Drumbeat: May 11, 2012

Scientists urge action on world's biggest problems

LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists from 15 countries are calling for a better political response to the provision of water and energy to meet the challenge of feeding a world of 9 billion people within 30 years.

The joint statement by some of the world's leading science academies was issued on Thursday ahead of the G8 summit in the United States. It is part of the annual lobbying effort aimed at focusing the attention of world leaders on issues the scientific community regards as crucial.

For the first time, the scientists argue that looming shortages in water and energy supplies should be treated as a single issue.

Could Water Bring Jobs Back to the U.S.?

Have you gotten the memo yet? You can stop worrying about peak oil: the United States is sitting on centuries of natural gas and Canada is full of tar sands. But then there is water. No less than Morgan Stanley Smith Barney declared “peak water” the challenge of the century last December in a report upholstered with authoritative graphs showing the heating of the world and the shrinking of water resources. Words almost failed report writers as they declared, “Water may turn out to be the biggest commodity story of the 21st century, as declining supply and rising demand combine to create the proverbial perfect storm.”

Oil likely to stay high despite good supply - IEA

LONDON (Reuters) - Tension between Iran and the West is likely to keep oil prices high despite a dramatic improvement in world supply and a big build in stocks, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Friday.

The agency, which advises 28 industrialised nations on energy policy, said soaring global oil supply from OPEC countries and the United States far outpaced global demand, curbed by poor economic activity in developed nations.

The agency said global oil supply rose 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 91 million bpd in April and was now 3.9 million bpd over year ago levels, with 90 percent of the increase coming from OPEC.

Saudi Arabia has said it pumped 10.1 million bpd last month, its highest for more than 30 years, in a bid to meet growing demand and curb oil prices, which hit a three-and-a-half-year high in March.

OPEC Says ‘Plentiful’ Global Oil Supplies Outpace Demand

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said that global oil supplies are outpacing demand levels, keeping its forecast for world consumption this year unchanged.

OPEC, scheduled to meet next month, is producing 8.3 percent more crude than it considers necessary this quarter, data released today by the Vienna-based group show. This has helped inventories in developed nations to reach “comfortable levels,” equivalent to about 59 days worth of consumption, according to an e-mailed report.

“Higher OPEC crude oil production underscores the current trend of plentiful supply in excess of market requirements,” OPEC’s secretariat said in its Monthly Oil Market Report.

Oil finds itself on slippery slope

Record production levels, weakening demand, and a declining risk profile in the Gulf have put an end to three consecutive monthly gains in oil prices, Opec said in its monthly report yesterday.

Oil Heads for Second Weekly Drop as Supply Exceeds Demand

Oil fell in New York, heading for a second weekly drop, on concern that Europe’s debt crisis will worsen and curb fuel demand as global crude supplies increase.

Futures slipped as much as 1.4 percent, retreating for the seventh day in eight. OPEC is producing 8.3 percent more crude than it considers necessary this quarter, data released yesterday by the Vienna-based group showed. Prices narrowed their declines after the International Energy Agency said today global oil markets are “marginally tighter” and predicted that geopolitical risks to crude supply will keep prices high.

Long, climbing road

The biggest problem with the almost constantly increasing petrol prices in SA is that demand is quite unresponsive to price changes: South Africans don’t tend to buy less of the stuff when the price rises.

Fuel users are in this sense almost held hostage to the international price of crude and the rand-dollar exchange rate — these determine the basic fuel price, which makes up 59% of the pump price. Consumers have also been hit by an additional 28c/l in the pump price from increases in the fuel levy and the Road Accident Fund.

Peak oil revisited: the real challenges are investment and sustainability, not availability

The general perception of global oil reserves is unnecessarily gloomy and far removed from reality, even among many policymakers and academics. This is dangerous because it obscures the real and serious economic and environmental challenges faced by the oil sector, argues Noé van Hulst. The Director of the new Energy Academy Europe calls on the oil industry to devote more effort explaining the public what the real challenges are.

GOP: ‘You Think We’re Going To Have A Press Conference Now To Congratulate The Administration For Decreasing Gas Prices?’

The GOP’s plan to blame Obama’s policies for rising gasoline prices has run into one small bump in the road. Gasoline prices have dropped $0.15 a gallon in the past month, to $3.79 per gallon this week, down from its peak of $3.94 in early April, according to The Energy Information Administration.

Prompt gas slump defies Norway supply cutback

(Reuters) - British prompt gas prices fell slightly on Friday morning on forecasts of warmer temperatures this weekend and healthy supply despite cutbacks in Norwegian flows due to maintenance work.

The start of scheduled maintenance at Norway's Ormen Lange gas processing plant cut supplies via the Langeled pipeline - Britain's main sub-sea import line - but did not impact prices because the drop was in line with expectations.

Saudis face growth limits over natural gas supplies

A shortage of natural gas could affect future industrial growth in Saudi Arabia, according to the head of Jubail Industrial City, the world's largest petrochemical cluster.

Difference Engine: Awash in the stuff

EVEN as it tries to slow production down, America is still pumping three billion more cubic feet (85m cubic metres) of natural gas a day out of the ground than it can consume. The country has become so awash in the stuff since “fracking” (hydraulic fracturing of gas-bearing shale deposits) began barely five years ago that the price has plummeted from $8 per thousand cubic feet to $2. (A thousand cubic feet of natural gas contains roughly a million BTUs of energy.) Not that long ago, natural gas was a tenth of the price of oil in energy terms; now it is a 50th.

If the natural-gas companies go on producing at the current rate, all the storage reservoirs in America will be full by autumn. With nowhere left to put the stuff, its marginal price will fall to zero. Such a situation is unsustainable.

Fracking does not pose serious risk

A University of Aberdeen study on hydraulic fracturing or fracking for gas says that the process “does not pose a significant environmental risk”, but there are potential risks to ground water from “poor well design or construction”.

The study for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), published today, also finds that Europe’s geology may be far more complex than that in the US, where the fracking industry is well developed.

Shale Gas Explorer Says U.K. Production May Start in 2014

Cuadrilla Resources Ltd., a U.K. shale-gas explorer that suspended drilling in northwest England after causing minor earthquakes, expects to resume work this year and said gas production may start in 2014.

“By the first quarter of 2013, we will be far enough along in the exploration program to say this makes sense to go ahead and apply for a full field development permit,” Cuadrilla Chief Executive Officer Mark Miller said in an interview. “Production could be under way as early as 2014.”

Granville Township suspends use of brine

GRANVILLE TOWNSHIP -- The controversy about a technique used to drill oil and gas wells in deep-lying shale has caused Granville Township to pay closer attention to a byproduct of that drilling it uses for road maintenance: brine.

The township trustees have suspended their use of brine for melting ice on township roads pending an investigation of the possible health and environmental risks of its use, Township Trustee Paul Jenks said.

Lights Go Out in Spain as Cuts Plunge Highways Into Darkness

Cars went barreling along the highway in darkness, ferrying families from Madrid to the beaches of Catalonia during the Easter holiday season, the black stalks of unlit streetlamps flicking past their windows. Truck drivers honked angrily as motorists switched on their full beams to pick out curves in the road, momentarily dazzling oncoming traffic.

Motorists traveling along the main highway linking the Spanish capital to Seville and the rest of the south face similar challenges.

“In some stretches it looks like they’ve been switching off the lights, in others they are missing the bulbs or the cables,” says Pascual Cabello, 32, who runs a fleet of eight trucks. “It’s only going to get worse,” he adds.

Natixis plans to shut commodities brokerage unit

NEW YORK/PARIS (Reuters) - French bank Natixis said it plans to close its commodities brokerage division, as one of the oldest ring-dealing members of the London Metal Exchange becomes the latest victim of the European debt crisis.

Qatar buys ‘major’ stake in oil giant Shell

LONDON — Qatar is continuing its overseas buying spree, snapping up a stake in Royal Dutch Shell and reportedly also eyeing a chunk of Italian oil major ENI .

A Shell spokeswoman confirmed that Qatar had bought a stake but declined to say how large.

Eni probe will not stall Kazakh oil project-official

(Reuters) - Kazakhstan will develop its massive Kashagan oilfield regardless of an Italian investigation into the business activities of key consortium partner Eni in the former Soviet republic, a Kazakh Oil and Gas Ministry official said on Friday.

Cyprus gets 15 bids for offshore gas search

(Reuters) - Cyprus received 15 bids for its second offshore hydrocarbons licensing round, including energy heavyweights Petronas, Total, and Kogas, energy minister Neoclis Sylikiotis said on Friday.

Riddles, mysteries and enigmas

FEW people outside Russia have ever heard of Gunvor—and Gunvor would probably prefer it that way. It is the world’s fourth-biggest oil trader, and at its peak handled roughly a third of Russia’s seaborne exports of crude oil. We suspect that Gunvor has been driving down the price of Russian oil. An investigation by The Economist into Gunvor’s trading in Urals crude, a benchmark blend in north-west Europe, suggests that such a strategy could have helped the firm buy oil in Russia cheaply and, in theory, earn inflated profits when it sold the same oil on the international market at full price.

Iraq Oil Output Beating Iran Ends Saddam Legacy

Iraq, seeking to more than double oil output by 2015, is poised to overtake Iran as OPEC’s second- largest producer by the end of the year as sanctions hobble crude production in its Persian Gulf neighbor.

Iraq is pumping at the highest rate since Saddam Hussein seized power in 1979, supported by foreign investors such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP Plc (BP/) that are developing new fields and reworking older deposits. The country produced 3.03 million barrels a day in April, 7.7 percent more than in March, while Iranian production declined to 3.2 million barrels a day, according to an OPEC monthly report yesterday. Iraq’s output last exceeded Iran’s in 1988, when the countries ended their eight-year war, statistics compiled by BP show.

Gulf Arab states face obstacles to unity push

(Reuters) - Gulf Arab leaders meeting on Monday will discuss closer union between their six states because of what they see as growing threats from Iran and al Qaeda after the Arab uprisings, but significant political obstacles loom.

Syrians take to the streets after deadly bombings

(CNN) -- Syrians took to the streets in protest Friday, a day after massive suicide bombings ripped through the capital, killing dozens in the nation's deadliest attack since an uprising started 14 months ago.

New attacks hit some areas Friday, killing at least five people, according to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an opposition group.

Cnooc Deploys Oil Rig as Weapon to Assert China Sea Claims

China’s first deep-water drilling rig began operations near islands in the South China Sea in a move to assert Beijing’s territorial claims as travel agencies suspended tours to the Philippines amid safety concerns.

Pirates Hijack Greek-Owned Tanker off Oman

Pirates have hijacked a Greek-owned oil tanker carrying 135,000 metric tons of crude oil while in the Arabian Sea off Oman, the vessel's manager said.

Oil rig workers make nearly $100,000 a year

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- It may be dangerous, difficult work, but oil drillers are well compensated for the job: In 2011 the average salary for rig workers and other industry personnel was $99,175.

JPMorgan faces backlash over ties to Sudan

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- For the second year in a row, JPMorgan Chase is recommending shareholders vote against a proposal calling for the bank to stop investing in companies that "substantially contribute to genocide or crimes against humanity."

Specifically, the proposal points to JPMorgan's big stake in Chinese oil giant PetroChina, the publicly-traded arm of China National Petroleum Company, which has been widely recognized and condemned for helping finance genocide in Sudan.

South Sudan Hunts for Loans as Oil-Output Halt Dents Economy

South Sudan is negotiating loans to boost the value of its currency and keep its economy afloat as foreign-exchange reserves decline after the country halted oil production, Deputy Finance Minister Marial Awou Yol said.

The East African nation has secured a $100 million line of credit from Qatar National Bank and will receive a $500-million loan within a month from an unidentified provider, Yol said in an interview in Juba, the capital, on May 8. Loans are also being sought from countries including China.

Arch Coal Lures Lenders With Coal in Ground: Corporate Finance

Lenders are allowing Arch Coal Inc. (ACI) to borrow $1 billion without the typical level of restrictions, helping the company overcome plunging energy prices as it cuts spending after two quarters of cash outflows.

The fourth-largest U.S. producer of coal, saddled with $4.1 billion of debt, will use proceeds of a term loan to refinance obligations and eliminate maturities until 2016 while increasing liquidity. The company is reducing its revolver by $1 billion and loosening restrictions on the existing credit line.

Africa miner SNR opens new coal export route

LONDON (Reuters) - South African coal miner Strategic Natural Resources Plc (SNR) will open a new coal export route using the East London port in the Eastern Cape when its joint venture marketing firm begins shipments in December.

SNR has formed the joint venture company with Swiss-based trader Trasteel to sell SNR's anthracite coal, the South African firm said on Wednesday.

Why Green Gold Is The 'New' Black Gold

As the world pursues ever more dangerous environments in order to discover untapped reserves, the concept of Peak Oil begins to take a more realistic shape. Companies like BP and Transocean know all too well the risks of exploring the deepwater frontier for abundant crude oil. Even Canadian oil sands leader Suncor Energy would have to admit that such innovative sources of oil are coming at a much higher price and cost of efficiency than they once did. But if black oil is on the way out due to increasing costs passed down to industry, what's going to help alleviate the growing void?

Energy Experts Discuss Economy of Oil at Shasha Seminar

Wesleyan hosted the 10th Annual Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns on April 19-20. The Shasha Seminar is an educational forum for Wesleyan alumni, parents, faculty and friends that provides an opportunity to explore issues of global concern in a small seminar environment.

Endowed by James J. Shasha ’50 P’82, the seminar supports lifelong learning and encourages participants to expand their knowledge and perspectives on significant issues. The 2012 theme was The Political Economy of Oil.

The Peak Oil Crisis: Perspective

While waiting to see how the Iranian nuclear confrontation and the various Eurozone crises sort themselves out, there is time to step back and look at the interaction of the major forces that will shape our future. While the problems of oil depletion are already upon us, shrinking resources are only a part of global dynamics currently.

There are at least six major forces moving civilization in the world today: 1) population growth: 2) economic growth; 3) political stability; 4) technological innovation; and more recently 5) resource depletion and 6.) climate change. There are, of course, other less obvious change-producing forces at work in the world – theology, geology, and culture to name a few--but these six look like a good place to start thinking about the interaction of change. Our six forces are intertwined so that significant movement in one will eventually result in feedbacks affecting some or all of the others.

Showdown at the H2O Corral

Tombstone, Arizona (CNN) -- There's a popular saying in the American West: Whiskey's for drinking, but water's for fighting over. This dusty little city, made famous by the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, has a dilly of a water fight on its hands.

Tombstone, population 1,400, is suing the federal government -- and it is likely to be a landmark legal battle.

Insight: Canada's oil sand battle with Europe

(Reuters) - There's a science to using science.

On May 9, the government of Alberta released a study into the extra carbon emitted by crude produced using oil sands instead of more conventional sources. The study, by a unit of California-based Jacobs Engineering Group, found that emissions from oil-sand crude are just 12 percent higher than from regular crude.

But the report was not just about the science. It also sent a political signal to Europe: Canada's fight over oil sands is not done yet.

Analysis: Canada may seek to silence some foes of new pipeline

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Some opponents of the proposed C$5.5 billion ($5.5 billion) Northern Gateway oil pipeline to Canada's Pacific Coast may not get a chance to be heard as scheduled by the regulatory panel looking at the plan because of federal government moves to streamline the country's environmental review process.

How Brazil Is Making an Example of Chevron

For all its global reach and technological sophistication, the second-largest U.S. energy company (ranked behind only ExxonMobil in market capitalization) didn’t have an effective plan for a sudden and multifront assault that included populist protest, political posturing, and criminal prosecution—for, in Chevron’s view, cleaning up after itself. Part of the blame rests with Chevron’s top executives in Brazil. The company represented itself in a critical foreign market with a surprisingly provincial American face. Buck, by all accounts a talented and exacting internal corporate leader, is not the statesman Chevron needed to explain the Frade accident to Brazil’s media.

State power

Expect for a brief period of nationalisation in the run-up to and during the second world war, Japan’s electricity industry has always been proudly private. Indeed, for much of its history, it was fiercely independent. In the 1920s the competition was so brutal that rival salesmen would brawl outside their customers’ premises to win the right to flog cheap electricity.

Sadly, those days are long gone. Since the 1980s the utilities have looked more like bloated government departments than red-blooded businesses. Their bosses have tended to be lawyers more familiar with pulling the levers of political than electric power.

End Polluter Welfare Bill Would Stop Coal, Oil, Gas Subsidies

WASHINGTON, DC (ENS) - Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Independent, and Congressmen Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat, today introduced a legislation to end billions of dollars in subsidies for the oil, gas and coal industries.

The Sanders-Ellison End Polluter Welfare bill abolishes federal policies making Americans taxpayers pay for fossil fuel company investments. Under current law, more than $110 billion in federal subsidies would go to the oil, coal and gas industries in the coming decade.

EPA to remove vapor-capturing rubber boot from gas pump handles

The Obama administration and the Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday they intend to phase out the rubber boots on gas pump handles now used to capture harmful gasoline vapors while refueling cars.

The EPA says the vapor-capturing fuel pumps are redundant because more than 70% of all cars on the road today are equipped with on-board systems that capture the harmful vapors.

Honda wins appeal of small-claims hybrid ruling

A California Superior Court Judge has reversed the high-profile verdict in a small claims case filed by a woman who claimed her Honda Civic Hybrid delivered significantly worse than the maker’s advertising claimed it would.

Couple gets 84 mpg in Passat diesel on real roads

A couple well-known for fuel mileage records on regular roads notched 84.1 mpg in a Volkswagen Passat diesel with six-speed manual.

That high mileage let them go 1,621.1 miles on a single tank of fuel in a three-day ramble through nine states from Houston to Northern Virginia, VW and the couple say.

Saudi Arabia Plans $109 Billion Boost for Solar Power

Saudi Arabia is seeking investors for a $109 billion plan to create a solar industry that generates a third of the nation’s electricity by 2032, according to officials at the agency developing the plan.

The world’s largest crude oil exporter aims to have 41,000 megawatts of solar capacity within two decades, said Maher al- Odan, a consultant at the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy. Khalid al-Suliman, vice president for the organization known as Ka-care, said on May 8 in Riyadh that nuclear, wind and geothermal would contribute 21,000 megawatts.

Solar Installers Offer Deals, Gaining Converts

HOLMDEL, N.J. — Jay Nuzzi, a New Jersey state trooper, had put off installing solar panels on his home here for years, deterred by the $70,000 it could cost. Then on a trip to Home Depot, he stumbled across a booth for Roof Diagnostics, which offered him a solar system at a price he couldn’t refuse: free.

Mr. Nuzzi had to sign a 20-year contract to buy electricity generated by the roof panels, which he would not own. But the rates were well below what he was paying to the local utility. “It’s no cost to the homeowner — how do you turn it down?” Mr. Nuzzi said on a recent overcast morning as a crew attached 41 shiny black modules to his roof. “It was a no-brainer.”

Assessing Whether Solar Panels Make Sense for You

Part of the appeal here is that customers can not only reduce their energy costs but fix them for a long period of time, avoiding the unwelcome surprise of a suddenly high bill because, say, natural gas prices have shot up again. Customers also avoid having to figure out how to claim the various incentives and benefits for which they qualify as a renewable energy producer.

But there are some things to look out for. Going solar does not mean going off the grid. A typical roof array will not handle all of a home’s electricity needs since it produces power intermittently. So customers will still get a bill from the utility, though probably a much smaller one. Many contracts also have escalator clauses, with the payments increasing over time, so it is important to determine if your energy costs are likely to go up or down if you were to stick solely with the utility.

Germany Delays Solar Subsidy Cut in Blow to Angela Merkel

Germany’s upper house voted to renegotiate a bill backed by Chancellor Angela Merkel that would cut subsidies for solar power after state leaders from her own party said the plan would threaten jobs.

The Neighborhood Visualizer Maps The Resource Intensity Of Your City

How much material did it take to build your house? How much energy did it use? This new interactive map tells you exactly how much you and your neighbors are using.

An ocean of troubles (review of The Ocean of Life: The Fate of Man and the Sea, by Callum Roberts)

Overfishing, global warming and pollution threaten to transform the ocean—and perhaps life as we know it.

The coming arms race for Arctic oil (excerpt from The Eskimo and the Oil Man, by Bob Reiss)

From a national security standpoint, the Russian said, when it comes to the problem of terrorists of the future attacking oil infrastructure, or of fighting in the Mideast interrupting international oil supply, "Arctic is more safe than Persian Gulf, yes?

"But in Arctic we have problems, icebergs. If we stop operations in times of icebergs it is not very good, yes? Another problem is oil spill in ice. Recovery? Practically zero," he said. But he did not look worried.

On the contrary, he was smiling. He had an answer! His eyes lit up and his blunt fingers stumbled over the keyboard, stopped, lifted a pen, sketched.

"We need special technology for Arctic, yes?"

Astounded, I realized he was drawing an underwater nuclear powered tanker, a kind of huge submarine that, he said, would travel beneath the ice, arrive at a sea bottom wellhead, attach itself to piping—as in the sketch—and suck up oil or gas.

Baked Alaska

From interviews with Yup’ik hunters and elders in the Alaskan villages of St. Mary’s and Pitka’s Point by researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey, conducted as part of a study of indigenous people’s experiences of climate change. A summary of the USGS findings was published last fall in the journal Human Organization.

Political-Risk Insurer Underused as Climate Talks Fail

A World Bank Group agency providing insurance, including political-risk coverage, in developing nations is being underutilized by 30 percent because of a lack of demand as the United Nations fights to protect the climate.

Game Over for the Climate

GLOBAL warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening. That is why I was so troubled to read a recent interview with President Obama in Rolling Stone in which he said that Canada would exploit the oil in its vast tar sands reserves “regardless of what we do.”

If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate.

Global Warming: An Exclusive Look at James Hansen’s Scary New Math

How can NASA physicist and climatologist James E. Hansen, writing in the New York Times today, “say with high confidence” that recent heat waves in Texas and Russia “were not natural events” but actually “caused by human-induced climate change”?

It wasn’t all that long ago that respected MIT atmospheric scientist Kerry Emanuel flatly refuted the notion that you can pinpoint global warming as the cause of an extreme weather event. “It’s statistical nonsense,” he told PBS.

Up top: Scientists urge action on world's biggest problems, the statement can be downloaded from the Royal Society here.

There is also a second statement: Building Resilience to Disasters of Natural and Technological Origin.

The adoption of a systems approach and the identification of
multi-dimensional solutions are key elements to building resil-
ience. We suggest that particular attention be devoted to these
five dimensions, and ask governments to engage the national and
international scientific community in this effort: ...

All of the following suggestions will require capital, energy and resources. Just sayin'..

Both are short PDF files. Questions: How many "joint scientific statements" have we seen issued, to what effect?

Peak Oil, Humph... Smart meters monitor the herd, then ... when least expecting, sneak attack on the Spent fuel pools. May not have to wait for a Mega Solar CME to do the job. "Expert Warns: 100% Certainty of Total Catastrophic Failure of the Entire Power Infrastructure Within 3 Years" Expert? Just 3 Years? Predictions getting more Bizarre?? http://the-coming-depression.blogspot.ca/2012/05/expert-warns-100-certai...

That piece is pure scaremongering. The guy states that because smart meters can be hacked it will mean the destruction of the entire grid. It seems like more anti-smart-metering hysteria to me.

No doubt, I was embarrassed to post, Makes good Friday happy hour conversation however. People are concerned about the wrong things. Quality Air 1st, Roof, Water, Shelter, Food, then Power, Cheese doodles, ESPN, etc. Most street lights and associated pollution need to go, I hope I live to see that, DOT needs to figure out the reflective paint and ground lighting for critter crossings.

have you seen how easy it is for someone to gain control of one of those? it's almost bad enough to think they designed them to be easily controlled by anyone.

Who really cares what the "scientists" say in a society that has virtually completely devauled science (except for electronic trinkets that it continuously churns out).

Heard report today that only ~55% of kids in school could correctly identify (from MULTIPLE CHOICE question) that a water molecule was composed of two H atoms and an oxygen atom.

Somewhere in this backwards nation there's probably even a group protesting that being taught. "Atomic theory is just a 'theory' and not 'settled science' - after all Billy have you ever actually seen an 'atom' ?"

When I was a school boy I was splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen, and using the flammable gasses for fun. Found out how to do this from a book in the schools library which piqued my interest, 101 science projects or some such thing, this was way back in the 90s.

55% isn't too bad, just think of it as: The majority of kids can identify what a water molecule is composed of. Doesn't sound so bad now.

Tend to agree.

I know we have a lot of 'followers/audience' out there, and always have.. but when we have this discussion here about scientific illiteracy and the 'falloff of innovation', I have to look at all the 'Make-zine' articles that are not only showing people DOING creative projects with Microcontrollers, Materials, Math, Language, etc.., but then also communicating their brilliant and wacky experiments with anyone out there who looks for it.. new blueprints and tutorials are being disseminated and remodified briskly.

.. And I look at people who are geographically or socially isolated, but have internet connections and are now doing levels of research, study, reading and conversation (some among us, I daresay).. and looking out at the world that was simply not comparably possible just a few years ago.

Plusses and Minuses.. but I don't think it requires a 'majority' of people to fall into this camp. I tend to believe that there is usually a modest subset of the population who focuses in these sorts of ways. Others have the inclinations to take care of other parts of life.

As Craig Dilworth writes: "Too Smart for our Own Good"

Unfortunately smartness isn't helping. Cause, not a solution.

Too pat, I have to say.

When something isn't helping, then it's not really smart.. even if it's very clever. There is all sorts of Smartness out there that is helping, as well as plenty of examples of misused intelligence as well.

I disagree. Smart and clever are pretty much the same thing. Doing something clever that is unhelpful is unwise. As a species we are wicked smart but not very wise.

Not to be smart or anything, but speak for yourself. <:

You don't HAVE to differentiate those words, but you CAN. And there are reasons to look at our common potentials averaged out over the Species, and reasons to look at the exceptions where a quirky individuals or where one group IS being smart and moving in a useful direction. I don't claim that a few smart ones will 'save us'.. but I don't think intelligence is 'the problem'. It's a powerful tool.. so its consequenses CAN be awful, even if initially well intended (eg, Fritz Haber)

I understand that some believe that any and all intelligence and cleverness etc is only ever going to lead to more 'rapaciousness' and forms of overwhelming and destroying the planet.. but I feel that their belief is a bit narrow. There are people who are smart enough to know to avoid this direction, too.

This is why I'm more interested in the intelligence of the experts in the Humanities than the Sciences (tho' they sometimes intersect).. Like Haber, brilliance in a narrow discipline is likely to be dangerously blind to important side-effects (and so, I don't give it credit for being 'intelligent enough') .. but I'm not worried about the works of the Dalai Llama, John Steinbeck, Jimmy Carter, Wangari Maathai, Maya Angelou, Harriet Tubman

It depends entirely on how you define 'wikkid smaht'. I think kindness and compassion are keys to real intelligence. Numeracy can be helpful, but there are deeper calculations to be considered.

"Logic is the beginning of Wisdom, not the End.." Mr. Spock

I think you're leaving out the politics, to your peril.

Well. We're all in peril, no? If you mean the Jimmy Carter reference, I suppose that calls for any number of clarifications.. but IMO, he has shown great intelligence and compassion in many ways. I'm not trying to paint a utopic vision..

For the rest of it, all I'm trying to say is that there is actually intelligence out there, and that it can be a truly good thing. I don't pretend it will save us or everything.. but it's not a tool I would propose we abandon or despise.

It is not clear that intelligence has any long-term survival value
--- Stephen Hawking


I have to wonder if his frame is 'in the imagined future' or 'so far..' ?

It's easy to envision great disasters wrought by our macinations, and we've seen them again and again.. but we fall, some learn and get up again. We're still here, incorporating the lessons not only of our grandparents and their neighbors, but also the lessons of our ancestors from millenia ago. We still speak of many of them by name.

If that hasn't been housed in a structure built on intelligence, then what was it? Disaster has been part of the mix, but that doesn't negate the powerful influence of communication, literacy, mathmatics, chemistry and physics, analogy and metaphor, translation and paraphrase in our development so far.

Maybe we've created the disaster so fine that we cannot any of us outrace or outthink it.. but so far, we haven't ever gotten it that far. We can look at all those other 'collapses' from a place that once again somehow recovered from them, and started building again.

Back in 1949 my sister and I were given a top-of-the-line Chemcraft chemistry set. You could easily make make gunpowder with it and also quite a number of highly toxic compounds, including very poisonous gas. Of course they did not include formulas for dangerous stuff, but the formulas were easy to find, especially in the 1911 edition of the "Encyclopedia Britannica."

Today it is against the law to sell "real" chemistry sets to children, because of its hazards. The lawyers shut the industry down with many and large lawsuits over the years.

Glycerine and potassium permanganate was a favorite treatment for ant holes.
Tinker Toys and Erector sets are a thing of the past too. I learned much from making things.
Today it's all about hardware, software, apps, e-kkowledge. Not a bad thing.
Heathkit closes shop:


I'm well aware of it, Don, and it is too bad, but still there are a lot of people out there creating, doing dangerous things and learning. More of it is sort of 'off the curriculum', but 'on the net' ..

It's not going to be spoonfed and authorized, necessarily, but the curious apes are still out there breaking rules and digging into the forbidden closet of mysteries. At least the tools for keeping an eye on all of us are also the tools for spreading these notions all over hell. The Poison is supposed to be close to the cure, no?

Here's one you won't be seeing again anytime soon:

Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab (1950-1951)




Porter Atomic Energy Kit (late 1940s, 1950s)


55% isn't too bad, just think of it as: The majority of kids can identify what a water molecule is composed of. Doesn't sound so bad now.

It's worse than it sounds. There are clothing lines and accessories that are identified with "H2O" - and these are usually "wet" sports - including H2O-brand lube - and if that doesn't help the kids figure out which multiple-choice answer to choose ...

I *may* be kidding about the lube part.

Ya, but there were only two choices in the test. :)

Science is tricky, because it tends to undermine itself. Much like modernity.

The best science pretty much has confirmed that humans are tribal apes, that much of what we do is governed by reflex and precortical structures, that we are not "rational," that fossil fuels are finite and we are rapidly burning them up, that the distances in space are too large to navigate, and there's probably not much out there anyways, that our burning up of fossil fuels is releasing so much CO2 that it is quickly changing the planet's climate in very unpredictable ways, likely harmful to mammalian life such as ourselves (and that because of human social structures, game theory, competition, etc., that this change in climate will not be stopped, no matter what we try to do).

Also, that, in the end, we are pretty much organic matter like everything else, and the fate of every single one of us is to be worm food.

Now, how many of you "educated" people out there are willing to admit all of this. If so, isn't it sort of depressing?

So don't look down on the people who really don't have much to do with science, or perhaps even reject it altogether. They are just apes looking to survive and make sense of the world.

'Now, how many of you "educated" people out there are willing to admit all of this.'

I am, but then, I am a lifelong biologist and ecologist.

" If so, isn't it sort of depressing?"

'Depressing' doesn't quite capture the feeling of watching this thing unfold. And unfold it will. It is a Juggernaut.

that the distances in space are too large to navigate, and there's probably not much out there anyways

Wholeheartedly agree except on this point. There's definitely a whole lot more "out there" than you or I could possibly imagine with our feeble irrational hominid brains. The distances are far too large with current technology, true, though with a Project Orion style spacecraft (the Freeman Dyson version, not the "Orion" design that Nasa is developing for a Mars mission) or a Bussard ramjet we *might* be able to make it to Alpha Centauri and back in a human lifetime. If someone can dream up a way to make Alcubierre's "warp bubble" a practical reality, though, then all bets are off.

Re: depressing, I read a lot of Kurt Vonnegut back in my youth, so it takes quite a bit to depress me.

Alternatively, the distances are too large for beings with a limited life span and no ability to copy their pesonalities from one physical instance to another. Sentient beings based on other electrochemical systems may have life spans of millions of years and be perfectly copyable. Humans may create these, in which case humans will be regarded as an intermediate step in the evolution of sentient beings capable of interstellar travel.

Now, how many of you "educated" people out there are willing to admit all of this. If so, isn't it sort of depressing?

I am an educated person - you actually don't need to put scare-quotes around "educated" for me. I really am educated.

And no - it's not depressing - it is simple reality (and everyone with half a brain accepts it easily - those who do not, do so at their peril - or vote for the Loopy Right). I don't care about any of them - they are all losers and schmucks. And why on earth would I find any of this depressing? Life is a ball if you approach it in a reasonable way. Would you like a beer?

Would you like a beer?


And if it turns out that the answer to the 64 billion dollar question, "are humans smarter than yeast?!" turns out to be a big fat no, then we can be pretty much sure that some completely unforeseen organism will reap the benefits until their new and improved ecosystem crashes as well...

Were the O2 producing cyanobacteria any smarter back in the day? I rest my case!

"are humans smarter than yeast?!"

Well, the beer isn't drinking us.

I find it hypocritical when people desire 'gadgets' but don't desire the scientific method that produced it in the first place. Tell them that iPod and belief in religious texts are antithetical and see sparks fly.

The last link above is also interesting: Re: Global Warming: An Exclusive Look at James Hansen’s Scary New Math

The story from the TIME website gives a clear discussion of the statistical problem of attribution of extremes to AGW and also a link to Hansen's latest paper on the subject. It's also nice to see the word "denialist" used again in a major media outlet. It's been a long slog to get national acceptance of that "brand"...:-)

E. Swanson

Don't worry - there is a plan for not having 9 billion in 30 years.

Energy Used by Man = Number of Humans X The rate each Human uses.

Even tongue-in-cheek - linking to the Bio Terror Bible is rather a terrible slur on this otherwise intelligent form, Eric. Some things - we do NOT ever need to know about (blech).

Even tongue-in-cheek

The tongue is firmly planted in the cheek.

Yet, having a box of N95 masks in stock and perhaps a couple of tyveck body suits ($12 a pop at Northern tools) isn't a bad plan either.
And, the argument can be made that there does exist some rather nasty man-made biologicals out there along with the desire for the people in power to want to keep what they have.

It seems that site goes to the extreme of the argument. The 90% death number may not be realistic- my understanding is the "normal" natural pandemic is 20-30% overall death rate.

Some things - we do NOT ever need to know about

There may be an "affordable" defense to the pandemics of the future. "Vitamin" D.
As an added benefit - the D effects seem to cover other things.

The introduction of myxomatosis eliminated 98.5% of Australia's rabbit population in the early '50s. The later introduction of rabbit haemorrhagic disease was less successful.


And thank you - a valid counterpoint with the 98% Alas, that supports the bioterror guy's line of thinking.

Valid or not, bioterror dude is introducing facts that one can check up on if one is so inclined. Now he has a goal in his writing and intoduces the facts to support the writings purpose. Some of the introduced items are scary enough - it is up to the individual to look into them and see how many are "truth" even if, at the end, the individual comes to a different conclusion. http://dieoff.org/ has updates it seems, if one is looking for some doomer-porn.

Yes - but 40 years on the rabbits are back in huge numbers ... the 1.5% who survived myxi won, it seems. The recently introduced calicivirus is definitely less effective.

The adoption of a systems approach and the identification of
multi-dimensional solutions are key elements to building resil-

Translation: while we have "democratic" systems where individuals (of any party) will eat dead rats and crawl over broken glass to stay in office, then nothing even remotely approaching "a systems approach and the identification of multi-dimensional solutions" has the slightest chance of being implemented. I guess that means we're screwed.

Today, ALEC Brings Lawmakers And Big Oil Together To Undermine Clean Energy


Jeez, it would be fun to lock the ALEC folks in a room for a week with the scientists in my post, above.

Leave out the scientists, and then throw away the key.

How about the ALEC Peak Oil / Global Warming denialists get locked into a
car in the summer?

See what that does to their appreciation of the power of the Greenhouse Effect lol

My latest 3 posts on applied peak oil science in Australia

Queensland plans to export more than 10 times the gas NSW needs (part 3)

Howard's wrong decisions on offshore gas exports start to hit transport sector now

NSW Transport Master Plan debates conventional peak oil 2006, assumes continuing oil age

Howard = former Australian Prime Minister 1996-2007

"Yes, Prime Minister", peak oil 2006 under your watch

NSW = New South Wales

The coal seam gas that is to be liquefied and exported as LNG from Gladstone Queensland could help all of eastern Australia which has perhaps only a decade of reliable natural gas left. At one time Gillard was offering to pay for 2000 MW of gas fired generation to replace coal. My understanding is that offer has only partly been accepted due to fears of a gas price escalation. Of course switching from coal to gas fired generation will also reduce the carbon tax bill so there is a double incentive.

The alternative is for domestic users to pay the export equivalent gas price ie the LNG price minus the cost of liquefaction. That could work out 3-5 times what major domestic customers are paying now. Queensland coal seam gas could be sent south through existing pipe networks (reversing the flow in some sections) to New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. The latter need new gas supplies to develop uranium mines since nuclear is prohibited. Federal intervention to set aside say 50% of Queensland coal seam gas from export is possible but politically difficult. Not sure what will happen but first we'll get several years of people running around like headless chickens.

That story about Spain's lights going out scares me. I know most people think of some gradual slide down the other side of peak oil as being like the good old day, but we are not going to like it. When the local budgets get squeezed, year after year, you will find that the unscheduled remedies are unpleasant. Suburbia is a bit different when the town shut down the street lights long ago, and you get rolling blackouts on a regular basis.

Richard Duncan wrote about rolling blackouts, starting around 2012, if memory serves.

A lot of folks around here are militant about using their Edison bulbs and vehemently reject the conspiracy that is CFL & LED technologies. They're going to be disappointed when they don't get to use that stockpile of incandescent bulbs they went out and purchased during the light bulb ban hysteria days. My mother has a closet full of these and it's impossible to even talk about light bulbs, it's too politically charged of a subject.

These folks need to cast-off their preconceived notions because they're sadly mistaken. So much of what I do is geared to saving watts, but more often than not it's the improvement in light quality and the overall appearance of the space, post retrofit, that impresses our clients the most. We recently wrapped things up at one of our client sites and the energy savings are, indeed, substantial; for example:

   ► 20-watt MR16s replaced by 7-watt EnduraLED MR16s - 65% savings;
   ► 4-lamp T12 troffers (180-watts) replaced by 2-lamp 12-cell volumetric parabolics (43-watts) - 76% savings;
   ► 60 and 75-watt halogen PAR30s replaced by 12-watt EnduraLED PAR30s - 80% savings;
   ► 50-watt halogen PAR20s replaced by 7-watt EnduraLED PAR20s - 86% savings;
   ► 100-watt incandescent A19s in glass pendants replaced by 8-watt EnduraLED A19s - 92% savings;
   ► 100-watt incandescent A19s in fabric(!) pendants replaced by 3-watt EnduraLED BA11s - 97% savings.

But it's how the place looks after we fold-up the ladder by which we judge our success.

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/Img_1354.jpg

The replacement lamps provide a nice, clean, crisp white light, the colours are more vibrant, and there's a lot more sparkle (the original halogens cast a dirty yellow, nicotine-stained pall over the merchandise and the old T12 lamps distorted and muted colours).


Is anybody doing an inexpensive full spectrum led bulb that could go into household fixtures?

I think the closest you'll get to a full-spectrum, general service LED is the Philips L-Prize lamp. It provides 10 to 15 per cent more light than a standard 60-watt household incandescent, consumes 9.7-watts, has a rated service life of 30,000 hours and, in relation to your question, a CRI or colour rendering index of 92+ (most CFLs have a CRI of 80 to 82; higher numbers being better). The downside is that this lamp retails for a heart-stopping $50.00, although utility rebates where available may cut that by as much as half (there's some mention of rebates at: http://www.lightingprize.org/pdfs/LPrize_eUpdate_032312.pdf).

I'm afraid CFLs and I don't co-hab all that well (tried them all without much success) but I'm quite happy with the LEDs I've purchased thus far. I've ordered a case of L-Prize lamps for my personal use and I'm anxious to try them out. I was hoping that they would arrive today, but no luck.


Cool! Thanks! I'll probably need to do one at a time:) I tried really really hard to like the CFLs better, but since they are a bit of an investment, too, I thought I'd hold out til somebody did a nice full spectrum LED. (I keep seeing myself as Link, opening a chest and holding up a bulb - Da-da-daDAAH)

I purchased a Phillips L-Prize bulb a few months ago and... Love it! The light quality is just right, soft and with a warm hue. I intend to get more of the Phillips bulbs as my old incandescents and fluorescents wear out.


Edit: I actually have the 12.5-watt A19 version that looks similar to the L-prize winner. Still a great bulb.

You wouldn't have its close sibling, the 12.5-watt EnduraLED/AmbientLED A19 by chance? The L-Prize version which is similar in outward appearance went on sale April 22nd but it won't be sold in Canada, or so I'm told (my Philips rep is bringing mine in from the States). I have several of these 12.5-watt lamps in my home and, I agree, it's a great product. However, the L-Prize version is even better, e.g., 940 lumens versus 806, 9.7-watts versus 12.5, and a CRI of 92+ versus 80.

See: http://news.cnet.com/2300-11128_3-10012007.html?s=0&o=10012007

This is the first non-incandescent lamp that I can't distinguish from the real McCoy when fitted inside a table lamp.

[Sorry, I was too slow off the mark, and hadn't noticed your edit before posting.]


Hi Paul, while you're on the topic of that 12.5W lamp, I thought I'd drop a word to say I think I've found the source of the color issue I was having with it a few months ago. It turns out that much of it was probably wall color. The room the lamp was in was painted in some earth tones which made things look worse for some reason. Moving it to another room painted blue makes it look far better. I now think it was more a CRI issue (what the paint was reflecting being a poor match for the wavelengths the lamp emits) than a simple color temperature issue as a real incandescent did not look as bad. I still prefer cooler LEDs though :]

Thanks for the update, and I can see how the interaction with the paint could influence your opinion. This lamp, like most sold in the residential market, has a colour temperature of 2700K so that it closely matches that of a standard household incandescent. If I had a choice, I'd opt for 3000K or even 3500K, but many North Americans might find that a bit too cool/institutional. For commercial applications, I always specify a 4000K LED and a 5000K T5/T8 unless circumstances dictate otherwise.


Paul - What colour temperature would you recommend for colour accuracy for an artist friend of mine and in general what colour temperature would you suggest for home lighting, I.E. What do you use for yourself? I tend to go for warm colours, but I'm open to suggestion otherwise. I want to go straight to LED lighting but considering the longevity of the bulbs I figure choosing correctly at this point would be the most cost effective tactic.

Hey Squill,
Speaking from an Artist/Photographer's perspective.. a couple thoughts..

Traditionally, Painter's would do their work in a studio set up with a 'Northern Sky-light' .. (showing an unfortunate Nothern-hemisphere-centrism, you would obviously reverse that to Southern), so their work could get the even Daylight (5500k>7500k..) Coloring for best color reference, and not be distorted, distracted or damaged by direct sunlight.

My Mother had her loom a few feet from where I'm sitting, under just such a skylight, as weavers often make complex color-blends in their work (SEE LINK.. http://s831.photobucket.com/albums/zz240/Ingto83/?action=view&current=CJ... http://s831.photobucket.com/albums/zz240/Ingto83/?action=view&current=Ca... and I took the photos of those samples under natural daylight as well...), and tungsten light (2600k>3000k)would seriously misrepresent the balances, leaving the cooler colors underlit and so they might be overused to compensate, and then the fabric would look much different as soon as it was taken outdoors.

I made Mom a CFL Lightbank that had several powerful (25watt) Warm White and Daylight Lamps in it, switched separately, so she could look at her colors and see the results under either or both colortemps mixed, and more important, that she could keep working there after dark. This might be helpful for your artist friend, and now it can be done more compactly and sometimes more cheaply with these strips of Surface-mount LEDS.

I don't know what their CRI or a good spectral analysis of their output looks like.. I'm a bit more intuitive (like Mom..), I just LIKE them.. Paul is much better getting the actual stats and crunching the numbers, and I'm very grateful to have his researched information and examples of successful relighting projects here. I'm sure a Monet can be inspired by an Ansel Adams, no less!


For an artist's studio, I'd recommend an 800 or, preferably, 900 series 5000K T8/26 mm linear fluorescent which has a colour temperature close to that of daylight through a north facing window (or south facing, if you happen to be on the other side of the equator). The Philips F32T8/TL950 has a CRI of 98 which is about as good as it gets with any light source, fluorescent or otherwise. In New Zealand, it's sold under the Master TL-D 90 Graphica name (see: http://download.p4c.philips.com/l4bt/3/323163/master_tl-d_90_graphica_32... PDF format)

It's largely a matter of personal taste and general décor, but for most residential applications it's probably best to stick with either a 2700K (incandescent-like) or 3000K (halogen-like) product, especially if you prefer warmer colours. All of our Edison base LEDs are, in fact, 2700K or 3000K; if we had an ultra modern home with a minimalist décor dominated by "cooler" colours, or lived in a more temperate climate, I might opt for 4000K. The 3 and 5-watt under cabinet LED strips in our kitchen are 4000K and provide a nice, crisp work light (see: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/RAB00.jpg and http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/RAB01.jpg).

If you can purchase the Philips 12.5-watt EnduraLED/AmbientLED/MasterLED A19, I'd give that one a try; it's the closest match to a standard general service incandescent that you'll find anywhere.


I have been using the 12.5 W Endura LED for about a year; since they started selling them at Home Depot. I thought they were the L Prize winners when I bought them. I should have waited for the real thing! I love them, anyway!

Thanks Bob/Paul, very useful information.

Same here, and fortunately I found out that walmart has some rather nice 3000K LEDs around here (Montreal area). For 20$ you get a 9.5W lamp rated at 600 lumens (it seems to easily provide that much) which dims smoothly and with a low cutoff. They have to be behind a diffuser though as the lamp itself has none. I hope they'll age well.

Speaking of LEDs, would you know where the average Joe like me can get a hold of some good LED strips for countertop lighting? Hardware stores seem to have only one or two models, ridiculously expensive and with limited wiring options (ie. meant to be plugged into a 120V socket). I want to cover about 18ft in 3 separate sections, hopefully from a single driver so I can use small DC wiring through the cabinets and around a window.

That's a tough one. The ones I installed are made by RAB Design (http://www.rabdesign.ca/productdetails/ultra-slim-under-cabinet.html) and were sourced through a local wholesaler. Very nice product but rather pricey. Bob (jokuhl) rolled his own using flexible LED strips and I hope he can help steer us in the right direction.


Sure, here are the cheapo strips I've gotten. So far, no problems at all.

http://www.amazon.com/Flexible-Strip-LED-Ribbon-Ledwholesalers/dp/B002QQ... ($14.75 for 100 segments, 300 LEDS, 16 feet long, roughly 40 watts total)

I would love to see them in a 'Neutral White', which is around 4000k .. but for 1.75 a 3-led section when you get at least 10 of them (or $2.35 individually), you can get 'Warm, Neutral or Cool White' from here..


..leaving you a chance to experiment and see what color of light works best where.

My undercounters use these now, and I've made a range of other practical applications with these 'applique' items. Very handy! All take a simple 12vdc input.

(Pic of my countertop lights, with one Fluoro still there, and two LEDs installed.
http://s831.photobucket.com/albums/zz240/Ingto83/?action=view&current=IM... )

Thanks to both of you! That's exactly the kind of flexibility I need. They don't seem to ship to Canada through amazon but it looks like they might from their own website. Did you cover the strips with something to protect them or just left them bare? I guess nothing too bad is likely to get there except some grease over time.

They are inside a little Squared Channel of Plastic (about 1"wide, 1/2" deep) I had left over from removing a Window in a vinyl track, but are otherwise unprotected.

The coffeepot is pouring steam up into one daily, and I wonder if the solder joints will show the oxidation soon.

I do plan to put clear or slightly diffused covers over them, but they seem pretty unlikely to be affected, as the circuit work is laquered, it seems. The bigger concern would be them getting greasy and splattered. It would be a pain 'Toothbrushing' them clean!

I am making a big 'Star' with these to be an experimental Ambient Source for the kitchen overall, the Strips Adhered to a Frame of Wooden Slats. I'll put up a pic on drumbeat in a few days, when the test is up there above my old 120 watt Chandelier.. the last Incandescents working in the house! (besides the fridge lights.. have to play with those, too-- for the hour or so a month that they're on!)


If you can make the strips fridge resistant they may be better. I get smegged off with fridge lights that are at the back and get obscured by what you have in there. What is the point of putting them in there, in the first place, if they are going to be blocked off the first time you put a box of papaya pieces in there?


HereInHalifax, peakIQ, I have my A19 in a room with lightly painted walls--a faint beige--and under a lampshade with a bright white underside. This environment seems to work very well with the A19 and I have no complaints. However, when another 60-watt bulb needs replacing, I will certainly try out the similar-looking L-prize winner.


I'm afraid CFLs and I don't co-hab all that well (tried them all without much success) ...

The day after the Northeast blackout of 2003 I replaced all the incandescents in my 4 bdrm house with CFLs and haven't looked back. When I read these comments about grown-up people worryng about minutiae like light quality and whether it's full-spectrum I'm just shaking my head, considering the amount of electricity saved and the kind of future lifestyle changes we are facing.

BTW, anybody know what Home Depot does with the CFLs being dumped in their CFL Drop-Off boxes?

My problem is not with the amount of Hg they contain which is minuscule; frankly, you could ingest more Hg by eating a tuna fish sandwich than if you were to handle broken a CFL. I just don't care for the quality of light they provide. Sure, I'd suck it up if I had to and did so for over 30 years -- bought my first CFL in 1983 and GE's self-ballasted Circulines and Sylvania Brightsticks prior to that (ugh!). Now, we have the option to go LED and I'm a lot happier (the difference between listening to a performance of the PSO in Heinz Hall versus on an 8-transistor AM pocket radio).

BTW, my Philips rep sent me this: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/GECFL.jpg


Thanks, Paul. I always enjoy your posts. I think you have a cool job. All my flashlights and home lighting have LEDs; they are worth the cost. I always remember to save my receipts when I buy them, so I can return and exchange the ones that fail; they are expensive enough to be worth the extra trouble.

Thanks, MI. I'm extremely fortunate to have a team of professionals who excel at what they do; it's a joy to work with these guys and I couldn't be more proud of their efforts and the way their interact with our clients.


it's impossible to even talk about light bulbs, it's too politically charged of a subject

Is it any wonder that it's impossible to get a (badly needed) consensus on reforms in healthcare, Wall Street or campaign finance when something as innocuous as *freakin light bulbs* os now a "politically charged" subject?

Jesus H... I bet if Obama went on TV and declared the sky was blue, the Fox Newsies would immdiately rebut it and find an "expert" to explain how he was all wrong. Oh, and then the Drudge zombies and Freepers would "uncover" how it was his indoctrination in the Indonesian madrassas that made him think that way.


This is where we're at. I weep for my country.

A lot of folks around here are militant about using their Edison bulbs and vehemently reject the conspiracy that is CFL & LED technologies.

The amount of insanity around this topic is sad. Science has become politicized. People are rejecting CFLS, LED, PV panels, electric cars, etc. without even considering the objective facts. They are rejected just because they are tree-hugger stuff, 'environazi' stuff, stuff that homosexuals in San Francisco would use.

Nothing wrong with waiting before adopting a technology because it is still too expensive or doesn't work well for a particular application. But the outright rejection of good technology due to partisan ideology is just crazy.

Fortunately they can't avoid much of it . . . if they buy a new car or TV, they are probably going to be getting lots of LEDs anyway.

I use incandescent bulbs for the sockets that are used less than an hour per year. It makes no economic sense to use way more expensive bulbs for lighting fixtures that are hardly ever used, e.g. closet lights or just-inside-the-door hallway lights. For my reading lamp I use an expensive advanced-technology 100 watt equivalent bulb, because when I read I want good light and plenty of it. To choose it I just bought the most expensive bulb I could find, because I figured that the most expensive one would probably be the best one.

There are genuine and sensible reasons for some people to reject CFLs. I have a friend who is severely affected (migraines lasting days) by any kind of light flicker including the very fast (20kHz) and totally imperceptible flicker of a CFL. Now this is a very rare condition, and in his youth my friend wasn't so badly affected, but it's real. Despite various articles I see online glibly saying "neither the eye nor the brain can detect flickering at such high frequencies", it happens.

I'm sorry to hear this. I take it your friend can't watch television for this same reason?


That's absolutely correct. Some years ago he bought a computer monitor for some ridiculous price that's a low-flicker LCD with a halogen backlight. Also he doesn't like travelling by car when the sun angle is low ... the sun flickering through the trees can set him off. He walks everywhere but only in the daytime because street . It's pretty disabling. I wonder how many people have similar, yet less severe, problems without being more than peripherally aware of it.

Duncan probably didn't anticipate fracking when he made this prediction back in 2000. So he may have been a year or two pessimistic. Then again with Iran, Fukushima, economic meltdown, etc. the blackouts could start this year.

The debt crisis seems to be heating up again.

The JPMorgan news boggles my mind. Credit default swaps, again?

I expect that this is just the tip of the iceberg:

Five Banks Account For 96% Of The $250 Trillion In Outstanding US Derivative Exposure; Is Morgan Stanley Sitting On An FX Derivative Time Bomb?

The latest quarterly report from the Office Of the Currency Comptroller is out and as usual it presents in a crisp, clear and very much glaring format the fact that the top 4 banks in the US now account for a massively disproportionate amount of the derivative risk in the financial system. Specifically, of the $250 trillion in gross notional amount of derivative contracts outstanding (consisting of Interest Rate, FX, Equity Contracts, Commodity and CDS) among the Top 25 commercial banks (a number that swells to $333 trillion when looking at the Top 25 Bank Holding Companies),...

"Twas fun to watch Dimon squirm last night :-) What was he gloating about a few days ago? "The US has a straight royal flush".

Hahahahaha - well it sounds like they may have been trying to float a few trial balloons to see if they could pin this on a "rogue trader" again... but that may have been shot down pretty quickly.

Mr. Rogue Trader - he is a crafty one but may not have been involved for the latest escapades.


"...there is never just one cockroach..."


Bruno Iksil is actually the head of a group making trades in London. See story at daily mail. From other reports it appears that they changed some of the models used in valuing derivatives. The models have been changed back. Note that the JP Morgan investment bank is split between NY and London, and it's not clear how effectively the London operation is managed from the US. There are a lot of Brits in high positions in the investment bank. Probably New York corporate sent investigators to London after Bloomberg broke the stories about Iksil in early April, and they've been trying to limit the damage since soon after then.

Revealed: London trader known as 'Voldemort' who is suspected of blowing bank's staggering $2billion loss

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2142866/JPMorgan-Chase-trader-Br...

I did read the OCC report and can't say I find it that surprising or meaningful.

The report does say that:

The five banks with the most derivatives activity hold 96% of all derivatives, while the largest 25 banks account for nearly 100% of all contracts.

But this just refers to U.S. banks, so would not include Swiss, European, Japanese Banks, etc. It also does not claim that this is a new development. It is logical to expect that the most complex financial products would be concentrated in the top banks. Globally, this would imply that 95% of derivatives exposure is spread across the top ten or so big banks. I wouldn't have thought local commercial banks would have any derivatives at all, and would in fact be more worried if they did.

This is true in most businesses. If you looked at the internet search business, for example, you would probably find that 95% of search is concentrated in 2-3 companies.

One sentence that I did find particularly interesting was this one:

the notional amount of derivatives contracts does not provide a useful measure of either market or credit risks.

So next time someone here points to those giant amounts of derivatives in the system, remember that those are notional figures and may be meaningless in the context they are used in.

The worsening of the debt crisis has a lot more to do with Europe than JP Morgan.

The bank's $2bn loss looks more like an isolated event. While I wouldn't typically trust CEO's to tell the truth, in this case, I do think Dimon is right:

Dimon, speaking to analysts and reporters on a conference call, said the losses were caused by "errors," "sloppiness" and "bad judgment."

"This was a unique thing we did," Dimon said. "Obviously it had a lot of problems. It was a bad strategy. It became more complex, it was poorly managed."

It's a 200 billion dollar prop bet that they've lost 2 billion on already, and will lose a brazillion more on as they try to unwind it.

It's a time bomb.


One comment on the early CNN Money site reminds that JPMC owns a total of $91 Trillion in derivatives, which is only $20 Trillion more than the world GDP! And that's just one bank.

I wonder how much in losses the others are hiding today.

Stock market claws its way back, though, as those plastic gadgets keep selling, pulling the tech sector ever upwards.

http://money.cnn.com/markets/news/ (the News changes frequently, so this may not be here next visit)

Stocks claw higher
11:48am: U.S. stocks recover from earlier losses on strong consumer confidence data. Bank stocks remain weak after JPMorgan discloses a $2 billion trading due to 'sloppiness.'

Another day, another crisis kicked down the road.



One comment on the early CNN Money site reminds that JPMC owns a total of $91 Trillion in derivatives, which is only $20 Trillion more than the world GDP! And that's just one bank.

can only be true because of this:

the notional amount of derivatives contracts does not provide a useful measure of either market or credit risks.

The $91 trillion figure is notional. It refers to the value of the underlying security that the derivative is linked too and ignores that fact that, as noted in the zero hedge article that Ghung linked to above 90% of derivatives are offsetting.

If I bought a million dollars in one year Euro futures with dollars and a million dollars in one year dollar dollar futures with Euros, I would have two million dollars in derivatives, but no real risk except that one of the parties I am trading with can't make the payment. The offsetting derivatives themselves are risk free.

If you swop floating interest rates for fixed interest rates on a million dollars of debt, the maximum amount of money at risk is the spread between floating and fixed rates, but this would be counted as a million dollars in derivatives.

Gosh, Jack, you seem to be a bit more confident (if not dismissive) than these people, including the folks that created the derivative/CDO/CDS cloud to begin with. Hour four is especially pertinent. To suggest that the underlying securities aren't at risk seems to also suggest that most collateral is meerly vaporware, much like the sub-prime mortgage meltdown; equally concerning. How sustainable is a global financial system based largely on wishful thinking and promises that don't have to be kept, especially when the confidence game is being exposed in such glaring ways? Will the increasing debt (poorly secured at best) evaporate as easily as these not-so-obligatory obligations? Poof!

ghung, add this to your ammo pile, if you happen to have missed it, early on in Moyers "out of retirement" program. It WILL happen again!


Thanks, e; luv Moyers.

Nothing in my comment gives any indication of the level of confidence that I feel about anything. I have just listed a set of facts. If you think this is not the case, please do let me know if there are any specific parts of what I have written that are inaccurate.

I am worried about the state of global financial markets and the role of some of the more complex derivatives. But I do think it is important to be accurate in discussing the situation. Similarly, I am worried about climate change, but think that by engaging in hyperbole and emotive statements that are easily dismissed, we only hurt our own cause.

To a large degree, I think it is near meaningless to talk about derivatives as a single thing that can be grouped together. Broadly, I don't think that credit default swaps provide any significant economic benefit and are closer to gambling than to exchanging real economic risks. I tend to agree with those that would say that banks that take deposits from the public, or could be dependent on public bailouts, should not be allowed to trade in CDSs. In fact, I don't think this sort of institution should be able to put public money at risk at all. So, were I in charge, I would be doing everything I could to get banks such as JP Morgan to keep out of the CDS market and not to be involved in proprietary trading as per the Volker Rule. I do think both of these cases create systematic risk and only benefit private investors.

However, foreign exchange related derivatives, such as currency forwards and futures, are not complicated, opaque, or risky. Neither are commodities futures. I have absolutely no problem with farmers selling crops forward to lock in their gains and shift risks to others who are better able to bear them. Same with those exposed to oil prices or other commodities.

In fact, I do think it is odd that in some cases the same people rail against derivative, then discuss investing in oil futures, which is obviously a derivative itself.

In your comment, you said:

To suggest that the underlying securities aren't at risk seems to also suggest that most collateral is meerly vaporware, much like the sub-prime mortgage meltdown; equally concerning.

I'm not sure I understand this comment. But I would like to see if you could explain to me how the underlying debt in an interest rate swap is at risk unless the principal itself is exchanged. I'm pretty sure you don't know. There are cases in which principal is exchanged and then it is at risk, but that is a small subset of interest rate swaps.

It seems more obvious that in the case of oil futures that the underlying asset is not at risk. If I somehow fail to pay for an oil futures contract that I acquired, certainly the barrels of oil still exist.

Again, my point is not that there is no risk to the global financial system. I think there is. Neither do I think there is no risk in the growth of derivatives, I just think that the risk is concentrated in a small set of complex derivatives that I actually don’t think big banks should even be allowed to hold on their own accounts.

However, it should be clear that the giant notional figures that people throw around are nonsense. They include huge amounts of money that are not at risk as well as very basic currency and commodities futures that are have very different characteristics than CDSs. Finally, it is indisputable that the vast majority of of currency and commodities hedges are offsetting and don’t create systematic risk, aside from credit risk from counterparties. But ironically, this is probably the reason so many derivatives are concentrated in the very large banks that are considered too big to fail.

I am glad that you responded to my comment. Typically, the more hysterical comment chains can go on for ten or more comments, but once you add some facts into the mix the whole thing goes quiet as those who are the loudest appear the most ignorant. I am not including you in this, by the way. I will also try to watch the Frontline series, which does look valuable.

I would also be glad to continue this discussion, but as I said this topic (as well as the one about oil being sold in US dollars), almost invariably goes dead once you try to focus on facts.

One of the problems today, what with the events in Europe and the JPM 'loss' is the sense that events are spiraling out of control.

With mucho bank recapitalizations, Dodd-Frank, Volcker Rule, more Fed-this-and-that and 'Washington: first in war, first in peace and first in the National League', things like the Corzine/MF Global heist and the London Whale eating $2 billion of Jamie Dimon's money are not supposed to happen.

It's one thing for Greece to go belly up ... these are Greeks we're talking about. It's another for China to slow down or for Japan not be be able to sell her bonds (maybe). Horrors! People don't know whom to trust (so they don't trust anyone).

As for derivatives: I always liked the analogy of CDSs as being like fire insurance you can buy on your neighbor's house that will put you on easy street for life if you set the house on fire and it burns to the ground. The currency and interest rate swaps are so arcane and difficult to understand that only the BIS pays attention. However, every now and then some government gets screwed out of billions (Italy) because of a swap-gone-bad. China got worked over a few years ago on a fuel swap hedge and the told Goldman-Sachs and another Big New York Yankee Bank(s) to stuff it where the sun don't shine. Otherwise, if TSHTF the swaps will be worthless, nobody will have any cash. I can visualize people in an old-fashioned office with wood paneling holding handfuls of nicely printed swaps, throwing them at each other like characters in a 1929 'Great Crash' movie. There is that whorehouse piano playing furiously in the background as tens of trillions of dollars worth of swaps flutter from skyscraper windows.

There was an article by John Hussman a long time ago where he described how the big banks sliced and diced all their cash flow instruments -- and swaps -- so that every bit of paper they had was guaranteed by the government: each one had a little bit of some old lady's savings account in it. Not enough protection? Banks simply move the derivative accounts department into the customer deposit accounts subsidiary! If there is a 'blip' the derivatives have seniority over the depositors and the government will have to make them good while the counterparties walk off with the depositors' cash.

All this is of a mind for a TV show: 'Execution of the Week' where some business tycoon has his head cut off with a samurai sword in front of a national audience.

I'd buy a TV for that!

First, I also like the analogy comparing CDSs to fire insurance on someone else's house. I don't think they make the world, or financial markets, better on a net basis - whereas, I do think many other derivatives do.

I also agree that there is a sense that things are "spinning out of control". My impression is that generally financial markets have taken as consensus the opinion that the economy is on track for a gradually recovery and return to normalcy, but that this recovery is very fragile and could be threatened by what would normally be a bump in the road.

However, I do think the general public, and many TOD readers, react to the wrong issues. In the greater scheme of things, the JP Morgan loss is small peanuts and unlikely to have the “knock on effects” that the European problems do. In fact, if big banks were not allowed to take risks with public fund - as I think should be the case - there are plenty of private funds that could still lose $2bn and we wouldn't even know it happened.

People have been predicting a Chinese slow down for over a decade, so I don't think it surprises anyone. The issue there is that the world has so few engines of growth that the timing is worrisome.

I am less certain of how to react to the derivatives debates you refer to in Italy (which I don't know anything about) and China. At least in the second case, this could well just be a case of a Chinese company that made a bad bet and doesn't want to pay up. It could also be the case the derivatives themselves were so complicated that the buyer really didn't understand them. I can't tell.

I would like to see the Hussman article and can't really comment without reading it. I don’t see how it would be possible to package savings accounts into swaps or how this would somehow insure the whole package. I am sure big banks (and all banks) try to move things around and would rather push losses off on their customer than take them on their balance sheets. I do think this is criminal and would be subject to prosecution if there was adequate evidence.

Banks have always taken customer deposits and invested in higher yielding (although typically longer-term) assets and have always had to make good if they make bad decisions. It doesn't seem that the case is different with derivatives.

I don't think there is any way, or reason to change this. If banks couldn't honor their debts, people wouldn't do business with them and they wouldn't be able to pay interest on deposits.

I also think this has proven to basically be accurate:

this topic (as well as the one about oil being sold in US dollars), almost invariably goes dead once you try to focus on facts.

These anti-derivatives rants can go on and on, but no one feels confident enough in their understanding of the situation to respond to the most basic challenge to what they were willing to scream about minutes before.

Again, I first noticed this in the "oil is sold in only in US dollars" issue. Commenters claim that this is one of the most important factors determining global power structures, but as soon as you point out it is not actually true and ask for any evidence in support of their position - silence.

I do think these two topics tend to have a very low knowledge to conviction ratio.

I appreciate your measured response, Jack. My consternation on the derivatives issue exists on several levels and is, as you suggest, born partially from a lack of understanding. No big thing that. If you watch my frontline link, above, you'll see that most of the prime players in this game have questions about their own level of understanding, but tend to agree that this sector is high finance run amok. It makes your " I do think these two topics tend to have a very low knowledge to conviction ratio." a bit ironic. Dimons reaction to this latest debacle indicates to me that even the head of one of the world's most venerable banks has a knowledge to conviction gap. Plenty of examples of this at the very top, and examples of their failures being socialized.

"However, I do think the general public, and many TOD readers, react to the wrong issues. In the greater scheme of things, the JP Morgan loss is small peanuts and unlikely to have the “knock on effects” that the European problems do."

I'm sorry; perhaps you haven't looked at the US national debt lately. Is this BAU or knock on effects? Clearly our financial markets aren't performing as they should. With the banking sector still realizing record profits, how is it that tax revenues are dropping, pension funds loosing ground, etc., etc. I suppose it's a matter of who's side you're on, but it doesn't bode well for the general population.

That these things are occuring in the UK and Europe says one thing to me: These mega-banks can put US funds at risk without US oversight or accountability. It wasn't J.P.Morgan who bailed out UBS, it was the American people, so your contension that the US system is somehow insulated from this mess is questionable.

Again, my simplistic, generalist interpretation. That said, my understanding of the conditions leading to the 2008 crash was limited, yet I was smack on as early as 2005. Just ask my many friends formerly involved in the real estate feeding frenzy about my alarmist warnings. Failure by some to heed these, and others', warnings had a direct and severe effect on my family and the economy of our area. These people simply didn't care who went down with their greed.

These people simply don't care. They're addicted.

I agree with a lot of what you have to say. I don't think one needs to understand all of the technical aspects of derivatives in order to see that there are problems and participate in discussions about them. In fact, I think the problem is largely that these things are so complicated that only experts can know all of the details - and maybe even they can't, as you suggest.

I also agree that it also seems apt to accuse banks and Dimon of having a low knowledge to conviction ratio.

I don't think the US is insulated from financials problems at all. I just don't think JP Morgan's loss has the potential for contagion that other problems seen elsewhere do.

I'm off of a trip and will have limited internet connection. But I'm sure this discussion will continue. I won't be able to watch the frontline series for a while.

I think that there are two main problems with the more exotic credit derivatives and synthetic securities.

First is that they are not standardized and may not cancel out properly if there is some exogenous event that changes the economic picture significantly. This may cause the value at risk to increase in unexpected and substantial amounts. VAR is very sensitive to model assumptions, and in the JPM case, changing back to the previous VAR model more than doubled VAR.

Second is that some major participant in the derivatives market may not be able to perform as dictated by the contracts. The failure of one then leads to the failure of others and the contracts do not net out to small amounts. This is why AIG had to be kept afloat in order to prevent other firms from collapsing.

This is all compounded by the business being centered in London to take advantage of British regulations and law.

I'll be watching this later this evening. (David Graeber, author, Debt: The First 5000 Years)
Edit: Just watched half. He seems to turn many preconceived notions of debt/exchange on their head. Might read the book.

Might read the book.

I've been waiting. Only the expensive hardcover was available, they claimed paperback would be out in June...

The book appears to have good reviews. If you can't wait. I use Tribler.

One review site's comment:

Until recently, we had economies working on credit, not currencies. Currencies only become popular under militaristic empires. When these empires collapse together with their gigantic armies, we go back to a credit system. Credit systems are decentralized and support trust-based trading. Currencies are the basis for what we call "markets" today, that is, anonymous state-supported trade systems. The move to a fiat currency in the 1970s, according to Graeber, is actually a natural evolution... it is a prelude to the collapse of the currencies and of the American military empire. If you follow his model, we are headed straight for a decentralized credit-based system with small armies, modest governments.
~ Daniel Lemire

Fun times ahead.

Graeber on Democracy Now

Street lights are not necessary. During World War II the British shut off all their streetlights, to make it harder for the German night bombers to navigate. On the East coast of the U.S., all of the street lights were shut off somewhere around mid 1942, when both the British navy and the U.S. navy and also the Canadian navy simultaneously figured out the the reason the German U-boats were sinking so many cargo ships at night and winning the crucial Battle of the Atlantic (mostly) off the U.S. East coast was due to the fact that U.S. cargo ships were being sunk by torpedoes much faster than they could be replaced by new ones--due to the fact that the silouets of the cargo ships was clearly visible at night, except for foggy nights. Oddly enough, in the World War I antisubmarine manuals this issue had been discussed at some length, but sometime during the 1920s or 1930s this knowledge had been forgotten and was no longer was taught at Annapolis.

Another huge piece of knowledge that both the U.S. and British Royal Navy officers discussed at length and put into effect during World War I was that the most effective antisubmarine tactic was to put cargo ships into convoys protected by a shield of very fast destroyers that could quickly lay depth charges over submerged U-boats.

Today both the U.S. Navy and British Royal Navy (still the second-best Navy in the world) have extremely sophisticated antisubmarine technology and also some new tactics. (The old Soviet navy was for decades the second best in the world during the Cold War, but the new Russian navy is understaffed undermanned and very seriously undermaintained. Perhaps one fifth of the Russian Navy ships could be made to be seaworthy within thirty days, but almost all their naval officers are old now and either close to retirement age or in some cases past retirement age.)

More people drive today than they did in 1942. The risk of an 'event' is higher.


People also associate street lighting with safety. They are afraid of the dark. Making suburbia too dark or blacked out may backfire as people start installing 1,000W floodlights all around their property. Lights that can also cause dazzle to drivers.


There is a historic tie of well lit translating to less crime.

Colorado Springs already shut off 30% of their streetlights for the same reason.

Here in Canada there is a lot of street and not much lighting. I think there may be one 5 km from my house but I've never noticed. We've invented a system where each vehicle carries it's own lighting system. Although we may be too far down the Hubbert slope to implement that solution universally.


Well, as others have pointed out, a lot of streets are over-lit these days, so some modest cutting back might not hurt.

However, the story in Spain looks typical of the tantrums thrown by politicians deprived of toys, urban jewelry, or whatever they wanted and can't get right away due to the cutbacks (maybe somebody's mad that their soccer-stadium remodeling got postponed, who knows?) After all, in the context of the Big Picture, the street-lighting budget in most places will be essentially lost in the noise. But just maybe, by turning off the lights, a politician can get the public to clamor for more taxes, to divert to his or her utterly non-essential pet project.

Former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards (recently out from a ten year federal prison sentence) "cut back" by closing the highway rest stops in Louisiana.

No free public toilets while driving across the state.

Maximum impact for minimal savings.


From "The Difference Engine" above (Babbage for The Economist):

Not that long ago, natural gas was a tenth of the price of oil in energy terms; now it is a 50th.

Utter journalistic innumeracy. He presumably compares nat gas at $2/mcf to crude oil at $100/bbl. Crude contains ~5.8 mmBtu/bbl, so nat gas is about 1/8th the cost of oil in energy terms today, not 1/50th. But don't let that interfere with such a startling anecdote about how cheap natural gas is!

EDIT -- He of course concludes that the economics of converting from gasoline to natural gas are compelling (at a 50X spread who wouldn't?), but EPA regulations make conversion kits too expensive. I should have known he would transition over to a hoary narrative about government regulation, The Economist's stock in trade.

This fellow's license to write columns on Science & Technology is hereby revoked.

The reporters for "The Economist" (and also the "Wall Street Journal" are seldom economics or even business administration or finance majors. What the "Economist" and "WSJ" human resources departments (in charge of hiring and firing reporters) do is to find the best, the brightest, and the most enegetic young men and women they can who have outstandingly good writing skills. Their reasoning is that it is easy to teach a bright person all the substance of finance and economics that they need to know in about six months, while it is very hard or impossible to teach economics or finance majors how to write well.

I've taught finance to upper division businesses administration students at U.C., Berkeley, and I've taught basic English and prose style to the same group. Teaching finance or any branch of economics to students who can think quantitatively is easy, because it is so logical. Ph.D. economists in the U.S. are notoriously bad writers. Most major economic textbooks today are being ghost written, because the famous economist with his name in large letters on the cover cannot write his way out of a brown paper bag. This is an open secret, largely because some of the major ghost writers came out of the closet, because there was no acknoledgement of their contributions to the textbook.

(Three large exceptions to the generalizations that economists cannot write well: Paul Samuelson, Milton Friedman, and Robert Heilbroner. Get an old principles of economics text by any of these late professors and you can easily teach yourself fundamental economics. Milton Friedman was possibly the best of those three, but he never authored a textbook. All of Friedman's writing is accessable to layman, i.e. people who have never had economics. Furthermore it is highly original, e.g. his explanation and advocacy of 100% reserve requirements for banks rather than the fractional reserve system that we've had for about 200 years. The 100% Reserves article was published in 1943, if memory serves. Any competent reference librarian can find you that paper, though it has not been included in most anthologies of Friedman's work.)

As a former subscriber to the Economist I can vouch that the writing is absolutely superb. After reading the likes of Time, Newsweek and the local paper the Economist was a joy to read. The writers can form lucid sentences and even spell.

Its a great magazine. You don't have to agree with all of their conclusions but I don't know a better source of information about what's happening in the world. I will probably re-subscribe eventually.

But as Elaine said about "The English Patient": "It's sooo long". I just couldn't spend the whole week reading the doggone thing.

You left out John Kenneth Galbraith. He is the Richard Feynman of economics.

You are correct, J.K. Galbraith was a superb writer. He was the best writer of popularizations of economics there has ever been. Two other great writers were Adam Smith and Alfred Marshall. If you want to read "Wealth of Nation" read "Theory of Moral Sentiment" first. "Wealth of Nations" is a sequel to "Theory of Moral Sentiment," as several professors who have studied the history of economic theory concluded.

Alfred Marshall's "Economics" is, IMO, the best textbook for microeconomics the world has ever seen. He had a brilliant way of presenting economic theory: First he would present a concept or a model in truly elegant prose, then he would present the concept or model or theory in graphs, where the graphs presented exactly the same information as the prose, and finally--in the footnotes--he would use calculus to present exactly the same information that had already been presented in both prose and graphs. By the way, his calculus was also excellent--much better than than that usually found in economics textbooks today.

Interesting story here about software that "writes" news stories based on some input data, an historical database, and some parameters for style. Given the quality of much of what passes for news-writing these days, it should be relatively easy for the computer to produce stories that are at least as well written.

Many years ago, as an experiment more than anything, I required the comp sci juniors and seniors taking a numerical analysis course to turn in a one-page essay along with each programming assignment, describing something out of the ordinary that had happened or that they had learned (best essay of the semester was about the night the line printer burned up). Many of the early efforts were abysmal, but they improved considerably as the semester progressed. Several of the students told me that they had reached that point in college and had never been required to write even a one-page paper that was marked up for grammar, complete sentences, organized paragraphs.

End of Ponzi Prosperity?

Economic growth and wealth was also based on borrowed money and speculation. It relied on allowing unsustainable degradation of the environment and the uneconomic, profligate use of non-renewable natural resources, like oil.

Aggressive increases in debt globally increased economic growth, allowing society to borrow from the future. It accelerated consumption, with spending that wold have taken place normally over a period of many years squeezed into a short period because of the availability of cheap borrowings.

When few people were rich and most were poor, gambling was necessary to survive. Over time, society developed a risk-averse predictability, built around high levels of employment, job security, improving living standards, and welfare systems, including pensions and healthcare. As post-war certainties eroded, speculation, once associated with horse racing or glamorous casinos, became an essential means of assuring survival and financial security.

When the housing bubble collapsed, the American satirical magazine The Onion demanded that the American people be given another bubble to invest in. As Adam Smith recongnized: "The chance of gain is by every man more or less overvalued, and the chance of loss is by most men undervalued."

There are similarities between the financial system, irreversible climate change, and shortages of vital resources like oil, food, and water. In each case, society borrowed from the future, shifting problems to generations to come. In the end, you literally devour the future until eventually the future devours you.

From EXTREME MONEY: MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE AND THE CULT OF RISK by Satyajit Das, p 361. This is the best book that I've read about the financial markets of the last three decades.

Inflation and low interest rates also does a good job of stealing from the present.

Inflation is the only politically feasible way of reducing the standard of living. It is practical in an employment environment where wages can be held down.

A negative real interest rate is the only politically feasible way of rescuing corporations and governments that are drowning in debt.

You will see more of both in the future.

Almost all modern post-Keynsian economists advocate a target rate of 2% inflation per year. Keynes himself favored a long-run goal of 0% per year inflation, and Milton Friedman recommended the same.

The reason the modern mainstream economists mostly recommend a 2% rate of inflation is that (as Keynes clearly and emphatically stated) nominal wage rates are "sticky"--especially in a dropping of wage rates direction and also especially sticky where labor unions are strong and prevalent in the labor force. For economic efficiency and full employment, however, some real wages (especially in old or declining industries) must be cut. By far the easiest way to cut real wages is to have inflation.

The reasons for 2% inflation goal (instead of 1% or 5% or 10%) is that inflation rates above 2%
1. cause large increases in interest rates that stifle business growth and

2. tend to develop into a vicious cycle based on positive feedbacks that cause the rate of inflation to increase, at first slowly, then faster and faster. It is very easy to get trapped into dilemma where you either tolerate high and increasing rates of inflation (as the U.S. did in the seventies) or jack up interest rates to extremely high interest rates to the point where they cause a major recession.

When Paul Volker became chairman of the Federal Reserve System he promised Jimmy Carter that he would break the inflationary cycle. Almost all Keynesians said that could not be done, that inflation rates of 6% or more were "baked into the cake". Volker was an eclectic economist (as am I); he totally understood Keynes, but he was also strongly influenced by the model of monetarism that Milton Friedman developed. Less than a year after the appointment of Volker the prime rate went up to 20%; home mortgage rates were at least 18%, and I was getting almost 17% on my money market funds.
By the second year of Volker's reign the rate of inflation had fallen to about 4%, and then it slowly and somewhat steadily fell all during the rest of the 1980s. A big drop in oil prices in the mid-nineteen eighties helped a lot to reduce rates of inflation during the latter years of the eighties.

Of course, Volker's policies also were the main cause of the two serious recessions of 1980-82 that caused unemployment rates to rise substantially, even somewhat higher than the seventies, which was a decade of stagflation in which both unemployment rates and inflation rates increased at a much faster pace than during the 1960s.

Interest rates cannot be raised as Volker did. At the end of the '70s, the federal debt to GDP ratio was about 30-35% and a lot of the debt was fairly long term. Now the ratio is over 100% and a lot of federal debt is short term borrowing. If the Fed were to increase the short term interest rates that it controls, it would exacerbate the Federal deficit and the government would have to print more money causing even more inflation. There would be a similar impact on highly indebted state and local governments and corporations.

So the Fed is stuck with close to 0% interest rates.

On the other hand, there is not too much inflationary pressure on wages, with unemployment over 8% and union membership in the private sector now down in single digits.

So unless something goes wrong internationally, we should see 0% nominal short term interest rates, 2 to 4% inflation rates, minimal wage growth, and 8+% unemployment for the indefinite future.

What exactly do you mean, when you say:

So unless something goes wrong internationally

Does it have to be something like the EU breaking up? Or, can it be something like a poor country's people running out of food and blaming/overthrowing their government?

It would be something significantly affecting international finance and trade, such as a breakup of the Eurozone and resulting bank default contagion or such as war in the Persian Gulf with disruption of oil supplies.

Famine and revolution in most countries, such as those in the Sahel, would not affect the US. These usually result in some media handwringing by celebrities, but not much else.

Or, can it be something like a poor country's people running out of food and blaming/overthrowing their government?

Another variation - the "Dollar" becoming an item that one can't use in trade.

However if economic statistics turn very bad, e.g. negative growth of real GDP of 20% per year, unemployment at 30% for years and years, then I expect the Fed and the U.S. Treasury to get the federal deficit up to at least 5 trillion dollars per year and to get so much excess reserves into the banking system that the C.P.I. rises rapidly and at increasing rates, perhaps up to 20% or 30%--the thermonuclear option.

Desperate times call for desparate remedies. If push comes to shove, the Fed will opt for high and increasing inflation rates rather than a major debt deflation.

I think debt deflation, such as we had in the 1930s is highly unlikely--mainly because most macroeconomists are some variety (There are at least three distinct kinds of post-Keynesians, some of whom have strayed quite a distance from what Keynes actually advocated) of Keynesians. The group of Keynesians I like least have been nicknamed "bastard Keynesians" by some authors who write about the history of economic thought.

Negative growth of real GDP of 20% per year and unemployment at 30% is unlikely to last for years and years. It would soon lead to nationalization, martial law, price controls, and a centrally managed economy. The only legal money would be electronic money, and things would cost whatever the government tells Walmart they would cost.

The only legal money would be electronic money, and things would cost whatever the government Walmart tells Walmart the government they would cost.

Just a few minor edits, Merrill. Hope you don't mind.


The most likely political response to the horrible statatistics I mentioned in the emergence of a dictator--either a fascist one like Franco or Mussolini, possibly one like Hitler or Stalin, but not likely or a populist one such as Huey Long was in the Louisiana of the nineteen thirty or a military-populist dictator such as Julius Caesar. Another possibility is a religious prophet who creates a totalitarian theocracy, as vividly depicted in the science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein, "Revolt in 2100."

The forms of a republic in the U.S. can probably last for hundreds of years, just as the Roman Senate and lower house of representatives persisted for four hundred years after the R.E. was established by Julius Ceasar. All real power was in the hands of the emperor, both the rich men or aristocrats put in the Senate where they had meaningless debates and passed impotent laws, and the rabble rousers co-opted into the lower house of represtatives, the one open to plebeins, the proletariat--this bicameral republic was without any power at all.

Note that the U.S. Constitution is very close to the Roman Constitution and was largely intended to follow it. Note that prior to 1913 most U.S. senators were appointed by the states' governors. Popular election of U.S. senators is a fairly recent phenomenan. The U.S. founding fathers wanted the Senators to be rich and upper class and also to protect the interests of rich. The U.S. House of Representatives was expected to be made of successful farmers and successful but not rich businessmen, mostly merchants. Never in their worst nightmares did the Founding Fathers dream that both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate would become dominated by lawyers.


Interestingly just over half of the Senate (54%) but only about (just over) a third (36%) of the House.


A few corrections:

The Roman Senate remained fairly potent for quite some time after Julius Caesar. They had control and responsibility for 10 provinces, including Italy, Greece and North Africa. The patricians of the Senate were the wealthiest families in the Empire - all the way to the end; with the influence and prestige that commanded. In addition, the equestrian class (the order just below the patricians), filled much of the important military and political posts (think of them as the gentry class that effectively ran the British Empire for centuries). While the Empire was never truly a dyarchy - fundamentally, it was an unstable military dictatorship - power sharing to some degree persisted until the 3rd Century C.E. when the Italian elite was finally reduced to being just the immensely but idle, wealthy.

Prior to the 17th Amendment, U.S senators were elected by the various state legislatures, not appointed by governors. Governors in most states can appoint a senator if there is a vacancy, but only until the next election (in some states, there is a provision for a special election to held as soon as possible). The American Senate was originally crafted, with much compromise, to provide a bulwark for the States. One has to remember that the States, popularly, saw themselves as sovereign, yielding by choice a measure of their autonomy to the Federal government. It wasn't until, at least, after the Southern Rebellion, that specific notion of sovereignty was displaced. One of the best examples of how we changed culturally, is in this editorial:

There was a time a few years ago when the United States was spoken of in the plural number. Men said "the United States are" — "the United States have" — "the United States were." But the war changed all that. Along the line of fire from the Chesapeake to Sabine Pass was settled forever the question of grammar. Not Wells, or Green, or Lindley Murray decided it, but the sabers of Sheridan, the muskets of Sherman, the artillery of Grant. ... The surrender of Mr. Davis and Gen. Lee meant a transition from the plural to the singular.
—The Washington Post, Apr. 24, 1887, p. 4

As for the Founding Fathers never expecting Congress to be dominated by lawyers, well, 2/3rds of the framers of the Constitution were lawyers. I think they reasonably thought that lawyers, people who actually knew the laws, would be most likely to selected to make them. Whether that is a good thing or not is another question, but, the use that lovely phrase that conservatives use in regards to the Constitution, "original intent", I believe that while the Founding Fathers would be surprised by a lot, but not by who is elected to Congress..

You are correct, but you left out some important things about the Roman republic constitution. First all, the chief executives of the Roman Republic were two consuls instead of one president or prime minister, and they were seving only one year terms. I think on that point the Roman Constitution is better than the U.S. one.

Also, they had a provision for providing extraordinary wartime power (on an emergency basis) to a dictator, whose powers were strictly limited:
1. The dictator could serve a maximum of six months.
2. While he was in office he could not be sued. However, he could be sued in civil court and also for any crimes that he committed while in office.
3. He could not station very many troops in or close to the city of Rome.

If memory serves, the position of dictator was used very effectively during all three Punic Wars. (I have always had a special interest in the Punic Wars, and when I was a freshman in a private school taking Ancient History I wrote a 40 page paper on the Punic Wars. I got an A+ on the paper, but I did not think I deserved it for two reasons: It was too short, and
I relied too heavily on the "Cambridge Historical Encyclopedia.)

In college I learned enough Latin to read most authors with ease and went back to original sources. My plan was to keep expanding my high school paper and use that same topic over and over again, as a freshman and a senior, then for my master's degree in ancient history, and then for my PHD dissertation and finally for a year of post doctoral research, and also for publications as an assistant professor--published in the most prestigeous journals to get tenure with the rank of associate professor.

It was a good plan, but due to unforeseen events I majored in Sociology as an undergraduate.

They did a study of the representatives sent to the National Assembly by the voters after the French Revolution. They expected a lot of populist firebrands, given the revolutionary times.

In fact, the representatives were from the educated classes: lawyers, priests, businessmen etc.

The conclusion was that people chose representatives who would most ably plead their cause at the National Assembly, thus getting their share of whatever largesse was being spread around.

In short, the choice was based on practical common sense, not ideology.

However if economic statistics turn very bad, e.g. negative growth of real GDP of 20% per year, unemployment at 30% for years and years, then I expect the Fed and the U.S. Treasury to get the federal deficit up to at least 5 trillion dollars per year and to get so much excess reserves into the banking system that the C.P.I. rises rapidly and at increasing rates, perhaps up to 20% or 30%--the thermonuclear option.

Once you've decided to go that route, why bother with pushing money into bank reserves? Why not just deliver large amounts of cash to households, especially those at the lower end of the income range? Then you don't have a deficit (and the resulting debt that requires interest payments), and still get the inflation that you're looking for? Mostly it's a matter of timing; if you're pushing that much into the system and "borrowing" it out of thin air, you're eventually going to default anyway. Just admit up front that you're going to devalue the currency, and put the cash in the place where it will provide maximum stimulus to the economy.

If you keep increasing inflation rates faster and faster, then the debt is effectively repudiated through hyperinflation, as happened in Germany in 1923. There was no need to default because the mark became approximately worthles.

A good and possibly true anecdote from November 1923 in Germany: an old and tired woman carrying a very large basket of currency of the highest denomination sat down on a bench near the market to rest. A thief came by, snatched the basket, dumped all the money on the ground and ran away with the basket. Thirty pounds of highest available denomination money might buy one small potato, prices doubled every hour and sometimes faster than that. With the relatively valuable basket the thief might be able to get ten or twenty pounds of potatoes.

If you keep increasing inflation rates faster and faster, then the debt is effectively repudiated through hyperinflation

That depends a lot on target debt levels and average maturities of existing debt. Once a country starts inflating away debt, new debt can only be taken on a much higher interest rate.

If a the US wanted to reduce overall debt levels, it would be much easier to inflate debt away as there would not be an immediate need to take on new debt at a higher cost.

Similarly, if average maturities are long, then the day of reckoning is delayed.

However, the US needs to maintain debt levels (or does unless they can either raise revenues or reduce expenses) and average maturities of its debt are fairly short.

So what the US would gain in inflating away debt, it would largely lose in higher interest payments on new debt.

United Nations has released the latest report on development and the state of the environment for the Asia Pacific region. Titled
One Planet to Share - Sustaining Human Progress in a Changing Climate

The report analyses the climate change impacts from the perspectives of mountain dwellers, delta communities, islanders, indigenous and tribal peoples and the urban poor.

The report states that simultaneous action on both daptation and mitigation is required for building resilient societies in Asia and the Pacific. The report calls for alternative sustainable development paths that fulfill the urgent human development needs of today while preserving a habitable planet.

Lots of data here. Good for Archival.

I read that as: "Sustained Human Progress is Changing Climate", but then my new bifocals should arrive in a couple of weeks.

Here is the cornucopian mystery of the Bakken shale revealed. When one looks at the production of the Bakken fields, the growth seems remarkable.

The number of wells producing is growing at an exponential rate while the amount of oil per well is remaining high. How does that work?

The total amount produced during a boom period is the convolution of the well number growth rate, N(t), and the depletion rate per well, p(t). The first term is exponentially increasing and the decline rate is exponentially decreasing (see this chart for the latter). Assume that all the wells are the average decline rate for the sake of condensing the argument.

If the growth is exponential with a greater than zero, then that term will easily dominate over the declining term. Divide P(t) by N(t) and you can see that we have reached the plateau of production proportional to 1/(a+d), which you can see in the figure above. That is full bore acceleration in the number of wells coming on-line.

If the growth slows to zero, then the decline kicks in and the cumulative total will start to saturate.

So don't be fooled by exponential growth in well production, since as soon as the construction rate starts to slow, all of those Bakken wells will start to decline and the underlying dynamics will begin to reveal itself.
That is the math story behind Gold Rush dynamics and the boom-bust cycle. Everyone gets excited because they can't see the underlying behavior.

Web - Excellent explanation. Makes me wonder if this is the dynamic that causing Chesapeake's future look somewhat questionable. Oil prices are still high but NG has slipped a good bit during the last year. And now CHK appears to be having a problem acquiring enough capex (between operational cash flow and borrowing) to maintain their "construction" of new wells. The term "death spiral" pops to mind.

Chesapeake's future look somewhat questionable.

That story has become so convoluted that I can't even follow it anymore. I'm not surprised that the stock dropped sharply because it is basically becoming a "well you just gotta trust us" story and who is going to trust them after learning about all thus undisclosed or not very clearly disclosed stuff.

It seems like you'd need a legal degree, a finance degree, an accounting degree, and a lot of time to value that company at this point.

Copy of missive that I sent to the ASPO-USA discussion group:

The following data show US crude oil production for 2002 to 2011 (EIA) and for 2002 to 2011 (EIA, but using Texas RRC   data for Texas production, instead of the EIA data).  (RRC = Texas Railroad Commission)

The RRC sums the reported production from Texas producers, while the EIA apparently uses a sampling approach to estimate Texas production. If the EIA is this far off for Texas, what about the other producing states, and what does it say about the EIA's global data?

The shale promoters are saying that the US is a test case for the world, to-wit, that improved technology has allowed US producers to offset the underlying production decline, and to show a net increase in production.  And therefore, we can look forward to rising global production as this technology is applied around the world. 

Based on the RRC data, it appears that a thousand rigs drilling for oil in the US in 2011 served to keep production flat year over year. Note that--based on the RRC data--all of the cumulative expenditures by the US oil industry from 2005 to 2011 inclusive only served to bring US crude oil production back to the 2004 pre-hurricane rate of 5.3 mbpd.

Note that the net increase in US crude oil production from 2008 to 2009 was equivalent to rising Gulf of Mexico (GOM) production, as GOM production rebounded after the hurricanes and as some (quick to peak and decline) deepwater projects came on line.

 Art Berman will address this topic in his ASPO-USA webinar presentation on 5/17. More info at www.aspousa.org

I can't think of a better example of  ASPO-USA's core mission of providing "Truth in Energy." 

Jeffrey J. Brown

Total US Crude Oil Production (EIA, mbpd):

2002:  5.746
2003:  5.681 
2004: 5.419
2005:  5.178
2006:  5.102
2007: 5.064
2008: 4.950
2009:  5.361
2010: 5.476
2011: 5.662

Total US Crude Oil Production, using RRC data for Texas, instead of EIA (Gap Between the two data sets):

2002:  5.615 (+131,000 bpd)
2003:  5.548 (+133,000)
2004: 5.303 (+116,000)
2005:  5.059 (+119,000)
2006:  4.948 (+154,000)
2007:  4.898 (+166,000)
2008:  4.813 (+137,000)
2009:  5.199 (+162,000)
2010: 5.285 (+194,000)
2011: 5.324 (+338,000)

RRC Data: http://www.rrc.state.tx.us/data/production/oilwellcounts.php
Search for Statewide Annual for 2011 data: http://webapps.rrc.state.tx.us/PDQ/changeViewReportAction.do?viewType=Mo...

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

Just so I understand: Texas production rates may be exaggerated by the EIA?

Yes and presumably elsewhere too.

Texas (RRC, mbpd)

2002: 0.998
2003: 0.979
2004: 0.957
2005: 0.943
2006: 0.934
2007: 0.921
2008: 0.950
2009: 0.944
2010: 0.978
2011: 1.122

Texas (EIA):

2002: 1.129
2003: 1.112
2004: 1.073
2005: 1.062
2006: 1.088
2007: 1.087
2008: 1.087
2009: 1.106
2010: 1.169
2011: 1.460

Web - As wt says above: "The RRC sums the reported production from Texas producers, while the EIA apparently uses a sampling approach to estimate Texas production." But this is what I've yet see explained: what is the EIA sampling to make their estimate? I've been reporting monthly oil/NG production to the TRRC for over 30 years. Not once have I ever supplied that data to any other organization. Nor have I heard of any other company reporting monthly production figures to any other entity on the planet. The only other data out there might be some yearly production data from some public oils in their annual reports. But most of the ones I recall don’t break their domestic production by state let lone by month.

So my question remains: what data base is the EIA “sampling”? If you missed my long winded explanation of the online Texas production data I can access through my subscription to Drilling Info: with a few mouse clicks I can pull up the October 2002 oil production from all the wells producing on a 835 acre Tom O’Connor lease in Goliad County, Texas, that were operated by the H&D Production Company of Refugio, Texas. I can also pull up how much ad valorum tax H&D paid to Goliad Co. that month as well as to whom they sold those 4238 bbls of oil and what they were paid for that oil. And I can do so for every well drilled in Texas for every month for at least the last 70 years. Older production data is still available but not as easy to run down.

But we’re not talking about decades old production info but how much oil/NG was produced in Texas each month from 1 Jan through 31 Dec 2011 as a specific example. I don’t need to “sample” anything and make a projection…the exact data is there at the TRRC. And as I’ve pointed out above, I know of no other data base with that info. And how much would it cost the EIA to have continuous online 24/7 access to the only data base of Texas oil/NG production? They could have 50 years of subscription to Drilling Info for what they probably pay one low level analyst for one year. The only hitch is that the Drilling Info data base runs about 3 months behind the monthly reports. But as I’ve said projecting the last data to current can be fairly accurate: Texas oil production varies by only a tiny fraction of 1% month to month. OTOH why bother to make projections? You can plot the month by month Texas oil production for the last ten years…or as long as you like. So any significant change in trend will be obvious and irrefutable.

So again: if the EIA production number for oil production in Texas for any month varies from the TRRC it requires an explanation IMHO. Maybe there is a reasonable explanation they could offer. But if they either can’t or refuse to explain the variance it should make all their numbers suspect IMHO.

Why don't you send a letter to EIA asking this very question? Just copy and paste one of your posts and see what happens. It is a important question and the answer could shed light on the quality of other numbers they report.

Art Berman told me that one of his associates has been pointing out the discrepancies to the EIA for some time, but that the EIA has been ignoring him.

monsta - Good idea...I'll send it off today. While looking for that contact info on their web site I found this:

“Monthly Crude Oil Report:

Collects information on end-of-month stocks of crude oil, by PAD District, at pipeline/tank farms, on leases, in Cushing Oklahoma and Alaskan crude oil in transit by water. In addition, receipts of domestic crude oil by the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, movements of crude oil by pipeline between PAD Districts and storage capacity are collected for working, shell in operation, and shell idle.

The resulting statistics are used by public and private analysts. Data are collected from all companies which carry or store 1,000 barrels or more of crude oil. Respondents are gathering and trunk pipeline companies (including interstate, intrastate, and intracompany pipelines), crude oil producers, terminal operators, storers of crude oil (except refineries), and companies transporting crude oil by water in the 50 States and the District of Columbia.

Frequency of Collection: Monthly
Number of Respondents: 137
Reporting Requirement: Mandatory
Legal Citation: Public Law 93-275 (Federal Energy Administration Act of 1974), Sec. 13(b), 5(a), 5(b), 52”

OK…a couple of aspects jump right out. The number of respondents is 137? And this is for all the different companies listed FOR ALL THE STATES? There are several thousand such companies in Texas alone. And reporting is mandatory? My current company and every other company I‘ve worked with in the last 15 years easily fall into the 1,000 bbl minimum and we’ve never submitted the “mandatory” form. And as far as I know have never been asked to.

If the number of respondents is correct I can see why they call it a “sampling” although I wouldn’t consider gathering info from such a very small percentage of the players much of a representative sample. The actual data collected can only represent a very small amount of national production. The EIA must use some multiplication factor to come up with a total number. If that factor is too large than it’s easy to see how they could get a monthly oil production for Texas much greater than the actual data collected by the TRRC. That could easily point out their potential for error, both high and low, for regions of the world where such data isn’t collected. But in the US I know of only one state that doesn’t require operators to accurately report and certify oil production: Kentucky. But Texas, La, OK and CA do and Drilling Info gathers it into a very user friendly format and offers it for less monthly than the EIA spends on coffee for its employees. In reality they can get the data directly from the TRRC for free.

So again the simple question: in at least the case of Texas why does the EIA use a system of incomplete data collecting that has to be highly manipulated by making significant sampling assumptions instead of accessing the mandatory and audited data base of Texas? And can do so at almost no expense? I very much doubt they are unaware of the very easy and cheap access to this data. The cynic in me says the reason is what drives many bloated govt agencies: the goal isn’t efficiency/accuracy as much as it is expanding their power base and budgets.

I estimated that there were about 1,000 rigs drilling for oil in the US in 2011. Based on the EIA + RRC data, a thousand rigs drilling for oil in the US in 2011 only served to keep US crude oil production flat, or the net increase in US crude oil production per drilling rig (drilling for oil) was approximately zero. (And this optimistically assumes that the EIA's non-Texas data are more or less accurate.)

Projections that the US Shale Oil Revolution will cause a resurgence in global crude oil production seem to be largely based on the US crude oil production gap between the EIA and RRC data increasing from 0.1 mbpd in 2002 to 0.4 mbpd in 2011 (rounding off to nearest 0.1 mbpd).

Here is a pretty good view of shale drilling.

A broader view of drilling overall:

Eagle Ford alone:

I've seen more recent info from Rigzone, including per-company rig counts, but I'm not sure if it's on-line or not.

China, India, Poland, and others are actively beginning shale and CBM efforts (CBM is more mature). There are concerns related to getting the frac recipe right, as each formation has its own personality. Gas is cheap only in the US, so there are incentives to develop elsewhere. Some US companies have significant investments by Chinese investors eager to clone the business efforts in China.

Chesapeake is not the whole US market, and there are some who are expanding drilling today in the US shales, but only for liquids. And not just to hold acreage or hold reserves. They just need enough oil to pay for the entire well, and gas is simply a by-product. Eagle Ford, Utica, Bakken, Uinta, and Niobrara are all still active (from personal info). Probably others to a lesser degree.

Heck, there are still flare wells in the Bakken, or so I hear. Sometimes you need to produce before you can get a gas gathering system in place.

The incremental crude oil graphs on my website http://crudeoilpeak.info/ which only show changes from Jan 2001 onwards (the 1st year of the old International Petroleum Monthly) would still be OK until around 2008 when the above shown differences really took off, especially in 2011, when they are 200 kb/d higher than in 2002.

Thanks for this information. I'll have to incorporate this next time I do my graphs.

If we round of to the nearest 0.1 mbpd for US crude oil production, the 2002 numbers were reasonably close, 5.7 for EIA and 5.6 for EIA + RRC. But for 2011, the numbers are 5.7 for EIA and 5.3 for EIA + RRC.

So, the EIA/RRC gap for US crude oil production increased from +0.1 mbpd in 2002 to +0.4 mbpd in 2011 (rounding off to 0.1 mbpd). And of course, what about the other producing states and what about the EIA's global data?

Superb and insightful analysis !

One question, is the lower production/well on the left (month 600) due to lower drilling rates before month 600 and hence represented mature wells well past their initial peak production ?

Thanks !


This is what it looks like prior to that month.

Sorry for the lack of units on the axis. The x-axis is months and the z-axis is barrels/well. This goes back quite a few years, and I started from month 600 for the other chart to show when the recent boom started.

So yes, there has been continuous extraction on the Bakken going back 50+ years to 1953.
But only with the recent boom, with hydraulic fracturing techniques are we seeing the explosion in number of wells. The prior wells were all in serious decline I believe.

This is my plea: What we need from the Dept. of Mineral Resources of NoDak.gov is a complete set of data from every well, not the rolled up info. Even with the rolled up info, you can do some decent analysis, but why not get everything?

That is good to know, but it is criminal that the government should not make this data available as open access.

The way I see it, climate scientists are being raked over the coals for not freeing up every little memo, algorithm, or piece of data that comes across their desk. They get accused of bad behavior if they complain that they need to be paid for doing extra work.

Yet, here we have a government entity in which this is all they do, and they need to be paid extra!

The subscription fee is for managing intenet data, there are no restrictions on publishing or otherwise distributing the data. The data is public and available in Bismarck. Some regional offices, such as Williston, may also have the data.

Yes. You used to be able to get it free, without an "agreement" and without giving them money. I suppose their server got bogged down by everyone trying to dig up this information. Perhaps it is too much to expect them to use some of their tsunami of tax receipts to buy a new server.

Everywhere it is getting harder and harder to get free data. For example I used to get large quantities of articles from various Federal Reserve banks. Now there is little or no free stuff from the Federal Reserve banks, except what they post online (which is quite a lot).

For my accounting students, I used to request forty-five copies of the U.S. Steel annual report each year. I don't know of any large company now that will give out large numbers of their annual reports for student use. I do not know how many annual reports are posted on websites, free for every body. I've always liked paper for balance sheets and income statements and work sheets, because with paper you can mark them up and make marginal notes very easily with pencil or pen.

To continue on the Bakken analysis, this is an exponential and hyperbolic decline analysis on this per county data set.

  • McKenzie has a half-life of 0.75 years
  • Williams is 1.2 years
  • Mountrail is 2.3 years
  • Dunn is 18.5 years

If they are hyperbolic declines, the total will be bigger. Dunn seems to be the only set that has any kind of sustain.

Here is a Wolfram Alpha solver algorithm for exponential decline with the rate of decline per day, the numbers in the example calculation are taken from the table below for Williams county.
For hyperbolic decline, example using McKenzie.

Summary of Bakken
Info Since 1/1/2007
BOPD Wells Recovery Rec/Well Well Age Curr Ave
months BOPD
Mountrail 154,089 1,087 154,727,270 142,343 22 141.8
McKenzie 96,750 533 45,059,945 84,540 9 181.5
Dunn  75,560 613 52,446,391 85,557 22 123.3
Williams 69,513 472 30,550,213 64,725 10 147.3
Major Cos 395,911 2,705 282,783,819
Total 483,706 3,187.00 327,866,294 102,876.15 17.00 141.50

Dear Web,

Could you check your data for Dunn County wells again.

One - are they Bakken oil or "just regular oil wells" ?

Two - the quoted data does not appear to support a dramatically longer average life/well.

I am inferring from the collection of data given.



All I have is the data in that table available. For $50, I can get the official data.

The Dunn seems to be an outlier as it is maintaining a steady rate over 22 months:

85,557 is the cumulative per well and 22 months * 30.4 days/month * 123.3 B/day = 82,463 is what you get by maintaining the current production backwards. That equates to an 18 year half-life. Beats me why this one is so high.

This is a great model, but N(t) can't go on being an exponential function forever. There must be some feedback on the price which in turn depends on production. I'd expect P_T(t) to decline much more rapidly with low gas prices.

I am sure that number will saturate soon.

Looking at the blue dotted line, it apears the exponential growth has already begun to decline. Still growing, but all the more slowely.

There seems to be a subgroup of the USA that is terrified(?) of being under the constraints of the United Nations World Government, that will do things like build bike paths and force us to drive small cars, or even use public transit.


Perhaps the EU is not the United Nations but assuming this is the closest thing we have achieved to a world government I'm not sure why they are worried. I don't expect the EU is going to get any bigger.

"The GOP’s plan to blame Obama’s policies for rising gasoline prices has run into one small bump in the road. Gasoline prices have dropped $0.15 a gallon in the past month, to $3.79 per gallon this week".

Depends on how you cherry pick the data. Currently gasoline prices are about 25% higher than when the president took office. The fact that the president has very little control over short to midterm changes in fuel prices won't stop either side from spinning. IMHO just more BS that keeps the public believing that there is some easy fix for the energy problem.

Rockman, you make a good point about the constant spin. Tiring, it is.

Speaking of fuel prices, not everywhere is seeing "relief" from recent highs. Vancouver, BC, is not the USA, but up here prices were $1.456/litre yesterday ($5.51/gal in CAD), the highest I have seen since the summer of 2008. Even subtracting the new $0.02/litre gas tax implemented in April, the price is still as high as it has been this year. Some of this has to do with the foreign exchange rates--the Loonie lost some ground against the USD during this latest economic hiccup--but it is quite interesting to see how gasoline price trends do not necessarily track in perfect correlation with oil prices, especially in countries that do not circulate USD. In essence, we endure continued "pain" while the good ol' USA is experiencing a little price relief. Happy to do my part. ;^)


Aren't the gas prices up by closer to 50% to 90% since he took office? Yeah, he took office right at the gas price nadir:

But it is not really a fair rational comparison. If he wanted to drive gas prices to $2/gallon, he could spark a financial meltdown too. People need to have a broader view. And one of the things is that, broadly speaking, gas price rises with the economy. If the economy is good then more people have money to spend on gas, air travel, have jobs to drive to, etc.

Parts of Mt Fuji 'could collapse' if fault shifts

Parts of Japan's Mount Fuji, a national symbol and key tourist attraction, could collapse if a newly-discovered faultline under the mountain shifts, a government-commissioned report has warned.

A thought strikes me: Parts of the world economy could collapse if a growing faultline in sustainability continues to grow. Over which do you suppose we have more any control?


Well, Fuji last erupted in 1707, which is to say the thing could start erupting as well. As for the fault, wikipedia notes that it's at the junction of three major plates... I guess we can add it to the list of "some day, that's not going to be pretty", up there with Mount Rainer.

There was some discussion here a few days ago about the ecat which got me looking around for the latest information. Ecat claims to be the first shipping product based on what was once called cold fusion. They aren't really shipping and it looks like vaporware; but the science looks real, the excess heat, the production of He, all real. Maybe the potential of "too cheap to meter" nuclear energy is just around the corner.

First off, it looks like they have a good theory of what's happening and it's not fusion but instead Hydrogen gets converted into a neutron, which combines with other hydrogen atoms and eventually decays to form He. This article describes the process in detail: http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/New-LENR-Machine-is-the-Best-Y...

Here is a 60 minutes story on the science

Some of the biggest skeptics when cold fusion was first announced were from MIT. But check out this video of Peter L. HAGELSTEIN from MIT to see what they say now (Its the second video on the page)

I'm an engineer, not a scientist, but I'm convinced on the science. We know all kinds of strange effects happen in crystals - Semiconductors, superconductivity, etc and this seems real...

sfhaze, I agree that cold fusion using deuterium on palladium is real and shows nuclear products (i.e. helium). The latest version by Mitchell Swartz which he calls a NANOR has a COP of 10 (might be as high as 17).

In the field of hydrogen on nickel. We have no evidence of nuclear products like deuterium, tritium, helium3, or helium. The three honest groups that come to mind are Piantelli, Kitamura and Takahashi, and Godes. Kitamura and Takahashi have shown self sustaining heat generation (COP of infinity). But we need to see some nuclear product before we are sure it is real. It is interesting to note that the work in Japan is being funded in part by the Emperor of Japan directly.

I personally do not trust Rossi or the Defkalion company.

I personally do not trust Rossi or the Defkalion company.

I agree, they do seem somewhat sketchy. Even if their basic claims are true, they likely do not underestand the time it takes to bring a new technology to market. I worked with some early companies developing Li polymer batteries, they just assumed they could work the kinks out once they were using production equipement - but the issues with cycle life and capacity took many years to work out. That company failed, but others kept at it and now Li-Polymer is everywhere. If the science behind it is real it seems likely someone will find a way to make a useful product from it.

Right, SRI did say they had saw excess heat in 2 out of 3 samples of the Ni based system they tried and Brillouinenergy is pretty open about their results with Ni, and it looks real but its never enough for the skeptics.

it looks real but its never enough for the skeptics.

There are many classes of skeptics.

One wear the label with no intention of ever being able to be convinced. They move goal posts when it looks like the past statements of "show me this and I'll admit I'm wrong".

Another is the "I formed this position and I can't be convinced of another." The public flame-out of Pons/Fleishman have forged many an opinion on "cold fusion" - to the point that in the US of A one can't patent "cold fusion" by law. One can spot these by the responses of 'this can't work' here on TOD when the topic of LENR shows up. Look to the westexas "Iron Triangle" arguments about what the press says and how its believed.

The most defensible position - what you state - is the bring to market one. Wimbi has made Stirling engines. I've looked where one can send a check to buy off-the-shelf Stirlings. And "we" have known for 100 years that Stirlings can be made. Yet - no mass market. Just expensive niche markets. It is quite possible that there is some kind of 'cold fusion' effect. Yet that effect won't be able to made into a mass market energy source - just like a Stirling engine.

That 60 minutes report is dated 2009. There is a comment dated June 2011 which gives a link to a report on "Early Phase 2" progress, but that link is 404 dead. The correct link is HERE, which describes a small scale experiment which is said to produce roughly twice the energy as is input as electricity. There appears to be no more recent data to consider...

E. Swanson

Black_dog, yes Godes only claims a COP of 2 now and says he has a path to get to 3. Not exciting as a product I can get 3.5 from an air sourced heat pump. He claims SRI and LALN have reproduced his results. I believe him. But still no nuclear products measured to show what is happening in the reactor. Of course LANL is good at detecting nuclear products. They may have the missing piece.

Godes is nice in that he is a local boy (i.e. US). As I said I am most impressed by Kitamura and Takahashi of Japan in the field of hydrogen on nickel.

Yes, the 60 minutes story is pretty old but the MIT report is very recent. Also, there is more up to date info on test results here: http://brillouinenergy.com/

Their web site is where I found the link in my post. Looking again, I did not find any reference to later data. Next time, post a link instead of just saying it's somewhere out there...

E. Swanson

Sorry, I didn't see anything newer. But there is this video of the phase 1 cell running: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFrDlcnjth8

One of the claims was that the paladium "contained" 10 times the energy of oil per volume or weight (unclear which).

Ok. First problem: Paladium is the 10th rarest element on earth. I cant imagine the amount of work needed to extract paladium AND Deuterium (0.0156% of seawater) to scale this up.
Maybe when they can do this reaction with common ingredients it will be applicable to the average joe.

I cant see any potential with these ingredients.

One of the claims was that the paladium "contained" 10 times the energy of oil per volume or weight (unclear which).

They claim they can get the effect with ordinary hydrogen and nickel, pretty common.

The palladium is the catalyst, it is not consumed only the deuterium is consumed. The Pd may need to be reformed to go a second round but it should last a long time. As sfdaze points out hydrogen on nickel is the real prize.

People have done experiments with other transition metals.

On the link I posted with the MIT presentation is another presentation with some Ni data. Valerio CIAMPOLI (Francesco PIANTELLI) They show a bar of nickle, part of the bar participated in the reaction and part didn't. They claim large amounts of copper and other elements in the part that reacted, but just pure Ni in the rest of the bar.

I don't see why some of the neutrons generated wouldn't also bond with the metal atoms, maybe in Pd there is some reason they can't - or it decays right back to Pd. In Japan they are trying to use the neutrons to create the rare earth elements. If it were me, I'd try to add some mercury to see if it can catch a few neutrons which then would decay to stable Au.....

It's intriguing as hell, actually. There seems to actually be some sort of emergent real-world effect which physicists weren't able to predict. Cheap, simple deuterium to helium fusion without hard radiation? Seems vastly unlikely, yet these folks seem to be able to reproduce it at least roughly. If so, it should be getting a lot more attention.

I say that as a gadget geek, my pro-earth side doesn't think giving more energy to humans is a good idea; but in the context of being hell-bent on burning all the buried carbon we can find, it might be worth exploring more aggressively. The effect that's been documented so far isn't large, but the implications could be enormous.

Agreed, While long term the heat generated by billions of these reactors might someday be an issue, CO2 is huge problem right now. Hanging out here its easy to feel pretty pessimistic about the future but this does give me hope for a clean and prosperous future.

Of course, even if this fusion worked well enough to make burning carbon unnecessary, any number of things could keep us burning it. Energy from coal and oil is effectively free still, any consumer sniveling to the contrary notwithstanding. Deuterium to Helium fusion might wind up "betamax'ed" as a niche product due to some sort of perverse emergent human effects like irrational opposition, existing laws against making tritium in the suburbs, name it. Humans aren't logical. As long as burning fossil carbon isn't treated like the crime it is, tech fixes won't fix the CO2 problem.

Maybe not, people adopt new technology pretty quickly if it saves them money and this should be much lower in cost then burning coal and oil. They are talking about something like $500 for a device that would provide all the hot water for a house, wouldn't need any power, and would run for years (as a starting point) I do worry about how the oil companies might react, they will likely try to slow it down any way they can.

Azerbaijan peaked, so far, in 2010 at 1,035,000 bp/d C+C according to the EIA's own data.
Azerbaijan C+C production according to the EIA in kb/d:

2009   2010   2011   2012 (January only)
1,006  1,035   983    959

However Fitch Ratings says Azerbaijan could possibly recover but not until 2014.

Azeri Rating Outlook Cut to Stable by Fitch on State Spending

While production stabilized in the first quarter from the previous three months, it won’t recover to its 2010 peak of 1 million barrels a day before 2014, Fitch said.

However the EIA has a different outlook. They are predicting that Azerbaijan will reach a new peak this year, at least in all liquids, then start their decline again next year.

EIA Short Term Energy Outlook, Table 3b

From Table 3b, Azerbaijan All Liquids in million barrels per day:

2009   2010   2011   2012   2013
1.01   1.04    .99   1.05    .97

I think the EIA is a little too optimistic in their outlook, at least for 2012. Wiki Megaprojects doesn't offer much help either. They have not started a new project since since a 250 kb/d project in 2008. Next year they are due to start a new 100 kb/d project and another 200 kb/d in 2015.

It looks for all the world like Azerbaijan is post peak. Their old fields are in steep decline and nothing coming on line fast enough to stem the decline.

Ron P.

Some time ago I mentioned the previous one tank of fuel record during a discussion on CAFE. Now, this couple has improved on the previous record with a 2012 model of the same car, manufactured in the US this time. As I said at the time, this car is not exactly a compact, being in the same size bracket as the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry.

I would love to see how far these people could take the gasoline powered version of the same car so, I go poking around the Vokswagen US web site looking for the gasoline powered version and guess what? NOTHING comparable to what's available in Europe! The table Below lists the models under discussion with their motor and fuel type as well as their mileage according to Volkswagen web pages.

Model year Motor Fuel City mpg Highway mpg Combined mpg
2012 SE (US) 2L TDI Diesel 31 43
2012 S (US) 2.5L Gasoline 21 32
2012 Bluemotion 1.6L TDI Diesel 45 65 57
2010 Bluemotion 1.6L TDI Diesel 42 63 52.5
2012 S 1.4 TSI Gasoline 30 48 40

The most economical gasoline powered model in the UK is the Passat S, while in the US, the smallest gasoline motor is a 2.5L with a larger 3.6L V6 available. The record holder is the 2012 US spec Passat SE and the previous record holder was the 2010 UK spec Passat.

While the fuel economy difference for the gasoline powered models in the table can easily be ascribed to the difference in displacement, I find it hard to believe that the differences in diesel engine displacement and weight of additional safety equipment could make such a big difference! 31,43 vs 45,62 (city,hwy) for what is supposed to be the equivalent car! What is even more incredible is that, the new record holders managed 84mpg overall compared to the previous record holder's 75mpg. Something does not compute.

Based on my observations I'm tempted to reduce UK/EU mileage figures by a factor or increase US figures by some other factor, whenever I want to do a comparison. When I've got more time I must do a comparison of the figures for some other models from other manufacturers and see if I find the same discrepancies.

Alan from the islands

Try http://www.fuelly.com/car/volkswagen/passat/2012

for gas - nothing over 31 mpg
for diesel - avg. = 41 mpg (33-48)

1 UK gallon = 1.2 US gallon


EDIT: Read your note down page, the last thing the US seems to want are educated consumers. You may find the following link useful for your conversions, they have automotive specific ones too. It may be useful for others too.



Something indeed does not compute. Euro/UK measurements use Imperial gallons, which are equal to 1.201 US gallons. Adjust not only the engine displacement, but the ~20% difference in gallons, and the possible difference in vehicle curb weight, and things make more sense.

damac and NAOM, I am very aware of the difference between US and Imperial gallons and used a factor of 0.83(1/1.2) to adjust the UK mileage figures. I had noted that I had done the adjustment but, did an edit and zapped the part about adjusting the figures. If I hadn't adjusted, it would have been even worse. Mind you the 1.4L turbo vs the 2.5L in the gasoline models can easily explain the difference but, the question remains what's the difference with the diesels. Could be the test cycles but, still.

Edit: got all the data except the 2010 TDI from the following links

http://www.volkswagen.co.uk/new/passat-vii/which-model/engines/fuel-cons... - UK
http://www.vw.com/en/models/passat/trims-specs.suffix.html/pageindex=1.html - US

I think you Americans have been conned by your political and corporate rulers into NOT adopting the metric system. That way it's too difficult for the mathematically challenged to figure out why the figures are different. The shysters can use the argument that, "it's that damn metric/Imperial system that they use over there!". For example the car companies must love the fact that there are these differences otherwise it might expose some glaring differences in fuel economy and there'd be at lot of splain'n ta do.

Alan from the islands

Interesting agenda. I was going through, looking at where the speakers and moderators were from. Other than the former city manager of Vallejo, California (in a session titled "Bankruptcy or Bust"), everyone looks to be from east of the Great Plains. That's not particularly surprising; east and west of the Great Plains in the US are very different historically (and at least IMO, considerably different culturally as well). I'll add the problems and outlook for numerous small, formerly industrial cities to my list of differences between East and West.

Except for two sessions, one on urban agriculture and another that seems to be on whether there's any future role for manufacturing, none of the discussion seems to involve opportunities for regionalization of production.

Is the Canadian government morphing into the US Republican Party?

Looking at the two articles about Canada contesting tar sands emission with their own "science" reviews and the elimination of opposition voices at environmental meetings to "streamline" the process, the govt. seems very GOP'ish. I was always under the impression that even the Canadian right was to the left of the US moderate Dems. Does the presence of oil empower the right wing in a nation via concentrated wealth and a hostility to the environment? I couldn't help noticing the 24 hr presence of a FOX like network when I was up there last summer (in all the hotels). I believe I read that a network was asking their equivalent of the FCC for the permission to lie on air. Any Canadian perspectives out there? Does oil corrupt? Are mild Canadians turning into wild Canadians?

It must be the oil is like poison?


Once you accept it, you are doomed.

Or it is like a vampire that bites you and turns you to the dark side.

More likely it is just the lubrication factor, making cognitive dissonance smoother and easier, numbing the mind with its viscous versimilitude.

Whatever it is, your observations are spot on.


Nothing much has changed in Canada. The only reason why the present right-wing Conservatives got a majority in the Canadian Parliament during the last Federal Election was because the centrist Liberal Party imploded due to incompetence, forcing Canadians to choose between pro-pollution, anti-science, free-market fundamentalists and tax-and-spend socialists. Which would you have picked during shaky economic times.

Latest opinion polls indicate that the current government has already squandered its lead, being in a statistical tie with the socialists. Don't be surprised if you wake up one day to find that Canada has gone socialist for the first time in its history. There's a new generation of voters out there.

BTW, during the recent Earth Day, between 250,000 and 300,000 thousand marched in Montreal (population 3.8 million).

Last election, I thought the choice was between Conservative or Liberal, was disgusted with both, and chose the pirate party as a protest vote. Next? The NDP might be worth a shot.

It appears the problem is with the system, itself, and, at best, the Iron Law of Oligarchy.
Fukushima and the Canadian Tar Sands, etc., are global problems affecting everyone but that yet have little democracy behind their implementations and operations... as many pretend that voting for another party or candidate within the system will somehow change things for the better.


Efficasync describes

...tools used by a more-general type of programmer called a 'citizen', to write, update, and debug democracies. As mentioned above, this document uses many analogies to the world of computers and programming because of their utility in the domain of self-governance. In this vein, a group’s system of governance can be thought of as a computer’s operating system (OS.) Both an OS and a government have the ability to coordinate activity and delegate resources among the constituent parts of a system. As with all pieces of software, operating systems may be one of two varieties: open-source or close-source. Open-source operating systems allow every user direct access to their copy of the underlying code, so the user can examine and learn how the system works, and possibly fix problems or make improvements, which can then be shared with the group that uses the OS. Other systems, called close-source, restrict this access to an elite group of experts whose profession is to maintain the code. Efficasync was created in the former paradigm, and encourages the investigation of its code by every person affected by its code. It is the business and responsibility of every citizen to know and affect their government.
~ Michael Mussman

Open-source governance

...is a political philosophy which advocates the application of the philosophies of the open source and open content movements to democratic principles in order to enable any interested citizen to add to the creation of policy, as with a wiki document. Legislation is democratically opened to the general citizenry, employing their collective wisdom to benefit to the decision-making process and improve democracy.

...Who knows. But it can't continue like this.

Fukushima and the Canadian Tar Sands, etc., are global problems affecting everyone but that yet have little democracy behind their implementations and operations

There is an option - voting with one's pocketbook.

What happens when someone creates an application for a smart phone so that you can scan in a barcode on the item one looks to buy and the politics/country of origin one can compare to other products. Imagine the effect on trade - The "buy American" crowd opting to "buy American" - while people in other countries decide to take Adam Smith's invisible hand to heart.

Open-source governance

I've been made aware of a case where a Lawyer was sent back his paperwork by the Clerk of the Courts after having been stamped by the Clerk's office that re-opened a settled case.

Unless there are people willing to watch what the functionaries of the State are doing - and then go to court over infractions - what good is it?

It looks like a smash-and-grab effort to this Canadian.

Peak Water.
My residential water bill runs around $60-70 per two month billing period.
1500 sq ft house with two residents, a small front lawn (600sq ft), minimal landscaping and the rear yard doesn't get watered.
The water supplier bills per "unit" of 100 cubic feet(748 gallons). The rate is $2.74 for 0-10 units, $3.74 for use of 11-30 units and $4.65 per above 31 units.
There is an additional base charge of $40.10 for overhead, infrastructure etc.
My last bill:
13 units plus base charge = $77.91 US dollars.
Do you pay more or less? Is your water not metered? Use your own well water?

Left out the most important piece of information -- where? Peak water is going to be very much a geographical phenomenon.

As I sit here less than 1 mile from the Mississippi River with a light rain hitting the roof, I agree.

Water shortages are not an issue here. Surpluses can be :-/


I'm in south California, at the end of the pipeline.
My water is a blend of Colorado River and "State Project" water from the California delta where mountain runoff meets
seawater bays. Local supplies like rainfall and ground water supply ten or less percent of demand.
Water fights are legend here.
There is another battle going on about water rates and transmission costs and the residential consumers will get the bill.

Well, here in Seattle the sky water finally stopped for a while. I'm not liking the newer long term rainfall projections, looks like rainforest in the forecast.

Ah. Yes, the next 25 years are going to be interesting ones for the residents of the metro areas around San Diego, LA, Las Vegas, Phoenix.

Our most recent water bill is dated April 2nd and covers a three month period. During this 90-day cycle, our two person household consumed a total of nine cubic metres or an average of 100 litres/26.4 US gallons per day (and, yes, we both shower daily, run the dishwasher and do laundry). The water portion is fairly reasonable at $3.72, but the final tally after you factor in the other charges comes to $87.22; thus, the water itself represents less than 5 per cent of the total bill.

The complete breakout is as follows:


Help me with the math.
You used what my purveyor calls 3.xx units vs my 13 and the cost is the same?
I'm going to go flood the yard.
26.4 gl X 90days = 2376 gallons divided by 748 gallons/unit = 3 units?
Three units = $8.22 here.


Every time there's a rate increase we're told that our water rates are amongst the lowest in Canada. I think they conveniently leave out all the other charges when they do their calculations ! The city has spent a good chunk of money over the past ten years improving our waste water handling practices and this accounts for an ever growing share of our bill (for the first 250 years we were rather naughty and simply dumped our do-do into the harbour untreated... the consequences of that, as you can imagine, weren't exactly pretty).

You can read more about this at: http://www.halifax.ca/harboursol/index.html

With respect to our personal consumption, I should point out that there's some seasonal variation. For example, during the spring we use the power washer to clean decks, patios, siding, etc., and during the summer months we water the garden as required; for the period spanning June through September, we consumed an average of 132 litres/34.9 gallons per day, and much of this incremental usage can be attributable to plant watering.

We have a high efficiency Bosch dishwasher and clothes washer, both of which are pretty water frugal, and we have low-flush toilets, water restrictors on our taps and low-flow shower heads. When we shower, we also capture the first five or so litres of water that are purged from the pipes before it turns hot. We use this for watering the garden and toilet flushing.

The first year we lived here the city kept re-reading our meter, sent an inspector out twice to look for evidence of fraud and ended up replacing the meter thinking it was defective. I should have told them I was a cheap ba$tard, but found the whole exercise kinda amusing.



Spring water here, essentially free after the system was paid for, currently producing @600 gpd at the upper spring head, much more lower down. I'm finalizing the development of our lower spring for the garden so we'll have potable water there (currently pond water). We plan to put a summer kitchen near the garden so we'll be able to can food and have cookouts. We currently have 2400 gals. of storage, soon to add another 1600 for the garden.

We've had two stellar solar days; over 50kWH to the batts (equalized), pumped all water tanks full, ran the dishwasher, 3 loads of laundry, pressure washed the deck, ripped some wood on the table saw.... controllers are still in float mode. Anyone need free electricity? Help..

You might consider using the extra electricity to heat water. Not knowing your present setup, I suggest adding an anti-scald valve on your hot water tank, so that the tank might be heated to around 180 F but the outlet of the valve could be set much lower. Use the lower element on an electric hot water heater hooked to the PV panels thru a relay or some other switching device. That way, the hot water tank could store some of that electricity as thermal energy. Such a setup would be especially useful for cold winter days, when typical flat plate thermal collectors aren't going to be very efficient...

E. Swanson

Got it. I have one of these on our hot water tank but the cheap relay I was using went out. I need to get down to Grainger for a better one (be down there in a couple of weeks). Our Outback controllers have aux relays to control such things. It's a fairly rare event that I need to dump load, as I usually find electrical chores to do (yikes, I even have an electric leaf blower).

The other nice thing about really hot water is safety from legionnaire's disease. I've got my heater set high, with the anti-scald valve running to everything in the house except the washing machine. Keeps me from being scalded, and keeps my whites ... meh I'm a bachelor, I don't really care. Theoretically white.

Man, you have free water AND free electricity after doing all that?! You gotta be doing something illegal >;^)

Nuthin's free, Fred.

Small community system; $140 per calendar quarter for the first 30,000 gallons, plus $4 per 1,000 gallons over that base.

How many people, and source? Inquiring TODers want to know.



Here in the land of "endless rain", western Washington, and I'm paying roughly the same for water as you, for using only about a third of the water you use (if I'm understanding your bill correctly).

Our bill is monthly: $35 for water, $70 for sewer, $6 for stormwater (all municipal).
By your supplier's method, we use an average of 2.5 "units" a month.
Slightly larger yard but we only have to water late July to late September, three residents (four if you count the Great Dane, she drinks more water than we do!)

We are metered, but there's a base allowance, which we use less than half of, yet we pay the same as everyone else, not exactly an incentive to save. Our sewer bills nearly doubled a couple years ago when the feds forced the city to upgrade the sewer plant, and will go up 10% a year for the next three years as well, even though the city got grants for half the upgrades.

It makes no sense to me that the rainforest and the desert are paying the same for water...

(And, the smart meter went in, the utility stopped putting kWh readings on the bill, and it went up 80%. Candles and hurricane lamps, here we come. Maybe we could rig up the Oklahoma Joe smoker we got off craigslist to heat the house somehow...)

Coastal Maine, for my two and three unit buildings, each about 100/mo.

I think it's probably become, like property taxes, one of the key muni. supports.. tho' I don't know how the funds travel..

But I'm toying with that conversation to see how many of my crunchy treehugging tenants (not) would consider using a nice, neat Humanure Toilet if it was available for the building. I think I want to set them up, just so they're there in place.

PS, that number for Maine includes Sewer Charges..

I know this thread is kinda dead...but....
The Bureau of Reclamation began building water infrastructure in the west to provide flood control, electricity and water for agriculture. Ag is still big(business)but much water goes to desert golf courses and swimming pools.
From Wiki:
The United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), and formerly the United States Reclamation Service (not to be confused with the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement), is an agency under the U.S. Department of the Interior, which oversees water resource management, specifically as it applies to the oversight and/or operation of numerous diversion, delivery, and storage projects it built throughout the western United States for irrigation, water supply, and attendant hydroelectric power generation. Currently USBR is the largest wholesaler of water in the country, bringing water to more than 31 million people, and providing one in five Western farmers with irrigation water for 10 million acres of farmland, which produce 60% of the nation's vegetables and 25% of its fruits and nuts. USBR is also the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the western United States.[1]

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is the powerhouse of coastal potable water. The San Diego County Water Authority is another and they fight like cats and dogs.
The Imperial Irrigation District has rights to large amounts of Colorado River water and services a billions of dollars agriculture industry in the California desert.

Do you have a sewer bill as well?

Sewer bill is included in property taxes to the County of San Diego in the amt. of $500.00 per year.
$41.67 per month. So water and sewer around $100-120 monthly.

Wow, my water bill in England was about £15 a month for one person (before i started saving water). Sewer bill included.

My water supply is not metered because I use rainwater catchment. The cost of your water bill would pay for my tanks, plumbing, water pumps and its share of electricity in less than 3 years. However, with no lawn I use much less water than you.

End of day report:

Stocks end lower
May 11 4:30pm:
Stocks were mixed Friday as investors looked past a $2 billion trading loss at JPMorgan and focused on consumer confidence.


New def: " Consumer Confidence: 1) a positive feeling by consumers that tomorrow they will have no money, and so they should lay in a supply of goods. 2) a way to spin the illogic of the irrational market. "



Huge Sunspot Could Cause Problems
The largest sunspot in years has appeared. Scientists say it will produce solar flares that could disrupt some communications on Earth.


http://www.howtosurvive2012.com/htm_night/home.htm - discussion about alignment of planets causing flares to actually erupt in the direction of Earth.

(I'm guessing eruptions not pointed at Earth are any concern for most of us)

http://www.thekillshot.com/ - your solar flare propaganda in DVD form. Makes a great drinking game.

They do folow a curved path, because of the suns rotation, the magnetic field lines are spiral.

..Disrupt communications?

That doesn't mean that people are going to misunderstand each other's posts or something terrible like that, does it? Yikes!

Just got an email from Art Berman:

Art on Scott Pelley CBS Evening News Friday May 11 5:30 p.m. CDT

They interviewed Art about Chesapeake. Aubrey McClendon refused to be interviewed.

Chesapeake was crazy madness today. Look at those gyrations. Traders feared the worst when Chesapeake said they needed to delay their filing. The company changed its mind, perhaps because their stock was dropping like a rock. The stock bounced up again, but only until people actually saw what was in the filing.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Chesapeake said it may have to postpone some previously planned sales of assets, such as oil and gas wells, because they are used to secure its revolving credit line.

Such sales are seen as critical for the company. Chesapeake has been hurt by falling natural gas prices and currently has $12.6 billion in long-term debt.

Kinda surprised there aren't vultures circling, either as hedge funds driving them down or majors waiting to pick up with pieces. The chances of Chesapeake surviving the year is small. However, gas prices are nudging up, as consumption for electrical generation is replacing coal. A hot summer could help still more.

Gas going into storage is down a bit in the last few days, so I've heard.

I rather doubt any rise in prices will be fast enough, though.

Paleo - I think the buzzards have been circling for some time. For a while now I've been quizzing several buds who work for independent reserve evaluation shops. They have been silent on any activity on their part re: CHK valuation. In fact, their silence has been very loud. These guys live and die by their perceived confidentiality. So they’ll avoid even casual and unimportant comments about any project they’re working on. This is a pretty good hint as to what they are working on.

I recently said that 12 months ago I would not have thought CHK would be a takeover candidate. Recently I offered that I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened in the next 12 to 18 months. Now I’m not sure that wasn’t crazy optimism. All CHK needs now is a little economic slow up causing oil prices to drop 10% and we may see them herded into ExxonMobil’s stable before next winter.

Art looked good, all ~15 seconds of him. One wonders how much money, time, and energy it took to do that seg.

It's funny to look at the chart Leanan linked to to see when CHK's stock peaked. I'm pretty certain Art Berman had already started writing about the problems with the shale gas business model before people started piling in and buying CHK. The greater mystery is why investors held there CHK shares for as long as they did?

People don't invest based on good, and honest, research do they?

So who's next after CHK?

aws - I suspect the problem is that what some investors consider "research" is reading the analysis put out by the "experts". But who are these experts they're basing their investments upon? IMHO most Wall Street analysts who are paid by the brokerage houses. The same brokerage houses that depend on folks buying stocks for them to make a living off the commissions. So how much commission is there to be made by advising potential investors to not buy stock in a particular company?

Those investors are not listening to the true experts. And I’m not talking about Chesapeake et al. When the hype began for the Eagle Ford Shale one of my former cohorts (that knew little about geology/reservoir engineering) kept pushing the play and would invite folks in to show us the EFS projects they were peddling. He just couldn’t understand when I explained to him why we weren’t going to jump into the play. He kept tossing out the same BS Wall Street and CHK et al were shoveling. So I took a chance and made counter offers to five of the companies pitching us EFS prospects. Typically they were offering us positions for $10k to $20k per acre that they paid as little as $200/acre before the hype kicked in. My offer: instead of writing a check for tens of $millions to them I would give them their full asking price but would apply those monies towards the cost of drilling the wells. So instead of making a good bit of money upfront they would reap a much bigger reward by receiving a working interest in all those great drilling investments they were promising us.

And not a single company accepted my counter offer. They only wanted to cash out and under no circumstance did they want to own any piece of a well drilled for the EFS. And these are the folks who understood the play better than anyone else. What they understood was the limited profit potential of the play but also understood the profit to be made by putting lease blocks together, marking them up greatly and then selling them to public companies desperate for projects to drill so they would have some sizzle to pitch to potential stock buyers. BTW: my owner was more than capable of throwing a couple of hundred $million into picking up lease positions and then making multiples of that investments by flipping to the likes of CHK. By that isn’t what he likes to do. He likes to drill wells, add to the country’s reserves base and then use those profits to drill more wells. The man doesn’t need one penny of our profits to live his very luxurious life style. He can do that 10X over that just off interest from a money market account. He just enjoys the oil patch biz. My company exists only because it’s fun for him. Making a lot of money flipping crappy acreage to fools with more money than sense isn’t fun for him.

This was not a new concept for the promoters putting the shale acreage positions together. I’ve seen it done many times over during the course of my 37 years and know it happened for decades before I started. And we have a very specific name for such plays. And it’s not the “Eagle Ford Shale Play” or “Marcellus Shale Play” or any other reservoir play. We call it an “acreage play”. And everyone in the oil patch understands exactly what that means: you get in, buy cheap, start the hype and then cash out before the reality becomes apparent. There’s a very old and somewhat crude saying in the oil patch about these plays: “You roll in with the first wagon load of whores and roll out before the first load of sucker rods hit the ground”. A sucker rod is a piece of production used when a well starts to show the first signs of depletion. It’s a legal con game by whatever name you want to use. And has been going on since the earliest days of the oil exploration business. It boils down to “buyer beware”. And if the buyer isn’t aware of the reality he gets skinned alive. That’s how it has always been and how it will always be IMHO.

Strange Days: West Coast gasoline prices soar even as oil tankers are sent back to Alaska still loaded with oil

Perhaps we should have known something strange was happening earlier this week when west coast (US) refineries sent oil tankers back to Alaska still loaded:

Refinery work sends Alaska tanker back partly full

HOUSTON/ANCHORAGE, Alaska, May 8 (Reuters) - Tankers carrying Alaska North Slope oil to the U.S. West Coast are returning with some crude still on board because an unusual sequence of refinery shutdowns has reduced their ability to offload cargoes, industry sources said on Tuesday.


Even more unusual than that, wholesale gasoline prices along the west coast reached record premium levels, as compared to the benchmark gasoline futures price, which is based upon delivery of gasoline in the greater New York City harbor region.

This week, prices ranged from 50 cents a gallon to 70 cents a gallon higher than the front month futures price, although they fell back slightly today. As recently as a few weeks ago, the premium was relatively low.

The gasoline supply situation has been threatened by planned maintenance, and unplanned shutdowns – one of which was caused by a serious fire at the Cherry Point, Washington Refinery BP. That plant has been out for about three months, and is still not in a start-up phase.

Usually in late spring, refiners conduct maintenance to change over from winter to summer blends of gasoline. Because of strict air pollution rules in California, gasoline suitable for the state is mostly produced locally. However because of the severity of the current situation, there is talk if not actual plans to divert gasoline tankers that were originally destined for import into other parts of the country.

Also in the weekly report issued by the EIA Wednesday, it was reported that regional gasoline supplies in West fell substantially for the fourth week in a row, and reached their lowest level in four years.

HOUSTON, May 11 (Reuters) - Gasoline premiums on Friday retained the high levels hit on Thursday due to the halted restart of BP Plc's 225,000 barrel per day (bpd) Cherry Point, Washington, refinery.

In the Los Angeles spot market, unleaded May CARBOB gasoline was even with Thursday's finish at a 55-cent-per-gallon premium on top of June NYMEX RBOB gasoline. .


Hi Charles. Thanks for the informative post.

Indeed, fuel prices are high here in the West--in this cast Vancouver, BC, as I noted upthread. Today, the price for regular fuel hit $1.466/liter (I noted yesterday's above) in my neighbourhood. This is getting rather close to the peak I saw in 2008--around $1.51/liter (of course, one my want to adjust for inflation). At $0.02/liter gas tax implemented in April has contributed a little more to the price, but even with that subtracted, the value is still the highest it has been since 2008 if memory serves.


Bill C-38: the Environmental Destruction Act

Packing so many attacks on nature into one bill, Harper bets, will confuse citizens. Here's what's at stake.

Some laws are the stuff of future Conservative campaigning. They are over-sold and put in the front window. Then there is the orphaned and unloved bastard child of Harper's legislative agenda. It is hidden. It is not to be placed in the front window, nor proclaimed as it should be: "Vote for the Conservative Party, tough on nature!" The good news in this is that Stephen Harper knows that his base would hate a lot of what's in C-38. That's why he is hiding it -- in a way that hides it in plain sight for anyone who is willing to dig deep and read the fine print.

Italian anarchists kneecap nuclear executive and threaten more shootings
Group named after Greek anarchist warns it will strike seven more times at nuclear firm's parent company, Finmeccanica

"Adinolfi knows well that it is only a matter of time before a European Fukushima kills on our continent," the letter stated.
"Science in centuries past promised us a golden age, but it is pushing us towards self destruction and slavery," the group wrote, adding: "With our action we give back to you a small part of the suffering that you scientists are bringing to the world."