:

1. Americans will cut back on driving and slowly transition to more fuel efficient cars, car pooling, public transportation and EVs
2. They will default on their mortgages and credit cards; this will free up a lot of cash to buy gasoline.

This will result in more unemployment and poverty but that is not the same thing as all out collapse (no food in the supermarket, grid collapse, no government services, etc).

I'm in your camp, suyog. I don't see any collapse. Just harder times because more money has to be allocated to energy. Less jet travel, smaller cars, less suburbs, more urban living, higher food prices, etc. As you point out, the USA would just become more like Europe.

The US would become more like Europe in terms of per capita gasoline consumption but in many ways it will be better off. The US has a lot more arable land, NG, coal, fresh water and has a lower population density. Another thing that helps is that the US is a single country with a single language. The EU on the other hand is not a political union and has a long history of internecine conflict. As times get harder, nationalism and protectionism will increase and that will unravel the EU.

I too think that US will be better off but it's naive to think that everyone will just sit there and take cuts in their standard of living. One can expect a lot of conflict over dwindling resources. We wouldn't have all these problems in the first place if everyone just started to live within their means without raising a ruckus.
The Greeks and the French aren't willing to take on Austerity, what makes you think that people in US will. For a taste of future one can see what's going on between China and Philippines.

I think the basic point is whether the current density of population can be maintained without FF's or any other modern day technology and the answer is quite clear, no it can't

It's a neat little box of an artificial scenario that I was referring/responding to. But in any case, there are all kinds of unpredictable, dynamic variables that go into outside-the-box reality.

What do you mean you don't think so? That they are apparently adapting by your own example supports my point.

As for the chain getting wet, which it did very often, it was never a problem for me, and my bike was locked outside. (Maybe better that way to avoid constant thawing and freezing.)
A little ice was no match for the chain under oil, tension and friction. Occasionally, though, I might take the bike in and thaw the derailleur out to get rid of the street-grime, and maybe clean it a little and add some oil, but that's about it.

"I've biked year-round in Canada, and have often arrived home bathed in sweat, after relatively low-energy biking in sub-zero temperatures."

Essentially, this just demonstrates that your energy expended was greater than that required by ambient temperature to keep your body temperature stable.

Bear in mind that people living in very cold climates consume an enormous amount of calories, mostly from fat, to prevent them from freezing to death - i.e. net energy is greater than zero. Clothing allows for insulation, in order to conserve calories.

The question, when living in very cold climates, will be where to get sufficient calories, absent fossil fuels. Right now, we subsidise calories from food with BTU's from fossil fuel energy.

Hot climates, on the other hand, make for different behavioral patterns - e.g. resting in the shade during the heat of the day. Where the idea of "Siesta" came from. Here the issue is one of cooling - i.e. trying to keep one's body temperature stable by taking in less energy, and exporting heat. While traditional hunter-gatherers in hot climates do, of course eat meat, their diet is more plant-based, and includes items such as insects. Less need for high fat content. Of course, a higher prevalence of melanin in the skin is also a hot-climate adaptation.

Chipewaw (Ojibwe) native Americans solved the getting-enough calories with pemmican. In my opinion, pemmican is still the best food for long canoe trips. I learned to make pemmican following almost exactly the recipe that had been around for hundreds of years. It lasts indefinitely and does not have to be packaged in air-tight containers. Once, as an experiment, I ate a big block of pemmican that I had made and stored for more than twenty-five years. It tasted as good as freshly made pemmican and was just as nutritious--except I suspect the amount of vitamin C in the blueberries had diminished.

The best pemmican is made from venison, but if you want a higher fat content you can make it perfectly well from beef. Furthermore, it is easy to learn how to make good pemmican. In some stores you can buy pemmican, but the price is ridiculously high.

Interesting, I just did a net search for pemmican, all I found were some energy bars & Jerky. Neither of which are really pemmican.

There are however some war surplus cans on E-Bay.

Talk to anthropoligists who have studied the Ojibwe or the Canadian Cree Indians. Or talk to librarians who have access to large quantities of literature on these tribes. I have always had as my main source of information librarians--typically librarians from university libraries but also librarians from small public libraries. Reference librarians know how to get what you want, e.g. Ph.D. dissertations by the cultural anthropologists who have studied the tribes that I mentioned. IMO, the closer you get to the old traditional recipes, the better.

I'm not surprised that Google failed you. Most of the old books and old journal articles are not available through Internet Search. You might try amazon.com for old used books of anthropological studies of the tribes; often I have gotten lucky using that technique.

Personally, I do not use a written recipe any more for pemmican, just as I don't use written recipes for soups, chilli, or bread.

I found pemmican recipes when I tried it. (Google's tendency to offer up different results for different people has really been exacerbated by their latest update.)

Try Googling pemmican recipe instead.

My point was that it doesn't take much to keep warm or even fed. Just warm-bloodedness and some reasonable calories and insulation.

I have my doubts that FF's are that much of a crutch that we'll fall helplessly over once suddenly removed in some nonsensical artificial scenario.

"My point was that it doesn't take much to keep warm or even fed."

That is factually incorrect. For most of human history we have barely survived starvation, until the last few hundred years. Even our metabolic systems are designed to accommodate "feast or famine" situations by going into lowered metabolic states when food is scarce.

We have been fortunate, as a species, to have found ways to extend our calorie intake by means of external tools. Clothing being one, fire being another. There are probably a zillion google references for this - you can do a bit of research and find them.

EDIT : there is plenty of starvation in the world, even today, amongst abundance.

It is perfectly correct, and in fact you yourself mention feast along with famine, and further lend support by adding, "...have found ways to extend our calorie intake..." and "...amongst abundance..."

Also, from what is understood, once we had agriculture we could have specialization, which seems to imply that we had enough to eat for far longer than your few hundred years.

Sounds like feast enough to me, or at the very least, that, again, it doesn't take much to keep warm or even fed.

I am more worried about water pipes breaking. If we lose heating,and millions of peoplesee their house pipes break, we will have trouble. And the houses will rot away.

For every anecdotal concern, there's a response or solution. I used to lug water from a lake to a cottage for drinking & light-washing water.

Maybe there will come a time when we might have to sacrifice some crappier houses in favor of getting more cozy with our neighbors. There's a LOT of wasted space in houses these days and the crappy houses could always be disassembled and materials used to insulate/fortify the better, increasingly-shared houses.

The Viking's long houses apparently housed 50 people! And then there were/are the earth-bermed and earthship houses.

Start digging! ;)

Yes, that would work. Now we only need to rebuild housing for 9 million people.

I doubt that will be necessary.

You're not entirely wrong.. but couldn't you take a minute to see where he's right?

We've got communities FAR out into barely hospitable environments, where people bounce along in a cozy 'Santa Monica 72 and Sunny', Winter and Summer.. and they do this because the energy to keep their homes, jobs and cars like that has been CHEAP.. and they've been draining the latent resources of those regions as well, making this continued lifestyle all that much more brittle..

The kinds of communities, and the scale of them, and the WAY they spend energy now has them dependent on a total umbilical of this energy subsidy that keeps food, materials and economics viable for these invisibly sketchy outposts.

Debunk away.. but their clocks are ticking, like those islands that have minimal inherent resources, and depend on the air-service for their essentials..

Humans only live in hot and freezing climates because energy has been artificially cheap.

Malarke! People have been living in cold and hot climates for centuries before there was oil, gas, coal or electricity.
And if you think wood heat is cheap, get your butt out with an axe and a hand bucksaw and cut yourself enough wood to heat your house for an entire winter! There is a reason that houses used to be small - It took too much wood to heat a big (uninsulated) house.
Today, with modern insulation technology, you can live in a BIG house and still use much less energy to heat it than they used to use to heat a small house in the "good old days".

Scandinavians have been living in cold climates for more than 2,000 years. Roughly 1,200 years ago, they had a population explosion caused mainly by the introduction of knitted woolen garments. Prior to woolen garments their infant mortality was huge--maybe fifty percent. After wool, the infant mortality rate declined drastically and the huge increase in population rates of growth continued until the large Viking empire reached its peak.

Roughly 1,200 years ago, they had a population explosion caused mainly by the introduction of knitted woolen garments. Prior to woolen garments their infant mortality was huge--maybe fifty percent.

Thanks Don, a very good point. I was not aware of that fact. That just accentuates the very huge advantage humans have over other animals in the ongoing competition for territory and resources. A competition which we humans are winning... big time. As our numbers continue to grow the population of almost every other animal species on earth continues to decline.

Ron P.

Except jellyfish.

Too bad jellyfish aren't very appetizing. Pickled jellyfish anyone?

Too bad jellyfish aren't very appetizing.

Not true! Google Jellyfish recipes.

There are plenty of ways to eat jellyfish...

Marinated Jellyfish with Chili Oil with Green Apple Tea
Chef Angelo Sosa, formerly of Yumcha - New York, NY
Adapted by StarChefs.com

Smoked jellyfish: The roast of Christmas future

WITH Christmas lunch 2050 just days away, the truly exciting news is that, after an absence of more than 20 years, old-fashioned turkey is back on the table - sort of. Superficially the menu appears remarkably similar to that of 2010. But peek under the foil and it is wildly different in its composition and origin. Our food has been entirely transformed over the past 40 years and, looking back, it has been quite a ride.

Perhaps in 2010 we were in denial. We didn't want to see the trouble brewing as rocketing populations and increasing demand for biofuels put a strain on farmland and water supplies. In retrospect, fast-rising food prices, water wars and bread riots were inevitable. But so, too, was a technological fix.

Bioengineers may not have been ...

To continue reading this article, subscribe to receive access to all of newscientist.com, including 20 years of archive content.

Anyone have the full article? I'd like to read it.

...That's what happens when you do a Google search for "smoked jellyfish".

The Scandinavians had wool much longer ago than 1,200 years ago (ya). About the same time as sheep were domesticated it is believed that the felting process was invented. Could have been earlier. There is some speculation that one of the things that led to domestication of sheep was the need for the fiber. About 6,000ya warp weighted looms were in use in central Europe and spread rapidly from there. Archaeologists find warp weights showing up all over northern Europe starting about this time period. Before the invention of knitting there was nalebinding which didn't require long pieces of yarn and used needles which have been around since the neolithic. If you want to see some 4,000 year old examples of felting and weaving google the Tarim Mummies. There were incredible colors and even tartans on some of the mummies. Of course, mummies look gross but ignore that and look at the wonderful, warm wool clothing.

The crucial innovation was KNITTED woolen garments. If you have ever been around babies, you know that they pee and poop a lot. If you make a diaper of knitted wool, the body's warmth will be retained much better than any other form of wool. For example, knitted Icelandic socks are still the best for of retaining warm feet when they are wet. I use these socks when I sail in rough weather.

Do you have a source that states knitted woolen garments were found in any part of Scandinavia before 750 a.d.? If so, please cite that source.

Back than The majority of the population was directly connected with food production. Thats not true today. Without a self-reliant source of food, die-off will come fast of many regardless of how well they are dressed or how well they have insulated there homes or how much firewood they have stockpiled.

Malarke! People have been living in cold and hot climates for centuries before there was oil, gas, coal or electricity.
And if you think wood heat is cheap, get your butt out with an axe and a hand bucksaw and cut yourself enough wood to heat your house for an entire winter!

The only thing wrong with that quote is that it should say "Humans only live in hot and freezing climates in the current numbers they do because of cheap energy. As you note, heating with wood is a problem, especially if all 450 million of us on this continent tried to do it...while I hesitate to say you can't make a wood-burning air conditioner, I do believe it would be inefficient, and unlikely to solve the air-conditioning problems of Las Vegas.


A wood burning AC unit seems not too different than a bio mass power plant, and better than a nuclear boiling water plant to run a unit.

Sort of. People did not heat their houses as is expected today. It was warmer than outside, but this idea of a constant regulated temperature is a recent artifact of fossil fuel. My 180 year old house is much tighter than it ever was, and my wood stove vastly more efficient, but I do not try to keep it at a constant temperature. Adjust your clothing as required.

And as was pointed out, the vast numbers of people living in inhospitable climes is a new thing too. Just drive through the residential areas of western Phoenix in the summer sometime and try to envision them without A/C. It is only possible through cheap energy.

Cheap energy or more brains. Wood AC in vegas or Phoenix would be really stupid, given the solar intensity able to do it far better. And, if you get even a little smarter than that, try really good insulation and a coolth storage, like, for example, a hole in the ground. Night temps in the desert can get pretty cold. Save it up for the day.

It even works for me here, in muggy hills of appalachia.

But the real solution is to bug out of impossible places like Phoenix where you never shoulda gone in the first place, but just don't move here

When the anthropologist Stefansson wintered over with Inuit families in the Western Arctic in 1906-07 (recounted in My Life With the Eskimo) he would try to sleep close to the door, with access to the drafts coming in, so he would not seriously overheat. He says it was usually in the mid-70's to low-80's temperature-wise in the half-buried sod-houses used in the winter-time for permanent homes (with outside temps often in the minus 40-50 degree range). Now that's insulation!

If it were just the temperature perhaps this would would be workable, but of course it's not. It is possible for some to live there, and I have no doubt some will, with clever and inventive methods. But never so many.

When we return from a family vacation out west in 2007, I heard in the airport that Phoenix had just become the nation's 5th largest city. I was flabbergasted. Of course, that which cannot be sustained will not be, and the poor fools who live in these inhospitable places in the south west will not be able to continue to live there. Some will be able to leave. How fast will this occur, where will the exodus go, and what will be the reaction of the people where they go? It is not a small population.


you haven't been in Phoenix, AZ. in a few years I can see ;;;; It doesn't cool down up there at night anymore, (heat island effect) 90+ at night isn't very cool. In any case I hope you are right and a whole bunch of them move out;;;; like maybe 3.5 million of them in fact, from the Metro area that is. If nobody replaces them, it just might turn into a nice place to live in again. I wasn't born there but I grew up there, and lived there for 45 years until I couldn't stand it any more, and moved out. Much nicer down here in the southeastern part of the state.

OK hermit, thanks for the update. Reenforces my guess that Phoenix is a good candidate to be the place for the great catastrophe that turns us at last to the right path. Imagine a super heat wave there along with a total power failure. Half a million dead, all of whom look just like me and my friends, not some kinda furriner we don't care about. Everybody wakes up, leaders arise, we get together and act like grown-ups- by sacrificing Phoenix, we are saved!

Of course, we could skip the catastrophe and just go straight to adulthood, but that ain't American, is it.

A typical overnight low in Phoenix, is what 90F! Not much coolth to gather in. IIRC the world record high low temp was 107 (somewhere in the ME). My cooling via nighttime coolth struggles when lows get around 65-70. And I've added a lot of insulation, and am working on cutting insolation to windows/walls.

Watch out for the energy trap.


Tom Murphy, in this excellent essay, emphasized that the energy trap is a trap only if we keep acting like spoiled kids. But if we grow up, and take the adult view that in order to get where we want to get, we have to give up some things for a good while, then there is no energy trap.

So, I go around and talk to my friends. EVERY ONE OF THEM, says "Sure, I am adult enough to sacrifice for a while to get where i want to get, BUT NOBODY ELSE IS"! Whoa! How come I and all my friends are so different from everybody else in the world? Answer, of course, is that we aren't.

History is replete with examples of groups making sacrifices for a future good. What is required is leadership. Where is it?

"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!"

Besides, what we would have to 'give up' to get what we need, is well supplied by what we shouldn't be doing at all anyhow. Like cars more fancy than a honda civic, or my all time favorite to be "sacrificed'- soft drinks. Yuck.

Acting like adults could be fun as well as hugely profitable, We oughta try it some time.

So, I go around and talk to my friends. EVERY ONE OF THEM, says "Sure, I am adult enough to sacrifice for a while to get where i want to get, BUT NOBODY ELSE IS"! Whoa! How come I and all my friends are so different from everybody else in the world? Answer, of course, is that we aren't.

This seems to be hard-wired into us. We tend to overestimate our own competence in relation to others. Taking an example from today's headlines...even people who most believe that gay marriage hurts traditional marriage do not believe that it would hurt their own marriage. It's everyone else who'll be affected, not them. Similarly, we all believe we're better than average drivers, 90% of college professors think they are better than average instructors, etc.

This doesn't keep people from taking action, though. Probably the opposite - belief in your own competence likely encourages you to take action.

Leanan. you may be amused at a little anecdote on self-rating. Once upon a time, long ago, I was friendly with a very clever Wellesley student who had taken on the task of measuring self-rating by MIT undergrads, a notoriously swell-headed bunch. She found, as expected, that the males greatly overrated their class standing (as defined by their profs) , but, surprise, the females ( very few in number at the time) equally underrated theirs.

Later, when I did hiring for an R&D lab, I found the same thing, and enjoyed watching the inevitable comeuppances resulting when the young folks got to doing the work and found out the awful truth.

That's funny. I just shot an interview with a young woman who has ended up in Maine by way of Texas, and had to tell her the comparable story about New Englanders and Texans, as they compared their Farms..

Texan; "Boy, I can git into my pickup and drive ALL DAY before I can even SEE the end of my property.."

Mainer: "Oh, yes. Sure, I did have a truck like that one once myself.."

Whenever I got cocky as a kid, my Grandad used to box my ears and say; "Boy, never forget that there's always some guy that's smarter, better looking, tougher and has a bigger....[gun]. Keep that in mind and you'll do fine."

Well, you know what they say. If you want to trap monkeys use a Monkey Trap.

(Wiktionary: A clever trap of any sort, that owes its success to the ineptitude or gullibility of the victim.)

...and I noted that the fiber was routed through the transformer as well (smart transformers?).

Possibly -- based on experience with the "last mile" networks of the telephone and cable companies, there are advantages to having smart devices deep in the network which report various measurements that can be used for fault isolation and preventive maintenance. More likely, I think, is some sort of multiplexing device (eg, a hardened etherswitch or similar) that ties multiple customer drops to a single pair of fibers headed back towards the electric company's equivalent of a central office or headend.

I haven't been involved in this side of the industry for a few years, but I believe that is the topology. That's the way I designed it back in 1997. Fiber is marshaled and multiplexed into a utility grade Ethernet switch for either mid-span fiber optics back to a regional switch or wireless to a pole-top aggregrator.

Reason for the bills rising may be faults on both sides. Customers maintaining their typical patterns with TOU and the utility not providing adequate feedback to regulate thereof.

However, because I am a card carrying member of the technocrati, what I see is really a crisis of ignorance. This pervades the customer base as well as the electric utilities BTW.

Just one more incentive to go off grid...

I have wondered if some people who complain about their bills going up have been tricking their meters and can't find a way around the new ones.


There are no functioning PG&E TOU smart meters. They're not smart enough to spin both ways and tell time.

That's one way folks are avoiding them: Get a solar system and PG&E will pull your smart meter and install a regular TOU meter. PG&E says that in a couple years when the smart meters are all installed they will try to fix the smart meters to do TOU electricity rates.

People are looking into installing (expensive) one panel solar systems in order to avoid smart meters.

They can't do TOU functions? Seriously?

A cheap way of avoiding the meter...call PG&E...

How can I opt-out of the SmartMeter™ Program?
If you are a residential customer, we offer several convenient ways for you to opt-out of the SmartMeter™ Program:
Online: Visit the SmartMeter Opt-Out page to learn more and to submit your meter preference online.
At your local PG&E office: You may submit your opt-out request by visiting your local PG&E office.
By phone: Call our dedicated 24-hour SmartMeter™ line at 1-866-743-0263 to use our automated phone system, or speak to a SmartMeter™ representative to submit your opt-out request.

Todd... meter reader once told me smart meters were line of sight, so they'd have to drive down to the house anyway.

They're not smart enough to tell time?

I've always heard that using electricity at night is cheaper but I never understood how the power company knew when I was using electricity. Do the spinning disk dumb meters spin slower at night, how do they know it's night time?

The UK ones had a crude internal clock which relay switched a different set of counters to clock up the consumption. There was no attempt to adjust the clock from an external reference. You give them both readings so they can bill you.

Re: Crude Oil Falls for Sixth Day

I wonder if governments falling and "austerity" programs being in serious danger of being thrown out in Europe might have a little something to do with that. Just maybe. The slow-burn Euro crisis is in danger of entering a fast-burn stage.

Meanwhile, CNN has the latest spin from our Corporate Overlords:


Nothing to see here. Move along.



a Greek exit, which they dubbed a "Grexit," is now as high as 75%.

So I guess that what we talk about here is called, "poil" (Peak Oil).

From the article:

"It has been a bad idea to bet against policy makers ever since the fall of Lehman," said Brevan Howard chief U.S. economist Jason Cummins. "You have to believe policy makers are working for the best intentions."

...despite much evidence to the contrary,, and 'best intensions' for whom??

A large part of acting is just pretending. You get to work with these other great make-believers, all making believe as hard as they can. - Jeff Bridges

Beyond Greece:

Spain Has Been Shut Out

Mariano Rajoy, Prime Minister of Spain, made a very interesting comment in the Senate today. He told the politicians that virtually EVERYONE in Spain, including banks, corporations and regional governments, have been locked out of credit markets. The only institution that is still able to issue debt, according to Rajoy, is the Spanish Treasury itself.

Oof. Spain is shut out? So what's the message in that? Austerity or economic exile? This doesn't look like democracy at all. It smacks of economic dictatorship.

The wealthy oligarchy seems to want only two things. Dominance for itself and growing poverty for the rest.

In Aristotle's "Politics" he said that a typical cycle goes
1. Democracy--degenerates into mob rule.
2. Mob rule brings forth tyranny which then degenerates into plutocracy or oligarchy.

Both Plato and Aristotle said (without using Lord Acton's exact words) that both wealth and power tend to corrupt. See, for example, Plato's "Republic" or his later book, "The Laws." Aristotle believed that the best form of government for a city-state was something he called "polity." Polity is a mixed form of government, a mixture of democracy, somewhat republican (i.e. indirect democracy, where instead of all the citizens voting on every issue, you elect representatives to lead and to change laws, but only when necessary), aristocracy and also monarchy, where the power of the monarch was strictly limited. Both Plato and Aristotle believed that the only possible good government could be found in city states. Even though Aristotle was the tutor of Alexander the Great, he had no good words for empire as a form of government. To a large extent, the pursuit of empire caused weaknesses in Athens that enabled them to be defeated by the Spartans. (A bigger cause of the defeat of Athens was a severe decline in population--mostly due to plagues but due also to drastic declines in birth rates from about the time of Socrates.)

Democracies have been highly unusual and often temporary. The stable empiree oscillates between monarchy and oligarchy. For examples, consider the kings and barons of France, the Tsars and boyars of Russia, or the strongmen and landowners of Latin America.

With the single exception of Iceland, if memory serves, no democracy and no republic has endured longer than 300 years. The most durable form of government is what Wittfogel (sp?) called "Oriental Despotism" in his famous book of the same name.

The Roman republic res publica lasted 4 and half centuries, until Caesar, and taking care of him didn't fix the problem.

You are correct. If memory serves, however, during the earliest century of the res publica it was ruled mainly by the Senate, which was basically both a plutocracy and an aristocracy. If "The Aenead" is essentially true (which I think it is, just as many parts of the Old Testament are accurate history), then Rome did not begin as a republic.

The Republic of Venice (semi-democratic) and the older cantons of Switzerland.

Plus San Marino.


I think for most of its existence the Republic of Venice was mostly an aristocracy, with a good deal of plutocracy too.

I have never studied the history of Switzerland before the Napoleanic conquest. Also note that half the population of Switzerland--the women--could not vote until quite recently, and hence I would call it a partial democracy.

I have never studied the history of San Marino. (I don't even know where it is.)

What does democracy have to do with anything? How much of your money would you lend to a Spanish bank right now?

That's beside the point. What wrecked Spain was its entry into a union that resulted in economic disadvantage for Spain. Spain was doomed to debt under that system and they had no internal means to manage a crisis. Economic union without political union results in unfair advantage to the more efficient economies. That's why Europe will be unable to stick together.

And yes, the only viable way out for Spain now that they've lost credit is to both abandon Europe and Austerity. Austerity is a death spiral for the PIIGS.

Spain in Europe is kind of like California in the USA.

California has much higher productivity than Spain. The US is a full political union. The EU is not. California is the largest state economy in the US. Not really a good direct comparison.

Hmm... I'm thinking more about what you're saying and it's scary. I don't think the US is yet on the brink of political and economic disintegration. Ten more years of the same political and economic nonsense and we might be. Oh dear God that would be terrible. The Chinese would probably rule the world at that point. An ugly declining world. But dominance nonetheless.

I guess I'm less optimistic than I used to be about Americans overcoming their demons. Someone mentioned the Heinlein story about US theocracy circa 2100. Looks a lot more possible now than it did in 1940...

He is off course refering to the production of oranges.

Yeah. A bit off course. Europe is a sinking ship with planks looking like they're about to break off. The US ship has leaks and a few planks that groan from strain. But still together. If we don't deal with the leaks, we could look like Europe. So, yeah, there's danger. But still apples and oranges.

I don't really disagree with anything you've written in particular. But I seem to get the impression that you believe the situation is somehow fixable, and that Europe offers a warning to us about what could happen across the Atlantic if we don't get our act together. I don't think that's possible. The whole world is going down, it's just a matter of who goes down first, and with the whole derivatives ponzi scheme it won't be long before all dominoes fall after the first.

I'm just adding my own insights based on experience and observation. Not really disagreeing just conversing.

My personal outlook is that things are fixable. I can't really motivate myself to get up in the morning without such an outlook. At the very least, I don't think we've even given it our best shot yet. We're expending so much of our energy struggling against each other. I'll agree that it's not fixable once everyone starts working together and then failure still occurs. Right now, I'm just aghast at how infantile we've become in the face of crisis.

I think that'll change faster when some local pain is really being felt. Too many ways to ignore and outshout it still.

Pinch me, I think I'm still dreaming!

The US dollar still enjoys the status as the world's reserve currency so they can get away with 3% interest rates. Europe is generally up around 7% I believe (except for Greece that was up around 500% for a while a few months ago). Overall indebtedness of the US is similar to Europe, however.

Yeah. And the US political system enjoys a precedent of integration. The EU does not. I don't know. Maybe Europe would have succeeded if they had integrated during a time of prosperity and less economic competition. But since you have businesses that are pushing countries for ever lower costs in labor and taxes, you have countries that are now falling into unrest and economic crisis. Overlay this conflict on a world where energy systems are in turmoil and you have a very bad time to integrate economies that are radically different in structure, output, and efficiency.

Yes, there's a bit of difference throughout the US. But the US is far more homogenized economically than Europe. We also have state reps that have a standardized means to fight for benefits for their local economies. And we have a federal government that dispenses economic aid to all states and doesn't have to worry about its own interests. There's a huge difference between an economic confederacy like Europe and a federal political union like the US.

And, yes, the US still enjoys its currency advantage. So in a zero sum world the US still has some tricks to play out. One of my favorites is the unique set of circumstances that has resulted in lower cost oil for the US vs the rest of the world. That's been another economic advantage. But it all pales in comparison to the direct investment by the Chinese into their economy pushing their economic growth engine. They're outcompeting weaker economies for resources, essentially gobbling up what would have been their consumption. To a certain degree this is true in the world's oil markets. Even the US is being forced to rely on its own resources more as the Chinese enter more and more markets. Direct government investment it what created this engine. Of course it had to be well managed to function. And, yes, there are direct threats to its existence -- one being its over-reliance on exports. But in the current age the ability of an economy and government structure to provide effective direct investment will be critical to comparative advantage in this century.

And this is why the US is handicapped. We have a political ideology that demonizes direct investment in necessary infrastructures and support for the middle class. It's an ideology that, if it continues, will enable the Chinese or any other competitive direct investment based economy to eat our lunch. The energy crisis won't save us. It will only accelerate the advantages of countries wise enough to enable their economies to compete effectively.

Europe isn't 'over there' anymore:

U.S. Bank Exposure To Europe Could Reach $4 Trillion

American banks have only “moderate” direct exposure to the European countries currently seeking bailout relief, but adding exposure to wounded economies in Italy and Spain, indirect exposure through European banks, and credit default swaps, the sum of American exposure rises to roughly $4 trillion.

This mess is global, and the idea that the US can firewall itself off from EU sovereign defaults to any extent is naive, IMO. Just sayin'...

...but what's another 4 trillion amongst friends?

Oh, I agree. Never said it wouldn't hurt. Globalization means it all hurts.

But then what did you expect? That our empire would last forever where none other ever has?

I don't know if it will be the Chinese, as they face tremendous ecological problems and resource limitations, but they may have a run at the top for a time. But nothing lasts forever. It's going to be quite a shock to most Americans

Despite the fondest wishes of the conservatives, we are not an empire. In fact, it was their push for us to move in that direction that has put us in this precarious position. But, no, the fat lady hasn't sung yet for the US. We still have the potential to make the right choices. That said, the hour is growing late.

In the event of failure, you will likely see the US fall into empire before disintegrating. You would expect terrible war at some point after that. Then decline. Nothing like what we experienced in the last decade. That would only be prelude. I just hope we are wiser than that. I would hate to see the US follow in the footstep of others down such a dark path.

Bob, I hate to break it to you but, the US has been an empire for quite awhile.

I suppose my view of what lies at the heart of American motivations are a bit more idealistic than most. So I suppose I deserve to be chided for being a bit naive. But there is a good deal of debate on this subject among those who are experts in international relations theory.

My definition of imperial or empire would be a country that invades other nations territories and claims them as its own. I suppose the US is a historical empire and had imperialist qualities up until the middle of the 20th century, when we stopped gaining territory.

Hegemony, on the other hand is another issue. And I can certainly agree that the US seeks hegemony and uses its military and economic power to project a hegemonic influence. But that's a different category of state to me than empire.

I'd say that the better angels of the US are not imperialistic. My hope is that those voices are the guiding influence of our civilization moving forward.

Hegemony to me is essentially the modern, more efficient, way of projecting power and influence instead of the old imperial occupation approach. If the point of the empire is to gain access and control of another countries resources why incur the expense of an occupying army if you can accomplish the same thing through control of the government and financial system? To the common person on the street, there isn't much difference between the two.

The use of force is becoming more overt as the surplus of resources is being exhausted. Recalcitrant governments and rulers are being forced into the western economic system or they are being replaced. There simply isn't any slack left in the system to allow countries like Iran to do their own thing.

Since Americans don't seem to eager to accept a lower standard of living, expect the hegemony to look increasingly like imperialism. The difference is, instead of leaving troops behind when we vacate a country, we leave Exxon/Mobil and Blackwater.

Despite the fondest wishes of the conservatives, we are not an empire.

Well, I disagree, and I am neither conservative nor liberal in the US definition. I use the term in the way that Greer has discussed it recently, not as a term implying judgment or a substitute for the word evil, but as a simple description of a system and what it does. How did you think that 5% of the world's population got 25-30% of the stuff? Just because we're so wonderful?

Lots of resources in country + hegemony. That may be splitting hairs. But it's not direct imperialism. There's really no allegory to US power in this way. The British empire relied on territorial acquisition. Since the middle 20th century the US has relied on trade, international agreements, and currency influence. It's more indirect than empire.

My view at least. I'm certainly not the only opinion on this matter. And I'm not so attached to the idea as to take offense at those on the other side of the argument.

The US spends 50% of the global 'defense' budget (more by some measures). That's one country, equalling (or exceeding) all others in military expenditures. Must be to defend our indigenous resources from all those others banging on our gates... Or, it's our way of marshalling global resources for the benefit of the bloodsucking va(E)mpire.

Definitely not your "Private Benjamin" military anymore.

The British empire relied on territorial acquisition. Since the middle 20th century the US has relied on trade, international agreements, and currency influence. It's more indirect than empire.

Name me a country WITHOUT a US military presence.

Also, don't forget that domination changed with the times. The US dollar is the defacto currency of choice. The US controls a huge portion of the internet, especially the most commonly used software (The FBI is demanding backdoor access to any account on Facebook and can do so because FB is american). Plus many other things that don't "look" like domination.

For instance can you really call it "trade", when you get cheap luxury goods for a pittance made by children in sweat shops?

The US didn't use its military where it didn't need to. But it did still "conquer" and dominate.

Unfortunately the US has been in a perpetual state of War and conflict throughout its existence and most especially since the Spanish-American War when the US did indeed acquire the territories of the Phillipines, Cuba,etc. The US has repeatedly invaded or intervened in Honduras, created Panama from Colombia for the Panama Canal, Nicaragua, Chile, Grenada,etc (Let us never forget the glorious Reagan War for Grenada, that horrible threat to the US!)
What has changed since the 1980's is that Latin America has gradually escaped the American Empire's death grip which was the source of most US armed interventions.
And since doing so Latin American countries like Argentina which was the first to
say NO to the IMF/World Banksters, have prospered and provided better for their people than during the years under the American yoke.
The US still has many territories - if the US is truly such a supporter of democracy then either all those territories including the District of Columbia, should be made
US States, or set free. These territorial possessions are just holdovers from
the traditional Colonial empire setup of direct control. Lets make DC, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Minor Outlying Islands all States entitled to 2 US Senators like Wyoming or Idaho, or set them free.

Here is the list:

The reality is that most if not all of these territories would have a better standard of living as American territories than as independent countries. Independence is great, if you have the basis for a good economy but sadly, many former British, French, etc. colonies did not.

Comparisons to any of the US states is problematic. Perhaps most important of the differences over the last few years has been that California, like almost all other US states, is prohibited by their constitution from borrowing money to pay for operating expenses. Spain ran deficits of 4.5% of GDP in 2008, 11.2% in 2009, 9.3% in 2010, and an estimated 6.2% in 2011 -- call it 30% of GDP in total. California, like other states, cut spending when their revenues fell.

When California has borrowed money for specific projects, it hasn't hurt that their constitution lists the top priorities for where state money goes. The state share of K-12 education is first, payments to bond holders is second. And trust me on this one, their State Controller takes that seriously and manages the state's payments accordingly. When California had to issue IOUs a few years back, note that those went primarily to employees, who are down at the bottom of the priority list; no bond holder got an IOU in place of interest or principal payments.

Yep. The same overlords that rammed austerity down our throats are now trying to spin their own failures. How about a little revenues in a time of economic emergency? They'll run from higher taxes for the wealthy forever. Even if it kills them. Two thousand years to learn this lesson and all it takes is a generation for greed to take hold again. Bad day to be a part of the human race.

And the message they'll spin in the media will be, "But higher taxes stifle economic output!". Yeah, so does austerity... As if the ultra wealthy oligarchs do anything productive with their wealth hoards anyways. A wealth tax would help the economy, not hurt it. It would provide revenues to government to spend on the middle class.

I'm with you my friend. Best hopes for a few less Scrooges running the show.

"If a small country -- like Greece or Portugal -- exit, you can have an orderly divorce, but if that restructuring and/or exit hits Italy or Spain, effectively you could get a breakup of the eurozone," Roubini said. But he added that's an unlikely scenario.

But of course...

It's interesting that just a few years ago a country living the Euro zone was simply unfathomable - possible in theory, but more or less impossible - and now even an article like this treats it as a likely scenario.

I think Italy has the third largest bond market in the world, I read a few months ago. Amazing. That's a hell of a lot of paper wealth about to disappear.

You are correct: Most economic forecasters think the main cause of the recent declines in the prices of oil and gasoline are due to changing expectations as to future growth rates in global GDP. In "The Wall Street Journal" there are articles on this question about twice a week, including in today's WSJ.

During times of rapid change of oil prices, the WSJ usually has a short article on oil prices every day--and sometimes much longer articles. I recommend the WSJ as a source of information on the oil business, because their articles are succint, very well written, and their reporters seem to be of unusually high intelligence. However, you will not find discussions of Peak Oil in the Wall St. Journal. Their editorial pages frequently and emphatically say that Peak Oil is bunk. Generally speaking, their reporters toe the mainstream economic line when discussing oil production and forecasts of future production.

Not to mention the profanity of their editorial page...

Question for Hereinhalifax (Or others with electrical knowledge)
This might save my life, or save the life of others here who are not electricians, but do minor electrical work anyway.

First, some background on electrical work I have done for context.

My boss plugged in the cord I was putting a new female end on WHILE I was holding the exposed wires! He had multiple insstances of utter cluelessness, that is only one exampe. Another is my boss turned on the light I was working on a half second after I let go of a 790V output from a ballast.
Changing a ballast I was astonished that whoever had installed the old one had bypassed a short in the black wire by hooking up the ground wire to the panel and ballest. This would not have been a problem IF he had bothered to lablel the ground wire with a tag or black electrical tape.
More than twelve wires in a light fixture that were all white.
My building is about 90,000 sq ft so it has a lot of circuits. ALL circuits are on, however about sixty percent of them have one of five or six incomprehensible labelling systems EG describe purposes that are no longer in the building. My boss approved my request to buy a $400 dollar circuit tracer so I could find light circuit breakers controlling ballasts I change that have labels I do not understand; I never could figure out how to make it work:( So several timees a year I change a ballast while wearing thousand volt gloves.
I have changed hundreds of ballasts; there are other instances that were annoying.

I do only what SHOULD be simple; ballasts...electricians for other stuff.

How I got electricuted...
There was a ballast out on one of our 277V light circuits; no problem, I turned off the circuit and ALSO checked the hot and nuetral with our non contact (inductive) power tester. No power detected, so I cut the black wire and white wire. When I was stripping the insulation on the neutral I got elecricuted from 277V that was from ANOTTHER circuit using the same neutral that I was not aware of:(

Finally my question is this; why does an inductive power tester NOT detect 277V AC power in a nuetral...it has puzzled me for about 15 years.
Thanks for any replies.

Since I do not live or work in the US, I did a web search on "OSHA electrical safety" and found a publication(pdf) called Controlling Electrical Hazards. on page 16 under the heading "How can you prevent an accidental or unexpected equipment startup?" it reads:

The first step before beginning any inspection or repair job is to turn the current off at the switch box and padlock the switch in the OFF position. This applies even on so-called low-voltage circuits. Securely tagging the switch or controls of the machine or equipment being locked out of service clarifies to everyone in the area which equipment or circuits are being inspected or repaired.

I think you should download a copy and familiarize yourself with it. I suspect you may be violating several OSHA rules.

You could also get yourself a neon tester, a little device that looks and works like a small screwdriver but, has a clear, see through handle with a neon light in it. If you touch any object more than about 90V higher than you, it lights up. It is useful for detecting the presence of hazardous voltages you would encounter in residential or commercial premises but, is not to be used to test very high voltage circuits.

Alan from the islands

Drizzt and islandboy. I was trained in Lockout/Tagout to to de-energize electrical , hydraulic, etc hazards. Even when a series of valve actuator motors(440 volt)were isolated at the circuit breaker the electrician found a live control circuit. Get trained or leave electrical work to a professional.
LO/TO kits: http://www.grainger.com/Grainger/lockout-devices/safety/ecatalog/N-b30

Yes Tom, I was going to add that one of the differences between a state board licensed electrician and a handyman is that, the licensed electrician had to take a test to prove that he knows the safety rules.

I did a solar PV installers course at the Florida Solar Energy Center so, I got a little insight into the NEC (National Electrical Code), how US(Florida state) regulations work and some licensing issues.

Alan from the islands


Do you know how many NEC (National Electrical Code) violations you have just mentioned? Of course you don't and that is why you are asking these questions. First and foremost is working on this equipment without being a certified electrician.

I think more electricians/people have been killed or injured working on these types of low voltage circuits than anything else. If they are not electrocuted, they are killed by falling off the ladder. Get a jolt at that voltage and learn a whole new lesson in involuntary muscle contraction.

When working on these circuits, the first thing to do is tag or lockout the switch or breaker. You should really be de-energizing at the circuit breaker. There is a process to this and if your boss doesn't want to get his a$$ sued off, I recommend you acquire this training or hire a certified electrician.

On the personal relations side, I recommend you go up to your boss and punch him squarely in the nose. Seriously, I had a few "pops" in my lifetime and I've seen others almost killed, or have been told by those that have almost been killed. I've also had an electrician want to punch me in the nose for doing something stupid - which I will never do again.

Finally, there shouldn't be any more than four (4) white neutrals in a fixture or junction box. This is limited by the box volume and wire connecting device, but for routine wire nuts this is a common maxim. Twelve is outrageous.

Connection a ground wire to the panel?? Verboten and Idiotic. Good thing I'm not there. As a Professional Engineer I would be compelled under both Countries' laws to condemn the electrical system until satisfactory repairs are made. This is the point you are at, honestly. Get it fixed properly or either the place burns down or someone gets injured or killed.

Can I be any more direct than that?

As an EE myself, on one hand I'm not even sure I can believe that post because it reads like something out of a three-stooges movie...but on the other hand I'm not sure somebody could actually make all that up.n "Eh, what's this here green wire for? Well, we're all out of those black wires so let's use it for switched power on this light!"

I typed my work history; 29 pages...and it DOES include more weirdness.
Example that is TRUE re your calling my work a three stooges experience at times; my coworker spent 45 minutes trying and failing to convince my boss (who was laid off in 2000) that there are 9 square feet in a square yard...AND he drew pictures! AFTER that arguement my boss ordered a roll of carpet the wrong length because he was still 100% positive that there are 12 sq ft per sq yard.

Thank you islandboy, I will read up on the OSHA rules you mentioned:)

You and everyone else IGNORED my question that I ended my post with;(

Well my more thoughtful answer to your question would be for me to assume you were maybe on a single phase of a wye-connected 480V source and that your neutral was common to all three phases so the field was canceling out...but then you probably wouldn't have been shocked in the first place. Or it was a grounded neutral but again see above. So if your tester didn't indicate voltage but there was actually voltage then my next guess is that the tester wasn't operating properly, or wasn't being operated properly. More info needed.

With the stories you've already told, it's prolly just as likely that someone had installed an interposing relay on you neutral that intermittently powered a washing machine or something like that.

My thought was a capacitor & perhaps a diode - but that should have still given a voltage reading to ground.

Weird things can happen with bad wiring. I once ran into a circuit that had two "hots" from two breakers (same phase) used in a 4 way switch - and feeding some outlets from both directions !


If your boss really is like you describe him the electrical system is only a symptom of deeper problems. He sounds like an incompetent who doesn't know or care that he is endangering his employees' lives. You need to find ways of keepng your career/paycheck without dying or being injured... en electrical course or certified electrition may or may not help. I wish you good luck

Perhaps purchase and read up on the National Electrical Code would help, too.

Purchasable from Amazon, or other bookstores ( http://www.amazon.com/2011-NFPA-National-Protection-Association/dp/08776... )

Changing a ballast I was astonished that whoever had installed the old one had bypassed a short in the black wire by hooking up the ground wire to the panel and ballest.

Just to be sure, is that black wire line or neutral? The ground is green right?

Alan from the islands

First I endorse what the others say about contraventions but would add one thing, if forced to work on that mess run like hell. Get a professional is good advice but make sure they are good, I wonder how many perfeissunals built your spider's web. Working with computers I have come across many situations where I have felt that someone is trying to kill me including one where I cut the power for a large printing works with just a touch of a screwdriver. Don't trust interlocks, I knew one guy who apprenticed in a steelworks where his foreman demonstrated how safe interlocks were by, well the description was that there was just a smell of burning lard. Test, test and test again then keep checking and watch the other ba[redacted]s. Someone I worked with was changing the bar on a radiant electric heater when his friend came in, said 'it's cold' then slammed the plug in the socket. When he came to, he wondered why his knees hurt so much until he saw the two holes in the ceiling. Bottom line, electricity is not forgiving, if there is an accident or fire guess who is in the cross hair, not the boss so don't bother blaming him no matter how bad or stupid he is.

Oh, about your tester. In that mess, who knows? Then again it also depends on what exactly is it supposed to detect. You may be asking it to do something it is not specced for (giving make and model we could check) or it could be broken.

Try and stay alive.


BTW I come across all sorts of wiring nightmares down here in Mexico, they make me twitch.

Just speculation about your 277 Volt surprise zapping. You couldn't have been electrocuted, unless you wrote this as a ghost (I don't belive in ghosts). Sounds like you got a nasty -but nonfatal shock. In any case your inductive tester will dtetect changing rather than fixed voltage. AC changes sign 120 times per second. Maybe your wire was connected to a capacitor, which was holding a DC charge that wouldn't be noticed by the inductive tester?


This is in direct reply to your question, with no reference to code violations:

If you call it an "inductive power tester" you probably don't understand how it works. The little pens that most electricians carry are VOLTAGE testers, and work by capacitive coupling. They do not detect current or power in a wire; they detect an AC voltage field by using a high-impedance amplifier. For instance, here's a quote from the manual of the ubiquitous Fluke 1AC tester:

The Tester indicates active voltage in the presence of electrostatic fields of
sufficient strength generated from the source (MAINS) voltage. If the field
strength is low, the Tester may not provide indication of live voltages.

So if the wire in question was connected to neutral when you tested it, it would not have shown any voltage because it was essentially at ground potential, even if it was carrying current from another circuit. You should have tested the white wire AFTER cutting it; I can pretty much guarantee it would have lit your tester then.

PT in PA

I've re-read the question about 5 times and I think I agree with you on that. Assuming he didn't get shocked until after he cut the wire, and that after he cut the neutral it was stil connected to the spurious other circuit...then indeed it would shoot up to the potential of the line wire as soon as it was cut. It's also possible that even if it was cut and completely isolated that voltage in the cut neutral due to capacitive reactance from any live wires in close proximity would have given him a shock. It's hard to discern just how badly he was shocked from the email...since he said electrocuted I assume it was rather bad.

I've seen similar situations myself, where you think a neutral is part of the powered-off circuit you are working on, but then discover, on disconnecting it, that it is live.

My rule is: touch the tester to every wire in the box first, and then test each wire AGAIN just prior to touching it, if touching is necessary. Even better is not to touch it without insulated gloves.

Understanding how non-contact voltage testers work just MIGHT save a life. I hope the original poster read my comment, or the manual that came with his tester...

Fluorescent ballasts are notorious for backfeeding a trickle of high frequency voltage into the neutral line. If the neutral is shared between a number of circuits before reaching a distribution panel, which is commonly done, you can get spanked even when working on a de-energized circuit. I've been zapped that way myself, although very lightly. There's usually no getting around it unless you turn off all the lighting circuits connected to that neutral wire.

Also, you need to find yourself a better boss.

The neutral on a 4-wire 277/480V circuit is grounded and voltage will not be detected by your tester. In general, your tester should never detect voltage on any neutral (unless it is improperly opened with load on it). Absence of voltage to ground does not make it safe to break a connection with current running thru it. IF everything is wired correctly, opening the 3-pole circuit breaker SHOULD interrupt all current flowing on the neutral. However, if there are common wiring errors, this is not true. Also, opening a single-pole light switch does not do this, since current from the other two phases will still be flowing thru the shared neutral. One such wiring error would be if neutrals from separate 3-phase circuits are connected together, so that current is still flowing thru the wrong neutral from the other circuit. Another would be if neutral to ground connections were made in multiple places past the main. You really need to understand this stuff to protect yourself. Working informally in an non-lockout/tagout environment with lots of wiring errors, and a bunch of idiots around is a good way to get yourself killed. Simple lockout/tagout doesn't really work if the types of wiring errors you are talking about are present; to do lockout/tagout correctly you must isolate ALL sources. If the wiring is so bad that sources are potentially unknown, you have to kill the main. I recognize that in real life this is typically not a career enhancing stance(legal or not). Good PPE, more electrical education, preternatural caution, and lockout of recognized sources is sometimes the best you can do. A clamp-on ammeter is a good investment prior to cutting wires or opening connections. Getting a GOOD plant electrician to spend time going thru the whole plant systematically creating as-builts and fixing wiring errors and code violations is the way to go if you get into a position where you have control/influence of what happens on maintenance. The wrong guy in this job will just make things worse. Letting lo-bidder contractors come in and workover your system, especially different serial contractors is a recipe for creating more such problems.

P.S. A few years back the code changed for 120V recep circuits to require that shared neutrals not run directly thru the recep but be connected to pigtails to reduce the number of people getting 120V shocks after opening shared neutrals on a recep where the single-pole breaker had been opened..

Caltrain approves Financing for Rail Electrification


System Map - basically from San Francisco south to San Jose and beyond to Gilroy

A positive note - besides oil free transportation - faster commutes with fewer breakdowns and cheaper operating costs.

Caltrain wants to go EMU (self propelled cars). Fine.

My ideal is EMUs in 1 to 3 car "trains" off-peak (to meet demand). Then combine EMUs into 6 to 8 car trains @ Peak and fill rest of schedule with electric locomotive + unpowered passenger cars. Lowest operating & energy cost operation.

Best Hopes for Many More,


Ahhh Gilroy. The best smelling town in California.
"Gilroy's nickname is "Garlic Capital of the World," although Gilroy does not lead the world in garlic production. While garlic is grown in Gilroy, its nickname comes from the fact that Gilroy Foods processes more garlic than any other factory in the world; most pickled, minced, and powdered garlic come from Gilroy. Boutique wine production is a large part of Gilroy's western portion, mostly consisting of older family estates around the Mount Madonna state park mountain bases."

I live right next to San Antonio station, will the locomotives be a lot quieter when pulling out of the station?

Electric locomotives will be much quieter, and the self-propelled cars that Alan refers to have about the same sound levels as light rail vehicles. If you happen to get up to the area south of Portland, OR, there is a system called WES that I believe uses this type of self propelled equipment, although I think it is diesel powered.

The Caltrain electrification won't extend south of San Jose to Gilroy unless there is a major change of position by Union Pacific, who owns that trackage, so there will still be some diesel powered Caltrain service.

Well BART (SF commuter rail system), is sure noisey. I think its the rolling wheels, especially when negotiating curves. Riding it through tunnels, you wish you had earplugs.

Noisy doesn't begin to describe it. Try howling. Never understood why that is. And BART is gloomy too. Whenever I'd get off it, felt like I'd just left some depressing movie.

Link up top: Jeff Rubin: Without growth, there's only one ending to euro debt crisis

Without economic growth, there can be only one ending to Europe’s debt crisis. Default. Judging by the newly elected socialist politicians in Greece and France that eventuality is a lot closer than financial markets might think.

Okay Jeff, but default is not an end in itself. Something must follow default. What is that?

Greek default spectre turns material

Either way, as occurred when Argentina defaulted more than a decade ago, the Greek economy would be shut off from the global financial system. It would also experience hyperinflation.

Hyperinflation... among other things. But Greece is not Argentina. Many, but not all, consider Argentina a third world country. At any rate Argentina did not have as far to come back from default as Greece would. But most important of all, Argentina was not, and is not, as dependent on neighboring countries as Greece is. Greece is very much a part of Europe. A Greek default would isolate Greece from the rest of Europe. This would likely have a devastating effect on Greek trade and especially tourism. And tourism is Greece's most important industry.

But nothing solves the basic problem, which, as Rubin points out, is oil and the price of oil. And that means theat the other PIIGS, (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain), are not far behind.

Ron P.

The faster those PIIGS quit using China's oil, the better!

Too real to be funny.

I suppose a new acronym would be the PIIGSUS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain and the US). In any case, I suspect that Greece, if they leave the Euro, will be able to do what the US is doing now, i.e., use their own central bank to buy up a lot of net new government debt.

My Thelma & Louise metaphor from 2010 (updated for 2010 net export numbers):

The OECD “Thelma & Louise” Race to the Edge of the Cliff

“Thelma and Louise” is an American movie that ends with the two main characters committing suicide by driving off the edge of a cliff. I’ve often thought that this cinematic moment is an appropriate symbol for the actions of many developed OECD countries that are in effect borrowing money to maintain or increase current consumption. The central problem with this approach is that as my frequent co-author, Samuel Foucher, and I have repeatedly discussed, the supply of global net oil exports has been flat to declining since 2005, with “Chindia” so far consuming an ever greater share of what is (net) exported globally. Chindia’s combined net oil imports, as a percentage of global net exports, rose from 11.2% in 2005 to 17.6% in 2010.

At precisely the point in time that developed countries should be taking steps to discourage consumption, many OECD countries, especially the US, are doing the exact opposite, by effectively encouraging consumption. Therefore, the actions by many OECD countries aimed at encouraging consumption in the face of declining available global net oil exports can be seen as the OECD “Thelma & Louise” Race to the Edge of the Cliff. I suppose that the “winner” could be viewed as the first country that can no longer borrow enough money, at affordable rates, to maintain their current lifestyle. So, based on this metric, Greece would appear to be currently in the lead, with many other countries not far behind them.

In any case, I suspect that Greece, if they leave the Euro, will be able to do what the US is doing now, i.e., use their own central bank to buy up a lot of net new government debt.

Yes, but unlike the US they won't be able to pay for their imports with Drachmas....

One suggested edit: Yes, but unlike the US--for the time being--they won't be able to pay for their imports with Drachmas....

Wouldn't that be PIGISUS, as in "pigs with wings," as in the countries in question will be able to pay off their debts when...

Of course debts that cannot be paid won't be, but the question is who loses - the the creditor or the debtors? Right now the existing system is forcing the debtors to lose, but it's not clear how long that goes on. I don't see how some of these countries could use violence to obtain more energy, but they could use it to refuse to pay past debts.

How does the old saying go?

If the amount loaned is relatively small, then it is the lender who has the borrower by the balls. If the amount loaned is relatively large, then it is the borrower who has the lender by the balls. If a bunch of these countries default, then the lender will be hurt as well. Since exile from external credit seems to have already happened, these countries seem to have no reason not to default. The harm has already been done.

Let's see. How do the PIIGS survive when they are exiled?

1. Raise taxes on the rich.
2. Use the central bank to create liquidity.
3. Invest in alternative energy and internal stimulus.
4. Raise tariffs on non-essential imports.
5. Raise tariffs on non-essential dumped goods.
6. Use public stimulus to increase economic output.
7. Feed in tariffs to productive output.

My personal opinion is that the EU was the worst thing to ever happen to the PIIGS. They'll be better off without it.

None of those changes will create an economic recovery. Taxing the Rich forces money out of the countries and the Rich (investors) choose to leave and invest elsewhere. Foreign investors will thumb their noses and avoid making any investments in these countries. Mal-investments in alternate energy is part of the cause of the problem because the were poorly planned and financed with debt. Tariffs don't work because the prevent nation from importing new technology and essentials that permit a nation to compete on the global market. India and China had long periods of tariffs that prevent foriegn investment and foreign new technology which left them stuck in an 19th century economy. Starting in the late 80's early 90's the tarriffs in India and China were lifted and their economies took off. Public Stimulus doesn't work it just creates boat loads of mal-investments. Only the private sector can may the right decisions. Companies that make the right decisions succeed, those that fail, die and are replaced with new companies with new ideas. Survival of the Fittest. Gov't investments subisidies bad decisions and prop up mal-investments which causes the economy to become stale and fall into a state of decay. Gov't isn't the answer is the primary problem and its what caused the crisis in the first place.

The PIIGS will follow a simular path as Mexico and Russia which its currency devalued to practically nothing. Fortunately for Mexico and Russia, they had significant energy reserves and recovered, unfortunately the PIIGS have virtually no energy reserves and they're workforce cannot complete in the 21st Century economy dominated primary by Asia that has better technology and isn't strangling its economy with Green Energy. China and India are doubling there electrical grid while Europe is demolishing its power grid. The PIIGS will face empty food shelves and there will be riots in the streets just like during the 1920s and 1930's. Most of the PIIGS will experience Civil war as the leftists battle the far right for control. The end result will be control by a totalitarian state that restores order with a strong hand no matter which side wins. The only nation of the PIIGS that might not fall into this is Ireland. Its very likely England will send it troops to prevent Ireland from going to pieces. I doubt Northern Europe will step in to save Greece, Italy, Spain or Portagul. North Europe will once again fall under fascism as already they under the spell of strong nationalism. The collapse of the PIIGS and the lose of debts owed will be a crushing blow to North Europe economies, causing a depression. The Euro currency will dissolve. The depression will led to Europe choosing strong charsimic leaders who promise to turn the economy around just like in the 1920s and 1930s.

The problem with Europe is that it way too dependant on central gov't. The people become to reliant of central gov't and the people are willing to surrender rights and freedom for jobs and security. Europe has been under a state control through out its history, with brief and intermitment periods of democracy. This time isn't any different than the past and European population has failed to learn of its past mistakes. Europe's future will ring with its past 90 years ago: Depression, Fascism and Civil war, all over again. The reason why Europe fell into its depression during the 1920 and 1930s was because of the same reasons as today: unsustainable social programs and unsustainble debt loads. The problem with strong central gov'ts is they make promises to the public they cannot sustain over long periods (entitlements), they make too many mal-investments (subsidies on failing businesses) and over regulate preventing new businesses bring in new ideas and technology needed to move the economy forward. Over decades, unstaintable entitlements, mal-investments, and over-regulation take its toll causing a major and uncorrectable crisis. Those that are living in Europe and have the means to leave should do so.

Great Libertarian rant you got there. Too bad your understanding of history is so distorted. Before WW I, much of Europe was ruled by monarchies. After WW I, Germany became a democracy, but the crushing debt payments for reparations led to major economic trouble, which were magnified by the Great Depression. Russia briefly became a democracy after WW I, but soon fell into a civil war that ended with the Bolshivicks winning the fight, leading to further pain as Stalin consolidated his control and a Communist ideology. While there are still disagreements regarding the cause of the Great Depression, it's clear that the unregulated banking industry allowed for the buildup of massive debts and speculation in the stock market(s). If the bankers hadn't been so greedy, the banking system would not have suffered so many failed banks with the loss of many individual's savings. The build up of that debt, far in excess of that which could be repaid, had to eventually collapse.

Thanks to the deregulation of the world's banking system these past 30 years, we are experiencing the same situation all over again, as businesses and nations face the downside of massive debt payments in a contracting economy. Here's an example from today's NYT, if you are interested. Unregulated capitalism naturally runs in cycles of boom and bust, which was limited for decades after WW II by regulations such as the Glass-Steagall Act, but which the Reagan free market approach has slowly destroyed. There are now numerous books on the subject, such as Reinhart and Rogoff's This Time Is Different, which I am presently attempting to digest (a bit behind the curve, I might add)...

E. Swanson

The President of the NYSE from 1930 to 1935, Richard Whitney, ended up going to prison for embezzlement.


"While Richard Whitney was assumed to be a brilliant financier, he in fact had personally been involved with speculative investments in a variety of businesses and had sustained considerable losses. To stay afloat, he began borrowing heavily from his brother George as well as other wealthy friends, and after obtaining loans from as many people as he could, turned to embezzlement to cover his mounting business losses and maintain his extravagant lifestyle. He stole funds from the New York Stock Exchange Gratuity Fund, the New York Yacht Club (where he served as the Treasurer), and $800,000 worth of bonds from his father-in-law's estate."


So what? there have been thousands of similar incidents after the great depression. Did regulation fail to stop madoff, AIG, Countrywide, WashMass, Wachovia, Enron, etc? Glas-stegal only applied to banks wishing to get into non-traditional banking investments. Much of the fraud during the housing bubble was not applicable to Glass-Stegal regulation. Note that there are no regulation laws preventing CDO and other derivatives investments. So gov't has left the barn door open for a derivatives fraud for more AIGs to happen. Under the existing laws most of upper managment of AIG should be in jail, yet not one is in jail! So what good is regulation if its not enforced. The TBTF can get away with mass-murder, while the small business owner gets hanged for jaywalking. Go figure!

Regulation only works if its enforced and for the past 80 years its rarely been enforced. Now there is excessive regulation which is preventing economic development. The only businesses thriving, are the dishonest business that ignore the regulation, profit from the regulation (by charging for services for compliance), those living off gov't subsidizes, or use ear-marks that exclude them from the regulation. Do you really believe there is no fraud now that the gov't has piled on a new mountain of regulation? If so go put your money in the most risky investment you can find, because you can't possible lose!

CDS and derivatives were invented in 1994 after the Exxon Valdez spill, so they're relatively new and still poorly understood, even by the traders. For the best expose` I've seen of the magical mystery tour that Wall St. has become, check out Money, Power, and Wall Street, a recent four part Frontline series on the subject, and how Obama blinked first when it came to reigning in these (self-described) financial vampires. You may want to keep a sedative handy.

Just because Wall Street calls something a "Product" doesn't mean it has any intrinsic value or utility.

If someone sells a bag of Air and says it has life sustaining properties, would it be a legitimate product? No, it's just a scam. Well, so it is with Credit Default Swaps.

It wasn't deregulation that caused the problem it was cronism, fraud and failure to enforce the laws. The problem is that honest business get bogged down filling mountains of paper work that keep buracrats employed, while the dishonest business abuse regulation and use it to commit fraud. Go read up Bill Black's statements, He was the regulator during the S&L days and has stated that all this new B&S regulation is BS! All the gov't had to do is enforce the existing laws, but refused because the dishonest businesses provided kickbacks, in the form of campaign financing, or employing family, friends, etc of elected officials. BTW How was Glass-stegal appealed? As I recall it was primary led by Treasury Secy. Rubin who took a job almost immediated after it was appeal at Citi! Go figure that!

So in the end we have all this new B&S regulation which does zip to prevent fraud, but prevents capital from being used efficiency. Recall that the SEC did nothing with Madoff when the SEC was informed numerous times about fraud.

Banks aren't lending either because the TBTF prefer to do nothing and live off the gov't tit (via US treasury carry trade borrowing from the Fed to by US gov't debt), and the smaller banks don't want to deal with all of the new regulation requirements, so new business are unable to get seed money to grow.

"Your bad your understanding of history is so distorted. After WW I, Germany became a democracy"

You're Mistaken! its you fail to understand history. In the late 1800's Germany became the first welfare state by offering German workers entitlements that started unsustainable practices, This spread to other European nations. Socialism was the catalyst for WW 1. Europe's depression wasn't just in Germany, Italy was taken over by fascism. Spain was essential neutral also fell into civil war and later fell under the control of fascism.

"'s clear that the unregulated banking industry allowed for the buildup of massive debts and speculation in the stock market(s)."

No it was debt that was created by gov't entitlments and cheap debt policies. Gov't and central banks created artificially low rates (controlled by central banks) that kicked of debt binges. Gov't entitlements permited people to spend instead of saving for retirement. As debt became cheap, it fueled a borrowing binge that caused excessive debt loads. Had market rates persisted (with out gov't interference) it would have prevented people and business from borrowing excessively. Cheap debt is like dumping food into a wildlife region. The local animals take advantage of the cheap food and there numbers explode. It takes ever increasing amounts of food to sustain the boom. When the surplus food stops coming or even declines, the environment collapses. By not subsidizing the environment, it remains in balance and the grows in a sustainable way.

Currently there is another example of gov't interference that's is causing a new bubble: Student loan debt. Notice how college tuitions have skyrocketed and the amount of student loan debt has soared to an extreme. Very soon this folly will collapse on itself, leave many people deep in debt and without future employment opportunities. Cheap debt permitted schools to raise tuitions because the students can get bigger loans. Go to a virtually any college and you will see a building boom with fancy and elegant new buildings and facilities, and is fueled by this new folly. None of this new fancy constructions provides a better education. Its just a continuation of the McMansion folly, but for schools that want to showboat the college next door (ie keeping up with the Jones) fueled by subsided student loans.

"Unregulated capitalism naturally runs in cycles of boom and bust, which was limited for decades after WW II by regulations..."

Pure BS! there have been more booms and busts then every before! Show me where Regulation and gov't interference has prevented booms and bust? There were booms and busts during the 1960's, 1970's, 1980's, 1990's. In the 1960's the was a stock market bubble cause by artifically low interest rates. In the 1970's there was stagflation and high inflation cause by the gov't. Then there was the real estate and stock market bubble in the 1980s. In the 1990s there was the internet bubble. All these boom/busts happened when the glass-stegel act was law, and these booms and bust have been worst then before with gov't regulation. Stop reading the NYT which is nothing but a propaganda paper for socialism and big gov't. Krugman is a Clown and should be treated as a Clown. Also go look at Europe with also had very tight regulation far worse then the US. It did not stop them from the same bubble the US experienced.

The bottom line, Its gov't interference caused by artificial low rates and subsidization that causes these problems. Gov't interference is like the nurse that deliberelty poisons her patients than later provides the cure and is seen as a hero and not a pychopath! See I saved the patient!


In the US, it all starts with the Fed and fractional reserve banking. All the programs and laws that have been created since the Federal Reserve Act are nothing but bandaids to mitigate the problems of fractional reserve lending and the Fed providing liquidity. If fractional reserve banking was called what it is, fraud, then we wouldn't have the problems we have had and wouldn't need all the programs and laws. If the US used full reserve banking there wouldn't be any need for the FDIC or for Glass-Steagal, just enforcement of regular business laws concerning fraud with prison sentences to back them up. In other words, the Jon Corzines of the world would go to jail and forfeit all their assets.

So, I have to agree with you that it is the government's interference that causes the problems in the financial sector that the government then needs to "save" us from.

I still think your understanding of history is off base.

You're Mistaken! its you fail to understand history. In the late 1800's Germany became the first welfare state by offering German workers entitlements that started unsustainable practices, This spread to other European nations. Socialism was the catalyst for WW 1. Europe's depression wasn't just in Germany, Italy was taken over by fascism. Spain was essential neutral also fell into civil war and later fell under the control of fascism.

WW I started because of the long standing competition between the imperial powers in Europe. The treaty agreements between the various governments, most of which were monarchies, resulted in a rapid irreversible mobilization after the assignation of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, in 1914. The main nations involved, except France, had monarchs as rulers. What happened later as the result of WW I is an entirely different story, as the world's governments were completely different after the Great War ended.

The Glass-Steagall Act separated commercial and investment banking. However, there were numerous loop holes which the financial industry took advantage of. For example, savings and loans weren't covered and the S&L crisis during the 1980's was just a warning of the later bubble in real estate during Bush II's presidency. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, from a Republican dominated Congress, repealed much of Glass-Steagall and was an important cause of the later banking problems.

From Wiki's bio: Rubin began his career as an attorney at the firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton in New York City. He joined Goldman Sachs in 1966 as an associate in the risk arbitrage department.

In 1997, Rubin and Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan strongly opposed giving the Commodity Futures Trading Commission oversight of over-the-counter credit derivatives when this was proposed by Brooksley Born, the head of the CFTC. Rubin's role was highlighted in a Public Broadcasting Service Frontline report, "The Warning".[11] Over-the-counter credit derivatives were eventually excluded from regulation by the CFTC by the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000.

The Commodities Futures Modernization Act, passed in 2000, which deregulated derivatives and set the stage for the bubble in real estate. From the Wiki page:

These derivatives, especially the credit default swap, would be at the heart of the financial crisis of 2008 and the subsequent Great Recession.

One reason banks aren't lending as freely they were during the mid 2000's boom is that they now must maintain greater reserves, so they are much less willing to assume risk, especially as there are still major problems with underwater mortgages and foreclosures which haven't been resolved. But don't let historical facts intrude in your Libertarian free market anti-regulation rant.

E. Swanson

Tech Guy -

Garbage in = Garbage Out

You state a series of things that you believe to be true *BUT*, to quote Mark Twain, "they just ain't so".

The building blocks of your world view are, at best, only half-truths. And you miss other truths. So this creates an incorrect analysis and incorrect conclusions.


About 60% of agricultural land in Greece is planted in olive groves. The rest is planted mostly in sugar beets, tomatoes, wheat, corn, oranges, peaches, cotton, barley, apples, and tobacco.

They've got about 11 million folks to feed on about 1.3 million acres (not counting olive groves), or about 8.5 people per acre. That's about 3 times the sustainable population even if the land is in good shape. I guess we can send them food aid.

Since tourism is currently the biggest industry in Greece, I forsee the rise of food tourists. Show up with, say, three tons of food and enjoy a week in Athens with guided tours and fine Greek wine.

Oddly enough they may be helped by the extreme backwardness of the agricultural methods that were in use up until just a few decades ago. Perhaps there are still enough old timers around who remember how to harness a donkey to a single blade plow.

Try, instead, a no-till permaculture food forest garden, and you may be able to feed more for less/less work.

Get rid of the glorified prison that is the nation-state while you're at it, and suddenly, the world opens up to peoples' free migration/exchange/etc..

Replace the olive-tree monoculture with the aforementioned too.

See also, A Food Forest Garden and A Farm For The Future


Ad Astra, per alia Porci!

(Looking it up, I guess this was Steinbeck's stamp, too..)

Or we could use USISPIG.

Got a good laugh out of that one.

I don't thing Ireland belongs in the PIGS group anymore, as they got their financial house in order, unlike the others PIGS. The bond rates reflect this.
(select 3 years).

The yield is over 300% higher than the US yield for 10 year bonds. I think that qualifies Ireland for troubled status still.

No. Ireland's bonds rates have always been several multiples of the US rate even in the best of times.

Ireland has done a good job of positioning themselves to renege on the bank guarantee and leave the Euro zone, if necessary, with a lot less pain than the rest of the PIGS. It's kind of interesting, from a social standpoint, to see how long the Irish will be willing to transfer their wealth to the European banks to pay for loan losses incurred by private banks. Hopefully, the same resolve that has allowed them to get their fiscal house in order will now allow them to let the banks fail.

Without overall growth, the world's economies become Zero-Sum, which Lester Thurow described back in the 1980's. With overall growth no longer possible, if one nation is able to grow it's GDP, another nation (or nations) must reduce theirs. Germany has been able to continue to grow it's economy within the European Union, while the economies if Chindia have grown within the world economy. Energy has been the key resource driving growth and oil is the main source of that energy. The question is, are the nations with shrinking economies going to go willingly to a lower standard of living, or will they choose to fight the decline? I think the answer is already coming into focus...

E. Swanson

"Energy has been the key resource driving growth and oil is the main source of that energy."

There is still a lot of potential for efficiency gain (at least in the high energy consuming countries) and thus "growth" without increased energy consumption is possible. For example, as you said Germany has been growing in terms of GDP, yet their (fossil fuel) energy consumption overall hasn't grown. If you take the energy data browser as a source, total energy consumption was highest in the 1980s and has slowly decreased since then. A number of other countries have achieved the same or even more. So there is still quite a bit of head room for "productive" energy to increase without increasing the total energy. However, that does require effort and political will to achieve.

I don't think there needs to be a truly lower standard of living for the 99% but a more sustainable lifestyle. First off, we do not need to waste Trillions on endless Wars of needless destruction when drones and bombs are used, and waste of resources even if weapons are never used.
We do not need Auto Addicted sprawl which would save huge amounts of not only oil but
rubber (synthetic or otherwise), metals, etc. If money were invested in a Green Transition of serious energy conservation coupled with renewable energy sources although there might be less overabundance of consumer goods and junk that breaks in a year or so, it is not clear real quality of life would suffer for the 99%. Do we really need electric can-openers, gas lawnmowers, automatic paper towel dispensers, etc etc?
There is no doubt there will have to be a reduction in the amount of consumer junk but
perhaps there will be more music, dancing, theater, biking and learning as people do
not waste time in all the many bureaucratic games of War, the private insurance industry, financial shenanigans industries etc.
Less stuff?
Lower real quality of life? Not so certain!

"I don't think there needs to be a truly lower standard of living for the 99% but a more sustainable lifestyle."

People just don't appreciate what a post Peak Oil world is -- an eternal struggle to harvest enough energy to compensate for the loss of Oil production over time. I use the word "harvest" deliberately because that is what the world will have to do to stay afloat -- rely on renewables.

I think the main underlying problem that Greece has is an excess of democracy. That same problem plagued classical Athens in the time of Socrates, when democracy degenerated into mob rule.

Aristotle asserted (correctly, in my view) that pure democracies tended to self-destruct. Why? Because the relatively poor majority would vote excessive government benefits for themselves and excessive taxes on the rich. Then the outcome is likely to be tyranny. Aristotle was an empricist: He read the constitutions and histories of roughly two dozen Greek city states and found almost identical cycles of changes for almost all the Greek city states. (One exception was Sparta.)

But in the west taxes for the rich have been dropping for decades. Inflation adjusted, per capita government spending has been going down. We have all these super rich multi billionaires each with enough wealth to buy up entire small countries. That is not the poor majority excessively taxing the rich.

To tax the rich very much you need a demagogue, a populist one such as Huey Long was in Louisiana during the thirties. Had he not been assasinated, there would have been a very good chance that Long would have beaten FDR for the nomination for president by the Democratic party. Long taxed the oil companies heavily and also poured a lot of money into public works that were beneficial to poor people. Relatively speaking, he was a benign dictator, but he ruled with an iron fist. Near the end of his life power had corrupted him almost completely. When he was first running for state office he was highly idealistic and little affected by the corruption that has been endemic in Louisiana way back to pre Civil War times.

Over here (and in some other places as well), the uber-rich have figured out how to game the system so anti-populist forces win out. They even misdirect populist anger towards oligarchist goals, as the the Tea Party types in the US.

But Greece is not Argentina. Many, but not all, consider Argentina a third world country.

No one considers Argentina a Third World country. It's 45th on the HDI, comparable to Portgual, Chile, and Croatia. Greece is 29th.

Greece is very much a part of Europe. A Greek default would isolate Greece from the rest of Europe. This would likely have a devastating effect on Greek trade and especially tourism. And tourism is Greece's most important industry.

Completely backwards. A Greek default and a cheap drachma would encourage tourism, because the euro would go farther. Greece would be isolated from capital markets, but not from an Englishman flying to Crete for a weekend.

I am considering going to Greece just in order to enjoy the lowlow prices. It is only a 2.5 hour flight away.

"Okay Jeff, but default is not an end in itself. Something must follow default. What is that?"

I wonder how Iceland is coping. I have seen a lot of people spin Iceland's case as somewhat positive, but can't say that I understand all of the impacts from the path they took.

Turning natural gas into diesel fuel

"The technology is quite similar to making liquid fuels out of coal... But it's only recently been applied to natural gas,..."

Again, the MSM keeps trying to give the impression that some new silver bullet has been discovered that will help keep BAU. FYI: over 35 years ago Mobil Oil was turning NG into diesel in New Zealand. NG was abundant there with little market so the NG was nearly free. Even at that price it apparently wasn't economical. Companies are considering GTL today not because they just figured out how to do it. It's driven by the new economics: high fuel/oil costs and low NG prices. IOW it's not a sign of a solution to PO but rather a symptom IMHO.

I get the feeling that you aren't going to be invited on the show.

You know, when the poor households, up in Maine, pay $700 to fill up their heating oil tank, which last about a month, they aren't listening to MSNBC.

I've got an old slide that shows fossil fuels as a continuum--from Natural gas, to NGL's, to Condensate, to Light/Sweet Crude, to Heavy/Sour Crude, to Bitumen, to Coal (Various grades, from lignite to anthracite).

We can make liquid transportation fuels from any fossil fuel source, but we get the most bang for the buck, and for the least expenditure of energy spent on processing, from refining light/sweet crude oil. As we move toward the endpoints--toward natural gas on the light end and toward coal on the heavy end, the capital and energy expenditures increase.

And of course, natural gas and coal are presently being used for other purposes.

So it's economical only when the price of oil is at a level that threatens to wreck the economy. You know, the same prices that make tar sands, fracking, enhanced production, deep water, and oil shale economical.

Robert - A true Hobson's choice, eh? Either accept the higher prices and hurt your economy or don't supply your energy requirements and completely destroy your economy. And some folks wonder why politicans don't want to tell the public the truth.

Hah! How true!

Yep. I'm beginning to feel more sympathy for leaders these days. Always easier to sit in the peanut gallery and throw shells.

From a usefulness standpoint, the fossil fuels have their legacy infrastructure, machines, and processing facilities. And that's what's sucking us into this Hobson's choice, right? The trillions of sunk costs. The forecasts that show years and years of fossil fuel production increases. But the forecasts don't really look at your reality, do they Rockman? They don't see the wells that can't really be drilled or see the high cost of getting that marginal production. Or how dear the low cost to produce sources really are?

So here comes your red queen. Running to stand still. Use more of what you have for short term gain. But the entropy of the long term loss is what overwhelms you. Real tough one. Too scared to jump off the crazy train and try the unproven new sources. But unable to run fast enough to keep things going at the status quo.

So we fall apart slowly, one piece at a time. A sort of Parkinson's disease of the world economy.

Man it sucks.

It's funny how debt has come to define our age. But it's not so much monetary debt. It's really energy debt. Like what happens in the brain of a Parkinson's victim or to a person with that weird disorder that doesn't allow them to sleep. Energy debt. It's a really raw deal.

From "man it sucks" to "well, so what"....it's my goal to make that change in attitude real for me.
If we go around thinking "oh this is horrible, oh what a nightmare" all the time, then it will be.

It is just different.
Of course things are not perfect, but then they never were.
I fled from Fukushima.....now I am pretty happy to be away from the Tokyo area for other reasons too. Sure a lot has been lost, and things are not easy. But this is for real, so if I can get through it surely others can do the same. The issue is declining embodied energy in the system. Invisible, intractable, the cold Red Queen, yes. The worst that can happen is that your endeavors will fail, but steer a course or a path that takes you where you wished to be in the first place. Look the Red Queen in the eyes and use your wits. That is the way out, that is the only way forward. Don't give up, mope, sigh, or pine for the past, which had its own strong and unpleasant disadvantages. Who would like a repeat of the USA Credit Bubble ca 2005?

The future looks very dim economically, for sure. But as the population declines (in Japan, where I still live, it is declining) there are lots of empty houses around (and I don't mean the Fukushima exclusion zone, I mean anywhere). In some strange way, the pressure is off, the game is up, the fat lady---or the Red Queen, if you wish---- HAS yet sung. And now that realization is slowly dawning, but most people are not interested in examining the salient facts too closely. That might happen later, of course, when they have to examine them from the unfamiliar location of NOT behind the steering wheel of a car. The auto windshield, for all its clarity of glass does seem to create people who can only see so far.

Yet when that does occur, who is to say that it will only be difficult, that it will only "suck"?

Good points, Pi.

It takes me to this old quote below. Everyone I share it with thinks Watership Down is really dark.. but I still see it as inspiring..

All the world will be your enemy, Prince of a Thousand enemies. And when they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you; digger, listener, runner, Prince with the swift warning. Be cunning, and full of tricks, and your people will never be destroyed.

Definitely one of my peak oil movies, if ever there was one.. and I think we only see one 'Hru-du-du' (Rabbit for 'Car') in the whole thing.

"The technology is quite similar to making liquid fuels out of coal... But it's only recently been applied to natural gas,..."

This will be news to Shell and SASOL.

F-T, right? Or is there a new process now?

F-T, right?

Yes, underlying chemistry & process is still Fischer Tropsch, same fundamental chemical process as used by Germany during World War 2. Undoubtedly lots of minor improvements like getting more active surface area and selectivity on catalysts, but no new chemistry.

When ROCKMAN posted this thread, I went looking for the chemical process out of curiosity and came across the F-T process.

As I understand the whole process, methane is first converted to CO and Hydrogen in the presence of steam, and presumably methane will also be used for the heat driving this process. CO and Hydrogen are then heated in the presence of a catalyst to form the longer change hydrocarbons, again using methane for the heat to drive the process. There will be excess hydrogen produced overall.


However, in my original search I also came across this from Volvo for a methane and diesel truck.


Looks to me like a better use of methane in the short to medium term and, longer term, I guess methane with CCS for electricity generation would be the better option.

Art Berman will be doing the next ASPO-USA webinar presentation (on US Shale Oil plays) on May 17th, a week from tomorrow. Info at: www.aspousa.org

I'm pretty sure that Art will address the following topic:

The EIA/RRC discrepancy (regarding Texas crude oil production):

The Texas RRC, which sums the reports from Texas producers to generate production numbers, puts Texas December, 2011 crude oil production at 1.05 mbpd: http://www.rrc.state.tx.us/pressreleases/2012/022712a.php

The EIA, which apparently uses a sampling approach to estimate Texas production, puts Texas December, 2011 crude oil production at 1.65 mbpd: http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_crd_crpdn_adc_mbblpd_m.htm

A discrepancy of 600,000 bpd for December, 2011 Texas crude oil production.

The discrepancy between the EIA and RRC 2005 annual data was material, but quite smaller. The EIA number for 2005 was about 110,000 bpd higher.

Note that the EIA total petroleum liquids number for Saudi Arabia in 2010 is 500,000 bpd higher than what BP shows.

The more I think about this, the more important I think that it may be. The whole crux of the shale oil argument is that the US is a test case, to-wit, that improved technology allows us to offset the decline from existing fields and show a net increase in production, and we are just scratching the surface of the potential of the shale plays. And therefore, it's just a matter of time before the shale oil revolution spreads around the world.

However, based on the EIA/RRC discrepancy, what if a good deal of the increase in reported US oil production is a result of a flawed methodology by the EIA? And how much confidence should we have in the EIA's global numbers?

Holy cow! How established is the RRC? Do they get reports from all producers? Is there a legit reason for the EIA to be over-reporting or the RRC to under-report? I mean, it's such a huge swing, more than 30%.

Operators in Texas are required to report their production to the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC). The RRC sums the reported production from Texas producers. Incidentally, the RRC--from the Thirties until Texas peaked in 1972--effectively controlled the global price of crude oil.

The EIA uses a sampling approach to estimate total production.

I know which one that "The Rock," Art Berman and I think is more accurate.

Incidentally, the EIA's number for 12/11 is 57% higher than what the RRC shows. Or you can put it this way. The spread between the RRC and the EIA--600,000 bpd--is not far below 1% of global crude oil production, so just the Texas discrepancy is enough to have a material impact on global supply estimates. And of course, Ron has documented the discrepancies between the JODI data base and the EIA for global crude oil production.

Wow. I recall in 2008 when the EIA was making back-dated downward revisions. But something like this would really take the cake. You had mentioned production discrepancies between BP and Saudi. I wonder if there are other areas that are suspect for over-reporting? Just between the two you've mentioned is a 1.1 million barrel per day potential difference. Yeah, but you're right about large material differences, even if it's just the case with Texas.

Just looked at the RRC website. Texas regulatory body established in the 1890s. Looks very solid at first glance.

And as for percentages... Yeah, I was looking at it the other way around. 1.65 to 1.05 = 36 percent less. But 1.05 to 1.65 at 57 percent more does make a more compelling figure.

Gotta hand it to you and Berman. You nailed the exports issue. And Berman has been right about Shale Gas all along. The recent issues with Chesapeake have only further validated his analysis. And your own ELM has proven a valuable tool for understanding the harsh realities of current geopolitcs. Anyone who ignores you guys is an idiot. So I'll take your word on RRC even as I dig a bit more on my own.

But damn. 600K per day difference. That's going to be pretty embarrassing for someone. Hard to sweep a discrepancy like that under the rug.

Robert - If you have the patience/interest you might find it enlightning to dig deep into the TRRC website. It's actually THE rule book all us operators have to play by. I think some folks think the oil patch just gives our regulators lip service and conduct business pretty much as we choose. The rules are complex and extensive. There's a small cottage industry in Austin that make a decent living just helping the operators comply.

Just one tiny example of the amount of control the TRRC has over the industry. This is very fresh in my mind because I just got off the phone dealing with it. Some months ago I drilled a well in Texas to 12,000'. In the process I had to set surface casing at 3,000' to protect the fresh water aquifer. BTW the State Water Board determines that depth...not the company. Comply or you don't get your drill permit. So I set the csg and cemented it in place. The cementing company has to complete a W-15 form to verify what type and how much cement they pumped. They sign the form under oath and are subject to prosecution if they make a false statement. Remember the objective is to protect the aquifer. Unfortunately the cementing company didn't send me the W-15 and my assistant missed that fact. So we get a nasty letter from the TRRC wanting to know where my W-15 was. I have the cement company sending it to me now. How bad can the TRRC hurt me for being tardy with a relatively unimportant form? Besides a nasty fine they can force me to shut that well in and stop my cash flow. And there's no appeal to their orders: do it or expect a visit from the Texas Rangers.

So yeah: if the TRRC says the production is so you can bank on it. And as I said earlier there are other companies involved in the sale, taxing and transport of hydrocarbons in Texas. The data is shared between all of us and any variance is immediately noticed and questioned. Our big mineral owners have their own auditors that double check the operator's numbers. The partners in my wells have their own auditors who keep an eye on my reporting. And again the biggest mystery is why anyone would spend any money trying to cook their own numbers. For less than $2,000/month anyone can get a subscripting to Drilling Info. DI captures all the TRRC production data and puts it into a very easily managed data base that can accessed over the web 24/7. I'm in front of my computer right now and with a few mouse clicks I can bring up the Texas oil/NG production for Feb 2012 on AN INDIVIDUAL WELL BY WELL BASIS. And then load to a spread sheet and sum every producing well in the state with one mouse click. So again, why would anyone be spending serious money trying to re-invent the wheel? That fact alone makes me rather suspicious.

"And again the biggest mystery is why anyone would spend any money trying to cook their own numbers... So again, why would anyone be spending serious money trying to re-invent the wheel? That fact alone makes me rather suspicious."

It's really damn odd. And the fact that everyone seems so concerned is enough to raise a few eyebrows. I'll be very interested to see that ASPO report on the issue. And I'm definitely going to take some time on the RRC site on your advice.

I wonder if these figures are one of the underlying reasons for the JODI data discrepancy? And I wonder about reinventing the wheel. I don't see why the EIA wouldn't fact-check their information for inaccuracies by cross referencing other reliable sources? It just seems like basic due diligence.

As for reasons? I guess it's all speculative. (What's the going GDP growth rate on a facade of confidence these days?)

I'll take your advice and dig deep. Why not? I'm on a research project in that area anyway. The tip is hugely appreciated.

Robert - "I don't see why the EIA wouldn't fact-check their information for inaccuracies by cross referencing other reliable sources?" And that's THE THING!!! LOL. There is no other no other resources to check...reliable or even unreliable. About the closest anyone could get to some of the numbers is the annual report of the public companies. But I don't recall any company putting out that data on a state by state basis or on a monthly basis. And privately owned operators rarely ever make their numbers public.

As I mentioned Drilling Info has a great tabulation of monthly production figures from Texas and La. But they have access to no other data then that collected by the TRRC and the LA. DNR (Dept. of Natural Resources). The data base of the TRRC and DNR are not particularly user friendly. That's how DI created a business for themselves. And much more than just recent monthly production data. I can go to July 1948 and pull that months production for the Texaco #12 T.C. O'Connor (that's the mineral lease owner) in Goliad County, Texas. I can pull up the cumulative production from that lease from the 4600' Sand that was first produced in May 1939. DI also shows me the 4600' Sand was perforated from 4,546' to 4,582'...as reported to the TRRC. It also shows me that the 4,600' Sand completion was abandoned in April 1952 and was this well was completed in the 4,200' Sand from 4,189' to 4,205' in June 1952 and produced 327,469 bbls of oil and 2,156,891M cu ft of NG by the time that reservoir depleted in December 1968 when the well was finally plugged and abandoned. Searching the lease records for that O'Connor lease reveals it was acquired and drilled by Chevron in June 1979 and drilled and completed in the Wilcox A Sand and completed from 11,458' to 11,578' which produced 23.456 BCF of NG and 476,456 bbls of 38 API gravity condensate by the time this well was P&A in August 1993.

Long winded story, eh? But that info probably represents less than 20% of the pertinent data I could pull from DI (which sourced the TRRC) on that specific well. And I could do likewise for hundreds of thousands of wells drilled in Texas. I belabored the point because occasionally I run across someone on TOD who thinks the oil patch is one big black hole where info goes in and is never seen again. And all that info and a great deal more is available for Texas. And for La also. The EIA could have access to that data for 50 years for what they pay one of their low level analysts for just one year. And can down load it into Excel and play with it till the cows come home. And then next month update the entire mega spreadsheet in less than 2 minutes and do it all again. I think you may see now that when I say I’m a tad suspicious of the EIA that I’m understating my actual feelings. LOL. I have a policy of not accusing anyone of being a lying sack of sh*t unless I have very clear proof of that fact. But suspicions? I’m a little freer with my opinions.

Could you get a Drilling Info number for total average Texas crude oil production for 2011? Given a RRC rate of 1.05 mbpd for December, 2011, I am estimating 2011 at an average rate of about 1.0 mbpd. In any case, based on this estimate, some very interesting "What If" crude oil numbers:

Edit: Found a number on the RRC website, 1.122 mbpd for 2011, which is incorporated below:

Texas (RRC, mbpd)

2004: 0.957

2010: 0.978

2011: 1.122

Texas (EIA):

2004: 1.073

2010: 1.169

2011: 1.460

Total US (EIA):

2004: 5.419

2010: 5.476

2011: 5.662

Total US, using RRC data for Texas, instead of EIA:

2004: 5.303

2010: 5.285

2011: 5.324

RRC Data: http://www.rrc.state.tx.us/data/production/oilwellcounts.php

EIA data: http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_crd_crpdn_adc_mbblpd_a.htm

And another point. If we use RRC data for Texas production, the average net increase in US oil production per drilling rig (drilling for oil) has basically been zero for the past couple of years. In other words, a thousand rigs drilling for oil in the US in 2011 may have basically kept US crude oil production--perhaps at best--stable year over year.

wt - I could but I'm limited to 5,000 wells per batch. So it would take a lot of draws. I'll see if I can find an expedited approach

I found the number by just using the RRC online data base, searching for statewide production. The RRC currently shows a 2011 production rate of 1.122 mbpd.

wt - very good. That's where I was going to head after a partner meeting this morning.

Have you posted your year on year average annualized price vs production list for Saudi and ROW lately?

I always enjoy linking people to that.



Here is a chart showing annual Saudi net oil exports* (BP) versus annual Brent crude oil prices;


*I'm estimating that BP will show 2011 Saudi net oil exports at about 7.8 mbpd, versus 9.1 mbpd in 2005

Thank you - that is great!

Is healthy weight impossible for many Americans?

Ugh no. But it is more difficult, as I pointed out a few days ago.

Unfortunately, the article continues to use BMI as its standard. A simple height to weight ratio just isn't enough to capture the variety of fat/muscle ratios and body frames in the general population.

Soft-Drink Consumption by Country

# 1 United States: 216 litres

# 2 Ireland: 126 litres

# 3 Norway: 119.8 litres

# 3 Canada: 119.8 litres

# 5 Belgium: 102.9 litres

# 6 Australia: 100.1 litres

# 7 United Kingdom: 96.5 litres

# 8 Netherlands: 96.1 litres

# 9 New Zealand: 84.2 litres

# 10 Sweden: 82.4 litres

# 11 Switzerland: 81.4 litres

# 12 Denmark: 80 litres

# 13 Austria: 78.8 litres

# 14 Germany: 72 litres

# 15 Finland: 52 litres

# 16 Italy: 50.2 litres

# 17 France: 37.2 litres

# 18 Japan: 21.6 litres

Per person per year?

Yep. At about 400 calories per liter, that would do it.

Yup, Americans eat & drink about 7 ounces (200 grams) of sugar & corn syrup per person per day. To visualize that, fill a 3/4 cup to overflowing with sugar.

Is that pure sugar, or are you including carbs with that? That's amazing if pure sugar.

Just sugar and high fructose corn syrup. The carb intake is on top of that.

One cup of sugar weighs 7 oz, so that's a full cup of sugar. And yes, I can verify that is sugar (in any form - sucrose, dextrose, high-fructose corn syrup) added to the food, not just the intrinsic carbohydrates.

Its even worse. A lot of us "Amurikans" don't ever drink soft drinks and I generally refuse to buy any foods with HFCS on the label. So someone is drinking and eating their share and mine too.

My favorite dietary advice is not to eat or drink anything that people haven't been consuming for at least 1,000 year.

Thank goodness that includes beer.

Would be good advice if it weren't categorical.

The problem isn't just garbage high fructose corn syrup carbonated drinks, but what really kills is all the 'saturated fat'. My wife and I cut out the saturated fat (vegan diet - no meat, no dairy), so all we have are trace amounts, and our weight dropped over a few months period to perfectly normal. Our blood pressure also went back down to normal without medication and we are in our late 50's. We take zero pharm medications - zero. Saturated fat slows the blood flow increasing blood pressure and damages the lining of the vascular system. America needs to cut out all the pizza, fast food, ice cream, etc.

But people will not do that because most are unable to control themselves from what they want in the moment. Friends of ours with medical problems that saw what we did were amazed but not one of them could control their diet. Not one out of dozens. It's not a matter of what people know, they know what's good for them and what is not, its a matter of will power and most people have none, zero.

This is an excellent documentary on one Australian's pretty drastic approach to saving his life. Fascinating and well worth watching.

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.


Note the prodigeous increase in per capita cheese consumption over the past forty years. I can recall a time (1950s) when nobody ate pizza except Italians and Italian-Americans. I had my first pizza in 1954 or thereabouts. It was at an upscale Italian restaurant in San Francisco called Lupo's.

The problem isn't just garbage high fructose corn syrup carbonated drinks, but what really kills is all the 'saturated fat'. My wife and I cut out the saturated fat (vegan diet - no meat, no dairy), so all we have are trace amounts, and our weight dropped over a few months period to perfectly normal.

s'funny, I did just about exactly the opposite (started eating lots of saturated fats, started avoiding sugar, refined carbs and polyunsaturated fats) and dropped weight and felt healthier.

You gotta realize, everyone has their favorite diet ideas and can trot out anecdotes and testimonials to support them. It is a lot harder to sift through the more or less rigorously done research and piece together a diet that fits your own unique metabolic circumstances.

The most significant and true thing that Gary Taubes says in his book 'Good Calories, Bad Calories' is that the state of nutrition research is absolutely abysmal and doesn't even deserve to be called scientific. Sad thing is, I don't see that changing in the foreseeable future.

Just loaded a pile of Butter, Bacon, Eggs, Whole Raw Milk and Sausages into the freezer from the food co-op. (We have lots of fresh greens and roots in the pantry as well) We have had a rich diet in Sat Fat for four/five years now.. NO signs of 'Cholesterol Trouble' or weight gain.

I get more nervous around sandwiches with Fat Bready outsides nowadays..

I don't dispute what has worked for others however. I think there are multiple pathways out there.. the 'truth' isn't a monolith or a monotone.

Wow, Bob, sounds better'n a barrel of light sweet crude; made my stomach growl :-)

I wonder where Mexico is on the list. CC & PC seem to do a very brisk trade around here. It can be difficult to get 'light' versions (I find 'regular' far too sickly sweet).


A study might be really revealing, as I recall that many of the Bottlers in Latin America still sweeten Coke and other sodas with Cane Sugar or Syrup, not Corn. I remember this in Venezuela and Mexico, some years back.

I've heard the Diabetes and other health responses are different with these difft sweeteners.. but it's so contentious an issue that I'm reluctant to even look for links/evidence on this.

Super markets in Queens, NY, are selling Mexican Coca-Cola, made with sugar. $1.25 a bottle or so. Also Fanta orange.

RC Cola was the last US hold-out for cane sugar, but they gave into to fructose long ago. Now seldom seen.

I'll take a look on a bottle next time I'm out.


just checked - Venezuelan coca cola is made with sugar

Here in Mexico

CC just says sugars
PC syrup from corn

Doesn't it just make your mouth water


sugared or diet?

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending May 4, 2012

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.7 million barrels per day during the week ending May 4, 35 thousand barrels per day above the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 86.4 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging nearly 9.1 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging just under 4.4 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged about 9.0 million barrels per day last week, up by 145 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 8.8 million barrels per day, 28 thousand barrels per day above the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 607 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 47 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 3.7 million barrels from the previous week. At 379.5 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 2.6 million barrels last week and are in the middle of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 3.3 million barrels last week and are in the lower limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 2.5 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 1.5 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged nearly 18.7 million barrels per day, down by 0.8 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged 8.7 million barrels per day, down by 3.2 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged 3.8 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, down by 1.2 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 7.4 percent lower over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.


The return of the living dead: shuttered refineries are reanimated as gasoline supplies continue fall

Who would have thought a year ago that a unexpected and substantial fall in US gasoline demand (about a 6% year over year drop per MasterCard’s SpendingPlus weekly retail survey) would be followed by a persistent decline in gasoline supplies? [US Gasoline Weekly Use -0.7% At 8.591 Million B/D - SpendingPulse: http://www.nasdaq.com/article/us-gasoline-weekly-use--07-at-8591-million... ]. Instead of using shuttered Northeast US and Caribbean refineries as a rusting backdrop for some potential science fiction movie about a post-industrial, dystopian future, recently closed refineries are suddenly being reanimated. That is, these refineries are being upgraded to process lower quality oil and/or are being placed into a better logistical position to receive lower quality crude – such as by adding new pipeline connections, or better docking facilities for barges and large tankers.

The latest refinery that may well come back to life is the large Aruba refinery, which was closed due to massive losses in recent years. It is thought that PetroChina is interested in buying this refinery at a bargain price, and upgrading the plant to handle heavy crude from Venezuela – a short distance away. [PetroChina in talks to buy Valero's Aruba refinery: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/09/us-petrochina-valero-aruba-idU... ]

Curiously the Aruba refinery was counted as a domestic US refinery, and its shipments to the US were not included in EIA weekly import/export figures. Even without the loss of Aruba, US gasoline imports are down about 40% from the comparable four week period last year.

So in sum, the weekly EIA figures indicate a moderate, but ongoing decline in US gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel supplies While the US is safe from any supply disruptions until the start of the summer driving and vacation season (around Memorial Day, at the end of May), it is by no means clear that supplies of all types of various oil products will be available as needed throughout the summer months – especially for summer blends of gasoline in the vicinity of highly populated Northeast cities with strict pollution rules. It is also not clear what, if any, effect any potential re-opening of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve would have on product supplies. The SPR is located in the vicinity of the Texas-Louisiana border near a concentration of large oil refineries. However getting any additional finished products from that region to the Northeast, for example, may be difficult. The main US oil product pipeline, the Colonial Pipeline, spanning from Louisiana to the Northeast with numerous branches, is operating at or near maximum capacity. In mid-summer an important expansion from the South up to Virginia will be complete and increase capacity.

While the EIA reports that gasoline ‘supplied’ by US refiners and distributors has only dropped about 3% from last year, that figure includes up to about a 300,000 bpd increase in gasoline exports. Taking away an estimate of the 300,000 bpd increase, you wind up with a 6% drop in domestic demand – which is consistent with MasterCard’s domestic retail gasoline sales figures.

Gasoline Import Graphic: http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=PET&s=WGTIMUS2&f=W

No, look at the EIA definition of product supplied - the exports already have been taken out.

"In general, product supplied of each product in any given period is computed as follows: field production, plus refinery production, plus imports, plus unaccounted for crude oil, (plus net receipts when calculated on a PAD District basis), minus stock change, minus crude oil losses, minus refinery inputs, minus exports."

So that still leaves us to reconcile the relatively small drop in EIA gasoline product supplied with the much larger drop in demand reported by MasterCard.

Not to dispute your point, but most EIA errors in the last few years are related to under-counting product exports on a more or less regular basis and reporting some oil and product imports with a delay of a week or so.

Also products supplied can be higher than demand for a week sometimes, when for example, supplies are built up in advance of a holiday weekend or seasonal fuel standard change.

Both reports may contain some errors and I suppose we are lucky if they both more or less agree.

UN Sees Risk of Unrest From Food Costs Above 10-Year Average

Food prices may stabilize at high levels and keep government import bills near a record, increasing the risk of social unrest in the world’s least developed countries, the United Nations said.

... Drought in South America, the biggest soybean- growing region, has wilted harvests, helping the organization’s measure of cooking-oil prices advance to the highest level in nine months in April, even as bigger supplies of corn, rice and wheat pushed cereal prices lower.

This is the danger that we’re looking at,” Konuma said on May 3. When governments are unable to subsidize food and are forced to pass on higher costs, “then you see the youth riot and you have social unrest,” he said.

Famous science fiction author Robert Heinlein makes a peak oil prediction in one of his first short stories, The Roads Must Roll, from 1940:

The Age of Power blends into the Age of Transportation almost
imperceptibly, but two events stand out as landmarks in the change: the
achievement of cheap sun power and the installation of the first mechanized
The power resources of oil and coal of the United States had - save for
a few sporadic outbreaks of common sense - been shamefully wasted in their
development all through the first half of the twentieth century.
Simultaneously, the automobile, from its humble start as a one-lunged
horseless carriage, grew into a steel-bodied monster of over a hundred
horsepower and capable of making more than a hundred miles an hour. They
boiled over the countryside, like yeast in ferment. In 1955 it was estimated
that there was a motor vehicle for every two persons in the United States.

largest number of automobile licenses in history had been
issued that calendar year, but the end of the automobile era was in sight, and
the National Defense Act of 1957 gave fair warning.
This act, one of the most bitterly debated ever to be brought out of
committee, declared petroleum to be an essential and limited material of war.
The armed forces had first call on all oil, above or below the ground, and
eighty million civilian vehicles faced short and expensive rations. The
"temporary" conditions during World War II had become permanent.
Take the superhighways of the period, urban throughout their length.
Add the mechanized streets of San Francisco's hills. Heat to boiling point
with an imminent shortage of gasoline. Flavor with Yankee ingenuity. The
first mechanized road was opened in 1960 between Cincinnati and

At first I assumed Heinlein had updated this post publication; but I found an April 1940 reference to "World War Two" so it the term was in currency then, before the June 1940 publication of this story. I thought the US imposed fuel rationing after entering the war, though. Might check on that later.

Interesting that Heinlein had his mind on resource limitations, after the East Texas field sent prices through the floor. He predicted mortality being a major factor in people moving away from personal automobiles as well, with the US population opting instead for mobile sidewalks, in a sense; kind of a potentially lethal variant of PVT. Also he predicts suburban sprawl spreading its blight over the land.

By the time that a child, born in 1930 (when the East Texas Field was found), had graduated from high school, in 1948, the US was a net oil importer.

That is a rather sudden change, I must say. In 1939, the US stood for about 60% of the total global production.

But the US is a gargantuan energy glutton. Heck, even if it were at 90% of global 'production', but consumed 91%, it'd be an importer. As WT continually points out, the imbalance of 4% of the people consuming 20% of the oil (and an even greater share of other stuff) is in the process of being undone as we speak via ELM, growth of Asian Giants, declining ANE etc...

Among his many books, I fear that Heinlein's "Revolt in 2100" may come true. A populist theocracy . . . If extreme collapse (say both unemployment and inflation both above 30% for years and years) ccomes to the U.S. I think some form of dictatorship will rule the U.S. It might be a military junta, these are common throughout history. It might be be a populist fascism or one based on increasing concentration of wealth, e.g. the Roman civil wars involving Marius and Sulla, which resulted in the populist dictatorship of Julius Caesar. It could even be a socialist or communist totalitarianism, but I think that possibility is highly unlikely.

When making such a listing, one should not leave out another alternative, that of a theocracy...

E. Swanson

Isn't the U.S. Government at minimum kowtowing to a shadow theocracy now?

"Revolt in 2100" is an excellent novel by Heinlein about how the U.S. becomes a totalitarian theocracy. The novel is well-thought-out and highly plausible. It could happen, almost exactly as Heinlein depicted it in his novel.

My Iowa grandfather used to tell stories about the Great Depression. He seemed to find it amusing that the fascists would hold a rabble-rousing overthrow-the-government meeting at the Grange Hall one week, and the communists would hold a similar meeting the next. FDR sent people he trusted out to tour the country after he took office to get a "feel" for what was happening. Those who toured the prairie and Great Plains states sent back letters suggesting that armed revolution was a possibility that should be taken at least somewhat seriously.

But for the establishment of an empire after WW2 and the riches of the oil age, it might have eventually happened too.

Isaac Asimov wrote a PO themed novel to. I read it in my childhood when I was a sci-fi book worm.

Are you referring to "Pebble in Sky," Asimov's first novel--published around 1943 (if memory serves) in installments in "Astounding Science Fiction" with a protagonist named Harry Schwartz? In this novel earth is poor, overpopulated, and extensively contaminated with radioactive waste. The population was partly controlled by "The 60" which was execution of everybody on their sixtieth birthday.

It is well worth rereading, and if you have never read it, I'm pretty sure that you would enjoy it a lot.

Don't think it was the one. "The guy" in the bookworked for a company that scrapped and recycled old buildings for usefull parts; making new ones was to expensive.

I recall a novelette or novella with those characteristics, but it was not by Asimov. I do not remember the author, but it was probably published either in "Astounding Science Fiction" or "Galaxy" or "The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction," because those were the three mags I subscribed to. Note that "Astounding Science Fiction" has been renamed "Analog Science Fiction," and it is still around, published every other month. "The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction" is still around too.

Even though we are not teenagers anymore, it is fun to read the magazines, and I think most of the best science fiction is now published in the magazines rather than in books. There are some notable exceptions to this generalization, however.

We talked about this years ago, but to return to it, I thought Heinlein's 'MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS' was a good Sci-Fi looking at resource limits forcing a society to make existential decisions.

I agree. IMO, "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" is in about a three-way tie for best novel by Heinlein. Have you read Heinlein's "The Rolling Stones"? It is a kind of sequel to "Moon is a Harsh Mistress," and is among the best of his many novels for young people.

No, I never did read that one.. I'll keep an eye out for it, thx.

Its interesting, the mixture of (premature0 prescience, and nonsense. How do we make moving roadways that don't consume many times the power required for staionary roadways with moving vehicles? Alan's (staionary) steel-rail rolling vehicles, maybe, but stuff like escalators are horribly inefficient.

This is the same Robert Heinlein that, amid a collection of articles predicting what life would be like in 2001 in the April 1956 issue of Amazing, predicted for in 2001:

1) A laboratory outpost on Pluto
2) A Sahara Sea
3) Telepathy and clairvoyance on sound scientific footing being used for military purposes (e.g. monitoring the thoughts of dictators and making any kind of secrecy futile)
4) Regular rocket service to the moon

He also mentions "pantographic factories" which are an interesting thought given that this kind of technology has been developed to a degree aided by advances in robotics and computers, but certainly things like aircraft and spaceships are not entirely manufactured this way even in 2012.

Among his most intriguing statements in the article, titled "The Third Millennium Opens" is this (I think this might interest Darwinian):

"But possibly the most important discovery we have made about ourselves is that Man is a Wild Animal. He cannot be tamed and remain Man; his genius is bound up in the very qualities which make him wild. With this self-knowledge, bleak, stern, and proud, goes the last hope of permanent peace on Earth..."

In this "ancient" issue of Amazing there are predictions for 2001 by no less than 17 different people, making for an interesting--and often hilarious--read from a post-2001 vantage. Perhaps the best forecast among them all came from Dr. N. Gonzalez, Director of Research at the Eagle Pencil Company:

"Basically, however, the (wood-cased lead) pencil is so simple and efficient in its present form that no striking changes in it are likely over the next half century."

Since I and others I know still use such devices, there is truth to this prediction, even with mechanical pencils and other means at our disposal.


"Amazing Stories" was a low-paying magazine, even though by 1956 Heinlein could get more cents per word than almost any other science fiction writer. Everything of Heinlein published in "Amazing" was either a reprint or an article or story that had been rejected by John W. Campbell, Jr., editor of "Astounding Science Fiction," which paid the most per word. "Galaxy" was another high paying magazine, but I cannot recall any story or article by Heinlein that was published in either "Galaxy" or the "Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction." Late in life Heinlein had an illness that almost killed him and that did permanent damage to his brain. He kept writing anyway, and all of it was published, despite it not being as good as his earlier work. After his death, one or two more Heinlein novels were published posthumasly--manuscripts that Heinlein had stuck away in a drawer as not worthy of publication.

Don, I cannot speak to what the magazines were paying in the 1950s. However, the April 1956 article by Heinlein in Amazing clearly had been written for that issue as part of the collection of essays from others. Heinlein may have commanded a high price, but that does not mean he might not occasionally produce some prose for magazines that have lower pay rates--indeed said magazines might from time-to-time commission high-caliber authors at more than usual coin. Heinlein did appear in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, perhaps in reprint form. One example is "All You Zombies . . .", a short fiction piece that appeared in the Mar 1959 issue, the same year it appeared in a collection titled The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag.


Now that I have had time to remember more, I recall that "Amazing" paid Heinlein ten cents per word for original stories and articles. Their regular rate of pay was two cents per word in the 1950s, while "Astounding" paid three cents per word in the early '50s and and four cents per word in the late '50s and early '60s. I wonder what the pay rate of pay for "Analog" is now. It is not exceptionally hard to get published in "Analog" so long as you remember that it is mainly for, by, and about engineers. Astounding/Analog has always had exceptionally good editors.

New from Congressional Research service [CRS]

U.S. Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage (pdf)

The earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and resulting damage to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, caused some in Congress and NRC to consider the adequacy of protective measures at U.S. reactors.

As of December 2011, more than 67,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel (SNF), in more than 174,000 assemblies, is stored at 77 sites (including 4 Department of Energy (DOE) facilities) in the United States located in 35 states (see Table 1 and Figure 5), and increases at a rate of roughly 2,000 metric tons per year. Approximately 80% of commercial SNF is stored east of the Mississippi River.

… The U.S. government has paid approximately $1 Billion to pay a series of claims by utilities that DOE had, at least partially, breached its contracts to accept SNF. The federal government [IOW … the tax payer] has been paying claims for commercial utility costs for SNF storage since 2000. The future estimated costs for storage of commercial SNF are approximately $500 million per year

The need for SNF storage, even after the first repository is opened, will continue for a few reasons.

First, the Obama Administration terminated work on the only planned permanent geologic repository at Yucca Mountain, which was intended to provide a destination for most of the stored SNF. Also, the Yucca Mountain project was not funded by Congress in FY2011 and FY2012, and not included in the Administration’s budget request for FY2013.

Second, even if the planned repository had been completed, the quantity of SNF and other high-level waste in storage awaiting final disposal now exceeds the legal limit for the first repository under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA).

Third, the expected rate of shipment of SNF to the repository would require decades to remove existing SNF from interim storage. Accordingly, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and reactor operators are considering extended SNF storage lasting for more than 100 years.

..., significant concerns have been raised about the potential for releases from stored SNF. These concerns have been heightened in the wake of the incident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors in Japan, about which there have been conflicting accounts and some uncertainty regarding the condition of the stored SNF.

Extended storage has also raised concerns about long-term site safety. For example, in the wake of general concern about the risks from extreme weather and sea level rise from climate change, as well as specific concerns about SNF stored near flood-prone rivers (e.g., along the Missouri River), some have expressed urgency about the need to relocate SNF storage.

NRC, however, found that sea level rise was not a credible threat to existing and planned on-site nuclear waste storage for the next several decades: “Based on the models discussed in the [National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council study], none of the U.S. [Nuclear Power Plants] (operational or decommissioned) will be under water or threatened by water levels by 2050.

... the one glaring omission in this report is the lack of mention of total radioactivity (in Ci - Curies) in these pools

It is my belief that moving that radioactive waste is vastly unlikely, and therefore that having it escape in-place is inevitable. When I look at that map I see a map of regions that will eventually no longer be habitable.

Total radioactivity in SNF pools from ...

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

from 2009 inventory 63,000 Metric tons - 12,057,685,800 Ci
from 2011 inventory 67,000 Metric tons - 12,823,253,152 Ci = 4.7446E+20 becquerel (474,460,366,638,095,000,000 becquerel)

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


No where to run, no where to hide.

Recommendation: Put all the waste which has cooled sufficiently into dry casks, complete the Yucca Mountain Repository, and indeed expand it, then transport the dry casks as quickly as safety permits to the repository.

Barring an asteroid strike on Yucca Mountain, this should buy us many hundreds and likely many thousands of years of breathing room.

Other countries with nuclear waste are advised to emulate this approach.

Think seriously about suspending further commercial nuclear power reactor construction, but perhaps fund and execute a robust nuclear research reactor program, preferably at a well-guarded and remote government installation, to 'keep the flame alive' of knowledge in this area to have available if needed. Devise and fund a plan for an orderly shut-down and mothballing of this research complex if the society/civilization dookie hits the fan.

Devise and implement a power-down strategy...no, not a return to the Stone Age or to the Middle Ages, nor even to 'Little House'...but a significant change in our ways....the readers are invited to piece together details as discussed numerous times on TOD and by many other sources into something resembling a coherent plan.

Challenging? You betcha! Alternative? A desperate patchwork of improvisation and dog-eat-dog leading to very 'interesting times'.

I am covering the bet on 'Very Interesting Times'...most likely by ~ 2030 or so.

Or maybe we collectively stumble into a low-energy intensity future without major crises or catastrophe...but it is hard to see how ~ 9B humans by ~ 2045-2050 'does well'. At any rate, the Earth's biosphere is sentenced to great change at our hands.


US Science Group Says It's Time to Start Burying Plutonium

As researchers the world over continue to try to find a way to meet the energy needs of an over populated planet, negative consequences for choices already made continue to pile up. Global warming that appears likely caused by the burning of fossil fuels is one, dealing with radioactive waste from nuclear power plants (and the decommissioning of atomic weapons) is another, perhaps more solvable problem.

Because of that, a team of scientists from the United States has published a commentary piece in the science journal Nature, declaring that the time has come for ceasing discussions about what to do with plutonium waste and to simply find suitable places for it and bury it

By most estimates there is currently about 500 metric tons of plutonium in the world today that needs to be disposed of in some sort of reasonable way.

Commentary: Nuclear proliferation: Time to bury plutonium, Nature 485, 167–168 (10 May 2012) http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v485/n7397/full/485167a.html

I'd like to hear comments from TOD community on NREL's new energy supply / demand analysis tool:


Very cool. Now I want to see what outcomes I can create.

Fishing ban in Dalgety Bay over radiation fear

Emergency legislation has been passed by Scottish ministers to prevent fishing in the Dalgety Bay area.

The order, which follows concern about radioactive contamination, came into force on Wednesday afternoon.

Radiation at the site at Dalgety Bay in Fife is believed to be from radium paint used on wartime aircraft instruments.

Pilot strike grounds Air India flights

Many international flights in and out of India have been grounded since pilots from Air India went on indefinite strike. About 150 pilots of the national carrier have called in sick since Monday night, officials said on Wednesday. Thousands of passengers have been stranded.

... The government had recently announced a $6bn bailout package for the ailing state-run airline.

The airline owes about $500m to oil companies, $240m to airports, and nearly $1bn in compensation to Boeing as payment for a delayed delivery of its 787 Dreamliner jets.

This has little to do with oil but I wanna share. I went to the neighbouring city of Kristianstad today. While digging for hot water pipes from the central heat plant, bypassing the 17:th century church "The Holy Trinity" they uncovered skelettons. Lots of them. These images are just a few hours old when I make this post.

Leanan etc, feel free to delete if considered to off topic.


Oh yes, the energy conection is there; they were building energy infrastructure when they hit this delay. That stuff happen.

With skeletons laying horizontally on their backs and arranged parallel to each other, I think the Swedish city built a road over a graveyard.

That is correct. Kristianstad was built by the danish king Christian IV. It was built as a replacement for Vä, wich was burnt over and over in the countless swedish/danish wars. Kristianstad was built in a swamp, right on a carbonate rock wich gives it some firm ground to build on. The church you see, and the buildings just around there, is built on that carbonate rock. Everything else is built on the swamp. There still are patches of marshlands in the centre of the town. Every moment of the day, pumps are pumping out water to keep the city dry. We are talking about 2 meters above the sea level, with a major river going through the town. 20 Km downstream to the Baltic Sea. The town also have a place called "Lägsta punkten", "the lowest point". The lowest point in Sweden, more than 2 meters below sea level. Stop the pumps, and large parts of the town will be re-swamped. This town is the first in Sweden to go, when the sea starts rising about 2050 or so.

Needless to say, they soon figured the grave yard surrounding the church was occupying first class land (something that was of short supply in this marshland) and the burial ground was moved. Now there is this road. On the other side of the road, a train station.

Climate scientists discover new weak point of the Antarctic ice sheet

The Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf fringing the Weddell Sea, Antarctica, may start to melt rapidly in this century and no longer act as a barrier for ice streams draining the Antarctic Ice Sheet.

These predictions are made by climate researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association in the coming issue of the journal Nature.

They refute the widespread assumption that ice shelves in the Weddell Sea would not be affected by the direct influences of global warming due to the peripheral location of the Sea.

Using different model calculations, he and his colleagues Dr. Frank Kauker, Dr. Ralph Timmermann and Dr. Jürgen Determann as well as Dr. Jamie Rae from Met Office Hadley Centre, U.K., demonstrate that as a result of a chain reaction large ice masses could presumably slide into the ocean within the next six decades. ... "If the high melting rates are completely compensated by inland ice flow, this loss in mass would correspond to an additional rise in global sea level of 4.4 millimetres per year",

The desert Southwest: Oasis or mirage?

The American West has a drinking problem. On farms and in cities, we are guzzling water at an alarming rate.

Scientists say that to live sustainably, we should use no more than 40 percent of the water from the Colorado River Basin. As it is now, we use 76 percent, nearly double the sustainable benchmark.

... “My take on that is we’re already beyond the point where we have enough insurance against the bad years, which is why a year and a half ago we started talking about water rationing before it started raining in December,” says Sabo, who is also director of research development in ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability.

As the article notes, 77% of human water usage in AZ is for agriculture. Phoenix has a 1maf/yr gravity water supply with multiple years of storage before even talking about the supply from the Colorado mainstem. Phoenix and its suburbs is the best situated of the major urban areas in the SW when it comes to water.

Water Wars Documentary Last Call at the Oasis Keeps Dystopia Real

Destabilizing futurism set to a pulse-pounding score isn’t just for sci-fi and fantasy thrillers. It works just as well to sell documentaries like Last Call at the Oasis, which thirstily peers into our present and future water wars, as can be seen in the film’s trailer above.

Unlike the comic-book vision of global annihilation in The Avengers, the blockbuster whose record-setting opening drowned news of Last Call at the Oasis‘ limited debut last week, director Jessica Yu’s documentary delivers a truer story of civilization on the verge of collapse.

Also unlike The Avengers: “We’re screwed,” as hydrologist Jay Famiglietti explains in the PG-13 movie, which opens in more markets Friday

also trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EtVA8b-lzw&feature=player_embedded

Warming affects ecosystems not just biodiversity

The four-degree rise in temperature predicted by the end of this century could change the way ecosystems work even if it doesn't affect biodiversity.

Didn't they do this in The Manchurian Candidate (2004) ...

U.S. Military Seeking Implantable Microchips in Soldiers

The U.S. government is developing implantable sensor microchips for use in American troops, supposedly to monitor their health on the battlefield, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced earlier this year seeking proposals. But critics of the scheme are speaking out, warning that the new technology could just be a prelude to expanding the use of related devices among the general population — with dangerous implications for freedom and privacy.

While the safety of the system remains unclear, the agency is reportedly seeking help from the private sector and academia to develop the biosensors and study their potential applications. If tests show initial success in animal trials, American troops – especially Special Forces – could be next in line for the implants.

Numerous technology commentators expressed alarm over the potential slippery slope involved in rolling out the system.

Eleanor Shaw: Sergeant Shaw.
Raymond Shaw: [Abruptly] What...?
Eleanor Shaw: Sergeant Raymond Shaw.
Raymond Shaw: Mother, I...
Eleanor Shaw: Raymond Prentiss Shaw.
Raymond Shaw: Yes.
Eleanor Shaw: Listen.

Ben Marco: Somebody got into our heads with big steel-toe boots, cable cutters and a chainsaw and they went to town. Neurons got got got exposed and circuits got rewired. Our brain cells got obliterated, Raymond.

.. and get on your knees and pray for another Anonymous.

Lugar defeat underscores vanishing U.S. political middle

The landslide defeat of U.S. Senator Richard Lugar in Indiana sent an ominous message to Washington: unprecedented partisan gridlock in Congress likely will worsen next year and make difficult efforts to cut the record U.S. debt even tougher

... the country also lost a 'Peak Aware' senator

Voter turnout was about half of 4 years ago in a conservative state. The only people excited are the far right wingers, the rest are apathetic.

Many centrists are leaving or being voted out, as this article describes.

Lawmakers willing to reach across the aisle are a vanishing species within the Republican Party – and are on the endangered list on the Democratic side of the aisle, as well. Nearly one-third of House Democratic centrists, or “blue dog” Democrats, aren’t running for reelection, including three top leaders. From 52 members in 2009, the blue dogs are down to 25 now – and their numbers are likely to sink lower after the November elections.

Voters, and legislators as well, are become more ideological, dogmatic, and say they won't comprimise on "principles". Of course, everything boils down to 'principle' in many minds; a sign of fear, IMO. It's one more chip on the doomer side of my scale. Folks win some meaningless victory like a marriage amendment, call it progress, and go about their BAU. Greer's latest describes this as part of The Descent into Stasis. Fear the change....

I loved Greer's latest, he states quite clearly what the basic problem is, as crisis approaches people band into groups and blame each other for the problems instead of solving them.

Well, one shouldn't expect systemic shifts to be accepted by everyone. No matter how obviously dysfunctional a system may appear, those who are the most priviledged within it would stand to lose in its absence.

Brazil shelves plans to build new nuclear plants

Brazil said Wednesday it has shelved plans to build new nuclear power stations in the coming years in the wake of last year's Fukushima disaster in Japan.

"The last plan, which runs through 2020, does not envisage any (new) nuclear power station because there is no need for it. Demand is met with hydro-electrical power and complementary energy sources such as wind, thermal and natural gas," Zimmermann said in remarks released by the ministry Wednesday.

One-quarter of grouper species being fished to extinction

Groupers, a family of fishes often found in coral reefs and prized for their quality of flesh, are facing critical threats to their survival. As part of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission, a team of scientists has spent the past ten years assessing the status of 163 grouper species worldwide. They report that 20 species (12%) are at risk of extinction if current overfishing trends continue, and an additional 22 species (13%) are Near Threatened.

"Unfortunately, the false perception that marine resources are infinite is still common in our society, and in order to preserve groupers and other marine resources we need to reverse this old mentality.

Peru says 5,000 birds, nearly 900 dolphins dead

The Peruvian government said Wednesday that 5,000 birds, mostly pelicans, and nearly 900 dolphins have died off the country's northern coast, possibly due to rising temperatures in Pacific waters.

It is probable that the phenomenon "will extend to other coastal areas," Quijandria said, noting that there could be a resulting increase in the numbers of birds and other sea life killed.

Has this new report from the IMF been discussed yet? http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2012/wp12109.pdf

Our empirical results also indicate that, if the model’s predictions continue to be as accurate as they have been over the last decade, the future will not be easy. While our model is not as pessimistic as the pure geological view, which typically holds that binding resource constraints will lead world oil production onto an inexorable downward trend in the very near future, our prediction of small further increases in world oil production comes at the expense of a near doubling, permanently, of real oil prices over the coming decade. This is uncharted territory for the world economy, which has never experienced such prices for more than a few months.

The last time I looked, Chris Skebrowski was predicting that the most likely year for Peak Oil would be 2014. I agree with that forecast.

What we do not know (and probably cannot know due to too many volatile variables) is how fast the decline from Peak will be. On the Oil Drum in 2006 many claimed that Peak was 2005 and that future declines would be rapid. If memory serves, not one person on TOD predicted a seven year plateau. Also, not one person on TOD predicted that U.S. oil production would rise three years in a row.

If oil production can be increased in the U.S., then why cannot oil production be increased all over the world? In my opinion, oil production is mainly limited not by geology but by limited capital, including human capital. One binding constraint on oil production is the limited number of petroleum engineers and chemical engineers and also other kinds of engineers. The problem here is that it takes a long time to make a petroleum engineer and much longer to create a Ph.D. engineer to teach the undergraduates. New drilling rigs can be built fairly quickly, but the facilities needed to make drilling rigs is--at least in the short-run--fixed.

I agree with Leanan that we are really, really bad at predicting the future.

.... In my opinion, oil production is mainly limited not by geology but by limited capital, including human capital. One binding constraint on oil production is the limited number of petroleum engineers and chemical engineers and also other kinds of engineers. The problem here is that it takes a long time to make a petroleum engineer and much longer to create a Ph.D. engineer to teach the undergraduates. .....

Human capital is certainly a factor. One thing I've noticed lately (to my pleasant surprise) is that we old farts, 30+ year oil patch veterans, are in demand. My current employer is now begging people to postpone retirement, work part time, and whatnot. Anything to keep some of us geezers around.

It seems that companies are finally waking up to the fact that while they can hire a lot of bright young minds fresh out of school, they still need a few of us old old farts around to mentor the kids. We may not be up on the latest gee whizz widgets, but we have a lot of that intangible (but very valuable) thing called "experience". It wasn't that many years ago that the companies were trying to lay off us old folks as fast as they could, since we cost more to keep around.

I'm enjoying it while I can!

I think what a lot of petroleum and chemical engineers should do is to retire from the field around the age of fifty-five and then go back to school to get Ph.D.s in engineering. Then they could teach as long as they kept their marbles. To the best of my knowledge, engineering departments do not require retirement at a particular age. My knowledge is mostly confined to U.C., Berkeley as it was in the fifties and sixties. However, I did have one visiting professor in mathematics who came from the Naval Academy in Annapolis who was well over seventy years old--and by far the best math teacher I've ever had. He could teach almost anyone advanced calculus and make it fun.


The high wages are being fueled by a surge in demand for drilling experts as the industry becomes increasingly technical and a drilling boom in the United States, Brazil and elsewhere. Plus, many drillers are retiring -- a phenomenon in the industry known as "the great crew change" that's only expected to accelerate over the next decade.

"They are desperate," said Michael Durney, an executive at Dice Holdings, Rigzone's parent company. "The industry is starting to look outside its core to fill these positions."

And where are they looking? Just about anywhere....

Interesting reading. I think it is great they succinctly describe direct effects that can only be guessed at.

But we suspect that there must be a pain barrier, a level of oil prices above which the effects on GDP becomes nonlinear, convex. We also suspect that the assumption that technology is independent of the availability of fossil fuels may be inappropriate, so that a lack of availability of oil may have aspects of a negative technology shock.

Based on a study of commodities prices since 1900, it seems that changes in real prices of major commodities (steel, wheat, oil) has a more or less linear influence on real GDP. So far, oil has not been an exception to this generalization. My WAG is that real oil prices could double from current levels with the GDP/Price of Oil still remaining approximately linear. Also, we have no evidence whatsoever to support the idea that the decline in oil production will be abrupt. Indeed, based on the historical evidence and economic models we have now, there is no reason whatsoever to expect an abrupt and drastic decrease in the global production of oil. On the contrary, the recent evidence of three consecutive years of oil production increases in the U.S. suggests that what worked in the U.S. (i.e. more production due to higher oil prices) could occur in other oil producing countries.

I do think that Westexas ELM model is correct, and that changes in net exports are far more important than changes in total global oil production. ELM is going to bite us, though I will not venture a guess as to when.

There has been a fair amount of discussion about whether it's feasible for Saudi Arabia to ever hit zero net oil exports. I usually talk about Saudi Arabia "approaching" zero net oil exports, but the much more important point is that the really big volumetric depletions are occurring right now, in terms of the post-2005 CNE (Cumulative Net Export) depletion rates.

The following is based on extrapolating the 2005 to 2010 rates of change in the consumption to production ratios. GNE = Global Net Exports*. ANE = Available Net Exports (GNE less Chindia's net imports). For ANE we extrapolated the 2005 to 2010 rate of increase in the ratio of Chindia's net imports to GNE.

The following numbers for remaining post-2005 CNE are so low that they stunned even me. A key characteristic of net export declines is that an initially relatively low net export decline rate tends to obscure a sky high post-peak depletion rate. GNE fell by only about 6% from 2005 to 2010, but this approach suggests that post-2005 global CNE are already about one-fifth depleted.

*Top 33 net oil exporters in 2005, BP + Minor EIA data, total petroleum liquids

The message of the elites is reminiscent of the scene from "The Naked Gun": Nothing to see here.


It is like dejavu all over again! Today's CNN spinmeisters tell us that markets are up b/c things are not much worse than expected!


Nothing to see here. Move along! What a bunch of malarkey!


Yes, the increase in the US production is good to consider, however, there are also cases like Nigeria, Sudan, and Libya. Government and economic stability is the key to oil production moving forward and I think pressures that cause overthrows will grow each year unless technology can overcome many, many barriers (including the substitution of oil). I think instability will cause folks to lose faith in the markets and, when that happens, most oil production abruptly ceases since it is based on global capitalism.

[whoops, I was auto-login'ed under my old username - Andy]

Sam and I had several email exchanges with one of the authors, Michael Kumhof, following the ASPO-USA 2010 conference. I believe that Michael attended the conference, and he is well aware of "Net Export Math."


Gail, over at her OurFiniteWorld website has a good review of it followed by a lot of commentary from readers.


Thanks. I usually visit Gail's blog a couple of times a week but I had not seen that.

Robert Rapier did a very nice interview on Radio Ecoshock.
You can listen or download the MP3 here:

Some nice pragmatic thoughts there, Robert.

Ah, thanks. Did not know that was up yet.

I don't know if he wrote it down wrong, or I misspoke, but he shows on his site this quote:

What is likely to happen is our emissions will probably continue to decline somewhat from here. But Asia-Pacific's emissions are going to continue to decline unabated.

What I meant to say was What is likely to happen is our emissions will probably continue to decline somewhat from here. But Asia-Pacific's emissions are going to continue to grow unabated.

He wrote it down wrong, it is correct in the interview and in the next paragraph it is clear he mean 'increase'.

I sent him a note and he has corrected it.

LNG and the environment

The least emissions are available in renewable energy resources, which are still not sufficient or efficient enough to satisfy a significant part of our need. The most emission-free source of energy, the one that has least environmental effect, and the one that is sufficient, is nuclear power.

The problem here is that you have to buy a plant anywhere from 500-1000MW at least. Nuclear plants take a lot of investment, but a great deal of the costs lie in safety, control and disposal measures, and it would take around seven-ten years to build. But the plant will last 50-70 years before you need to demolish it. The timing is right for Jamaica, and we can perhaps grow our economy somewhat faster, and save on the expenditures for LNG plants; though we can have them operational for standby and reserve capacity.

How many ways can I say this writer is out of his depth? For starters, anybody who knows anything about utility scale electricity generation knows that you don't want any single source to be greater than about 10% of your peak generating capacity, which in Jamaica's case is about 1000MW(1GW). I am not aware of any commercially available nuclear plants anywhere near as small as 100MW and, it seems, neither is the writer.

Now please excuse me while I go and bang my head against a wall:^/

Alan from the islands

Yes, Jamaica would have to scrounge around for electricity when the 1 GW nuclear generator is shut down for 3 months for refueling or any other reason.

That would be putting all our eggs in one basket and then some. Transmission losses to the furthest points on the grid from the plant would be significant but, I guess it wouldn't matter since nuclear is too cheap to meter >;^)

Alan from the islands

O0ps! Missed this one from yesterday

Oil punches deeper hole in trade gap

A dramatic rise in the oil bill alongside flat tourism inflows caused Jamaica's current account deficit to more than double last year.

The trade gap with overseas partners also yawned wider at the end of 2011, with imports of goods valued at US$5.9 billion outpacing goods exports of US$1.7 billion by 256 per cent or US$4.26 billion.

Balance of payments (BOP) data released by the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) indicate that the current account deficit worsened to US$2.07 billion, compared to US$934 million in 2010.

"In particular, mineral fuel imports expanded by US$856.3 million, partly reflecting a 19.6 per cent increase in the average price of oil for the period," said the BOJ in its December 2011 BOP report.

The spike in the oil bill also wiped out gains in the bauxite sector.

Very ugly if you ask me! In the meantime the government is taking it's sweet time to implement real incentives for people and businesses to adopt solar PV. The planning/permitting/implementation process could be months instead of years and financing spread over a longer time, while generating returns a lot sooner. Instead they continue to pander to the private interests of the monopoly utility, who's fuel costs continue to be a strain on the balance of payments.

Back to my wall!

Edit: I noticed that we are not alone

US trade gap widens at fastest pace in 10 months

The Commerce Department said Thursday that the trade gap widened to $51.8 billion in March, up from $45.4 billion in February. Imports rose 5.2 percent to a record $238.6 billion, reflecting more foreign oil, autos, cell phones and clothes.

Alan from the islands

Green fuel is possible with artificial ecosystems

... we may need to change the way we grow algae from closed systems to open ponds if it is to be low-carbon and cost-effective.

This is because current algae production in closed systems – usually for cosmetic ingredients – uses too much energy keeping the ecosystem isolated from the surrounding environment.

To overcome this issue, scientists from the University of Cambridge suggest that when grown in open ponds, algae should be supplemented with multiple species that help support the algae in some way. This would make the system less vulnerable to outside influences such as predators.

POGEE 2012: need stressed to produce cheaper energy to reduce power shortage

The Federal Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Dr Farooq Sattar has said energy shortage and continuing melting down economy are the biggest issues and there is a need to produce cheaper energy to reduce power shortage in the country.

He was speaking at the inaugural ceremony of 10th Pakistan Oil, Gas and Energy Exhibition 2012 (POGEE 12) organised by Pegasus Consultancy at Karachi Expo Center here on Tuesday.

The energy sector should be given top priority and then other sectors including fertiliser sector, he said and added that "We can import fertiliser to meet domestic requirements while energy sector can get cheaper gas to produce electricity." He said electricity could be generated at a cost of four rupees per unit by using natural gas and this cheaper electricity could reduce the cost of production in the country and cut import of furnace oil.

5/10/12 Reuters News 15:30:00
Reuters News
May 10, 2012

OPEC exports to fall in 4 weeks to May 26 -analyst
Christopher Johnson

LONDON, May 10 (Reuters) - Seaborne oil exports from OPEC, excluding Angola and Ecuador, will fall by 430,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the four weeks to May 26, an analyst who estimates future shipments said on Thursday.

Exports will reach 23.96 million bpd on average, down from 24.39 million bpd in the four weeks to April 28, UK consultancy Oil Movements said in its latest weekly estimate.

In a monthly report published on Thursday, OPEC reported secondary sources as saying its production rose to 1.62 million bpd above its supply target, and demand for its own oil, in April.

[no direct link] thomsonreuters.com

'Oil Movements': March/April OPEC export surge ebbs

Per OPEC oil tanker tracker, 'Oil Movements', OPEC oil exports are stabilizing at a level of just under 24 million barrels per day – down about 400,000 bpd from a surge rate that lasted from about mid-March to mid-April. Perhaps it is no coincidence that OPEC exports have now stabilized at exacting the same level at the start of February 2011 - just before the Libya rebellion started. Now with Libya's exports returning almost entirely back to where they were before, OPEC has also returned to where it was before.

OPEC oil exports are however up from the level of about 23.65 mbpd that prevailed a few months about the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012. The ‘extra’ oil the Saudis exported in March and April may have become temporarily available due to major maintenance operations conducted at the huge Ras Tanura refinery. Ras Tanura was closed about 40 days or so, shut down near the end of February and was not completely back to full operations until the start of May.

The apparent surface tranquility in oil shipments does hide one important fact: Iranian oil exports are slipping, albeit slowly at this time. Available information from shippers indicates that Saudi Arabia has indeed stepped up its exports this year to match the fall in Iranian exports. Iran is perhaps exporting as much as 300,000 bpd less than at the year end 2011. Since the start of April, Iranian exports have been fairly stable, but less export deals are being made for future delivery - this even before major sanctions against Iran start on July 1.

Most of the incremental amount of about 300,000 bpd since March was shipped by the Saudi owned company 'Vela', primarily for the start-up of expanded operations at the Motiva refinery in Louisiana. Now the nation's largest US refiner, the Motiva refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, is jointly owned by Saudi Aramco and Royal Dutch Shell) – but will not be completely fully operational until fall. Further, Saudi Aramco is 100% owned by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and through its affiliate, Vela Marine International Ltd, it owns and operates the world's second largest tanker fleet to help transport a significant portion of KSA’s crude oil production.

With the Saudi summer air conditioning and water processing season approaching, creating an internal increase in internal demand on the order of 800,000 to 1,000,000 bpd, it remains to be seen if Saudi Arabia and OPEC as a group can maintain its May export level of about 23.95 mbpd through the summer. Already Saudi Arabia has stepped up its program of buying oil products for the summer much earlier than usual. Saudi imports of gasoline have about doubled, and that pace is likely to continue through the summer.

Thursday, 12 April 2012 4:34 PM

OPEC, responsible for 40 percent of global oil supplies, bolstered production by 320,000 barrels a day in April to 31.62 million, it said in its report. Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, increased supply by 56,500 barrels a day to 9.9 million, according to OPEC, whose estimates are based on secondary sources including analysts and news agencies.

The group will cut shipments by 1.8 percent this month as refiners in Asia conduct seasonal maintenance, according to Oil Movements. OPEC will export 23.96 million barrels a day in the four weeks to May 26, compared with 24.39 million in the period to April 28, the tanker-tracker yesterday in a report. The data exclude shipments by Angola and Ecuador.


Indian Wheat Rots In the Open After Bumper Harvest

India's wheat producing states - Punjab and Haryana have seen four bumper harvests, but there is severe shortage of warehouses. The wheat sits out in the open rotting, while nearly half of the India's children under five are said to be malnourished.

The millions of tons of wheat rotting because India ran out of warehouse space to hold another bumper crop illustrate a core problem of the nation's food crisis: India can grow plenty of food but cannot store or transport it well enough to nourish its 1.2 billion people.

also Govt faces jute bag shortage for packing foodgrain

Asia faces threat to crops if El Nino unleashed again

A return of the El Nino weather pattern may threaten food output in Asia, the world's top producer of rice and palm oil, but drier conditions in some areas could also benefit crops such as coffee and cocoa and keep global prices in check.

India now has more severely undernourished and malnourished people than at any time during the past 3,000 years. Furthermore, since the British stopped governing India grain storage facilities have seriously deteriorated: What the rot does not ruin the rats eat. Of course, India's main problem is extreme overpopulation, which gets worse and worse every year. India is rapidly mining its well water for irrigation, which bodes much ill for the future. In other words, India is a basket case, and it will be substantially worse off ten years from now than it is now. India may be the first country to have a massive dieoff; it is hard to say because so many African countries are as severely overpopulated as is India.

India has a significant middle class in the major cities, but the main story of India is extreme poverty in the villages and extreme poverty in the slums of the major cities. Farmers are killing themselves in large numbers, mostly because government price controls on grain have made it impossible for the peasants to make a living. Debt slavery is still common in India, whereby debts are inherited by the children and grandchildren of the original debtor. The Marwari money lenders are ruthless.

Furthermore, since the British stopped governing India grain storage facilities have seriously deteriorated

The British didn't care much about grain storage, several famines were orchestrated across the country by the callousness of the administration particularly in areas which were hostile to the government, and as far as current storage goes, it's the highest it has ever been in history. Current grain storage (full to the brim) is around 75 million metric tonnes which is roughly 31% of the annual production.

The British colonial overlords were mostly at the rank of District Commisioner. The main way in which job performance of DCs were evaluated was on the quality and quantity of written reports sent to London by the DCs. Britain by the late nineteenth century had surprisingly good and complete reports in what was happening in terms of production and imports and exports.

After the British left India there was a serious decline in the quantity and quality of government national income statistics. This decline was a major barrier (perhaps THE major barrier) to national development in India during the 1950s and 1960s and part of the 1970s. Then slowly, and with fits and starts, economic statistics reporting in India improved. Today they are pretty good, but still seriously worse than the best national income statistics, which are found in the U.S., U.K., and most European countries. In India, there are very limited funds for the government statisticians; it is very seriously underfunded. In my opinion, India has a superabundance of most excellent mathematicians. Unfortunately, most of them emigrate to places like the U.S., Canada, Britain, or the Western European countries, where they can get five or ten times as much income as they could in India. That is a very serious problem for India, the "brain drain" of the best and brighest young Indians to places overseas. For example, my dentist is from India, and he is the most competent, most expert, most contientious dentist I have ever had. He earns about $150,000 per year before taxes.

Interesting piece on fracking and non-disclosure agreements.


What do they have to hide????

Higher rates, drought lead to more drilling of water wells

For those who want cheap, plentiful water this summer: Get in line.

The number of water wells is going up in Wichita and elsewhere in the region as people seek lower-cost options for filling pools or watering lawns.

Last summer was one of the hottest in Wichita history, with temperatures 100 degrees or higher for a record 53 days. That takes a toll on landscaping and lawns, especially on the fescue grass so common in Wichita.

Pumping groundwater for home use is basically unregulated once a well permit is obtained and inspection is passed, ... What that means in a drought is that the water table falls at the same time pumping demand from homes and farms rises.

We had a water ban in town about a month ago because it was very dry, no watering lawns or filling pools. The people I knew with wells were using water for any and all things, I asked about the water ban and they said it didn't apply to them because they had their own private well.

I'm not sure if that's true or not, if the town has a water ban does it only apply to those with 'town' water and not 'private' wells? Doesn't town water just come from a big well someplace at the pumping station?

Restrictions apply to private wells and pumps, ground or surface water and water from public and private utilities.

Here in Florida anyway.


Tomgram: Michael Klare, Oil Wars on the Horizon

Conflict and intrigue over valuable energy supplies have been features of the international landscape for a long time. Major wars over oil have been fought every decade or so since World War I, and smaller engagements have erupted every few years; a flare-up or two in 2012, then, would be part of the normal scheme of things. Instead, what we are now seeing is a whole cluster of oil-related clashes stretching across the globe, involving a dozen or so countries, with more popping up all the time. Consider these flash-points as signals that we are entering an era of intensified conflict over energy.

From the Atlantic to the Pacific, Argentina to the Philippines, here are the six areas of conflict -- all tied to energy supplies -- that have made news in just the first few months of 2012: ...

... All of these disputes have one thing in common: the conviction of ruling elites around the world that the possession of energy assets -- especially oil and gas deposits -- is essential to prop up national wealth, power, and prestige.

... But that energy equation is changing ominously as the challenge of fueling the planet grows more difficult. Many of the giant oil and gas fields that quenched the world’s energy thirst in years past are being depleted at a rapid pace.

GAO Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, House of Representatives Regarding ....

UNCONVENTIONAL OIL AND GAS PRODUCTION Opportunities and Challenges of Oil Shale [Kerogen] Development

A significant challenge to the development of oil shale lies in the uncertainty surrounding the viability of current technologies to economically extract oil from oil shale. To extract the oil, the rock needs to be heated to very high temperatures—ranging from about 650 to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit—in a process known as retorting.

... a commercial mining operation with surface retorts has never been developed in the United States because the oil it produces competes directly with conventional crude oil, which historically has been less expensive to produce.

According to some energy experts, the key to developing our country’s oil shale is the development of an in-situ process because most of the richest oil shale is buried beneath hundreds to thousands of feet of rock, making mining difficult or impossible.

In addition to these uncertainties, transporting the oil produced from oil shale to refineries may pose challenges because pipelines and major highways are not prolific in the remote areas where the oil shale is located, and the large infrastructure that would be needed to supply power to heat the oil shale is lacking.

According to Walter Youngquist, L. F. Ivanhoe and others, there Is no oil to be extracted from so called 'oil shale'. Producing oil from kerogen would require a manufacturing process, the addition of H2. See GeoDestinies or The Hubbert Center Newsletter 1998 #4.

Keystone Pipeline Divide Shows U.S. Highway Deal Elusive

Dr. Hansen said yesterday about Canadian tar sands and the pipeline:

If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate … Civilization would be at risk … If this sounds apocalyptic, it is … The global warming signal is now louder than the noise of random weather, as I predicted would happen by now in the journal Science in 1981. Extremely hot summers have increased noticeably. We can say with high confidence that the recent heat waves in Texas and Russia, and the one in Europe in 2003, which killed tens of thousands, were not natural events — they were caused by human-induced climate change.

(Later Than We Think?). Another paper on Antarctic Ice Melt was released yesterday, which says the entire Antarctic is in danger of melt, reversing prior statements and beliefs about some of Antarctica being virtually "unmeltable."

“If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate”. IMHO Dr. Hansen might try for a little balance on his criticism. Currently the tar sands represent less than 4% of global oil consumption. Of course, a great deal of green house gas is generated from coal and NG so the Canadian production probably represents less than 2%. In fact I just read that North Dakota’s production is expected to exceed total Canadian tar sands production by next year. How about wagging a finger at Norway...they are contributing more than Canada while risking a fragile marine environment in the process. But why just focus just on the producers. US consumers burn many times the hydrocarbons that Canada produces.

Not a thing wrong bitching about AGW but focusing on one relatively small contributor smells a tad of hidden agenda IMHO.

The "hidden agenda" would be the misinformation campaign that the likes of Exxon and CAP have funded.

aws - I agree with you. Some days it seems the misinformation dominates the news. OTOH the anti AGW folks don't help their cause by presenting misinformation/spin to support their position. IMHO it only weakens their argument. Consider the good doctor's words. If he's going to lay much of the blame for AGW on the heads of the Canadians then I doubt I'll ever take the time to read any more of his work. You, OTOH, have presented valid points in the past and I read all your posts.

Trust me: I can get just as disgusted when the likes of Newt or Rush trying to support my side of the debate. All I can think is please stop trying to help us. Pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeee. LOL.

The subject of VAWTs came up the other day and I mentioned that a local store was selling some. Someone asked about who makes/sells them and I said I would take a look

I went past there today so looked in and asked. I was told Nord Energy but I cannot find anything like that turbine connected with them :( However, I did some googling and came up with the following links for what looks like what I saw:-


While these are AC I was told, emphatically, that the one here was DC. I also note that the design wind speed is about 3X our typical wind speed which would produce about 1/10th of their rated power. They should produce power, in our wind, but nothing like the spec plate figures even at our top typical speed of 15mph.

I wouldn't mind a horizontal version of the Savanius rotor, mounted East/West, with low speed generator windings. We get a good few hours of wind from 5-15mph each day with a swing from North to South. 10-12 hours a day of generation can net a good bit of power at only 500W per generator, cover my base load and overlap well with evening usage.


I usually mention www.windside.com in discussions of VAWTs ..

They claim a slower startup and a higher wind/storm tolerance than HAWTs. ( 2 meters/sec up to 50 m/s for a plus model )

Don't know if they have DC or AC or both..

Thanks, again these are more suited for the 20-30mph wind range rather than the 5-15 that we get down here. A horizontal VAWT, east - west, would match our winds well which swing North South and the vanes could be strung between 2 supporting generators. That would also keep it low to avoid lightning and give strong support in storms. I hope some manufacturer recognises that not everywhere has strong wind but still has a steady, reliable wind that can be tapped. 11 hours a day, every day can supply a lot of juice.


NAOM, two reasons you don’t see many Savonius rotors is their low efficiency, and the fact that they are usually close to the ground. Both of these make for low output for the materials of their construction. Another point, and the reason most designs spec. their output for higher speeds is that the power in the wind is the third power of the wind speed. A machine in a 15 mph breeze will only put out one eighth the power it will at 30 mph, and it must still be designed to handle a sixty mph storm.

What disappoints me is that people are trying to sell standard wind turbines of either type here. Costco had a small HAWT, on sale, for a while that was rated for 30mph winds and the lady I talked to at the solar shop, about the VAWT, boasted about its 1.4kW output. Here we get, say, 1/4 5mph, 1/2 10mph 1/4 15mph over 11 hours. These devices are just not going to produce anything like what is claimed, people are being swindled. North facing solar in Scotland comes to mind. I would be happy to have a wind generator but it would have to produce good figures at 10mph while not presenting a lightning attractor hazard, the designs on sale just can't do it.


This may not be news to many here but it was interesting to me recently to learn that Koch Industries were intimately linked from the early days with the Athabasca oil sands development.


UNDP report for Asia Pacific on Environment sustainability titled One Planet to share is now out. I just skimmed through it and it has a wealth of data.

This is too late in the thread, can this be included in the next drumbeat?

I try not to post things in the Drumbeat that have already been posted in the comments.

If you want something in the next Drumbeat, e-mail it to me privately, or wait until the next Drumbeat goes up, and post it then.

The Crawfords’ condemnation hearing happened in front of a district judge. They were not invited to that hearing — landowners in Texas do not get to go to the actual condemnation hearing. They are invited only to the next step, after the condemnation, when a three-person panel of county landowners decides on a value for the property being condemned.

The land of the free and the home of the brave yet again proves to be a total crock ... it is the land of the rich and the home of the very connected, of course - as it always has been.

You're not wrong, but Texas is unusual. Landowners can't be railroaded that way in other parts of the country. Lots of other shenanigans go on, of course.