Drumbeat: May 26, 2012

Q. and A.: Linking People’s Needs to Nature’s

It has been a generation since the rise of environmental economics. Yet even after years of groundbreaking research and support from governmental agencies and nonprofits, the work of such economists has tended to be tangential to the aims of most large conservation organizations. But in the last few years Peter Seligmann, the founder and chairman of Conservation International, has made a major strategic change in his $250 million organization.

After two decades of emphasizing the preservation of “hot spots,” or areas with a high level of biodiversity that are threatened with development, the group refocused on efforts to link environmental conservation to the economic self-interest of surrounding communities and countries. The move cost the 25-year-old organization some members, he acknowledges.

Oil Rises on U.S. Consumer Confidence, Iran Inspections

Oil rose on reports showing that U.S. consumer confidence gained and the United Nations’ atomic agency found evidence Iran boosted its output of enriched uranium that could be used for a nuclear weapon.

Futures increased for a second day as the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment advanced to 79.3, the most since 2007. Iran almost doubled its supply of 20 percent-enriched uranium, to 145 kilograms (320 pounds) since February, the International Atomic Energy Agency said today in a restricted 11-page report seen by Bloomberg.

Cheaper gas spurs more travelers this Memorial Day

NEW YORK – More Americans will hit the road this holiday weekend than a year ago. And they'll have a bit more money to spend thanks to lower gas prices.

Memorial Day kicks off the summer travel season, and since pump prices never reached $4 or $5 a gallon, as feared, economists says travelers are likely to dine out or shop more once they pull off the road.

Mexico Oil Hedging Costs Rose 44 Percent Last Year

Mexico, the third-largest supplier of oil to the U.S., paid $1.17 billion last year to lock in prices for 2012 exports at $85 a barrel, a 44 percent increase compared to hedging costs paid the previous year.

Myanmar power protests put new reforms to the test

BANGKOK—Protests in Myanmar over persistent power shortages have provided a test of how the country's elected but military-backed government will respond to rising expectations sparked by the past year's democratic reforms. Small demonstrations over the last week in Myanmar's two largest cities and several towns could be seen as an indicator of the new openness under President Thein Sein, who has overseen the country's emergence from decades of authoritarian rule and diplomatic isolation.

China plans to exploit power-shortage protests in Burma

Burmese people have been suffering power shortage for more than two decades. Although the military-dominated regime gains a large sum of hard currency by exporting the natural gas to neighbouring countries, it neglects sharing the indispensable power supplies to its citizens for twenty years.

Gas prices this summer? Same as last, says expert

Why have prices been declining lately?

"Crude oil prices went too high," Oil Price Information Service Chief Oil Analyst Tom Kloza explained on "CBS This Morning: Saturday."

"Basically, gas prices were too high. We get sloppy drunk every year, the trading community, and this was no exception."

Fairbanks gasoline prices rise despite sharp drop in crude oil

FAIRBANKS — A couple of months ago the gasoline price in Fairbanks was about 40 cents per gallon above the U.S. average.

Today it is about 75 cents per gallon above the national average.

Since Tesoro refines 80 percent of the gasoline in Alaska at Kenai and has three refineries on the West Coast, the recent price spike in Alaska may be fallout from the situation in California and Washington, where gasoline prices have also increased.

Low natural gas prices continue to drive commodity chemicals industry

The U.S. commodity chemical industry that manufacture chemicals linked to natural gas are expected to have a strong 2012, according to a Moody’s report issued today.

The rapid growth of natural gas supply and low prices are driving the commodity chemicals boom domestically, even as economic slowdowns in Europe and China may well dampen the industry’s performance worldwide.

Obama gets boost as gas prices drop

“I think whenever you see gas prices decline, you will see these campaigns and parties switch to a different message, because that energy message doesn’t have the same bite it would have if energy costs were high,” said GOP strategist Tyler Harber, a partner with Harcom Strategies.

“I think you will see gas prices and energy start to disappear from the daily message attacks from Romney and the Republicans until the gas prices begin to spike again,” Harber said.

Nitish tells UPA come clean on oil price hike

Patna/New Delhi (ANI): Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday hit out at the Congress-led UPA over the petrol price hike, and said that the ruling government is putting the blame on oil companies to avoid the responsibility and come out clean.

"There has been an increase in the price of petrol. The Centre has taken this decision. Now, when there is revolt on this issue in the entire country, they are putting the blame on oil companies to avoid the responsibility and come out clean. It is for the first time in the history of this country that there has been so steep increase in the price of petrol," said Kumar.

From Canada Down To Argentina, The Oil Flows

As the wind whips across the scrub grass in southern Argentina, a crane unloads huge bags of artificial sand for oil workers preparing for the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of a well.

Water mixed with chemicals and tiny ceramic beads are then blasted underground at high pressure. This mixture helps create fissures, allowing oil and natural gas to flow.

Energy analysts believe there are billions of barrels of oil and gas buried in a desert-like patch in Patagonia.

Why Shell is betting billions to drill for oil in Alaska

This summer, the energy giant will begin exploring off the icy coast of Alaska -- after years of resistance by environmentalists. The payoff could be the largest U.S. offshore oil discovery in a generation.

Feds Invest In Deepwater Drilling Tech

The Department of Energy has selected 13 projects to enhance the environmental safety of deepwater drilling projects, particularly by improving the cement casing process that investigators cited as a cause of BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

US Firmly Backing Nabucco Pipeline despite BP Criticism

The support of the USA for the European gas transit pipeline Nabucco is unwavering regardless of British Petroleum declaring the project unviable.

Gazprom eyes new partners for Shtokman gas project

(Reuters) - The chief executive of Russian gas giant Gazprom said on Friday it is seeking new partners for the Shtokman gas project, which has been repeatedly delayed on disagreements over investment volumes.

Alexei Miller also declined to directly address media reports that Shell may join the project.

Iran Doubles Enriched-Uranium Stockpile, Goes Beyond 20%

Iran increased its output of enriched uranium that world powers are concerned may eventually be used for a nuclear weapon, according to International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors.

Gas project to be sped up in South China Sea

CNOOC Ltd, the listed unit of China National Offshore Oil Corp, the country's biggest offshore oil producer, plans to accelerate the development of the Liwan gas project in the South China Sea with its partner Husky Energy Inc.

Icahn Buys Stake in Chesapeake, Seeks Board Replacements

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn bought a 7.56 percent stake in Chesapeake Energy Corp. and demanded new directors amid growing shareholder concern about management of the second-largest U.S. natural-gas producer.

Turkmen leader sacks fifth energy minister in five years

ASHGABAT: Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has sacked his oil and gas minister for incompetence, the fifth time in five years that he has dismissed the number one energy official, state media said Saturday.

Oil and Gas Minister Bayramgeldi Nedirov was fired "for serious shortcomings in his work", according to a decree published in government newspaper Neutral Turkmenistan.

Regulators: Oil leak in Alberta not all contained

Regulators in Canada are investigating a substantial leak of oil and water from a feeder pipeline in the western province of Alberta and say the leak is not yet completely contained.

Top Senate Democrat predicts no big energy changes this year

Bingaman has been unsuccessfully pushing for adoption of a nationwide clean energy standard that would force power utilities to generate an increasing share of their electricity from sources that emit low greenhouse gas emissions.

But Bingaman, the head of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, now concedes the political headwinds are too strong to push an ambitious clean energy standard bill through Congress this year.

Coal plant operators find a convenient scapegoat in the EPA

When in doubt, blame the EPA.

That’s becoming the mantra of some Texas coal plant operators, who have found the federal Environmental Protection Agency the legal and financial equivalent of a rented mule – an unpopular bureaucracy they can berate as the cause of all their problems.

Cuban, U.S. scientists breaking through some political barriers

Cuban and American scientists have joined forces to protect wildlife and to study Caribbean weather patterns that fuel hurricanes, and in the process, they're chipping away at a half-century of government feuding, helping to bring the nations together for talks on vital matters such as what to do in case of an oil spill.

Author Jeff Rubin on The End of Growth and titlesake Richard Heinberg

High-energy Toronto author and blogger Jeff Rubin admitted that California-based author Richard Heinberg was “somewhat surprised” to hear from Rubin directly that both men had books at various stages of development called The End of Growth.

“He was somewhat surprised, admittedly,” the former CIBC chief economist told the Georgia Straight in a sit-down interview on May 24. “I guess I would be if I was in that situation, too. But I just thought, it would just be too weird if I didn’t tell him.”

Wheat Fields Parched By Drought From U.S. To Russia

(Bloomberg News) Droughts withering wheat crops from the U.S. to Russia to Australia will probably spur the biggest reduction in global supply estimates since 2003 and drive prices to the highest in almost a year.

Kansas, the top U.S. grower of winter wheat, is poised for its driest May on record, the state's climatologist estimates. Ukraine and Russia, accounting for 11 percent of world output, have endured drought conditions for three months, University College London data show. The U.S. Department of Agriculture may cut its global crop estimate by 1.2 percent next month, the biggest drop in a June report since 2003, according to the average of 18 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Beef, chicken, pork prices still climbing

DENVER — The money you’re saving on gasoline may go toward buying steaks, ribs and chicken for the barbecue.

Meat prices are expected to rise faster than overall food costs in 2012. Prices rose in the spring and may increase an additional 1 percent to 3 percent this summer. Grill masters will find bargains harder to come by as retailers attempt to recoup some of their higher costs.

Brazil: President Vetoes Major Parts of Bill to Open Up Forests

President Dilma Rousseff on Friday vetoed portions of Brazil’s new Forest Code, a bill drafted to open big areas of protected forests to large-scale agriculture. The decision by Ms. Rousseff, which removes 12 articles from the bill, alters legislation sought by powerful agricultural groups.

Area's sea-level rise has fastest rate on the East Coast

ONLEY — An inaugural interactive workshop discussing historic and future sea level trends and their implications for Virginia’s Eastern Shore is planned for June.

“We’ve got the highest rate of sea level rise on the East Coast,” said Skip Stiles, executive director, Wetlands Watch, who will be making a presentation on the historic, current and future sea level changes and potential impact on the Eastern Shore.

Time To Prepare: Rising Sea Levels Threaten Connecticut Coast

Tropical Storm Irene hammered the houses in the low-lying Cosey Beach area of East Haven last August. Now, according to town officials, most of those homes are being rebuilt.

This is understandable. But is it wise?

Poll: Majority of N.J. residents call climate change a 'real concern,' want government to take larger role

After a year of erratic weather, a large majority of New Jersey residents consider climate change and global warming a real concern — and they also expect government to start taking a bigger role in protecting the environment, according to a Kean University/NJ Speaks poll released today.

Book review: Michael Mann’s ‘The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars’

When it comes to key warriors in America’s battle over the causes of climate change, few rival Pennsylvania State University professor Michael E. Mann. Mann, who directs the Penn State Earth System Science Center, led a 1998 reconstruction of temperature records going back thousands of years and showing that global averages had shot up in recent decades.

Featured in a 2001 report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the chart resembled a hockey stick, with the ancient temperatures running along the handle and the latest figures rising sharply at the base. It sparked intense debate over the human contribution to global warming and transformed Mann from a geeky geophysicist into a public fighter in a bruising political and legal war over how to conduct science and public policy.

Key question at climate talks: Is China poor?

BONN, Germany -- Another round of U.N. climate talks closed Friday without resolving how to share the burden of curbing man-made global warming, mainly because countries don't agree on who is rich and who is poor.

China wants to maintain a decades-old division between developed and developing countries, bearing in mind that, historically, the West has released most of the heat-trapping gases that scientists say could cause catastrophic changes in climate.

But the U.S. and Europe insisted during the two-week talks in Bonn that the system doesn't reflect current economic realities and must change as work begins on a new global climate pact set to be completed in 2015.

U.S. cut its carbon emissions in 2011 — but China erased the gains

Yes, it’s true: Americans are slowly starting to tackle global warming. U.S. carbon emissions dropped 1.7 percent last year, according to the International Energy Agency. But that only went so far. Thanks to China’s fast growth, the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions hit record highs in 2011.

Re: From Canada Down To Argentina, The Oil Flows (uptop)

Link to what appears to be a longer Washington Post version of this article:

Center of gravity in oil world shifts to Americas

From Canada to Colombia to Brazil, oil and gas production in the Western Hemisphere is booming, with the United States emerging less dependent on supplies from an unstable Middle East. Central to the new energy equation is the United States itself, which has ramped up production and is now churning out 1.7 million more barrels of oil and liquid fuel per day than in 2005.

“There are new players and drivers in the world,” said Ruben Etcheverry, chief executive of Gas and Oil of Neuquen, a state-owned energy firm that is positioning itself to develop oil and gas fields here in Patagonia. “There is a new geopolitical shift, and those countries that never provided oil and gas can now do so. For the United States, there is a glimmer of the possibility of self-sufficiency.”

. . . Since 2006, exports to the United States have fallen from all but one major member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, the net decline adding up to nearly 1.8 million barrels a day. Canada, Brazil and Colombia have increased exports to the United States by 700,000 barrels daily in that time and now provide nearly 3.4 million barrels a day.

Combined net oil exports from the seven major net oil exporters in the Americas* fell from 6.2 mbpd (million barrels per day) in 2004 to 4.8 mbpd 2010, a decline of 1.4 mbpd.  Note that Brazil is a net importer of petroleum liquids, with a recent pattern of increasing net oil imports (BP data base, total petroleum liquids). 

The US has shown a slow increase in crude oil production, but based on state production data, it's likely that there was actually no increase at all in US crude oil production from 2010 to 2011, and US crude oil production was probably at about 5.3 mbpd in 2011, the same as the pre-hurricane rate of 5.3 mbpd that we saw in 2004 (using Texas RRC for Texas production, instead of EIA data).

Note that the Washington Post reporter is using current EIA estimates of total liquids production, inclusive of low net energy biofuels, and he is using 2005 as the reference year, when US oil production was suppressed because of the hurricanes.

*Argentina, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Trinidad & Tobago

In trying to combat the Cornucopian Firestorm of Disinformation, I have sometimes felt like a small boy trying to put out a raging forest fire by peeing on it. I am beginning to feel more like our five pound Yorkie, trying to put out a forest fire by peeing on it, as Yergin & Lynch, et al, in company with the MSM, drop napalm on the raging Cornucopian Firestorm of Disinformation.

As Billy Clinton used to say "I feel your pain"...

E. Swanson

People will find out the truth about depletion the hard way.

The hope is that the establishment can free-up consumption elsewhere, by war, instability, credit-freeze and all other available means: Iran, Europe, Syria, Egypt, etc. When consumption in these areas collapses it can then be exported to the US. This is the theory: 'US self-sufficiency' is the cover story.

The reality is that collapse elsewhere will have severe and increasing credit effects in the US. Instead of an increase in available fuel, there will be a decline in consumption in the US: it's hard to buy gas when you're broke.

Tough to battle the main-stream propaganda machine ... almost like arguing against the 'Fed printing money' meme.


What it boils down to is arguing against emotion, greed, and self interest with fact. Us humans have a long history of such. The world is flat is one non explosive example. Some major religions did what they could to suppress scientists as it was not in their interest, "you" are the scientist "they" are worshiping the kardashians(good grief, who cares?, Really? this is important?). The emotional factor has not left us collectively.
I doubt all Yerginites actually believe what they espouse but it buys things they want - now. The idea of leaving the planet in better shape than we found it is lacking imho.


The emotional factor has not left us collectively.

My father use to say people are so emotional, they can't stop being emotional long enough to think straight.

Peak oil is the same thing. People get emotionally angry about high oil prices and talk of peak oil, then react immediately with emotions that exert force on their noggins to 'believe' whatever assists their ability to 'feel' better by being told false information. MSM is simply providing what the consumer wants, to have their hand held like there's really nothing wrong.

The emotions should really be interesting to watch when shtf. It will probably move into the blame game zone.

"If only those darn liberals had let us drill into all that shale under Colorado! There's trillions of barrels of cheap oil there!"

"Hold on there's something called EROEI."

"It's people like you that talk like that, that wished away all of our cheap fuel. Can't you stop thinking for a minute so we can get the oil we need?!"

"Hold on, it doesn't work that way..."

Prelude to a scam. It would take a special lack of talent to mess-up the con-games that are all set up and primed with the "Endless Vistas of Oil" advertising currently issuing from a multiplicity of trusted and reliable sources. With the JOBS act, fraudulent operators can raise money directly from the public without revealing or delivering anything. The financial machine could stage a real-estate bubble in shale-land. Small-time crooks might settle for running testing services: "Is vast oil wealth hiding under YOUR land?"

When explaining to those people that it requires 1800 degrees Fahrenheit to liberate the oil from the shale, and that the shale will pop like popcorn resulting in immense tailing piles that will fill the Grand Canyon, they'll say "really?", but then their eyes will glaze over as the oil monkey on their backs begins to screech. Next they'll ask why can't one just build a nuclear-powered furnace with a conveyer belt ... or whatever environmentally disastrous means it would require to process the Kerogen ... so as long as they get their "fix." Sad to say, most of us all are junkies, and will sacrifice everything else so that we can hop in our SUV, drive on over to Wal-Mart - to buy a plastic pumpkin, as one other member of TOD so succinctly put it.

Let me correct a historical mistake here. Wich I like to do wherever it happen.

You say "some religions" and "scientists". That combo only occored in medevial Europe, so why not speak out and say "the christian church", wich is what you either meant, or what the readers will take it as.

There is a myth that the medevial europeans belived earth was flat. They did not. Everyone knew it was round. It even say so in literature. Just as an example, there are some notes from a student at the physics department at Uppsala University (the one where Kjell Aleklett now works) from a geography lesson, wich clearly describes the sphericalness of the earth. Many such axamles exists. Everyone knew earth was round, the belief that they did not is a modern urban myth.

When Columbus had his famous debate about the shape of the earth, before beeing granted money for his atlantic expdeition, contary to popular belief, they never discussed the shape of the earth, but its diameter. Columbus was cooking the books to make the journy to Asia look possible. He was saved in the end by the sheer luck that America was in the way.

The greek found out about the roundness ca 500 BC.

The problem was not that they were flat earthers, it was that they believed in a geocentric cosmology. That problem was not corrected untill Copernicus, Gallilei, Brahe and those guys fixed it up. They had resistance from the church, especially Gallilei and Brahe (Copernicus was a church insider), but the model was not made all right untill about 1910.

I had the impression Columbus wasn't being "optimistic", but had relied on a faulty method for determining the diameter. Supposedly he observed ships disappearing over the horizon. The distance until they vanished is related to the radius of curvature and the height of the ship. I think his error was to ignore the effect of waves, which made the curvature seem greater than in reality. So he had a controversial (and wrong) measurement of the diameter.

To figure out the curvtive of the earth by looking at a ship as it sails away is difficult, if you have no idea of how far away it realy had come. I doubt Columbus had the skills and tools for this.

The way I understand this, he asked around till he found the geographer who gave him the shortest diameter of the earth, and the one who gave him the largest size of the old world, and adding the two together, he made the distance from Portugal to India be short enough to be sailed. A gamble, but he won in the end.

This is just what I have read in a book on history. I never checked his (the author) sources, but it makes for a good story, anyway.

Which, of course, demonstrates how much knowledge Europe had lost. Eratosthenes of Cyrene estimated the circumference of the Earth to about 2% around 240 BC. The surprising thing (to me) in his work was not the measurements and calculations per se, but the excellent assumptions he made about the distance and size of the sun.

Have I mentioned lately that the efforts of historians in reconstructing the mathematical work done by the ancients has always impressed me?

Yep, the collapse ofthe roman empire, coupled with a trade monopoly by the muslims cutting us off from what we called "India" by then, made us go back to almost zero in knowledge. Our world got so much smaller.

Wich brings us back to classical TOD discussions: Will we lose knowledge, if/when our empire starts to collapse? How much of it?

The Roman Empire itself was a tremendous setback for almost every sort of progress. The amount of metal smelting, for example, peaked during the Early Imperial Era. I think it is hard to appreciate just what it meant to history - it would be like if Nazi Germany had wiped out both Britain and the USSR.

What does "us" mean in this context, anyway?

The Romans was muchly as Microsoft is today; didn'tinvent much,but stole technology from others. They did however spread tech around. If they never araised, there is no telling if things would have gone slower or faster. But development slowed down a goodbit when they declined.

Sadly, the Church did suppress science... Just look at how Galileo was treated when his discoveries challenged the Church doctrine of Geocentrism.

I never argued against that. We all know what happened to Galileo. As I also refered to in my post.

The less well known of the 3 big heliocentrists, Tycho Brahe, was a danish astronomer who lived at the island Ven, part of the now swedish province Skåne. I am from that province. All school kids get told about this local scientific hero, and a field trip to the island to look at the remains of his astronomical observatory is all but mandatory. Since he was aparently an evil land lord, his castle and most of the observatory was dismanteled for the rocks it was built by, by the local farmers, so there is not terribly much left to look at. Anyway, he was attacked for his scientific work, and at the end offered a compromise; the sun orbit the earth, and everything then orbit the sun, but it was not wellcommed, and he was forced to "take back" geocentrism the whole way.

Anyway; they were not flat earthers. Did you say thay earth was flat back in those days, you would never had heard the end of the laughters and mockings. They were geocentrics. That was their fault.

Skane---such a beautiful place, I have relatives there.

I wanted to mention that no one has brought up the name of Giordano Bruno, executed in 1600 by the Roman Inquisition.

He brought in concepts like an infinite universe and that stars are fire. He propounded heliocentrism.

The quintessence----the idea that there was a fifth element "out there" beyond the spheres, in the place where God and the Angels were living----he said "no, it's impossible." Matter is everywhere within the universe the same.

It's amazing and sad to me that he was executed. He said things which are very normal and acceptable.

The problem we always have when dealing with history is that the devil is in the details but most people only have a condensed bland version of history which can be very misleading.

The Galileo "incident" has been thoroughly investigated by many historians but most people do not read long boring historical investigations.

Jedi is correct. Galileo's initial critics were not the church but competing camps of astronomers who each had their favorite theories. Galileo was proposing heleocentrism, a model in which the Earth and planets revolve around a relatively stationary Sun at the center of the Solar System. The reigning theories at the time were first geocentrism, the model that the Earth is the center of the universe, and that all other objects orbit around it. This geocentric model served as the predominant cosmological system in many ancient civilizations such as ancient Greece.

Then there was also the Tychonic system - a model in which the Earth is at the center of the universe. The Sun and Moon and the stars revolve around the Earth, and the other five planets revolve around the Sun.

There were no flat earth proponents in Galileo's time. That erroneous idea came about from a 19th century novel that stated that the church only believed in the flat earth. Even the great Doctor of the church Saint Augustus in the 4th century wrote about the round earth, based on the earlier work of the Greeks.

Under vigorous attack from the competing astronomers both Pope Urban and the Jesuits supported Galileo and encouraged him publish his work. He wrote his views down in his "Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems". But Galileo, who was brilliant scientifically was politically stupid. In the last part of his Dialogue he put a thinly veiled harsh criticism of the Pope. No one knows why he did this but he had done this type of thing before.

Both the Jesuits and the Pope then turned angrily against Galileo. He was tried by the Inquisition, found "suspect of heresy" and placed under house arrest. Interestingly this was the period when he wrote many of his finest scientific works.

History, because it covers ancient times and cultures which we don't understand very well is virtually impossible to describe in little short vignettes, which is what most high school history books contain. College history books too.

Thats pretty close to the story as I know it. Supposedly Galileo strayed into theology, challenging the churches doctrines. When he was just using science to learn more about god's wondrous creation, the church supported him. I guess that sort of personality trait, getting in a blow at the end -that we know is going to cause up major problems is just irresitable.

The Catholic church has a mixed record with science, in some major ways supporting it, but sometimes coming out strongly against. I do think there was something unique about the culture that evolved in European Cristendom, that made the systemization of the study of nature possible. Several other civilizations had reached high levels of achievement, but the culture was such that the genius's among them only produced isolated accomplishments, then things continued pretty much as before.

Oh I can think of quite a few more instances in which the Church behaved badly. Hypatia being one of the most brutal and unfounded. As for Galileo's thinly veiled criticisms of doctrine... House arrest for life is nothing short of over-reaction. Hypatia, however, now that was atrocity. Sad to say these were not the only instances.

That the church supported scientific research so long as it was in line with doctrine is certainly true. It was during instances where the current thinking of the church was challenged that brutality and suppression cropped up. The burning of Hypatia, for example, resulted in the cessation of humanist scientific study in Greece for nearly three centuries. If that is not suppression, then I don't know what is.

As for flat earth thinking. Though it wasn't all-encompassing, there were a number of prominent dark ages bishops who considered the notion doctrinal and defended it on such grounds. The most common model was that of a planar earth. Geocentrism came to the fore during the middle ages and proceeded to the renaissance until observation (Galileo etc) proved that view false.

Though the current day Catholic Church tends to be quite a bit more open minded with regards to most science, doctrines suppressing birth control have had a serious negative impact. Furthermore, creationism masquerading as science is also undermining scientific education and, by extension, scientific thought.

Not all churches behave badly and some should be commended for their support of scientific endeavor including climate research, evolutionary biology, and universal access to birth control. It is my view that those who suppress climate science, biology, and sustainability via access to birth control will be viewed with the same derision the dark age notion of a flat earth inspires today.


I have an ex sister-in-law from Spruce Grove Alta who thought the earth was flat. I am not kidding. The rest of the story is too scary to tell, so I'll just leave it at that.


Blond girl looking at a star through a telescope for the first time. Reaction: "It is not spiky?"

True story. Friend of a guy I used to know.

I had a girl ask me why the stars turned off during the day.

I have had someone ask me, in a place where many wind turbines are installed, and many folks complain about the weather, why they didn't turn off those fans? People are clueless.

Incidentally, I have been looking at the ratios of consumption to production in oil exporting countries, but I think that reversing the ratio, and using P/C, makes it easier to explain net export concepts. Of course, in a post-peak oil exporting country, the C/P ratio tends to increase, while the P/C ratio would fall.

Note that I took the first three years post-peak P/C data for Indonesia, UK and Egypt (IUKE) to estimate their respective post-peak Cumulative Net Exports (CNE).

The combined post-peak CNE estimate for IUKE was 4.6 Gb (extrapolating the first three years of declining P/C data).

The actual combined post-peak CNE number for IUKE was 4.6 Gb.

Following is a link to a hand drawn P/C graph for Saudi Arabia (BP data, total petroleum liquids). In 2005 the P/C ratio for Saudi Arabia was 5.55. Note the post-2005 collapse in the P/C ratio. The 1.0 P/C marks the dividing line between net exporter status (above 1.0) and net importer status (below 1.0):


The dashed line represents the projected P/C curve for Saudi Arabia, based on extrapolating the 2005 to 2008 rate of change in the P/C ratio. To estimate post-peak CNE, we simply take the annual net exports at peak (3.3 Gb/year for Saudi Arabia) times the number of estimated years to zero net oil exports (26 years) times 0.5 (to get the area under a triangle) less the annual net exports at peak (same approach I used for IUKE estimates).

The resulting post-2005 CNE estimate for Saudi Arabia would be 40 Gb, with 2006 to 2010 inclusive CNE of 14 Gb, resulting in post-2010 CNE of about 26 Gb, implying that Saudi Arabia's post-2005 cumulative supply of net exported oil was already about one-third depleted at the end of 2010.

This P/C graph more clearly emphasizes how it could be possible that Saudi Arabia had already shipped, through 2010, about one-third of post-2005 CNE.

Following is a link to a draft of a Chindia slide that one would think would get the attention of anyone with two or more working brain cells, but as they said in the movie "American Beauty," "Never underestimate the power of denial."


GNE = Global Net Exports* & CNI = Chindia's net imports

From 2002 to 2010, our data base shows that the ratio of total global net oil exports to the Chindia region's combined net oil imports dropped by about half. In terms of volume, the supply of GNE available to importers other than China & India (ANE) fell from 40 mbpd in 2005 to 35 mbpd in 2010, an average volumetric decline of one mbpd per year. Was someone wondering why global annual (Brent) crude oil prices rose from $25 in 2002 to $111 in 2011?

*Top 33 net oil exporters in 2005, BP + Minor EIA data, total petroleum liquids

Still, flat isn't really all that bad, especially with cheap NG to boot. It could be worse!

Energy states are doing quite well of late:

I am beginning to feel more like our five pound Yorkie, trying to put out a forest fire by peeing on it, as Yergin & Lynch, et al, in company with the MSM, drop napalm on the raging Cornucopian Firestorm of Disinformation.

WT, you should be grateful. They're only trying to help, by fighting fire with 'FIRE'!

Please keep peeing! The only other option is not peeing...and then the fire will just be that much bigger. I, for one, have appreciated your insight and wisdom, so thanks :)

I wouldn't put my Personal Excreter of Nitrogen in Solution (P.E.Ni.S) anywhere near an uncontrolled fire. I think anyone who does is much braver than I am.

I thought the whole point was - peeing or not peeing didn't make the slightest difference, given the size of the blaze. I could be wrong.

But peeing might feel better than not doing so!

I hear you. Feel like a two pound Yorkie myself. All anyone seems to care about is money. Never understood the allure. Just a boatload of pride and a huge headache in the morning. In my view, for us to get out of this mess a bunch of people are going to have to stop worshipping that golden idol. In any case, keep pissing, it's all we got.

Europe’s oil bill is set to reach $500 Billion in 2012

Rise in oil prices has been magnified by a fall in the value of the euro against the dollar.

Europe is on track to spend over $500 Billion on oil imports this year, which is well in excess of the Greek government’s USD370 billion debt, the IEA’s Executive Director said on 23 May in Paris.

From 2000 to 2010 the average amount spent on oil imports in Europe was $182 Billion/yr. In 2011 oil imports reached a record of $488 Billion. [268% increase]

“Prices at these levels are forcing households to either cut back on spending on other items or to increase their debt; they are also undermining the profitability of companies that are unable to pass on fully higher input costs,”

And to think there are still some folks who think that high oil prices have from little to no responsibility for the European recession. Actually it is likely the largest factor in the recession and could be the one thing that prevents any kind of true recovery.

This could very well be the beginning of the second step down in the collapse. 2008 being the first step of course. But if this leads to the collapse of most of Europe, it could be many times bigger than the 2008 crisis.

Ron P.

Two key differences between 2008 and 2012 for Europe, annualized oil prices are higher in 2012 and the Euro has fallen in 2012, relative to 2008.

In the current economic situation, the de facto constraint on liquid fuel availability functions as a powerful feedback mechanism affecting economic activity. On even the slightest indication of economic strengthening, there is a perceptible rise in oil prices. A significant widespread increase in economic activity would result in oil prices that would tend to choke off economic activity. The point that was missed by the people who predicted near term $200/barrel oil is that a price in this range results in significant demand destruction.

This is also, in part why unprecedented efforts at stimulating economic activity have proven to be of limited effectiveness.

Another issue with $200/bbl is if that price somewhat reflects the marginal cost of extraction, the EROEI of the oil is getting close to 1. There just simply aren't enough available resources to sustain drilling activity at those prices for long.

I realize we're talking about increasing demand and steady or falling supply though, so the marginal cost might not apply here. In that case, even if the break-even price of new operations are at $100/bbl, energy companies would be making $100/bbl of profit while everyone pays out their ears for food and everything else. That scenario would make the French Revolution seem like a civilized disagreement between friends.

Either way, and with the most likely scenario of demand destruction, I don't see how prices could remain at $200 for very long.

In current money, $200 oil equals 10 percent of all economic activity worldwide. I just don't see this happening without a major economic downturn or a lot more currency in the world markets. You can't run viable economies with energy costing so much. Hell, $100-130 oil is tough enough already. Just ask Europe...

In current money, $200 oil equals 10 percent of all economic activity worldwide

This is only correct if demand remains constant, but with significantly higher prices over a decade changes in vehicles, driving habits, jobs and demand for mass transit will all reduce oil consumption without necessarily causing a major economic downturn.

Have you ever been to Amarillo Texas?

Just an example of the millions of places that will be, or already hurt by current prices. These places will cease to function soon. People are driving around in 1984 Chevy pickup trucks. They aren't going to buy a fancy new battery on wheels, and they aren't going to get a new train down main street. And, most aren't going to move to New York, L.A., or even Houston.

They are just going to die.

If they just die then that is what they deserve. Really spread out real estate is just really bad design for times with increasing oil prices.

The can easily keep going though . . . just turn in those V8 Pick-ups for a Prius or EV. But if people go bankrupt trying to feed gas guzzlers in the obvious face of high oil prices, they are merely getting what the deserve.

If they just die then that is what they deserve.

People very often do the wrong thing because of either their ignorance or because they were given the wrong information and believed it. It is callous to say that they deserve an early death because of their ignorance or for believing the wrong thing.

I know a lot of people who are otherwise very smart yet, I believe, are very wrong concerning natural resources. I would not say that is a crime deserving of death.

- As for pointing to our mental failures with scorn or dismay, we might as well profess disappointment with the mechanics of gravity or the laws of thermodynamics. In other words, the degree of disillusionment we feel in response to any particular human behavior is the precise measure of our ignorance of its evolutionary and genetic origins.
- Reg Morrison, The Spirit in the Gene

Ron P.

The term 'die' here was being used metaphorically, not literally. We were talking about a town dying not people. Sorry if I gave the wrong impression.

I agree with you. Nobody should die because of such circumstances, especially as most never really chose them - they were born there, etc.

That said, I think it is hyperbole to say people will die in the US from $200 oil. They will probably be really poor, but in the US there is still food stamps and there is still a long way down before people are dying from poverty (excepting those with serious medical issues). Obesity is still more of an issue than hunger.

However, I think the insinuation of "fancy battery on wheels" is that they likely haven't buckets of money for a shiny new Prius or EV. And certainly they can't "turn in the old pickup" for one. Maybe 5% of one, if even that.

Of course whether they just passively roll over and die is an entirely different question. I doubt that very much. For example, I hardly think Rockman's frequent and pithy observations could be made consistent with any notion that Texans are generally the type to just roll over passively and die.

Everybody dies. Deserves got nothing to do with it.

But backwater towns will still exist just as they did before oil. They'll just go back to the traditional metric of how many people can the local land support.

So to follow that line of logic IF your electric car does not easily keep things going you get what you deserve?

If they just die then that is what they deserve

Everyone dies. The question is; did they reproduce first? If they did, did their offspring stay there?


Sorry to be late to the party boys and girls...spent the day scouting three of my new locations.

“People very often do the wrong thing because of either their ignorance or because they were given the wrong information and believed it.” Have any of you folks spent time in Amarillo? I once spent a month in Amarillo...one weekend. LOL. Almost no one ever moved there because they wanted to. Almost no one born in Amarillo stays there if they have a way out. Which is fortunate for most Americans. First, it is a major part of our beef sources. If you don’t eat beef you get a pass. If you’re eating any meat product on tomorrow’s holiday you need to send a post card of thanks to Big A. Second, Amarillo is the northern hub of the great west Texas oil fields. So anyone reading this should that has ever bought a tank full of gasoline should also send a note of thanks.

Amarillo grew as part of the infrastructure that helped provide growth to this country. People didn’t flock to this sh*t hole (IMHO) because they liked driving 200 miles to see land taller than a ground hog mound. They don’t remain in a town where having 15 to 20 consecutive days above 105F is not uncommon. They stay there for the sake of commerce. Which, again, is fortunate for much of America? As PO progresses and the west Texas oil fields deplete and when beef becomes even more unsustainable many of the survivors in Big A wil be stuck there with litte hope of parole.

Back in the late 70's, events conspired to force me to spend a couple of days in Amarillo. Mercifully, I seem to have mostly repressed the memory of it.

I grew up in Amarillo. Wonderful town. Much nicer than Midland or Odessa and more fun than Waco, partly because of eccentric millionaires like Stanley Marsh 3. Amarillo High School was an athletic powerhouse during my youth. Amarillo was and remains a cultural and medical center for the Panhandle. Surrounded by beautiful canyons including the Palo Duro Canyon and the Palo Duro Club. Not as humid as South Texas. Many of my friends stayed or returned. It is probably less vulnerable than California, or the Rust Belt and no more so than many other midwestern towns.
The last reunion picture below includes John O'Brien who may (or may not??) have had something to do with Boone's career, his daughter Lynn O'Brien (Pickens) hidden behind Tom Pickens. I am younger than Boone but got my picture in his last book, #19 on the AHS Basketball team.

Sorry to poke fun at your home town - just goofin' around. My problem with Amarillo wasn't really Amarillo's fault - bad circumstances, bad weather, bad times...

Hey, some people want to get there



Thanks. I figured there must be some redeeming features. I drove through there once but didn't stop. Every place has its attractions, if you are so minded to find them. I heard no mention of Pantex, which IIRC was the major site for construction of nuclear pits (the core of the USA's A-bombs). Presumably the plant was put there because of the low population densisty -it would have been a war target.

Pantex was build outside of Amarillo during WWII as a conventional bomb factory. It was a long commute, if you worked there you surely got a B or C gasoline ration card. The transition to work on atomic bombs was started secretly. I learned about it from the McPhee book about Theodore Taylor, The Curve of Binding Energy and spent brief time with Taylor at UCSB. On my next visit to Amarillo I found that none of my friends and relatives knew what they were doing at Pantex. My dad and I drove around the plant in 1974 or 5 and were totally ignored.Later it became a national story with people blocking railroad tracks and writing books like Blessed Assurance. Later the controversies died. It is a definite plus that some one has the ability to safely dispose of old atomic bombs, as is now done at Pantex. http://www.amazon.com/The-Curve-Binding-Energy-Alarming/product-reviews/...



Let's settle a few definitions first.

1. If the total volume of liquid fuels fall by any method other than replacement with less expensive energy, then there will be economic downturn.
2. Or if increased efficiency results in less volume of higher priced fuel, then it is may be possible to prevent downturn.
3. World energy forecasters are claiming, however, that more and more fuels will be produced at higher and higher prices. This means a greater and greater fraction of the world economy keeps being gobbled up to produce the liquids. In this scenario, you end up with prolonged hardship.
4. My analysis was for the possibility of oil reaching 200 dollars under current economic conditions. What's more important, as conditions change, is the percentage of global economic activity that oil production represents. Anytime that gets too high, probably in the range of 5-8 percent, is when you end with economic downturn.

The only way out of the mess is for the U.S. to repudiate all Treasury debt (which it can do as it has the largest military, nukes, and simply can't be threatened by anyone). The government should let the big banks fail, and just issue a new fiat dollar directly to people and businesses, and pay them to conserve.

The government should literally be paying for you to insulate, to find a job closer to home. It should be paying municipalities to develop alternative transportation schemes that use less energy per capita. It should be subsidizing every single form of alternative energy that has a remote chance.

But...this will never happen. Why? It's too radical. The government is owned by the big banks and the fossil fuel interests. Do you understand? They own the government...they own both major parties. They own you.

Say there...some good ideas!


Who are 'they'?

A rather partial answer:


and lookie here, theyrule.net was linked in 2011 to this site:


invoke the 'explore' drop down menu...it looks interesting...'littlesis' looks more comprehensive and information than 'theyrule'.

Oh yeh, I understand.

If sane heads rule after the crisis, some version of this is probably what would happen. That's a big IF, though.

They own the media.
They own the voting machines.
They control an atomic arsenal.

Putin was sworn in. They handed him "The Button". Putin represents gas and oil from the Russian point of view. Over 30% of Russia's income is from gas and oil.

China has global oil interests as well.

They can't be voted out.

Chinese Military

Russian Military

United States Military



The only real difference between these three players, the difference that means that many must die to protect this sacred difference, is who owns the wealth. For example, the reason people are dying in Syria without intervention by America and it's pet NATO is that Russian interests own that wealth. If one capitalist corporate conglomerate owned all the wealth, then the people of earth could live peaceful lives as starving chattel on a ravaged planet. If the people of earth owned its wealth... ?

A major power people have is to quit buying the product. The only way to quit buying the product is to have an alternative. Alternatives represent a threat to the current power structure. The current power structure uses its media to demonize the alternatives. As example, a new campaign against wind was recently announced.


Just do it. Right here, right now. I called a meeting for people interested in sustainable living, and was astounded at the size of the response. People with passion, skills, achievements. Right here, in this very ordinary place.

One of them was a rough looking guy with the local accent and background of a typical appalachian junk-kicker. He had lived off grid for 10 years, starting with a small patch of woods and a dead van. I hired him to do the things I can only think about. He turned out to be smart, fast, honest, skilled and innovative. All of a sudden, my projects are moving!

Just do it.

And Brent is still stubbornly above $105, I now doubt that oil will ever fall to the record lows seen in 2008-09. Looks like a lot of demand destruction and efficiency improvements have cancelled themselves with rising consumption and falling ANE's elsewhere.

This could very well be the beginning of the second step down in the collapse. 2008 being the first step of course. But if this leads to the collapse of most of Europe, it could be many times bigger than the 2008 crisis.

If that comes to pass, and the US cannot muster up the political will for another stimulus, I can only imagine the govt. will opt for a huge QE, possibly on the order of 2-5 trillion.

Smoke from massive fire spreads across NM, AZ

Smoke from a massive New Mexico blaze has prompted widespread air-quality warnings and officials have put thousands of firefighters on standby because of high fire danger in Colorado.

More than 500 firefighters are working to tame the Gila Wilderness wildfire in the southwestern New Mexico woods, which has grown to 85,000 acres or more than 130 square miles. Strong winds are pushing ash from the fire 35 to 40 miles away, while smoke has spread across the state and into Arizona

Yes, we had serious smoke yesterday morning in Albuquerque...much of the Sandia mountains were obscured from a very short distance away...

This is one weekend, I'm glad I'm not back there. I remember the Cerro Grande fire (the one that almost took out Los Alamos), looked like the Jemez Volcanoe was errupting (it had Yellowstone sized blasts 1.8 and 1.4 million years ago). Hope you are breathing well. My sister in Ruidoso knows the evacuation thing, its happened to her several times.....

Visibility along the Colorado Front Range was about five miles all day today, due to smoke/haze from the fires farther south. Winds from the south at about 25 mph, gusts up to 50 or so. Highs only in the upper 80s, but combined with the wind, a real suck-the-moisture-out-of-you kind of afternoon. Supposed to be 20 degrees cooler and much calmer tomorrow -- unlikely that the weather change will get as far as the big fires.

And it is not like we have an excess of moisture on the Front Range anyway. I have read news reports that we currently only have 7 percent of the average snowpack for this time of year.

Denver Water's latest report is here (PDF). Quick summary: the reservoirs are somewhat above the median level, but much of that appears to be carry-over from last year, which was darned wet. The western side of the Divide appears to be tracking quite close to 2001-02, the most recent very dry year. We'll have to wait and see how the monsoon goes.

Small view of the overall snowpack picture in the West as of May 1 this year (full size image here). The Southwest is dry. Same story shows up in the most recent drought monitor map.

Here's Salt River Project (Phoenix):


USBR Lower Colorado (NV, SoCal, AZ):


and CDWR (CA)



Next year is going to be rough for Southwest water supply unless we get late precipitation this year or early precipitation next year. Also, fires will probably be bad this year (CA snowpack is at 5% of average).

Texas and the South look much better than a year ago, though.

Green Heat 1

... ‘If space heating could be decoupled from water heating it would change the selection criteria for heating appliances and boilers.

There would no longer be a need for the heating system (as opposed to the hot water system) to be on standby during summer months or to be capable of operating at a sufficiently high temperature to prevent Legionella developing in water systems.

All domestic heating is currently thought of as low-grade heat requirement, but there is a case for distinguishing space heating as low grade and hot water as medium grade. A policy for heat should separate these two different uses’.

Maybe air source heat pumps for heating and solar hot water for hot water.

also Green Heat 2

and Green Heat 3

... community-scale green heating, solar district heating backed up by interseasonal heat stores

http://www.jenni.ch/ (select English language)

Modelling sea level rise impacts on storm surges along US coasts

Findings: We find that substantial changes in the frequency of what are now considered extreme water levels may occur even at locations with relatively slow local sea level rise, when the difference in height between presently common and rare water levels is small.

We estimate that, by mid-century [2050], some locations may experience high water levels annually that would qualify today as 'Century' (i.e., having a chance of occurrence of 1% annually) extremes. Today's century levels become 'decade' (having a chance of 10% annually) or more frequent events at about a third of the study gauges, and the majority of locations see substantially higher frequency of previously rare storm-driven water heights in the future.


"In coming centuries, multi-metre sea level rise (SLR) threatens permanent submersion or displacement of extensive coastal land, infrastructure and ecosystems ..."

When I see that in a report, I immediately turn off.

It is a form of pabulum of the denial kind that got us to where we are, and won't get us out of it.

This link shows that Virgina is already up 1.5 FEET, trees are dying due to salt water incursion, etc.

One must be careful to remember that due to currents, winds, and bottom configuration, the ocean will rise at higher levels in some places, lower levels in other places.

Reports tend to use global averages, which glosses over the dangers to high rise areas.

Also, is SLR is in the multi-meter range, "permanent submersion" is no longer a threat, it is a new reality.

If your head is cut of, you are threatened with permanent death.

Robert Zubrin and his new book compliments of Reason Magazine


"Reason" magazine. ROFL.

Nobody has more credibility on this topic than an advocate of Martian terraforming! Love his massive lie about forced sterilization. And that is the first thing he names when asked to give an example of the danger he sees! R-O-F-L.

Bringing up sterilization today would be like criticizing the current Christian-conservatives for slavery. Yes, the long distant fore-bearers pushed such policies but those policies are long dead and not advocated by anyone but the most extremists. If you have to result to such pathetic non-arguments then your argument must be pretty damn weak.

May I point out that when the slavery debate raged on, it was the democrats who wanted to keep it, and the republicans who wanted to remove it. I guess the conservatives voted D back then...

In my country slavery was outlawed in the 14:th century,if I remember correctly. Possibly the 13:th.

People always bring up that very misleading point and that is why I intentionally wrote 'Christian conservatives' instead of GOP as an earlier version of the sentence said. The history of US politics is that the Republicans (Lincoln) ended slavery. The South was Democratic for years after. But two sides switched on this issue. Democrats became more pro-civil rights and Johnson signed the civil rights act. (Johnson's famous quote was something like "We have just lost the Southern vote for a generation." . . . and it still rings true today.) Most Democrats went along. The hardcore racist Democrats left and became Dixiecrats. And eventually they became Republicans. (People like Strom Thrumond, Jessie Helms, etc.) So there is some American political history for you.

Despite our claims to, and delusions of modernity and morality, my country is sadly lacking in both. I suspect the biggest US v European difference stems from the fact that Europeans still remember (via history), the religious wars that rages for a couple of centuries ( church v enlightenment, protestants v catholics, etc.), and are very much aware of the downsides of religion. Over here, they think it is their unique strength, and that it absolves them from taking a hard look in the mirror.

Oversimplifying ... The Whig party and Democratic party both broke up over slavery, and the Republican party was formed of the anti-slavery factions of both. The Republican party as born died with Abraham Lincoln.

It was the 14th, but this applied only to thralls of Christian parentage in certain regions. Sweden participated in the African slave trade until 1847.

This guy is pathological. He says there are "millions" of annual forced sterilizations happening now on three continents. "Reason" magazine apparently does not do fact checking.

Meanwhile, love his notion that that efforts to constrain resource use is "anti-humanist."

Crackpot city.

I hadn't watched the video until now. Yeah, he is a raving lunatic or a dangerous demagogue. There are not millions of forced sterilizations going on TODAY at the behest of the USA. He is either totally crazy or totally lying to push his agenda. Either way puts him in a pretty poor light and he should be dismissed as a crack-pot. When pushed for more information, he started to back down and just say "population control" . . . well that could be nothing more than sex education and making sure condoms are available. So perhaps he knows that he is lying and started to back down when pushed for specifics.

There's kind of a watching-a-car-crash aspect to him, isn't there? His delivery is blinkily manic. He seems extremely challenged by elementary logic, as well. The opening thesis of the video is that, if population control had been strong enough in the nineteenth century to eliminate half the actual lives, it would somehow have necessarily forced us to choose whether to lose Pasteur or Edison (and, thus, in Zubrin's raving mind, either sanitation or electricity). ROFL. Not only does that ignore both elementary statistics and the well-known class and race dimensions of old-time "population control," but it's also quite charming, the assumption that either Edison or Pasteur did work that was not going to get done one way or another in very short order by one of their rivals or peers.

It's a unique mix of cant and paranoia, all from somebody who apparently prefers a mission to Mars over the needed social reform, economic redistribution/population "control," and ecological caution.

"His delivery is blinkily manic."

That captures it perfectly. In person, it is actually quite scary.

"We have never been in danger of running out of resources," says Dr. Robert Zubrin, "but we have encountered considerable dangers from people who say we are running out of resources and who say that human activities need to be constrained."

This guy in unbelievable. He rants against everything from population control to environmental activities by those who see the mass destruction human actions are doing. Reason.com should be renamed to Unreason.com.

"A lot of things they say are happening are not problems. Population growth is happening, it's not a problem. The world standard of living has gone up as population has increased, and not coincidently it means a larger market which allows people to introduce new technologies faster, a larger division of labor, a larger number of inventors coming up with new technologies... So once again, we are not in danger of running out of resources, we are in danger from people who say we have got to be constrained because we are allegedly running out of resources.

Ron P.

it means a larger market which allows people to introduce new technologies faster, a larger division of labor, a larger number of inventors coming up with new technologies...

Because the iPad, and 3D tv will save us from starvation and lack of water.

This is the same guy that proposed to use the CO2 in the Martian atmosphere (10 Torr pressure on a balmy summer day) to make methane gas to power Mars cars, etc. All you need is 1890s gas light technology and a Porta Nuke(TM) power source.

Now, where did I misplace my Porta Nuke(TM)?


And just what would oxidize the methane fuel in the Martian cars ?


All that oxgen released into the atmosphere from the reaction of the CO2 of course, rolls eyes ;)


Just build your time machine (if the Flux Capacitor (TM) is broken, borrow a Tardis (TM)) and go fetch us some Mr. Fusions (TM, ca. 2175, applicable across the temporal spectrum)

...about as plausible as some of the other cornucopian stuff I have read in the past few years...

Reading excerpts from this book is terrifying. These people are trying to demonize us.

"Trying to"? They've largely been successful, at least with most people who are republicans. Even on the left, environmentalism has become a side issue. Nobody wants to hear the truth, and even when it's in front of their face they just accept it as normal.

Being a messenger of painful truth is never going to win you friends. I once got into an arguement with a friend after calling humans a "plauge species". No big deal in the end, but he was very upset and said that I was being "too negative". Perhaps I should have been more tactful about it, but even the non-confrontational environmentalists are attacked, as can be seen by this book. Notice he attacks environmentalists for being "negative" and "antihumanist"... Most of the book seems to be a long attempt to link environmentalism to eugenics and the Nazis, and then claim we're trying to commit genocide.

Well, I call it like I see it. We could perhaps live without destroying everything, but right now humans, as a species, are acting towards the earth like locusts on wheat.

I once got into an arguement with a friend after calling humans a "plauge species".

A "Plague Species" is exactly what we are. The book The Spirit in the Gene: Humanity's Proud Illusion and the Laws of Nature was published in Australia with the title Plague Species. It is one of my favorite books. From Amazon's "Book Description":

From famines and deforestation to water pollution, global warming, and the rapid rate of extinction of plants and animals--the extent of the global damage wrought by humankind is staggering. Why have we allowed our environment to reach such a crisis? What produced the catastrophic population explosion that so taxes the earth's resources? Reg Morrison's search for answers led him to ponder our species' astonishing evolutionary success.

Ron P.

I wouldn't go so far as to label humanity a plague species. But to claim, as the book does, that people who display altruism and concern for the earth's environment are 'anti-human' nazis plotting mass eugenics is nothing short of an incitement to violence against the most peaceful among us.

I don't think there is an official biological definition of the term "plague species". But from the way I've seen it used it just refers to a species undergoing rapid exponential expansion. That's all, no value judgment. Using this simple definition, humanity is a plague species. The problem is this rapid growth always leads to overshoot and collapse. Perhaps humanity will uniquely be able to avoid this.

I actually think its a useful mode of thinking (about humans) to have in one's mental quiver. A proper reaction is not to go violently against those who bring it up, but to recognize that in some ways its represents the truth. Then we can choose to change our behavior so that it is less true. But, I suspect the cons are probably right, maybe 1% of the population can get past the negative reaction.

Well, you need to consider the words you use. Now I fully understand what you mean when you call humans a "plague species". We have re-produced like crazy and occupy every continent, and displaced other species.

But the word 'plague' is quite inflammatory. People don't want to be viewed as some destructive virus or bacteria . . . especially if they are religious. Humans have an inflated view of themselves as blessed creatures. (And we are, in fact, amazingly improbable beings that have evolved intelligence.) But with the world 'plague' you are basically telling someone "Your mother is a slime-mold!"

It is better to flip-it around. And emphasize your caring and compassion for the human species. That you want it to flourish in a sustainable manner for eons. That if we need to plan and carefully consider our actions. If we rush into things w/o careful contemplation we end up with things like genocide, world wars, economic collapse, etc.

Point out that even if we assume the Cornucopians are correct, we will still have serious oil supply problems . . . just 18 years from now instead of today. So we need to work on ways for dealing with that issue. Anyone that knows anything about totally free market economics knows that without any regulations that moderate things, free-markets lurch from over-supply to shortage, from bubble to collapse,etc.

Hey, don't insult the harmless slime-molds! To be fair, we were all drunk. I don't even remember what precipitated my calling humans a "plauge species". When sober, I generally have more tact. My usual line is, "oil is a finite resource, right?" But my other big issue is fisheries, which is just doom and gloom no matter how you spin it. It's hard to talk about that in a way that doesn't offend people.

At least everyone is aware that SOMETHING is wrong, or somethings are wrong, since the 2008 collapse. They don't want to think about what is going on too hard, and the blame is still random and all over the place, but they know something is wrong.

Well I was trained in physics. We had a means of thinking called GedankenExperiment -thought experiment. Think about the ecology of our planet while wearing a species neutral thinking cap, and the adjective has a certain discriptive quality. So I take no offense, since being able to access this mode of thought provides some useful insights.

For my part, I believe environmentalists, many environmentalists, are among the most compassionate. The most pro human. Vegetarian environmentalists use far less food resources, lowering the human footprint, making space for others. Environmentalists who use more fuel efficient cars or who don't use cars at all also ensure there are more resources for the rest. Same with those promoting and using renewable energy.

Many do this through personal expense, effort, and by reigning back what they would otherwise consume. This is not eugenics. It is generosity, foresight, and loving your fellow humans along with caring for the life support structures of our world. We need more of these people. Not less. Attacking them is attacking one of the best human responses to our problems. It harms both our ability to adapt to this crisis and directly assaults the in-born imperative for acting with conscience, responsibility and compassion.

I really like that last paragraph, and will try the wield it.

For my part, I believe environmentalists, many environmentalists, are among the most compassionate. The most pro human. Vegetarian environmentalists use far less food resources, lowering the human footprint, making space for others.

They are like doctors bloddletting to cure aneamemia. Are they putting fish back in the sea, stopping the acidification of the oceans, replacing topsoil, replacing lost forests, extinct species, curbing the rise of CO2 and global warming. Environmentalists are naive and looking after their own best interest. Power down is no good even for half the planet let alone some environmentalists. The task requires a concerted effort world wide to stop the use of FF's, not cut back so we can maintain a semblance of BAU and burn as much as possible.

While we are burning and consuming at peak "cutting down" does not cut it at all, it just allows us to consume it all. Leaving room for others just mires us deeper into overshoot and a crash from which the whole living planet can't recover.

"Making space for others", man you are so far wrong it's obscene. The house full sign went up at the beginning of last century.

But with the world 'plague' you are basically telling someone "Your mother is a slime-mold!"

Swedish sociologist Karl Palmås makes a quite compelling cause for how humans display emergent behaviour, and are much like an autonomous organism like a slime mould - "Big Brother knows you better than you know yourself" is the catch phrase of panspectrocism.

What does he imagine hitting the limits of growth will look like? Rapid collapse? Or a cycle of recessions and recoveries, with the recessions growing longer and longer and the recoveries growing shorter and shorter? Probably the latter, in which case it won't even be obvious the decline will be from resource limitations. The Robert Zubrins will be able to put the blame wherever they like, on government overregulation for example, while not seeing the simple, underlying cause.

Yes, that's exactly what he will do. This far right wing thing, this tea party thing, is an ideology, far closer to a religion than politics. They are True Believers, crusaders leading a mass movement of the righteous against the evil ones on the left.

"Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without belief in a devil. Every difficulty and failure within the movement is the work of the devil, and every success is a triumph over his evil plotting."
- Eric Hoffer: The True Believer.

Ron P.

That first sentence from EH goes in to my qoutes collection...

The return of zealotry. A highly ominous event that says very little about our ability to effectively deal with crisis.

Zubrin seems to have amazing cognitive dissonance. He wants us to go to mars but at the same time, he bashes people that want to protect the Earth?

If he wants to go to Mars so badly, he should point out that we need to become a two-planet species. The Earth will inevitably get hit by massive asteroid so it would be good planning to have a second civilization on Mars. And the Earth will eventually have some sort of resources or pollution problem, so we should move to Mars. So why bash the people pointing out the resources/pollution issues?

And this bashing of environmental regulations in a libertarian magazine is pretty funny. Guess who would be the biggest opponents to a Mars trip? Libertarians. No one but government (the people acting together to do things we can't do alone) could and would fund a trip to Mars. The libertarians are against such projects on principle.

He really needs to pick which side he is on because he is on opposite sides of these issues. And he's lost any credibility as a Mars trip proponent, IMHO.

Perhaps his plan is for us to make the Earth so over-populated that we will have no choice but to go to mars. ;-) I'm only partially-joking.

Never mind cognitive dissonance - if you've ever seen Zubrin speak in person, you will have no doubts that he is a raving lunatic.

Raving lunatics don't bother me all that much, it's pretty easy to discount what they do and say.

However these, oh so respectable, people in the MSM are much more worrisome...

How to get economy growing fast

By Jeffrey Miron, Special to CNN
updated 1:04 PM EDT, Sat May 26, 2012

Editor's note: Jeffrey Miron is senior lecturer and director of undergraduate studies in the economics department at Harvard University and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Miron is the author of "Libertarianism, from A to Z."

Look, Ma, another no limits, free market Libertarian economist! Shovel that coal into the boiler faster son, this train's a going way too slow! What's that you say? The bridge up ahead is... (static, garbled).

CNN is definitely the mainstream media but the Cato Institute definitely is not. They call themselves libertarian and they definitely follow the American view of libertarianism. However they often do say things that libertarians all over the world would agree with like opposing the same sex marriage ban amendment proposed by congress.

Also notice that this article was marked by CNN as "Opinion". This is like their Op-Ed page, giving others outside their organization to voice their opinion.

Cato Institute

The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank that often works in coalitions with right-wing groups. Cato's extensive publications program deals with a host of policy issues including budget issues, Social Security, monetary policy, natural resource policy, military spending, government regulation, international trade, and myriad other issues. While the Cato Institute has increased its ties to right-wing policymakers over the years, it often reveals it's libertarian philosophy in addressing government intrusion into privacy issues, recently calling the proposed federal marriage amendment "unnecessary, anti-Federalist, and anti-democratic."

Ron P.

However they often do say things that libertarians all over the world would agree with like opposing the same sex marriage ban amendment proposed by congress.

Did you mean disagree?

Guess who would be the biggest opponents to a Mars trip? Libertarians. No one but government (the people acting together to do things we can't do alone) could and would fund a trip to Mars. The libertarians are against such projects on principle.

Actually, these are people who in all seriousness believe that this can be done through private initiative. Right-wing libertarians have a well-known allergy to science - this is why they can throw out phrases like "TANSTAAFL" without feeling the slightest bit of irony.

Right-wing libertarians aren't really librarians, they just like to call themselves that.

There are a lot of right-wing Libertarians though. I think most of them came over when W Bush made it too embarrassing to call yourself a Republican. But I think many of them are going back now.

There are a lot of right wingers calling themselves libertarians, such as the Heartland Institute that are frauds.

Libertarians made a horrible mistake by embracing (or allowing into the fold) a bunch of looney right wing types.

They need to immediately remedy this by cleaning house and calling these groups out.

Libertarianism does espouse economic liberty, but it also embraces social liberty.

I would say that anyone that doesn't have gay marriage, prison reform and demilitarization as priorities isn't a real libertarian.

but it also embraces social liberty.

You are confusing libertarianism with Anarcho-syndicalism, or Anarcho-Communalism.

Libertarianism is the Pepsi Lite version.

No you are the one who is confused:

Political scholars such as Noam Chomsky assert that in most countries the terms "libertarian" and "libertarianism" are synonymous with left anarchism.[13] It is only in the United States that the term libertarian is commonly associated with those who have conservative positions on economic issues and liberal positions on social issues, going by the common meanings of "conservative" and "liberal" in the United States.


I don't think you can point to rational reason why liberty would refer exclusively to economic liberty. Anarcho-syndicalism, or Anarcho-Communalism do not espouse a consistent adherence to the principal of liberty.

The earth after an asteroid impact (assuming its not so really gigantic that it resurfaces the planet with a magma ocean), is far far more survivable than Mars.

Several daze ago a school in Michigan suspended 65 seniors for riding their bicycles to school as a group...the kids even arranged to have a police escort and the mayor was apparently on-hand with donuts...

...but since the School principal was not notified beforehand, and she apparently had the strong authoritarian personality syndrome, she took the (IMO stupid) action of suspending the seniors.

At least now she has apologized...there is hope for some zealot leopards to change their spots...


Best hopes for more bicycle-friendly attitudes in the U.S. and also for less tolerance for tin-plated 'Barney Fife' Commissars...

Unauthorized bike ride?? You need the permission of Principal to ride a bike?? LOL I am not sure if even in Soviet Russia it was like that.

My father had to elevate to the Superintendant of Schools (of a large AZ school district) and threaten a lawsuit so my younger sisters were "allowed" to wear straw hats on the shadeless (trees cut down for liability reasons) elementary school playground in the AZ sun. My grandfather died of skin cancer and my father has been having skin cancers removed since his mid-30's. Hats had been banned due to 'gang problems.' Common sense is dead. School administrators are prison wardens.

LOL I am not sure if even in Soviet Russia it was like that.

No, it wasn't. Because... *with Russian accent:*   "In Soviet Russia, bike rides YOU!!"


For more info see: Russian reversal (joke)

You Can't Have It Both Ways.

From an earlier article on this entertaining fiasco:

Biking Kenowa Hills seniors punished
Senior prank rolled over school officials' toes
"If you and your parents don't have sense enough to know your brains could end up splattered on Three Mile and Kinney, Fruit Ridge, then maybe that's my responsibility," she [the principal] is heard telling students on the cellphone video obtained by 24 Hour News 8.

And that says it all. As I keep saying: for decades now, the "consumer" and "environmental" movements, in pursuit of various political aims, have successfully trained people to go ape over even the smallest risk. We are to pay any price, no matter how high, to avoid any risk, no matter how insignificant.

Unfortunately, that can be enforced only by a vast army of "tin-plated 'Barney Fife' Commissars", who have duly been put in place. Their job is forever to imagine that every conceivable action must inevitably lead to the worst-inconceivable-case outcome, and forever to nag, enjoining everyone against so much as getting out of bed in the morning, lest they fall over, break their neck, and die on the spot, which you can't say is impossible. So just imagine the national headlines, the multimillion-dollar lawsuit, and the bureaucratic thrashing about, if even one of those students had been tripped up by a loose rock on the road and gotten so much as a bruise. The media sky would have caved in.

Until people get it through their heads that not every risk is worth paying an infinite price to avoid, and that life cannot be lived with absolutely zero risk, there can never be any shortage of employment for tin-plated commissars. Of course, we all die in the end, and we've already reached the point where most of the stuff people go ape over is only a matter of at most mere seconds of life expectancy. Often just reading the article - or worse, watching the far more time-consuming video - will consume more time than the risk could ever warrant. No matter. There is always money and power to be had from fearmongering:

Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.
--H L Mencken, In Defense of Women, 1918

So alas, people aren't going to become rational about these things. Or rather, they already have - they need not and indeed don't give a stuff about most of what they're incessantly nagged about. But they will go ape on cue anyway, because it has nothing to do with risk. Instead, it has everything to do with politics, with dumping on the other or showing who's boss. In the case at hand the other was the students. In other cases the other may be the awesomely mythical "1%", or some political opponent, or a business person whose apparent income is envied, or whatever other bogeyman seems handy at a given instant.

An apt description. What do you think is the solution? I can see almost every developed industrial society lurching towards this phenomenon where people get so scared of premature death that they are unable to function normally.

At the moment I have no real solution, except to keep government meddling on behalf of irrational fearmongers to a reasonable mind-your-own-d*mn-business minimum. So I'm not overly fond of, say, the way political actors clear across the spectrum have shredded the Bill of Rights and other rights clauses of the US Constitution in order to purchase the votes of mewlers out for undeserved handouts and sympathy.

That is to say, IMO, a big piece of the puzzle is simply this:

No one in this world, so far as I know — and I have searched the record for years, and employed agents to help me — has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people.
--H.L. Mencken, The Chicago Tribune, September 19, 1926

Those in-under-estimable "masses of the plain people" will find blind avoidance far more congenial than considered thinking, since the latter requires effort and energy. They also seem greatly comforted by indulging in the arrogant self-righteousness that often goes along with the blind avoidance. So much more congenial to fancy oneself a soldier in a cause, rather than merely just another nebbich among billions.

There's more:

.....masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”


I kind of think we're already there. Meanwhile the same people consume 4000 calories a day of crap and drive like maniacs.

I'm not sure there is a solution, although shooting all personal injury lawyers would be a good start.

The superintendent claims that she initially acted out of concern for students' safety. I believe her, completely.

Why would she do that? Because she knew that if one of the students happened to get hurt, that a parent and some lawyers would respond with a multimillion dollar lawsuit against the school, that the school was somehow responsible.

So where do the lawyers get this type of cash? Where does the cash come from to pay the damages? The cash comes from the banks, the banks get the cash from Treasury debt, and Treasury debt can be expanded to infinity as long as there are some fossil fuels out there to find.

The result? Everybody in America is constantly looking over their shoulders. Nobody wants to be the "fall guy," the guy to take the blame when these complicated systems fail or result in serious consequences. Personal protection at all costs is the name of the game. We are all constantly trying to protect ourselves against this corrupt system. When lives are destroyed in America, what is our response? To try to destroy even more lives.

This then results in a breakdown in community and charity, because any charitable act will find the old maxim "no good deed goes unpunished" to be all too true. If you try to save someone in America, you will be blamed for killing them.

Lawyers are partly to blame, but if you look at the source, the source is this corrupt Treasury debt money system. I'm telling you, when this system comes down it's going to be something to behold, and in the long run it will be great for us all.

Your debt money fixation is hysterical, in more ways than one. A little perspective, please.

Oh, I see. Just as people here are being "hysterical" about peak oil.

The fact that rational thought can be mis-perceived as hysteria does not make every hysterical idea valid.

I do agree that when someone thinks the cause of a single's school's irrational crackdown on bike riding students is the "corrupt Treasury debt money system", hysteria is an apt description.

I've read in many parts of America its simply not considered not safe for even High School students to bicycle or walk to school. If you want to walk or bicycle you need written permission to do so. I'm not sure how widespread this is, but goes to show just how utterly car dependent America has become, and how rude a shock America is in for.

In this case though I would say it would be more about the principal feeling her authority was being questioned and overreacting.

In this case though I would say it would be more about the principal feeling her authority was being questioned and overreacting.

I tend to agree!

These were 17 and 18 year old private citizens riding their bikes on public roads. They had gone to the trouble of notifying the local police of their plans, had obtained a police escort and the mayor of the town was riding along in the police cruiser accompanying them...

It was supposed to be a surprise so obviously it would have defeated the purpose to notify the principal!

Let's just be kind and cut her some slack and assume she had a momentary lapse of judgement due to having a bad day.
She did apologize!

Every time some cute kid disappears walking to school, the media have a feeding frenzy. This drives the completely off-scale perception of the danger. Its all about media-profits taking precedence over common-sense or public health.

That's because it is a highly unusual event. It's NEWS!!!

As opposed to the 93 (on average) car deaths that will also happen that day in America. But why on earth would something so dull and uninteresting possibly make the news...

The strange thing is that it seems to be a fairly quiet area outside Grand Rapids, well removed from the lake shore, where the traffic can get crazy during the tourist season (which wasn't really under way yet anyway.) Those particular roads (see Google Street View) are nice and straight, with fairly wide lanes. Visibility is excellent.

Contrast that with the very narrow curvy roads found on the edge of town in, say, the UK (or sometimes even the Continent), with fences, hedgerows, bushes, and other clutter right up to and on the verge, cutting visibility to tens of meters/yards, or essentially zero at intersections - and drivers nonetheless going very fast. And yet people over there don't seem to go ballistic over cyclists to anything like the extent Americans do.

We now have 2 of the 4 carriageways on the main road into town closed for 3km from 8am to 2pm every Sunday making a 6km cycle track with 2 dedicated lanes up and 2 dedicated lanes back. The main road in town has had its pedestrian ways widened, at the expense of cars, and a cycle path added. The main malacon has been close to traffic so it can be used by pedestrians and bicycles. There are bike loan schemes on the malecon, in the riverside park and, on Sundays, when the road is dedicated to cycling. Boy, is it fun, 57km today. About time the USA started to learn from 3rd world Mexico.


How many days ride do you figure you are from Tucson? I'll come pay you a visit after TSHTF! (I gotta keep running in the rat race until then, you know, can't get the time off the hamster wheel...)


Depends which trail you use:) But you won't find me here when TSHTF, I'll be trekking through the hills.


“Mexico, the third-largest supplier of oil to the U.S., paid $1.17 billion last year to lock in prices for 2012 exports at $85 a barrel, a 44 percent increase compared to hedging costs paid the previous year.”

A slow morning so I’ll toss this out. When we discuss hedging some folks give the impression that hedging is a no brainer as in why don’t all companies hedge. IOW they’ll make a better profit. First, as the article shows, hedging isn’t free. Insurance isn’t free either and that’s essentially what hedging is. And there are many variations in a hedge. You might make an extra $6/bbl on our hedge you paid $X for but the deal also requires that the extra $6/bbl be split 50/50 with the hedge provider. And dozens of other variations.

Additonally if you hedge at the wrong price you receive less income. Not receiving as much revenue for your production is still losing money even though your cash flow is still positive. And you still paid someone to cover your hedge. It’ interesting that most stories about hedging describe how much extra profit an operator. Odd that you don’t see as many PR release describing how some companies lost money on the hedges, eh?

The rapid growth of natural gas supply and low prices are driving the commodity chemicals boom domestically

Are the natural gas prices low enough for gas-to-liquids plants to be economically feasible?

If by GTL you mean getting the natural gas liquids and selling them then hell yes cheap gas is a boon for seling the liquids. We have a liquid extraction plant and a new one going in service this fall. The online facility is basically a license to print money with oil prices this high relative to natty prices.

I don't know how "feasible" they really are, but they are planning to build a couple in Louisiana (SASOL and Shell), and there is one running in Qatar. I have been trying to keep track of X-to-liquids stuff because I think that that is the true sign of desperation, and also a really good way to eat through all the rest of our fossil-fuel treats very quickly once we run out of oil.

adam - I suspect if one used the current NG prices and the cost of a GTL plant (which has nothing to do with Natural Gas Liquids) it might appear to be an attractive investment. I don’t know if I would call it desperate though. SASOL and Shell will build those plants only because they calculate them to be viable investments. Won’t matter to them how desperate society might be for liquid fuels: if it’s not profitable it won’t happen.

Of course the key to such GTL plants being built has nothing to do with the current low price of NG but future prices and availability. I can’t imagine any of these multi $billion facilities being built without having long term supply contacts in place initially.

I understand what you're saying. I am sure the numbers were done very carefully, and it is a rational decision to build a GTL plant. When I say "sign of desperation", I mean that the circumstances that make this profitable are circumstances where liquid fuels are in true short supply, so much so that making them out of natural gas is a good idea. It's a sign of peak oil.

That said, I've been thinking about it a bit and it seems to me that some of the things that were dismissed in the past as "desperate" or at least "unprofitable" have become normal - tar sands, biofuels (as much as corn ethanol may be a bad idea, it is part of what's fueling cars today, an addition to "all liquids"), etc. GTL and perhaps later CTL are logically part of the progression. All this stuff is helping things keep going, if imperfectly.

I just try to watch this stuff because, for me, it helps me know where we're at when it comes to energy (admittedly this is somewhat local - natural gas is really cheap in the US but not in Japan, for example). GTL only makes sense when natural gas is very cheap in comparison to liquid fuels, but any widespread adoption of GTL will increase consumption of natural gas, and pull the natural gas peak closer. Same with CTL. The claims that we have a "X year supply" of whatever the fuel of the moment is collapse when people find ways to eat into that cheaper fuel.

adam - I figured you did. I see GTL investmen as an effort to capitalize on the potential desparation of consumers who will, IMHO, give up much of their income to keep the tanks full. I also smell a hint of desparation on the part of Shell et al who are counting on the long term economics of GTL to hinge on that public desparation.

I agree with you. As a person that advocates EVs, it has been a rude awakening to realize that many people are going to cling to gas vehicle long after it has become clear that EVs present a better economic option. Lots of people continue to buy big vehicles that they don't really need even though it will economically hurt them. They'll just keep doing what they've always done until they hit a breaking point.

I mean just look at hybrids today. You'll read articles that derisively say "It will take 3 to 5 years before it pays off." and mock the people that buy them. Uh . . . OK . . . do you plan to die before then so it doesn't matter? Why not look at the other way, after 3 to 5 year, that car basically starts printing money. Wouldn't you want to buy a car that after 3 to 5 years starts printing money and cash comes out of the dashboard?

And don't give me the "Well, I get a new vehicle before then." Well, the resale value of the hybrid will be high than the resale value of the conventional model.

The question is, why does everything need to be a $15 billion project?

Design and build a pilot of a small, modular natural gas to liquids facility on the grounds of an existing refinery. It probably won't overwhelm the gas supply infrastructure and would fit in well on the U.S./Canadian East Coast where refineries are becoming uncompetitive due to the price of crude.

If the concept is profitable, improve the pipeline infrastructure and the plant design and build more of them. If they end up replacing, in part or in total, the existing refineries, they will cause less local pollution than what is there already.

I vaguely remember reading that landed prices for LNG were generally linked to oil, and that LNG was priced at 60% to 80% of the energy value of oil (type unspecified - bunker, diesel, crude).

Any better numbers for LNG prices landed in EU, Japan, China, South Korea and their link to oil prices ?

And any ideas for cost of transportation (say Australia > Japan or Qatar > Spain) ?



According to this graph from the EIA in 2009, this is the year that World Liquids Fuels Supply, begins declining:

"GLEN SWEETNAM - I agree, if the investment is not there, a chance exists that we may experience a decline. If we do, I would expect investment in new capacity to increase if there is still demand for oil."

Was there enough investment in new capacity, and is demand at these prices enough, to prevent the declines shown in that graph? This is a pivotal year.

From the link above:

"Typically, only one out of every two or three exploratory wells drilled strikes oil or natural gas. Such modest success rates make Shell's Arctic bet appear risky. However, Shell knows there is oil offshore in Alaska because it owned leases and drilled wells in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas in the 1980s and 1990s. It abandoned them only because the $20-a-barrel prices at the time did not justify the expense of further drilling. "They would not have committed so many resources if they didn't believe this was a sure thing," says Eric van Oort, a former Shell engineer who is now a professor of petroleum engineering at the University of Texas."

"The prize that Shell is chasing is worth the ongoing frustration: the estimated 27 billion barrels of recoverable oil held in Alaska's outer-continental shelf -- plus another 130 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. At its peak, offshore oil production in the region could top 1.45 million barrels a day. "Shell is making big bet there, but I think it's justified based on the geology," says Oswald Clint, an oil analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein and a geophysicist by training."

Is it a sure thing? We may learn more later this year.

Then there is ANWR which Mayor Itta would prefer. But does it really hold 10 billion barrels of recoverable oil?

"If Itta had his way, the new oil for the pipeline would come not from offshore drilling but from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge -- better known as ANWR ("An-war") and believed to hold about 10 billion barrels of recoverable oil. "You can clean up oil so much easier onshore, and the risks are not even comparable," says Itta. "It's been befuddling that we have all this potential oil and gas onshore, and yet that seems to be sacred to environmental groups. But it's the reality we deal with."

"They would not have committed so many resources if they didn't believe this was a sure thing," says Eric van Oort, a former Shell engineer..." I would like to think that Eric means that eventualy finding a significant commercial oil field is a "sure thing" and isn't just referring to this next well. It's good to remember that the first significant oil field in the N. Sea was discovered after a great many dry holes were drilled. Projecting the existance of billions of bbls of oil in the Arctic is easy. Finding them...not so easy. And producing them a good bit mor difficult.

Question about Australian Natural Gas Prices

There are some that think that US NG prices will level out a bit about the marginal cost of production to produce enough NG for the USA (+ or - Canadian NG imports/exports).

I think another model likely. One that I suspect is operating in Australia.

The long term price of NG may be the export price of LNG (linked to the price of oil) minus the cost of liquification and transport by LNG tanker (several times the price of oil tankers).

Anyway, I know the Australian NG market is really several regional NG markets, but I wonder what the price is in those various markets.



That is the thinking that Australian piped gas prices will rise to become equivalent to export LNG prices. Some major gas users have suggested that a percentage of gas production be set aside or quarantined from export. Gas producers have said they will stop drilling if that happens.

The abundant gas resources are offshore natural gas in Western Australia (eg Gorgon)and coal seam gas in Queensland. Onshore natgas and CSG in other parts of Australia are depleting fast with the fear that customers will have to compete with export LNG. Currently both domestic gas demand and LNG export are around 20 Mt with talk of expanding exports to 60 Mt which I believe overtakes Qatar. The wholesale gas price in southern Australia is currently around $3.90 per gigajoule with a GJ and mmbtu roughly equivalent. However LNG exported to Japan has sold for $15 a GJ. My guess is that it costs less than $1 a GJ to turn it to liquid.

A further complication is Australia's carbon tax which starts in 4 weeks. It is thought that will put the kibosh on new coal fired generation since nuclear is illegal. The trucking industry is talking about a major shift to LNG and CNG as a diesel replacement. Maybe that could absorb another 10 Mt. Very soon it may become clear that Australia could be exporting too much gas but the exporters have said 'don't interfere'. Expect several years of dithering before export controls inevitably happen.

Liquefaction is about $2/GJ or mmbtu, but yes, that's still pretty small compared to the sales price. Is the CSG boom still going on? A couple years ago I got offered a job with a CSG operator in Queensland, but I didn't take it because of public opposition (particularly in southern Queensland) and I didn't think the boom was going to be very long-lived. The shale in the Cooper Basin looks more expensive, but at least it's not a very sensitive ecosystem.

I saw a very compelling argument that the push towards LNG exports in the US is very short-sighted, at least to Europe. The price spread will likely decrease to the point (we're talking 5+ years from now) where only seasonal LNG exports to Europe are profitable.

I would much rather run our heavy freight with this LNG/CNG that some folks want to export. It makes more sense as there's no ForEx risk.

I don't understand the screaming hurry to burn all this gas now when we will appreciate it later. Think of the world that will face kids who are kindergarten aged now. When they are middle aged the world will need as much or more gas to make ammonia based fertiliser and to power heavy vehicles like trucks and farm machinery.

That figure of $2 for liquefaction shows the profitability of LNG. If the piped gas price is another $4 that's a healthy profit margin on sale prices over $10. Another useful number I recall is that a tonne of LNG has a heating value of over 54 GJ thermal.

Is that $2/Gj the marginal/operating cost or does it include capital ?

With capital and a decent ROI (say 10%-12%) what is the cost per Mcf/Gj ?



I don't have detailed info on gas economics except I can point out the number of unknown variables. At Gladstone Queensland between 3 and 8 liquefaction plants will be built that draw on both CSG and onshore natgas. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/opinion/look-to-indonesia-to-na...
The bubble boats will head off to Northern Hemisphere customers missing the Great Barrier Reef by inches. The Gladstone gas hub will be like the Death Star for east Australian domestic gas as it will draw in all the low priced onshore conventional natgas, CSG and any other unconventional gas. Of the CO2 created by burning gas to run the compressors 66% will be exempt from carbon tax due to being export related. If that gas goes to China it will not pay serious carbon tax either end of the journey.

In complete contrast Shell is to build the world's biggest ship to liquefy gas off the Western Australian coast. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/13465892 There will be no pipeline to shore. Of the Australian States only WA has a domestic retention policy which stands at 15%. I think within 10 years the Federal govt will have to make a national policy to reserve gas for domestic consumption.

I've said many times that my camping trailer is my lifeboat with it's gasoline and propane tanks, generator, 100 gallons of water etc., but a story at CNET made me see how under prepared I really am.
No indoor pool and spa, no 1-3 meter thick concrete walls, and no surgery center.
OK I don't have a missile silo conversion.
"Pick any of the following: global climate change, fear of terrorism, possible economic collapse, the solar cycle and possible loss of power grid, possible pandemics, civil unrest, and food shortages." and wait out the end of the world in comfort.
Construction is well under way. All the new steel structure is built and the top five floors are poured and being built out for the owners. The new septic system is complete and the new water system is nearing completion. We only have a few units left.
Buy Now! Or you can park in my driveway.

From above...

Beef, chicken, pork prices still climbing

DENVER — The money you’re saving on gasoline may go toward buying steaks, ribs and chicken for the barbecue.

Kind of a weird opening sentence to the article given that the rise in the price of livestock feed is pretty closely related to the rise in ethanol production for fuel.

One could rewrite that sentence like this...
"The money you’re saving on gasoline may indirectly go toward buying corn ethanol for your SUV"

It's interesting how similar a chart of corn prices is to oil.
Index Mundi Maize (corn) daily price 10 year chart

The article blames bad weather for the increase in food prices.

The Russian heat wave of 2010 decreased wheat supply by 1.5 billion bushels. Corn ethanol will use around 5 billion bushels this year in the USA.

Jordan hikes gasoline, power prices to ease budget deficit

The prices of premium petrol would increase to 1 dinar ($1.4) from 0.795 dinars per liter - almost 20 percent - and electricity tariffs have also been substantially raised for major industrial and service sectors of the economy, including banks and hotels.

India a few days ago, now Jordan, ....

Amazing how the truth is hidden in that article from the numerically challenged.

A price rise from .795 dinar to 1 dinar is a price rise of 25.78%, not "almost 20 percent".

Those interested may wish to buy the Popular Mechanics Volume 198, NO. 6 (June 2012):


America's Oil Boom
U.S. Production is Rising,

p. 62


Available for subscription digitally, or go old skool like me and buy a paper version of the mag...

I read this a few days ago and was pleasantly surprised...

The article focused on the Bakken play, but the sidebars mentioned factors affecting high global oil prices.

Props for:

- mentions of the high costs to conduct current techniques of horizontal drilling with multi-stage fracing

- stated several times that depletion for tight shale oil formations such as the Bakken deplete much faster than conventional play oil wells.

- Says that in order to maintain, even more to increase U.S. oil production, much from Bakken-like formations, the amount of drilling effort (rigs, personnel, etc) would need to continue to significantly increase.

- Said that the Bakken is ~~ 160 feet thick (varies by location), and about two miles under the ground, and is covered by ~ 8,000 feet of impermeable rock from the bottom of the deepest aquifers.

-said that be this as it may, it is very important to have double-walled/cased well bores with good concrete jobs poking through the aquifiers to minimize seepage of oil/mud/frac fluids etc.

- Said that tailing ponds' seepage/overflow can be a potential ground water threat.

- listed global completion for oil/global demand first among several factors contributing to the high global oil price (unfortunately the finite/PO ideas were implicit)...

Now,,,take note...I did not say this article was perfect or didn't have any flaws or omissions of more detail that would have been nice to see presented...but overall, I was impressed that a historically 'rah-rah' BAU champion popular magazine did as good of a job as I think it did.

I would be interested in hearing reviews/critiques from you more learned folks out there in TOD-land...

Fun fact (if PM got it right):

Edit: According to the article, the rock beneath North Dakota (and I guess parts of Montana and Saskatchewan and a tad of Manitoba, like the Bakken?) may have as many as 30 oil-bearing layers/zones, including the Bakken...Tyler, Lodgepole, Birdbear...and on...

Edit: My son was musing about going back to Minot (we used to live there for ~ 9 1/2 years) and opening a small business...what do oil workers like to spend their money on? (Legal business suggestions please) :)

My previous big picture analysis of US production and regional net exports:


Based on the Texas 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.

I think the 'mainstream' media may be slowly edging towards a more realistic view of the oil supply/demand situation...

perhaps some solid, knowledgeable folks who post on TOD could submit a follw-on article to Popular Mechanics...and have other authors submit similar, but different, articles to Popular Scienc, Time, Newsweek...and The Economist. Getting a story carried across a large swath of newspapers (NYT, USA Today, many City dailies) would help.

My 2-cents:

I would avoid the terms 'collapse', 'doom', 'decline of modern society', 'technocopian', cornocopian', and even 'Peak Oil' etc. and stick with thew facts of the oil supply/demand situation, both current, and going forward. I wouldn't even mention enrgy efficency, doing less with less, etc...that would 'poion the well'...first, people need to undertsand the facts about the oil depletion/growing demand from developing World situation.

If the case is made, slowly but surely, without emotion and judgement, and the case is well-grounded in facts, then more and more people will draw their own conclusions about PO.

The information /will/ slowly 'sink in'...with the help of solid facts, presented in clear prose, with appropriate tables and effective graphics/figures.

Have you looked at the two P/C graphs up the thread?

Link: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/9213#comment-896203

I've been doing various types of Peak Oil presentations for about seven years, and I think that this is the single most powerful approach I have yet seen.

Regarding the MSM, the recent USA Today and Washington Post articles seem to be more delusional, not less, e.g., implying that Brazil, a net petroleum importer, with a recent pattern of increasing net imports of petroleum liquids, is a growing source of oil for the US.


yes indeed I have.

My thought was: it would be great to get those graphs (and other like them) into popular/mainstream publications into a nice article packaged/scoped to inform and educate the 'average Joe'...

...my other point was that such articles should avoid 'preachiness', such as referring to humanity as a 'plague species' and whatnot, and stick to the oil use/depletion/reserves/production rate/production economics facts.

Your writing skills, and several others who have written keyposts here and/or DB posts here fit the bill nicely.

As for folks here who might get bent about me cautioning against 'preachiness'...I agree with many (not all)of the 'preachy' comments...but they are not appropriate in mainstream articles meant to educate J6P about the PO situation.

What do you think about the article I linked to and quoted below? Albeit published in a island so small, you'd have real difficulty finding it on the world map if you didn't know to look south from the tip of Florida for the largest island in the Caribbean, Cuba and then look for the island south of the eastern end of Cuba and west of the second largest island, Hispaniola.

The author is considered very pro business, or at least he was when he was prime minister and the paper is about as conservative as you'll get here in Jamaica. The only other major daily is owned by the same family that owns the Sandals hotel chain, a major hotel/industrial equipment/air conditioner distributor as well as, the dealerships for Honda, Volkswagen/Audi, Jaguar and Land/Range Rover. I understand that one of their businesses is also dabbling in solar PV so, I don't think they'd have a problem with the pro solar part of the article.

Admittedly the piece is a little light on the doomer scale but, whadaya expect? It must rank the closest I have ever seen to the words Peak and Oil being written one after the other in any local paper, apart from when I used to post comments under the screen name "Peak Oil Believer".

Alan from the islands


Thanks for pointing this out...this piece would do nicely for running in U.S> publications.

It would be enhanced with some more facts and figures such as produced by some of our best data miners, analysts, and communicators who post on TOD.

What would be the bee's knees would be a signed endorsement by Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, who would agree on the principal of the reality and compete with ideas on addressing it.

Also, I found this factoid interesting:

Can solar power be commercialised at competitive cost? Portugal has announced the construction of the world's largest solar-energy power plant on a 618-acre site by 2010, to produce 62 megawatts, at a cost of US$307 million. It will create 240 permanent jobs. The cost of roughly US$5 million per megawatt compares with conventional oil-fuelled plants, which require US$1 million-US$2 million per megawatt for greenfield construction. But the operating costs tell a different story: solar costs 2 cents per kilowatt-hour to produce energy, while conventional oil-based generating systems cost three times as much, 5.9 cents.

If one scales that 62MW solar plant in Portugal up to ~620MW, then the cost for the solar plant would be ~ $3B USD, maybe more ...seems to compare well with the current cost for new nuclear power reactors in the U.S. as ~ $7-7.5B USD (I got that figure from various internet sources quoting the current estimate for Vogtle 3 and 4 construction as $14, now pushing to $15B USD. I wonder if the land area required for the solar plant to reach ~600MW would scale linearly as well...to some 6,000+ acres?

Of course there is the intermittentcy issue with solar, so the comparison is not direct...but IMO we humans have some adapting to do going forward.

Heis: Notice that were talking about 2010. Utility scale PV is coming in closer to $3/KWhour now, and we should be able to puch it down a lot more, panels can be had in bulk for under a dollar a watt. We gotta push hard on the other parts of the cost, soft-costs (paperwork/permits etc.), mounting costs, inverters and other need electricity portions etc. etc. But, the key is still to push the net cost down.
I don't think it will be much longer before a KWhour from PV will be the cheapest power source (not counting already locked in hydro). The key then will be in getting it to the right places and times.

eos, thanks for sharing the good news...

I would love to see a large-scale build-out of solar and wind...the Western United States should be pretty well off in that regard...

by my crude and quick math...if the U.S. is getting ~ 20% of its electricity from nuke plants now with 104 reactors, then to go to 100% nuke electrical generation (plus replacing the 104 aging plants already installed), we would need ~ 520 new nuke plants (assuming electricity demand doe not increase further).

If each new nuke plant costs ~ $8B to build, then we are talking about ~ $4T to accomplish this...and at a wildly optimistic 12 reactors built per year, about 44 years to do so...

Now let us add the cost for nuclear waste disposal/reprocessing/etc...big $$$ and lots of time? Add costs of decommissioning plants...

So what is my point with this mental excursion...nukes are expensive, take a long time to build...and so far left unsaid...have non-trivial fault modes/scenarios....and don't seem to me to be a plausible mode for supplying much more trons down the road than they do at present.

Next question...how much would it costs to build out an electrical energy infrastructure with say 20% wind, 20% solar, 5% hydro, 20% nuclear, 20% NG, and 15% coal?

These numbers are just conversation starters...adjust to reality...

Include costs for improved transmission lines, transformers, storage mechanisms...

How much for one or more NG pipelines from Alaska and Northern Canada to the U.S. to supply NG electrical generation? Include NG production and other infrastructure...$160B? 20 nuke plants?

How much to improve electrical demand reductions (by efficiency) of...what, is 20% feasible? With the proper carrots and sticks )rates and rebates/incentives) it may be...

...maybe some of that 20% negawatts 'buy-back' could be re-purposed for increased electrification of certain transportation modes?

I don't purport these words and numbers as 'the answer'...but it sure would be good for the U.S. and Canada and Mexico to have a North American energy strategy and plan.

Or, as it stands, we will have no plan and bumble along...

...Someone will start typing within minutes about how (1) the government shouldn't be picking winners and losers and 2) how the market will figure it out...

2) No time, too much risk at stake for a market free-for all...

1) Fine...let the government give tax breaks/grants/very low cost loans to various companies/organizations...if someone invents safe and cheap fission, Mr. Fusion (TM), or something else that makes a lot of sense, then maybe bye by coal first, then NG?

We are peeing away (like a billion racehorses) all kinds of money/talent/time/hard resources being 'Team America, World Police'...seems like there is an opportunity to reprogram some of that corporate largesse to enterprises which will enhance our future domestic energy security for for future....did I mention jobs for Americans...at home??

EIA's sources of U.S. electricity generation page for 2011:

I figured out something like that a few years ago.

About 30 years to implement. Total economic cost of electricity about the same/capita - fewer MWh, more $ per MWh but total comparable.

I will write up some of the details tomorrow.

Best Hopes,


Some details - highly variable pricing, say 3.5 to 50 or 60 cents/kWh (carbon taxes allow FF, mainly NG in combined cycle at peak rates).

Wind Export Belt from Prairie Provinces to Texas. export East or West with HV DC

Pumped Storage - lots

New hydro - big in Canada, small in USA (25 GW new in Quebec, 5 GW in Manitoba, 3 GW in BC, 5 GW in Newfoundland and lots of small hydro in USA).


I can only hope you are acting in the capacity of some kind of long-term multi-administration/Congress-spanning 'Shadow Secretary of Energy'.

Kind of like the Hari Seldon of energy...


I do have some long range plans. The trigger will be when the public panics over energy. But they have to be pre-positioned beforehand. A joint solution/mitigation to our energy, economic, environmental and employment issues.
I can send you a copy of the draft if you are interested.

I do believe in the power of a good idea. It can penetrate and spread as a meme - an idea virus.

Of the viable options, there was one that no one considered, or was pushing, So I grabbed it as a vehicle to 1) do good in it's own right and 2) serve as entre' to the "inner circles" to deliver more ideas.

That idea was, of course, electrifying and expanding our railroads. Step 1 of a long string of steps.

Best Hopes for Very Long Shots :-)


Some basic principles first.

Maximize, as much as practical energy conservation. -50% per capita demand x twice the price = same economic cost. Or -40% x 1.67 the price = same economic cost.

-40%/capita is the minimum we can expect.

Air conditioning will see the greatest increase if efficiency since a/c demand is a combination of load (reduced by insulation, shared walls, more efficient lighting, etc.) and the efficiency of the mechanical equipment (SEER 26 on the market now, 13 SEER is minimum standard today, many SEER 10 units operating).

End coal burning almost completely - any burnt will have very low Hg emissions.

Tax carbon enough to make combined cycle NG (close to 60% efficiency) power somewhere between 30 & 60 cents/kWh.
Since carbon taxes replace other taxes, I do not include them in the economic cost of electricity.

Highly variable rates will shift load to available generation. This will likely be a gradual shift.

Use major resources, such as very good wind, large hydro and pumped storage to serve more than one region with HV DC.

Create local renewable surpluses, and then either shift them to regions that are short or store them. Pumped storage is primary means, creating hydrogen > ammonia or methane storage only for extreme circumstances. Perhaps batteries for small amounts for a few hours.

Geothermal - 99+% west of the Mississippi, over develop the resource so it can be ramped up & down some (likely very slowly)

Storage Hydro - Add turbines to increase peaking power & reduce spilled water (no power from excess water, such as spring thaw), improve efficiency (Hoover Dam will get +7% more power from same water after modest improvements)

Most aggressive is to modulate fall of Great Lakes to suit peaking and seasonal needs. Add 8 - 10 GW or so more to Niagara Falls & St. Lawrence power plants.

In the USA, much more small, mainly run-of-river power plants. But even "run-of-river" can have modest storage schemes that can delay generation for a few hours. Even a 4 hour shift is VERY useful to the grid.

Solar Hot Water Heating - Over half of US homes, hotels, and even often used to pre-heat industrial processes requiring steam.

Solar Thermal - Just in desert SW (California to Texas, maybe western Oklahoma) - The ability to modulate production just a bit, and delay generation a few hours (3, 4) at some loss of generation is valuable.

Solar PV - Germany has shown that Solar PV can, and likely should be, installed throughout the USA except the Pacific NW. On a sunny, clear day, just about anywhere, there should be enough solar PV at solar noon to meet demand with at least a small surplus. Even a bright sunny winter day in Minnesota.

More Later

Have you spoken with folks such as Dr. Chu, Warren Buffett, Pickens, Bill Gates, and so forth?

Heck, I would even bet that folks who may want to have multi-generational profits from wise investments who normally wouldn't be considered as caring about sustainability would buy in to a solid plan: say, The Walton heirs.

If the Koch's have any interest in an enduring, generational family profit-making venture perhaps even they could be persuaded if the business case is sound.

I think the key for wide-ranging support is the idea that oil and coal are not being written out of the script in any huge hurry, but that we are opening up the aperture for direct and multiplier-knock-on effect profits by growing additional opportunities in the energy markets...even appliance and car makers could perhaps see the profit in a carrot/stick approach to getting the people to recapitalize their stuff with much more efficient stuff...the metal recyclers will get a boos as well from all the old stuff.

Talk to them as if they are Ferengis...which they are!



If each new nuke plant costs ~ $8B to build, then we are talking about ~ $4T to accomplish this...and at a wildly optimistic 12 reactors built per year, about 44 years to do so...

Of all the things that fascinates me about solar, this highlights what I think is one of the most. In December of 2011 alone, one month, 3Gw of solar PV capacity was installed in Germany and in the three months following, up to the end of March another 1.8GW were installed taking the total installed capacity in Germany up to the end of March 2012, 26.63GW according to this web page. If the relatively sedentary rate for the first quarter of 2012 could be sustained for a year, 7.2GW would be installed in one year and if you choose instead to use the December installation rate, you're looking at an annual rate of 36GW per year!

In terms of cost, according to figures from a web page at solarbuzz.com, the cost per watt of a small (2kW) residential systems including some storage, works out at $6.92. Note that this is for systems that can more readily be compared to nuclear since they include storage. According to the same web page, larger, commercial and industrial scale systems without any storage work out at between $3.59 to $4.94 per watt so, I'd say it looks like solar could well be less costly than nuclear, especially when you factor in all the externalities of nuclear.

In 2011, Italy installed close to 9GW making the total installed by Germany and Italy alone, more than 16GW. I mention that to point out that, this pace of installation was not enough to dry up the glut of solar panels on the market, as evidenced by the bankruptcy of Evergreen. There was a deal in December where, one Internet retailer was flogging 7MW of Evergreen inventory from a bankruptcy auction at 78 cents per watt.

Alan from the islands

I think global PV production capacity is roughly 25GW/year, so those German/Italian buildouts were reducing built up inventory, we aren't far enough along to sustain that sort of buildout worldwide (although perhaps we could be in three to five years). In any case the German spurt was in response to planned cuts in the FIT rates, plenty of incentive to build your system and get favorable rates grandfathered in. The same thing is happening with wind in the US -congress is unlikely to extend the production tax credit ($.023 per KWhour), so it will expire at the end of the year. Lots of wind is being built now, but very little is expecetd to be build next year. These sorts of politically driven ups and down are pretty destructive. And if you note the size of just Germany plus Italy, major changes in government support in just those two countries can have serious consequences for the global market. PV manufacturers are hurting big time, consumption (of panels) has only increased 20%, but production capacity went up something like 60%, resulting in a buyers market. Producers who can't get their price way down just won't survive. I think letting the weak players fail is actually the right policy.

Your numbers are stacked against the options you do not fancy.
For a start you say:
'If each new nuke plant costs ~ $8B to build, then we are talking about ~ $4T to accomplish this...and at a wildly optimistic 12 reactors built per year, about 44 years to do so...'

Why you should consider 12 to be wildly optimistic is entirely unclear, since in the previous build at peak with each reactor pretty much a custom job they hit more than that in their peak year, and high numbers in other years.

You also for reasons which you do not explain settle on a figure of $8 bn Gwe for nuclear.
The actual build cost for the Finnish reactor run at about $8bn:

That though is for a 1.6GWe reactor, so the cost is around $5 billion GWe.

This is for the first build of a kind, using an inexpert Finnish workforce, and so even this figure allows nothing at all for series build etc.
The Chinese and the Indians are doing reactors for less than $1700 kwe, so if it really cost $8,000 kwe in the US they have given up on being an industrial nation.

Using the same notion of no improvement in costs is ever possible, and applying it to the sources you favour equally, then the 20% contribution of solar would take around 500Gwe nominal, at a (high) 20% average capacity.
At $3 kw that is about $1.5 trillion just for that component of your costs.
I don't know any solar installation which is rated at a 60 year lifetime though, which new nuclear plants are.

Ignoring all that, and using your $8 bn Gwe, then you are talking about $96 billion per year in construction costs.
Call it $100 billion, and that works out to about $300 per capita per year.

About 100Gwe would be enough to replace all the light vehicle transport with power for electric vehicles, so savings on oil imports alone would be around $350 billion a year.

Things start getting even weirder when you load decommissioning on nuclear, but not on the huge numbers of wind turbines and their foundations and access roads, again not comparing like for like.

Decommissioning costs, 'waste' (aka 1% used fuel) etc are fully accounted for in the 2 cents kwh that nuclear power plants actually cost to run, after amortisation, cheaper than anything but amortised hydro.

So for the last 30 years or so of their lives the actual costs of nuclear power are 2 cents kwh at the plant gate.

Of course, some will seek to argue that there is immense damage from radiation, which on the actual evidence seems to kick in at doses greater than 100 mSv, although that sort of data is often held to be some kind of conspiracy by the likes of the WHO, which true anti-nuclear believers are safe from in their helmets.

If that is the worry, the 15% coal you leave in your plan would kick out considerable amounts of radiation, along with goodies like arsenic and mercury.

That is to ignore the CO2 output, of course much higher than if one used nuclear, even with fossil fuels only accounting for about 35% of output in your plan, which incidentally is way, way less than we have any way of getting close to with current technology.

So it seem to me that you have done a much more realistic job than many in acknowledging that renewables can't manage without fossil fuels, but have not taken care to make comparable assumptions across different energy sources.

You quote the EIA.
Well here are levelised cost figures for different energy sources based on their figures:

Basically, nuclear is cheaper than anything bar NG, coal and hydro where available.
If CO2 emissions are of concern than it beats all comers, as it does not need the same fossil fuel support as renewables.

Why then do new US nukes require the subsidy given to wind just for starters, and then billions more on top of that ?

And even with the MOST HEAVILY SUBSIDIZED form of power (both in R&D - #1 by an order of magnitude at least - and new build) are there so few being considered ?


You don't actually get around to citing any sources for the argument you present.

Putting that aside, I certainly can't work out what the actual costs of, for instance, wind are in the US, as not only are there the overt subsidies, but there are the hidden ones, disguised under feed in mandates etc, so that all the infrastructure needed from back up to transmission lines doesn't appear in the supposed costs.

Not that you can't use wind to some extent, although it has certainly caused considerable environmental damage which is brushed under the carpet in disturbance of habitat as well as direct deaths:

Putting that aside, the problem with wind is that there are not that many places where it blows when you need it.
For instance massive schemes for Texas which has, on average, very good wind resources suffer from the problem that the wind is low to near non-existent in the summer, when demand peaks.
That means that you are burning natural gas to make up, and not at maximal efficiency as it is at the service of wind.

In some areas of the north such as Chicago you don't have that problem, as wind peaks nicely with demand, and the problems with using it are a lot less.

Overall, up to 10% of total demand can be managed, but it is not the universal solution that it is cracked up to be, and as you go over around that figure problems and costs multiply.

Similar considerations apply to solar, where it is coming along nicely to handle peak load, although at anything like current costs it is way, way more expensive than NG, and cost reduction now is tougher than in the past, as the fall has mainly been in the panels, and installation and balance of system costs are forming an ever larger proportion of total costs, and they drop in cost more slowly.

Not that I imagine that the US would swap over to 100% nuclear as is suggested here, more in the way of creating a straw man I take it than for any serious purpose, but another couple of hundred GWe would take care of baseload very nicely, enable the powering of electric vehicles, and could be largely built on current sites.

Since at the present ~1% efficiency on a once through nuclear cycle the equivalent of a barrel of oil costs around $5 for the raw uranium, and we would increase that to something nearer the 5 cents a barrel equivalent which the actual energy in the uranium contains through a whole host of means, including at the most basic reprocessing, notions that we will be reduced to a Mad Max scenario with ever more expensive energy seem to have little basis in energy supplies, and could only happen through political choice, presumably on the basis that it is somehow less risky if society collapses than if nuclear plants, safer than we have ever built before, are constructed.

Nuclear power plants in France have a pretty good record in powering their trains, both locally and long distance, and are ideal to power electric cars and delivery trucks on their cheap off peak power.

Wind and solar have a part to play, but as a supporting act outside of the tropics, which is actually where most people live.

I have linked one cost estimate, but there are umpteen others from reputable sources which come to similar conclusions, or you can roll your own using this:

Here are calculations of supply rather than cost for the UK based on David Mackay's work - I give my preferred pathway, which does not compromise living standards, doesn't bother with renewables ( that is different for the US, which has a much better solar resource for some areas ) and turns out about 1.5kw per capita using nuclear, and needing little assistance from anything else:

Again, you can roll your own if you don't fancy that, although there is nothing comparable for the US.

I gave the list of nuclear subsidies a while back - but to repeat

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Federal):

- extends the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act through 2025;
- authorizes cost-overrun support of up to $2 billion total for up to six new nuclear power plants;
- authorizes production tax credit of up to $125 million total a year, estimated at 1.8 US¢/kWh during the first eight years of operation for the first 6.000 MW of capacity,[8] consistent with renewables;
that is, new nukes are treated as if they are renewables PLUS all the other subsidies
- authorizes loan guarantees of up to 80% of project cost to be repaid within 30 years or 90% of the project's life [1];
- authorizes $2.95 billion for R&D and the building of an advanced hydrogen cogeneration reactor at Idaho National Laboratory[2];
- authorizes 'standby support' for new reactor delays that offset the financial impact of delays beyond the industry's control for the first six reactors, including 100% coverage of the first two plants with up to $500 million each and 50% of the cost of delays for plants three through six with up to $350 million each for [3];
- allows nuclear plant employees and certain contractors to carry firearms;
- prohibits the sale, export or transfer of nuclear materials and "sensitive nuclear technology" to any state sponsor of terrorist activities;
- updates tax treatment of decommissioning funds Another indirect subsidy to the nuclear power industry

In addition, the ONLY new US nuke under construction (two 1.2 GW AP-1000s) has another major subsidy from the rate payers of Georgia - they get to pay for it while it is getting built. If they die before it is completed, or move out of state, too bad ! And if it turns into a lemon, or never produces any power, too bad.

Just read where they had their first (but almost certainly not their last) billion dollar cost over-run

Without MASSIVE subsidies, that dwarf those of renewables, new nukes will not be build in the United States. And even with massive subsidies, only a handful will be built.


PS: Texas wind kept the rolling black-out on February 2, 2011 from becoming a major and prolonged black-out that could have crashed the grid and killed many. Likewise, French domestic wind + French imports of wind kept the lights on in France this last winter.

You seem to be hung up on the US.
Around $2k kwh works in most places, and $5k kwh works fine in Europe/

You also seem to have missed that the German grid would have crashed last winter but for nuclear and other inputs.

I note you do not address the cost of mandates, back up and transmission which are all hidden in the US wind costs.

Bottom line:
French prices for overwhelmingly nuclear electricity average around $0.12 kwh, much lower overnight.
German (think wind, solar) are $0.30 kwh, and even more 'renewable' Denmark around $0.45 kwh.

That is the way to have a 'peak energy' crisis, in place of a real 'peak oil' crisis!

Back-up is a non issue, and not a cost - certainly in the USA. Demand should be falling from this point forward.

With a just a shift in wind, the price of nuclear power in Japan would have been off the meter - just like the gieger counters where 30 million people live. As it is, the price of atomic power in Japan is staggering !!

The world's third largest economy is stumbling with the price of nuclear power.

And clearly new build nukes in the USA are quite uneconomic.


PS: And I can make no sense what so ever of "$5,000/kWh is ok" ?

Dave, lets have a quick look at some of your numbers.

About 100Gwe would be enough to replace all the light vehicle transport with power for electric vehicles, so savings on oil imports alone would be around $350 billion a year

...and are ideal to power electric cars and delivery trucks on their cheap off peak power

$350b/year = ~$958m/day. At $119.75/bbl, we get 8m bbl.

8,000,000 bbl X 1700kwh = 13.6 Twh

Engine efficiency for modern motors, taking an average between gas and diesel is about 30%


30% of 13.6 Twh = ~4.5 Twh

Assuming about 10 hours a day operation for off peak battery charging, as per your statements above, we would need 450 Gwe of nuclear to do the job, not 100.

Please note that I do not think it is possible with solar either. Everyone wants to talk about costs, not materials used when referring to solar. According to this site....


PV low iron glass represents 3% of the world glass production.

These numbers are for 2010, the year that had about 17 GW of solar capacity added world wide....


On a world-wide scale we would have to increase production of PV by a factor of 50 annually to have any meaningful impact. For example 850 Gw of solar capacity running at 4 hrs/day X 365 days = ~1241 Twh.

Again from the Wiki link above....

the annual energy supply increase has been high, e.g. 2007–2008 4,461 TWh

Using 150% of the world's annual supply of glass will only provide ~27% of the annual growth in energy use. It is a clear catch 22, to produce more glass will require more energy etc.

Fossil fuels, especially oil, make both nuclear and solar possible as small extras, scaling up either creates massive problems. Now think how possible it is going to be in the next 18-20 years as GNE (as per westexas) approach zero.

You are using the energy needed for petrol vehicles for electric.
Nuclear plants by convention do not count th3e waste heat.

So for net output an electric vehicle at 12,000 miles per year and 4 miles per kwh uses ~3,000 kwh, a flow of 3000/8760 = 0.33 kw per car.
That is around 82GWe for the ~250 million US light vehicle fleet.


If you care to re-look at the numbers, you will find that the 8mbbl/day has 13.6 Twh of energy but I only included 30% to allow for heat losses.

The number is 4.5 Twh, not something much smaller.

I'm also pointing out your "savings on oil imports alone would be around $350 billion a year." comment and what would be needed to replace that, not some entirely different metric about theoretical electric car use times x distance for small light vehicles that don't exist.

Jack, I thought the 4 hrs a day covered that. My own panels (5 Kw) get less than that (about 3 hrs) at ~37 degrees latitude with mostly clear skies in the direction of the sun. The 850 Gwe is the potential output of the panels, not the solar insolation that falls on them.

I think your calculations are backward.

Just start with the actual, measured power needed to power EVs: about 1/3 kWh per mile.

Take 2.9B Vehicle miles traveled per year in the US, divided by 3 miles/kWh, and get about 1TWh.

As as practical matter, that means that the average US light vehicle has an efficiency that is far lower than 30%.


I think your calculations are backward.

They were Dave's numbers thrown out off the cuff, I tried to put some meat on them to see if they stack up.

Your arguments of how it is possible to travel x distance using the smallest lightest EVs to replace a lot of oil use are true if we suspend reality. The reality right now is that at least half of US oil use could be saved if people all used small cheap current autos. But they don't. They choose to buy big heavy SUVs, even though they know the running costs are going to be much higher.

To compare like for like, imagine the energy use of big heavy electric SUV's.

As as practical matter, that means that the average US light vehicle has an efficiency that is far lower than 30%

I used wiki as my source when I used 30%, average between gas and diesel, could you please quote your source that states otherwise.

To compare like for like, imagine the energy use of big heavy electric SUV's.

Increased weight doesn't matter much for vehicles with regenerative braking - more mass means more energy used in acceleration, and more energy lost in braking....unless you recapture it with regenerative braking.

Now, a broad, blunt face gives poor aerodynamics, so SUVs might consume as much as .6 or .7 kWhs per mile. The average for our current fleet (if electric) might be .5kWhs per mile. Of course, we have to ask: what question are we trying to answer? Do we really expect our current fleet mix to remain unchanged over decades??

I used wiki as my source when I used 30%, average between gas and diesel, could you please quote your source that states otherwise.

It's just simple math: EVs would require about 1TWh. If your 30% factor gives a result that's very different from that, then it must be proportionately wrong.

Keep in mind that

1) diesel isn't a significant factor in the US for personal transportation, and

2) efficiency in this situation is a slippery concept. From a physicists point of view, ground vehicles have zero efficiency, because they simply "translate" from one place to another, which doesn't yield a real output of energy conversion or energy value. So, as we improve aerodynamics and reduce rolling and drivetrain friction, we can reduce vehicle energy consumption ad infinitum.

Increased weight doesn't matter much for vehicles with regenerative braking - more mass means more energy used in acceleration, and more energy lost in braking....unless you recapture it with regenerative braking.

You use the gas pedal much more than the brake.

A little. That difference is much smaller in the city, where hybrids and other EV variants thrive.

Deceleration without braking is due to friction (air, drivetrain, tire) and doesn't have much to do with weight (tire suspension losses a little, maybe).

So, once you eliminate braking losses, weight doesn't matter much.

One thing to consider on these calculations for power needed for EVs . . . most of the needed capacity is already there and just sitting idle: there is vast amount of untapped electricity generation capacity available at night.

Electric companies are very much looking forward to an EV revolution that will get them much more electricity sales at night when they have plenty of generating capacity just sitting idle.


most of the needed capacity is already there and just sitting idle: there is vast amount of untapped electricity generation capacity available at night

Absolutely agree. Yet the problem becomes one of using the coal and gas resources much quicker, as well as the increase in CO2 emissions.

Current cycling of coal generators, which were designed for baseload, increases maintenance costs but saves CO2 emissions.


the problem becomes one of using the coal and gas resources much quicker, as well as the increase in CO2 emissions.

Wind and nuclear produce a disproportionate share of kWhs at night. Increased night time demand improves the economics of wind and nuclear, and supports their growth.

Coal currently has to power down at night - increased EV night time demand would help reduce that. Also, EV charging can be dynamically scheduled for periods of high wind output, reducing the difficulty of grid load following.

Thanks for a very useful post. This type of analysis reminds me of why I used to like TOD in the early days. You see less of it now.

One question:

You say:

For example 850 Gw of solar capacity running at 4 hrs/day X 365 days = ~1241 Twh.

Aren't you missing a capacity utilization factor?

Isn't the 4 hours the capacity utilization factor?

I don't think one MW name plate capacity running for one hour delivers one MW in all circumstances. I think there has be be some adjustment for location and time of year. A solar panel can't be assumed to produce the same amount of power on the Christmas as the Fourth of July, or in Toronto as in Ecuador, but I don't know the details of calculating solar outputs.


Yes, I used the concept of building out current nuclear designs to provide 100% of U.S. electricity demand as a baseline of cost and schedule in order to talk about a more balanced electricity generation approach which I do indeed fancy.

So, calling the idea of a 100% nuclear power build-out a rhetorical straw-man is right-on!

I judge that your characterization of this idea thus indicates that you are not one of the folks in the conversation who harbor the dream that such a 100% nuke build-out can occur and would be a grand accomplishment.

I used my very rough WAG of $8B per 1.2GWe of nuclear plant capacity based on the current costs estimates for Volatile 3 and 4 in Georgia, which are running at ~$14B, with the idea floating around of another $1B cost overrun on top of that. The cost trend is upwards for nukes..the next 'Fukishima' (or even a much lesser incident)will enhance that trend.


I said that my concepts were malleable...the fairly even spread of power sources is from the current U.S. nuke contribution of ~20%, and the oft-said idea that the maximum contributions to the grid from wind and solar (I believe separately) is ~ 20%, due to intermittentcy.

I leave the door wide open to continued investment in nuclear plants, both current designs (APS-1000) and the evolution of new designs, to include Liquid Fluoride Thorium reactors.

I understand and agree in principle with your idea of standardized nuclear plant designs and construction/licensing practices perhaps making nuclear plant costs at least stop inflating at their historic rate, and perhaps decrease somewhat, as well as potentially speeding construction.

As the idea of a sustained, large effort building nuke plants should drop costs, particularly with standardization, I would say the same idea should apply to solar and wind as well.

That being said, I think that a build rate of 12 1.2GW plants per year would be a remarkable achievement...not impossible, but a bit of a stretch.

Investing in negawatts (efficiency) and invoking carrot and stick pricing are integral to a comprehensive electricity demand/supply plan.

I also vaguely implied in my OP that a zero-population growth strategy for the U.S. would be a good thing...strictly limit immigration and heavily promote the goal of having no more than two children per woman-liftime average in the U.S.

My concept should provide expertise in developing, building, and operating a wide variety of electricity generation technologies, and would mandate the recapitalization of the national electricity grids, which probably need done anyway.

My overarching concept though, isn't to spell out the details/minutia in this post, but to discuss the idea that a comprehensive plan is needed to provide something close to an an 'optimum' energy mix in the future. I do not believe that minimizing short-term electricity generation costs equate to maximizing the societal utility of long-term energy enterprises.

Alan seems to have the ball and is running with it, so there is hope...

Why you should consider 12 to be wildly optimistic is entirely unclear, since in the previous build at peak with each reactor pretty much a custom job they hit more than that in their peak year, and high numbers in other years.

12 new nukes per year in the USA is a fantasy !

The NRC did a study of the limiting factors in building new nukes in the USA today - NOT 35 years ago. And if EVERYTHING worked perfectly (not likely IMO), we could be building eight new nukes by stripping the maintenance workforce of many of their nuke qualified personnel.

There were several specific "bottlenecks" but the tightest one is qualified personnel. All the people that built nukes (save TVA#) are dead, retired or much older and decades past their experience.

No one that was ever involved with pouring the slab for a nuke in the USA is still working. And that was a major screw-up in Finland. And it goes on from there.

8 under construction > about 1 finished per year. Over time, the build rate would speed up - provided that we can afford the massive subsidies required to build so many new nukes.


# TVA rebuilt Brown's Ferry 2 & 3, then #1 (the one that burnt), then finished partially completed Watts Bar #1, should have completed Watts Bar #2 by now and are now years late and over budget finishing it, and then finishing Bellefonte #1 is next.


Things start getting even weirder when you load decommissioning on nuclear, but not on the huge numbers of wind turbines and their foundations and access roads, again not comparing like for like.

*SO* biased an analysis !

There is SALVAGE value on worn out wind farms - as there are for worn out airplanes, etc. *NO* hazardous wastes. Net positive value at end of life. And the concrete blocks can either be left in place or removed at trivial cost (depends on lease with the farmer).

While nukes are an extraordinarily expensive and long term burden to decommission.


Heis: The problem is our political system is incapable of passing an energy policy. Its a no compromise battleground between the parties, and the result is no policy. Things will just drift along without much direction from the top. Some progress is being made locally -at the state level, California has a 33% renewables target that isn't too far off. But a national policy seems beyond reach.

I agree with you.

I hope that CA and some others lead the way and eventually inspire some or most of the rest to follow suite.

I don't think it will be much longer before a KWhour from PV will be the cheapest power source

I'd love to believe that. But I just can't. We certainly have witnessed a massive drop in PV prices in the last couple of years. But I think that is mainly due to a combination of circumstances. Silicon prices dropping, China subsidizing PV by giving free land to PV makers, cheap Chinese labor at that those PV fabs, etc. So cheap that the USA finally slapped anti-dumping tariffs on PV from China.

I certainly hope you are right . . . perhaps there will be another technological break-through to lower PV prices. But just projecting from the recent price drops of the past few years is not a good way to predict future PV prices.

Probably a whole slew of snakes in this grass...but the article which Alan from the Islands cited stated figures about a specific solar electricity generation plant in Portugal (generation capacity and cost to build)...these numbers...if they scale linearly, seem to be competitive with the cost to build an equivalent U.S. nuke plant.

At first blush, the price for equivalent face-pate power generation seems like the PV plant is half the cost...

...but, we understand the diurnal solar capacity issue, and throw in some clouds, even in a sunny locale...add costs for upgraded transmission, storage, grid-management, etc...my first guess is that, when installed in a sunny area such as is found across a swath of the U.S. SW, the cost to build may be a wash with nuclear...but without the failure modes risks and the radioactive waste headaches.

The Eastern U.S. may be stuck with having to manage considerably more nuclear plant risk than the Western U.S. The U.S West has coal. NG, sunshine, wind, and more geothermal and hydro power potential than the Eastern U.S.

What it lacks is agua.

Perhaps large-scale transmission corridors with HVDC from West to East, and some water coming back in pipes... :)

when installed in a sunny area such as is found across a swath of the U.S> SW, the cost to build may be a wash with nuclear...but without the failure modes risks and the radioactive waste headaches.

Don't forget water. Nuclear power requires millions of gallons of freshwater. That is getting harder and harder to find in the SW USA. PV requires no water at all. (OK, a tiny amount to wash the panels occasionally but that is trivial.)

I think the water coming back in pipes is wildly unpractical. Consider the energy cost of pumping this water over the rockies. And its not just the changes in altitude, pipe flow has frictional loses. Something like 30% of California electricty is supposed consumed pumping water (mainly from north state to south state), [Maybe BenA can jump in with correct stats] so even this much more modest water diversion is very energy intensive. Add in politics and emotion -eevr hear the great lakes states politician rail against the possibility other states *might* want some of their great lakes water! Major east to west water transmission just won't happen.

Regional energy transfer is also very tough politically. Northeaster states nixed a proposal to supply them with midwest wind (because many of the energy jobs would be out of state)! Not to mention NIMBYism over power lines etc.

Rockies? Those 'lil things? Tunnel! But seriously, I agree wrt water pumping...I should have placed the /sarc tag on that piece of my post...

As far as the no-jobs-here/NIMBYism over power lines for the NorthEast/Eastern U.S. folks...well, they can make their peace with the nukes and the mountaintop removal and air pollution and maybe the future brownouts.

Every time I go back to central PA (not much anymore), I want to cry when I climb one of the mountains and see the perpetual and worsening smog/haze layers...the air is much cleaner out in the great West...speaking as a 9+ - year vet of North Dakota (with frequent travel to SD, MT, and WY) and a resident of NM, with occasional travel to CO, AZ, UT, and NV.

If I saw the mountaintop removal areas in person in West-by-Golly Wild and Wonderful WV, I probably would vomit. Looking at the pics on the Intertubes is wrenching enough.

The numbers I usually hear are that 20% of CA electricity, and 30% of natural gas is consumed by "water-related uses." These are pretty misleading numbers for a couple reasons. One is that "water-related uses" includes water heating. Water heating energy use amounts to almost all of the natural gas use, and more than half of the electricity use included in "water-related-uses." Water supply, water treatment, and wastewater treatment consumed 5.1% of CA electricity in 2001, and that's without accounting for generation offsets (hydro and water conveyance are pretty closely linked). Add to this that CA has nearly the lowest per capita energy consumption in the country, despite refining most of the gasoline for PADD 5, and you can see that the stat is pretty misleading.

I support building code requirements for solar DHW for new construction in SoCal, NV, and AZ as there are in HI. There are likely other spots in the southern U.S. where this is a no-brainer. I support on-bill utility financing of DHW addition to existing homes which stays with the house, not with the original occupant.

"But just projecting from the recent price drops of the past few years is not a good way to predict future PV prices."

True enough, but some companies are at least breaking even or making a profit even at these prices. And there are more improvements to be had in the various processes. The bottom is not in.

Not only that but the fossil fuel prices, that they are being compared against, are only going one way and that is north. There may be short term fluctuations and drops but the overall trend is up. I grow tired of some of the anti-PV crowd using comparison figures from a few years ago when FF prices were much lower and PV higher so they can show PV to a disadvantage. Take today's prices (May 2012) and there is little gap but if you look at where FF prices are going then the advantage is clear.


This is also why there is such a strong PV and EV connection. Oil is the FF that is going up in price fast. PVs have had some of the fastest price drops. So if you can replace oil with PV somehow, then you really have something . . . and the EV is the bridge between the two. Of course, the problem is that EVs are still pretty expensive. But it is amazing that assuming you have an EV, you can buy 30 years worth of "fuel" for it with just a $12K or so in PV equipment. Try buying 30 years worth of gasoline for $12K.

$2k of wind investment will power that EV for 30 years.



renewably powered EV: priceless.

Clearly anything like a linear projection of the past year or two's price declines would be madness. It wouldn't surprise me is prices plateau or even edge up (due to the trade action against Chinese panels). But clearly many producers have broken through the magic dollar a watt milestone, and that isn't going to be reversed. More likely prices will ocissalte about a longterm trendline, which should continue to go down for at least several more years. The real action now is in the BOS (Balance Of System) cost arena. Thats clearly not very sexy, but it is crucial.

The end of oil?

Edward Seaga, Contributor

In 2007, at the 10th anniversary of the Office of Utility Regulations (OUR), I gave the keynote address in which I made a valuable point which I will now repeat:

"Journals, studies, reports and eminent authorities speak, not of if, but when, reserves of oil will reach the point of diminishing production. The wider the briefing on the reserves of petroleum, the more the future becomes worrying. The future, it is truly said, 'has a mind of its own'.

The resulting forecasts vary widely, but only a few see the peak production for oil as coming after 2020. One of the forecasts which is more optimistic is the authoritative International Energy Agency (IEA) which collects data from all oil-producing countries. The IEA predicts that the production peak will arrive between 2013 and 2037. Thereafter, production will decline by about three per cent per annum.

I am flabergasted! Not only because of the newspaper that has published this article but, the author of this piece! Edward Seaga is a former prime minister, a career politician who's political career started in 1959 and ended with his retirement from active politics in 2005. In his 45 year stint in the Jamaica Labour Party he served 21 years as leader of the opposition punctuated by a nine year stint as prime minister during the Reagan era. Depending on which side of the political fence in Jamaica one sits, he is viewed as a financial genius and deliverer (from the hands of the "democratic socialist" administration led by Michael Manley) or thge devil incarnate. He is definitely an intellectual, presenting sometimes unusual ideas and is highly respected among the corporate and business elite in Jamaica.

I had no idea that Peak Oil was on his radar! He usually sounds as cornocopian as you can get, with all sorts of ideas for techno-fixes and a strong supporter of the imperative of economic growth. However he closes the article with

Historically, for a great many centuries, oil has been the base on which civilisation has progressed immeasurably, and at a dazzling rate of development over more recent times. The end of that era, it is now recognised, is forthcoming. It is time now to unveil a new era and unleash new power with no less prospect than the world of new technology created by the splitting of the atom. The power of the sun and of natural elements, which are our inexhaustible atomic resources, is that new era:

Surely no more depressing subject exists than one which envisages the prolonged economic distress of the developing world, as a consequence of inaction;

Surely no more economic case exists than to ensure the transformation of one energy base to another, more affordable, more available, and more suitable;

Surely no more enticing case exists than one which ties the interests of private and public sector in official programmes to advance the development of mankind.

The peculiar coincidence of circumstances today, driven by mounting needs to abandon the old and marry the new with urgency before missed deadlines overwhelm us, may not coexist again.

If we fail, the real tragedy will be that we failed to put crisis into perspective; to recognise it as nothing more than a challenge; to exercise that vision that creates opportunity from adversity; and to measure up to the urgent call of our time by creating a future that is not distant but just around the corner.

He appears to be advocating the use of renewables, in particular solar energy which, most here know I fully support.

In my quest to understand the thinking behind the German renewable energy policy I recently discovered the influence of the late Hermann Scheer, a German politician and chief architect of the German renewable energy program. In one of his last interviews before his death in October 2010, he articulates the need to encourage investment in renewables. In addition, at 3:44 into the first part of three of the interview on youtube he states that, the big mistake is to believe that the transition to renewables should be left up to the existing energy players.

That was my eureka moment! Renewable energy will not be encouraged with the consent, approval or assistance of the status quo. The decisions have to be taken in the face of sometimes considerable opposition by the existing players but, it is imperative that they be taken sooner rather than later. In the case of island states devoid of fossil energy resources, it is the only way to free ourselves from the burden of energy dependence. It was notanoilman who put it best in a post recently, "At least, if you ship solar (renewable energy generators) in, you don't have a lot more (fuel) to ship in". Apparently, Seaga has now come to the same conclusion!

Alan from the islands

In the case of island states devoid of fossil energy resources, it is the only way to free ourselves from the burden of energy dependence. It was notanoilman who put it best in a post recently, "At least, if you ship solar (renewable energy generators) in, you don't have a lot more (fuel) to ship in". Apparently, Seaga has now come to the same conclusion!

Well, it seems to me that we are all living in an island state that is sooner, rather than later, for all practical purposes, going to be devoid of our main source of fossil fuel energy. Solar is starting to look better and better, at least to me!

Recently Heisenberg posted a link to this graphic from the USGSC: http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/earthhowmuch.html
And suggested someone create a graphic that might put 'Proven Global Petroleum Reserves' in perspective when compared to all the water on earth.

I gave it a shot, here is my math and a link to my latest graphic. I have corrected a previous discrepancy in the scaling.


Proven oil reserves are those that can be extracted with reasonable certainty under existing conditions using existing technology. Global proved oil reserves are estimated at approximately 1,300 billion barrels (210×109 m3).[11] This corresponds to roughly 43 cubic miles, or 43 CMO. At the current rate of use, this would last about 40 years. Source Wikipedia

43 cubic miles is roughly 180 cubic kilometers

Vs = 4/3 π X R^3

180 Km^3 = 4/3 π X R^3

R = 3.5 Km

D = 7 Km

The sphere of proven oil reserves would be 0.05% of the size of the sphere of all the water on earth...

Am I the only one who thinks it is completely insane to continue talking about economic growth in a global economy based mostly on oil?
On the other hand I guess all that unconventional oil will more than make up for our remaining 40 year supply. So let's just go ahead and keep growing our economies by sticking a few thousand more straws into that 180 cubic Kilometer reserve. Even if it is not being replenished abiotically, all our brilliant economists will provide us with infinite alternatives...

Ok, back to my cave!

I saw that graphic, very, very sobering! We should give you some sort of award for your graphics work. Maybe the next time I'm in south FL, I should look you up and buy you a beer.

Alan from the islands

Hey Alan, please do and I'll certainly return the favor!

I used to point to a similar computation regarding the atmosphere. It goes like this: If the atmosphere were a liquid with the density of water, it would be a layer only some 10 meters (~34 feet) deep. Of that depth, the ozone layer in the stratosphere, (about 300 Dobson Units or 3mm of gas at the surface) would be thinner than a piece of plastic food wrap.

I suppose that you might add another dot with size calculated to that equal to the water equivalent of the CO2 within the atmosphere. But that would be even more depressing than your latest graphic. Fixing the problem of the ozone layer is trivially easy compared to limiting CO2 emissions...

E. Swanson

If we make the liquid CO2 have a density of water, that comes to a centimeter @400ppm. That doesn't seem so daunting, charcoal of maybe that thickness buried everywhere (even under the ocean), doesn't sound that impossible.

Stay out of yer cave. Keep hammering that graphic, it really highlights the problem. BTW what is that smaller water sphere next to the bigger one?


Here's the full explanation of all three water bubbles from the USGS site:

All Earth's water in a bubble

This drawing shows various blue spheres representing relative amounts of Earth's water in comparison to the size of the Earth. Are you surprised that these water spheres look so small? They are only small in relation to the size of the Earth. This image attempts to show three dimensions, so each sphere represents "volume." The volume of the largest sphere, representing all water on, in, and above the Earth, would be about 332,500,000 cubic miles (mi3) (1,386,000,000 cubic kilometers (km3)), and be about 860 miles (about 1,385 kilometers) in diameter.

The smaller sphere over Kentucky represents Earth's liquid fresh water in groundwater, swamp water, rivers, and lakes. The volume of this sphere would be about 2,551,000 mi3 (10,633,450 km3) and form a sphere about 169.5 miles (272.8 kilometers) in diameter. Yes, all of this water is fresh water, which we all need every day, but much of it is deep in the ground, unavailable to humans.

Do you notice that "tiny" bubble over Atlanta, Georgia? That one represents fresh water in all the lakes and rivers on the planet, and most of the water people and life of earth need every day comes from these surface-water sources. The volume of this sphere is about 22,339 mi3 (93,113 km3). The diameter of this sphere is about 34.9 miles (56.2 kilometers). Yes, Lake Michigan looks way bigger than this sphere, but you have to try to imagine a bubble almost 35 miles high—whereas the average depth of Lake Michigan is less than 300 feet (91 meters).

Back to my cave >;^)

Thanks for that...wait...what? There is over 500x less oil than fresh water. Oooops, that black stuff is supposed to be going on forebber!


For Canadians (and non-Canadians who have the means to alter their place of origin through internet trickery), I highly recommend the CBC's The Nature of Things episode entitled Journey to the Disaster Zone: Japan 311.

On March 11, 2011, the northeastern seaboard of Japan was devastated by a magnitude 9 earthquake. Within 30 minutes, a giant tsunami as high as 20 metres slammed ashore and wiped away hundreds of thousands of homes and close to 20 thousand lives. The tsunami triggered a nuclear crisis that kept the country, and indeed the world, on anxious alert for months.

One year later, as Japan grapples with the aftermath of the triple disaster – earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown – David Suzuki travels to the country to learn how the people most affected are responding. Featuring dramatic footage of the tsunami never seen outside Japan, Journey to the Disaster Zone: Japan 3/11 is a testament to the strength and discipline of the Japanese people.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/episode/journey-to-the-disaster-zone-ja...

Canada is blessed in so many ways and I consider Dr. David Suzuki one of the greatest blessings of all.


I attended the last two of Suzuki's three Hagey lectures at the University of Waterloo in the early 70's. Standing room only with hastily established closed circuit TV to other auditoriums .... and he was lecturing about fruit fly experiments ;-)

Yes he is a treasure BUT one problem I have is that when asked in the early 90's that what was his greatest contribution to society he answered 'his children'. Five children by two wives is not sustainable.

Perhaps so, but if his five children do half as much good as what he has, then I'd say all can be forgiven.

Addendum: I should have mentioned that David's daughter, Sarika, appears to be following in her dad's footsteps. Check out, for example, their Suzuki Diaries: Future City episode at: http://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/episode/suzuki-diaries-future-city.html


For non-Canadians not familiar with David Suzuki, he is a bit of a national icon, very well-known for his advancement of interest in science generally (through hosting the Nature of Things for many, many years) and environmentalism (the focus of the Suzuki Foundation).

Recently he laid out his thoughts on where environmentalism is now: http://www.themarknews.com/articles/8490

The title of the article: 'Environmentalism has failed'. It is an interesting read...

And for anyone unable to assume a Canadian identity via web tomfoolery, the first instalment of the The Suzuki Diaries can be found on youtube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kOTM-SSosg (Part 1 of 4)


I like what you are doing, as I like what Suzuki is doing, Paul. IMHO you both are also using dissonance reduction.... that 'little old lady that swallowed the fly' syndrome. Curing symptoms whilst ignoring cause isn't productive long term.

You no doubt are aware that http://www.torontolife.com/daily/informer/the-new-normal/2012/05/25/
=further-inform&utm_medium=plugin&utm_campaign=further-inform">Rouge Valley is now the newest National Park. Great, but is it viable long term? You might want to read Phantom Parks or a less parochial Canadian take Song of the Dodo

Well, as I've said before, I'm not on a mission to save the world or mankind, as laudable as those goals may be; I'm simply trying to minimize the harm I cause and, if I'm lucky, leave this world a little better place after I'm gone. I'd also encourage others to do the same, if they should feel so inclined. As for population growth, I offer no easy solutions but, for what it's worth, I don't have any children nor do I plan to have any.


So how should we respond when Suzuki and other sustainability, finite resource, conservation leaders seem to casually ignore limits on their own family size? (Sharon Astyk - 4 children, Rob Hopkins - 4 children, David Brower - 4 children...)

The proud parents in my community choosing to have 5 and 6 children families all support conservation of finite natural resources, reducing ecological footprint, and claim to be leading 'sustainable' lifestyles.

But human population now consumes 1.5 planet earths worth of resources annually (using 'principle' instead of 'interest') and is in carrying capacity overshoot, right?

To respond with "all can be forgiven" seems a bit glib and a little defensive. Maybe we should just be honest and admit they're not "being the change they wish to see in the world." There's a word for that.

Not that 'sustainability' will make much difference, of course. Meadows says it's too late for 'sustainable development'. Randers sees "collapse happening already". Observed global data appears to be closely tracking their World3 modeling.

Best hopes for re-localizing food and energy production - which is to say, maintain local population levels within limits of the local resource base... no easy task for any community.


It may very well sound glib, but whether a couple decides to have children is their business, not mine.


Ah yes, and therein, as the Bard would tell us, lies the rub.
It's everyone's business and affecting all of us in so many ways.

If I've learned anything from life, it's that I often get it wrong, sometimes very wrong. What that has taught me is that I should focus on my own life and my personal relationships with those around me (and pray to God I don't screw-up too badly), but not judge others or meddle in other people's affairs. So, am I my brother's keeper? In some ways, yes. Do I know all the answers and do I have the wisdom and foresight to always make the correct choices? Not a chance.


[O:] It's everyone's business and affecting all of us in so many ways.

[HH:] If I've learned anything from life, it's that I often get it wrong, sometimes very wrong. What that has taught me is that I should focus on my own life and my personal relationships with those around me ... but not judge others or meddle in other people's affairs.

And this looks to be the pithiest nutshelling of energy and climate tensions (and related regulatory-coercion issues) that I've seen to date. The really heated arguments are at root very little about "science", though they masquerade noisily as such. Instead they're typically very much about judgmentalism aligned with various speakers' pre-existing (and widely contradictory) visions hallucinations with respect to how others ought to be forced to live (which of course boil down to "every country and century but one's own"; whatever else?) Arguments of that sort can never be settled; they can only provide endless heat.

Thus I tend to discount - heavily - pronouncements from folks who claim to be scared out of their wits about what they see in their opaque computerized crystal balls, when instead of acting scared, they help themselves ravenously to great gouts of whatever it is they're trying to scare other people into forgoing. In such cases I'm inclined to figure they're just BSing, or at the very best exaggerating wildly, and move on. (And the word O was looking for was "hypocrisy", but it's futile to use, simply because "activists" and "campaigners" these days are utterly without shame.)

It is good to see some humilty. Thanks for displaying it.

If I've learned anything from life, it's that I often get it wrong, sometimes very wrong

Good to see some humility. I hope to learn from this.

What that has taught me is that I should focus on my own life and my personal relationships with those around me (and pray to God I don't screw-up too badly), but not judge others or meddle in other people's affairs

I also share a similar belief but we do not have the luxury of acting like this. I think we may be able to control our fate through indirect means which need not interfere in people's personal lives. For example we can fix an ecological footprint per capita, government subsidies per family can be fixed. IMO you can have as many kids as you like but you can't chop down the forest because you gotta feed your family of ten, that's not acceptable.

Are humans smarter than yeast?
That is the material reality, and we can dance around it all we want.

Yeast need to absorb sugars. A trillion-cell society needs transportation, resource distribution, pollution control, reproductive organs and cells, an immune system and communications. It also needs to build infrastructure capable of sensing the environment and propelling the body towards life-sustaining concentrations of nutrients and energy.

The yeast cell dumps enzymes onto its substrate for digestion and absorption. Humans dump chainsaws, tractors, earthmovers and Round-Up onto their substrate before absorbing the nutrients for further processing.

No, humans aren’t too smart, not at all. Most are a collection of cells packed together with infrastructure and wrapped in a protective skin and use their prefrontal cortices for nothing more than developing the most potent enzymes to turn loose against their environment and each other.

I say we build another road into a pristine area for more resource extraction. Let’s get “FIRED UP”. That’s what it basically is, a metabolic fire that will burn through everything and then the organism will die. Thank goodness we have the best-trained lawyers and politicians that our far-seeing academia can provide, looking after our well-being.

My cells are calling, excuse me while I go ingest a high-fructose drink for my enjoyment and their benefit.

Children is everyone's business - parents mistreating children can have them taken away, for example. The welfare of children is a greater priority than the rights to reproduction, to me at least.

So, would you be prepared to list everyone that you interact with who has more than 2 children and NEVER have any interaction with them again?


I'd have to stop talking to my 92-year-old mother, for a start. This I am not prepared to do. (I'm one of five.)

I think a lot depends upon the sequence. Did they have 4 (or 5 or whatever) kids, then think, what sort of world will be there for them. Then realize the ecological needs. Or did they already realize the human footprint was way too large, and decide to have the kids anyway.

Also Sharon Astyk probably uses less energy and stuff in her household than most single child families...

Expecting absolute perfection from your role models is a hiding to nothing. The perfect, being the enemy of the good.

Well, probably not - and certainly not in the long term. Any support for folks having 4 children would, fairly and justly, apply to their 4 children - who then become 16 in the next generation, then 64 and 256... See Al Bartlett for the devastating impact of exponential growth on using 'energy and stuff'.

"Absolute perfection" is of course, the enemy of the good. So is "hypocrisy", and even more so "irresponsibility".

The question was, "How do we respond..." So far we've got 'all is forgiven' and 'nobody's perfect'. Two sincere and generous answers, no doubt. But perhaps a blatant "Do what I say, not as I do" leadership style deserves a more attentive response.

So how should we respond when Suzuki and other sustainability, finite resource, conservation leaders seem to casually ignore limits on their own family size? (Sharon Astyk - 4 children, Rob Hopkins - 4 children, David Brower - 4 children...)

Well, did they have their eco-conversion before or after having all those kids? If they had all those kids after supposedly being so eco-pious, I agree that is hypocritical. A person that drives a Hummer but has no kids is literally having less impact on the environment.

Garrett Hardin had four children but I believe that they were all conceived before he became famous for Tragedy of the Commons etc. His papers are archived at UCSB Special Collections. Some of the material deals with his children


Actually, "five children by two wives" comes to 2.5 children per female, just a smidgen above the global replacement fertility rate of 2.33 c/f.


In a population 'overshoot' condition, a replacement fertility rate guarantees collapse.

I don't think this has been posted here. Mother Jones, is a somewhat more thoughtful liberal internet-mag. A pretty decent review of no-growth economics.
Nothing Grows Forever

Thanks for this link Enemy, it is a very rewarding read.

I think we live in very abnormal times...

In essence, endless growth puts us on the horns of a seemingly intractable dilemma. Without it, we spiral into poverty. With it, we deplete the planet. Either way, we lose.

The article is three pages long and one will need to read all three to get the gist of the argument it makes. Herman Daly, who served for six years as a senior economist at the World Bank beginning in the late '80s, argues for a no-growth or a steady state economy.

Daly, who's been arguing his case for four decades, has begun to think that only the Earth itself will compel people to act. In a few decades, if basic resources become scarce, prices spike, and climate change is causing global conflict, no-growth thinking could arrive whether we like it or not. "It'll be forced on us," he says. In the end, when it comes to determining the shape of our economy, the planet may possess the most powerful invisible hand of all.

Well of course it'll be forced upon us, and soon. But a world with 7 to 9 billion people, even with no growth, will still still consume unrenewable resources and will still consume renewable natural resources far faster than they can possibly be renewed. Fish, fresh ground water, fresh river and lake water, topsoil, arable land, forest and just about all so-called renewable natural resources are being used far faster than they can be renewed.

Yes, a no growth economy will be forced on us. But we will not rest on that ledge for very long before we will be forced off that ledge also.

Ron P.

A very interesting article. Good on Mother Jones.

I like this line

In the end, when it comes to determining the shape of our economy, the planet may possess the most powerful invisible hand of all.

Rachel Carson and the legacy of Silent Spring
Fifty years after the publication of the book that laid the foundations for the environmental movement, what have we learned from the biologist who saw the need for science to work with nature?


I've been thinking about European oil imports, and wondering how consumption will change.

The average European uses 18% as fuel as the US, for personal transportation. The big kahuna for European oil is diesel for freight, I think.

I believe diesel for commercial freight is much cheaper, due to much lower taxes. That encourages commercial freight consumption in a way that's hidden.

Anybody know what diesel for commercial users sells for on the Continent?

Here in the UK, diesel is approx $8.50 per US gallon. IIRC, there is no break in fuel duty for commercial users. The price does include VAT at 20% which can be offset against VAT charged on sales/services.

Diesel is cheaper in France. The Chunnel has a special rate to haul empty truck tractors to France, have them drive a few hundred meters, fill up their tanks with cheap French diesel, and then return to southern England.


Now, that's what I call full-throated conservation, hauling the tractors all the way to France and back again just to fill up the tank. Clever those Europeans - it seems entirely typical of the vast gap between their piously gibbering speeches from on high and their actions on the ground. I wonder who gets the carbon credits for shipping the tractors by "green rail".

If that's the European way, then give me good old honest red-necked American denialism and stuff-it-in-your-face-ism any day of the week. At least that way I won't be deluded about where I stand, or where "we" stand. What a joke.

So you think the EU should come up with a whole legal framework and bureaucracy to prevent transporting trucks by train?

In any case, I really doubt there is any significant rate of this kind of transportation. A truck with a 500 liter tank might save about ~100 euros, but the standard round trip costs 300 to 500 euros plus ~20%VAT(http://www.eurotunnelfreight.com/uk/bookings/fares/). Perhaps there are special night fares that are cheaper and negotiated discounts for high volume customers, but unless the truck terminal in right next to train terminal, the journey would be hard to justify just based on the time requirements alone, about 2 hr round trip.


Now, where can I get prices for diesel in France?


The cheapest diesel here is € 1.35 per litre from Lukoil.TOTAL sells at €1.45 per litre.

Now, is that consumer diesel for cars, or commercial fuel for tractor-trailers?

That's my basic question: are there different tax structures in France for cars vs long-haul trucks? And, if so, what are the rates?

I ran across this page about oil etc at geology.com:


It may be of interest to folks.

Some apparent hopeful news about fisheries:


FOR American fish, this is a good time to be alive. On May 14th the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that a record six federal fisheries returned to health last year. After a decade of similar progress, 86% of America’s roughly 250 federally monitored commercial fish stocks were not subject to overfishing; 79% were considered healthy.


America’s fisheries are probably now managed almost as well as the world’s best, in Norway, Iceland, New Zealand and Australia.

It's great to hear good news about fisheries. There is still a lot of work to be done, but as the article notes, there can be spectacular recoveries if things are managed well.

Edit: But I still say that we should aim for the historical baseline, not the baseline of 1950 or later. We need more no-take reserves, more oversight, and more time to get closer to a natural order. It is nice that we aren't actually fishing them all out of our own waters, at least.

I agree with you.

I'm really very surprised the US would permit any form of fish stock consrvation. Doesn't that fly in direct contrast with the idea of pure capitalism? If healthcare is allowed to make as much profit as they can at the financial ruin of people, then why not allow the fisherman to scoop up every single fish and cause the extinction of species or at least species in US waterways?

You'll probably discover the R's are enraged at the idea of regulating fish catches, and once they control all 3 branches of govt., will quickly enact policies to encourage extinction.

There's another term for unregulated capitalism it's also known as tragedy of commons

AT the end of the article I linked, the article stated that there was a further initiate in at least a part of U.S. fisheries to create tradeable fishing rights, which the author(s) portrayed as being potentially rather effective and efficient at balancing conservation/proper management of fish stocks with private market forces.

Unfortunately, the authors then stated that a pair of Republican Senators (I think, maybe from the House?) were stonewalling the whole idea, stating something to the effect that this represents the dismantling of American liberties or some such pap.

I've found this article dealing with an replacement for water for hydraulic fracking.
It's called liquefied propane gas (LPG) fracturing.

Cutting waste in drilling

I'd love to hear your opinion on that.


Mein herr – I thought I recalled a press release that Halliburton was acquiring GasFrac but can’t find any info now. Maybe a deal is pending or it died. GasFrac moved headquarters to Houston about 9 months ago. Makes sense: the ops may be spread across the country but most of the big players are quartered in Houston. The lack of published exposure about newly developing technology is common. I experienced the same problem when horizontal completion in unconsolidated sandstone reservoir was developing in the 90’s. The service companies that drilled my wells knew the technology I used bettter then me. But they didn’t see the detailed results. As the article implies oil patch management is not over supplied with pioneer mentality. LOL. The first management team I presented my ides to thought I was nuts. But the more reports of other companies deploying the technique eventually got their attention. We still didn’t get the details but after hundreds of $millions were spent they figured it must be working.

You notice the cost factor is offered as a potential reason why the GasFrac approach is slow to implement. But there’s a subplot to that story line. Just a guess but you may see this new tech applied more frequently in the Gulf Coast then up north. The northern states are still allowing cheaper (and more environmentally unfriendly) methods of disposal. OTOH it costs a small fortune to properly dispose of frac fluids in Texas via deep injection wells. If you haven’t seen my rants before but I’ve lost all sympathy for my Yankee cousins and their environment issues. Their poorly designed regs allowed the problem to develop. Even the article highlights how they still aren’t forcing the oil patch to properly (and at great expense) dispose of those nasty fluids. Make the oil patch up there follow the same rules as required by the Texas Rail Road Commission and the GasFrac method may then appear a much more economically competative approach then current efforts. Companies will utilize the approach much faster even if they don’t have a lot of back history support if the FracGas approach is cheaper or at least not more expensive.