Drumbeat: June 8, 2012

We worry about energy, but feel powerless to act

Americans are worried about the nation’s energy problems and take some personal responsibility for them, but they don’t necessarily feel like they have the ability to make major changes soon to address them.

That’s according to a new survey from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, which was conducted earlier this year and released Thursday.

The survey found that 78 percent of Americans say energy issues are extremely or very important and 72 percent feel that way about gas prices.

Still, they place even more importance the economy, education and health care. And when it comes to finding solutions, they are looking to the energy industry and the government.

Oil Heads for Longest Run of Weekly Losses in More Than 13 Years

Oil fell a second day in New York, heading for the longest run of weekly losses in more than 13 years, on speculation the economies of the U.S. and China, the world’s biggest crude consumers, will slow and curb fuel demand.

Futures dropped as much as 3.3 percent. Federal Reserve officials need to assess the risk from Europe’s debt crisis and U.S. budget cuts before deciding on stimulus measures, Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said to the Joint Economic Committee yesterday.

China cuts rates, fuel price in new stimulus moves

BEIJING (AP) - China cut state-set gasoline and diesel prices for the second time in a month on Friday amid mounting government efforts to reverse a sharp slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.

No date fixed for diesel price review: oil minister

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The government has not yet fixed a date for ministers to review diesel pricing, Oil Minister S. Jaipal Reddy said on Friday, suggesting no immediate increase is on the cards.

Airlines face sting in the tail from cheaper oil

Fresh fears over the global economy could unravel the benefit of cheaper oil prices and keep a lid on financial forecasts for the airline industry when its chiefs gather in China this weekend for their annual summit.

An eight per cent drop in oil prices this year has delivered a quick fix to an industry severely damaged by record fuel costs – but the main reasons for the drop, Europe’s debt crisis and a slowdown in China’s economy, cast a shadow over its recovery.

Saudi Arabia Achieving $100 Oil Signals Output Reversal

Saudi Arabia is poised to rein in oil sales after it achieved a $100-a-barrel target by cutting the price of its crude and pumping at the highest rate in at least three decades.

Clive Capital Hedge Fund Rebounds on Energy Price Bet

Chris Levett’s Clive Capital LLP gained as much as $230 million in May after betting oil, power and coal prices would fall as oil tumbled as much as 12 percent, two people with knowledge of the fund said.

Russia Seeks to Halt Saudi, Qatari Help for Syrian Rebels

Russia is looking to a proposed international conference on Syria to pressure Saudi Arabia and Qatar to halt help for rebels against President Bashar al-Assad, a senior lawmaker in the Russian ruling party said.

As Iran tensions fester, United Arab Emirates nears start of oil pipeline to dodge key strait

The United Arab Emirates is nearing completion of a pipeline through the mountainous sheikdom that will allow it to reroute the bulk of its oil exports around the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf, the path for a fifth of the world’s oil supply.

Japan Cabinet Said to Approve Insuring Iran Tanker Calls

Japan’s Cabinet is poised to approve a bill giving sovereign guarantees for the nation’s oil tankers loading Iranian crude, potentially undermining Western sanctions targeting the Persian Gulf nation’s nuclear program.

India Oil Minister: Has Taken Precaution to Ensure Smooth Supply of Crude

"Whatever be the international development, it shall be our responsibility to ensure uninterrupted supply [of crude oil] in our country," Mr. Reddy told reporters when asked about the impact of the U.S. sanctions on Iran.

He didn't specify what precautions New Delhi has taken to ensure uninterrupted supplies. However, oil refiners recently said they are looking to diversify their sources of crude in the wake of sanctions on Iran.

Enbridge Faces Complaints from Bakken Producers

OTTAWA – Enbridge Inc. is battling industry complaints in the United States that it is favouring oil sands companies over producers from North Dakota's prolific Bakken field, as the shortage of capacity costs companies billions in revenues.

In a filing with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, High Prairie Pipelines LLC charges that Enbridge is refusing to connect a High Prairie pipeline from the Bakken to its system to preserve space for future oil sands exports.

Gazprom unit looking to take over foreign refineries

Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of Russian natural gas giant Gazprom, is looking to purchase oil refineries in Europe and Asia, the company's CEO Alexander Dyukov said at a news conference today.

Gazprom Neft is considering ways and means of acquiring shares in 10 refineries with high refining margins or obtaining access to their facilities, he said.

Chesapeake Energy to Sell Pipelines for $4.08B

Chesapeake Energy Corp., the U.S. energy explorer facing a $22 billion cash shortfall because of falling natural-gas prices, agreed to sell its pipeline interests to Global Infrastructure Partners for $4.08 billion.

Chesapeake Developed Shopping Centers as Gas Prices Fell

Chesapeake Energy Corp., under fire from investor Carl Icahn for focusing on “non-core assets,” has amassed more than $300 million of real estate in its home- town Oklahoma City area, including shopping centers.

U.S. Issues El Nino Watch That May Affect Atlantic Storms

An El Nino may form in the Pacific Ocean within six months, potentially crimping the number of Atlantic hurricanes while bringing rain to the drought-stricken U.S. South and drier weather in Asia.

The Saudi Oil Problem

We’re worried about economic growth, or the lack thereof, presidential elections, and why Europe can’t get its act together. But the big daddy of issues is global net oil exports.

Supply/demand fundamentals favour gold, silver, oil, uranium and pgms

The demand for oil is rising. Year over year, fuel oil consumption in the United States is down, so it certainly isn't U.S. demand that can account for higher oil prices. It's demand from developing countries, namely China. That's why I don't think that oil prices will stay down. Also, the vast majority of the sweet, light, easy-to-access oil has been discovered and consumed, so we're looking at more expensive oil. I don't believe that the world is running out of oil. I just believe that the world is running out of cheap, easy oil. I call it the cheap oil theory, not the peak oil theory. At $200/bbl, we have lots of oil.

This impacts the junior oil companies in very interesting ways. It also means that rising production costs for mining companies are here to stay.

Global Energy Transition Is Moving Fast

Oil analysts already integrate “disruptive technology” in the shape of hybrid and all-electric cars in their forecasts of probable decline in the total oil demand of the world's two-largest car fleets - in the EU27 and USA - and lower demand growth going forward for the world's fastest-growing fleets of China, India and smaller emerging economies.

Disruptive energy economics is also at work changing the energy piechart, especially the future role of oil, gas and the renewables. Under increasingly rational outlooks, oil's share in global energy can fall from its present 36% - 37%, to well below 33% by 2020, this forecast decline being set by the IEA and similar energy agencies as only possible by about 2030 or later.

From Peak Oil to An Excess of Energy: The State of Global Energy

Everyone knows that oil production is declining. That it’s only a matter of time before Peak Oil forces us to find new forms of energy or battle over soil like Kevin Costner in “Waterworld.”

As usual, everyone is wrong.

Citi's Ed Morse Has A Huge Note Blasting Everyone Who Believes In Peak Oil

In eight years, oil may be trading more or less right around where it is right now.

That's the call energy economist Ed Morse made in a recent note to clients. The commodities research chief at Citi says he expects crude prices to stabilize around $80-90 per barrel by 2020.

Morse writes that "peak oil biases continue to blind analysts to an emerging oil cycle turning point" and that "unless the end of history has arrived, the long period of price increases that started in the last decade appears to be coming to an end."

Bill Reinert Describes What the Future of Energy Looks Like to his University of Colorado Audience

The talk began by explaining that we are into the second age of oil extraction, the economically and otherwise difficult to extract age. Although oil extraction remains easy in the Middle East, the geopolitical tensions prevent Middle Eastern oil from being an easy source. This also means that other liquid fuel types are beginning to compete with oil.

We were challenged by Reinert’s question asking us which nation is the biggest threat to the status quo for the global oil supply at present. He explained to us that it is Japan, because they will end nuclear electricity production this summer resulting in 350,000-500,000 barrels of new global oil demand per day.

Forget peak oil, the global water crisis will shake humanity to its core

You don’t hear much about the water crisis in the United States. Water is still cheap here and our borders contain a relatively large freshwater supply.

But in some places the crisis is in flames.

World food prices fall in May -UN's FAO

(Reuters) - World food prices dropped in May for a second month in a row, hit by steep falls in dairy products, sugar and other commodities, and are likely to fall further in the coming months, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Thursday.

Food prices grabbed attention of the world leaders after their spike to record highs in February 2011 helped fuel the protests known as the Arab Spring in the Middle East and North Africa. Food prices have fallen since.

Japan PM says 2 nuke reactors must be restarted

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's leader appealed to the nation Friday to accept that two nuclear reactors that remained shuttered after the Fukushima disaster must be restarted to protect the economy and people's livelihoods.

San Onofre nuclear units in Calif to be shut through August

HOUSTON (Reuters) - The two-unit San Onofre nuclear plant in California will be shut through the end of August, straining electric supply during the state's high-demand summer period, Edison International's Southern California Edison utility said on Thursday.

...The five-month outage began following the discovery of premature tube wear in steam generators made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and installed within the past two years.

Moving From Square One on Nuclear Waste

The idea that the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada is dead has not gone down well in Congress, where some Republicans are trying to allocate new money to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission so it can revive its evaluation of the site’s suitability. But at a Senate subcommittee hearing on Thursday, some supporters of the civilian power industry said it was time to move on.

Louisiana: Two Scientists Surrender E-Mail to BP

Two prominent scientists involved in estimating the flow rate from a ruptured oil well during BP’s 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have surrendered more than 3,000 of their private e-mails to the company in response to a subpoena by the United States District Court in New Orleans.

Texas officials and House GOP members blast EPA

WASHINGTON - Al Armendariz, the ex-chief of the EPA region that covers Texas, failed to appear at a congressional hearing Wednesday about energy disputes in the state.

Armendariz canceled Tuesday evening after having previously agreed to testify before the House subcommittee on energy and power, according to Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

What's energy efficiency and how much can it help cut emissions?

The phrase 'energy efficiency' is often used as a shorthand to describe any kind of energy-saving measure, though technically it should be distinguished from energy conservation – a broader term which can also include forgoing a service rather than changing the efficiency with which it is provided. Examples of energy conservation include turning down a thermostat in the winter or walking to the shops rather than driving there.

Norway: New cross-Party climate compromise agreed

Opposition Parties the Conservatives (H), Liberals (V), and Christian Democrats (KrF) and the tri-Partite coalition settled their climate differences reaching a new climate compromise, Thursday.

Amongst measures agreed are continued electric car benefits until 2017, increased climate technology fund financing, more investment in public transport, and tougher measures in the construction sector.

MEXICO: Farmers Use Traditional Knowledge to Deal with Climate Change

MEXICO CITY (IPS) - Small farmers in Mexico, who receive little institutional support, are drawing on their traditional knowledge to deal with and adapt to climate change, experts say."Campesinos (peasants) have a strong tradition of expanding their territory, which makes them quite flexible" in dealing with new conditions, Fernando Briones, a researcher at the public Centre for Research and Higher Studies in Social Anthropology (CIESAS), told IPS.

U.S. Experienced Second Warmest May, Warmest Spring On Record, NOAA Reports

ScienceDaily — According to NOAA scientists, the average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during May was 64.3°F, 3.3°F above the long-term average, making it the second warmest May on record. The month's high temperatures also contributed to the warmest spring, warmest year-to-date, and warmest 12-month period the nation has experienced since recordkeeping began in 1895.

Re: Citi's Ed Morse Has A Huge Note Blasting Everyone Who Believes In Peak Oil

Here we have an economist says the oil companies have increased spending for new oil discoveries by a factor of 6, so there must be more oil about to reach the market, even though the discoveries haven't kept up with consumption. But, all that money sunk into the ground just gotta give us more oil, economics says it must happen! Oh, you don't have a job? Just wait, the economy will turn around, the economist are all saying that sustainable growth is just around the corner! Everything's OK, party on kids!

(I gotta lay off the sarcanol)

E. Swanson

Well, everybody's got something to sell.

If you buy their debt and "investments" then they win by making money on the commission. If you go into debt to them, they win by collecting interest, backed up by the force of law and the point of a gun.

If, however, you prepare for energy descent and take the rest of your money and put it into precious metals outside of the banking system, you win and they lose.

Your choice.

Or you can do like many of us on TOD have done- invest in things which will decrease our energy usage and therefore energy costs. With Bush's "stimulus" check I bought a folding bike which has saved me a lot of car usage by being able to take my bike on the train to get places. We put in triple-paned highly efficient windows in the second floor and cut
20% on our natural gas usage and need for AC in the summer. We have a Prius which gets 50 MPG but more than that I save $300 per month on commuting costs by buying a monthly Rail pass and using our company shuttles to get to work. We installed a "97%" energy efficient furnace and insulated and saved another 40% on natural gas usage even controlling for
the Climate changed warm winter. I am in the process of installing a solar carport
which will take electricity bills to $3 or less per month.
As far as finances, we paid off our mortgage to the banksters with a 3% Home equity line of credit from the Credit Union which is used to provide temporary funding for these
energy saving investments...

The goal is as little costs for basic living as possible....

invest in metals ? here ? in the uk ?

LoL! they'll have that off you in a trice! by point of a gun if nessacery but mainly by public pressure via the media and mostly by the fact that all precious metals sales are recorded...

they will know if you're lying and they will come for you - and YOU will be in the wrong by your peers, think about it!

here in the uk atleast you need to join the land owners - so it has been , so it will be in the future


I am beginning to think that a investment into metal ammunition may be better than metal PM's, simply for the social and political implications of holding PM's after the crash.

Why not combine the two? Silver bullets! Good for werewolves, and I think they work on marauding zombie hordes, though I'm no expert.

Silver bullets no good if Werewolf has already got its fangs in your neck. See comment on Greer's blog this week.

Well yes, the idea is to be prepared.

"I think they work on marauding zombie hordes, though I'm no expert."
Naw, ya wanna use the real deal:

I should have known someone was actually marketing Zombie-ammunition.

The best metal investing advice I saw - invest in old hand tools.

I'd make that "Renewable Energy tools". But that said, I like to _keep_ the emphasis on the word 'hand tools' for the sake of reminding ourselves how they are - simple and easy to build, understand and repair. High-Tech wind power and Solar PV - no no. Passive solar thermal / all-mechanical windmills, animal operated tools, etc., - yes. Of course, even a hammer is hand-operated and a car jack could be hand operated. I'm talking about everything in that spectrum.

After doing most of what every peak oil aware person likes to 'prepare' (get rid of debts, get rid of mortgage, get to a more livable place, grow your own food, etc.,) I have invested my 'life' into tinkering around with such hand-tools simply because it makes sense to do that as a form of living. Also, while the $$ is around, with the 'growing market share' (pun intended) for such tools, I'm sure we could convince some guy with the $$ to invest in such a venture? Better than that money being invested in a "Web 2.0" or a "Mobile Technology" company?

Agree on hand tools, not on PV. I expect most of our PV modules to be useful for decades and have some tools that can be run PV direct, such as my 24 volt DC bench grinder. The motor can also be used for my wood lathe, drill press, or any other belt driven device.


Totally agree with tools, buying some land, getting rid of debt, etc. This is a foundation.

More important, or just as important, is improving ones skill set. If you are all thumbs and don't get how things work, a person had better better develop some useful and necessary skills that others might need. Obviously, you do this. I have found it amazing how many helpless folks choose to simply pay people to do everything for them. Don't they realize how satisfying it is to do for oneself??

I have spent most of my life building just about everything... as a carpenter. Teaching shop for a wage the last 15 years, I asked to be reassigned to metalwork and mechanics a few years ago. What a journey!! Retiring to our'farm' next January, the transition will be formal welding certification through our local college, pretty basic, but does involve aluminum and stainless. With my son an industrial electrician, we are making plans to set up a remote maint/building company to service outlying logging camps, homes, etc. Granted, going forward these outposts might decline, but if you live in the boonies you have to be versatile.

Some might be interested in this. I am just completing 'the last math class' I will ever have to teach. Instead of a final exam I assigned a final project. Students had to choose one of 5 options....a tiny house (as per the new movement), a small cabin, an alternative post/beam structure (stackwall or cordwood for our area.....much like 'the garbage warrior' with packed earth)or social housing...either conversion of an existing structure or re and re shipping containers into housing, etc. The first week was blueprints and drafting....mostly to reinforce the spatial aspect of 'life math' including scale. The final 3 classes will be the math involved including financing, saving for down payment, payment options, ...all of which is contrasted with the traditional form of debt slavery of long term mortgages in over regulated zoning environments. Our project theme is "there are different ways to live".

This is a poor school. Many of these kids live in rented crap. There is also a eclectic rural group from the outlying islands, very creative, self-sufficient, etc. They are the most accepting and thankful/polite young people I have ever met. They have taken to this project like nothing I have ever seen. I gave them the option of a traditional final exam as per text and course work, or this. Because this course does not have a Provincial final, I had the leeway to be creative. The really bright kids have been encouraged to stream back to pre-calc, but most of these folks are headed into the trades and plan to call it finished when they graduate this month. Anyway, it has been very worthwhile and I hope the kids have been turned on to math and understand its significance.

If anyone has worked in the formal school system, you probably realize how encouraging and open minded my bosses are. They have a 'go for it' attitude and celebrate learning for learnings sake. They allow it to happen. We can make bio diesel, build windmills, choppers, blacksmith, etc. As long as the kids are learning skills and are engaged we have this backing. Now, if we could just get the Provincial politician/weenies to piss off we could really do some good work.


WOW! Fantastic, Paulo.

Yes and no --- depends on what you want from the investment. I've collected metal hand planes for over 40 years and am in the process of liquidating my quite selective collection of over 150. The most *valuable* in the $ sense are also often the most useless as working tools. A Stanley #196 curved rabbet is a piece of s**t as a tool but it is very pricey as a collectable since not that many were manufactured because they were so awful at what they purported to accomplish. All the Stanley aluminum planes are nearly as crappy but still pricey --- I can continue trashing my collection;-)


Washington State has no sales tax on purchases of bullion. By state law it is considered legal tender and therefore exempt from sales tax.

Here we have an economist says the oil companies have increased spending for new oil discoveries by a factor of 6

Wow. If accurate, voices a lot about declining EROEI for oil, at least for the factor of exploration.

Throwing six times the paper at it isn't the same as throwing 6 times the calories at it. I'm sure the EROEI is lower, but not by a factor of 6.

There is an implicit assumption in this article that all present oil reserves and all new oil discoveries are of generally the same quality oil, and of the same utility to oil consumers, even though the author is clearly including natural gas liquids and even biofuels here.

If the right type of 'oil' is not available at the right place at the right time, well we could have a 'surplus' or 'glut' of oil - or even 'spare capacity' - and we still won't have enough 'oil' to drive our trucks.

Just ask Saudi Arabia about their diesel shortages. In what may be the most under-covered energy story of the year, Saudi Arabia has only recovered from their shortage by making massive purchases these last few weeks in the world energy markets. Unfortunately for Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Pakisatan, and India, all of which also currently have diesel shortages, they don't have enough money to buy all the diesel they want even though "the long period of price increases that started in the last decade appears to be coming to an end."

Rising demand for diesel revokes fears of shortage
Friday, 08 June 2012 - 18 Rajab 1433 H

RIYADH – Swift action from Saudi Aramco has resolved the diesel shortage problem that had plagued Riyadh for the past week, Al-Riyadh Arabic daily reported Thursday.

The quantities of diesel being supplied to gas stations have been multiplied and the long lines outside of gas stations have subsided. However, gas station workers are worried that the crisis will reemerge during the upcoming summer weeks when demand for diesel peaks.


From the article linked up top: The Saudi Oil Problem

Emphasis mine:

A new report from the U.K.’s Chatham House (PDF) examines this problem in detail. They conclude that Saudi Arabia’s oil exports will peak around 2020 and, under current policies, decline to zero by 2038

Now if I remember correctly from my reading of westexas comments regarding KSA exports and C/P ratio, KSA exports have not exceeded their 2005 rate of 9.1 mbpd and would approach 0 bpd a few years earlier than what Chatham House is predicting.

Westexas, what are your thoughts on the article / Chatham House report?

Inquiring minds want to know!

Is the economy in recovery or is it started on another dip down? Well the gasoline consumption data from the EIA suggest we are headed down again: Monthly Energy Review (click on "Products Supplied by Type")

Motor Gasoline Product Supplied in thousand barrels per day. Last data point April 2012.

Total Gasoline Supplied

We are currently about 600,000 barrels per day below the peak in 2007. We peaked at about 9,300,000 mb/d (12 mth avg) in 2007, dropped down to 9,000,000 mb/d in 2009 and now we are at 8,700,000 bp/d and falling.

Peak consumption is usually in June or July but sometimes in August.

Ron P.


I continue to marvel at our ability to drop consumption faster than the drop in supply. Most on this site agree that production declines, once started, will continue on a downward slope for decades to come. However, a drop in consumption as we are seeing this year seems to be outpacing any potential declines in product supplied. As you state "peak consumption is usually in June or July" suggesting that we have once again survived another "post peak" year. Perhaps the crunch will come next June or July, but for 2012 it appears we are going to see lower prices for longer periods of time.

Interesting times. Seems to prove the point that we do indeed waste huge amounts of oil (people driving large trucks down the highway with one guy in the cab) and that small changes to our behavior can have outsized impact on our use of oil and, by extension, the price we pay.

"However, a drop in consumption as we are seeing this year seems to be outpacing any potential declines in product supplied."

At some point, when the fat has been cut, people will reach their minimum operating level, economically and culturally. That's when things get really interesting, when overall structural change is required and real synchronicity kicks in. We can only rob Peter to pay Paul for so long.

With those who operate from the fat of others feeling it first.

I think most people underestimate how much the state of the economy has on the price of oil. We won't see the $200 a barrel predicted a couple of years ago by Jeff Rubin. When oil prices approach $120 to $130 a barrel, it starts to drag down the economy. Then as the economy drops, the price of oil drops also. That was a lesson I learned in 2008 but it is surprising how many people have forgotten it already.

The drop we see in "gasoline products supplied", which is the same thing as "gasoline demand", which is the same thing as "gasoline consumption", was caused by high gasoline prices or, if you prefer, a decline in the economy. The high cost of all petroleum products was largely the cause of the 2008 recession... and is also the cause of the current double dip.

Of course we had the bursting of the housing bubble along with the sublime mortgage crises that wrecked a lot of banks. I am not claiming that high petroleum products was the only cause, just a major contributor. However the crisis today, primarily in Europe but also in the US, was triggered by very high petroleum prices, though other problems had been building for perhaps two or three decades. It is, I believe, high petroleum prices that is pushing already teetering economies over the edge.

Ron P.

And no doubt the drop in gasoline consumption is related to the 5% increase in public transit ridership in 1Q2012 just reported. Not only are people driving less but they are using more Green Transit as an alternative.
Green Public Transit usage has been growing despite repeated cuts in service and fare increases far beyond any gas tax increases. I believe that IF our politicians finally got smart and actually ran our existing public transit, as bad as it may be, that we could easily cut gasoline demand by 20% in a year. Potentially the Brookings study in May, 2011 showed the potential for Green public transit IF the elite made a concerted effort to actually run it.
Brookings showed 70% of working age Americans already with NO buildout live 3/4th mile from a transit stop in 100 US Metro Areas. HOWEVER the problem is the frequency of service, lack of connections and lack of leverage of Rail. Only 30% of those same working age Americans could reach a job in under 90 minutes with existing services during peak hours. Or course off-peak or weekends forget it! You are waiting 2-3 hours for a train and many lines run NO service whatsoever on weekends. It is a total waste
of transit capital.
This in turn is due to the cutoff in operating subsidies from the Feds for Green Transit under Reagan. Engineering firms, building Unions they all want to BUILD new lines but run it?? What's the profit in that??

Here in New Jersey our teabag Gov Christie is proposing to cut service to 2 Light Rail stops built at some expense which will save pennies compared to the $7 Billion he is wasting on expanding highways.
To their credit the Obama Administration did manage to get some operating subsidies as a short-term part of Stimulus funds but of course that is dwarfed by the $3 Billion wasted on cash for clunkers or the $7 Billion allotted (may never be used the way EV sales are going) for personal Electric car subsidies, primarily for the affluent who still have jobs.

If we could actually USE the existing Green public transit in the US we have and put some minimal investments in providing shuttles, bikeways, sidewalks, parking garages we could be in a beneficial loop instead of a vicious one - each expansion of Green Transit cuts oil usage by the world's biggest consumer along with transportation costs for many Americans, which in turn cuts trade deficits spent on oil and puts more money in consumer's pockets which could help to build more public transit.

I'm not really sure on that one. If you own a car that's twice as efficient mpg-wise (which is easy to get for the average US customer), you can afford to pay twice as much for your oil. Same if you insulate your home and need only half of what you needed before. Both is feasible, and will be done, as it's well invested money these days. In Switzerland, 1/3 of the energy use is for transport, and 1/3 for home heating, so if you make these two processes much more efficient you can sustain much higher oil prices.

Railways handle 32% of Swiss freight traffic and 16% of passenger traffic, but they use only 3% of the total energy required for all traffic.

70% of that 3% comes from SBB's own hydroelectric plants, most generating at 16.7 Hz (train grid in Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Sweden).

from the 2003 SBB Environmental Report

Now SBB wants to reduce it's energy use by -10% PER YEAR till 2015


Absolutely NO Hope What So Ever for a Severe Case of SBB envy !

But Best Hopes for your 30 billion Swiss franc investment# in rail, including the Gotthard Base Tunnel,


# Approved by public vote (in 1998 ?), a 20 year program. Adjusted for population and currency, more than $1 trillion for USA. Many goals from such a massive project, but #1 goal is shifting freight from truck to rail.

For the future -

As of 2013, the company will use 100 percent renewable energy from hydroelectric sources to cover these additional requirements. The proportion of renewable energy used to power the railways will thus rise to over 80 percent.

SBB is also contributing 36 percent of the costs for the construction of the Nant de Drance pumped storage hydrostation ...

They also have "bought into" French nuclear power plants for much of their remaining power requirements. Buy French nuke power at 3 AM, store it with pumped storage and use it for commuting peak demands.

Best Hopes for Sustainable policies,


Huzzah, perhaps it means more and more of the workforce now telecommute ;)

Or they don't have jobs.

Re: We worry about energy, but feel powerless to act

Nearly two-thirds of those polled said a major reason for the nation’s energy problems is that people use a lot of energy and are not willing to reduce that demand.

But the people surveyed were nearly equally likely to say that a major reason is that energy industry does not do enough to make energy-saving products and services more affordable. More than half also felt that the government should be extremely involved in finding solutions to the country’s energy problems.

Efficiency Nova Scotia will pay 100 per cent of the cost of upgrading a facility's lighting system if the projected savings are 5,000 kWh per annum or less. Likewise, they'll replace any PAR30 or PAR38 halogen or incandescent reflector that draws 50 or more watts with an LED PAR at no charge. Ditto any incandescent A19 screw-ins or incandescent exit signs.


"powerless to act"...

I work informally (and usually uncompensated) with friends and neighbors trying to save on their energy costs. "Reducing costs" always gets more results than "reducing consumption". It usually begins with adding attic insulation which, when folks find out how inexpensive and easy it is to blow in another R-20, and how quick (and self-evident) the payback is; it's a good hook ("that was easy and didn't cost too much"), and there's a tax credit available. Other things like ceiling fans and replacing window screens are generally accepted as well.

It's discretionary things that seem to highlight people's disconnect. Suggestions of eliminating hot tubs, usually-on outdoor lighting, oversized refrigerators, and the latest fad: stand-alone ice machines (jeez!), don't go over well. Another item is isolation switches for entertainment systems; folks don't want the extra step (and wait) to fire up that big plazma TV, etc.. One neighbor even refused to let me put a kill-o-watt meter on her TV for a week. She doesn't want to know...

The switch is easy, remembering to hit it before going to bed is the hard part. I put the tv and all its associated gear on a power strip once I realized the satellite receiver drew about 35W all the time. It takes five minutes to come up, though, so you have to think ahead.

What got me was the cost for a timer for a bathroom vent fan. I was going to put one in, but it was something like $20, and then I couldn't find one that would fit the box I had.

I use the basic Intermatic mechanical timers,, similar timers available at HD and Lowes for about $15; fit standard single box. All things electrical have gone up alot.

I found a box full of nice X-10 stuff at a salvage store for $15 dollars. Programmable modules, all controlled by a remote unit, can be setup to turn off/on with a "sleep" button or at a set time. Alas, it wasn't very compatible with an inverter based electrical system. Many new management systems are available, but are rather expensive. Most folks won't pay $500 to save a few bucks worth of electricity.

The X-10 stuff all has its own vampire load. And a lot of it is pretty cheap and breaks after a while. I am gradually going back to mechanical switches.

It is also really important to figure out what the annual kWh usage really is before spending money on changing stuff out. One drive out to the hardware store to get parts can be more than a smaller annual vampire load.

Speaking of vampire loads, how about the now wildly popular Keurig coffee makers? A one cup sized water reservoir has to be kept hot and ready to go 24/7, 'cause you just never know when you may need a cup o' joe. And when you do it had better be ready to go right now. The heated reservoir concept isn't new, but it used to be mostly limited to the big commercial Bunn type machines. Now these Keurig types are replacing the Mr. Coffee's that only consumed power when they were actually on.

Keurig coffee makers do not keep the water hot 24/7 (at least all the ones I have used). they only heat water when the brew button is pressed and only the amount needed to make one cup. It only takes it about 2 minutes to heat the water about a minute to brew and then it turns off. The old Mr Coffee's took a lot longer to heat the water (enough for several cups and brew and then they would typically be left on to keep the excess coffee hot until it every one had there fill and then the extra was porred down the drain. The Keurig is more efficient in terms of power consumption than a Mr Coffee, microwave or boiling water on the stove.

Yeah.. steps forward and back.

The Keurigs are appealing, as everyone in the Coffee line can choose a different flavor, etc.. but the Waste from all those little packets is a big waste source.. I suppose they are recyclable, but in that context is an offense to the concept. It would be interesting to see a reusable container brought into this design.. maybe they just replace the tiny little areas where holes are punched for brewing..

I don't even like to use Paper filters on a regular basis...

joker - Good news: there is a cheap adapter cup you can use with your own bulk coffee. Make a cup, quick swish under the faucit, reload and make another cup...same flavor or a different. I think my wife paid $16 for it. When you calc the cost using their premade packets vs. even high price bulk the adapter pays out in no time.

That is good to hear, it calls for another drink!

We use one of these (10 cup), and pour coffee into a thermal pot; keeps it hot and fresh all day. We have a fine mesh stainless cone filter for it, though I still prefer the paper (compostable) filters for flavor. Totally manual; just pour in boiling water. BTW: This is the most healthy coffee as the surfactants foam up on top and stay in the filter. They also sell a thermal stainless version. Simplicity.

When I know where the coffee roaster shop is in town I'm not going to be using pre-stuffed cartridges;) I used to have cone filters like Ghung's below but I can't find any around here. A small strainer with a filter in makes a good substitute though:)


Ghung; picked them up at Pittsboro Home Store by any chance?

The controllers are very simple and ride a 5 vdc differential from the AC signal. Even with a relatively large filter capacitor, they appear to have difficulty with the high frequency noise arising from the inverter(s) step-wise sine wave synthesis (performance is much worse w/ square wave inverters), and the capacitors also get very warm. That's why I dumped my collection, which had been sitting in the closet for the past 15 years.

Either donate it back to the store or give it to a friend who has normal power.

If you have high frequency noise you need small, low ESR capacitors and maybe an inductor, in series, not large filter capacitors.


I'm confused. The control signal itself is of much the same nature as "high frequency noise". So simply putting a large capacitor across the line will suppress the noise, but also the signal. You'd have to use the right combination of inductors and capacitors.

Electrolytic capacitors are ineffective at suppressing high frequencies.

Small(.001-.1ufd) mylar or similar capacitors may be required in parallel with the large electrolytic capacitors.

I think you missed the point. If you suppress all high frequencies, you also suppress the control signal. So you need to isolate the load from the stepwise-sine generator at high frequencies without suppressing the control signal.

Then you will be needing a band stop filter



The X-10 units are low cost. Thus, they are also rather simplistic. Yes, a better filter arrangement would greatly improve performance. It would also increase the cost. My understanding is that X-10's philosophy is to aim for the lowest possible cost. Reads as, "cheap quality."

Battery operated, programmable timers fulfills the required time-of-day issues (heaviest loads operate only during mid daylight hours). Reworking the battery charge controller setup to dump surplus solar power to heavy loads, such as pond areation or dumping into a hot water heater, resolved my problems.

Improving a collection of X10 units most definitely was not on my task list. Thus I also gave up on my ambitions to cross program the X10 setup with METAR reports to only run large loads when sunlight was forecast.

K.I.S.S. Life is much nicer!

I plugged a night-light into the power strip that runs the TV/DVD/etc, so that if I forget to turn off the switch on the power strip I "see the light" when I turn off the room lights to go to bed.

I also rarely use the TV at all...

$20!!! I had one in the UK, it had about half a dozen components. I've just had a browse to find a schematic and everyone seems to be using microprocessors, ICs and whatnot these days! Mine just had a triac, a few resistors, capacitors and a diode and just worked. Even when the fan died I simply moved the controller to a new fan.


"Mine just had a triac, a few resistors, capacitors and a diode and just worked."

It could be this circuit (in Fig 3):
It charges a timing element at the triac gate. A sensitive gate triac might make this work well.

At 5mA gate current from, say, 100 volts (through 20,000 ohms at 2 Watts), the capacitor for 15 minutes is on the order of 100,000 mfd at 250 Volts (physically huge). Adding an amplifier would greatly reduce the heat and bulk... but it is no longer 6 parts.

Do you think it was a fan speed controller? There, the diode would be a diac. The parts would be running on A.C. at the mains frequency.

The timer problem is a little more complex. A D.C. supply is constructed as the base reference. Gain stages are used, say within a 555 timer, to reduce the size of the timing components. But, these days, a whole computer system on a chip is cheaper than the old 555 timer integrated circuit and its support components... isn't that something.

Includes 10-bit A/D convertor. Fifty cents each in hundreds.

That is something.. I'm building a circuit with 555's right now.. it's funny how you can be a Hi-tech alien to one person just talking about 'diodes & resistance', and then embarrassingly old-fashioned, when the next person you see finds out you're still working with through-hole, unprogrammed components.

It's dizzying. I need to go look at my blinky lights again, and soothe this rattled, old reptilian brain.

Thru-hole is easiest to deal with.
Check out Express PCB. The layout software is free and intuitive. Fast delivery.

Check out CPLDs. Less brain-damage than a FPGA. J-Lead PLCCs can be adapted to thru-hole with a socket. The logic exists as a parallel construct, not the serialized embodiment of a program.
1600 Gates, 72 Macrocells, In-System Programmable, $2.26
The Advantages of Migrating from Discrete 7400 Logic Devices to CPLDs
A CPLD VHDL Introduction
One can program in boolean equations: give all the signals names. There are libraries of virtual logic parts. It's not as daunting as it looks. Xilinx documentation is cryptic.

Basic Stamp by Parallax

Maybe we're near the end of the party.. maybe.. but I'm constantly being blown away.

I just found a 30gb Ipod on the street the other day, still playing some Bob Dylan.. I picked up a Pocket PC thru Craig's list for $25 a couple months ago to play with driving a Robot.

That little 8pin AtTiny's specs.. Oh Lord!

I'm off to the farmer's market and a spec of Sunlight, before I start playing with relays again.. Thurs Deadline..

To tell ya the truth, the 555's and the 7400 series logic building-block I.C.s are actually a lot more fun: you're actually making something. Transistor logic with little incandescent indicator bulbs at the edge of the boards had even more flavor... but it takes a lot of parts to do anything. With the programmed parts, the sense of sculpture is gone and there is nothing to see. A lot of the effort goes towards learning all the complexities to operate, write for, and program the part. Just figuring out how to make the AtTiny's A/D convertor work can take days (read the given clues word-by-word): it becomes Man VS Sand. On the other-hand, it is much easier to build and make operational far more ambitious chunks of clickity-whir clockwork. There is nothing more baroque than front-panel human-interface logic made entirely out of discrete logic... a task the Basic Stamp does wonderful well.

Here's a project from Lithuania I ran across on eBay the other day.

Arduino IDE compatible DIY kit Geiger nuclear radiation counter /w LCD

HERE's a picture of the assembled kit. It's programmable thru a USB link to a PC...

One still needs to purchase the Geiger tube to make it work...

E. Swanson

Close but not quite. This circuit will run for a while after switching on then cut out, not quite what we want. What we are looking for is the triac to turn on the fan when switched on but remain on, for a few minutes, when switched off. The live feed will trigger the triac through the switch and feed through the triac to the fan. When the switch goes on the triac will be triggered starting the fan but when the switch goes off the triac is still feeding the fan but kept on by the delay charge in the timer. When that charge is drained then the triac turns off and the fan stops.


Yes, the new ones all seem to have more gain in the circuit. $20 isn't looking so bad...

Water timer:

Ahh, nice and simple while it cuts to the chase :)


... oversized refrigerators ...

Of course - if a single oversized fridge lets them get rid of the 2nd fridge / freezer that many people have in their garage, it's a big win. Large fridges typically don't consume significantly more energy than smaller fridges, and the really small ones are typically really poor in efficiency.

"Large fridges typically don't consume significantly more energy than smaller fridges..."

In my world, more energy is always significant. Anyhow, from the Energy Star site:

In general, refrigerators with top-mounted freezers use less energy than refrigerators with either side-mounted or bottom-mounted freezers. However, there is a large degree of variation depending on the size of a given refrigerator/freezer, its defrost type, and whether the model has through-the-door ice.

Efficiency percentages (% Less Energy) are calculated for refrigerators by comparing a specific ENERGY STAR qualified model to the federal standards for the maximum energy consumption established by the National Appliance Energy Conservation Acts (NAECA).

As an example, if we look at top, side and bottom mount freezers (without through-the-door ice) with an average adjusted volume (AV) of 20, top mounted freezers use the least energy, with bottom mounted second, and side mounted last.

Also, the most efficient refrigerator/freezers fall between 16-20 cuft, top mounted freezer, which are the least trendy.

BTW, most of these folks are empty-nesters. Why would two people need two refrigerators, one which is a side-by-side over 25 cuft, a wine cooler and a stand alone ice maker? My point was that these seem to be the least negotiable types of things when it comes to saving energy.

Put a thermometer in the fridge. Recommended temps are 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less in the food section and 0 and below in the freezer. My kitchen ambient temps vary from the mid 60's in winter to 80 in summer so I adjust the thermostat as the season changes. It makes a difference. A full fridge/freezer is more efficient so use containers of water to fill up unused space.

I think there is alot of false economy going on with the second fridges. People think they will save beauceu bucks by buying meat in bulk. They never factor in the cost of the electricity, just the fact that they can stock up whenever some item is a few cents per pound less.

IME, that's not it. Fridges don't really help for buying meat in bulk. You need a freezer for that.

People who have second fridges generally do it for convenience. Often, they have large families or entertain a lot. The extra fridge saves them from having to go the store as often. They well know that having another fridge is expensive, and within families, this is often a point of contention between the one who pays the bills and the one who handles shopping and cooking.

I got a little 7 cuft freezer and super-insulated it with 2 inch foam board. It now uses a little over 200 wH/day, well worth it to store our wild game. Carefully packed we can get a whole boar and most of a deer in it, along with some other stuff. It hardly ever runs unless we open it alot. Our hope is to get a PV direct chest freezer for long term storage of meat and some of our produce.

does the foam go on the inside or the outside

Outside, well sealed with aluminum tape to prevent condensation.

Did you include insulating the lid? The ones I am seeing have fibre inside the lid and I can't help thinking that is an ideal formula for filling with condensation which will freeze.


Haven't had condensation problems. The freezer already had injected foam insulation so there isn't much chance for water vapor to get in.

The problem, as I see it, is that we consume energy without giving it much thought, and although we may complain about high energy costs we pretty much accept things as they are.

My parents were rather frugal folks, having lived through the depression and second world war -- waste or extravagance of any kind was streng verboten. And, yet, I can think back to one daily ritual that, in hindsight, seems uncharacteristically thriftless. They use to fill a tea pot with cold tap water, place it on an electric hob (one third of which was left exposed due to the pot's tall, slender design), bring it to a roiling boil, turn the burner on low, slip a metal ring under the pot so that it was no longer in direct contact with the element and leave it to simmer for hours on end. I'm guessing two to three kWh of electricity were consumed in this fashion each day.

When I make tea, I fill an electric kettle to the measure line, let it sit on the counter overnight so that the water can come up to room temperature, snap it on the next morning and pour the contents into a thermal carafe that keeps my tea hot all day long. Total energy use: about 0.12 kWh per day.

Admittedly, a silly example, but I think it speaks to my point. My parents did this day after day for over fifty years without giving it a second thought, much like slipping a couple of slices of bread into a toaster. Of course, my parents used a conventional pop-up toaster whereas the one on my counter consumes two-thirds less energy (http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/NToaster.jpg).


"pour the contents into a thermal carafe that keeps my tea hot all day long".

I do that too - boil a full kettle of water in the morning, use what I need, then store the rest in an airpot. In winter, I always have a hot drink ready when I come home, and saves heating up the kitchen in the summertime.

It may be a small thing, but it has a lot of advantages.

An electric kettle uses much less electricity than heating water on an electric stove top and a gas hob is less efficient still in terms of its heat transfer. I also refill my kettle immediately after use so that any residual heat can be used to pre-heat the next batch (yes, it's enough to make any hard-nosed Scotsman blush).

Then you have the folks who fill the kettle to the brim, pour themselves a single cup leaving what's leftover to cool off, then repeat the same process throughout the day.

One solution: http://www.ecokettle.com/eco2.html


I had tall, narrow, plastic jug kettles in the UK. The element was right at the bottom, not above it. Made 1 cup or less easy but also boiled that much more quickly than traditional kettles.


My current kettle (a Sunbeam) has a bottom heating plate as well, whereas the previous one had an exposed coil element that made single servings impossible (you had to boil a minimum of two cups each time). I didn't shed a tear when it finally bit the dust.

Electric kettles in the UK are typically 2.2 to 3.0 kW in capacity which makes them twice as fast as those found here in North America. Convenient for users (one cup of tea in as little as a minute), but not so nice from the utility's point of view, especially in relation to the dreaded "TV pick-up".

See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTM2Ck6XWHg


Right about the TV pickup, one of the pumped storage stations was timed to be used when the soaps ended to cover that.


I wonder how much more difficult it will be for him to maintain that 50hz as more and more grid tie inverters come on line, all trying to push that number up higher.

Someday, somewhere a power company will lose control of the frequency to a large number of grid tie inverters all trying to sync off each other.

It's an interesting question and it's touched upon here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=vX0G9F42puY


3,000 -> 500,000 electric cars over the next 8 years in the UK. What does he know that others don't?


The only real way of making a dint in our energy use is to find some way the energy providers can make more money while making us use less, but that is a contradiction as they make there money by selling you more not less. The only one program I have seen that at first glance seemed to offer you a good deal was from a utility here in Holland which offered to supply you with three PV panels with all the bells and whistles, you installed it yourself and then paid it off over so many years through your electricity bill the savings compensating for the payment for the panels and leaving you a few extra Euros at the end of the month for a nice bottle of red wine or a bunch of flowers for the wife. On closer examination the panels were grossly overpriced in comparison too the same panels on the open market and they had mostly likely got them even cheaper by buying a job lot from some Chinese firm who was selling off his stock in the depressed market to aid his cash flow you also had too sign that you would not change your utility for 5 years.

Sadly, a lot of people are correct when they feel 'powerless to act'.

A number of things listed in that article and in the posts here are directed at electricity & heat savings (turn off lights, turn down the thermostat, use efficient bulbs, insulate, etc.). But the real problem these days is oil, not electricity and heating.

There are things that can be done to save oil but they are very difficult or impossible for many people:
-Use public transportation . . . and this has gone up but public transport in most of the USA is crap and not really an option for many
-Buy an efficient auto or electric vehicle . . . most people can't afford a new car these days and their credit ratings are shot. Electric vehicles are very expensive.
-Move closer to work. Well, I think many people have done this, that's why the housing collapse was most severe in the exurbs with long commutes.

So it is difficult for people to address . . . they just grin & bear it. They cut back on spending elsewhere to keep feeding their old gas guzzler . . . and that is partly why the economy is in such tough shape and struggling.

-Use public transportation . . . and this has gone up but public transport in most of the USA is crap and not really an option for many
-Buy an efficient auto or electric vehicle . . . most people can't afford a new car these days and their credit ratings are shot. Electric vehicles are very expensive.
-Move closer to work. Well, I think many people have done this, that's why the housing collapse was most severe in the exurbs with long commutes.

Telecommute instead, telecommute instead, and telecommute instead. (Ask me how I know)

Any job that can be telecommuted can be outsourced.

+100 - I'm not going to post all the links but this is a job killer for the West , anything you can do at the end of an ADSL modem here can be done cheaper in India or the Philippines ( they speak American english there ! )


At first blush,yes. Having said that, many jobs can be done by "hoteling." Here, there is need for presence, say in an office for hands-on requirements, with other aspects being done remotely. Attorneys, for instance, can do much from home; need to be in the/an office for other things, and of course in Court at yet other times. Paralegals are much the same.

Other jobs have similar requirements. For instance, much of sales can be done on the phone, from home. Other parts, training and the like, at the office, and yet others at the place of business of the buyer.

To the extent possible, I would support telecommuting. To the extent a job could be outsourced for less money, the problem is currency arbitrage, not the 'evil' foreigners or the 'evil' owners. Over time, I suppose, the imbalances present will even out and there will be a much lower level of pay for western workers... I would hope that as this happens the distortion in owner/worker pay lessens.

All of this supposes that things continue as usual - unlikely IMO. Nice intellectual exercise, though.

Best hopes for happy telecommuting.


It would help greatly if basic transportation policy were "on the table." As always, perpetuating cars-first is simply way too important to the overclass to be exposed to criticism and democracy. As it is, "highway bills" remain even less debated than Pentagon budgets, despite the times.

Our grandchildren will be sickened, if they somehow inherit a decent, history-knowing society.

Our grandchildren may be the survivors so they may thank us for elimintating 6 billion of their competitors. Our children will curse us as they'll be the 6 billion to die.

-Buy an efficient auto or electric vehicle . . . most people can't afford a new car these days and their credit ratings are shot. Electric vehicles are very expensive.

Even in the current economy some 12+ million U.S. Americans are buying light vehicles each year, currently with a median purchase price of some $29,000 USD. I have posted the links before...please search my previous post from a month or so ago or use the Google to verify the veracity of my assertion.

'An efficient auto or an electric vehicle'...

...I take it you are characterizing an efficient auto as a conventional gas or diesel-powered car...

In that case, also from a previous post of mine to Gail on this same subject: Check out the Hyundai Elantra...29MPG City / 40 highway...from my experience, good fit and finish, carries four comfortably, handles well, decent pep, looks nice, good maintainability....and about $19-20K new...better deals if you buy a few years-old used...maybe sacrifice 2-3 mpg.

Certainly many folks can't afford a new car, or a nice used car...but empirically, 12M can and do but new cars, and they spend about 50% more on average than one would spend on an Elantra, and by and large the cars /trucks they buy get considerably less mpg.

Let us imagine some 10 out of 12M new car buyers buy a car with the mpg similar to the Elantra...50M cars getting 20/40MPG after 5 years of this buying behavior...this would likely put a significant dent in fuel usage in the U.S.

BTW, a 'standard' Prius (not the V, not the regular one loaded with geegaws) and also the Insight come in significantly below $29K median purchase price, and get significantly better mileage than the Elantra, and are very acceptable driving machines to get up to four people, or fewer with groceries/baggage, from point A to point B.

I am NOT being cornocopian with the premise that buying vehicles like these will 'save the World', just pointing out that the reason that more of the 12M new car buyers aren't buying them is not that they can't afford the purchase price...it is that they want something bigger/faster/sportier/heavier etc.

Obviously gasoline prices are still way low enough in the U.S. so that the majority of those 12M car buyers are Not buying the most fuel-efficient models at or under a $29K purchase price.

The standard Prius is more than enough to handle 4 people AND their luggage, unless they plan on crossing the sahara! The trunk space under that hatchback is quite large. You can fit groceries for a family in there, as long as you don't have tons of kids.


Thank you for your report...I test drove a standard Prius and a v...I try to be a bit conservative in my writings so as to shy away from overstating my points...I am really surprised that the smart crowd here at TOD continues to believe that fuel-efficient cars, including many hybrids, cost more than the median purchase price of cars in the U.S. today...in short, that is Not True!

Sure if folks cherry-pick the Volt and Leaf as their exemplars, they can make the case that these vehicles cost more than the median purchase price...but most Priuses are below that, and the Elantra is 65% of the median purchase price. Same with the Homda Insight. There are plenty of other examples of plain ICE gasoline cars with higher-thn-average mileage and lower-then-median prices.

Many people want to ride high, wrap themselves with many thousands of pounds of steel, and want to be able to tow big boats and campers just in case their PowerBall ticket comes in! For most people, big PUs and SUVs are a power and prestige macho American exceptionalism affirmation.

2013 Chevrolet Volt boosts EV range to 38 miles

The all-electric vehicle range of the 2013 Chevrolet Volt will be 38 miles on a single charge, providing owners with a three-mile EV range increase from the 2012 model. The miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) will increase from 94 miles to 98 miles and the total range, including extended range operation, will be 380 miles.

... Whoop Dee Doo!!!

Hey, that incremental amount makes difference when you add it all up over time and across all the cars. That was a close to 10% improvement in electric range.

And here is some bigger news, they just announced the price of the 2013 and they are keeping the price steady. Of course we would all like the price to go down but considering inflation, just keeping the price steady is a price cut. And when you factor the above performance improvement, it is an even bigger price cut. (Nissan raised the price of the Leaf $3K in its second year of production and that significantly hurt sales. EV watchers are hoping for a price cut this year as the Smyrna, Tenn. plant comes on line.)

Things are moving in the right direction, why would you want to poo-poo that?

You say that like it's something to be pooh-poohed, but to see any increment in usability/efficiency in between major model revisions is great - especially when it comes at no additional cost. Typically you don't see these types of improvements until the next major revision to a car model.

An 8.5% increase in range for free in a year in a half is great - and is coincidentally about the rate that batteries improve annually.

I would love to see a similar increase in range for the Nissan LEAF, for example - this would get real-world range up to 80 miles.

I think that 100 mile real-world range will end up being the sweet spot for pure EV adoption. 40 mile EV range in a plug-in hybrid seems to be a very good spot to be in, too.

... miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) will increase from 94 miles to 98 miles

... closer to a 3% increase. Overpressure the tires would give similar results.

He (and I) was talking about the range increase, not the efficiency increase. 35 miles of electric range increased to 38 miles.

The efficiency change may not even be very real since the testing protocol changed.

The testing protocol is reportedly the same between all model years of the Volt which have progressed like this since introduction:

2011: 93 MPGe
2012: 94 MPGe
2013: 98 MPGe

I'd bet that the increase in efficiency comes from an improvement in the onboard charger since fuel-economy when the battery is depleted did not change - any losses there are reflected in the MPGe number.

Overpressure the tires, and tire wear increases. You could be buying a false economy. [An over pressured tire has too much contact in the center of the tire, too little near the edges, so the center will wear quicker. An underpressured tire will do the opposite. Of, course lots of people are too lazy to notice when their tire pressure is too low (crappy milage -and too much wear].

Good quality, modern steel radial tires tread area is stiff enough that tire wear does not typically behave in the way you describe. Under-inflation can cause increased wear on the outside shoulder due to the sidewall collapsing under cornering loads, but you will not see increased wear on the center of the tire unless you are exceeding the max pressure on the tire by a huge amount.

Studies have shown that modest increases in tire pressure over the manufacturer settings (I would never recommend going over the max pressure on the sidewall over the tire) can improve efficiency, tire wear and handling.

For example - if the car manufacturer recommends 32 psi and the tire has a max pressure rating of 44 psi (which is very typical on passenger cars), try increasing cold pressures to 36-37 psi or so. Typically the only drawback will be a bit of additional NVH over certain road surfaces. I typically run my tires around 40 psi - once you get around 40 psi you've reached the point of diminishing returns on efficiency and NVH starts going up a good deal more.

Not the only drawback. You can also wear the tread more in the centre than the edge and in a shorter time. Your handling may be badly affected and increase the risk of skidding.


Yeah the Leaf's range is just a tad too short. Anther 30% would be great. They should provide the option of adding additional batteries in that big hole in the back trunk.

The Leaf's range is a bit short for mass market appeal. However, that should not be the focus right now. Keep it at the current range and work to get the price down to get more early adopters who will be fine with the current range.

I think an EPA rated 100 mile range is where they eventually need to be . . . but getting the price down is far more important.

MPGe, of course, is a massively bogus statistic, as it describes only battery-to-wheels energy use.


Well trying to go beyond that is impossible w/o knowing where the source electricity generation came from.

At the moment, MPGe is actually a pretty useful statistics since the current 'gallon equivalent' (33.4KWH) costs around the same price as a gallon of gasoline. (33.4KWH * $0.11/KWH) = $3.67 for a 'gallon' of electricity. But that is just a random coincidence. As gas prices rise, the MPGe will actually understate the cost economy of driving electric.

But no matter what, the MPGe value is good for comparing the efficiency of different electric cars against each other.

Technically MPGe measures energy usage from the wall-to-wheels. Just like gasoline MPG measures energy usage from the pump-to-wheels.

Since the end-user generally has limited control over where their electricity comes from, this metric makes the most sense when comparing vehicles which run on electricity.

Battery-to-wheels is rather useless, since efficiency of the battery charger (which is on-board on plug-ins) can significantly add to energy usage if it's a poor design.

Wires Turn Salt Water into Freshwater

As a rising global population and increasing standard of living drive demand for freshwater, many researchers are developing new techniques to desalinate salt water. Among them is a team of scientists from The Netherlands, who have shown how to transform brackish (moderately salty) water into potable freshwater using just a pair of wires and a small voltage that can be generated by a small solar cell. The simple technique has the potential to be more energy-efficient than other techniques because of the minimal amount of mixing between the treated and untreated water.

Pairs of graphite rods/wires are dipped into brackish water. An electrical voltage difference is applied between the anode and cathode wires via copper strips, causing the electrodes to adsorb salt ions, and chloride cations.

In keeping with Dilworth and Tainter, this is a terrible idea. Increased reliance on technology will allow for increased populations in regions that have not started to declined in population. This reliance will eventually be manifest in increased populations. Shall the third world reach its population zenith with the first worlds help? The thousand screams of inequality will ring shrill in a world disastrously out of ecological equilibrium.

Environmental benefit of biofuels is overestimated, new study reveals

Two scientists are challenging the currently accepted norms of biofuel production. A commentary published today in GCB Bioenergy reveals that calculations of greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions from bioenergy production are neglecting crucial information that has led to the overestimation of the benefits of biofuels compared to fossil fuels.

Proponents of bioenergy argue that analyses should always ignore this CO2 because plants grown for biofuel absorb and therefore offset the same amount of carbon that is emitted by refining and combusting the fuel. The commentary critiques this method by arguing that doing so double counts the carbon absorbed by plants when the bioenergy crops are grown on land already used for crop production or already growing other plants because the bioenergy does not necessarily result in additional carbon absorption. Biofuels can only reduce greenhouse gases if they result in additional plant growth, or if they in effect generate additional useable biomass by capturing waste material that would otherwise decompose anyway.

All carbon captured by plants is eventually released as the plant matter decomposes. That includes food crops. Sometimes there is a delay of decades or even centuries, when wood (and other biomass) is used to make long-lasting buildings or furniture.

I wish they'd concentrate on the EROEI instead.

Under 5 years for non charred biomaterial.

Decades if the material is charred hence BioChar for Carbon Capture. Another upside is the ability for the charred Carbon in the soil to provide N2 capture from thunderstorms, water retention, habitat for microbes.

Without fossil fuels then we'd have to harvest 200% of the planet to supply us with biofuels and food. Biofuels depend on fossil fuels.

Company solves gas nozzle dripping problem

... Rather than simply pour it, we prefer the convenience of a pump, hose and nozzle. This arrangement makes it easier to get the gas into our tank and to measure how much has been transferred. Unfortunately, it also leads to a tiny bit of leftover when the pump is turned off, which in most cases winds up as little drops of gasoline falling to the ground just before nestling the nozzle back into its holster. And that Canadian company Dram Innovations says, leads to some 500 million liters of gasoline dripped onto the ground and evaporated into the atmosphere worldwide every year.

500 million liters = 4.2 million bbl ?

a little left over ? not when I finish - I shake and rattle that filler hose to get the last drop - maybe the pumps are different over here

and yes I think journalists cant add up - 4.3 mill - hah! oil crisis over for a couple of years until depletion catches up......


Maybe they have a 'prostate problem'

What We have here is a solution looking for a problem.

That number probably doesn't have much credibility, but 4.2 million bbl is a very low percentage of total consumption.

4.2 million bbl / 32 billion bbl = ~0.01%

Financial mania: Why bankers and politicians failed to heed warnings of the credit crisis

Western economies displayed the same kind of manic behaviour as psychologically disturbed individuals in the run up to the 2008 credit crisis -- and it could happen again, according to a new study.

Bankers, economists and politicians shared a “manic culture” of denial, omnipotence and triumphalism as they threw caution to the wind, says Professor Mark Stein

A culture of mania: a psychoanalytic view of the incubation of the 2008 credit crisis

Thanks Seraph - good read - explains a lot.

Shell Battles Fiction

Shell considers legal action following launch of fictitious international campaign

Lawyers operating on behalf of Royal Dutch Shell plc. (Shell) are considering formal action against unknown activists who staged a counterfeit campaign launch event at the Seattle Space Needle.

These activists' tactics stand in marked contrast to Shell's transparency regarding the safety of Shell's Arctic efforts.

"We can confirm that this was not a Shell event. Activist groups are becoming increasingly desperate in their attempts to block our federally approved right to drill in the Arctic, and are resorting to ever more underhanded tactics," said Curtis Smith, Shell Alaska Spokesman.

Journalists are also warned about a counterfeit website and European billboard campaign launched by the activists. The website, at www.ArcticReady.com, includes fake Let's Go ads, a "Let's Go Ad Generator," and a children's game.

from http://arcticready.com/arctic

Another thing our research has found is that people prefer certainty to mere possibility; a bird in the hand, after all, is worth two in the bush (or the snow, as the case may be). So while climate change is a serious thing, and its effects, as scientists say, could wipe out a large chunk of humanity, such outcomes are a mere possibility — whereas the benefits from oil extraction are a certainty. Not only does oil certainly permit our civilization to continue, it is also certain that it could be used to help us transition to clean fuels, not to mention rebuild our infrastructure should climate disaster strike.

Wow, Seraph. That is one scarey presentation.

I guess same reasoning is used by tobacco companies: Cancer is a mere possibility, whilst profits are a certainty!

Imagine the hubris: what sane person uses that measure: profits vs wiping out a 'large chunk of humanity.' Obviously, the person using that rationale does not consider that they will be part of the chunk; or maybe it is just corporate logic whereby corporate people are not humans?

I have given due consideration to alternatives; capitalism is insanity and capitalists are barking mad!

Alternatives considered:

Humanism: highest ideal is humanity
Realism: highest ideal is reality
Deism: highest ideal is the godhead
Socialism: highest ideal is society
Capitalism: highest ideal is capital ((note for you Christians out there - note even lip service to your supposed ideal, that being the values established by Christ, notably that worship of money is evil))

Gotta run along now before I get into an extended rant. Good stuff on today's TOD though!


profits vs wiping out a 'large chunk of humanity.'

Our customers are free to choose our product -or not. They've spoken with their wallets -they'd rather have the pleasure of smoking now, then good health later", You are a tyrannical nanny to suggest we don't let them choose.
Oh, and btw -we provide a great public service supported TV and motor racing and ..., with our advertising budgets.

You just gotta incorporate the right value system to sleep well being a merchant of (early) death.

Ha! Here's the video that goes with the web-site parody. Corporate executives, celebrating, make a liquor fountain of a little drill rig and it "malfunctions." The spill cannot be stopped....


So while climate change is a serious thing, and its effects, as scientists say, could wipe out a large chunk of humanity, such outcomes are a mere possibility

Absolutely. So lets talk about electric cars, how they will solve the economic calamity and climate catastrophe. Let's talk about all the electric trains in Scandinavia and France, let's talk about adding more wind power and solar panels to every roof. Let's discuss how all that will curb population growth, how they are helping species extinction, acidification of the oceans, depletion of soil and waterways, burning and harvesting of forests, how they are stopping the burning of fossil fuels, how they are solving the debt disaster.

Also lets discuss how they will make more room for humans, how they will assist with BAU and increase debt, how they will assist resource depletion and the march deeper into overshoot.

I think the cognitive dissonance is complete. The realization that it's "all too hard" has led people to cover their ears and scream. So for them without actually doing anything they constantly write that electric is good, cars, trains they don't burn FF's if they are run or charged via wind mills, hydro or solar. Yeah right and who or what is that going to help in the long run while we continue to deplete, pollute and populate.

If we don't come up with a somewhat satisfactory replacement for fossil fuels then everyone will strip the land bare for biofuels. Agricultural productivity would plummet. Begin global Malthusian Collapse. No one here says the alternatives are ideal but we have no choice. Doing nothing and accepting a future of no energy is just dooming humanity to collapse.

..........everyone will strip the land bare for biofuels

Don't you think it will be stripped anyway? Look I know I went on the attack and I expect defensive retorts but you really sound like you are desperate to rationalize......that's okay too, it's expected, our situation is next to untenable.
IMO power down was and still is the only hope. Cruel to be kind. You also want to be cruel to be kind, its like "lets keep burning and take as much from the future as we need, until we may or may not find a solution". So what ends up being worse.....

There will be external and eventually internal checks to decimating forests and fuel harvesting within the human population. Although those things didn't really stop the Pleistoscene Overkill. :)

Two points.

One, I point to the operating tram in Hiroshima, a month after the atomic bomb and there the day that the American Occupation arrived.

Truly a desperate time for all of Japan, facing both social and economic collapse, and famine, with half of her young men dead, her industry and cities pounded by bombs.

And much worse in Hiroshima. The center of town is nothing but rubble, 120,000 dead and another 20,000 dying.

Yet, as unimaginable horrific as things were, that operating tram made it one bit better.

Two, this is part of a larger scheme of mine, which I rarely talk about. The odds of success - quite low. But significant mitigation - MUCH more than the tram in Hiroshima, if I succeed.

A few minutes ago I went public with two ways to pay for what I propose on my blog. After a "near miss" in DC, my supporters agreed that it was best to go public.


Best Hopes,


Ever think you're being manipulated like a puppet on a string? ...

U.S. Army Psychological Operations Process Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures Manual

- Behavior Modification
- Psychographics
- Appeals
- Techniques - Persuasion and influence are the primary tools of PSYOP. The following are some specific techniques used to present supporting arguments to the TA [target audience]:

• Glittering generalities. These are intense, emotionally appealing words so closely associated with highly valued concepts and beliefs that the appeals are convincing without being supported by fact or reason.
• Transference. This technique projects positive or negative qualities of a person, entity, object, or value to another. It is generally used to transfer blame from one party in a to another.
• Least of evils. This technique acknowledges that the COA [course of action] being taken is perhaps undesirable, but emphasizes that any other COA would result in a worse outcome.
• Name-calling. Name-calling seeks to arouse prejudices in an audience by labeling the object of the propaganda as something the TA fears, loathes, or finds undesirable.
• Plain folks or common man. This approach attempts to convince the audience that the position noted in the PSYOP argument is actually the same as that of the TA.
• Testimonials. Testimonials are quotations (in and out of context) that are cited to support or reject a given policy, action, program, or personality. The reputation or the role of the individual giving the statement is exploited.
• Insinuation. Insinuation is used to create or increase TA suspicions of ideas, groups, or individuals as a means of dividing the adversary. The PSYOP hints, suggests, and implies, but lets the TA draw its own conclusions.
• Simplification. In this technique, facts are reduced to either right, wrong, good, or evil. The technique provides simple solutions for complex problems and offers simplified interpretations of events, ideas, concepts, or personalities.
• Statistics. Statistics have a certain authority, but they must be clear enough to show the TA why they are relevant. In most cases, it is best to keep the statistical evidence simple and short so the TA can easily absorb it.

... learn from the pros

also How to Conduct Psychological Operations

From NSA ... Academic Requirements for Designation as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations

... Outcome: Students will be able to understand operating system internals to the level that they could design and implement significant architectural changes to an existing OS (e.g., make significant modifications to Windows, LINUX, etc.).

Outcome: After finishing these knowledge units, students will understand the various phases of computer network exploitation, from target identification to data exfiltration.

Outcome: Students will be able to define requirements which lead to the design and fabrication of an embedded system.

Outcome: Students will be able to describe how embedded systems are employed in industrial infrastructures [SCADA] and control systems.

Stuxnet Unbound

... Last week, based on information leaked by inside sources [1], an article in the New York Times reported that the United States and Israel had secretly embarked on a joint project (code-named Olympic Games) which developed the malware we know as Stuxnet [2]. Despite the ruckus that members of the establishment make in public about foreign hackers (e.g. warning that China is a “threat to world order” [3]), the U.S. is admittedly one of the most active players in this field. While coverage in the press may adopt a seemingly congratulatory tone, there are reasons why this is an unsettling state of affairs.

It’s generally known among Black Hats that the United States is a principal customer in the underground market for zero-day exploits [7]. As Bruce Schneier notes, the very existence of a market like this undermines our collective security [8]: ”The new market for security vulnerabilities results in a variety of government agencies around the world that have a strong interest in those vulnerabilities remaining unpatched. These range from law-enforcement agencies (like the FBI and the German police who are trying to build targeted Internet surveillance tools, to intelligence agencies like the NSA who are trying to build mass Internet surveillance tools, to military organizations who are trying to build cyber-weapons.”

Well look it's becoming clear that one of the biggest problems in America is the incredible power of the military and its associated industries.

Aside from a few isolated locales like North Korea or some countries in the Middle East, no other nation on planet Earth faces this.

But, in America, if you ever mention this (either from the right or left of the political spectrum) then you are unpatriotic, America-hating. You are a pacificist who wants to hand the entire world over to the Communists or Islamic terrorists.

And this makes sense, doesn't it? It's a government organization, so it appeals to the left. And the "patriotism" appeals to the right.

In America, the military is untouchable. It will be left standing long, long after the entire welfare state is dismantled. Mark my words. We will throw poor and old people out onto the streets before we close even one military base.

What are you going to do when that patriotic young American soldier shows up at your house with a machine gun? What are you going to do when the tanks block the streets?

Because if we don't reverse course, that's what's coming.

We will throw poor and old people out onto the streets before we close even one military base.

From Defense Base Closure and Realignment

28 page Base Closure List

Agree completely. The last of the world's oil will be used to support the American military in its campaigns against the American people, who by that point will all have become "terrorists".

I mention it to friends, family, neighbors coworkers all the time that the US taxpayer
is spending $1 Trillion per YEAR on the costs of War. I have only had a few veterans dispute the need to stop the Wars and cut military spending out of tens I have talked to.
Perhaps they are all being polite but I doubt it.
This is NEVER MENTIONED by the Corporate pundits when they prattle on endlessly about the
federal deficits - it is always Social Security we have all paid into which is the problem not the uncontrolled astronomical War spending to arm Saudi Arabia and Egypt against Israel, India against Pakistan, etc etc etc. The merchants of death subsidized by our taxes are glad to sell their wares to any bidder even against each other. How by anyone's thinking arming two enemies to the hilt could help bring Peace is beyond me.

How by anyone's thinking arming two enemies to the hilt could help bring Peace is beyond me.

I can think of two ways. The first is mutual deterence. The second is the peace of the graveyard. Rerhaps even a third? They become so proud of their shiny new weapons systems, that they couldn't stomach wasting them on each other.

And this makes sense, doesn't it? It's a government organization, so it appeals to the left. And the "patriotism" appeals to the right.

I have a bit hard to see the logic, here.

In America, the military is untouchable.

Perhaps things are changing. Last month I was pleased that the most liberal and most conservative of Colorado's House delegation jointly sponsored a measure, since passed by the House, to remove an additional 15,000 US troops from Europe. Most surprisingly, the conservative is the one that points out that while pulling the troops out of Europe saves some money, the big bucks will be in discharging those soldiers. This may be the first time I've ever agreed with the man on a policy issue.

Whichever troops the US leaves in Europe may be choosing sides soon :-0

Actually, that is one thing we don't have to worry about. They may attack each other economically, but there is no way European countries are going to war against each other.

I find it funny when people complain about the Germans being so green . . . so into being anti-nuke and so into solar power. I think it is wonderful. It is certainly much better than their previous historical mechanistic infatuations.

I think its more complicated than that. The US government was recently described as an insurance company with an army. "Defense" spending is probably a smaller percentage of the government budget than at any time since the second world war; yet we are still spending about as much money on military stuff as the rest of the world combined. Probably if we counted the Veterans Administration, military social security benefits and the nuclear weapons money hidden in the Department of Energy it would be more than the rest of the world combined. It seems like insanity but who else would you like to be the biggest kid on the block?

Remember how well balance of power politics worked in the first half of the 20th century?

Good enumeration.

A few points:

Please do not forget to account for the CIA and NSA and other such intelligence gathering/'operations' agencies when you enumerate agencies in the 'Military Industrial Complex' realm.

The money for special weapons is most certainly Not hidden...the budget for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA, a subsidiary of DOE) is published, and the approving body is the House Energy and Water Committee. Keep in mind that special weapons delivery vehicles and command and control systems are the province of the Department of Defense...it pays for those from DoD budgets, and the majority of those budget items are published. For the separation of special weapons 'powers', please see the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended.

One may elect to add in the DHS budget with the MIC.

Military members are eligible for Social Security...the military job is like any other job in that respect. In addition, if a military member serves at least 20 years honorably, he/she can retire and draw 50% of his/her BASE PAY (not by any means their entire pay...doesn't include BAH, BAS, and special pays)for life. If the service member stays longer than 20 years in-service, he/she will draw an extra 2.5% for each year past 20, capped at 75% of Base Pay for 30 years I believe, unless they upped that cap.

Military retirees (and their spouses) also get TriCare (Standard or Prime, their choice)for the rest of their daze. Please note that military retirees do NOT get their healthcare from the VA, unless the complaint/condition is awarded as a disability rating at the time of retirement. For example, if I had some level of hearing loss, my hearing aids would be covered by the VA, but not my gall bladder surgery of broken arm etc...all except hearing treatment in this case is covered by TriCare.

There are other benefits, including college tuition (including second degrees and Master degrees etc)if you are interested, see a recruiter!

I didn't mean to imply that the nuclear weapons money in DOE was hidden, just easy to "not count" when adding up the military costs.
I assumed that the Tricare costs were in the VA budget, so retiree cost is, just like our local city, in the active budget.

I talked to a recruiter in 1964, thanks. In January of 1967 I was required to talk to another. That conversation was significantly shorter.

edit: spelling

Resolving Ambiguity: Costing Nuclear Weapons

... This report estimates an annual total of $31 billion is spent on nuclear weapons when costs dedicated to strategic nuclear offensive forces found in the National Nuclear Security Administration of the Department of Energy are included. Although this report focuses on a single-year estimate, it also extrapolates these costs over a 10-year period of time. It then adds in the additional modernization costs resulting from development programs to replace ballistic missile submarines and strategic bombers.

In total, this report estimates that the United States will spend between $352 and $392 billion on strategic nuclear offensive forces over the next 10 years. As with the single-year estimate, these sums do not include modernization programs like the next-generation aerial refueling tankers, which could significantly alter the 10-year estimate.

This estimate does not represent all of US government spending on nuclear weapons-the broader nuclear enterprise-but only an estimate of the spending on a single subset: strategic nuclear offensive forces.

When has the military ever not been untouchable? The powerful have increased the capability of the m.i.c., but the powerful have controlled it for thousands of years.

We will throw poor and old people out onto the streets before we close even one military base.

Come now - that's not true. There is this guy (If I could only remember the name of this guy. He had kidney problems and lived in a cave for a while.....but the name escapes me) who was asking the US to close the military bases in Saudi Arabia. And George Bush did just as that one guy asked. Thus proving all the Liberals wrong - if you asked George Bush nicely - stuff got done!

The military paid him a personal visit to let him know what they thought of his suggestions.

BTW, all this stuff is extremely akin, historically, institutionally, and procedurally, to standard psyops within big business marketing campaigns, a.k.a. Taylorism extended to "sales management." That is an even bigger endeavor than the Pentagon, in dollar terms.

... or, you can just watch Fox News....
Seriously, I sometimes think NewsCorp is unknowingly carrying out the wishes of its Saudi and Chinese investors. Saudis need the income plus the U.S. military at its beck and call to take care of its theological enemies (Iraq and Iran) and the Chinese just want to make sure America remains stuck in the mud politically so it can overtake us this century. What better way than to use the U.S. military's psy-war-ops manual (which has been a dismal failure when used on foreign cultures but works great at home)?
I'm still waiting for someone to put a pillow microphone in Rupert Murdoch's bed so we can find out what he and his Chinese politboro wife talk about at bedtime.

In Greece, a painful return to country roots

As Greece sank into its worst economic crisis since World War Two, Lakka had already given up her dream of becoming a web designer. Even waitressing seemed impossible. She faced a simple choice: be stranded without money in Athens, or return to the geriatric village where she grew up plotting to escape.

At age 32, Lakka, an office clerk who also juggled odd jobs, joined a growing number of Greeks returning to the countryside in the hope of living off the land. It's a reversal of the journey their parents and grandparents made in the 1960s and '70s.

Data is scarce on how many people have made the trek, but as people angered by austerity head to the polls on June 17, anecdotal evidence and interviews with officials suggest the trend is gaining momentum. In a survey of nearly 1,300 Greeks by Kapa Research in March, over 68 percent said they had considered moving to the countryside, with most citing cheaper and higher quality life. Most expected to move permanently.

Ex-Tepco chief denies planned Fukushima pullout

The former president of Fukushima plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co denied on Friday that he had ever considered pulling out all of the plant's workers as they battled the worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl.

Masataka Shimizu had been accused by then prime minister Naoto Kan and others of planning to abandon the tsunami-stricken plant in March 2011, as reactors melted down and the situation risked spinning out of control, threatening Tokyo itself.

McCain Foods shuts down Grand Falls French Fry plant all summer

McCain Foods Canada is temporarily shutting down a potato processing plant in Grand Falls, New Brunswick, a decision that will affect 120 workers.

The company said the temporary closure is due to a potato shortage caused by bad weather during the last growing season. McCain had been bringing in potatoes from Prince Edward Island.

Potato shortage closes plant

Midwest fruit growers are having similar problems due to the unusual spring weather:

Fruit shortage hurts everyone

More specific fruit crop estimates come out in June, but industry officials have braced for the worst. Damage varies by location, but some growers estimate the region may only see 5 to 10 percent of a typical cherry crop. Apples are in better shape, though some estimates suggest a loss of 50 to 75 percent of the crop.

Some growers said they won't approach even those meager estimates.

"When you use the word disaster, you're not underestimating it," said Bill Casier, who farms in Leelanau County's Empire Township.

However, lest I be accused of, um, cherry-picking my data, my home state is enjoying a bumper cherry crop and the problem is finding enough pickers:

Labor concerns shadow expected record cherry crop

Barring a labor shortage, Washington cherry volumes should set a record this year, and grower-shippers expect plenty of demand to meet supply.

As much as 23 million boxes of cherries could ship from the Evergreen State this season, breaking the old record by about 3 million boxes, shippers said.


Here's an updated story from Michigan.

Production forecasts from the Michigan Frozen Food Packers Association show tart cherry growers in northwest Michigan are expected to process about 2 million pounds of cherries this year.

That's less than 3 percent of this year's projected national(?) crop of 70 million pounds, and a fraction of a typical harvest for a region that bills itself as the world's cherry capital.
The state's apple crop won't fare much better. Terry Morrison of the food packers group said apple production in northwest Michigan is estimated at about 2.5 million bushels this year, less than 10 percent of 2011's 26 million bushel harvest.
Peach growers report losing more than 90 percent of their fruit. Juice grapes, primarily grown in southwest Michigan, figure to be down about 85 percent.
Statewide, total crop losses this year could exceed $500 million, Rothwell estimates.
Northern cherry states like New York and Wisconsin experienced spring weather conditions similar to those that rocked Michigan's crop.

Yet, the cold spell barely appeared in the records for low temperatures...

E. Swanson

Because it followed weeks of record warmth. Here in Central NH, my fruit trees were all ready to go in late March. And then, just as they were all breaking bud, we had a hard freeze and then a spell of (normally) cold weather.

And yet, I have apples coming along, and lots of peaches too. We'll see how it all pans out...

Climate change message needs to be closer to home to hit home, say researchers

The study, led by Dr Alexa Spence, found that in general the closer people felt to the problem, the more concerned about climate change they were. It also recommends that more needs to be done to communicate the global impacts of climate change and highlight the severity of the problem.

She said: “Climate change is abstract, and if we make it more real for people then they are more likely to act sustainably.”

... like maybe when their roof blows off?

Drought Causing Panic Among Weld County Farmers

Climate change in Arctic Alaska town threatens fish stocks, drinking water

Victorian floods ease but towns still at risk

Climate Change in Selawik, Alaska

Spring 2012: most extreme season in U.S. history

By Dr. Jeff Masters
Published: 2:08 PM GMT on June 08, 2012
Spring 2012 in the contiguous U.S. demolished the old records for hottest spring and most extreme season of any kind, said NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) on Thursday. With the warmest March, third warmest April, and second warmest May, the March - April - May spring season was 5.2°F above average--the largest temperature departure from average of any season on record for the contiguous United States. What's truly remarkable is the margin the old record was broken by--spring 2012 temperatures were a full 1°F above the previous most extreme season, the winter of 1999 - 2000. All-time seasonal temperature records are very difficult to break, and are usually broken by only a tenth of a degree. To see the old record crushed by a full degree is a stunning and unparalleled event in U.S. meteorological history.

It would appear that warming is beginning to ramp up with a vengeance. We're about to head into El Nino which means that 2013 and 2014 could be even warmer. That coupled with the impending ice-free summers in the arctic, CO2 levels approaching 400ppm and accelerating Methane emissions from the arctic regions we may have already passed the tipping point.


Also, sunspot maxima may add a 0.1 to 0.2C kicker.

Drought ravages Brazil's northeast

Da Rocha doesn't have the luxury of simply deliberating the theoretical scenarios of access to water. He is living it. And so are millions of other Brazilians right now: the northeast of this country is suffering through the worst drought in four decades. More than 900 municipalities have declared a state of emergency.

In Piaui, half of the 224 municipalities have declared a drought emergency. Animals are dying. Corn and bean crops wilted away weeks ago, with no hope of coming back this season. Manioc seedlings planted this harvest died before they could even grow.

We worry about energy, but feel powerless to act

The powers that be are the ones that have to act. And they have to act in accord with the people's wishes or the people are not to blame, the powers that be are.

With authority comes responsibility and accountability, and the powers that be have that authority.

The problem is that they hold the people in contempt, like they do national governments.

"With authority comes responsibility and accountability, and the powers that be have that authority."

Since when?

since always , ghung, since always


Maybe for the authority, but not so the responsibility and accountability.

Dredd is correct. With authority, comes the responsibility and accountability. Whether or not they handle the authority in a responsible manner or are held accountable is another issue, but the buck must stop somewhere and that is with those in authority.

In theory you are correct, however if they don't handle it responsibly and aren't held accountable, the buck stops nowhere. Theory and reality often differ.

This line of discussion suggests why dictatorships generally follow incompetent governments.

Plains Midstream Canada reports oil spill near Red Deer River

SUNDRE - Crews are hoping to contain oil from a pipeline spill in west-central Alberta at a dam upstream from the City of Red Deer.

Up to 3,000 barrels of crude oil have spilled from a Plains Midstream Canada pipeline into a tributary of the Red Deer River.

The City of Red Deer [pop. 90,564] has been told booms will be set up on the river near the Dickson dam and Gleniffer reservoir and there is no cause for concern.

The Red Deer river supplies drinking water for the City of Red Deer, as well as many other cities and towns.

The spill comes as Plains Midstream continues to clean up the April 29, 2011, spill of 4.5 million litres of oil from another pipeline northeast of Peace River, Alberta.

IEA report sees bright future for natural gas over next 5 years

Natural gas is well on its way to a bright future, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) that projects China will more than double consumption over the next five years while lower prices from the unconventional gas revolution will continue to benefit the United States.

The report, Medium-Term Gas Market Report 2012, released today at the World Gas Conference 2012, says China will become the third-largest gas importer behind Europe and Asia Oceania, driving a 2.7% average annual growth in global gas demand through 2017 (up from the 2.4% annual growth rate predicted in last year’s report). During the period, North America will become a net LNG exporter, while Japanese imports will increase, although by how much will hinge on the country’s nuclear policies.

Other key findings of the report include:

- A quarter of new gas demand will come from China, another quarter from the Middle East and other Asian countries together, and a fifth from North America.
- Low gas prices will result in gas generating almost as much electricity as coal in the United States by 2017.
- Global gas trade will expand by 35%, driven by LNG and pipeline gas exports from the FSU region; most of this expansion occurs from 2015 onwards, following a period of further tightening of global gas markets.
- Natural gas is the most important commodity with no global market price yet. Divergence among regional gas prices will decline but remain a feature of global gas markets. The emergence of a spot price in Asia would aid regional producers and buyers.

The IEA doesn't seem to think 'export land' could soon apply to gas as well as oil. Some were tipping Australia would overtake Qatar as the biggest LNG exporter. However there are already rumblings of discontent about piped gas having to compete with exports
The architects of the carbon tax that starts July 1st somehow imagined that all the coal plants would be replaced by solar, wind and gas fired. Maybe not if the domestic gas price has to match export prices. That could mean new coal plant gets built since nuclear is illegal in Australia. Note in the link the fertiliser industry is saying save some gas for later. Ditto those advocating CNG fuel for heavy vehicles.

85 MPH Speed Limit: San Antonio-Austin Highway Could Set U.S. Record For Highest Posted Speed Limit

"Texas State Highway 130 will run between San Antonio and Austin with the aim of taking traffic loads off of Interstate 35. The major north-south highway was named the fourth most congested road in the state by the Texas Department of Transportation last year."

I'm reminded of the Piggy Street-Luge commercial....

EIA says US Q1 oil output tops 6MBPD for the first time in 14 years


Nuclear headache: What to do with 65,000 tons of spent fuel?

In a blow to the nuclear energy industry, a federal appeals court on Friday threw out a rule allowing plants to store spent nuclear fuel onsite for decades after they've closed, and ordered regulators to study the risks involved with that storage -- 65,000 tons now spread across the country, and growing at 2,000 tons a year.
The New York attorney general's office said the ruling means the NRC cannot license or relicense any nuclear power plant until it examines those risks.
In January, a panel commissioned by President Barack Obama reported that a first step must be to find a site that isn't forced on a particular region by the federal government.
"The need for a new strategy is urgent," the panel wrote in its report, "not just to address these damages and costs but because this generation has a fundamental, ethical obligation to avoid burdening future generations with the entire task of finding a safe, permanent solution for managing hazardous nuclear materials they had no part in creating."

Was there ever a better example of kicking the can down the road: We want the "cheap" electricity but don't want to pay the full cost. (and you can't make me do it nyah, nyah)

Was there ever a better example of kicking the can down the road: We want the "cheap" electricity but don't want to pay the full cost.

Well, yes, coal, oil and climate change. I'm not intending to minimize the risks of nuclear, but if the climate situation is even half as dire as most climate scientists suspect, the coming generations will be facing a total disaster.


As a westerner, living in the Western Interconnect, where the electrical power consumed per capita is far and away the lowest of the three US interconnects, where only eight of 104 US reactors are sited and five of those are likely to be retired before their license extensions expire, where 30% of power generated is already from renewable resources and that percentage is growing steadily, I can't resist the opportunity to say: next time you look for a "forever" spent-fuel repository, do it where the reactors are. Which means, for practical purposes, somewhere east of Omaha. Keep it on your side of the Great Plains.

I know it sounds snide. And lacking in a "we're all in this together" mindset. Still, the more I study, the more convinced I become that the situations and options of the regions east and west of the Great Plains are so different that each region needs its own set of policies. Even where the same technology is important. Take rail transport of freight. In the West, there are a half-dozen metro areas that need to be interconnected and the corridors through which such rail would be built are relatively obvious. In the East, there are dozens of cities that must be connected by a relatively dense rail grid.

Whether the waste ultimately moves West or not, I think the question at the heart of this will be whether the US Govts original support for Nuclear Power will continue. It was a bit of phenominally optimistic blindness that let both the industry and the government people involved trust that the waste disposal wouldn't be that difficult, or that the continual growth in piles of radioactive waste products wouldn't keep piling up.

I think it is impingent on the US to make sure they redefine the Waste problem as being at best a fully SHARED responsibility, and not just a problem for the society to deal with. Prior arrangements must be redrawn if this is not really clear and actionable.

In theory, there have been accounts created by the Generators for both waste disposal and decommissioning, but if Vermont Yankee is any indication, I'm not too confident that these funds have actually got the balances they were supposed to.

I think the problem is water, or rather, the lack of it. Storing waste for more than 10,000 years (or how ever long) is a very difficult technical requirement and adding water makes it even more difficult. The thinking was that the US Southwest was so dry that the probability of a failure of the repository over such a long time interval might be minimized. Besides, most of the people in the West (CA, OR and WA) live in cities near the coast, which happens to also moderate the climate and thus lessen the need for electricity. I used to live in California and know quite well that the people tend to ignore the folks Back East. Eventually, if TSHTF, we 'Merikans may find that we really aren't "all in this together"...

E. Swanson

Came across this article regarding the discovery of a massive algae bloom in the arctic.
Thought this board might be interested.


Saudi Arabia Achieving $100 Oil Signals Output Reversal

Saudi Arabia is poised to rein in oil sales after it achieved a $100-a-barrel target by cutting the price of its crude and pumping at the highest rate in at least three decades.

Oh come on. What myth making. Yeah, like the Saudis boosting output a little bit is what brought oil prices down. Nothing to do with the meager 36,000 jobs created and uptick of unemployment. Nothing to do with Spanish banks effectively being bankrupt. Nothing to do with Greece being completely bankrupt and close to leaving the Euro. Nothing to do with Japan's Nikkei hitting a 28 year low. Oil went down because Saudi Arabia squeezed out a few hundred thousand barrels more. Yeah, that's it.