Drumbeat: June 4, 2012

States explore new ways to tax motorists for road repair

States are looking for new ways of taxing motorists as they seek to pay for highway and bridge repair and improvements without relying on the per-gallon gasoline tax widely viewed as all but obsolete.

Among the leading ideas: Taxing drivers for how many miles they travel rather than how much gasoline they buy. Minnesota and Oregon already are testing technology to keep track of mileage. Other states, including Washington and Nevada, are preparing similar projects.

The efforts are being prompted by the fact that gasoline taxes no longer provide enough money to pay for roads and bridges — especially when Congress and many state legislatures are reluctant to increase taxes imposed on each gallon. The federal tax of 18.4 cents a gallon hasn't been raised in nearly two decades. More than half the states have not raised their gas tax this millennium. Fuel-efficiency also is behind the efforts. Electric-powered vehicles are growing in numbers. In 2009, President Obama set the nation's most aggressive fuel-efficiency standards for new vehicles, ordering a 40% increase by 2016.

Use of public transit is soaring in 2012

Use of public transit is soaring. Transit agencies had record or near-record ridership in the first three months of the year, thanks to high gas prices, a mild winter and, in one city, the Super Bowl.

At least a dozen communities set records for the number of people riding buses, trains and light rail, even though some cut service because of tight budgets, according to the American Public Transportation Association.

Oil plunges to 8-month low on weak US jobs report

SINGAPORE—Oil plunged to fresh eight-month lows below $82 a barrel Monday in Asia as a dismal U.S. jobs report sparked selling of stocks and commodities.

Benchmark oil for July delivery was down $1.25 to $81.98 per barrel, the lowest since October, at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $3.30 to settle at $83.23 in New York on Friday.

Hedge Funds in Longest Rout Since Global Recession

Hedge funds curbed bullish bets on commodities for a third consecutive month, the longest retreat since the global recession, as Europe’s worsening debt crisis and slowing U.S. job growth sent prices tumbling.

Rampant oil theft ravages Nigeria's Delta

Almost three years since an amnesty was agreed with 26,000 Niger Delta militants, oil theft remains a major headache and is now on the rise, authorities and oil firms say.

Although the illegal refiners only make up for a small portion of the theft, the environmental damage they do is huge. Oil spills from leaky pipes pollute vast tropical waterways.

Shell, the biggest operator, says 150,000 barrels per day is stolen from Africa's top oil producer. Nigeria's Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said that as much as one-fifth of government revenue is lost to oil theft.

Kazakhstan court jails oil town rioters

ALMATY, Kazakhstan – A court in Kazakhstan has jailed more than a dozen people for mounting mass riots in a western oil town last year at the end of a high-profile trial in the Central Asian nation.

Iran Calls on OPEC to Keep Output Ceiling, Press TV Says

Iraq and Iran said they will take a common position on OPEC’s production policy when the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries meets this month.

The neighbors agreed “to coordinate the two countries’ stance at OPEC,” Asim Jihad, a spokesman for Iraq’s oil ministry, said today by telephone from Baghdad, without elaborating. OPEC ministers plan to meet to assess markets and the group’s output ceiling on June 14 in Vienna.

Chevron Phillips Chemical Signs Letter to Study Iraq Plant

Iraq and Chevron Phillips Chemical Co., a joint venture of Chevron Corp. (CVX) and ConocoPhillips (COP), signed a letter of intent to evaluate the feasibility of developing a petrochemical plant in the country, officials said.

Gazprom to Start South Stream with Two Pipes – Miller

Gazprom will start construction of the South Stream gas pipeline to pump natural gas to Europe along the bed of the Black Sea with two parallel legs, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said on Monday.

“We plan to build two pipeline legs with a capacity of 15.5 billion cubic meters each; they will be built in parallel,” Miller said.

Gazprom Denies Plan to Buy BP Stake in TNK-BP

Gazprom head Alexei Miller denied on Monday that his company had plans to buy oil giant BP's stake in its TNK-BP Russian joint venture.

"This is the first time I've heard about it," Miller said, when asked by journalists if Gazprom had made BP an offer for its stake in TNK-BP.

Petronas Seeks Partners for Proposed Canada LNG Export Plant

Petronas owns 80% of the LNG joint venture that plans to build an export terminal on the British Columbia coast. Progress Energy Inc. owns the remaining 20%.

"We are talking to interested parties to participate," Anuar Ahmad, executive vice-president for gas and power at Petronas, told a news conference.

Marathon Oil Delivers Plan For NOK4.9 Billion Boyla Field Off Norway

The Norwegian government said Monday that operator Marathon Oil Norway had delivered a plan for development and operation of the Boyla oil and gas field in the North Sea, with total investments estimated at 4.9 billion kroner ($800,000).

Judge in BP criminal spill case may have conflict

The federal judge in New Orleans overseeing the first criminal prosecution stemming from the BP Plc Gulf of Mexico oil spill may have a conflict of interest, according to court records.

U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval told lawyers at a closed-door meeting Thursday that he owns a camp near Grand Isle, Louisiana, the main beach where the oil spill washed ashore in 2010, according to a court filing Friday.

In Land of Gas Drilling, Battle for Water That Doesn’t Reek or Fizz

For the last few years, a small group of farmers and landowners scattered across this rural Wyoming basin have complained that their water wells have been contaminated with chemicals from a controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

A draft report by the Environmental Protection Agency, issued in December, appeared to confirm their concerns, linking chemicals in local groundwater to gas drilling.

TEPCO's retirees OK pension cuts

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Monday it has won approval for its proposed pension benefit cuts from about 12,700, or about 83 percent, of the 15,373 retired workers eligible for the payments.

Now that the struggling power utility has secured approval from at least two-thirds of pension-eligible retirees as required by law, it will apply to the welfare minister in July for permission to introduce the cuts, aiming to start reducing benefits from October.

'Significant' rise in electric bills seen

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Higher electric bills. Emphasis on solar power. A surge in electric cars.

Those are some of the things about 500 utility executives see in the future of their industry, according to a poll conducted by consulting and construction firm Black & Veatch.

Peru needs glacier loss monitoring: dire UN warning

Peru needs a permanent monitoring system to gauge Andean mountain glacier shrinkage caused by global warming and its effect on people who depend on the ice for water, UN experts warned.

Nuclear, coal power face climate change risk - study

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Warmer water and reduced river flows will cause more power disruptions for nuclear and coal-fired power plants in the United States and Europe in future, scientists say, and lead to a rethink on how best to cool power stations in a hotter world.

In a study published on Monday, a team of European and U.S. scientists focused on projections of rising temperatures and lower river levels in summer and how these impacts would affect power plants dependent on river water for cooling.

The authors predict that coal and nuclear power generating capacity between 2031 and 2060 will decrease by between 4 and 16 percent in the United States and a 6 to 19 percent decline in Europe due to lack of cooling water.

I am superimposing global debt curves and oil prices

Global debt and oil prices


Nice chart. It reinforces my suspicion that one of the reasons interest rates have stayed so low, and why so many obtuse investment vehicles have been created in recent years is the concentration of so much wealth in so few hands. That has created an extraordinary competition for investment opportunities and brought the hustlers and con-men out of the bushes.

Oh way to go Japan! Wow!!

NSW regional railway clock stopped at midnight but Hunter coal trains are rolling

...The main rail line from Sydney to Brisbane via Newcastle runs along some backwaters of the Hawkesbury River, safe from tidal waters but not safe from sea level rises.

The point about Rails being subject to sea-level rises is definitely an issue for Amtrak
in the US. Both because it was easier to build most Railroads along level grades beside
Rivers and coastal areas, and that towns and cities developed along waterways and the first Rails paralleled Canals, many Railroad tracks in the US are perilously close to potentially rising waters.
The Amtrak route along the Hudson has some beautiful views precisely because it is only a few feet above the Hudson. Green Transit planning needs to take this into account and it is
another major investment which will be required to deal with Peak Oil and Peak cars.

Thanks for the Armidale pics! (I was born and grew up there).

Yeah, thanks. I don't know why, but I love rail junk yards.

'Significant' rise in electric bills seen

Solar power more attractive than wind: Executives named solar power as the fourth-most attractive way of generating electricity that's environmentally friendly -- behind hydro, natural gas and nuclear.

..."environmentally friendly" natural gas and nuclear. I suppose it depends on who you ask.


"Bullish on electric cars: Utility executives believe electric cars will eat up 7% of the nation's power supply by 2025.

here is the full report. lots of colorful graphs


Basically a report of executives trying to make political statements through the survey.

Bullish on electric cars: Utility executives believe electric cars will eat up 7% of the nation's power supply by 2025.
To use that much juice, Black & Veatch estimates there would need to be 65 million electric cars on the road. Last year under 20,000 were sold.

Yeah, good luck with that. Survey seems to say "Stop making us do renewable power because that cuts into our profits . . . but continue with subsidies for EVs since that will grow our business." I guess like everyone, they want government help but they want others to pay for it.

"Among the leading ideas: Taxing drivers for how many miles they travel rather than how much gasoline they buy. Minnesota and Oregon already are testing technology to keep track of mileage. Other states, including Washington and Nevada, are preparing similar projects."

Presumably the vehicle weight would be a multiplying factor? Or, would someone's Smart Car count the same as a Chevy Urban Assault Vehicle?
Nothing could possibly go wrong with the State keeping track of where you go and when you went there..... "Your papers please, Citizen Smith?...."
Why not just cut to the chase and just enforce forehead barcoding for all.
Methinks peak road maintenance is in the rear view mirror too.

It would be simple to read an electric vehicle's odometer during annual inspections and when cars are bought and sold. Law enforcement can already quickly pull up a car's inspection report and insurance in our state. Charge an annual tax for mileage and vehicle weight, the way many commercial vehicles are taxed. Also, tracking vehicles that use high maintenance roads seems more fair than charging drivers for roads they never use. Most of my fuel tax dollars go to maintain roads Like I-40 and city or coastal roads that I never use. Let the folks who cause wear to (and benifit from) these highways pay more for their repairs, etc.. Why should I pay for someone else's commuting road that gets far more wear than our rural roads?

Charging different rates for different vehicles would be a fair way to incentivize smaller vehicles.

As for privacy issues, most folks use credit/debit cards for fuel (and other) purchases, easily trackable; time, place, type and amount of purchase. Only a few folks I know use cash to avoid the big brother factor. Any expectation of privacy flew the coop long ago. Smile at the cameras, folks!

The reason states want to track vehicles via GPS is because they don't have the authority to tax people on miles driven in other states. This wouldn't be an issue in, say, Hawaii, but for the rest...they have to have a way of determining where the miles were driven.

Some states already do this with trucks, for the same reason.

A lot of this problem would go away if the tax was on a federal level. Then they'd only have to worry about miles driven outside the country. Perhaps they could check the odometer at the border. They already check just about everything else.

But yeah, privacy is a joke these days. EZ-Pass has already been used to fire people (because it proved they weren't where they claimed to be), in divorce cases (because it showed people were frequently at their lovers' homes, despite their denying having affairs), and in criminal cases (proving suspects were at the scene of the crime).

But all this is dwarfed by how they can track you via your cell phone. People will happily give up their privacy for convenience.

"People will happily give up their privacy for convenience.

They'll also give up privacy to save money. Witness the 'discount' cards most stores give you to get the 'sale' prices. Many have fuel savings incentives; our local grocer gives one cent off per gallon for each $10 you accumulate on your card, up to 20 cents off per gallon. Just scan your discount card at their pump prior to pumping. Those who pay cash out at the pumps now have to go through an inconvenient menu to avoid scanning a card :-/

I can't be bothered with those grocery store gas discounts. I don't buy enough groceries or gas to make it worth my while. But I know people who go to extremes to get those discounts, which can be much higher than 20 cents a gallon in some places.

One trick they use: buy gift cards at the grocery store for anything else you need, to pump up your grocery store spending. They have gift cards for all kinds of things: Starbucks, cell phone minutes, iTunes, WalMart, restaurants, Amazon, Best Buy, etc. One woman I know has a business repairing and renting apartments. She buys Lowes gift cards at the grocery store and uses them to buy building materials, appliances, etc. for her apartments. Sometimes she spends thousands a month, and has so many gas cards she can't use them all and gives them to friends and family.

Because the way the program works is you get the discount per purchase, people try to wait until their gas tanks are empty, and also bring empty gas cans to fill up. The grocery store gas station can be a madhouse at the end of the month, when a lot of people have to use their discounts before they expire.

Yeah, I don't even bother with a cell phone anymore. It isn't so much about privacy, but part of an overall plan to reduce complexity, costs, and reliance on complex systems. My daughter used to call me a dinosaur, but now says I'm proof that folks can live happy, fuller lives without all of the crap we're sold as solutions. I do most of my grocery shopping at a small, independent market and roadside stands, use cash (or trade). I don't miss any of the stuff so many folks consider important... not one bit. I get far more satisfaction from trading, say, several raspberry plants for a pair of kiwi fruit vines (as I did Saturday) than swiping a card for food and stuff. It's hard to explain to most folks. What will they do when all of these things begin to collapse around them?

I couldn't agree more, and complexity is going to do the system in, blindsiding a lot of people.

We still have cell phones but mostly for emergencies. I get a whole 10 minutes per month on my plan. But, we stopped getting TV a decade or so ago and I think we've been to two movies over the last 20 years. It's often interesting when city people visit because one of their questions is invariably "what do you do?" meaning how do we spend our free time. Well, there is always reading a book or productive work to do but we don't do stuff just to pass the time.

We buy a lot of our food at a food co-op but search for sales at mainstream stores and COSTCO to save money. Buying in bulk is the only way to go. There's an old survival saying, "Two is one, one is none."

While it may not be a picnic for those of us who live in a different reality, it is going to be hell for the vast majority of people who will be forced to change the way they live.


Why not just tax fuel - heavier vehicles use more. Get the EV's at registration time, but these will be small volumes of lighter vehicles and are not going to even be measurable in regards to road damage for a long time (i.e. never). Tax the heck out of trucks, which have log books. None of this will happen, because anything beneficial that might be done can be vetoed by someone's entrenched power base, and the system is too weak to overcome that.

As for privacy, you have none. The present corporate & governmental system can find you if they want to - that should be obvious. But it all depends on multiple highly complex systems. When things really hit the fan and huge numbers of people are dislocated by political, economic and climate change chaos, when pieces of those system that few really understand stop functioning, then I don't see how such tracking will work. Over reliance on complex highly technical systems, many of which are are not so much as designed but just grew amorphously and are poorly understood, is a major vulnerability in my opinion.

I'm not sure we should tax the hell out of trucks. Yes, they do more damage than cars, but in the long run, trucks delivering goods might be a better use for roads than people driving cars. Everyone benefits from trucks, even those who don't own cars. Assuming they buy groceries or other goods delivered by truck. In a world where cars are becoming increasingly unaffordable, roads will be more and more for trucks.

*IF* trucks are used, then someone has to pay for their damage. Why not the user and have it show up in the price of goods ?

In 2009, $61.6 billion was transferred from General funds and other unrelated taxes to build & maintain highways.

That transfer could be cut substantially is even half the truck ton-miles were transferred to trucks.

Note: Delivery trucks, from local rail served warehouse to store, are often smaller, with lower axle loads than "18 wheelers".


So even tho they do more damage, the rest should subsidize them? Make them pay for the use, then pass the cost along. I'm sure they will. The "benefit to everybody" is explicitly tied to your consumption and how much you may or may not produce for yourself.

Well, roads are subsidized anyway. If we're doing that, should they be for rich people who can afford cars, or for everyone?

I've always felt the weak point of cars was not the price of gasoline, but that they need roads. $5 or $10 or even $50 gas is not going to stop Bill Gates from driving. The lack of roads will. Even he cannot afford to pay for his own Interstate system. But at some point, people who can't afford to drive are going to resent paying for roads for those who can.

Well lets not get carried away. Roads existed for thousands of years before the car was even a dream.

The lane-miles in a middling size US state dwarf all the paved roads of the Roman Empire.


These are all fairly narrow one or two lane roads. 8' wide was supposed to be the minimum and some were 23' wide.



True, and they were often "turnpikes." So called because a sharp pointed barrier blocked the road until you paid the toll. A lot of roads in the northeast now still have little houses along them, that were where the tollkeeper lived.

The tolls were often so high that ordinary people could not afford them. People would wait until the river froze, rather than pay the bridge toll.

There's certainly some logic there. If the roads were primarily for freight, then you could make the argument that everyone benefits from their use and they should be supported by tax revenues. The problems of perceived unfairness come in when only some people drive personal automobiles, and when freight is handled by private corporations using public infrastructure to make profit.

EDIT: I suppose you'd still have issues of rural vs. metropolitan areas, as it would cost more per-capita to get freight to rural areas. And if we don't tax truck freight, then how do we encourage it to move by rail?

Benefits accruing to the public which are not directly proportional to consumption: Fire trucks, ambulances, garbage trucks, postal vehicles, utility vehicles, transit vehicles, etc. It's not difficult to imagine it being more energy efficient for groceries, etc. to be delivered from warehouse store(after tweaking your standing online order) to the walkable corner community store.

Of course, only 1/3rd of direct road costs in the U.S. are currently covered by fuel taxes, anyway.

It's not difficult to imagine it being more energy efficient for groceries, etc. to be delivered from warehouse store(after tweaking your standing online order) to the walkable corner community store.

Yes. That was the old pattern, sort of. Towns were often located where transportation was convenient: along a river, rail line, or highway.

One reason roads are deteriorating so rapidly is that this pattern has eroded, thanks to Amazon and eBay. Now, rather than people driving to malls or downtowns to shop, goods are being delivered door to door. That means a lot more trucks on roads that were not designed for them.

when pieces of those systems that few really understand stop functioning, then I don't see how such tracking will work. Over reliance on complex highly technical systems

I think the satellites are the weak point. There was an article I saw recently that said we are in danger of losing our weather forecasting capabilities because the satellites are getting ancient in satellite-years and there is no money to replace them.

Some years back (late 90s?) there was a satellite that went offline and half the credit cards in the nation all of a sudden couldn't be run through, the processing links gone. In those days there wasn't yet all the GPS, and cell phones, and store "club" cards, etc etc. A satellite outage of the same relative magnitude today would shut down so much more.

It is a matter of priorities. And since GPS is a military technology, you can be assured that the money to keep it running will always be there.

A few years ago, I posted a link to another forum in wich the issue was discussed "who will pay for the new round of sattelites?". Aparently, the GPS satelites are overdue for a replacement cycle, but who shall pay for it is not settled, and everything is delayed.

Anyone got the latest news on this?

One bird went up in july last year, next due this september. Contracts awarded for series III and have passed design review to be on track for 2014 launch.


I can't be bothered with those grocery store gas discounts.


I was looking for articles about name swapping or using a fake name to sign up for the loyalty cards but none lept out at me.

Fake name, that's a terrorist act, isn't it?


Those who pay cash out at the pumps now have to go through an inconvenient menu

Anybody else seen this lovely little gambit?

Our local Chevron:

Chevron credit card $4.29 a gallon
Cash $4.39 a gallon

That, and the grocery discounts when using the "membership" cards, show how valuable your privacy is when put up for sale.

show how valuable your privacy is when put up for sale.

Pay in cash Mr. "Don Juan". That is your name based on the loyalty card - right?

I don't think most states have annual inspections.

I think EVs should eventually pay a "per mile" fee but with the teeny-tiny number of them on the road today, such a system is more hassle than it is worth. Just charge them a $100 flat annual fee for now and move to a per mile system when the number of EVs on the road becomes statistically significant.

As usual, the best thing to do would be to raise the gas tax. This encourages efficiency, raises money on bases proportional to mileage/efficiency, is easy to do, etc. But it is just so politically difficult.

Privacy? What's that?
My Ford comes with an EULA. It means Ford and Microsoft own all my info.
Big-time gambler? Like X-rated films? Don't use your credit card.



I pay cash for many purchases.

Raise the gas tax and charge EVs a flat $100/year fee. That will work fine for now. They are just too cowardly to raise the gas tax which is the most obvious solution.

You are correct, but where does that leave us? Politically raising the gas tax will not happen, period. They could have avoided the whole increase in CAFE requirements if they'd been willing to just add a big tax to accomplish the same goal, but as you say, they won't.

That being the case, how do we pay for highway maintenance? Because it's not going to be a gas tax even if it should be.

That is an interesting observation . . . . they raised the CAFE standard to avoid doing the better policy of raising the gas tax. But by raising CAFE standards, people end up using less gasoline so they need to raise the gas tax anyway! It seems the CAFE standards are an unnecessary step.

"It seems the CAFE standards are an unnecessary step."

Yes. Except that they were necessary because many politicians, drunk on their messiah complexes, want to show you who's boss of every little detail of your life (hint: it's not you.) Consider, for example, every New Yorker's supercilious, overbearing helicopter-Mommy-and-Daddy - namely Mayor Bloomberg.

Baloney. If they wanted to show who's boss, they just would have raised the gas tax. They can't because they are terrified.

how do we pay for highway maintenance?

In 2009, we transferred $61.6 billion from General Funds and other unrelated taxes to road maintenance & building.


The big money in transportation isn't in maintenance, it is in growth. The incremental cost of expanding the capacity of the system has gotten very high. The gas tax would be sufficient if all it had to pay for was maintenance instead, it has been used to subsidize growth. It is just another part of the financial system growth ponzi.

And then there is the EZ-Tag scams. In the Boston area, they "forgot" to take down the toll booths on I-90 after the original bond was paid back. They decided that those people were good payers, so they now help pay off the "Big Dig", which is a different high way. Some of those people never drive on that road. But, if the only people paying for these repairs and upgrades, were the heavy users of those exact roads, the money wouldn't be there. Just like all other social programs (health care), gotta get a big net to pay for some wanted things. As we slip down the other side of Peak Oil, we may notice more of these big nets coming up short, that we never noticed before.

In America, whenever there's the threat of new taxes for some public good, a critical mass of people show up at the voting booth to vote "R." Then those guys come in and make sure there are no new taxes, only debt, and whatever taxes there are which are still remaining, usually regressive, go to corporate subsidies.

Of course, if those people voted "D" they would be impoverished by the new taxes, which would not be used for anything genuinely productive, but merely for pet projects or paying off some bureaucrat or intellectual to pretend as if they're doing something.

The net result: there will never be new taxes in America, and whatever taxes there are will be wasted.

Road tunnel in Brisbane (Queensland, Australia) did not get the assumed traffic. Now:

Clem7 tunnel investors launch $150m class action

I documented everything here:


Thanks for the great link "North South Bypass Tunnel (Clem7) Brisbane".

Thanks for providing the documentation of that saga. Looks like the pool of banks are going to own the tunnel more directly than they thought.

A couple of goods stories that fell through the cracks last month:

This ted talk delves into why human beings have an optimism bias and why they are unlikely to accept bad news (like Peak Oil). It's very interesting and suggests that optimistic people are happier even when their expectations are trampled on by reality... Optimism is almost like a euphoria drug that may even be an evolutionary feature to help humans cope and survive to reproduce.
TED TALK: Optimism Bias

Are we born to be optimistic, rather than realistic? Tali Sharot shares new research that suggests our brains are wired to look on the bright side -- and how that can be both dangerous and beneficial.

The next article was interesting because it looked at juvenile development and reproduction timing from an energy lens. It also has some really cool data on indigenous tribes populations.

Sci Am: Trade Time and Energy So You Can Live Slow

Starting from the pooled energy budgets model resolves a lot of the bickering that can occur about which ecological factor is “most” important to reproduction. The reality is, no matter how much I and others love to talk about inflammation, stress, immune function and other stuff, all of these factors ultimately impact the body through allocation of resources – through energy. The pooled energy budget concept gives a space for all these factors, and a useful framework to understand them.

Thank you, that was a very informative article. I am the extended family gardener, by default. I am the one who planted 200 feet of potatoes and I will be the person to hoe them up. I'm not eating that many potatoes. They will be shared among a dozen people. The article goes a way to explain why I felt impelled to do this, given that a sack of organic spuds is not all that expensive.

Little Red Hen syndrome?

Pardon me, but that's exactly the sort of spurious put-down that causes me to be an infrequent poster here.

Here's what I wrote about about growing energy crops (potatoes, heirloom corn, wheat, malting barley, beans and peas) by hand last year:

Celt's Garden - Food from Around Here (http://transitionwhatcom.ning.com/profiles/blogs/celt-s-garden-food-from...)

It's one thing to talk about growing calorie crops on a small amount of land, with minimal time and inputs, another to grab a hoe and do it. This is my second year, so I have a lot better idea of what works.

I read your blog and found it interesting. Clearly a novice, giving it a try on a small plot (1/8th acre) of land.

Your initial success bodes well for the many millions that may need to do the same under "more compelling circumstances".

Please do not be offput, I hope to hear more from you.

Best Hopes for Sharing,


Yeah, thanks for speaking up, Hamster.

It only takes one tiny sharp pebble to make walking unbearable.. but there are more than a few here who really DO appreciate hopeful signs of what people are trying to do.

I don't actually have any idea what the Red Hen comment is supposed to mean.. but keep growing stuff, and keep coming to TOD if you can stand it. It would be a real tragedy if the perpetual naysayers got the whole run of the place.. keeping a productive state of mind is not a form of mental illness, no matter what they tell you!

The little red hen is a story where she was left to bake bread on her own when everyone made excuses. As soon as the bread was ready, everyone "would have helped, really", and could they please have some bread.

Jjhman is querying why one person (you) is working, but a dozen other people who appear to have done nothing to help get potatoes as well. I assume it's more complicated than that.

Right. Thanks for the reminder.. don't think I've heard that story in a long time.

It may well be that there's an unfortunate minimum of people doing this kind of work yet, and JJH was merely pointing that out.. but we also have to decide whether we'll use honey or something else to draw more of them in.

But I didn't get the idea that Hamster's people weren't also contributing their shares somehow..

Hi Alan, Richard and jokul, thank you very much for your kind thoughts and encouragement. I greatly appreciate it. After all, the supermarkets are full of food, and working so hard to grow it is clearly nuts. Except, of course, that we have lost so many regional varieties that we have a whole learning curve, figuring out what to grow, and how, and how to process it and cook with it.

Gardening gives you the abilities of the supermarkets to produce food, but in a much more interesting and personal way... it is a type of magic these days.

The quality from the garden is significantly better.

And the entire process is more real.

An analogy that strikes me:

Supermarket = Disney movie

Garden = Local college play by Shakespeare or other great playwright

Bets Hopes for Less Plastic in our lives,


Speaking of potatoes in small spaces, Ghung, how did your crop of potatoes in bags do last year? Was there any difference between the productivity of black bags vs white bags? IIRC you sad you had about 100 square feet of potatoe bags, how many Kgs did you produce?

Romney wrong on Solyndra facts

Solyndra is bad enough on its own. Romney shouldn't lie to make it worse.

[Romney:] "An independent inspector general looked at this investment and concluded that the Administration had steered money to friends and family and campaign contributors."..

Small problem: No inspector general ever "concluded" such a thing, at least not based on any written reports or public statements.

Lyin' sacks of [insert personal preference for foul matter here]... which is why I'm sure there will be no top-down, political solutions to our myriad problems/predicaments.

I watched some of Mitten's press conference, but stopped when he made some obvious incorrect statements. For example, he motioned toward the building and suggested that it had cost $500 million, which, of course, it did not. That money went for the equipment and it's operation. Besides, the original application for Solyndra was filed during the Bush administration, as I recall.

Oh, I expect that when TSHTF, there will be a "top down solution". As in, a hard rain's going to fall. Perhaps delivered to your door step by a Predator or a group of armed "regulators" with night vision and automatic weapons in their hands. Remember what happened in East Germany, where it's said that half the population was spying on the other half, except that now such monitoring can be done by computers half a world away...

E. Swanson

Willard doesn't make incorrect statements; he flat-out lies, more than any pol I've ever seen.


'Willard the rat' or if you prefer Nostradamus' MABUS (MAssachusetts BUSinessman) does lie a lot, and that's got me wondering why he's so close in the polls to Obama. How can he be so close this early in the race? He offers nothing except lies to try and defeat his opponent and suggests a 20% tax cut. Anyone have an idea of what would happen to the debt if that occurred? We'd charge past 20 trillion in his first year of office. We'd go past 30 before his first term was up.

One of the lies he told that I thought was pretty funny was a clip I saw on MSNBC of his interview with Sean Hannity on Fox, when he told Sean their dog loved to ride up on top of the car and wanted to ride up there all the time.

...and that's got me wondering why he's so close in the polls to Obama. How can he be so close this early in the race?

Speaking from one of the acknowledged swing states... 30% of the voters who won't vote for anyone with a D behind their name; 8.2% national headline unemployment despite labor force participation being back down to the 1980 level; gasoline prices still north of $3.60/gal.

One of the Romney-associated PACs is running a fairly good short emotional ad about the deficit and the debt on local TV here. So far, it looks to me like the Republicans are succeeding in making this election be about problems under Obama rather than about Romney solutions. If they can continue to make those be the terms of the debate, Romney has a reasonable chance.

The fact is that the electorial college outlook favors the incumbent significantly. The challenger has to pull three of four swings and he's only just breaking even in one.

It does snot pay to watch our US "horse race" political coverage. It's breathless and absurd really.

True fights are in congress and state houses, IMHO.

What do you expect? Mittens is just running for the office of Liar-in-Chief and is working on improving his skills, so he will be ready to talk to the Europeans, the Russians and the Chinese as another player in the latest version of The Great Game...

E. Swanson

Wharf Rat:
Out of the whole bunch, I would say Obama is the biggest liar. Why? Because his lies count...he pretends to be progressive, and then does nothing but bail out the banks and military.

Everybody knows the Republicans lie.

It's more dangerous when politicians such as Obama lie, because unsuspecting and naive individuals such as yourself believe it.

Naked Capitalism had it right: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/05/barack-obama-the-great-deceiver.html

I think people tend to place their own progressive beliefs onto Obama when he really doesn't share them as much as people think he does. When he campaigned in 2008, he made it clear that although he opposed the Iraq war and wanted to end it that he would escalate the Afghan war. And he did escalate that war much the chagrin of many.

He certainly has compromised from many of his more progressive plans . . . but that is what you have to do to get anything done. The permanent GOP filibuster requires that.

I think people tend to place their own progressive beliefs onto Obama when he really doesn't share them as much as people think he does

I'd hate to see TOD become a political fight'n place.....BUT.....

Given the hold of the moneyed interests on the national and global level and the 'traditional position' of 'progressives' VS said monied interests - who's gonna hold that top office and be "for" the progressives and live to tell the tale?

Relax OS. This isn't a contest that'll have winners (only losers); it's a race to the bottom. Kunstler pretty much nailed it this morning:

Both parties need to be rebuked, humiliated, and probably dismantled so that this country can get on with the business of trying to become civilized. Charlotte, NC, (the Democrats) and Tampa, FLA, (Republicans) are the venues for these dumbshows. I hope to be there running a pitchfork concession.

Obama is a Raygun Republican who campaigns as a populist Dem. He fooled me last time.

Small problem: No inspector general ever "concluded" such a thing, at least not based on any written reports or public statements.

I must say, it is quite disconcerting to hear him say such blatant falsehoods. Is it based sheer cynical thinking that they know no one will call them on it? Or is it merely the fact that they are living in their own bubble world wherein they take all their party-line rhetoric as established fact? Neither one reflects well upon the campaign but the latter is downright scary. I'd like my politicians to have good grasp of the real reality is even when they spin the truth for their own gain.

Given a tame media, they think those trying to call out the lies can be marginalized. So far the tactic -ever more blatant lies, plus very aggressive nastiness against those who would call them out, has worked quite well. So unless something changes bigtime with respect to the integrity of our system for informing the average voter, the chances are the technique will continue to bear (political) fruit.

Iran Calls on OPEC to Keep Output Ceiling, Press TV Says

This piece also quotes Iraq saying they agree with the prospect of no ceiling change. The NY Times says Iraq is gearing up for a scenario where they may just change their minds on that issue.

Not likely. From your blog of August 2010: Iraq: World's Number One Oil Producer?

Production from Iraq is the wild card. The current target of 12 million barrels a day by 2016 would make Iraq the world’s number one producer, potentially increasing global spare capacity and sending the oil price down. However, numerous legal, security and administrative problems hinder this development.

Iraq averaged 2.666 mb/d, crude only, in 2011. In April they had increase production by almost 8 percent above that figure. However Nasdaq says Iraqi oil production fell slightly in May. They are way, way behind their schedule to produce 12 mb/d by 2016.

But more important is the fact that they have no new fields to draw all this new oil from. It all is supposed to come from infield drilling in their older fields. They think that if they simply drill four times as many wells in the same oil patch, they can produce four times as much oil. Here is where they plan on getting is all, and there is not one new oil patch in the group. From Stuart Staniford's TOD thread of 6 January 2010.

Field(s) Plateau (mbd) Co. Resv (gb) Depletion Fee ($/b) Links
Rumaila 2.85 BP, CNPC 17 6.1% $2.00 1
West Qurna Ph I 2.33 Exxon, Shell 8.7 9.8% $1.90 1, 2
West Qurna Ph II 1.8 Lukoil, Statoil 13 5.1% $1.15 1
Majnoon 1.8 Shell, Petronas 12.6 5.2% $1.39 1, 2, 3
Halfaya 0.535 CNPC, Total, Petronas 4.1 4.8% $1.40 1, 2, 3
Zubair 1.125 ENI, Kogas, Occidental 6.6 6.2% $2.00 1, 2
Gharaf 0.23 Petronas, Japex 0.86 9.8% $1.49 1, 2
Badra 0.17 Gazprom, Petronas, Kogas 0.8 7.8% $5.50 1, 2, 3
Al-Ahdab 0.115 CNPC N/A N/A $3 1
Qaiyarah 0.12 Sonangol 0.8 5.5% $5.00 1, 2
Najmah 0.11 Sonangol 0.9 4.5% $6.00 1, 2
Total 11.185 65.36

Bottom line, 12 mb/d will never happen. Hell not even 6 mb/d will ever happen. 5 mb/d? Perhaps but not for very long. doubling the oil production from the same fields will only increase the already very high depletion rate.

Ron P.


You said:

... your blog of August 2010 ...

The NY Times article I quoted in today's post says:

The Iraqi government says it can add an additional 400,000 barrels a day of production by next year, and it has announced a goal of producing 10 million barrels a day by 2017, which would put it in a league with Saudi Arabia ... Few independent analysts say they believe the larger goal is realistic, but oil company executives have been impressed by Iraq’s progress and ambition.

(Iraq: World's Number One Oil Producer?). It has been obvious to some of us for years that the Iraq war was about oil, and now the reality is in the radar.

The classified covert work going on can't keep it hidden for very many more years.

The point of the series is to elucidate upon the notion that the Iraq invasion was not about 9/11 attacks on the U.S. by Iraq, because the U.S. government knows that 79% of the 9/11 hijackers (15 of 19) were bankrolled by Saudi Arabia, but zero percent by Iraq.

government knows that 79% of the 9/11 hijackers (15 of 19) were bankrolled by Saudi Arabia, but zero percent by Iraq.

You have asserted this before, and I think you are overselling the conspiracy angle. I find the use of the term 'bankrolled' especially misleading and objectionable in this context.

If you were to say '100% of the Oklahoma City bombers were bankrolled by the United States of America' you could readily see the absurdity of your own statement.

Was the U.S. invasion of Iraq a war for oil? Quite possibly, but all I can say for sure at this point is this: if it was a war for oil, it was a total bust.

For oil? Maybe. For profit. Yes.

Our policy from WW2 onward (earlier if you count British policy) has been to destroy any potential competition from the arab world and ensure that backward hill billy leadership like the house of Saudi prevailed. So we make sure all the wealth goes to clowns that will play the game and waste it. While western companies come in and skim mega profits.

Iraqi oil reserves were upgraded significantly after invasion. And their production cost is cheap compared to the marginal barrel ($2 compared to $90ish). That big chunk of oil that had been kept off market via sanctions seems really quite valuable in peak oil terms. Good thing western companies got in on that cash cow.


You said:

You have asserted this before, and I think you are overselling the conspiracy angle. I find the use of the term 'bankrolled' especially misleading and objectionable in this context.

The fact is I am quoting two U.S. Senators, one from the 9/11 Commission, one the head of the Senate Committee overseeing the 9/11 Commission's work product, investigative reporters, CIA agent, and about 20 law firms who represent about 20 insurance companies who paid out billions of dollars to cover the damages, and the other victim's relatives as plaintiffs in the lawsuit who are suing Saudi Arabia.

It is a federal lawsuit that has been going on for years, and the testimony has been given under oath.

I provided two videos of the discussion on Hardball, and Morning Joe on MSNBC, showing it is anything but a "conspiracy theory", the phrase used to denigrate anything anyone dislikes these daze. These people who are in the public light, and have been for a decade, are the ones saying unequivocally that the Saudi involvement is being covered up by the U.S. government.

The court documents include briefs by the DOJ, and they do not deny the involvement, they argue instead that Saudi Arabia is immune from suit.

You also said:

Was the U.S. invasion of Iraq a war for oil? Quite possibly, but all I can say for sure at this point is this: if it was a war for oil, it was a total bust.

Iraq was the number two producer in OPEC recently, but was double-digits down from that in production when the Iraq war started.

Here is a poem for you, which says what the lawsuit in federal court is all about:

Jack and Jill went up the hill
each had a dollar and a quarter
Jill came down with two and a half
do you think they went up for water?

It is a bad habit to attack the messenger because you don't like the message.

No one has ever questioned the fact that "Saudis" not "Saudi Arabia" bankrolled 9/11. After all Bin Laden was a Saudi. Your posts are misleading, giving the impression that the Saudi Arabian Government bankrolled the attack. I think you know better than that.

Iraq was the number two producer in OPEC recently, but was double-digits down from that in production when the Iraq war started.

Iraq barley out produced Iran in 1988 and 1989 but in no other year since IEA records were started in 1970. Iraq peaked in 1979 at 3,477,000 barrels per day. It would not surprise me if that would remain the peak.

"The next time we go to war for oil, get some oil." Bill Maher

Ron P.


You said:

No one has ever questioned the fact that "Saudis" not "Saudi Arabia" bankrolled 9/11. After all Bin Laden was a Saudi. Your posts are misleading, giving the impression that the Saudi Arabian Government bankrolled the attack. I think you know better than that.

If you had read the federal court documents in the case, like I have, which I quote from, you would realize that you are the one who is being misleading, and very incorrect about my position.

The lawsuit, brought by very large and reputable lawfirms, is against the Saudi Arabian government, and against various royals too. The testimony of U.S. Senators who pointed out the Saudi involvement was given under oath, under penalty of perjury, which is what Scooter Libby was convicted of. They are not perjuring themselves, and as head of the Senate Intelligence Committee the one Senator has more information than you or I, so I defer to him on this issue. At least until there is valid reason (fearful doubt does not qualify) to no longer consider it. The DOJ is not denying Saudi Government involvement, they are saying they are a sovereign nation and therefore immune from the lawsuit.

You are saying, or at least implying, that the Saudi Government was directly involved in the planning and execution of the attacks on 9/11. I don't believe that the DOJ has said any such thing. Not denying it is simply a negative cannot be proven either way, like not denying that there is a teapot in orbit around Pluto.

Did the DOJ say that the Saudi Government was involved in the attacks of 9/11? Of course some silly Congressman or Senator may have said such, that proves nothing just as Senator Joseph McCarthy proved. From Wiki:

After three largely undistinguished years in the Senate, McCarthy rose suddenly to national fame in February 1950 when he asserted in a speech that he had a list of "members of the Communist Party and members of a spy ring" who were employed in the State Department. McCarthy was never able to prove his sensational charge.

No, I don't believe for one minute that the Saudi Arabian Government was involved in the attacks of 9/11 and I don't believe you have access to any DOJ document that says they were. And what any Senator may say could very well be hogwash.

Ron P.


I guess you are saying that since McCarthy said something sensational all Senators cannot be believed. Straw man, ad hominem, and guilt by association. Which is sensational in and of itself.

You should read the documents before you make fearful statements.

The lawsuit is by major insurance companies represented by major lawfirms. The Senators who testified under oath are not the plaintiffs, they are simply witnesses.

This link shows a third main stream media program that carried the story, as well as a general and an economist who feel that some very strange things are going on.

Like I said, the DOJ is only saying that even if Saudi Arabian government agents did it, they can't be sued in federal court.

Your anger evinces fear. I guess that is a good sign, because it would damn sure be fearful to me too. But not so fearful as to prevent me from listening before deciding one way or the other.

Edit: here are three cases in the federal court in New York (Manhattan) that are suing the kingdom: Vigilant Insurance Co., et al. v. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, et al., Case No. 03-CV-08591; Pacific Employers Insurance, et al. v. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, et al., Case No. 04-CV-7216; Estate of John P. O’Neill, Sr., et al. v. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. O'Neill was the FBI official who retired to become security official at the World Trade Center two weeks before 9/11. He was a counter-terrorist specialist who worked on middle east terrorist issues, and was killed while saving other lives on 9/11.

These depletion rates make my head spin:

We have OPEC with 1193 billion barrels of reserves with a production of around 34 million barrels/day for a depletion rate of 1.0%.
We have non-OPEC with 274 billion barrels of reserves with a production of around 40 million barrels/day for a depletion rate of 5.3%.
Then we have Stuarts table above showing selected Iraqi fields with a predicted weighted average depletion rate of 7.1%.

I've heard Rockman's explanation that every oil region is different, so depletion rates are all over the map. But I still think the above numbers are ridiculous and have yet to hear a logical reason why OPEC depletion rates are so low.

OPEC's stated reserves are artificially inflated. Several OPEC countries began increasing their reserves in the 1980's without any corresponding discoveries and have not subtracted the oil they have produced. 1.193 trillion barrels for OPEC is more like an overestimate of their ultimately recoverable resource.

Middle East OPEC reserves revisited, The Oil Drum, Euan Mearns, December 3, 2010

Frugal, I am not sure but I think you are misreading the chart. Those are the percentage of depletion that the Iraqis say the fields have undergone since being brought on line many, many years ago, not the decline rate. However that percentage of depletion is totally in fantasy land. Those fields have been on line for over half a century and to only have depleted that much is beyond belief.

However it is possible that the Iraqis really believe that those fields are only very slightly depleted. Or, perhaps they don't believe that at all. Which means they are either fools or they are lying.

Ron P.

Frugal, I am not sure but I think you are misreading the chart.

Ron, I think I am reading the chart correctly. Take the first entry Rumaila for example:
Reserves = 17 billion barrels
Plateau production = 2.85 million barrels/day
Depletion rate = 2,850,000 * 365 / 17,000,000,000 = 6.1%

Also keep in mind the difference between depletion rate and decline rate:
Depletion rate = fraction of current reserves used up in a year.
Decline rate = year-over-year production reduction

Yes indeed you are reading the chart correctly. My mistake, sorry. But there is a caveat here. Rumaila is producing at nowhere near 2.85 mb/d and never will.

China's CNPC says Iraqi subsidiary produced 2.6 mil mt crude in Jan

Rumaila registered the highest production rate for the year in January 2011 when output hit 1.217 million b/d. But for the following 11 months the average rate was around 1.08 million b/d, which is only 14,000 b/d above the startup contractual baseline production rate of 1.066 million b/d.

Still at that rate depletion is quite high. And all that massive infill drilling could increase production by perhaps half a million barrels per day if they are lucky. But just sucking the oil out faster will only increase the depletion rate and declines should set in very soon.

Note: Many have argued that Iraq is not in decline. But they have declined considerably since they peaked at 3.477 mb/d. But they have plateaued since then, marred by several large dips due to war.

One could make the same argument that the US is not in decline because US production has increased by almost one million barrels per day in the last four years. But we are still a long way away from our peak of 9.637 mb/d in 1970.

Anyway, all this infill drilling in very old Iraqi fields will boost production somewhat but at the expense of increasing depletion. And when the decline sets in in just a few years it will hit them hard.

Edit: Notice that they list the reserves of all their major fields at 65.36 billion barrels. That does not match their recent claimed proven reserves of 143.1 billion barrels. Anyway they list Rumaila at 17 billion barrels. If that is true then they could eventually produce 2.85 billion barrels from that field. But it is extremely unlikely that Rumaila has much more than half that. Which means that, even with infill drilling, the field will likely reach a new (secondary) peak of about 1.5 mb/d.

Ron P.

No one talked about the most obvious yet, depletion and reserves. I assume they calculate depletion in proportion to the reserve so 6.1% of 17Gb means they have procuded 0.976Gb so far.

In such case I could understand why they are so optimistic.

I guess best estimate of future production could be made by observing how well it is going for these fields. They developed by western companies trying to produce as much oil as possible and are located in the middle of middle east where spare capacity is supposed to located.

No, Frugal just explained where they got the 6.1% depletion rate:

IF they were able to actually produce 285,000 barrels per day...

And IF Rumaila actually contained 17 billion barrels of recoverable reserves, then...

They would be depleting that field at a rate of 6.1 percent per year.

I assure you that Rumaila has produced a lot more than 976 million barrels in its very long history of oil production. South Rumaila alone has over 8 billion barrels of cumulative production and North Rumaila is even larger:

The BP/China National joint venture has hard redevelopment work facing it

North Rumaila has over 500 wells of which about 300 are or were recently on production. South Rumaila has over 250 wells of which 150 are or were recently on production. The depth of the wells range from 10,200 feet to 10,300 feet (true vertical depth). From their positions on the map, they could easily constitute one field separated by an impervious zone around the middle. This is a common feature of many fields in the Middle East. In August of 2008, the Journal of Petroleum Technology published an engineering performance report on South Rumania. At that time cumulative production was about 8 billion barrels and it appeared another 4 billion barrels could be recovered by allowing the water/oil ratio to climb without limit until the year 2030....

But Northern Rumaila being larger, remaining reserves could be as high as 6 billion barrels. Thus the more realistic estimate of remaining reserves is not 17 but 10 billion barrels.

Bold mine. I would have guessed 8 billion barrels... and still do. But even if 10 billion barrels is correct then Rumaila is still two thirds depleted with 8 billion barrels cumulative from South Rumaila and about 12 billion barrels cumulative from North Rumaila.

Ron P.

Re: Nuclear, coal power face climate change risk - study

The full online article in Nature is here. Some of the points I found interesting:

  • The power plants included in the study had to meet several criteria, one of which was that suitable hydrologic information was available. Plants that had their own cooling ponds or reservoirs were excluded. That may have resulted in the exclusion of regionally-important plants that would be affected by climate change. IIRC, the Dallas area has several plants that either had to throttle back last summer, or came very close to it, as a result of low levels in their ponds/reservoirs. The authors didn't include a list of the power plants considered (only a map w/o state boundaries), but it doesn't appear that any from the Dallas area were included.
  • Interesting statement: "Assuming an average lifetime of thermoelectric power plants of 50–60 years16, more than 60% of the power plants in our data set will still be operating in 2030." At least in the case of US nuclear, and assuming a 60-year lifetime, a substantial majority of the existing nukes still operating in 2030 will be shut down by 2040, with a much larger impact on their output than restrictions on water use.
  • As is typical of so many articles about electricity supply problems in the US, the Western Interconnect is either (a) ignored, or (b) not affected. Only a couple of plants from the Texas Interconnect are included. In the US, the authors appear to have confined themselves to the Eastern Interconnect. Based on their maps, most of the problems in the US are going to occur to the south and east of a line from roughly El Paso to Milwaukee and then straight east. And Mexico really gets hammered in terms of water temp increases -- as if Mexico doesn't have enough other problems to worry about.

...more than 60% of the power plants in our data set will still be operating in 2030." At least in the case of US nuclear, and assuming a 60-year lifetime, a substantial majority of the existing nukes still operating in 2030 will be shut down by 2040, with a much larger impact on their output than restrictions on water use...

...or "40% won't be operating?" A significant minority...

It is, isn't it? Of course, it's plants being closed, which is not the same as capacity. Here's NREL's map of announced coal-fired closures from 2012 to 2020. Some of these are small obsolete plants already only used during the summer season which are not financially viable candidates for new emission controls. There are presumably more that will be closed between 2020 and 2030.

An interesting question is, "What will the lost capacity be replaced with?" TTBOMK, most of the closures in the Western Interconnect propose using NG in place of the coal. Wind/solar installations are growing steadily in the West, but given population growth, that seems to be more of a "in addition to" coal/NG, rather than "in place of".

I think the real excitement is going to be in the East. Arguably, over the next 25-30 years, a substantial part of their generating capacity will be retired. How are they going to replace it? My own guess is that the East will see much bigger doses of austerity than the West and Texas. Austerity can take any or all of several forms: higher prices, mandatory conservation measures, rationing in one form or another (scheduled blackouts being a particularly nasty form).

O.K. this one got to me.

Bloomberg: Why U.S. Airlines Need to Adapt to a Slow-Growth Future

Yet U.S. airlines face a long-term challenge that should concern industry executives as well as investors. That impediment isn’t wages, fuel prices or a stagnant economy. It’s growth in demand for air travel, which has been anemic at best for more than a decade, even when the economy was expanding.

Does anybody have a chart showing the percent of an airlines total costs attributed to fuel over the years. My point is that the reason the prices are the same and the services are down, is that they are compensating for the rising fuel prices by becoming more efficient (using computers instead of people, packing us in, etc.). The low hanging fruit has been picked though, and as the average price for fuel continuous to rise, they have nowhere to cut. Next will be standing room only, like a subway.

Demand Growth for Air Travel is anemic.

Yet the City of Houston is now pushing a 100 million dollar expansion to their second airport (Hobby).
Why? Because they are counting on future growth in air travel.


Why? Because they are counting on future growth in air travel.


Maybe not - remember the Green River basin has 3 trillion barrels of oil. If we can just get those liberal elite environmentalists out of our way we'll be buying fuel for a dollar a gallon by Xmas! snark.

Why? Because they are counting on future growth in air travel.

No. Because the people who elected the mayor and council are mad at United Airlines (which has a virtual monopoly at IAH). Therefore, they support Southwest Airlines in a dispute with United.

If you've ever traveled on both Southwest and United, you will appreciate one of the reasons Houstonians like Southwest and not United. The other reason is that United, which has been in a death spiral for about a decade, swallowed Continental, which most passengers thought was a pretty decent airline, and moved its headquarters from Houston to Chicago.

$100 million. That's nothin'. Orange County spent $550 million to expand their regional airport. So I guess our fools are even more foolish than yours.

Cozy little Portland, Maine just spent some $75 mil on ours.. while suggestions of monies towards Bus and Trolleys gets hooted out of the room.

It's Bloomberg. What did you expect?

High Gas Prices Raising Airline Ticket Costs

“[R]ising jet fuel costs put significant cost pressure on the airline industry,” Steve Lott, vice present of communications for Airlines for America told CBSDC. “Regarding fuel, it was the airline industry’s largest expense in 2011, representing 35 percent of total costs. In 2011, the price of jet fuel reached a record high of $3.00 per gallon for the year.”

35% is a pretty large cost factor, and airlines are coping by adding fuel surcharges.

See "Figure 5: World airline fuel cost as percent of total operating costs" in Fuel and air transport -- A report for the European Commission

Roughly speaking, fuel costs as a percent of total operating cost started at around 11% in the early '70s, peaked at 29% around 1980, declined to 11% around 1999, and has since risen to 35%.

eastex and all,

you may wish to look at this information found at the following links:

This link says fuels costs are 10-15% of total airline costs:


This link says fuels costs are ~35% of total airline costs:


Here is a PDF report from Europe titled Fuel and Air Transport:


This link says fuels costs are 10-12% of total airline costs:


This PDF has some interesting info, including the claim that airlines have reduced furl burm per average seat-mile by 12.1% from 2000-2005:


U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics:


U.S. DOT Transportation Energy Data Book found at this web site (link right there on top page),Edition 30, 25 June 2011"


Past trends and future predictions for airliner fuel efficiency:






There are many more resources to look at.

I think it is feasible for future airliners to be some 30-50% more fuel-efficient that the best current fielded designs.

I don't think per-capita airline travel will grow a lot, and nor do I think it will become vanishingly small...at least not for the next 20-30 years...after that....there be dragons.

IATA, International Air Transport Association, also has a few articles: http://www.iata.org/pages/search.aspx?q=high%20fuel%20oil%20prices&s=All...

"...I think it is feasible for future airliners to be some 30 to 50% more fuel efficient that (than) the best current fielded designs."

I have to disaggree.

The 787 is a great leap forward in technology, yet only gets at most 15% better fuel economy than the latest model 737, IIRC. As an engineer that worked for an aircraft manufacturer years ago (commercial and military) I see a technological wall to getting significantly better fuel economy, unless one goes for stand up passengers to increase capacity.

The 787 is approaching the efficiency limits for aircraft that fly at mach .85, IMO. Jet engines (actually ducted fan jet engines) are also reaching their thermaldynamic limits for chem energy in vs. mechanical energy out. Ceramic turbine blades have been researched for over 30 years (would allow higher turbine temp & efficiency) but have never proved reliable. The only way I can see aircraft getting more fuel efficient is to go back to turboprops which means slower speeds (mach .50-.60) and lower altitude cruise, but fuel efficiency would go up by at least 25% versus similar sized jet engine aircraft.

The airline industry is already in decline from a traffic standpoint. Boeing has had orders cancelled for its freighter aircraft lately, meaning they have a net order list of ZERO for the first 5 months of this year. I see the passsenger business declining likewise, with slow but continual reduction in passenger traffic starting now, getting down to half of current capacity within 20 years. US and Europe will decline first with Asia and Mideast later, IMO.

I think we are in reasonably close agreement...my statement is blue-sky...a return to turboprops and/or unducted fans on planes operating at slower speeds than today is on the table...


I too cannot envision airline passenger-mile levels /not/decreasing over time...but I also see the industry conducting a big final push to squeeze that last extra ~ 30% or so efficiency out of the future designs...after that, the end of the line wrt efficiency improvements.

Besides improving aircraft efficiency there can be some gains in system efficiency by measures such as:
- reducing queuing and fuel consumption on the ground,
- prioritizing air transport over general aviation for takeoff and landing rights,
- navigating point to point using GPS,
- reducing the frequency of flights and using larger aircraft,
- eliminating routes that don't support high load factors in large aircraft, and by
- eliminating service to airports that don't support high load factors.

Reducing (safety) reserve fuel requirements?

Time to bring back the airships. Too bad we wasted the Helium on party balloons.

One can use lighter than air in a different way:

The flight was powered by liquid hydrogen. Boeing says the fuel is a powerful alternative for vehicles that require endurance, and the combustion leaves only water in the atmosphere.
It took Boeing about four years to get the Phantom Eye to the runway, without the promise of a payout. Boeing does not have a contract on the drone; it is developing the craft at its own expense.

I love it; Peru needs Glacier Loss Monitoring. Which will thereby, due to Actual Statistics, enable them to officially declare that there is an insoluble problem about which nothing can really be done. But the Department of Hopeless Causes Measurement will feel they have at least Done Something.

Peru needs glacier loss mitigating, but that's about a half century late and not going to happen. I'm sure the Peruvians will feel better now that we're 'monitoring'.

They need to monitor the glaciers so people don't steal them.

Glacier "loss mitigation"? What is that? Are they going to move the glaciers to a higher elevation? Or, are they going to be forced to live with less glaciers, as in, less water melting from them each year? Maybe they can pump the river water back up the mountain to keep the glaciers' mass from declining. Oh, wait, that takes energy...

E. Swanson

Glacier "loss mitigation"?

It's a new poltically correct way of explaining away any perceived problems arising from glacial loss. In other words the loss has been mitigated, i.e. reasonably explained away, meaning it never really was a problem in the first place. Many perceptions can be eliminated in this manner - it just requires putting things in a particular context whereby the populace are placated into a confused but accepting state.

There have been some small scale efforts. One guy was making his own "glacier" trapping water in the winter and freezing it. One European ski area covers part of each glacier to preserve it. Cloud seeding could also be sed to increase snowfall. Its not impossible, but the cost of any scaled up program is likely to be prohibitive.

I think people are too dismissive of the proposal to obtain the data. Having a good idea of what will happen -water-supply wise, is useful. At least it provides people with some advanced warning -rather than not realizing the coming problem untill the tap runs dry.

It is an unfortunate reality that despite obvious evidence ablation at the glacier terminus you have to go through the huge expense of gathering legally defensible data to prove the case.

BTW.. there is much more (to glacial melting) than meets the eye. Yes, glaciers do recede from the terminus, and this can be easily measured from predesignated photopoints over time, but there are other hidden processes occurring. For instance, stretching and thinning of glaciers the results of which can only be revealed by conducting mass balance measurements at different elevations year to year. Really it is all about mass balance because that is what tells you how much ice was lost from one year to the next.

There is much more, and it could be explained much better, but I had one to many glasses of red tonight.

It simply means that hydrologists need to up their game and have glaciers produce more then a billion cubic meter water out of every cubic kilometer melted glacier. How hard can it be?

It is a start. You can't make rational judgments about a situation until you at least have solid measurements.

Perhaps they could follow North Carolina's example and make melting glaciers illegal. Put 'em in the pokey. That'll larn 'em.

Kind of an easy law to enforce. When was the last time there was a glacier in North Carolina? Was there even a single mountain glacier at last glacial maximum (roughly 18,000 years ago)? Certainly there hasn't been one for at least ten thousand years...

enemy of state,

North Carolina is trying to make sea level rise of over 8" illegal in any official state planning discourse.

The nexus to the glacier story is legislative fantasy. It will work just as well in either situation.

I never liked the phrase "the sin's of the fathers". But obviously those kids who inherit coastal properties will be paying for them. I expect that sort of nonsense to spread. two powerful forces are pushing it. One it say's "I truly pass the "don't believe in no AHW" litmus test. And, it means Real Estate agents can continue to profit from selling endangered properties, and current property owners have a chance to unload them.

Think about it: You are talking with a denialist who is planning on buying a sea side property in a flatland area. You look into his eyes, point towards the beach line, and ask "do you REALY beleive there is no global warming?". Watch the response.

This is my teeth-gnasher for the day.

Your dry cleaning bill's about to get worse

Apparently prices of wire hangers are going up. I suppose it is beyond unreasonable to expect folks to return hangers to the cleaners for re-use. Perhaps the labor to do so is uneconomical.

Last time I tried to bring some back to my dry cleaner, the little Korean lady behind the counter ripped them into the trash. Didn't seem too happy I brought them in. So now I save as many as I can for the metal.

It could have been worse....

Article in popular media extolling the virtues of having a college degree:

Unemployment data highlights growing educational divide
By Allison Linn

If you want to get a job in this economy, it's becoming increasingly clear that you better also be thinking about getting an education beyond just a high school degree.

The government reported Friday that the unemployment rate for college graduates fell slightly in May, to 3.9 percent from 4 percent a month earlier.

For people with just a high school degree, the unemployment rate increased to 8.1 percent, from 7.9 percent a month earlier.


With statistics such as this, it may be tough sledding to convince a lot of young people who otherwise would qualify for academically and are able to scrape together the tuition to forgo the college degree 'ticket to ride' and instead learn a trade/go to vocational school, etc.

I am afraid that these statistics represent a case of something that works right up until it doesn't.

This "get a degree-get a job" business is just nonesense. If everyone had a degree, we would still have the same number of unemployed people! Why? Because getting a degree doesn't create jobs. Someone is going to have to admit some day that not everyone can be a doctor or lawyer or engineer. When I was in engineering school the first year drop out rate was about 50%. And that was from students who had the pre-requisites and the high school grades to get into engineering school.

The problem we have is that neither business nor government is creating enough jobs for decent, hard working people who shouldn't be wasting their time and money going to college.

The term "youth unemployment" is a bit misleading. The greatest problem they have is that - whether they're employed or unemployed - they have too little money to live on, especially if they have amassed vast debts getting a college degree. And when this is a situation going on for a long time, for vast parts of the young population, it has enormous consequences.

Spent some time talking with some going through vet school.

Seems the out of state students are racking up 200,000+ in debt.

$200,000+ so you can see if a cat is sick.

No wonder there is a shortage of farm vets.

Vets seems to have fallen victim to the same forces that human doctors have - innumerable tests, machines and pharmaceutical treatments.

The days of a vet actually putting their hands on the animal to figure out what's wrong are apparently over. Now, one has to do the obligatory bloodwork first.

I recall there was a study done in the 1990's by some or other large consulting firm on vets, and it seems they felt vets did not charge enough. That has apparently been remedied, for the purpose of paying off the student loans and the expensive equipment.

The "Pet Category" is apparently worth quite a large amount of money to marketers.

Pharma for Fido (requires registration for full report)

Fido pharma: The explosion in pet medicine

EDIT : for anyone interested, here is the 1999 KPMG study (PDF Warning !)

The Current and Future Market for Veterinarians
and Veterinary Medical Services in the United States

As a ray of hope, both to the 'college uber alles' mindset and also specifically to the training of vets:


Seems as if some people in the U.S. understand the benefits of 'CTE' Career and Technical Education.

Best hopes for more of this..seems better time spent than training to be a lab chimp who takes standardized tests...

As Candide would say, "Is this not the best of all possible worlds?"

Nothing but nothing will cause the highway industry to stop building more unneeded highways and move their efforts toward needed maintenance of the existing infrastructure than will the dearth of revenues(which is happening big time). So I say let the existing revenue system remain frozen as is. This will ultimately force a reassessment of priorities and move us by necessity to maintaining the most needed transportation infrastructure and to putting the money into enhanced rail systems. It will also provide a strong incentive for more localization of industry, commerce and agriculture.

By not working as intended, the revenue system is actually working exactly as declining oil production requires. Don't fix what doesn't need fixing. When the wheel squeaks loud enough, workable solutions may begin to be come forth.

I could not call transferring $61.6 billion in subsidies into highway Departments (for that is what they are) as "working as intended".

$61.6 billion per year is about all that could be efficiently spent on Oil Free Transportation. Adjusted for population and currency, it is a bit over twice what the French are spending each year for

- New tram lines almost every town of 100,000 and above
- Double the size of the Paris Metro and carry 2 million more passengers each day (adjust for population - 9.5 million Americans)
- Build more TGV lines
- Electrify their railroads more.
- Making bicycling safer and easier. (Modal share of urban trips 1% to 6% 2000 > 2010, more underway).

Instead we use that money to subsidize cars & trucks.


We're not subsidizing cars and trucks, we are subsidizing growth. As long as the US insists on growing its population by 1% + a year there will be a push to subsidize roads since cars and trucks are currently the dominant form of transportation. The politicians don't want to call attention to the fact that the middle class is subsidizing the growth and associated debt funding that is undermining their future.

Well, many of those "unneeded" highways seem to be clogged for at least several hours a day right from the time they open, despite the occasional bridge to nowhere or questionable bypass. And it's hard to find an obviously underutilized major highway, except sometimes at 3AM or in the slowest season, or in a sparsely populated area where if any access is provided at all, it'll never be used to capacity. On the whole, the picture appears as conspicuously and perpetually failing to build enough to satisfy pent-up demand, rather than as overbuilding. Certainly most of those directly concerned still seem to act as though there's not enough, rather than too much - and not only construction companies, but also politicians serving commuting constituents.

Maybe "unneeded" is not a useful term in this context, since your definition seems to be utterly at variance with the definition used by the parties who actually have stakes in the matter. So, did you mean those highways might not be needed in some speculative future scenario? That's not likely to sway a commuter stuck now on a parking lot that was alleged to be a highway. Or what did you mean?

Traffic jams are *NOT* a sign of "need".

"Free"ways create their own demand.

See the near tripling of VMT from 1970 to 2008, with only a +30% or so increase in US population.

Don't build them, and they won't come.

Best Hopes for a Road Diet and MANY more Toll Roads,


"Over supplying highways" to American "Drive Everywhere to Everything" motorists is almost as difficult, and more expensive, than over supplying a cocaine addict.

Traffic jams are *NOT* a sign of "need".

That's your own opinion, of course. Apparently it's not aligned with the opinions of what I called the interested parties. They might well see the increased VMT as merely a not particularly noteworthy side-effect of improved freedom of choice (plus, in part, bringing women into the workforce and adding in their commutes.) So, for example, no longer the need to be imprisoned with young children in Ralph Kramden's tatty, noisy, cramped, awful apartment. Or, the ability to take a nice relaxing vacation instead of being confined to the jammed, hectic places that were essentially all that used to be reasonably-accessible by train. Now, maybe it's frustrating that people want what they want rather than what someone from on high says they ought to want, but then again it can be problematical to be the one proclaiming what they ought to want (as Nanny Bloomberg is finding out yet again.) So it goes in this wicked world...

As to the demand-creation, I dunno - don't build subways or trams or bike trails or sidewalks, and they don't come either, fancy that. But there's no reason to assume that demand goes infinite. At the absurd outer limit, once people would be driving or riding in the car 24/7/365, they'd be done demanding more. In the real world, there was no problem driving around St. Louis in the 80s after it had become somewhat depopulated. Except for cruising teenagers, most people drive to get somewhere, and they'll be trying to reach only so many somewheres in a given day.

St. Louis had simply ended up with a street/road system nicely suited to a city maybe 1/2 or 2/3 its peak size. They had been growing that system in small, slow increments, too small to catch up. That gave an illusion - and nothing more than an illusion - of infinite pent-up demand. When the population growth turned around for a while, the illusion vanished for a while.

So it was nothing more than perpetually leaving infrastructure far behind population growth. That is hardly limited to highways. New York and Washington DC famously do the very same thing with their subways. The overcrowding is ridiculous, and possibly unsafe at certain times, and yet there's little inclination shown to brush aside the obstacles and NIMBY nebbiches, and actually do something timely and commensurate with the scale of the problem. Of course at a cool $1 billion (not million) plus per stop, maybe it would be best to give up and say, fuhgeddaboudit...

I work with Ed Tennyson, who wrote a then controversial paper in the 1960s that it was impossible to build enough highways to prevent congestion in cities above a certain size (around 250,000) if everyone drove and no one took transit. This concept is now accepted wisdom in planning.

The % of land devoted to the automobile could increase to over 50% (see Phoenix, etc) and this would both force everybody to drive everywhere AND make the places they drove to further apart - requiring more driving. There is simply no "solution" without more transit. It is quite literally impossible for, say, Phoenix, to build enough "free"ways.

And 30% of Americans want to move aware from the sterile social isolation of Suburbia and into TOD. We have spent trillions over-saturating the market for Suburban McMansions - why waste any more money on "free"ways when there is no demand for that form of living - whilst there is enormous pent up demand for something better ?

Best Hopes for Better Living in TOD,


I'm not aware of Tennyson -- not my interest but I had very good friends in post grad urban geography in the mid to late '60s that even then were saying: 'build it and it will inevitably clog'. Rather obvious economic reasons for that happening though few politicians understand the 'why' but would rather pander to short term lobby interests.

Back in the '80s, New York wanted to widen the Long Island Expressway (AKA "the world's longest parking lot"). The engineers knew there was no way, but they did some preliminary designs, because the politicians wanted it. One of them was to make the entire highway a double-decker, doubling capacity.

But the analysis showed that this would just encourage people who were riding the bus or the LIRR to drive instead, and they'd have just as much congestion as ever, and more pollution. Plus the expense was insane. Needless to say, it wasn't actually built.

I thing the greater Los Angeles area had exceeded 50% of the real estate devoted to the automobile before the 1970s.

Paris is planning to build 200 km of subways, for 2 million more daily riders, for 21 billion euros 2013 - 2025.


This is after a smaller rehabilitation + expansion (10 billion euros from memory)


Money invested, instead of wasted like our $61.6 billion PER YEAR subsidizing cars & trucks.

Best Hopes for working like french Bureaucrats,


Alan, slight correction, you can't invest money you don't have. You can add to your current debt burden by borrowing more money to finance more growth.

We are subsidizing roads and highways by $61.6 billion in 2009 - more today.

We are spending enough TODAY to replicate Mulhouse France almost 100 times over - AND adding 125 miles of subway in Paris 10 times over.

Yes it would take a dozen or so years (faster than we know how to build I fear) to build 5,000 miles of Light Rail and over 500 miles of subway - but a lot can be done in a few years if we "work with the speed, efficiency and determination of French bureaucrats".

Redirect half that $61.6 billion to build 5,000 miles of Light Rail and 500 miles of subway - investing in Oil Free transportation. Simply stop adding lanes & roads and raise fuel taxes enough to maintain the roads and highways we have.

Then reduce debt and/or cut taxes with the other half of the $61.6 billion per year.


I suppose you've heard about the proposal to connect Eastport Maine to the freight world with this 'East-West' highway across maine.. being loudly trumpeted by one of our Concrete Czars (Cianbro), among others.. with the express(ed) desire to give Maine the chance to snag more container traffic.

The Sierra club spokesman is pushing the more cogent and efficient rail option.. but that word seems to thud like a dead fish in most discussions around here.


Vigue's position is pretty simple: Unless Maine finally builds this long-debated connector through the rural lands below Aroostook County, the state will miss a once-in-a-lifetime shot at becoming a major player in the world of international trade.
But one opponent of the East-West highway says Vigue and other backers of the project are misleading the public.

"We have a way of moving goods efficiently and sustainably across Maine now," says Glen Brand, who runs the Maine chapter of the Sierra Club.

Brand says it makes no sense build a four-lane highway, and possibly harm exisiting waterways and water quality in the process, when Maine already has rail lines that could transport containers to Montreal and beyond.

"It makes a lot more sense to devote the limited tax dollars that we're, in our view, wasting on the East West highway study to look at the economic impacts of redeveloping the existing freightline," Brand says.

We probably do know how to build - but, I fear, a dozen years would be far faster than we could ever get anything past the NIMBY monster that the "environmental" movement created in order to make it impossible to build anything anywhere.

But the political problem is that when we finished those 5500 miles, we'd be serving roughly 5000-7000 square miles of territory directly. Few people in the other 3,000,000 square miles would benefit even a little, and most would not benefit not one whit. They'd be left holding the financial bag, while they still had the same nothing-but-the-car that they have now, or else, for a few, the same alternative of an eternal wait for an unpredictable tardy bus that they have now.

OTOH, the road subsidies are widely viewed as benefiting everyone, even if not equally. After all, while few people live along a rail (or even bus) line, even non-drivers need very prompt fire and ambulance access (not going to happen with the fire truck slowly lurching along the deeply rutted, potholed dirt roads you'd have in all but rather rural areas if you stopped paving.) They also need food and goods shipped to their local stores (or to their "retirement village" as the case may be); many need their kids and their kids' teachers to get to and from school; and so on.

So what I'm still not seeing after all the discussion, and irrespective of the technical merits or demerits, is how one ever gets the politics to work. The project doesn't happen without a large subsidy, but it only benefits only a very few, most of whom can afford to pay the very high rents found in suitable locations. Now, there may be an elite in this country, and that elite may at times push unwanted programs through, but they don't seem like the sort of énarque elite who would push this particular sort of program through, especially without voter support. The USA, unlike France, is not a country where a very substantial portion of the entire population lives in (medium-) high-rises. The percentage of voters who would have any stake whatsoever in this 5000-7000-square-mile project would be down in the single digits, and even many of them would notice that the rails would be going in some direction other than where they need to go - or that using them would require transfers to or from buses, far too time-consuming to be worth the bother.

So: for whatever reason on earth would the wider voting public be willing to pay for what to them would be a pure boondoggle, especially with the economy already looking ever more pear-shaped? How does one ever sell this thing to the vast majority, for whom it would be purely a deadweight cost?

[P.S. at $1.5 billion per mile for the Second Avenue Subway, I don't understand how your numbers pencil out for expanding subways in this country, regardless of how they do things in France.]

> you can't invest money you don't have.

Au contraire, you most definitely can invest money you don't have. And growth has nothing to do with the matter. Money is created by the act of lending it. All that is needed is reasonable assurance that it will be repaid.

Or: America's problem is not debt. America's problem is that its politicians have gulled people with scare stories about debt so they can get on with trying to dismantle the government.

"Money is created by the act of lending it." ...like water is created by the act of pouring it.

"All that is needed is reasonable assurance that it will be repaid...America's problem is not debt."...until there's a reasonable assurance that it can't be repaid.

Congratulations, greg. Your disconnect is complete.

No, I'd say he understands it. The caveats are in the assurance, if that fails, then you have a problem. Otherwise money/debt is just bits and bytes (and sometimes paper) on a ledger. As long as you can maintain confidence, it is sustainable. He's right about the usage of debt-mongering, its basically an aplication of the shock-doctrine to bring back the guilded age, where a tiny minority owned an outrageous fraction of all the wealth.

Here's a non-intuitive reality:

German 2-Year Yield Drops Below Zero as Crisis Deepens

Negative interest rates... meaning that people are willing to pay to keep their money somewhere. Germany can borrow money and be paid by the lender to borrow it!

Greece bond yield is at 30%... GREAT yield but risky: No Confidence. Also, it costs Greece 30% to borrow money.

U.S. 2-year yield is at 0.25%... The United States can borrow money at 0.25% interest... Still a trusted place to keep money... Still a very trusted borrower... despite the debt.

National economy is not like household economy. Debt is what we sell. As long as the buyer is confident the debt will be paid, they will buy the debt as an investment or as a haven. Pushing a congressional standoff to the point where buyers of debt become concerned about not getting paid, concerned about default, is where the real damage was done.

The biggest single holders of U.S. debt are the Federal Reserve, China, Japan, the oil exporters, Brazil, and the Caribbean banking centers.


Also, my understanding is that money is created into the American economy in a state of original debt through the functioning of the Federal Reserve system.

(With a good deal of spittle flying:)

Going back to gold would be a bust: we only have 11 billion dollars worth on the books --- worth a few hundred billion dollars.

A game...
The same game can be played with rugs. There was a village where everybody owed everybody lots of rugs. Thousands of rugs were owed. There were only 300 rugs in the whole village. The virtual rug had come into existence. Big stone wheels were the currency of another village. The wheels would be set in-front of a hut and moved about from hut to hut as wealth traded hands. One giant wheel was lost when being transported on the ocean. People knew of its existence and counted it as trade-able wealth.


Planet Money did a nice little story on the stone wheels:

There are more caveats than that. Issuing unlimited debt severely debases the money supply, causing inflation. Interest payments on the debt consume money that should be invested or spent on actual services. If payments increase faster than GDP, you go broke. If you debt-spend for more than a couple of years, your economy becomes dependent on it to exist, so if you ever have to cut back, you go into a death spiral.

All of these things degrade confidence and any nation borrowing faster than GDP growth is setting up an inevitable crash.

...isn't the reason for the current financial crash, the same as the reason for all financial crashes?
1) There are more calls on wealth (money, bonds, insurance contracts, debts,...) than there is wealth. This is equivalent to saying that the financial markets are essentially ponzi schemes. The fractional banking system is core of the ponzi, but there are numerous variations on this concept.
2) This fact is obscured so long as total wealth is increasing (hence the need for growth)
3) Financiers get greedy and push things to the limit, especially when there is no regulation
4) 'Something' (sub-prime mortgages, bond market confidence collapses, underfunded pension schemes collapse, off-the-book hedges, credit default swaps collapse...) happens, but what precisely that 'something' is, is not the ultimate cause

Good observation Decarbonizer

All of those "Somethings" are the consequences.

Figuring out the cause requires deep systemic analysis - something we never get from the pundits.


Growth has everything to do with the need for transportation funding and debt has been used to mask the cost of the growth. The debt has to be repaid by you, me and everyone else. If we can't or won't repay the debt and default then the only way we will be able to acquire oil and other necessities from the same people we just defrauded will be at the point of a gun or nuke. Maybe you are comfortable with that approach but I don't appreciate that outcome being forced on me.

They take US dollars, which are backed by the point of a gun and nukes. It's merely an illusion that we're not taking it by the exercise of force.

I agree, but we don't need to go further down that path.

The problem with not "leaving infrastructure behind population" is that adding enough infrastructure after the fact forces you to displace population, and reserving the space before the fact is expensive speculation in future success. Cars just waste too damn much space, both for travel, and for parking.

The reason to consider adding transit capacity or bicycle capacity is that neither of these requires as much more space as adding auto capacity. They may cost money (bicycle capacity is cheap, especially if you are willing to take space from cars), but we HAVE money (or we would if we were willing to raise taxes -- we're far wealthier than we were in the past, when we first built all this infrastructure. We're not poorer than the Netherlands, and they have established excellent bicycle infrastructure. If they can afford it, so can we.) In urban areas, what we lack is space.

Many of your posts have little anecdotes that you use to try proving a point, but your quote about St. Louis is way off base.

I have lived there off and on for over 43 years and know traffic jams did not disappeared or even lesson in the 1980's. Due to metro area have a population shift while the area grew very slowly, population wise, the traffic jams have been constant from 1970 until 2012 in crossing the Mississippi River. From the suburbs to downtown, traffic has decreased slightly going east in the AM but is now much worse going west in the AM, and the suburb to suburb traffic is much worse than 30 years ago.

The fact is that St. Louis had area growth (expanding suburbs) after the growth in highways and arterial roads like state 370, 141, 30 and 21. Had these highways not been built new or expanded from two lanes to four or six lanes, the outlying areas on the Missouri side of the river would have never developed so fast. As people live farther from work, family, friends, entertainment, they drive more miles per year. Highways are not a solution to molibility here but an enabler in traffic growth and encourage greater energy consumption.

I do not think building more roads is a good answer to this perceived need:



We find that the welfare gains for drivers of building more highways are well below the costs of building these highways. This conclusion follows, not from the high elasticity of vkt to roads, but from the fact that new roads do not reduce the cost of travel sufficiently.





We need to think long term...for the days when oil is more scarce and expensive...the build-out of freight and passenger rail, constructing more bicycling and walking paths, transit-oriented development...would be a wise direction to go...not for everyone...not for everyone...I believe Alan Drake's vision was building transit-oriented infrastructure to serve maybe on-third of U.S. Citizens...if we could get to 1/4 or even 1/5 that would be amazing and would lay-in some islands of post-cheap-oil viability.

Perhaps we should take measures to strictly control immigration and step up public education about planned parenthood. Having the population grow at 1% per year is most unwise.

...not for everyone...I believe Alan Drake's vision was building transit-oriented infrastructure to serve maybe one-third of U.S. Citizens...if we could get to 1/4 or even 1/5 that would be amazing and would lay-in some islands of post-cheap-oil viability.

Well, H, finally, at long last, we get down to brass tacks. Whew! Not for everyone, indeed. Actually I would find reaching 1/4 or 1/5 of the population to be eye-poppingly amazing.

If the tram line that's talked up now and then where I am were ever built, it might serve somewhere between 1/6 and 1/10 of the city population, or 1/10 and 1/15 of the county population, and only in the sense of being near enough to a stop not to have to transfer from a bus, which would consume more time waiting than it could ever be worth. The odds of having a stop near the destination might be similar, leaving overwhelming (high-90%'s) odds that the trip would take forever, just as now, because it would still be partly or entirely by bus. And after spending a bucketload of money for that non-change, there would be 71 more counties to go, most of which lack cities of any size and would not be candidates. So after spending countless more bucketloads of money, the statewide odds of being able to make a given trip by rail might attain the high fractions-of-1% or just conceivably the very low single digits. Big whoopee.

But we can chew over those merits, or lack thereof, until the cows come home, and it will remain quite beside the point, which is how well does that work politically? The trams and trains don't even exist without major subsidies, so they're a political matter. Transit-oriented real-estate development remains a conceit for the well-heeled (not the rich, they use limos or even helos), so it's also political - the class-warfare kind of political. So none of it happens without votes.

So how does anyone get the vast majority of voters, who will never, ever be served to any great effect, to vote to subsidize the tiny and mainly much-better-off minority who might be served? Since the spending will be utterly useless to most, why wouldn't they just vote for whoever promises lower taxes, and move on? (Er... for some reason, Scott Walker of "high-speed-(not)" train fame comes to mind at the moment.)

Mulhouse France, population 110,900, an "aging industrial town", opened it's first tram line in 2006 and by 2011 had three tram lines and one tram-train (operates on SNCF tracks like a commuter train in the country-side and then switches to tram tracks in city). 58 km all told.

Ridership in 2011 was 15 million on the tram lines and 2 million on the tram-train line (much longer average journey on the tram-train).

Several plans for expansion, but searching for funding now.

Given the population, it can hardly be called elitist. And there are enough tracks and stations for there not to be an enormous TOD premium, although real estate listings will mentions how far to what station.

Can Americans work with half the speed, efficiency and determination of French bureaucrats ?

Or are we the "Just Can't Do it !" people now ?


We live in the land of Citizens United and no socialist or even social-democratic political parties. Hence, our major decisions are owned by the overclass, who (rightly) perceive decent, modern public transportation as a threat to their privileges. So much as mention this topic, and your political career is over at the national level, if you can even get anybody to listen. It is forbidden to question the reign of the automobile, which is as profitable as it is insane/suicidal.

Meanwhile, could you explain what "TOD" stands for in this usage? Time of day?

The "other" TOD is Transit Orientated Development - which about 30% of Americans want to live in but less than 2% do because there is just not enough T to OD around.

TOD is inherently more energy efficient, walkable, bikeable, etc.

Best Hopes for MUCH More TOD,


You don't need any overclass's permission to ride a bicycle. As necessary, you can add cargo capacity, snow tires, electric assist, whatever. Ride a bike, there's no need to fart around with transit schedules, or walk from the stop, etc.

I ride a bike for almost all my needs. They are a great idea, especially in tropical and temperate areas with dense development. However, you still have to deal with weather and longer distances. Beyond that, not everyone can ride. Mass transit is still very much a neccessity. Japan's development is one model (though even they are too car-dependent) - lots and lots of trains, buses, and subways, many more people walk and bike to many more places, and cars for the rest. LOTS of bikes - I remember being in Kyoto and making sure to park in a special parking area, but most bikes were parked technically illegally and there must have been hundreds of them just in the area I was visiting.

Still, like I said, they still have too many people on cars, and the place of bikes (despite their wide use) is odd (wide sidewalks with bike lanes in a few places, but no bike lanes in the streets). Though rail transit can also be a problem - in Kyoto, I stayed south of the station at a cheap hostel, but the station basically blocks all movement from the south area to the north. I had to bike over and uncomfortable bridge to get to the northern area where all the "sights" were. As bad as a highway, really, it sat in the middle and got in the way.

That said, many of their streets are simply streets, with no separation of walking, biking, and driving. The towns and cities were mostly built a long time ago and the streets reflect that.

We need to think of human scaled solutions, things that make people comfortable. Highways are not human scale.

I concur that bicycling is the best mode for the able-bodied, though I think riding bikes on snow tires is asking a bit much. But what do you propose to provide for the elderly, the ill and impaired, etc.?

We need a proper mix of options, with cars being progressively discouraged.

..for the elderly or slightly impaired, add a wheel or two. For the significantly impaired, add an electric motor, either mixed with pedals and such health-boosting options, or not.

Snow tires and snowbikes are getting more popular up here.


It's still seen as recreation, at the moment.. but the technology is there.. but also look at the guys in the video.. they ain't exactly teenagers-- There might be hope!

I guess I see us in a transportation infrastructure triage mode. What we have spent a hundred years building is dead and we have precious little time to deal with that. And we're broke. What Alan outlined is possible, although I don't expect it to happen. But if by some miracle we could build out that level of transit systems, then I would not worry about the last mile. People will figure out how to get to the stations, and it would most certainly be a hodge-podge of methods. That's fine - far better than anything I could dare to hope for.

Why do you think snow tires are a bit much? Have you ever tried them? (I have, when it's icy, they are what you want.)

For the elderly, ill, and impaired, options include tricycles (also useful if you are very pregnant or have a small infant) and electric assist. In the limit, there are bicycles already available designed to transport people in wheelchairs. It's possible to combine these; a cargo tricycle with electric assist fitted with snow tires is something you could buy today.

The electric assist makes a lot of sense in warm+humid weather, too.

There is surely a point at which you are too impaired to even pilot a motor-assisted recumbent tricycle, but at the point, is someone capable of driving a car safely?

Paul, we seem to be agreeing about the 'amazing' aspect of being to provide adequate (definition of that?) auto-alternative transportation to even ~20% of the U.S. population.

As far as high-speed rail (ref your ref to Walker et al), I personally would be happy with plain old 'rail', sans the 'high-sped', which adds gobs of costs.

As far as what the voters want...well, of course you are correct in your analysis that most folks are distressingly short-sighted...

...the facts of reality wrt oil availability 20+ years hence won't give a hoot in Hades to what the voters want...I want the winning Powerball ticket but the mathematics of probability could not care less what I want.

People will have to adapt to whatever is coming whenever it arrives...it would be great if we had the foresight to lay in some long-lasting infrastructure soon while we still have some room to maneuver.

At some point the Military-Industrial-Spy-Complex honey pot house of cards will collapse, and perhaps some well-targeted transportation infrastructure investments will be made...and many folks will get used to waiting for those 10-minute-late packed buses...and some will ride bikes, carpool, or do whatever it takes to undertake the minimum travel absolutely necessary.

However it shakes out (some EVs here and there, some more buses, some more rail, more bicycling, walking, ride-sharing, doing without etc), oil is finite and being depleted and will become ever more expensive to extract, and people's lives will indeed be different than is the case today.

Yup. Whatever people end up doing, it will be something of a chaotic mess that will not conform well to any "planner's" idealized vision... as in many parts of the world now...

We find that vkt increases proportionately to highways and identify three important sources for this extra vkt: an increase in driving by current residents; an increase in transportation intensive production activity; and an inflow of new residents.

A perfectly natural, perfectly foreseeable, perfectly trivial outcome when one has stubbornly failed ever to build enough to clear the situation. Sort of like "we've chosen to build public schools for 70% of our enrollment", so sure enough "we find that building 5% more isn't worthwhile because when we tried that they remained overcrowded" - and, gee, "we find that if we built enough public schools, they might, horrors, attract an inflow of new residents."

Now, for esthetic or ideological reasons, some folks may not want to 'build enough to clear the situation.' After all they understandably may fear turning their place into southeast Chicago, or LA. But not wanting is wholly different from proving that it's physically impossible. Pretending that it is the same thing probably won't advance the political cause, except maybe within the flakier and more tone-deaf domains of academia.

Federal highway guidelines require that projects are constructed for the anticipated traffic volumes 20 years in the future. Whether this is a long enough time line in the US is debatable as it is a compromise between initial cost and service life of the facility.

It would have been difficult in the 60s when neighborhoods were being wiped out to make way for the interstate system to take an extra block or two to provide for a future 12 lane facility when current demand only justified a 4 lane facility.

The basic problem is that as the downtown area of a city goes vertical and packs more workers into the same area, the incremental cost of increasing the roadway capacity into the downtown area goes up exponentially. If the city had to pay for the increased capacity it wouldn't allow any high rises but instead the highway system is usually under the state highway department's jurisdiction who then uses federal funds to pay the very high costs of adding the extra capacity thus socializing the costs on everyone.

The problem is the demand (buildings) are built in 3D, the roads are conventionally 2D. Unless you wanna spend megabucks, and stack multiple layers of freeways on top of each other, transportation becomes a serious bottle neck, as the bandwidth of 2D roads only grows as L to the first power, whereas the volume of buildings grows as L squared (or more if average height grows too).

The four track Lexington Avenue subway in New York City carries 600,000 passengers every day. More than the 14 lane I-10 West in Houston.

Texas DoT DoH could not find room for two rail tracks for future light rail in their expansion plans for I-10 after they bought the Katy RR RoW.


Perhaps if the state and federal governments got out of local transportation and let cities and metropolitan areas figure out their own transportation needs, including coming up with their own funding, then a more reasonable distribution of commercial, retail, and residential development would emerge that better blended auto, transit, ped and bike. As it stands now, local governments don't have much of an incentive to change their approach to transportation and development.

"new roads do not reduce the cost of travel sufficiently."

Diminishing returns works there too.

They did discover years ago that adding lanes and other forms of capacity leads to a receding horizon problem. New traffic always overwhelms the additional capacity.

As someone who lived in India from birth to 38,in Hungary from 38 to 55 and now in Belgium since 55 to 59 and being a TOD'r it is astonishing to the crap going on.So let us start
1.In India they built a new airport(still unfinished after 7 years) for the Commonwealth games.Traffic is below estimates so the authorities hiked prices making it the costliest airport in the world.
2.At Charleroi(Belgium) airport they are building a parking space for 3000 cars .Are they crazy?
3.In Budapest(Hungary)a major expansion of the terminal was underway when MALEV the national airline went bankrupt and stopped flying.All cranes are idle plus a separate airport for the low cost airlines is redundant.
4.But the best is yet to come.In Belgium they are changing and putting up traffic signs and traffic bill boards at a rate that is astonishing.A sign board saying horses not allowed in the wilderness.I wish I had my camera.Changing guard rails only because they are slightly discolored.Anything that will get the local politicians some kickback.
5.New roads to single houses up on the hills.Like I said anything for a kickback.
The locals don't notice it but I do thanks to TOD.

One of the problems with airports is they have to keep upgrading to allow for the constantly-growing new aircraft.

The O'Hare Expansion, for example, has to allow for the new Boeing 747-8 and Airbus A-380.

Probably true for the largest airports in the US, but not for most.
From what I have seen in airport expansion the justification is for future "perceived growth" that often does not happen. Look at St. louis which starting almost 20 years ago spent $1 billion expanding the runways and supporting infrastructure in anticipation of unending 5 to 10% annual growth. Well, due to rationalization in the airline industry and economic decline, St. Louis now has fewer (by about 30%) air passengers than when the expansion plan was completed in the late 1990's. Other Midwest airports like the one in Milwaukee are seeing declines as well, even with its recent expansion.

I think we've already stopped building new highways and moved to maintaining existing ones. There are a few new highways built, but mostly we're maintaining the old. Sometimes expanding capacity via adding lanes, but not many totally new highways are being built. It's simply become too expensive. We're no longer putting a highway through Farmer Brown's chicken coop. Now there are businesses, schools, subdivisions, cemeteries we'd have to move. It's become politically impossible.

There used to be a "clover leaf" problem on the civil engineering professional engineer's licensing test. It was removed several years ago, in favor of questions about environmental permitting. Because that part of the PE is supposed to test real world experience, and you're not likely to lay out a clover leaf any more.

"We're no longer putting a highway through Farmer Brown's chicken coop."

I pray you're correct. There's still a lot of support for Interstate 3:

Interstate 3 link: A no-brainer:

From a logistical point of view, extending the interstate to Eastern Tennessee would add a new east-west corridor (Interstate 40), good for striking deeper into the heartland with cargo deliveries.

That's one reason the measure has been supported by Home Depot, Georgia Pacific and the Georgia Mining Association.

News reports indicate the interstate would run north from Augusta through Toccoa, Clarkesville and Hiawasee, then into North Carolina to cross the Appalachians, hitting Maryville, Tenn., and then linking to I-75 just south of Knoxville.

"...striking deeper into the heartland..."

A groundswell of opposition and, mercifully, the economic downturn, have put this project on the back burner, but there are still powerful forces dedicated to its construction, reportedly including the DOE, which wants a more rural link between Savannah River and Oak Ridge. Should this project reach the construction phase here in the Southern mountains, expect a far more militant response from those affected. Many of us who were involved in the '70s SMASH movement (stop mountain area super highways) are still here, alive and well. We gained major concessions when zig-zag Zell Miller and his Georgia cohorts pushed through the "Mountain Economic Development Highway", now GA-515, the "Zell Miller Mountain Parkway". We're watching closely, and plan to make this project economically unviable at any personal cost. Just sayin'.

Best hopes for fewer roads designed to make other people rich...

So what happened to the new interstate, spearheaded in the Bush II presidency IRC, that was to travel from Texas to Canada?

The "NAFTA superhighway" was not real. It was a conspiracy theory created by Jerome Corsi (best known here as an abiotic oil proponent) and popularized by Ron Paul. The supposed "new" superhighway was mostly existing ones. There was a proposed new interstate in Texas, but it was supported by Texas (Rick Perry), not really by Bush. It died a quiet death in 2011.

The "NAFTA superhighway" was not real. It was a conspiracy theory created by Jerome Corsi (best known here as an abiotic oil proponent)

Wow. The far-right really has a thing for crazy conspiracy theories. So apparently Jerome Corsi has been a purveyor of:
-Swift Boat nonsense
-NAFTA superhighway
-Abiotic oil
-Even some 9/11 Truther nonsense

What a loathsome man.

And I can understand when there is a crazy fringe element to a party. The disturbing thing is when it is followed by people or not denounced by those higher up in the party. Even Romney is hanging out with birther Donald Trump. :-/

Researchers develop easy way to measure power

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS in Erlangen, Germany, have developed a space-saving metering unit that can be clipped onto a power cable like a laundry peg, without even having to disconnect the load.

"This new device is the first application in which we have used our 3-D magnetic-field sensor technology to measure the magnetic field generated by an electric current as a means of determining the energy consumed by the connected load. As such, it is an entirely novel approach," said IIS research scientist Michael Hackner.

To build the device, he and his team of qualified engineers mounted eight sensors, in the form of application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), on a flexible, flat circuit board. What sets these sensors apart from more conventional designs is that they measure the magnetic field not only perpendicular to the surface of the chip but also in tangential directions, which improves measurement accuracy. The recorded data are transmitted to a microcontroller, which forwards them to a central processor via a gateway switch.

GM used the Volt in an advertisement image supporting the Detroit gay pride parade.



Volt runs on an electric battery and a gas generator. So, whatever revs your engine, we support you 100%. Happy Motor City Pride from the entire Chevrolet family.

Cute. I wonder how much blow-back they'll get for that though.

The urban gay community often has lots of disposable income and a progressive/green orientation. It makes sense for Chevy to pitch the niche-y Volt to that market.

And those who most object to the lifestyle, are already dead set against the Volt -and for GM for taking government money.

Yeah, that is kinda what I felt as well. Anyone offended by that kind outreach to the LGBT community was not going to buy the "Government Motors Obamacar built by union thugs" anyway.

too funny....too true....

then they go on and buy a union-made, pre-crash bailed-out, just-got-the-logo-out-of-hock Ford and act like Ayn Rand herself made it from tears of freedom....


Yeah, anyone that thinks Ford didn't get a bail-out is fooling themselves. Ford certainly didn't get as much bail-out money as GM & Chrylser but they got plenty of "stealth bail-out" money in form of subsidized loans for "re-tooling for efficiency" and what not. Ford Credit, their financing arm, took $15 Billion. But some people just want to hear and believe in simple black & white stories.

TINKs Two incomes no kids.

Remember that scene in the Simpsons Show where they demonstrate the future of the elctric car?


The guy actully filmed the tv screen with his camera, but this was the best clip I found.

Washington DC Metro expansion

Several weeks ago I noted that I was complaining about the expansion plans (Blue Line) in the DC area to the former Chair of WMATA. She asked "What would you propose ?" Ed Tennyson and I have been working on that :-) {Fun for two nerds like us & useful}

Several plans for expansion that also improve the utility of Metro. Not just for commuting, but also getting around town.

The latest involves the eastern terminus of the Silver Line (Phase I under construction in Virginia). Planned interline with Orange and then Orange + Blue Lines. The Silver Line would terminate at Stadium-Armory (the "Y" junction of the eastern Orange & Blue Lines). There is no demand for more than Orange + Blue service east of Capital South station.

We propose a two station, 1.77 mile (half in subway, half elevated - perhaps single track) eastern spur for the eastern terminus of the Silver Line.

Spur off the Orange+Blue Line just east of Capital South station and go Northeast up North Carolina Avenue. Build a station just west of Lincoln Park. Continue (perhaps switching to elevated) the length of Tennessee Avenue and build a station above (or below) 15th Street.

The Lincoln Park station would collect riders from the SE quadrant of DC, including some buses from across the Anacostia River.

The second station and terminus is at the junction of H Street, Benning Road (planned streetcar line on these two roads - VERY heavy bus patronage), Bladensburg Road (also heavy bus ridership) and Maryland Avenue (another heavy bus route). The second Metro station, Silver Line, would be built at what is a major bus transfer point already.

Due to expected transfers to Metro, some of the buses could short turn there, saving major $.

Ed is cranking #s to see if the savings from just transferring riders from from all bus to bus + Metro might justify the cost to build this spur line.

Stepping back - what I see is a relatively minor addition having a major impact on the city. TOD springing up around the two stations - and better access to a lower income community surrounding the immediate TOD.

Workable Oil Free transportation :-)

Having Metro access close to the midpoint of the streetcar line will encourage ridership - and not just in one direction (some will ride away from downtown in the morning to get to Metro).

Anyway, feeling good about this one.

If anyone wants a full listing of proposed lines, eMail me.

Best Hopes for Good Planning,


Long-haul food could deliver a national crisis

AUSTRALIANS' growing reliance on food transported long distances on drum-tight distribution schedules has heightened the risk of food shortages in the event of crises such as floods, bushfires and pandemics, a federal government study has found.

The Department of Agriculture report identifies the concentration and lengthening of Australia's supply chain as a food security risk, as communities are increasingly dependent on deliveries of perishable food such as milk, meat, fruit and vegetables, from thousands of kilometres away.

''The key question is whether, following a natural disaster or other major disruptive event, Australians in affected regions would go hungry. The risk that this could happen is growing, especially if separate events in Australia's eastern states were to coincide,'' says the report, Resilience in the Australian Food Supply Chain(pdf).

Other risks and challenges include:

•The food industry's ''limited willingness'' to help in a crisis when profits are at stake.

•Unrealistic expectations of the Australian Defence Force capacity to deal with food shortages when it is often restricted by red tape and itself relies on the private market for food.

•Australia's reliance on imports of some food, including infant formula and canned fish, as well as for some important additives and packaging.

From report

5.2.2 Food storage, transport and distribution—problems and risks


The most important risk was availability of fuel. Diesel fuel was vital for road transport and for powering refrigeration units (diesel is used for cooling, both as the backup source of power at many retail sites and for temporary cool storage in refrigerated containers).

In Queensland, the Liquid Fuel Supply Act 1984 outlines arrangements for essential or high priority users of liquid fuel and other constraints on liquid fuel use in emergency or related situations.

According to informal advice from the Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, in practice Queensland would follow whatever has been defined as essential users in the national context—that is, through the Liquid Fuel Emergency Act 1984 (Cwlth), Liquid Fuel Emergencies Guidelines 2008 and the Liquid Fuel Emergency (Activities - Essential Users) Determination 2008.
There is no doubt that if food supplies were threatened the guidelines would be broadened to include food transport. Protocols are also established for rationing of emergency fuels in an emergency. However, food industry interviewees were of the view that food should be automatically included rather than having to be added after the need emerged (at which time some communities would already be at crisis point).

Electricity and gas

Second to fuel as a risk to food supplies is availability of power; loss of power has a huge impact on the food industry. If cash registers are not powered, not only are retailers unable to sell food, but also communications between cash registers and suppliers (auto-ordering systems) are lost. Cash sales are often not an option—consumers rely on EFTPOS [electronic funds transfers point of sale/debit cards] or credit cards for food purchases, and do not carry cash to make purchases, and retailers are unable to record cash purchases. According to industry sources, between 50 and 80 per cent of sales of food and groceries are on EFTPOS.

Loss of or reduced power can also lead to closures of retail outlets due to other concerns; no lighting can mean occupational health and safety and public safety concerns in many retail stores, forcing them to close even if they have stocks of dry goods on the shelves. It can also affect warehouses—although most large distribution centres do have diesel backup for power outages. More often, it is smaller operators with limited storage and no backup generators that suffer the greatest losses due to power failures. Power outages also have an immediate impact on stock losses, particularly of chilled and frozen food.

A small section of urban Seattle is getting a free preview of the "no power = no food" scenario for an entire day tomorrow. Only a few square blocks, but as one might expect this area has a number of restaurants and groceries. Not least of which is a large Japanese supermarket which is bringing in an industrial generator for the occasion.

Chinatown ID gets ready for 20-hour power outage

A planned 20-hour power outage in the Chinatown International District very late Tuesday through Wednesday will bring hardship and an outdoor carnival for some of those affected.


For some businesses, that means closing for the day. For others, it means renting industrial-sized generators to keep food fresh.

But closing for the day won't be cheap."You think it is just closing down, but when you are talking about perishable goods, it gets more complex," Liu said. "You lose what you have to throw away and you have to make new stuff again for the next day."

Between throwing out food he already has, buying new food and lost sales, Liu estimates he will lose anywhere between $2,000 and $3,000 during the power outage.

"It's a big pain in the butt," he said.


Throwing out lots of food because of a planned disruption seems like a classic case of p* poor planning. OTOH there will be a good business opportunity, you have 9 months to get a baby goods store up and running.


Bakken Oil Plunges on Illinois Refinery Work, Pipe Restrictions

Bakken oil’s premium to West Texas Intermediate plunged after Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC) advanced maintenance at its Illinois refinery and TransCanada Corp. (TRP) planned to restrict some oils on its Keystone pipeline in July.

Marathon will shut a crude unit at its Robinson refinery in Illinois about June 9, a person familiar with the situation said June 1. The work was previously scheduled for July, according to the person.

TransCanada plans to temporarily restrict crudes on the Keystone pipeline with a Reid vapor pressure exceeding 8.5 pounds per square inch starting July 1, ... Light sweet crudes typically have higher vapor pressures than heavy oils.

On this news, Midwest wholesale gasoline prices moved to a premium to the current month futures price (which is based upon delivery of gasoline to New York harbor) for the first time in seven months.

A big day in Texas. Rockman no longer lives cross the road from the largest refinery in the country.

Headquartered in Houston, Motiva Enterprises LLC is a refining and marketing joint venture owned by affiliates of Shell and Saudi Aramco. Executives of the companies that jointly own Motiva (Royal Dutch Shell and Saudi Aramco) turned the ceremonial valve commemorating the start of oil flowing through units at the complex, which is now the country’s largest oil refinery and one of the largest in the world.

The expanded refinery can process a wide variety of crude oils, ranging from relatively light to heavy. It also has the flexibility to switch between primarily producing gasoline and diesel to adapt to varying market conditions. The expansion project is a significant milestone of Saudi Aramco’s energy ties with the United States. As says Aramco: “Our investment in Port Arthur is an integral part of Saudi Aramco’s global downstream expansion strategy. Our commitment to meet the needs of the United States’ oil market, our expanded stake in U.S. downstream, and our R&D investments in future transportation fuels will contribute to enhancing the United States’ long-term energy security.

Perhaps this is one face of MADOR...Mutually Assured Distribution Of Resources. Now not just one of the largest refineries but one specifically built to handle the increasing important heavy KSA crude. No safer place on the planet for it. And the shipping routes protected by a very powerful navy. But shipping oil that doesn’t belong to the US...it will be owned, as well as the refinery products, by Dutch and Saudi companies. A partnership free to sell those products to the highest bidder. A partnership that can alter the yield to favor gasoline cheaply shipped to a strong local market or favored to diesel that could be shipped to Asia or the EU.

I suppose one way to deal with an unpredictable future is to design a flexible system. But flexibility requires security to make those choices. A refinery in a very secure location. A crude source owned by the owners of that refinery yet secured transportation half way around the world by a powerful potential customer. Yet refinery products that can be sold to any potential buyer. Of course, at that time political capital maybe as useful digital capital zipped around the world at the speed of light.

Just some idle speculation on a quite Monday night...nothing more. .


Can't say I would have ever entertained the idea of living near a refinery. How far, as the crow flies, is "across the road"?


Andrew - I'm a couple of hundred yards from the highway and the plant begins on the other side. The first major unit is about 400 yds beyond that. I enjoy the sight of industrial activity. I may be a geologist but there's enough engineer in me. LOL. Brings a smile especially when I drive by at night: all lit up it makes me think of Christmas. Thanks to ExxonMobil I have low property taxes, a credit union that pays me better interest on my checking account than a CD and the lowest gasoline prices in Houston. Baytown has always been a small industrial town that most folks found unattractive as Houston expanded over the last 40 years. As a result I bought an older townhome for $100,000 that would have cost me $200,000+ had I bought it an equal distance on the north side. And that commute would have taken 1.5 hours as opposed to the 30 minute drive I have now. It was also convenient when I was working offshore: only a 40 minutes drive to the chopper base.

I think you get the idea: I'm cheap and I don't like rush hour traffic. LOL. Thus life in a refinery town is just fine by me.

I'm curious to see what the other TODsters think about this refining development. The modifications began 5 years ago so the seed was planted much earlier... about the time matters started getting rather sticky in ME between Iraq/Afghan. I do believe there are TPTB who do have a clear picture of the future. And sometimes they have the commercial and political stroke to move matters in a positive direction. Some may just be thinking about the potential US gain from this refinery expansion. Now slip the shoe on the other foot: what if you lived in the EU? How secure do you feel now that one of your biggest suppliers of oil has made a $10 billion investment that requires (in order to be profitable) a constant supply of oil that now helps support your economy? Not that I would say it was worth the life of one marine but one could see this development as part of our ROR for our military efforts in the ME. And thus feel it was justified.

Do you think I should copywrite "MADOR"? I would think wt has already done so with "ELM". LOL

You are exactly right about product exports. Even though the export of oil out of the US is barred by law, I am not aware if there is any practical bar to exporting as many oil products as refiners wish. They could easily be sold to the highest bidder - even if such sales may result in disruptions to local US gasoline and diesel markets.

Generally speaking, US exports of gasoline and diesel, and even ethanol, are at or near record levels - and Motiva won't even be up to full production until fall. Keep in mind that Saudi Arabia has imported gasoline and other oil products at a greater rate in 2012 than before.

Charles - You mentioned before about it being illegal to export oil out of the US. I know companies can't export oil/NG produced from federal leases but I'm not aware of any law restricting other sales. Certainly no restriction on selling non-fed NG: Chenier just signed a contract to deliver $400+ million/year of NG to England for the next 20 years. As far as the oil shipped from the KSA to Motiva it will never be "US oil": the title to it will always remain in the hands of a foreign company. And, as you say, the products of that oil can be sold to any country it chooses regardless of US fuel supplies. Back when gasoline prices spike in the US we were still the main supplier of liquid fuels to Mexico.

Something just popped to mind. Remember a year or two ago China was considering buying a huge idled refinery down in the Caribbean but nothing came of it. Wonder if the prospect of Motiva had something to do with that effort being dropped. And now that Hugo's time is short I wonder if the new Vz. govt will stick with its deal to ship their heavy crude half way around the world to China and not just a short hop across the GOM. Just had another flash: what if China buys all the KSA export, ships it to Motiva for processing and then ships all the product to China? Or if they process all that Vz crude they have under long term contract at Motiva and ships all that product out of the US?

Interestering and more interestering, eh?

what if China buys all the KSA export, ships it to Motiva for processing and then ships all the product to China?

The USA gets manufacturing jobs, value added and property taxes. :-)

And we get to drive less in more economical cars.

Best Hopes for More Oil Free Transportation,


Alan - Exactomondo. At least a good day for Texas. They had 14,000 workers at the peak of construction. About 400 permanent jobs. They estimate (high I'm sure) the plant will add $17 trillion to the Texas economy over its lifetime. But all the political aspects should be quite a saga when the pinch starts really hurting. More potential twists than a simple minded geologist can imagine.

Graph showing ratio of Global Net Exports* of oil (GNE) to Chindia's combined net oil imports (CNI) follows. There is a "somewhat" discernible trend here:

At a 1.0 ratio, the Chindia region would consume 100% of GNE.

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

You are right that there is not a strict prohibition against all oil exports; I believe waivers can be granted or executive orders can be given, for example, to release oil from the SPR for other IEA nations. There may possibly be other small exceptions, and Canada and Mexico may be exempted. However there seems to be a general opinion in the industry that Canadian oil can not be re-exported by way of a US pipeline (but maybe not, see below).

I looked into the legal background of US energy export laws more (see below). Keeping in mind that I am not a lawyer, but have a background in Wall Street trading rules and other federal financial-related regulations, it appears based upon this key 1979 law that effectively the President can ban most any type of energy export - although I am not aware of any special presidential order being in force. Even so, other types of regulations may make it hard, for example, to export natural gas by requiring the building of an export terminal to follow strict environmental/security guidelines (unless of course you piped the gas to Canada or Mexico).

Title 42 § 6212. Domestic use of energy supplies and related materials and equipment

(a) Export restrictions

The President may, by rule, under such terms and conditions as he determines to be appropriate and necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter, restrict exports of--

(1) coal, petroleum products, natural gas, or petrochemical feedstocks, and

(2) supplies of materials or equipment which he determines to be necessary (A) to maintain or further exploration, production, refining, or transportation of energy supplies, or (B) for the construction or maintenance of energy facilities within the United States.

(b) Exemptions

(1) The President shall exercise the authority provided for in subsection (a) of this section to promulgate a rule prohibiting the export of crude oil and natural gas produced in the United States, except that the President may, pursuant to paragraph (2), exempt from such prohibition such crude oil or natural gas exports which he determines to be consistent with the national interest and the purposes of this chapter.

(2) Exemptions from any rule prohibiting crude oil or natural gas exports shall be included in such rule or provided for in an amendment thereto and may be based on the purpose for export, class of seller or purchaser, country of destination, or any other reasonable classification or basis as the President determines to be appropriate and consistent with the national interest and the purposes of this chapter.

(c) Implementing restrictions

In order to implement any rule promulgated under subsection (a) of this section, the President may request and, if so, the Secretary of Commerce shall, pursuant to the procedures established by the Export Administration Act of 1979 [50 App.U.S.C.A. § 2401 et seq.] (but without regard to the phrase "and to reduce the serious inflationary impact of foreign demand" in section 3(2)(C) of such Act [50 App.U.S.C.A. § 2402(2)(C) ] ), impose such restrictions as specified in any rule under subsection (a) of this section on exports of coal, petroleum products, natural gas, or petrochemical feedstocks, and such supplies of materials and equipment.

(d) Restrictions and national interest

Any finding by the President pursuant to subsection (a) or (b) of this section and any action taken by the Secretary of Commerce pursuant thereto shall take into account the national interest as related to the need to leave uninterrupted or unimpaired--

(1) exchanges in similar quantity for convenience or increased efficiency of transportation with persons or the government of a foreign state,

(2) temporary exports for convenience or increased efficiency of transportation across parts of an adjacent foreign state which exports reenter the United States, and

(3) the historical trading relations of the United States with Canada and Mexico.

But flexibility requires security to make those choices.

Port Arthur might be politically and militarily secure, but that's not all there is to security. Port Arthur is 7 feet (just over 2m) above sea level, and has been affected by a tropical storm of some kind 49 times in the last 140 years, most recently by Hurricane Ike in 2008. The Motiva refinery was shut down for about a week after Ike, and took a week or so longer to get back to full capacity. While the refinery itself had little damage, it's hard to keep a refinery running when electrical power is off, many of the workers no longer have homes, and most of the roads in the area are blocked by flood debris.

With the coastal areas sinking and sea level rising it's hard to call that area secure, even without the hurricanes. And we've already had two named storms in the Atlantic this season, both before the official start of the Hurricane Season.

The Union of BC Indian Chiefs

OPEN LETTER: Unacceptable Request for Comments on Proposed Regulations to Implement Proposed CEAA 2012

Dear Prime Minister, Minister Oliver, Minister Ashfield and Mr. McCauley:

The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) strongly contests the federal government’s current request for comments on the proposed regulations to implement the proposed Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012. We do so based on the lack of consultation with First Nations and because of the inclusion of massive changes to the environmental assessment process within an omnibus bill. Providing comments on the regulations serves the political aim of gutting and revising the current environmental assessment process to the detriment of Aboriginal Title, Rights, and Treaty Rights, and the environment. We will not participate in this flawed process because we do not want to legitimize it in any way. We call on your government to stop the implementation of the proposed Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 and keep the current Canadian Environmental Assessment Act in place unless and until a comprehensive and honourable engagement process is undertaken including consultation with First Nations.

Vancouver Oil Sands Tanker Spill Could Cause Evacuation Nightmare

Diluted bitumen creates toxic cloud public would be forced to flee, as occurred in Kalamazoo.

Stinking. Toxic. Explosive. These words could describe the cloud of fumes filling the airshed of the Lower Mainland if there was a tanker spill of diluted bitumen in Vancouver harbour. The public health emergency and potential evacuation of large parts of the city might easily overshadow the more well known consequences of an oil spill as local authorities struggle to move hundreds of thousands of people out of harm's way.

This nightmare scenario for Vancouver residents and local emergency planners has been created by a confluence of global forces, corporate decisions and lack of government oversight that may result in a steep increase in tanker shipments of hazardous cargo through the "greenest city in the world" and regional home to more than two million people.

2008 Was A Practice Run Compared To What Comes Next

2008 was a practice run, or a warning shot across the bow, compared to what is coming over the next few years.

2008 did not demonstrate what a liquidity crunch really means, but this time we are going to find out. As with many aspects of financial crisis, Greece is the canary in the coalmine, demonstrating what happens when liquidity disappears and it ceases to be possible to connect buyers and sellers or producers and consumers.

Greece stands on the verge of an energy crisis caused not by lack of energy, but lack of money within the energy sector. This will become a common refrain throughout Europe and beyond in the coming months and years. Loss of liquidity has a cascading effect on supply chains, causing them to seize up.

Capitalism allocates resources based on money. Those without money starve and die. That is capitalism.

It is good for the survivors. There is two ways to increase BNP, increase production or reduce the number of people.

Countries with communism seems to be more oriented towards agriculture and farming. Obviously if more resources are spent for food production and population increase BNP will be reduced dramatically. Starvation is quite common in some african countries but I do not which kind of political system these countries use to have.

In the best of worlds it would possible to increase BNP at the same time as more than enough food is available although the population could end up a little bit to fat.


"BNP" (Bruttonationalprodukt) means GDP in Swedish. I'm guessing that's what BNP means in this context as well.

I wrote to late at night, it should have been gross domestic production per capita.

I know Etiopia are commies anyway. Wich have negtive effects on food production.

Crisis Makes Greeks Wait Even Longer for Pay

ATHENS—Henry Dunant Hospital, a gleaming, state-of-the-art facility in central Athens, is one of the best medical centers in Greece. But quality hasn't protected it from one of the most troubling trends of the country's economic crisis: a plague of late payments that threatens to drive Greeks deeper into an economic abyss.

The hospital's 1,150 employees, doctors included, have yet to be paid any of their 2012 salaries. Employees just received the final payment of their 2011 salaries at the end of May. The hospital, which is owned by the Greek Red Cross, owes tens of millions of euros to its suppliers and banks. It, in turn, is owed at least €20 million ($24.8 million) by the Greek government. Henry Dunant is one of a sharply growing number of Greek institutions and companies that aren't paying because they haven't been paid. Many employees aren't receiving their salaries—certainly not on time and sometimes not at all. Businesses aren't paying each other. And the government isn't paying its suppliers or refunds owed to taxpayers.

Monsoon shifts route via west

JAIPUR: The experts of Meteorological department are concerned over the erratic pattern of south-west monsoon in the past five years. The south-west monsoon, which usually enters the state from the southern region, which includes districts like Kota, Baran and Jhalawar, has now moved towards western Rajasthan. This change is attributed to the ecological degradation in the southern region.

India witnessed an unprecedented drought in 09 and this year the start of Monsoon has been very erratic, it's 5 days late and the cloud of moisture on Arabian sea is just hovering there instead of moving in. It's too early to call but it has all the telltale signs of another drought written all over it.

A similar event happened in 2005 off the coast of Brazil.

The moisture and rain cloud formations remained out to sea, instead of moving inland.

Net result.. "Amazon Drought Worst in 100 Years" (actually in recorded history).

Krugman on NPR's marketplace tonight was refreshingly bleak for a show that insists on a 'chin up' approach by constitution, it seems...

Ryssdal: If this is the first real global recession -- as is being talked about -- what do we do? How do we get out of it? Is there a way?

Krugman: No, it's by no means the first. One of the things that's so infuriating for some of us is that we're following a lot of the script of the 1930s. We've seen this movie before, and the amazing thing is that all of the villains are making the same mistakes that their counterparts did 80 years ago. So it's the same old thing. So what we should be doing, those governments that can borrow very cheaply -- which includes ours -- should for the time being be spending more, not less. This is a really good time to fill in the potholes and re-hire those schoolteachers. And the central banks -- the Fed, and even more, the European Central Bank -- really need to print a lot of money. This is not the time to obsess over inflation; this is the time to worry that if you don't have enough liquidity sloshing around, the whole thing just falls apart.


.. of course, he jumps into some of those 'same old mistakes' as well, with his 'fill the potholes' shorthand for feeding the working class economy with makework. I think gov't borrowing for jobs programs is needed, but should be done largely on projects that have a Positive EROEI.. they will pay back and grow in the long term, but their growth will be at a more natural rate than we've ever learned to live with in recent decades.

But I don't think we should just throw the money away, just to 'get it out there'... it still critically needs to be strategically placed.

but should be done largely on projects that have a Positive EROEI.

Yep. The oft-given example of just paying some people to dig ditches and then fill them back in really is not a good Keynesian program. If you are going to create stimulus, you should at least try for some type of return. And this is where energy-efficiency and alt-energy projects seem like nice long-hanging fruit for the kind of spending krugman wants. We have low interest rates and we know FF prices are going to go higher.

So spend money on weatherization, better lighting efficiency like HereInHalifax does, building alt-energy systems, etc. Certainly people can complain about the return being low on such projects but we can calculate at least some type of hard return on the investment. Put a bunch of insulation in federal buildings and they will cost less to heat. Replace a lot of old lighting with LEDs and there will be a lower electricity bill. Build a windmill and it will produce electricity that can be sold. Again, the returns might not be great but they will certainly be better returns than just paying some people to be forest rangers.

I'm sympathetic to more government spending but I worry significantly about stimulus money just leaking out of the country and stimulating foreign economies.

With what skill base?

Yes, the next problem is: even if we do pay people to play online internet games and update their Facebook pages, the people's money, nowadays, flows out to China through Walmart and flows through their gas-tanks to the Mideast. There are giant holes in the economic system that weren't there in the 1930's. Then again, China and the oil exporting countries own a lot of our debt... but we ran up some of the debt waging war on countries in the Middle-East and preparing to engage an enemy as sophisticated as the Chinese with our mighty F22 automatic pilot-snuffing jet fighter and unarmored half-a-billion dollar F35s... and buying more stuff from them just makes more debt. The bankers make money on all these transactions but gambled themselves into a corner that their wholly-owned politicians bailed them out of using the people's money, houses, and pensions... leaving more people impoverished and small businesses standing empty in abandoned settings like Detroit.


The rich are rich and getting richer. The profits have never been so good. Bonuses are record. There was a full recovery. China is buying cars from Ford in amazing numbers. Businesses selling luxuries are doing great. The Occupy movement got crushed... no American spring... they don't even talk about it on KPFK anymore. The Pan Pacific trade agreement will be passed and we will all be on an equal footing under corporate leadership. There have been American Indians rotting on reservations for decades of decades. They didn't really have a place in the -then- modern economic system either... other than exploitation of their resources and the taking of their lands.

Welcome to the ghost-dance.

When one is young and relatively free, one can be a cowboy, riding rough shod across the land taking what one wants on the fly. But, once hitched up to a wife and kid(s), then acquires a mortgage to "rent" a house, one becomes a wage slave, no longer able to move about with that same youthful freedom. One becomes just another peon to be exploited by the other cowboys, who live in the canyons of NYC and ride the elevators to the top of the mountains made of steel, glass and concrete. These days, even the college kids are trapped with large debts as they exit college, falling into a job market with no good jobs to pay down what they already owe.

We are all Indians now, debt slaves for the 0.1% to buy and sell...

E. Swanson

Pay no attention to what it was that really killed the Depression in the US -- massive spending for WW2. If that's not unproductive, I don't know what is. And after that, after the economy was rolling along, we raised taxes (A LOT) to pay down the debt.

Sure, spend money where it's productive, but don't get all nervous that some of it might be "wasted". The last time we played this game, we "wasted" money on a spectacular scale. It was necessary waste, and we built a lot of infrastructure and trained a lot of workers, but in the end, that money was all spent on killing people and blowing stuff up.

I don't think we fully understand what happened to end the Great Depression. However, I do not believe it was "wasting" money that did it. If that was all it took, why not built a bunch of weapons, then sink them into the ocean?

The real reason the war boosted our economy was that we sold supplies to all sides before we got involved. Afterwards, we were more or less the only industrial economy left standing. Aside from Pearl Harbor, the war did not take place on our soil, so our factories and other infrastructure were unharmed.

Leanan - I don't have a very good handle on the magnitude but I think you're correct. Folks can complain about the tax payer support of the US MIC but those companies pay a lot of fairly high paychecks. And as you point out, much of that effort is sold overseas at a nice profit. Some folks are critical of our foreign aid distributions. But a good bit of those monies are required to be used to buy US exports. Again not sure of the magnitude but the MIC and the ag industry benefit directly from that process.

Not sure how big the net gain is for the domestic economy...if any. But there is some significant benefit cycled through the system. Just unfortunate that much of that benefit is currently being generated with borrowed money. That makes the effort look much more beneficial than it actually is IMHO.

All righty then, why not take 50% of the 'Defense' budget (keep in mind I am an insider) and plow it into efficient technologies (building insulation, more efficient lighting and appliances, more efficient vehicles, etc) and in wind, solar, etc?

Want to keep the moolah in the U.S.? Create and enforce trade protection tariffs and other barriers for foreign-made equipment.

Not efficient..a waste of money..anti-Ayn Rand/'free market'....

...take a good look at eh U.S. military...been there, doing that, big time.

We will have a lot lower medical bill treating the wind farm construction injuries vice the wounded warriors missing arms/legs/their mental stability, and we will have tangible asserts providing better domestic energy security.

For the life of me I don't see the concern over the inevitable Solyndras...these happen in the military acquisition process regularly...it is called a cost of doing business ('Freedom isn't Free!' and considered unpatriotic by many to go on about it, even to mention it.

It is funny (not in the humorous way) how sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander.

All righty then, why not take 50% of the 'Defense' budget (keep in mind I am an insider) and plow it into efficient technologies...

Yes, but that represents an intelligent, non-paranoic, politically non-partisan plan.

H - Some potential along those lines but a few problems. One of the biggest is that we have $trillions invested in the MIC infrastructure. Some could be converted (but at a cost) and much can't. And who's going to put the capex up for that switch? I doubt the MIC companies currently making profits would want to shut down and destroy cash flow while laying down a lot of $'s that won't see payout for many years. So if private enterprise can't see an acceptable profit motivation then who writes those $trillions of investments...the govt?

And what happens to export incomes? Folks might pay big bucks for our fighter jets and anti-missile systems but who are they going to buy their solar panels from...the US or China? Of course, the MIC has had its fair share of Solyndras so those folks need to be careful with their glass houses. As usually a solution is no solution at all if a method to implement that approach can't be devised. Seems like the same problem we keep bumping into.


Undoubtedly the transition will cause pain and expense.

As a historical example, on a much grander scale, we managed to ramp up the MIC and ramp it back down again (concert/deconvert incredible amounts of industrial infrastructure)before/during/after WWII.

I know full well we had less population, and more oil and other resources, and we were the relatively undamaged (save for dead and wounded) kingpin survivor of WWII...but...I can't subscribe to the notion that there is no way to transition some resources from the colossal MIC level of effort we have currently over the course of a decade to something more reasonably balanced with our other legitimate societal needs....we could effect a transition over a decade or so.

As for exports...Russia and China and much of Europe have robust arms industries of their own, and Japan and Brazil and other smaller countries have some respectable levels of home-grown armaments...I personally don't think it is a great deal for humanity for us to sell our wares of death far and wide across the planet in the name of short-term profits and jobs...with the increasing population and decreasing resources this is like throwing gasoline on the BBQ grill.

There is great profit for now in folks playing 'Lords of War', but we are ultimately wasting resources and facilitating unnecessary pain and suffering.

Perhaps my perspective is shaped by seeing a little too much under the covers in my career...

when I was a kid my Dad would buy me comic books...several were war-related...Weird War...Sgt Rock...others...one of the series ended each story with a logo stating 'Make War..No More'

It is past time to mount up a new group of troops, build new tooling, factories, and develop new skill sets, and get busy building the PO infrastructure...if not for us, for those who come after us.

H - "Undoubtedly the transition will cause pain and expense." Only for some of the participants. For others there will be profit and pleasure. The trick is to show TPTB how to transition to the later and you might have a potential to make that switch. Remember the cardinal rule: sacrifices will be necessary and will be accepted...as long as it's the other guy doing it. Everyone likes to think they would throw themselves on that grenade if the circumstance ever presented itself. Have you known many would you think would?

Except, none of this will happen in the forseable future. We've sold the public, that the more military the better, -and the less of everything else the better. So we aren't moving in that direction.

When push comes to shove, people will change their views. If politicians start reducing their medicare, taking away home mortgage deduction, etc. then suddenly they won't feel so bad about raising some taxes on someone else. Especially when they realize that the hedge fund managers have tax bracket that half of their own since they classify it all as capital gains.

It bought us a global empire. That, combined with the age of oil kicking into high gear easily trumped any debt we ran up to get there. In other words, there was so much oil and we ran most of the world, or enough of it anyway, that the debt was not an issue. That is not the case now and it won't work the same way.

And Sweden. We also had a functional non-bombed industry. We didn't even convert it to military production, saving us more time.

What is also forgotten in all this "WW2 spending is what rescued the economy"- is the sacrifice that were required both in blood and peoples standard of living. At the end of the war there was this huge pent up demand for consumer goods (and babies) that people could purchase with the money that they had saved during the war. Unlike our current situation the debt that the government had built up was owed to US citizens. Add to that the factors that you mention - the economy was primed for expansion.

Contrast that with our current situation- where every economic prescription from the right or left is predicated on the assumption that we can return to the good times with no sacrifice on the part of anybody.

From 1992 through 2007 the economy grew at 3.1875%/year. It took two major technological revolutions (telephony and computing) a stock market bubble, a housing bubble, enormous increase in private and public debt. Absent those factors it seems to me that an economy growing at 2% is really not that bad.

That might be part of it, but I don't think it was a major factor. The US economy began ticking up even before we entered the war.

Afterwards, Britain had rationing into the '50s - the golden age for the US economy. The fact that the war did not destroy our infrastructure was a huge factor, IMO.

Sharp Transit Cuts Pinch Riders and Employers

Public transport plays a central role in local economies, but tight budgets and hefty pension obligations are pressuring transit systems, just as the economic recession and sluggish recovery have depressed the state sales-tax receipts that fund many transit systems around the country . . .

Local governments cutting service say there is no painless solution, and Pennsylvania authorities point to Allegheny County as a prime example. Retiree health care, pensions and the like, a problem for many transit systems, made up 19% of the 2011 operating budget of Allegheny County's system, up from 6% in 2003. The port authority—which lost millions of dollars in anticipated state funding when the federal government in 2010 rejected a plan to put tolls on Interstate 80—faces annual medical costs of $11,112 per retiree, compared with $7,054 at the agency that runs Philadelphia's larger system.

The ratio of Allegheny County's transit system total operating budget to retiree costs fell from 16.7 in 2003 to 5.3 in 2011. At a 1.0 ratio, retiree costs would consume 100% of the operating budget.

Capital Destruction in Natural Gas


Pretty much as Rockman has explained here on occasion

Dirt Cheap Natural Gas Is Tearing Up The Very Industry That's Producing It

At today’s price of $2.43 per million Btu at the Henry Hub—though up 28% from the April low—drilling is destroying capital at an astonishing rate, and drillers are left with a mountain of debt just when decline rates are starting to wreak their havoc. To keep the decline rates from mucking up income statements, companies had to drill more and more, with new wells making up for the declining production of old wells.

S - And I'll point out that few producers are getting that Henry Hub $2.43/BTU. That NG doesn't get to HH for free. I'm selling NG in SW La. today for HH less $0.42/BTU. Takes a series of pipelines and processing plants to make it there and all those companies want their piece of the pie.

Yes: on 20 April I was selling that NG for $1.62/BTU. And thus ushered in the end of most of my company's efforts to develop deep NG reserves. As it has done for many other companies. But the time lag won't show the results for a year or so. Snapshot analysis doesn't work very well in many businesses. It's an especially poor analytical tool in the oil patch IMHO.

So, basically...

Gas companies are extracting more gas to cover costs.
This is pushing the price of gas down.
The reduced price means they have to extract more gas to cover costs. Erm...
This extra gas on the market is pushing....oh wait.

drilling is destroying capital at an astonishing rate, and drillers are left with a mountain of debt just when decline rates are starting to wreak their havoc

Does anyone have a good grip on Chesapeake? They have lots of debt and lots of drilling and they are trying to sell off some plays to cover some debt. But I can't image them getting a decent price for those plays since there is such a glut of gas on the market.

Are they gonna go under? Well, I guess if you knew, you wouldn't be answering me, you would be buying CHK puts. But does anyone have any good guesses?

spec - I don't analyze companies like CHK much beyond the press releases. The accounting in their SEC fillings can be so convoluted and self serving I don't put much value in them. But I can tell you they aren't just trying to sell assets but have been doing so for well over a year. I stopped counting somewhere around $10 billion of shale gas leases. And look at the capex crunch they still appear to be in. Last I heard they were going to put some panhandle conventional NG fields up for sale. That would really count as a fire sale given current NG prices. The sale of shale leases helps them on several levels. First, quick cash infusion. Second, they are retaining a smaller working interest in those leases so instead of paying 100% of the drilling cost they might just be paying 60%. Thus less capex needed on their part. Of course, that also reduces the amount of proved reserves they book when the well is drilled. Third, they've been acquiring many of the services companies they use to drill their wells: drilling rigs, cementing crews, etc. These companies aren't selling their services cheap. But CHK's share of the costs goes back into the company. But also so does the monies from the other working interest partners in each well. I can assure you these companies aren't giving those partners a discount. So regardless of how profitable the production from a well may be CHK is making some profit from the drilling, completion and frac'ng activity itself.

A company like CHK doesn't "go under" as a rule no matter how bad their financies get. They may become non-function for lack of capex. They may start to default on bond/debt payments. But they still have cash flow and whatever value is attributed to their undeveloped leases. At that point the shareholders lose faith in the company's future and start looking for a white knight to offer them an adequate bail out price for their stock. It matters not what CHK's debt might be as long as they have some net value left. A cash and asset rich company like ExxonMobil can simply do a stock swap and never put a penny on the table. Typically the strong buyer can negotiate a better trade on the debt. Bankruptcy is always a possibility but shareholders would rather take a beating on a stock swap than to liquidate a company and potentially end up with nothing.

And the most recent RRC data show annual Texas natural gas well production falling at 2.8%/year from 2008 to 2011, with monthly natural gas production falling at 7.5%/year from January, 2009 to January, 2012:


mass - Some worthy take-aways from the article. As the piece describes the lag times have given the cornucopians some cover. But that cover is currently being pulled away today.

SHALE NG: "The...drillers finally reacted, cutting...operations in dry shales...and concentrating on wet shales that produce oil. Result: a collapse in the number of rigs drilling for gas. From 936 on October 14 last year to 588 last week. A 37% nosedive in seven months. The lowest count since October 15, 1999."

"Production lags behind rig count, and while rig count for gas wells has been setting new decade lows, production has been rising month after month to new record highs. But lagging doesn’t mean decoupled. It has started. Production has turned the corner, and not just in one field, but across the US."

"Their pain will continue until the price of gas rises to a point where fracking is profitable. Maybe $8 per million Btu for certain fields. And drillers, the survivors, will jump back into the game. But production can’t be turned on overnight. It will take time. Coal will become an alternative again for generators. And imports of LNG can pick up some slack, but with Japan paying north of $15 per million Btu, it’s hard to imagine that the US could buy it for a fraction of that."

SHALE OIL: Still a bit too early to show supporting stats but have been hearing stories of drilling pullbacks in the Eagle Ford from most of my service company hands. Might not be fair to offer the Chesapeake situation as support. Much of their current problems may be more self-induced. But BHP, which paid $17 billion for oily shale leases the last couple of years, has officially announced they were scaling back their drilling activities a bit. The Bakken is still looking pretty good but its character is rather different than most of the other shale plays. But I wonder, across the board, how the companies will react to the recent weakening of oil prices. Difficult to foresee a specific price that would act as some tipping point but often such circumstances can only be seen in the rear view mirror. Again, lag times cloud current reality.

I've always felt the oily shales would stay very active as long as prices held. The public companies have little choice but to keep drilling. But falling oil prices will likely make capex accessibility all the more difficult at a time when at least some companies were already having trouble paying for their drilling programs.

A note of interest. The OPEC Basket Price stood at $124.64 a barrel on March 13th. Yesterday it was $95.48 a decline of $29.16 or 23.4% since then.

OPEC meets on June 14th to decide whether to cut production or leave everyone pumping flat as they are right now. Will this drop influence their decision? Not likely, I expect them to leave everything as is.

Ron P.

cash flow is king?

combined with a fear of causing more demand destruction and strangling the goose laying their golden eggs?

I expect them to leave everything as is

I suppose that depends on their intended goal. Whether it is to sqeeze importers until their economies contract, causing a price drop from sky high oil prices, or to realize there is a happy medium in which a given export level supports importer economies without going into recession, thus keeping oil price lower than sky high, but steadier. Some members probably want to sqeeze certain importers as much as possible in great part for politically vengefull reasons, while others are more interested in long term profits. We will see how OPEC as a whole responds.

Maybe Heisenberg said the same thing in fewer words.

We are drinking too much water

Our bodies need about two litres of fluids per day, not two litres of water specifically. In an Editorial in the June issue of Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, Spero Tsindos from La Trobe University, examined why we consume so much water.

Mr Tsindos believes that encouraging people to drink more water is driven by vested interests, rather than a need for better health. "Thirty years ago you didn't see a plastic water bottle anywhere, now they appear as fashion accessories."

Also from the same source.

Advice to drink 8 glasses of water a day 'nonsense,' argues doctor.

I've always suspected as much. How much are our solders in the ME told to drink? And how much are their native counterparts drinking?

I'd suffer dehydration at those levels. 3 or 4 litres is more like it during our summer.


There´s one (horrible) way to test the absolute minumum amount of water you need in a given period. You weigh youself. Then you go through your test period without drinking or eating anything. Then you weigh yourself again. Your weight loss is roughly equivalent to the amount of water you lost through sweat/urine. You should be drinking more than that to maintain ideal kidney function.

I know of no sports team that still does this test, as it take a few days to recover from the dehydration, plus it an be dangerous and unpleasant. I beleive that the current protocol involves maintaining your urine a consistent transparent colour all the time.

Here in the tropics it seems to be normal for a 45kg person to drink 1.5L of ater in a 90 minute period if runnng or jumping is involved.

The problem is not that "vested interests" are encouraging people to drink more water, rather, that they are encouraging people to drink more BOTTLED drinks (of any type). Drinking tap water has no "vested interests" behind it.

Lewis Black riffs on bottled water and personal health. (WARNING: Saucy Language)

647,762,000,000,000 Reasons to Worry: The Derivatives Time Bomb

The hits just keep coming and with $647 trillion reasons to worry, aka, the total notional derivatives now outstanding as of Q4 in 2011 per the Bank of International Settlements just released this afternoon and published officially on Monday (click here for the PDF of the full report). The really, really good news is that our Federal Reserve has this completely under control and the trillions of dollars in Credit Default Swaps (CDS) and European Interest Rate Swaps will as always settle without concern.

Anybody who cites "notional outstanding" with regard to derivatives as does Mr Gault doesn't have the slightest clue about derivatives. It is a completely meaning less number and anybody who uses it is more interested in hyperbole rather than serious consideration.

Consider the following kinds of derivatives - a three month interest rate swap -overnight funds rate versus three month libor, a 10 year swap -libor versus a fixed rate and a CDS on Greece. Aggregating the notional amounts of those three transaction to estimate the amount of risk is just absurd. A billion three month interest rate swap probably has less risk in it than a $10Million CDS on Greece.

Furthermore when offsetting positions are entered into, the original position is not extinguished. Thus if I had $100MM going one way and offset it at a later date with $100 going the other way with the same counterparty we both would have notional outstanding of $200 million i.e. an aggregate of $400 million when in fact (because of netting arrangements incorporated into the legal documents) our net exposure is zero!

Phantom Eye: Liquid-hydrogen powered unmanned aircraft completes first flight

Boeing's Phantom Eye unmanned airborne system (UAS) completed its first autonomous flight June 1 at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

After touching down, the vehicle sustained some damage when the landing gear dug into the lakebed and broke.

... AKA 'Flying Bomb'

German minister warns of rising electricity prices

German Economy Minister Philip Roesler said Tuesday that the country needs to do more to ensure the steady and reasonably priced availability of electricity as the country phases out nuclear power over the next decade.

The debate on the country's energy switchover currently "lacks honesty" as electricity prices will be rising amid high subsidies for the renewable energies that are set to replace nuclear power by 2022, he said. Energy prices cannot be predicted exactly — especially as a massive amount of investment is needed to upgrade the electricity grid and power generation — "but it won't be cheaper," Roesler said.

The government has yet to find a strategy of how to keep fossil-fuel plants online as a backup. These older power stations have been stripped of their profitability because the priority given to renewable energy. Several energy companies are also threatening to close some of them.

Startup creates new type of electrolyte for better and cheaper lithium ion battery

The startup, called Boulder Ionics, has apparently found a way to get more bang for the buck with lithium ion batteries by creating a liquid electrolyte out of ionic salts that performs better than anything else currently being used.

They say, for example, that a regular car battery, the kind used in gasoline powered vehicles to start the engine, using its new electrolyte, would be reduced from the current size to something no bigger than a flashlight.

Thus far the company has built and shown off key pieces of its technology and that has been enough to attract $4.3 million in investment funds, which suggests the companies claims are realistic.

Steal Metal: "The punishment is minimal. The success rate is high." Quote from a cop. Copper theft rampant.

Why we're doomed.

Article in local SF paper: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/06/03/MN0F1OHQAU.D...

This is one of the reasons why cell phones exploded in Africa . . . copper transmission lines were stolen so much that it was difficult to keep up a good wired network. Wireless phones helped reduce the need for copper wires and thus allowed a telecommunication network to blossom easier.

Greenpeace maps way to saving Arctic from oil drilling

The environmental group launched an "energy roadmap" for cutting oil demand by about 80 percent, especially for transport, by making cars more energy efficient and making wider use of electric mass transit systems.

It called for an investment of $1.2 trillion (965.4 billion euros) a year globally in new power plants up to 2050 to implement its roadmap, noting that the sum amounted to about one percent of the world's annual GDP.

Canada oil output growth upgraded by 500,000 bpd

Canadian oil output is poised to surge ahead far faster than expected only a year ago, the industry's main lobby group said on Tu esday, boosting its forecast for 2020 production by half a million barrels a day.

Total output from the United States' top energy supplier is now expected to jump by 57 percent to 4.7 million barrels per day by the end of the decade due to a new boom in light oil from shale and other tight rock formations and from multibillion-dollar investments in oil sands projects, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said in its closely watched annual outlook.

Exxon Sees Big Shale-Oil Potential in Siberia

... "There is huge shale potential in shale rocks in West Siberia...we just don't know what the quality is," Mr. Tillerson said in an interview.

The exploration work will take years to establish if the reserves are commercially viable and are part of a strategic agreement Exxon reached earlier this year with state-controlled Rosneft, Russia's largest oil producer.

Texas-based Exxon is also exploring shale-gas opportunities in China, he said, where shale could potentially have as big an impact as it had in the US. China's shale gas would have a slower lead-up process than in the U.S. as "they don't have the existing infrastructure as in the U.S., built over a 50- or 60-year period that is needed to facilitate rapid commercialization, such as pipelines, gathering systems, distribution systems.

This is not a Nostalgia Column

... We are living in a culture with its eyes fixed firmly on the past, but don’t call it nostalgia. The kids who are writing the steamy dramas drunk with the hot passions of days gone by weren’t alive to see them. They’re celebrating glory days they never lived. It’s a kind of past-envy, a sign of a society that doesn’t believe in its own future.

The past has always held some fascination for the present, though not as much as the future. But today the future is nobody’s muse. Futuristic art, dreams, plans: they all take an optimism this age is lacking. When a movie about the future is made these days, it’s always a dystopian future. ... Hope and drive and progress and confidence are out of favor now. They seem corny.

Hope and drive and progress and confidence are out of favor now.

Boo hoo, the kids aren't hopeful and confident. Maybe they've noticed they can't afford to move out of their parents house, which is being foreclosed on anyway.

Beyond that, there is no culture left, it's all homogenized corporate created marketing. They're just recycling what worked before.

Things are getting better. They may not be as good as yesterday, but they're sure to be better than tomorrow!

"Beyond that, there is no culture left,"

It sure might seem like that if you are gauging by what's on TV or in Magazines or at the Mall. Luckily, there are other places to look.

(Like right here, for instance.)

I don't watch TV or subject myself to much mainstream media, and I know there are some genuine sparks of culture left, and one thing I expect from the difficult times ahead is an improvement in genuine, meaningful cultural expression. When people are hurting they need it. But the article being discussed was dealing with current popular corporate crap as if it were a real expression, so that is what I was addressing.

Analysis: High U.S. corn prices warn of summer shortage

From Ohio to Kansas, corn is selling at startlingly high prices, so high that they are signaling the United States will run short of corn this summer.

If it does run short, the impact could be felt worldwide. Sales to big export customers like Mexico, Japan, South Korea, and China could take a hit as America grows 40 percent of the corn sold on the world market.

These continued high prices have also sharpened arguments by analysts that the government may not have a reliable picture of the shrinking stockpile. Some analysts say the Agriculture Department has over-estimated the supply, so that the situation is worse than it looks.

... traders and analysts have complained since June 2010 that USDA is too optimistic about stocks and USDA's estimates of stocks are less reliable than they used to be.

... seems like the EIA isn't the only agency that's cooking the books.

Thanks. I have been waiting for this news. I would expect spot shortage reports to start appearing in the media soon.

BP accused of attack on academic freedoms after scientists subpoenaed
Oceanographers say they fear erosion of scientific process after they were forced to turn over emails related to BP oil spill


This, on top of those nauseating BP ad's about how everything is just fine and dandy on the Gulf Coast now.

" Science is now officially dead in the US. Science MUST pursue avenues heuristically, and that is now impossible. All that is left in America is freedom to kow-tow to the official line given by the corporations."
" Scientists are, first and foremost, creators of ideas, formenters of new lines of enquiry, explorers and discoverers in the lab and the library rather than the jungles and the mountains."
" And that has been taken from them."
" Why stay where you're not wanted? Overpaid zoo exhibits for the corporate sector. America's population is said to be 46% Creationist, 77% of Americans believe in Angels and 70% of Americans believe Global Warming is a hoax. Would you want to live on a street where one in two wants you burning in hellfire and three in four would trust the schizophrenics before they'd trust you?"

Time to go.

"...and 70% of Americans believe Global Warming is a hoax."

It depends on who you ask.

Yale Study: Americans Believe Lie of Climate Change Despite Actual Science

The Christian Science Monitor reported that because of the recent extreme weather, a majority of Americans say the US weather is getting worse and believe that global warming made several high profile weather events even worse...

...Leiserowtiz became focused in his study on what had to happen to the earth’s weather patterns before the American public was convinced of man’s sole responsibility for those changes. The survey was conducted on more than 1,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 90+ over the course of the month of March in 2012.

• 72% of Americans questioned said they believe global warming was worse due to warm winter of 2011.

• 70% replied they blamed heat waves in 2011 on man-made climate change.

• 69% blames droughts on global warming

• 61% blame snowfall in 2010 and 2011 on climate change

• 63% blame flooding in the Mississippi on global warming

• 59% blame Hurricane Irene on climate change

Jeez... Americans' disconnect is bad enough without both sides of every issue 'exaggerating facts'.

Exclusive: Chesapeake CEO McClendon hires ex-SEC lawyer

CEO Aubrey McClendon has retained Marvin Pickholz, a partner with Duane Morris and a former assistant director of enforcement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He is counseling McClendon in connection with the SEC inquiry into loans he obtained from an investment firm doing business with the natural gas company.

The SEC is looking into whether the loans posed a conflict of interest or should have been disclosed to shareholders.

The loans from investment funds managed by EIG Global Energy Partners enabled McClendon to participate in a special perk which awarded him as much as a 2.5 percent interest in every well drilled by Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake each year.

Congressional study warns of dire US debt outlook

The Congressional Budget Office [CBO] said that under present policy, in which current tax rates are upheld and lawmakers do not curb entitlements, the portion of national debt held by the public would soar from 70 percent of GDP as forecast for the end of 2012 to 100 percent of GDP in just over a decade.

"After that, the growing imbalance between revenues and spending, combined with spiraling interest payments, would swiftly push debt to higher and higher levels," the CBO said in its 2012 Long-term Budget Outlook.

"Debt as a share of GDP would exceed its historical peak of 109 percent by 2026, and it would approach 200 percent in 2037."

For starters we could let the budget sequester do its job.

But...Rockman is right in his reply to me upthread...TPTB do not want to fall on the grenade...



The cuts come largely from federal worker benefits, food stamps, Medicaid, Social Security block grants, and cuts to President Obama's signature health and financial reform initiatives.

Defense spending, which was to see half of the automatic cuts, is spared from reductions in the bill. Democrats offered motions and amendments, all of which were defeated, proposing to replace cuts to social programs with tax increases on oil companies and companies that send jobs overseas.

Here's an idea: Let the sequester stand, and add the Democrat-proposed tax increases as outlined above...and let the tax cuts signed by President Bush and re-authorized by President Obama expire.

I am a little lost in the sauce as to what these cuts really would amount to...are they actual cuts in the inflation-adjusted budget?

I saw a comment at one news site claiming that the custs would amount to 8% of the DoD budget, and another comment (below) claiming that the cuts are simply cuts in the rate of increase in spending:

After the sequester, overall spending will still increase by $1.65 trillion by 2021. Defense spending will increase 16% and non-defense discretionary 6%.

Does anyone here have a handle on what the facts of the matter are? Are these 'cuts' calculated against a projected baseline of spending that increases each year to keep up with inflation...which I was taught at college as being ~ 6%/year historical average in the U.S.

Meh--TPTB don't write news articles making the math/accounting clear, and the Congress likely will weasel out all but the most token 'cuts' anyway. The faux-BAU zombie will keep shambling on until it can't any longer some day...

That last budget reduction proposal I reviewed carefully was a reduction in the increase future spending. I imagine this is more of the same and I am not going to take time to look into again because I agree with your last written thought. The reason that the deficit is reduced in these forecasts is because GDP will grow and create more tax revenue (than the increase in spending under the future increase reduction budget proposal). I think the assumed of tax revenue growth is flawed and there is no way to actually reduce the deficit which may mean the US will default someday (I would say certainly default, but, of course, you cannot discount magic saving the day).

And my rainy day fund is 100% invested in US Treasuries. Funny world I live in.

I hear there is a nice sting quartet playing soothing classical music topside...why don't we go up and have a listen, drink the last campaign, and toast the sea!

Climate-Change Deniers Have Done Their Job Well

... In other words, a small cadre of fervent climate-change deniers took control of the Republican party on the issue. This, in turn, has meant control of Congress, and since the president can’t sign a treaty by himself, it’s effectively meant stifling any significant international progress on global warming. Put another way, the various right wing billionaires and energy companies who have bankrolled this stuff have gotten their money’s worth many times over.

I was tuning along the A.M. band and came across a couple speaking in country-music twangs and going on about CO2... how it's essential for life... how a corn-field sucks-up all the CO2 in about five minutes... about how silly the whole thing was.

The Rumbling of Distant Thunder

If you go to most peak oil events, as a result, you can count on a flurry of panels and lectures pointing out the reasons why our civilization’s attempt to extract limitless resources out of a finite planet won’t work, can’t work, and isn’t working. ...

What you won’t get is any serious discussion about what can be expected to happen on the downside of Hubbert’s curve, and how individuals, families and communities might be able to respond to that. At most, you might be lucky enough to find a late night discussion among three or four presenters and a dozen attendees at the hotel bar, sitting there with drinks in hand and talking about the uncomfortable and unfashionable realities that the event organizers have carefully excluded from the agenda. It was those late night discussions that provided part of the inspiration for The Age of Limits conference. What would happen, several of us wondered, if the themes central to those discussions were brought out of exile and put at the center of a collective conversation?

Warm Holiday Temperatures Heat Up Gasoline Demand as US Summer Driving Season Begins

Fair and sunny skies across the much of the US last week may have contributed to a fairly good start to the US summer 'driving season'. Although last week's gasoline demand was incrementally lower than the strong week before, and 2% less than last year, the latest four weeks are the best four week period for some months.

Contrary to recent dire economic forecasts of a weak, if not collapsing world economy, the US consumer shows no strong desire to scale back vehicle travel. It's likely that lower gasoline prices, and to a much lesser extent business conditions, have helped lift gas sales back up from the lows of late winter - when demand lagged last year's levels by about 6%. A recent short lived 'superspike' in Oregon wholesale gasoline prices ($1.10 a gallon over NY harbor prices) has completely receded in the last week, and in general, the West Coast region's wholesale prices are becoming more in line with the rest of the country.

U.S. Gasoline Use Down 3.7% vs Week Ago at 9.013 Million B/D - SpendingPulse

Published June 05, 2012
Dow Jones Newswires

U.S. gasoline demand fell 3.7% from a week earlier to an average of 9.013 million barrels a day in the week ended June 1, which included the bulk of the Memorial Day holiday weekend, according to a SpendingPulse report released Tuesday by MasterCard Advisors LLC, a division of MasterCard Inc. (MA).

The 348,000-barrels-a-day drop from the previous week was the biggest decline since Dec. 30. In the previous week, heading into the holiday weekend that kicks off the peak summer driving season, gasoline use rose to its highest level since Dec. 23.

John Gamel, SpendingPulse gasoline analyst, said demand over the holiday weekend, from May 25 to May 28, was down 1.7% from a holiday weekend in 2011.

Four-week gasoline use hasn't topped the year-ago level since March 18, 2011. The 1.9% decline was the smallest since a similar drop in the four weeks ended Sept. 16, 2011.


"Shrubs Are Becoming Forests With Arctic Warming"

" Plants and shrubs in the Arctic tundra have turned into small trees in recent decades due to the warming Arctic climate."
"“It’s a big surprise that these plants are reacting in this way”"
" ...studies suggested that advancement of the forest into the Arctic tundra could raise Arctic temperatures by an extra 1.8 to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (1-2 degrees Celsius) by the end of the 21st Century."
""Previously people had thought that the tundra might be colonized by trees from the boreal forest to the south as the Arctic climate warms, a process that would take centuries. But what we've found is that the shrubs that are already there are transforming into trees in just a few decades.""

""The speed and magnitude of the observed change is far greater than we expected,""

Faster... always faster than anyone ever thought...


'..like snow slipping off a lotus leaf..'

-Zen and the art of Archery