Drumbeat: June 16, 2012

Rising US crude output may open door to exports-API head

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As U.S. oil production climbs to record levels, the United States should eventually consider easing its restrictions on crude exports, the head of a powerful oil lobbying group said on Friday.

U.S. oil production hit the highest quarterly level in 14 years in the first three months of 2012, the government said last week, as technologies including hydraulic fracturing, or fracking allow drillers access to vast new reserves.

America's changing energy fortunes call for more support of domestic oil and gas production, and possibly an eventual shift in U.S. energy export policy, American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard told Reuters in an interview.

"It's a serious consideration as we continue to produce more and more in this country," Gerard said at API's Washington D.C. office.

Yes, Oil Prices Are Cyclical

The latest round of briefing papers on oil published over the last week on Wall Street is a testament to how quickly things can change when it comes to oil prices. Less than a few months after Brent crude prices topped $125 a barrel, Wall Street is suddenly predicting a possible collapse in oil prices to $50 a barrel.

The forecasts, which may or may not prove to be correct, reflect more than just a cloudy economic outlook for Europe. There appears to be a definitive shift brewing in long-range perceptions about future oil supplies.

Oil Rises on Speculation Central Banks to Boost Stimulus

Oil rose on speculation that central banks will take steps to bolster global economic growth as investors await Greek elections this weekend.

Delta CEO Says Airline to Pressure Prices as Jet Fuel Seller

Delta Air Lines Inc. plans to become a seller in the U.S. jet fuel market and push prices lower after acquiring a refinery in Pennsylvania, the airline’s Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson said today.

Saudi Arabia Will Continue To Supply Customers' Oil Needs- Gulf Source

VIENNA--Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia will continue to supply its customers with their needed crude as long as markets remain stable, a Gulf source familiar with the Saudis' thinking said Friday.

OPEC projects lower July oil output; ceiling set at 30 mbpd

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed at a meeting in Vienna on Thursday to maintain the 30 million bpd production ceiling. Badri said that would entail curbing actual supplies by 1.6 million bpd.

“We overproduced by 1.6 (million barrels per day) now we decide to take out the 1.6 and stay with the 30 million,” he said. “Everybody will respect that.”

ElBaradei predicts Shafiq Egypt's "new emperor"

Former Secretary General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed ElBaradei predicts that Ahmed Shafiq, who, he argued, is backed by the ruling military council, will become Egypt's "new emperor".

"We are electing a president without a constitution or parliament - he will become a new emperor; with legislative and executive authorities to tailor laws and amend a constitution based on his own preference", ElBaradei told the British newspaper, The Guardian.

"We are in complete chaos. This mess of assuming good intentions will only lead us back to where we were 18 months ago - but under worse conditions", he added.

U.N. suspends peace mission in Syria

(CNN) -- The United Nations suspended all activities in Syria on Saturday due to the escalating levels of violence, the chief of the global body's mission said.

"There has been an intensification of armed violence across Syria over the past 10 days," said Gen. Robert Mood, who heads the U.N. Supervision Mission in Syria.

Shale boom to fuel 1.5 million jobs by 2015, study says

The shale gas boom will account for nearly 1.5 million new jobs by 2015, employing hundreds of thousands of workers across 48 states even as some companies are currently cutting back on production, according to a study released today by research and analysis firm IHS Global Insight.

Report: Exxon Calls it Quits on Polish Shale Gas

Exxon Mobil Corp has reportedly ended its search for shale gas in Poland after drilling at two sites failed to yield commercial gas flows, reports Polish newpaper Gazeta Wyborcza citing Exxon spokesman Adam Kopysc.

“Ending shale gas exploration in Poland means pulling out of further operations,” the newspaper quoted Kopysc as saying.

Brazil's Petrobras CEO: Fuel Prices Must Be Adjusted -Report

Brazil's government needs to increase fuel prices, the head of the country's oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro SA, said without giving a time frame.

Mexico's Pemex to revise its Chicontepec oil project

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's state oil monopoly Pemex will revise its key Chicontepec oilfields project, seen as crucial to boosting output in coming years, and may also adjust its overall investment plans, a Pemex adviser told Reuters on Friday.

Saudi Crown Prince Nayef Has Died, Saudi State TV Reports

“Now the succession struggle will have to move to the next in line,” Theodore Karasik, director of research at the Dubai- based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, said in a phone interview today. “I don’t think this will have any impact on the stability of the country. The selection process is pretty clear. Prince Salman will most likely become the next crown prince.”

Venezuela Passes Saudis to Hold World’s Biggest Oil Reserves

Venezuela surpassed Saudi Arabia to become the world’s largest holder of proven oil reserves, a resource that President Hugo Chavez promises to tap if he gets re-elected in October.

Latin America: The Enron Of Oil?

When you think oil, you think Saudi Arabia. But Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez has other ideas. Venezuelan reserves have supposedly more than tripled to 296.5bn barrels, a boost of 40.4% with numbers rising by at least 14% in the past five years to 2011. The Bolivarian revolution can boast 18% of the world’s oil riches, the largest single player. Better still; reserves to production ratio now exceed 100 years. This is what you could term the ‘kitchen sink’ approach to reserves – chuck everything you possibly can in. It also stands in sharp contrast to actual Venezuelan production – a paltry 2.7mb/d – marking a 2% fall on 2011 levels, following four consecutive years of cuts. If anything, Caracas provides a telling glimpse of where Latin American hydrocarbon production is heading. All the hype around reserves is merely fuelling resource nationalism across the region. Reserves will go up; production will head in the opposite direction.

A Slick About-Face on Oil

President Obama's oil politics are changing -- again. He's scraping off his anti-oil war bonnet in advance of the election and taking credit at every campaign whistle-stop for increased U.S. oil and gas production, even though most of the drilling is occurring on private, not federal, land. The reason for Obama's about-face is that the election is shaping up to be close. Since the public largely favors exploiting all of our domestic gas and oil resources, on and off shore, Obama feels he must lip-sync a version "drill, baby, drill."

Judge limits attorneys' fees in BP oil spill case

(Reuters) - A federal judge overseeing the massive litigation stemming from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill issued an order on Friday capping the amount attorneys can charge plaintiffs who participate in a settlement with BP Plc.

Jeff Rubin: Who’s in the driver’s seat?

Persuading North Americans that their oil-guzzling days are over while people with a fraction of their average national income will be filling up at the pumps was a hard sell back then. And despite recent demand numbers that tell the same story, it still is. But to close your eyes and hope the world stays the same is really just sticking your head in the sand. Change in world oil consumption isn’t coming – it’s already here.

Rubin’s new book ties global economy, end of cheap oil

Rubin said governments around the world have responded to sputtering economic growth with rock-bottom interest rates or large economic stimulus programs.

“The zero interest rates and huge budget deficits aren’t a substitute for cheap oil. When the economy is not growing at the rate they think it should be they hit the gas.”

While these measures may provide a temporary spurt in economic activity, Rubin said they are unsustainable.

“I’m afraid waiting for the return of past economic growth rates is a bit like Waiting for Godot because it’s not going to happen.”

3 Japanese firms to start solar project in Canada

OSAKA (Jiji Press)--Osaka Gas Co., Mitsubishi Corp. and Sharp Corp. will jointly undertake a massive solar power generation operation in Canada, informed sources said Friday.

A Second Life for Discarded Fishing Nets

To coincide with World Oceans Day, Interface, the global carpet manufacturer, proposed a novel solution to the problem: turning discarded fishing nets into new carpet tiles while providing income to the communities that collect the nets. Interface said it would form a partnership with the Zoological Society of London to introduce Net-Works, a six-month pilot program with the coastal fishing community of Danajon Bank in the Philippines.

Caroline Spelman interview: 'It's in our interests to be green and growing'

"What we are dealing with in this financial crisis is a period of unsustainable development," she said. "These are the consequences of having grown and developed unsustainably. I think it focuses the mind on what it is we need to do differently."

Book calls for change in lifestyle to save earth

Launching a book in Dubai that looks at the perils of global warming makes perfect sense, according to one official from a local eco-store.

Loek Malmberg, chairman of the board of The Change Initiative — a Dubai-based eco-store that sells sustainable products — said the UAE has one of the highest ecological footprint per capita in the world. An ecological footprint measures the human demand on the environment.

This is what happens when you play Civilization 2 for 10 years

Civilization 2 was first released in 1996, which is approximately forever ago. Reddit user Lycerious has been playing the same game of Civ 2 for the past 10 years (!), and his virtual world of 3991 A.D. is a "hellish nightmare" devastated by global warming and perpetual nuclear war.

The population of Lycerious' simulated world peaked some 2,000 years ago, at about 2,000 A.D. or so, which ought to get you thinking.

Water scarcity threatens power supply

Water and electricity have no doubt become indispensable in modern day living. Life is impossible without water and intolerable without energy.

Here in Malaysia, there is already serious discussions about water scarcity. Selangor, for example, is contemplating bringing water from Pahang through an expensive tunnel system. This is despite the fact that we enjoy very high rainfall year in year out. Not to mention the frequent flooding. And in Kelantan, the public has lamented for years about the quality of their piped water. This still remains unaddressed.

Making the Business Case for Rio+20

For business, the key focus is ‘green growth’ both for developed and emerging economies. At Rio+20, companies have an unique opportunity to showcase their technological solutions for greening growth. With the myriad of business events and high-level meetings, business are also to participate in substantive dialogue, make public commitments to green growth, and deepen their awareness and understanding of the many dimensions of making development sustainable.

To fix the climate, take meat off the menu

Why are they serving meat at a climate change conference?

Christian Reformed Church Synod: Combat global warming by using less energy

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - Without uniform agreement that the globe is warming or that people are causing it, the Christian Reformed Church’s governing body this week asserted that “human-induced climate change is an ethical, social justice, and religious issue.” Synod 2012 also stated that the church should “take private and public actions to address climate change.”

James Lovelock on shale gas and the problem with 'greens'

Almost all over the first world people are moving into cities for good. This intrigues me. EO Wilson in America is beginning to get a lot of interesting data about social insects. He's come up with an extraordinary theory that the nest itself is the unit of selection, not the individual insects. That has enormous consequences. Now consider that applied to humans. If we all move into cities, they become the equivalent of a nest. Then another thought comes immediately from that: if that's the way the flow is going, don't stop it, let's encourage it.

As Politicians Debate Climate Change, Our Forests Wither

John Mack has a saying: "These trees are dead; they just don't know it." Along a back road to a campsite in Rocky Mountain National Park, the chief of resource stewardship at the park points out seemingly healthy trees covered in ugly, popcorn-shaped masses, a lodgepole pine's natural response to the mountain pine beetle. A healthy tree can forcefully push burrowing beetles out, but many of Colorado's pines are water-stressed and aging. Beetles have mass-attacked them, an onslaught that can overwhelm even healthy trees, Mack says.

The melting north

The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, says James Astill. The retreating ice offers access to precious minerals and new sea lanes—but also carries grave dangers.

New Energy Era Forum – 2012 Chris Sanders Energy, Food and Water Video

This is a great video, one hour and one minute long. The part about Japan begins about 40 minutes into the video. He says "Japan is finished, in my opinion, as a major industrial complex."

48 minutes into the video we get this quote from former Japanese Prime Minster Ichiro Ozawa from an interview with the Wall Street Journal, May 27, 2011:

With all that has happened you can't live in Japan. Some day we may not be able to live in Japan... Radiation is being leaked in order to keep the reactors from exploding… It is even worse than letting the power plant explode. Radiation is going to be flowing out for a long period of time. This is not a matter of money, but of life and death for the Japanese. If Japan cannot be saved, then the people of Japan are done for.

I will not argue this case one way or the other because I am not familiar enough with the radiation flowing from Fukushima, now or in the future, to do so. But I thought the statement by a former Japanese Prime Minster alarming.

Ron P.


The quote was from over a year ago. The local problems are still bad, but not as widespread in the rest of Japan. They are still finding cesium in soils further away, but mostly below exposure limits. Arnie Gundersen at fairewinds.com has done a good job following things. There is also data from acro at http://www.acro.eu.org/OCJ_en.html. I agree that Japan is going to continue to have problems moving forward on a number of fronts, but not from having to evacuate the country.

Noone really wants Japan to continue as a major industrial complex. People are pretty sick of all that. The people all around Tokyo and all the way up to the northern borders of Fukushima prefecture----more than 30 million, almost 40 million, (about one third of the country) have to live with DAILY reports of radiation contamination. Which way is the wind blowing, because that is where the cesium 37 is coming from. Every bite of food, every sip of water, it could contain the radioactive particle that puts an end to your life.

Pretty awful!! And there are many photos of what Fukushima USED to look like----like heaven, green, fertile,forested----and now, see the hell that is Fukushima Daiichi, plus let's not forget the 60,000 people from Fukushima who have fled and more fleeing every day.

And not just Fuku, all over the area, people are fleeing. Chiba, Ibaraki, Tokyo, Saitama----as soon as they can find a way, they leave.I know several personally.

I am one of them. OK, yes, it is hell. So, if you have a choice, don't reach for the nuclear option!! Live with less. Take it from me, one of the nuclear refugees.

People are not stupid---they have woken up here a bit. It has taken a nightmare, but it has done the trick of separating people from their misconceptions about the safety of nuclear energy.

Finished as a major industrial complex??We can only hope that everyone agrees here. But it seems that Noda hasn't gotten the message yet!

Interesting story on NPR with the author of a new book on Rocky Flats, the nuclear factory near Denver. You can't tell today anymore than you could two or three decades ago while pollution was occurring where plutonium might be hiding.

Fires, leaky drums, buried barrels, unlicensed incinerators -- all released plutonium in to the Denver environment, and not in small amounts. Today the Rocky Flats run-off is segregated and the most contaminated soil has been removed or covered, but plutonium remains just a few feet down in areas near the plants, and likely also in the lakebed of the Standley Lake water reservoir.

Yet life in Denver goes on. Surely deaths have been numerous, but the city remains popular, and land is valuable. Soon enough Fukishima will be that way too -- a smallish area of heavily contaminated ground fenced off, a larger area of contaminated land that people choose to use anyway while ignoring the risk, and a large area of lightly contaminated area that everybody pretends is fine.

I've lived in the area myself, and neither realtors nor neighbors mentioned the history of pollution outside the fences. I've walked and biked the areas, and saw the drainage ditches and wind monitors, and intuited far more than I heard, until the NPR story.

Soon enough Fukishima will be that way too

Or perhaps not.


150 mph Super Typhoon Sets Aim at Japan: Fukushima near center of forecast track — “Expected to intensify” and already the highest category storm

What happens to humanity if the food from the sea becomes not-edible for safety reasons? Or dies off even more, leading to more jellyfish?

A super-typhoon will likely churn the waters to unusual depth as well as flush a lot of surface contaminants into the ocean. Will the net be more radiation near-shore, or less?

Given the holes that were in the buildings - will they suffer further structural failure and cause the storage containers to suffer further? The introduction of MORE material into the biosphere worries me more than spreading about what's already in the biosphere.

If the shaky used fuel storage at #4 collapses, it will lead to some VERY bad things. See Arney Gunderson for the details-

Or maybe if we look at a more complete diagram that shows projected intensity along the path - rather than one that's silent about intensity and posted on a fearmongering site - it will very likely "only" be a tropical storm by the time it gets even to Osaka, hundreds of miles southwest. (This being Japan, one supposes that it will be one of half a dozen or even a dozen storms for the season?) Nevertheless, one can't have everything. The rain will still dissolve stuff and carry it along, that's what rain does. When that reaches the ocean, it surely won't be salty or cold enough to sink directly, en masse, to the bottom of the abyss to be adsorbed onto silt and detritus there, so one should expect it to disperse in shallower layers...

Yes. Jeff masters said it would have to cross waters too cold to support a hurricane, and that it would probably be a minimal cat 1 or tropical storm when it reaches Tokyo.

Now, I would still worry about the spent fuel pools, who knows what sort of disturbance could trigger a structural collapse?

ISTR reading that they had been substantially reinforced.


Rocky Flats Plutonium contamination map:


At least Rocky Flats is on the outskirts of the populated area, although unfortunately on the upwind side. Long before Rocky Flats, the area that is now central Denver was the world center of radium and uranium processing.

Reporter Mike Elk physically blocked from asking Honeywell CEO a question

...Reporter not following the script.


The Uranium Hexaflouride (UF6) gas release involved non-union engineers that had replaced union workers in a plant. During the above events, the reporter was intercepted by Rep. Scott, who is the sponsor of a bill to deny food stamps to the families of workers on strike:

Buried Provision In House GOP Bill Would Cut Off Food Stamps To Entire Families If One Member Strikes

Ron, thanks for the link. I thought Chris did a nice job of highlighting the financial interests of the 1%. He also covered the energy developments in central Asia that, I believe, have a material bearing on the US stance towards Iran.

Watched the video for a while, can't really say I like it. Too many misleading graphs and statements for that. For example:

  1. He shows the exponential increase of energy use of IT and oil availability in a graph. He mentions the lines cross somewhere in the near future, implying that it is a problem. But the scales on those lines are arbitrary, so you can make them cross anywhere you like. I think that's misleading.
  2. He references the mineralogical barrier, but fails to explain what it really shows. He goes on to talk about oil and coal, but those aren't minerals, and they don't have a barrier.
  3. He says that Fukushima is "many orders of magnitude worse" than Chernobyl. "Order of magnitude" has a very specific meaning: a factor 10. The released radiation of Fukushima isn't 10 times bigger than Chernobyl.

I'm sorry to say, but I think it's lots of hyperbole, little solid explanation of what's going on.

The problem with ideologues from Marx onwards is that they tend to imagine that human nature is very different from what it actually is. *goes on a tirade based on his less-than-competent view of human nature*

Oh darn, there goes another one of my irony-meters.

It would help a lot Henriksson, if you would post the source of your quotation. After all one might wish to know just who you say is: "less than competent view of human nature*" It took me awhile to find it but it is the link up top: James Lovelock on shale gas and the problem with 'greens'

So it is Lovelock who is the target of your criticism. I don't know much about Lovelock, I have not read any of his works. I have read a little bit about his Gaia Hypothesis. Not much of a fan of that either. That being said however, concerning Lovelock's view of human nature...

We're still animals and we behave like animals and it doesn't take much to knock our "civilisation" away. People are very, very sensitive about territory and if you move a new lot of people into their territory, they don't like it one bit. Politicians are very stupid if they think they can get away with that sort of thing. You could easily get me to generalise about things that I'm not really competent to talk about, but I do feel that's the case. It's not that people are racist per se. We're naturally racist, you can't get away from it. We try to curb it and be sensible. People are very rarely individually racist, but they don't want a large culture dumped on them. I don't know anyone personally who would be nasty to someone because of their colour or because they come from a different country. It's not in our style in these islands.

Obviously he is talking about the Muslim infiltration into British society. Wiki says they are now 4.6% of the population of the United Kingdom and .8% of the population of the US. It is in our nature to not want another culture, so far removed from our own, thrust upon us. We are, by nature, territorial animals.

A book written a few decades ago, The Territorial Imperative: A Personal Inquiry Into the Animals Origins of Property and Nations made this point so clear. The book was hated by anthropologists everywhere. But biologists and many in other sciences such as archeology, (because of their familiarity with historical wars), knew the truth of it. As I said we are, by nature, territorial animals and dearly despise to have our territory invaded, especially by a culture so far removed from our own. Lovelock was spot on in this case.

And they hate, even more, their culture being influenced by "Western Culture". No nation, culture or group of humans anywhere is exempt from this animal adaptation. It evolved in our animal ancestors and is very much still with us today.

Ron P.

Not entirely surprised by your reply. Anyway, given the choice between a well-established field like anthropology, and evolutionary psychology, where it's uncertain whether it's actually a scientific field or not due to it's hard-to-impossible-to-test hypothesises, I think I'll take my chances with anthropology.

It may shock you to know it but Robert Ardrey, author of "The Territorial Imperative" was an anthropologist. Up until that time, 1966, anthropology was dominated by Margaret Mead and the Franz Boas school of anthropology. That school taught that there was almost no such thing as instinct, that no human behavior was innate, it was all learned behavior. Margaret Mead tried to show that such things as jealously, envy, and all sexual behavior was learned from their culture. I am sure she would have claimed that the territorial instinct was not an instinct at all but learned.

It was later shown that Mead was hoodwinked by young Samoan girls. She got everything wrong. Of course it was not Robert Ardrey that proved Mead and the Franz Boas school of anthropology was all wet but Derek Freeman who showed that Mead was hoodwinked and got everything wrong. She found what she wanted to find because her mentor, Franz Boas told her what she would find.

But anthropology has come full circle since the days of Mead and Boas. I know of nothing modern anthropology teaches today that would disagree with the main findings of evolutionary psychology. That is that there is such a thing as human nature, that such things as jealously, envy, and sexual behavior is largely innate not a learned behavior.

Bottom line, today both anthropologists and evolutionary psychologists would agree that there is such a thing as the territorial imperative and that it is innate, not learned. So when you take your chances with anthropology, you must mean the anthropology of over half a century ago. Anthropologists, who were so angry with Ardrey then would probably still be angry and disagree with him today... were they still alive. But they are all now dead. The vast majority of anthropologists today agree with him.

Science advances one funeral at a time. Max Planck

Ron P.

there is such a thing as human nature, that such things as jealously, envy, and sexual behavior is largely innate not a learned behavior.

This claim is hard to argue with. But let's just be clear that there is a chasm between the assertion that humans have certain innate behavioral tendencies, and the assertion that the particular social structures of the world we presently live in are historically inevitable outcomes of those tendencies. For instance, the territorial imperative may underlie racism, but the definitions of races change over time - American whites used to be "racist" against Irish, Italians, and Eastern Europeans, but all of these groups have been absorbed into the dominant racial group in the US. Furthermore, racism itself is clearly less prevalent than it was 1, 2, 3, or N generations ago.

And as hard as it is to argue that there is no innate territorial tendency in human behavior, it would be just as foolish to argue that abstract moral principles can't change people's views over time; the universalist cosmopolitanism of Christianity (first) and human rights theory (later) have certainly led to a greater consciousness of the interests of human beings as a whole, vis a vis the interests of individual human populations.

The upshot is, we are an evolved animal species, and that fact goes a long way towards defining the scope of human possibility and social organization. But human nature is also incredibly malleable - just look at how differently we live now compared to how we lived 100,000 years ago. In short, things change.

Well the territorial imperative does contribute to a lot of racist attitudes but I don't think it is a major part. I know a lot of racist who don't know what the term means. ;-)

But human nature is also incredibly malleable - just look at how differently we live now compared to how we lived 100,000 years ago. In short, things change.

You had me agreeing with almost everything you had written up to that point. No, no, human nature is not malleable at all. Human behavior is governed by both genes and environment, the percentage of each will depend on just what behavior you are talking about. The environmental part is totally malleable. The genetic part is not malleable at all. In other words, human nurture is totally malleable. After all the word "nurture" means "to train or to mold". However human nature is not malleable at all.

The change we see in racial attitudes is caused by the different environment we live in today. Human nature had nothing to do with it.

Ron P.

I wanted to break in to assert, that the malleability of an individuals behavior, and of emergent collective manifestations as culture are different things. The former is quite large -embed an indidual young human in an environment of your choosing, and you have a lot of control. Try that with a civilization, and all sorts of pushbacks occur. A political movement opposed to your atempted changes wouldn't be unexpected.

So clearly we mostly agree. But I do disagree with your definition of human nature. You are equating it with genotype, or genetic endowment, or something like that, and distinguishing it from environmental factors. But I think this is too essentialist. After all, there is no such thing as a human being who doesn't live in some environment! Human nature is only expressed in environments. So I don't see how you can extract "human nature" from environmental factors.

This might seem like just a semantic point. But the significance is the implication that we, today, in modern industrial society, are expressing human nature just as surely as were our ancestors on the veldt. And our cultural beliefs (e.g., our attitudes about race) are every bit as consistent with human nature - no more nor less - than were the beliefs of people who lived centuries or millennia ago. Maybe you're right - it's not that human nature is malleable, exactly; that implies that it is something solid that can bend, like a soft metal. Maybe it's better to say that human nature is capable of a certain range of expression - and that culture, which is always changing, is always pressing that expression into new forms. And when racist attitudes recede from our culture, this is an instance of a new mode of human nature expressing itself - a mode which maybe we wouldn't have thought capable of existing. Until it did.

I am a student of Evolutionary Psychology and must stick to the official definition of Human Nature.

Human nature refers to the distinguishing characteristics, including ways of thinking, feeling and acting, that humans tend to have naturally, i.e. independently of the influence of culture.

Of course we all live in an environment and that is exactly why we must extract cultural influences from genetic influences. That is what the nature versus nurture debate is all about. It is often referred to as tabula rasa or the Blank Slate Theory. We have discussed this many times on this list.

There have been scores of books written on this subject, the best of them being "On Human Nature" and "Sociobiology" by Edward O. Wilson and "The Blank Slate" by Steven Pinker. All these books put to rest the tabula rasa or blank slate theory. Those who still support the blank slate theory are a dying breed. The most famous of them being Stephen Jay Gould who died in 2002. He wrote the preface to one of the very few books that championed the blank slate theory, "Not In Our Genes" by R. C. Lewontin, Steven Rose and Leon J. Kamin, published in 1985.

Anyway "human nature" is officially described by psychologists and most biologists as those characteristics endowed on us by nature, not nurture.

Ron P.

IIRC, I first saw the term Sociobiology in the early while browsing some periodicals in the college library. I remember it being a new and somewhat ground breaking idea and to be honest I was quite fascinated by the idea that much human behaviour could be explained by looking at it's contribution to evolutionary success. It made sense to me.

Going back to a discussion we had on personality types, I took one of the online tests and according to the results, my type is INTJ. One of the characteristics of this personality type that struck a chord with me is that my personality type "just wants people to make sense". I remember my college days of trying to figure out the opposite sex and Evolutionary Psycholgy/Sociobiology went a far way to explaining why men and women sometimes find the opposite sex attractive, despite the fact that a particular individual does not meet the "established standards" of attractiveness.

Alan from the islands

I'm with Ron on this, but with a caveat: "It's our nature to be shaped by nurture". Development of a capacity for flexible social & environmental programming was at the heart of the evolutionary trajectory that brought us into being as we are today.

Human behavior tends to be modal. In times of plenty, neighbors (or neighboring tribes) are percieved as potential allies and trading partners. An "observer from Mars", viewing humans at such times, would conclude that we're cooperative folks and not strongly territorial. But in other times, we can perceive those same neighbors as competitors for scarce resources. A Martian observing us at those times would conclude that we're combative and highly territorial. Same human beings, same "inate" natures, but different environmental conditions calling forth different aspects of behavioral repertoire.

A widespread view that we're bumping up against hard resource limits and that collapse is immanent is likely to become self-fulfilling prophecy. That's why I try to focus on and promote awareness of viable alternatives. I really really hate to see us slipping into destructive survival mode. It's such an unnecessary tragedy.

a capacity for flexible social & environmental programming

That may be the crucial difference between us and the Neanderthals. Their culture and technology showed almost no change over 100,000s of years.

Best Hopes for homo sapiens,


Or maybe the Neanderthals had the misfortune of meeting us. In the absence of the other which of the two homo species do you think had the better chance of long term survival as a species? Technology isn’t necessarily a good thing.

I know which species would have the higher peak population.


Very good!

Our Ron has previously admitted to being a fan of (ultra-conservative) socio-biology, so nothing he is saying here is particularly surprising. Sure - we are mammals with clothes on, and have evolved over six million years through the primate-hominid family, but 99% of what is interesting about human behaviour is formed through culture, and the way the economy is constructed.

No doubt about it.

I'd say there's a natural human tendency to splinter into factions once a group is over a certain size, and in the US, skin color is often the fault line.

But this has not been true historically. Marco Polo made no mention of the different appearance of the Chinese, for example, likely because he didn't notice. The change was so gradual traveling overland via camel that it was unremarkable.

Rather, the fault line in the past was usually religion. In many areas of the world, it still is.

Leanan, you have often mentioned the natural tendency of people who are closest to the danger to be the ones who tend to disregard it the most, like people living close to a dam that has been rumored to burst, being the ones who discount the danger the most. This is just another example of human nature that is common to all peoples regardless of their culture. Anyway I ran across another example of that while browsing my cache of "saved quotations" yesterday:

As the enemy drew nearer Moscow, instead of the Muscovites' view of their situation growing more serious, it became more frivolous, as is always the case with people who see a great danger approaching. At the threat of danger there are always two voices that speak with equal power in the human soul: one quite reasonably tells a man to consider the nature of the danger and the means of averting it; the other still more reasonably, says that it is too depressing and painful to think of the danger, since it is not in man's power to foresee everything and escape from the general march of events, and it is therefore better to disregard what is painful till it comes, and think about what is pleasant.
--Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

Ron P.

Whatever the reason he made no mention, how could he possibly have failed to notice? He wasn't traveling alone, so he at any time he could see the difference between the appearance of the local population and that of his father Niccolò and his uncle Maffeo. Maybe, not being burdened with the fantasies of modern Western political correctness, he just took it for granted, without even examining it, that people in faraway locales might be different, and conceivably not only in appearance.

Ron--Lovelock's Gaia Hypothesis is now known as Earth Systems Theory and is widely accepted by the scientific community as THE fundamental explanatory theory of life's evolution on Earth.

Re : "To fix the climate, take meat off the menu"

The attitude towards meat-eating demonstrates how hard it is going to be to get people to make voluntary changes towards mitigating many of the crises we are facing.

Unfortunately, I can't post the exact quote from the above article since WaPo now wants me to log in, but the gist was, paraphrasing one of the conference presenters, that he couldn't imagine going without meat, or words to that effect.

Of course, Brazil is a heavy promoter of the beef industry. It would be nice, though, if climate change conference attendees became the change they want to see in the world, and be the leaders that show the way.

Talk, as they say, is cheap. It just allows deniers a way to point fingers and do nothing themselves.

EDIT: re-reading this, I think the same applies to Peak Oil proponents.

It puzzles me as well why someone can argue that we should all stop eating meat entirely. Grass-fed, pasture-meandering cattle live good lives and help build a more robust soil and grass ecosystem. Dairy cattle must necessarily have some male offspring that will not produce milk and can be part of our food chain. Who could possibly live without ice cream? Apart from the unfortunate lactose-intolerant of course.

Having said that, it is simply bad for your long-term health to eat more than about 10-150 grams of beef a week, which is much less than the average American eats.

So the world could probably improve its health and reduce its environmental footprint by reducing the current beef industry to about 25% of what it currently is.

I agree entirely. The problem is this stuff is almost entirely intrpreted, as never ever eat meat. Whereas a substantial cutback would have almost as much benefit, and be a lot easier for most. Our societal thinking is stuck in binary mode thinking.

Our societal thinking is stuck in a mode which finds eating some animals delicious and others disgusting.


Read down this list and indicate which animals are delicious/disgusting to eat ?

Golden Retriever

This presentation is really interesting.

Melanie Joy - Carnism: The Psychology of Eating Meat

Essentially, meat-eating is a belief-system, where every culture that eats meat determines which animals are acceptable/not acceptable.

Quite so. If protein really was that big of a problem, entomophagy (the eating of insects) would surely be the way to go. Several orders of magnitude more efficient compared to the current meat industry, and ridiculously more effective than the green free-range animals.

Well, I've never eaten a golden retriever, tarantula, or kitten - at least not knowingly, but everything else on the list is delicious if prepared properly.

I can't be totally sure about golden retrievers, tarantulas, and kittens because I have been known to eat in Chinese restaurants with a less than stellar reputation, so you never know. Particularly about cats, which we used to refer to as "roof rabbit." There was a certain deficiency of stray cats around Chinese restaurants.

Dogs are often eaten in China and I have it on good authority that huskies are delicious but hard to get. OTOH, rats are easy to get, but make me somewhat squeamish. Regardless, they were for sale in the Chinese markets.

Combined with salad from the greenhouse and potatoes from the garden it was the proverbial 100 mile diet.

We don't have any rats here (other than pack rats which are not the same) in the Canadian Rockies, so I have never eaten one. We have bears and elk, yes, so I have eaten them. I had elk burgers for dinner last night, in fact. Delicious.

I'll second the elk.
We lived on Elk in Montana in the 70s.

Elk... really good...
Doughnuts fried in bear fat... really good...

Shrimp, crab, scorpions, tarantula, what's the difference?

Not a heck of a lot...

Mostly, the argument for eating meat is that it provides nutrients that plants do not. Particularly, that you can't get enough protein from a plant-based diet.

This is not true. If one follows a plant-based diet properly, it can provide all the protein one requires. Watching some of the lectures of Dr Michael Klaper helps explain this.

Getting enough protein on a Vegan diet

From Operating Table to Dining Table

Having said that, I am not a vegan. I do eat eggs and dairy, and honey, so in a way I do support some animal husbandry. I do not eat red meat, chicken or fish. One can get sufficient omega 3's and omega 6's from plant sources. If one has to put animal products on the menu, they should be the smaller percentage - 10-20%.

The Buddhist philosophy, as one example, prohibits killing animals, but does not prevent one eating something that died of natural causes, as they do in the Himalayas, when yaks die, simply because they don't waste anything.

Particularly, I find the contemporary, industrial, wholesale slaughter of animals, for any purpose, to be totally unnecessary.

The Buddhist philosophy, as one example, prohibits killing animals

Just nitpicking here but Buddhism in general teaches no such thing, there are a few schools of thought which talk about this but this is not true for majority of Buddhism followers. Buddhism restricts hunting/killing for pleasure or any reasons other than survival. Majority of Buddhist followers eat almost every kind of meat out there.

Thank you for the correction.

I've eaten yak meat in the Himalayas in Nepal. They do kill them but there is quite a ceremony involved. Of course, once the townsfolk had killed the yak there was no reason for me not to eat it, so I had yak steak for dinner. Even if you are a Buddhist this holds true.

I've also nearly been trampled in a yak stampede. They are much more aggressive than cows, so you really need to get up above yak horn level when they are running them down the streets.

And, when you are passing yaks on a trail, you always pass on the uphill side of the mountain. Otherwise the yaks might push you over the edge of the cliff just for the fun on it.

You can also get yak in Vermont now - I had some last year.

I'm a student of Tibetan Buddhism, in the Drikung Kagyu lineage. I've always been told by my teachers that eating meat is okay and karma-free if you don't kill the animals yourself. And that the bigger the animal, the more it feeds and the less negative karma a butcher / meateater will accrue.

After all, Tibetans once had mainly tsampa - ground barley - and yak meat plus yak milk / butter / yogurt and a few seasonal vegetables as their primary sources of food. So the older lamas aren't often vegetarians because this option was never available to them, but the younger lamas often are vegetarians, aligning themselves with more modern thought and diet and because they have more options available.

The Dali Lama mentioned he could not maintain his diet without meat (I heard him say this in person).
You would starve without eating meat in Tibet. But with modern transportation, one can become what is referred to in my circle a "food fascist".

I've been pure vegan, no meat, no eggs, no milk products, for more than a year now. I'm completely fine on protein. Just add brewer's yeast and plenty of beans.

Oh and trader Joe's chocolate cherry vegan ice cream is delicious.

I've been vegetarian for 15 years. I've been healthy and fit but recently my blood sugar levels have been all other the place.

No more ice cream for me...


As a former vegetarian and pre-D myself, I'm noticing a swell of people who are having to re-think their vegetarian diet because of blood sugar issues. It's really hard to moderate blood sugar on a strictly plant based diet.

The main trouble with a pure vegan diet is vitamin B-12 deficiency. B-12 is an essential vitamin only found in animal products.

Brewer's yeast

Brewer's yeast does not contain vitamin B12, an essential vitamin found in meat and dairy products. Vegetarians sometimes take brewer's yeast mistakenly believing that it provides B12, which can be lacking in their diet.

B-12 Deficiency Symptoms

Many people who have a vitamin B12 deficiency don't see symptoms until they have been eating a diet that is low in B12. While vitamin B12 is water-soluble, it is unique in that it is not easily excreted in the urine. Instead, b12 accumulates in the kidneys and liver. For this reason, you may think you're getting enough B12 in your diet until all in a sudden, without any change in your dietary habits, you start exhibiting symptoms of a B12 deficiency. This is why a B12 deficiency is so easily missed.

Characteristic Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms

You may have a vitamin B12 deficiency if you experience recurring fatigue, muscle weakness, constipation, depression, chronic memory loss or neurological dysfunctions such as numb digits or tingling in extremities.

Most vitamin B12 deficiencies can be remedied with dietary changes, vitamin B12 supplements or vitamin B12 injections. If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression, dementia, Alzheimer's or other memory-loss impairments, you should ask your doctor to test for a vitamin B12 deficiency. You may be able to reverse these serious memory impairments with something as simple as supplements or injections.

I'm just pointing this out because I have known a number of Vegans who have suffered B-12 deficiencies, and it only sneaks up on them after a few years of being a Vegan.

Over and above that, no plant provides all the essential amino acids (proteins) people need, so if you are a vegetarian you need to balance the amino acids in your diet by eating the right mix of plants. Not everyone knows how to do that.

And on the ice cream side of the diet - Americans get far too many sugars in their diet, which is resulting in an explosion of diabetes cases in recent years. You need to control your sugar intake to a level that your pancreas can handle.

I find it easiest to avoid the problems by throwing some elk or bison on the BBQ and skipping the ice cream for desert. My current wife, after 25 years of being a vegetarian, came around to my POV, mostly because the whole recurring fatigue, muscle weakness, constipation, depression, chronic memory loss, and neurological dysfunction thing went away.

She likes my salads even better than my BBQ'ing, but basically thinks it's all good as long as I do the cooking and she can practice on the guitar until dinner is ready. Her guitar playing is getting really good because, you know, her memory and finger dexterity has gotten a lot better.

"recurring fatigue, muscle weakness, constipation, depression, chronic memory loss, and neurological dysfunction" in vegetarians.

That is not supported by scientific studies. People argue that one has to eat meat to get all the essential amino acids. I would ask you where the animal got them. Most of the animals consumed are herbivores - in other words, they got the nutrients from plant sources to begin with.

Plant Foods Have a Complete Amino Acid Composition

"William Rose and his colleagues completed research by the spring of 1952 that determined the human requirements for the 8 essential amino acids.2 They set as the “minimum amino acid requirement” the largest amount required by any single subject and then they doubled these values to make the “recommended amino acid requirement,” which was also considered a “definitely safe intake.” By calculating the amount of each essential amino acid provided by unprocessed complex carbohydrates (starches and vegetables)3 and comparing these values with those determined by Rose,1 the results show that any single one or combination of these plant foods provides amino acid intakes in excess of the recommended requirements."

In other words, vegetarians go directly to the source - whole plants - skipping the "middle man". Even if one only looks at it in energy terms, much less energy is required to access plant sources directly.

I didn't say that you needed to eat meat to get all the essential amino acids. What I said was that you need to eat the right mix of plants to get all the essential amino acids. Meats contain all of the essential amino acids but if you are a vegetarian, if you don't know what mix of plants to eat, you could find yourself short of some of the amino acids you need to live.

Essential amino acid

The amino acids regarded as essential for humans are phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, isoleucine, methionine, leucine, lysine, and histidine. Additionally, cysteine (or sulphur-containing amino acids), tyrosine (or aromatic amino acids), and arginine are required by infants and growing children.

Essential amino acids are "essential" not because they are more important to life than the others, but because the body does not synthesize them, making it essential to include them in one's diet in order to obtain them. In addition, the amino acids arginine, cysteine, glycine, glutamine, histidine, proline, serine and tyrosine are considered conditionally essential, meaning they are not normally required in the diet, but must be supplied exogenously to specific populations that do not synthesize it in adequate amounts.

As for herbivores, while they are designed to eat nothing but plants, they need to eat the right mix of plants, too. For instance, feeding cows nothing but corn is a bad idea because corn is severely short of a lot of the amino acids they need. Corn is not a natural cow food. Feeding cows nothing but corn is a particularly American concept, and growers have to feed them all kinds of supplements to make up for the deficiencies. OTOH, if they were grazing them on on the open prairie with a broad mix of natural grasses and other rangeland plants, the growers would have no problem because the cows would get all the essential nutrients they needed.

In reality, humans are omnivores, designed to eat both plants and animals. If they eat a broad mixture of both, they will probably get all the nutrients they need. If they restrict their diet to some subset of the foods they are designed to eat, they could become short of some important nutrients, unless they make a particular effort to determine what it is that they need to eat. You have to know what those foods are.

"What I said was that you need to eat the right mix of plants to get all the essential amino acids. Meats contain all of the essential amino acids but if you are a vegetarian, if you don't know what mix of plants to eat, you could find yourself short of some of the amino acids you need to live."

It's really not difficult. If you eat daily servings of legumes, nuts, grains and leafy greens, you will get all the essential amino acids.

Al eight essential amino acids are present in soy. If you only ate tofu, you'd get all the essential amino acids. You can check my facts at http://nutritiondata.self.com/.

EDIT: Exact link for tofu here :-


btw : Vitamin B12 is added to soy milk. One can get a full daily requirement of B12 from 2 cups of soy milk. Soy milk has an added benefit, in that it can be stored for up to a year in the pantry, unopened, without refrigeration. Much better than powdered cows milk, which always seems to be nasty when reconstituted.

EDIT 2 : on the question of whether humans are designed to eat meat, this presentation by a medical doctor closely examines human physiology and compares it to meat-eaters and plant-eaters.

Are Humans Designed To Eat Meat?

EDIT 3 : I think one can say, with a fair degree of accuracy, that humans have been able to exceed our programming by means of using tools and technology. Clearly, many people do eat meat - as you say, it is a means of surviving in cold climates where plant foods are inadequate year-round. The fact that H. sap is able to adapt a diet to allow for changes in environmental circumstances doesn't mean we were designed for it, or that such adaptations are necessary outside of that specific environment.

You can argue that if you eat daily servings of legumes, nuts, grains and leafy greens, you will get all the essential amino acids, but the fundamental problem is that most people don't know which plants to eat to get all the amino acids they need. I do know which ones and I eat all of them, but it doesn't matter because I eat modest amounts of meat from time to time which give me all the amino acids I need.

If you eat the wrong combination of plants, which most vegetarians do, you won't get all of the essential amino acids, in addition to which no plant contains enough vitamin B-12, so all vegetarians should take B-12 supplements.

Basically, it's just too complicated, so most of the vegetarians I know who have researched it have just gone back to eating meat.

And on the tofu front (warning, I hate tofu),

Are Humans Designed To Eat Fungus?

I think, probably not. We show a lot of adaptations to eating meat (as examining our teeth and digestive system would show), but not much for eating artificial fungus products such as tofu. Certainly tofu, while it is a fungus product closer to meat than vegetables, has all the essential amino acids, but they are not necessarily in a form usable to humans, and in addition,

Tofu causes brain damage!

I just thought I'd toss that factoid out there because some scientific studies have indicated it is true. I don't know whether is true or not, and I don't care because I'm not going to eat a fungus product that tastes like cardboard.

"Basically, it's just too complicated, so most of the vegetarians I know who have researched it have just gone back to eating meat."

I suspect most vegetarians that have gone back to eating meat succumbed to the peer pressure. People I know that regularly meet in groups where the activity is supported don't seem to have the same difficulty.

I went back, from a nearly vegetarian diet, to a high saturated fat, high protein meat and vegetable diet based on my own research into the subject. Good quality, locally grown real food.

If there is one thing I've learned in my nutritional studies it is that nutritional science is, if anything, more dismal a 'science' than even economics. People can make their own decisions as to diet and easily find justification for them. But I take strong exception to having others preach to me that I shouldn't eat this or that because of environmental or population considerations.

I feel great, have lots of energy and my blood profile is excellent with this diet. People differ in their dietary needs, especially if they have a 'broken' metabolism (such as diabetes), so I'm not going to preach to anyone what they should eat, nor do I take kindly to being preached at, as so often is the case on TOD. (I'm afraid I'm going to start sounding like PaulS with his 'frog-marching' tunes).

Agree with this, at least the part about nutritional "science" being very suspect. It's truly mind-boggling, how little evidence there is for nutritional advice we're given over the past half century. It's starting to look like it was not only wrong, it was actively harmful.

I do think environment concerns matter. But they're only one thing to consider. According to Taubes, one reason the "low on the food chain is better" advice was adapted in the '70s was concern about feeding the world. But if it's actually not healthier, claiming it is just because it's politically expedient is very wrong.

Also agree about different people having different needs. That was a big factor in sending us down the "fat and cholesterol are bad" path which has seen the US obesity rate explode. There are some people who have a genetic condition that leads to both very high cholesterol and early death from heart attacks. If you remove those people from the studies, the link between cholesterol and heart disease disappears. (However, several very large, well-designed studies have found a link between low cholesterol and early death - from cancer, not heart disease.)

Nutritional science has come a long way since the 50's. Now, most good studies are, in fact, peer reviewed in the medical journals. It is taking some time for the medical profession to come around, mainly since they do not receive nutritional training in med school. This seems to be turning around now, also. For example, many med schools have departments of Integrated Medicine.

The obesity epidemic today is related to refined carbohydrates, lack of fiber and highly processed, nutritionally poor foods. It doesn't negate the fact that one can still get fat the old-fashioned way, by eating too much food. Study after study links saturated fats to heart disease. Cholesterol is linked to atherosclerosis. I've seen heart operations - I spent part of my pharmacy career at Groote Schuur hospital where Dr Barnard did the transplants.

Many of the studies making contrary claims are funded by the meat industry.

What I'm finding interesting is that, no matter what facts one puts in front of people, it doesn't change their beliefs. The last resort is to bash the science. Where else have we seen that occurring ?

Now, most good studies are, in fact, peer reviewed in the medical journals.

That's not really the problem. The problem is that human beings are not rats. You can't keep them in cages and control what they eat. It makes it impossible to do really rigorous experiments.

Study after study links saturated fats to heart disease. Cholesterol is linked to atherosclerosis.

Not true. Many very well-designed studies have shown the opposite. I think the evidence is growing that it's carbohydrates that cause heart disease, not fat. And cholesterol is something of a red herring.

What I'm finding interesting is that, no matter what facts one puts in front of people, it doesn't change their beliefs.

Yes. Taubes argues that "confirmation bias" is a big reason nutritional science got so off-track. He describes a large, well-designed study that found that high cholesterol is not linked to heart disease, but low cholesterol is strongly linked to cancer. That so contradicted expectations that the researchers simply refused to believe it.

But now, further studies have backed up the original one, and beliefs are changing. It happens, it's just slow.

You can't keep them in cages and control what they eat. It makes it impossible to do really rigorous experiments.

See prison and other "institutional" populations.


Yes, but that's one of the problems. The results you get from such populations don't apply to the rest of us. If you put an institutionalized mental patient on a low-fat diet, he can't respond by going on a beer and Dorito binge like the average person can. A lot of the new nutritional research is about the effect of carbohydrates on metabolism and appetite. Someone who doesn't have the freedom to eat what he wants is not an adequate subject.

Obesity used to be a disease of affluence - some cultures actually viewed it as being a good thing - like the "Fat Ladies" of the Tang Dynasty. In South Africa, heart disease was the "White Man's Disease". Black people couldn't afford to eat all the meat - their diet was largely maize. That's not say they didn't eat meat at all, just that the preponderance of their diet was starch. One might even aspire to being fat as a sign of success.

Obesity in the West, being rapidly exported around the globe, has its origins today in cheap, fast, industrial food, and high levels of processed sugars. It's become the poor person's disease in parts of the US. The "meat culture" is rapidly transforming traditional diets based primarily on grains and vegetables. Unfortunately, what people think they are eating isn't really even meat any more. It's basically corn dressed up as meat, with most of the nutrients removed by processing.

So, is it processed sugars or meat that's the problem? It's difficult to tease apart, because increases in meat and sugar consumption generally go hand in hand.

Traditional diets heavy in meat and fat do not seem to be particularly unhealthy. But the traditional Asian diet (rice and vegetables) was not unhealthy, either.

I think the overlooked factor is caloric restriction. There's plenty of evidence that restricting calories prolongs lifespan, including some preliminary but very interesting research on humans. If you are eating very few calories, it really doesn't matter where you get them. Twinkies, broccoli, hot dogs - it makes little difference.

But it's probably not reasonable to expect people to restrict their calories to the point of semi-starvation when food is cheap and abundant. In the long run, caloric restriction might kick in as food gets scarcer and more expensive. In the medium term, I think it's possible that the obesity problem will get worse, as people eat more mac and cheese and ramen, and less meat.

I'll find out on July 11th and let you know.

I've been running a life-long experiment. We have a long history of heart disease in my family - both sides. Both my parents died in their 60's on a largely traditional, Western, meat-three-times-a-day diet, with a side of starch and veggies, and a sweet for dessert. Both struggled with weight control.

I have two siblings. I am the eldest. My brother has always been a meat-and-potatoes guy - he had his first "heart episode" at 27. He is overweight, but eats a more rounded diet now, although still meat. My sister is overweight, eats a meat diet, and has all kinds of gastrointestinal and allergy issues.

I've been on a low-fat, reduced animal products, reduced refined carbs, largely vegetarian diet since I was 16, and have always exercised. I'm going for my first physical in 10 years on the 11th, but I have had no physical issues whatsoever, except for eyesight, which, I am assured, is not diet-related.

I'll post my results and let you know.

Come on. You know one person's medical results do not mean anything. That's always the smoker's excuse: my grandma smoked like a chimney and lived to be 102. That doesn't change the fact that smoking is bad for most people.

Other points: your family may be atypical. Your brother having heart problems so young suggests that he may have the gene that causes high cholesterol and early heart attacks. What works for people like that may not be applicable for normal people. Two, there's no way to know how similar you and your siblings are genetically. Maybe they have the bad gene and you do not (unless you and your brother are identical twins). Three, even if you are genetically similar and your different choices are the reason for different outcomes, you're doing so much it's hard to say which is the factor that matters. Meat? Fat? Refined carbs? High consumption of vegetables? Exercise? Maybe just one of those is the difference, but there's no way to tell. Four, there are limits to what medical tests can show. We've all heard of people who were declared perfectly healthy by their doctors, then dropped dead of a heart attack. (Davy Jones being a recent example.)

This is a good example of why nutritional research on humans is so difficult. Here's another example: for some people, exercise is bad. But only some. For some, it was very, very good for them. We don't all respond the same way.

Also note the criticism of the study.

The problem with studies of exercise and health, researchers point out, is that while they often measure things like blood pressure or insulin levels, they do not follow people long enough to see if improvements translate into fewer heart attacks or longer lives. Instead, researchers infer that such changes lead to better outcomes — something that may or may not be true.

Some critics have noted that there is no indication that those who had what Dr. Bouchard is calling an adverse response to exercise actually had more heart attacks or other bad health outcomes. But Dr. Bouchard said if people wanted to use changes in risk factors to infer that those who exercise are healthier, they could not then turn around and say there is no evidence of harm when the risk factor changes go in the wrong direction.

“You can’t have it both ways,” Dr. Bouchard said.

Again, that gives an inkling of how difficult it is to do these studies on humans.

The problem is a combination of too much sugar and too much fat in diets, plus not enough exercise. People eat as if they were going to spend the day plowing the back forty behind a mule, and then sit down and play video games.

People crave sugar and fat in their diets because their distant ancestors never got enough of them. Nowadays people can buy high-sugar and high-fat foods very easily, but they aren't designed to digest large amounts of it and it leads to health problems.

They are also designed to get a lot more exercise than they do now. I was watching reruns of a documentary, "The Incredible Human Journey", which is about Man's exodus out of Africa to populate the world. The first episode points out that our ancestors in Africa were probably "persistence hunters". They used to catch game animals by running them down. As it points out, men can outrun an antelope - it just takes a long time. They would just chase them until they collapsed from exhaustion, and then stick spears in them.

Obviously the men got a lot of exercise in this process, and the antelope would be very lean because it did a lot of running, too. As a result, it had almost no fat in its meat. The people would also get very little sugar in their diet because there were very few high-sugar foods around. However, they would crave fat and sugar because they are very high energy sources, and they needed all the energy they could get.

Fast forward to the modern era, and people are getting much more sugar and fat in their diets than their systems can handle. They are also getting far less exercise than they need because they are not running down antelope any more, but just driving to the supermarket and buying a jumbo pack of steak and a large tub of ice cream.

Another thing that struck me as interesting was an archaeological dig of an old graveyard in central Asia from about 7,000 years ago. In about 450 skulls they found, there were no cavities in any of the teeth at all. From this, they deduced that these people hadn't discovered agriculture yet. They didn't get enough sugar and starch in their diet to cause cavities in their teeth.

And on the tofu front (warning, I hate tofu), Are Humans Designed To Eat Fungus?

When did tofu become fungus?

And on the eating fungus POV I present:


Okay, I was wrong. Tofu is not fungus, it is bean curd. It just seems like fungus. I still don't like it.

Tofu 'may raise risk of dementia'

Eating high levels of some soy products - including tofu - may raise the risk of memory loss, research suggests.

The study focused on 719 elderly Indonesians living in urban and rural regions of Java.

The researchers found high tofu consumption - at least once a day - was associated with worse memory, particularly among the over-68s.

Perhaps. But the stuff doesn't seem to hurt the Japanese, who comprise a large sample who eat plenty of it, and who live about the longest and don't show weird problems. So, given the likely practical difficulties with measuring "worse memory" off the cuff (and maybe even with measuring tofu consumption) under the conditions in Indonesia, I think this one ought to be consigned to the coffee-study shelf. That's where the weekly inventory of overhyped, statistically insignificant coffee-is-good-for-you no-it-will-kill-you no-it-makes-no-difference "studies" goes. Along with, maybe, the entire body of "studies" that has made it absolutely imperative, for decades, to substitute carbohydrates for other sources of calories at all cost, and just as absolutely imperative to cut "salt" to destructively low levels. And, maybe, just about every "nutritional" "study" that's ever been done about anything that's not blindingly obvious without a "study". The field just seems to utterly lack standards of any kind whatsoever.

Actually we need a permanent moratorium on publishing "nutritional" "studies" any place but in peer-reviewed journals, with a high bar of global statistical significance to be attained before taking them as anything but pure BS in any other context. After all, the point of most "nutritional" "news reports" - along with Bloomberg's famous meddling - has usually been been good, old fashioned, odious American Puritanism, rather than science, and, really, the two don't mix well at all. "Publishing in the newspapers" used to be ridiculed in the scientific community, and even condemned fairly harshly - and that was a good thing.

1) He did say 'I was wrong' - which few do here. So kudos.
2) so many other factors could be at play than just tofu. (see below) There could even be differences in HOW the curd is made - keeping the skins off, how the skins are taken off, time and temperature, even the coagulant used.
3) The beans - did the plants have exposure to glychophospate weed killers AKA Roundup. While BT in the corn/taters is showing organ issues, there does seem to be carryover of the Roundup in Roundup grown beans and problems with animal test critters are being noted with Roundup grown crops.
4) It could be other chemicals:

n the first such case heard in court in France, grain grower Paul Francois, 47, says he suffered neurological problems including memory loss,

RMG, I'm a little surprised that you haven't noticed a potential flaw in the study cited in the article you quoted, particularly seeing that you seem to be well informed about the importance of vitamin B12. High tofu consumption may well be an indicator of low or no red meat consumption since generally, tofu is used as a meat substitute by those not inclined to eat meat.

I have come to the conclusion that when it comes to nutrition and health, it is what is missing from the diet that is more important than what is eaten. Put it this way, if you could find a way to extract certain key nutrients from everything a certain individual eats, even though the individual may eat what is considered a well rounded diet, that individual could end up severely ill or dead.

IMNSHO the typical modern North American diet is devoid of a lot of things and explains why the the health of so many Americans is so poor. A lot of the food Americans eat is almost pure carbohydrates, combined with either salt or sugar and a little artificial flavouring.

Alan from the islands

This is also a good point. RMG may hate tofu but we'll all get to see if RMG comes back with 'hadn't considered the points in the replies' and admits to a changing of the mind.

Even the Weston Price people admit that the way Soy is processed makes a difference.

And Soy was one of the 5 sacred grains of China. http://phreshidea.com/wiki/Five_sacred_grains A tad hard to get hemp in the US of A.

(Barley is sub'd in for hemp when taught to the young'ns in hemp-is-a-drug cultures)

I don't actually believe the "tofu causes brain damage" study, although I believe it is typical of a lot of the food studies I have seen. They really have to be taken with a very large grain of salt since they are badly thought out and badly controlled.

However, as I said, I don't like tofu, so when someone tries to guilt me into eating tofu on the grounds that it would be better for me than eating meat, I bring out one of the "tofu causes brain damage" articles and give it to them to chew on. That shuts them up and keeps them from annoying me for a while.

I much prefer sushi, which I find delicious and believe provides all the essential amino acids and vitamin B-12 as well when eaten in the right combinations. I mean, can 125 million Japanese be wrong? (Particularly since they have the longest life spans in the world.)

Adding to that I would say that one of the reasons our diet has become so extreme is because we no longer depend on seasonal food items, earlier people were forced to add variety because their favorite food items weren't available all through the year. Sadly that's not the case now.

I always got the advice that you should always eat seasonal food, it's nature's way of telling you that you should adapt and increase variety.

Thanks for mentioning the Brewer's yeast. Vitamin B12 must be supplemented in a vegan or strict vegetarian diet. One can buy "Nutritional Yeast" which is less bitter than Brewer's yeast.

aren't those yeast members of the animal kingdom?

Yeast are neither plants nor animals but members of the fungus kingdom.

The statement should be "eat local". After all Apples imported from New Zealand have a higher carbon footprint than the chicken which has been reared in your backyard. If people go back to consuming local food, things will automatically go back to their natural state.

Problem is that many communities will simply collapse if they were to source food locally.

The trouble with my local community here in the Alberta Rockies is there is nothing much that grows except wild animals, and the fruit is limited to things like wild strawberries and buffaloberries. You can try to grow hardy vegetables such as potatoes and cabbage, but most likely the wild animals will get to it and eat it before you do. At least that's been my experience.

Hence we do have to go beyond the 100 mile limit. Fortunately beyond that point you get into the orchards of interior British Columbia, and the fruit and vegetable selection becomes a lot more generous.

"You can try to grow hardy vegetables such as potatoes and cabbage, but most likely the wild animals will get to it and eat it before you do."

If you have gun you could make dinner of the wild animals.

"...most likely the wild animals will get to it and eat it before you do."

Yeah, we built this thing called a fence. Dogs are handy as well.


Hopefully your canine friends are part wolf!




Yes, as illustrated, moose can jump six-foot fences if they want to. A less obvious thing they can do is open gate latches with their lips and walk through, which is something you probably don't expect them to do. This can come as a real surprise for people. Moose are actually very good escape artists.

Also, bison are more adaptable than you might think, as a friend of mine who raised them discovered. Not only can they jump a six-foot fence like a deer, but although they aren't as good at picking locks as moose, they can lift a 300-pound steel gate with their horns and walk underneath.

Well first, firing a gun in this town is prohibited and would scare the bejeezus out of the neighbors. I could use a bow and arrow, but actually, I don't have anything against the wild animals. I believe in live and let live and most of them believe in the same thing. The larger carnivores may disagree, but I keep bear spray by the back door to deal with them.

I could build a fence, but to stop elk from jumping it, it would need to be at least 8 feet high, and to keep grizzly bear out it would need to be strong enough to stop a grizzly that smells food, which sounds more like a concrete wall than a fence. Frankly, it's just not worth the effort and expense to put one up, and then it would keep all the interesting animals out.

The bad thing about dogs is that there are things around here that eat dogs. The mountain lions in town have been known to pick Labrador retrievers off people's front decks and run off with them.

And then dogs are not that smart. They tend to try to chase the local grizzly bears, and then run back to their owner for protection when the bear charges them. The neighbor's dog got killed by an elk it tried to chase. Elk are bigger than dogs and often meaner. We might get a dog but we'll have to keep it inside to keep it safe.

The dog hunting the grizzly bear and run back home hunted by the bear must be a real nightmare.

Well, the dog bringing the enraged grizzly bear back chasing him is bad enough, but even worse is the fact that if you start hunting a grizzly bear, it will often circle around behind you and start hunting YOU! They're smart animals and believe that turnabout is fair play.

More than one hunter has been killed by a grizzly bear he was hunting. Usually they hit from behind. My brother used to take a miniature Sheltie on his hunting trips because it was not brave enough to go after a griz, but would let him know if one was nearby. It would do this by whining loudly and shivering uncontrollably.

Hysterical. Thks

RockyMtnGuy- what do the people in Alberta think about global warming? I've heard stories of massive beetle tree die off- which would seem to tick people off, but the economy seems based on fossil fuels- which creates cognitive dissonance. Just wondering.

Look folks,

I live over in BC but have worked in Alberta in years past. My son works there. Asking what Albertans think about GW is a silly question. The Province is huge, with many bilogical zones. From Montana-like rolling grasslands to the boreal forest.....virtual desert dryland farming to lush grain farms and everything in between. For the most part, the industrial boom is filled by transplants from all over Canada and the world.

The question(s) might better be:

What do the dairy farmers think about global warming?
,,,the ranchers?
The natives?
old time homesteaders?
Or the varieties of workers/professionals that depend on the oil sands boom?
The ignorant always have the most strident voice it seems. (about denial GW)

The question makes no sense. It is way too general and encompassing.

Where RMG lives is a virtual park in the mountains. It would probably never be allowed to be developed, now. If you shot an elk in Banff you could kiss your a#! goodbye. It is a very expensive high end place similar to Estes Park? in Colorado. A Boulder with better ski hills?

I am pretty sure most will say the weather is weird and more then unpredictable. Most will also say we need the industrial contribution of the sands. Until something else comes along, folks have to eat and put a roof over the heads. Right now this development is paying Canada's bills. Albertans aren't ignorant about it (GW) like people imply so often.

I saw the same boom in BC in the 60s and 70s in the forest industry. Chokermen drove BMWs and huge trucks. It is gone, now. There are no chokerman jobs, even....just machine operators. When the infrastructure is in and the undustry matures/plateaus, the same will happen there. Everyone likes to pretend it won't, but it will just like every industry does.

By the by, on the Alberta border in Field BC, you can pick fossils up at 6-8,000 feet elevation. In Drumheller you can go to a fantastic dino museum. Albertans get it.



This is probably not going to go over well here, but I think most people in Alberta might be in favor of global warming, particularly when we have a long, snowy winter like this last one. (It snowed here last weekend, so winter is not totally done with us).

The worst-case scenario would be that Alberta might end up with a climate like Colorado currently has. This, of course, would raise the question, "What's wrong with the climate in Colorado?" Most people think Denver is not too bad, weather-wise. Pragmatism triumphs over holding hands and singing "Kumbaya".

The Alberta government has the pine beetle problem under control. The forestry people went through the woods, flagged all the pine trees with beetles, cut them down, and burned them. This contrasts with the BC approach, which was to ignore the problem until all the pine trees were dead. I mean, it's a choice a government has to make, but I really hate looking at all those dead pine trees in BC.

"The Alberta government has the pine beetle problem under control. The forestry people went through the woods, flagged all the pine trees with beetles, cut them down, and burned them. This contrasts with the BC approach, which was to ignore the problem until all the pine trees were dead. I mean, it's a choice a government has to make, but..."

That's a nice capsule description of the difference in values between Ectopia and The Empty Quarter. In the former Nature is perfect,and Man is original sin at best, down right evil at worst, and not allowed to interfere with Nature at all. In the latter Nature is slipshod and random, and frankly we can do better. And there is the point we still have to eat as well.

In sweden all kind of wood is bought and used for district heating or in some cases pellets or similar, basically a source of energy. Dispersed trees are however a problem but sometimes trees are cut down to get rid of insects and in such case they are used.

If cheap natural had been available for $2-3 the story might have been different. It is not a problem with technology, as soon as there are cheaper alternative available the economics will simply not work. It is not a technological problem to drive cars on wood, it worked during the second world war but why bother then gasoline is so cheap and readily available.

Most of the standing dead pines in BC have been logged for salvage purposes. This has severely depressed the price of wood in the North American market because there is so much of it.

There is actually a good market for beetle-killed wood for flooring, because the fungus carried by the pine beetle (which is what actually kills the tree) leaves a distinctive blue stain in the wood. People find the appearance rather attractive, so it has become something of a fashion item for people to have this distinctive blue stain in their wood floors.

I think the depressed housing market has had a much bigger effect on wood prices than anything else. Blue stain seems to come and go as an in thing. It has been used for paneling and cabinets in the past but it usually doesn't command a premium to clear lumber. Quite often you would have to take a deduction if you had blue stain. It is one of the reasons that lumber companies move into burn areas as quickly as they can after a fire.

Interesting blue timber use to be paid less. Actually there are restrictions on how fast the timber must be removed to avoid the blue color.

Well, trends come and go, so if you have a lot of beetle-killed pine, you need to create a trend for blue stained pine wood in people's houses. It's all marketing.

I am not sure that I understand how rational the measures taken by Alberta... Our forests in Wyoming are at least as bad as Colorado... in some areas ALL trees are dead, not just mature trees of a size and age... I personally had to decide between cutting mature pines in our windbreaks or spraying yearly over their life span. It would appear that there is no way to kill all beetles by cutting and burning, and cutting and burning will only delay the destruction of the forest rather than save it. The end result would appear to be the same, either by ignoring or cut and burn... ?

The Alberta pine beetle control program appears to be working fairly well, at least compared to BC, but it does require a lot of cutting and burning.

You have to realize that Alberta managed to keep the rats out, so keeping the pine beetles out is not a big departure for the provincial government. The rat control program somewhat resembled the Vietnam War in its early days, involving as it did a lot of firearms, high explosives, incendiary devices, and dangerous chemicals. Nowadays there are much better and safer rat poisons so there is less use of guns and pyrotechnics, although pounding rats flat with rakes and shovels is popular among community organizations. It's good to let people take their frustrations out on pestilence-carrying animals at times.

But, as one old logger I know said, "Why not cut down the lodgepole pine and plant trees that can fight off the pine beetle?" Good point. The fact is that lodgepole pines are short-lived trees and don't last very long under normal circumstances. They grow fast and die young. If the forest doesn't have any fires, which melt the pine cones and trigger the pine seeds to start growing, the spruce and fir will replace them anyway, so why not just expedite the process and plant spruce and fir. The result will not be a natural forest, but it's not a natural forest anyway as a result of 100 years of fire control, so what's the difference?

"The worst-case scenario would be that Alberta might end up with a climate like Colorado currently has. This, of course, would raise the question, "What's wrong with the climate in Colorado?"... "

It doesn't get cold enough here any more to kill the beetle larvae. So the forests are dying if they're not burning.

Well, as I said, the Alberta government is doing a pretty good job of keeping the pine beetle out of Alberta. However, it's also planting more heat tolerant trees than normally live here. This whole global warming thing didn't come as a complete surprise to their agricultural experts, and they didn't think anybody would actually come up with a feasible plan to stop it, so they just decided to deal with the consequences as they occurred.

Global warming has occurred before, and any oil company geologist can tell you what it looked like in any oil producing region the last time it happened, so you just have to find out what grew last time and plant it this time.

I've got some Colorado blue spruce growing out front, and they're doing pretty well. They're not as proliferate as the Alberta white spruce in the back yard which grow like weeds here but probably don't have as much heat tolerance. OTOH, I think the white spruce have enough heat tolerance for any reasonable purpose.

The trees that are not going to last long are the lodgepole pine. I have two left that are about 80 years old and 80 feet high. All of my other pines have died, but they're short-lived trees so they're well past their best-before date. The spruce will live a lot longer, and most likely grow a lot higher than 80 feet.

You need to compare 'apples with apples.'

I've been watching a series of videos by Dr Michael Greger, MD. He does amazing presentations on the latest nutritional research available.

Here are two of them. Well worth the time.

Latest in Human Nutrition 2010

Latest in Human Nutrition 2011

Here is a link to his website, where he presents nutritional information on just about every topic you can imagine, out of the scientific literature.

Videos about animal products

Thank you for posting these links. Fascinating, informative and outright scary.

Also utilizing meat from ruminant animals increases net supply of protein because their forage (cellulose) is undigestible to us.

"WaPo now wants me to log in"

Clear your Washingtonpost cookie

Anyone have anything to say on this gem from ZH.com?


Zero Hedge has a very eclectic style. They take in people with the views from the furthest libertarian fringes to the "nationalize all the banks"-left.

They are both anti-government and anti-wall street and just about anti-everything. Don't bother trying to find a common thread other than a naked attempt to outrage and provoke as much as possible(and therefore drive traffic).
Your article confirms as much.

That is true, but while I know it's an aggregator of varying opinions, I just wondered what to make of that article itself. Smacks more of the "reserves = production" crapola, along with a lot of wishful thinking regarding renewables replacing fossil fuels.

I once was a fan of ZH. They had original research and thoughtful insight. Now it's devolved into a website where everyone distrusts everything except for gold.

I can't tell you how often the comment that "oil is cheap in gold" comes up. I chuckle a bit every time I read that... and then cry a little because it scares me that so many people think that way.

Yes, Oil Prices Are Cyclical

The latest round of briefing papers on oil published over the last week on Wall Street is a testament to how quickly things can change when it comes to oil prices. Less than a few months after Brent crude prices topped $125 a barrel, Wall Street is suddenly predicting a possible collapse in oil prices to $50 a barrel.

The forecasts, which may or may not prove to be correct, reflect more than just a cloudy economic outlook for Europe. There appears to be a definitive shift brewing in long-range perceptions about future oil supplies.

Wall St seems to get the limited supply meme better than most, but it still doesn't seem to understand the demand destruction side.
In other words, they underestimate the effect oil prices have on the economy and how quickly it depresses it, thereby inducing demand destruction.

Still, when I look at the price forecasts and comments on tight supply from banks like Barclays or Goldman Sachs, their oil desks tend to give pretty solid and often quite bearish reports.

The truly crazy statements(The U.S. will become the next Saudi Arabia!!!1) tends to come from craven careerists who are not specialists within the commodity/oil trade and want to make a big splash. Likewide, Barclays had a crazy report a few months ago about the amount of people dropping out of the labor force. It said it was mostly due to demographics and 'overhyped'. It wasn't their economics team but an independent careerist. Then their US econ team totally demolished that claim, together with the Fed research papers and various econ think-tanks.

Although they are slow to slash their forecasts, I think they are now overcompensating. The prices won't go to $50 because that would break the Saudi budget, among other things. The Saudis are already starting to cut as we speak, their oil minister confirmed it the other week.

The recent IMF paper was interesting in this sense because I believe it tried to bridge the geological and the economical view. Now, as the study's authors admitted, the geological view has been more correct than the other side, but even if you would go with the geological view only(say, ASPO or most people on this site around 2005-2008) you would be wrong. Nobody predicted rising oil production in 2012(and yes, even crude has set a new record, albeit a very small one, but it's still viable).

And no matter how some people try to disregard unconvential oil as a 'trick'(because it screws up their doomster scenarios), total oil supply is up, even when discounting for the fact that NGLs et al give less energy per Btu.

What I think is the risk everyone overlooks is the social instability cost.
Because even if the oil supply is kept somehow in check by depressed economies in the West and slower Chindia growth, that means rising unemployment. How long will half of Europe accept 15+ % unemployment? Or when it starts to creep up in nations like France or the UK?

And America has over 10 % unemployment, if it wasn't for the forged masking by millions of dropped out labor workers. (Even controlling for baby boomers).

If this scenario continues, the social unrest alone will be very hard to contain. And just look at Egypt. Their oil/natgas revenue stream is drying up, they are the biggest wheat importer in the world. They are cooked, because no matter who takes over the nation, it's pretty much finished. And then more unrest begins, and the volatility in the Middle East could re-emerge.

So it isn't just the advanced world. And protests in the advanced world would mean more promises from politicians(more debt, borrowing, quick-stimulus, more energy intensive). When that fails, even if we have "only" stagnation, that will in of itself breed more and more radical politics.

So this is to me the bigger risk. Even if the world somehow lives on with a slowly rising oil supply, the price for maintaining that fragile status quo will keep rising until it breaks somekind of breaking point. And the question is how long that breaking point, if there will be such a thing(or perhaps instead a series of events), can be extended and pushed down the road.

Peak Oil isn't just about decline. Stagnation alone is very serious, because sub-2 % GDP growth means slowly rising unemployment(the only exceptions are when people drop out of the labor force but that can only happen for a few years before there is a natural limit). And to get above 2 % growth governments and central banks are going to print money, borrow and stimulate.

In my mind, we are already slowly entering the Peak Oil age, if we are not there already.
It's a slow grind from here.

"that NGLs et al give less energy per Btu."

I think you meant less energy per volume, or per mass, since a BTU is a measure of energy.

NeoKeynesianism is based on infinite exponential growth, and the belief that there is no diminishing returns to GDP. I have grave doubts about both of those assumptions. But finding an economic model based on steady state, even steady-state per capita seems to be difficult.

It is less energy per unit volume, but surprisingly NGL has more energy per unit mass than crude, though the difference is small when mass is used. For this reason, expressing output in millions of tonnes rather than millions of barrels gives a better estimate of energy when considering C+C+NGL. Once biofuels and such (coal to liquids, gas to liquids, and other fuel additives) are added to the mix I am not sure if mass works very well as a proxy for energy content. I think mass would be a better estimate than volume.


NeoKeynesianism is based on infinite exponential growth

Nominal growth, not real growth. There is a large misunderstanding of this especially among the critics of Keynesian economics. Nominal growth is, theoretically, possible with a contraction in real GDP. Admittedly, the means of achieving said nominal growth aren't palatable to many.

and the belief that there is no diminishing returns to GDP.

This is not a central tenant of either Keynesian or NeoKeynesian economics. Again, Keynesian economics revolves around nominal gdp. The real economy is a secondary consideration. To summarize, Keynesian economics takes the view that prices are sticky downward*, that individuals spend progressively less of their income as a percentage as their incomes increase**, and that there is a relationship between consumption and income. Keynesian economics views aggregate debt service as a function of income and therefore consumption. Finally, Keynesian economics believes that a functioning system of financial intermediaries is necessary for a prosperous real economy.

*there's a good deal of supporting evidence
**again, there's a body of supporting evidence

"Keynesian economics revolves around nominal gdp. The real economy is a secondary consideration."

Never let reality get in the way of a good theory? That would explain a lot. LOL

I agree with the prices being sticky downward. I even agree that individuals spend progressively less of their income as a percentage as their incomes increase. Once you have met the needs of subsistence, you are supposed to save some of the surplus, which means less spending. What I object to is the assumption that my savings must be swindled away from me by inflation and/or high taxes.

Keynes held that inflation was not a good thing, somewhere along the way NeoKeynesians decided that it was a categorical good. Krugman has been calling for a 6% targeted inflation rate for a few years now. That will supposedly fix everything.

Never let reality get in the way of a good theory? That would explain a lot. LOL

It's actually a well reasoned and realistic approach IMO. Keynes was just doing his best with what was available to economists at the time. Economics has many different definitions, some more widely accepted than others. Ultimately, IMO, economics deals with utility: what it is, how it arises, and how it is distributed. There is no firm definition or measure of utility. It is somewhat intangible. The best we've been able to do, when it comes to measuring utility, is to do so in terms of opportunity cost (an idea put forth by William Stanley Jevons of The Coal Question fame). Measuring in terms of opportunity cost becomes vastly easier when a specific good or service has "one price" given by some sort of a common currency. Keynes believed that market-oriented capitalism was the best way to deliver real economic prosperity. All economists could do was make sure that financial systems functioned smoothly, hence the focus on nominal GDP

Keynes held that inflation was not a good thing

At this juncture I'll have to verge into speculation. Keynes was a proponent of moving away from specie currencies (those backed by gold or silver) though that wasn't the sort of thing that people could talk about in polite society. Hence the need to speak ill of inflation. Anyone who's taken an introductory macro class (and learned to shift lines with slopes of x and -x, lol) knows that equilibrium is usually reached at a higher price level when applying Keynesian principles.

FWIW, "price stability" was one of the things universally agreed upon in economics until recently.

The functions of money are generally listed as "a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and a store of value." IMO, the store of value function should be subject to entropy just like real world goods. Also, IMO, it is prudent to sacrifice #3 to ensure functions #1 and #2. "One price" would be unit #2.

Krugman has been calling for a 6% targeted inflation rate for a few years now. That will supposedly fix everything.

I tend to agree with Krugman. 6% won't even come close to "fixing everything" but it will help to reduce slack in the labor market. As an aside, a good litmus test of anyone who claims to be an "expert" in economics is to ask them what Krugman won the Reisbank (Nobel) Prize for.

The question is what happens if GDP growth is only nominal, and not real. How, long will be people remain happy/compliant? In some ways the two decades up to the 2008 GFC were running that experiment. Presures to make it seem that the common man was still getting richer, led to crazy bubble blowing, leading to the GFC.

Now post GFC (or are we simply in a pause between part1 and part2?), there is spreading dissatisfaction, as the expectation that the future will be better than the present or past, is largely broken. It seems to me this anger/frustration is being directed in ways that worsen our prospects (Tea party madness especially). But, also filtered through politics, it seems to be the trend almost everywhere is pro-oligarchy, anti-common man. So indeed the post war economic/political concensus is rapidly breaking down.

I don't doubt that exponentially increasing nominal (but not real) GDP, works fine on paper. But add in human psychology and politics and I think all bets are off.

The question is what happens if GDP growth is only nominal, and not real.

This is what keeps me up at night. IMO, civilization is capable of achieving a higher standard of living (if we adopt renewables, CST in particular, or advanced nuclear) but the nearly universal focus on the near term is quite a hindrance to such aspirations. FWIW, the common man was getting richer pre-GFC. Say it was debt-fueled or whatever, but the reality was that real homes and infrastructure were built and real goods and services were produced and purchased. Economic growth, however, is not some solid thing that is continuously built upon. It is subject to erosion. That's where we're at now: erosion. This erosion has come about from numerous factors. IMO, the most pressing of these is resource scarcity.

Now post GFC (or are we simply in a pause between part1 and part2?)

IMO, we're in a pause. I liken our current predicament to a patient in an emergency room. The global economy is a patient. It is on life support. The doctors (economists) are trying to figure out what to do. Sadly, they are arguing about whether or not to keep the patient on life support. Some (particularly misguided) doctors insist that life support is making things worse and that the patient will recover on its own. Others believe that, for now, it's best to keep the patient on a respirator and keep administering blood (euphemisms for stimulus and monetization). Some of the doctors say that such treatment isn't in keeping with the laws of nature, survival of the fittest and all of that, and that we should simply let the patient die.

If I were one of the doctors in the room, I'd say that the patient needs a bone marrow transplant. 10 points if you can figure out what I mean ;)

I don't doubt that exponentially increasing nominal (but not real) GDP, works fine on paper. But add in human psychology and politics and I think all bets are off.

I agree. In a recent letter to my father, I commented that, for now, "life support" is the likely solution to be pursued by all governments. However, people know that such "life support" is a transient state and will eventually grow restless and demand something else. The decision made at that point will determine whether or not civilization moves on to better and brighter things or if we enter into another Dark Age.

The global economy is a victim. It has the rapier-like proboscis of a giant blood-sucking mosquito thrust into its very heart. The dependents are desperate. If they pull the parasite off, it will leave a great hole... the Venezuelans offer that maybe it will heal. If they don't, the situation will surely decline for all of them. New marrow will only freshen the meal. The sociopaths who let the mosquito in the room smile widely.

There is a very good lesson in the story of Rob Roy: Accept the smaller wound that allows the winning of the fight.



Of course, it was long ago time to drain the swamp:

Thomas Jefferson

"If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered...I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies..."

Regardless of attribution, this thought is part of our cultural heritage.

It may be that the doctors (K. economists) considerably overestimate their understanding via hubris, and that the better analogy is that their recommendations are akin to 'bleeding' the patient via leeches and the like, when the body's own systems of repair are vastly more sophisticated and capable when left to itself.

That's a great concept! A free-market hospital... where a natural balance is allowed to be struck in the absence of intervention. Why... the administration and staff would probably fit into a bathtub!

The modern medical profession actually lives by that rule, "first do no harm". When taking action they at least have to i) use tests and physically measurable observations, and ii) point to experimental, falsifiable evidence that the action is effective. Unlike the Keynesians.

There is no "experimental, falsifiable evidence" that the Austrian-school, "trickle-down", "free market" system has ever worked... or is there? Top-tier taxes have been reduced for 30 years... where are the jobs? The deregulation of the financial system allowed the banks to gamble again, with predictable and well documented results, just like before the great depression. Is the popularized counter to that, the ACORN argument, in the offing? Then there is Enron.

My thoughts exactly. If this is what we're experiencing with only marginal improvements in oil production, then imagine the repercussions of some of the more pessimistic prognostications found out there for field decline and net imports. We seemingly have moved to a world where the game for financial trickery is pretty much up, and now the cards are being laid out on the table, we're coming up short. When things start to decline in the energy sector finally, there's no telling how bad that will mess up finance and, by extension, the rest of the economy itself.

This article is a perfect example of irrational exuberance. We have the world economy flatlining again because of two years of high prices and now demand destruction comes riding in. Then the exuberants proclaim that oil will be cheap at $50. The last crash got us down to $35. So it seems to me that even the cost of oil at the dips is increasing. Or, to put it another way, the cycle has become one of high prices first, then recession, followed by another time of high prices. So yeah, it's cyclical all right.

Spiralling down will look like cycling, if you ignore the ground approaching.

It's cyclical all right. And the new cycle is nothing like the old. It simply goes like this:

1. Demand increases, driving exploitation of ever more expensive resources.
2. After a point, the new resources are too expensive and harm economic growth.
3. This causes demand destruction and economic downturn.
4. Prices fall due to recession or flat growth.
5. Demand comes back along with attempts at growth and prices rise.

We are somewhere between 2 and 3 in the current phase.

Haze returns to Malaysia

Haze caused by forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia blanketed parts of Malaysia including the capital, causing air pollution to hit unhealthy levels.

Indonesia's government has outlawed land-clearing by fire but weak law enforcement means the ban is largely ignored.

US fails on Happy Planet Index

IT'S easy not to trash the planet - if you're dirt poor and die young. But is it possible for all of us to live long and satisfying lives without costing the Earth? That's the question behind a measure of national well-being called the Happy Planet Index (HPI). Its latest update, released this week ahead of the Rio+20 summit on sustainable development, names Costa Rica as the world's most "developed" nation and puts the US on the sick list.

Another day, another wacky special-interest-group "poll". Ask a few loaded questions that don't translate well between languages and histories, compare answers that can't be translated well either - then jump off the wall at supersonic speed to a "conclusion".

It's not like we see vast throngs clamoring to migrate from Europe, Canada, or the USA, to, say, the "happy", awful, impoverished backwater of Bolivia; nor to the "happy" living hell of what appears to be Bangladesh, nor even to rather better-run Brazil. If anything, people are clamoring to migrate from the "happiest" places to Europe, Canada, Australia, or the USA, and often not just clamoring but showing up by the boatload. So, amid that steaming pile of arrant nonsense, what are they missing?

I have lived in the countryside and in a city. On the countryside I lived in a large house with a large garden and traveled a lot with the car. In the city I have lived in a small apartment with everything available nearby.

The material standars was better then I lived on the countryside although then living in a city in small appartment with everything available nearby less time need to be spent on traveling and the basic living cost is also lower.

Since this is the oil drum Moscow stands out in energy use per capita and they are actually happier than US or it might just be the cheap vodka.

In regards to Rising US crude output may open door to exports-API head, this is another in a series of MSM articles with their titles giving the [incorrect] implication that US has so much oil it can be an oil exporter.

Granted the actual article does a fairly good job of laying out the facts, although I don't agree with all their 'facts'.

With the disclaimer I am not a lawyer, it appears based upon this key 1979 law (below) that effectively the President can ban most any type of energy export - although I am not aware of any special presidential order being in force.

On the other hand, where the article above may go wrong, is it does appear that the President already has the authority to allow exports of Canadian and Mexican oil through the US. Possibly this is why the Keystone Pipeline construction has become such a political football.

Title 42 § 6212. Domestic use of energy supplies and related materials and equipment
(a) Export restrictions
The President may, by rule, under such terms and conditions as he determines to be appropriate and necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter, restrict exports of--
(1) coal, petroleum products, natural gas, or petrochemical feedstocks, and
(2) supplies of materials or equipment which he determines to be necessary (A) to maintain or further exploration, production, refining, or transportation of energy supplies, or (B) for the construction or maintenance of energy facilities within the United States.
(b) Exemptions
(1) The President shall exercise the authority provided for in subsection (a) of this section to promulgate a rule prohibiting the export of crude oil and natural gas produced in the United States, except that the President may, pursuant to paragraph (2), exempt from such prohibition such crude oil or natural gas exports which he determines to be consistent with the national interest and the purposes of this chapter.
(2) Exemptions from any rule prohibiting crude oil or natural gas exports shall be included in such rule or provided for in an amendment thereto and may be based on the purpose for export, class of seller or purchaser, country of destination, or any other reasonable classification or basis as the President determines to be appropriate and consistent with the national interest and the purposes of this chapter.
(c) Implementing restrictions
In order to implement any rule promulgated under subsection (a) of this section, the President may request and, if so, the Secretary of Commerce shall, pursuant to the procedures established by the Export Administration Act of 1979 [50 App.U.S.C.A. § 2401 et seq.] (but without regard to the phrase "and to reduce the serious inflationary impact of foreign demand" in section 3(2)(C) of such Act [50 App.U.S.C.A. § 2402(2)(C) ] ), impose such restrictions as specified in any rule under subsection (a) of this section on exports of coal, petroleum products, natural gas, or petrochemical feedstocks, and such supplies of materials and equipment.
(d) Restrictions and national interest
Any finding by the President pursuant to subsection (a) or (b) of this section and any action taken by the Secretary of Commerce pursuant thereto shall take into account the national interest as related to the need to leave uninterrupted or unimpaired--
(1) exchanges in similar quantity for convenience or increased efficiency of transportation with persons or the government of a foreign state,
(2) temporary exports for convenience or increased efficiency of transportation across parts of an adjacent foreign state which exports reenter the United States, and
(3) the historical trading relations of the United States with Canada and Mexico.

As long as USA could afford to and do buy substantial more oil than they sell a restriction would be pretty pointless.

A restriction is pure political pandering "don't let anyone else have even a tiny bit of our stuff". So if they are angling to overthrow a stupid restriction -more power to um. Even a place with large net imports may gain some economic efficiency by exporting some around the edges -for example it may be cheaper to ship Alaskan oil to Japan, and import a similar volume of oil from elsewhere. Or in some cases, we import Mexican oil, and export finished product to them.

So its sort of a right-policy, wrong argument thing going on here.

Yes imports may gain some economic efficiency by exporting some around the edges so a restriction is not totally pointless just rather pointless or what kind pointless would you prefer?

Banks' Fire Drill for Greece Election

After being largely unprepared for the extreme stress of the 2008 crisis, large banks in the United States are determined to be ready this time.

Large banks that have substantial exposure to Europe have been doing tests to see if important functions like moving money for clients between nations could handle a country leaving the euro. This quarter, a substantial number of Citigroup employees carried out an extensive dry run that assumed a country left the euro and caused wider stress, ...

Citigroup has $84 billion in loans, bonds and other types of exposure to troubled European countries, plus France. The bank’s filings indicate that all but $8 billion of that exposure is offset with collateral it has collected and hedges on the portfolio.

Banks like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are also looking into the severe legal challenges that would arise if a country exited the euro. Contracts that govern loans, bonds and derivatives in Europe rarely take into account such a situation. “This is a big issue — what jurisdiction are your contracts written under?” ... “Could you end up having a contract and end up with lira or drachma or something like that?”

In a period of severe weakness, central banks will most likely step in and provide cheap loans to bolster the financial system.

... translation: the taxpayer will bail out the banks - again.

Top Wyo. oil-gas regulator quits after remarks

Wyoming's top regulator of oil and gas development has resigned after he remarked at a conference that greed and desire for compensation motivate people who assert that hydraulic fracturing has contaminated their groundwater.

"I really believe greed is driving a lot of this" and people around Pavillion are "just looking to be compensated," the energy news publication EnergyWire quoted Doll as saying.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a draft report in December that says fracking may have contaminated groundwater in the Pavillion area. Fracking boosts the productivity of oil and gas wells by cracking open deposits with water and chemicals mixed with sand, which are pumped into the wells at high pressure.

In early November, Doll expressed concern in an email to other state officials that the EPA's findings in Pavillion would harm state revenues and the oil and gas industry's ability to exploit certain oil and gas deposits.

Hey! They're gonna get you too! Another one bites the dust -
And another one's gone and another ones gone.. whooooaaa...

greed and desire for compensation motivate people who assert that hydraulic fracturing has contaminated their groundwater.

Whenever there is money to get someone would try to get it. It would rather stupid to beleive no one would try to get money if they could.

I have heard many times it should be perfectly safe and if oil which is more or less poisonous or gas could stay down there for millions of years it feels true. Although it actually does not feel really good to pump a lot poisons stuff with high pressure down in the ground.

This should be:

"greed and desire for compensation motivate people to promote hydraulic fracturing"

Yes of course, you are right.

There are shysters gaming for every pile of money. There are companies angling for every dollar they can save.

Natural oil/gas seeps "contaminate" surface water and groundwater every day. Do frac wells do so? Maybe on occasion, but certainly not on purpose. If casings fail, costs are massive with or without contamination. If casings hold, any frac fluids are far below aquifers. Plus, most frac recipes are relatively safe these days, due to PR pressure.

As Rock has said many times, the danger comes from surface contamination due to poor disposal and handling of fluids. In many areas, water is so scarce the fluid is being recovered and re-used, so that helps. In most others, regulation and vigilance helps a lot.

Those of us who walked oil country as kids can tell you that nasty surface ponds and dirty well-sites are nothing new, and I can say with authority that today's multi-well pads are cleaner and more closely managed than little stripper well that ubiquitously dot the local landscape here. But the locals like the stripper wells because everybody gets money from them; kinda like having a share in the pig farm next door - might not be pleasant, but it's more tolerable if it smells like money.

If you talk with gas company execs, their lament is that they didn't have an upfront PR campaign to educate the public and promote the benefits of hoz drilling. They ceded the initiative to the naysayers, and early practices provided abundant ammunition.

What I see as the two major issues here..

First, Wyoming government serving as a front man for the oil industry and ignoring the concerns of real Wyoming citizens.

Second, the oil industry trying to avoid ALL liability in cases of potential damages... I think we could all live with standard that says 'show us what chemicals you are using, and your fracking chemicals show up in our water, you pay whatever it costs '.. or 'gas show up in our water that was not there before you drilled, you pay ___% damages'... But Wyo government has chosen to keep chemical ingredients secret, thus supporting the 'not proven' meme. In my case, I have drilling within two miles. I have had our water tested, but I have no delusions that sudden contamination of my well water by any devil's brew will allow collection of damages in this political environment... Our present governor is several magnitudes better than predecessors, but...

Hat – “Our present governor is several magnitudes better than predecessors, but...” Then if your opinion is in the majority then the folks can vote them out of office easy. IOW can any amount of advertising paid for by lobbyists buy your vote? I’ll assume not. Is your average citizen that gullible? If so then I see no choice but for you to move to Texas. If you are in the minority then, unfortunately, that’s how democracy works…they win and you lose.

I drilled for just one winter in WY back in 2000. Didn’t meet a lot on landowners but those I did seemed as protective of their lands as my in Texas. And there’s nothing secret about the detailed composition of frac fluids. You or any organization can buy a bbl and pay to have it analyzed. Cost a few thousand $’s. What the companies won’t do is make the info public themselves. If all the concerned citizens and environment groups in WY won’t pony up the pocket change then they deserve to remain ignorant IMHO. You have the right thought: have a certified company sample and test your water. Then if you think frac’ng has contaminated your water have the test done again. Find some nasties…file a lawsuit. The company will be required to disclose their chemicals. Texas landowners do it and they almost always win. And then the TRRC slides in and brings more financial grief to the companies.

I hope it doesn’t turn that bad for you. But you have rights. Don’t assume you can’t win. I’ve seen operators settle out of court even when they didn’t do anything wrong. The courts in Texas and La. are not friends of the oil patch. Hopefully you can get your state regulators on your side.

Flashback to an old depletion projection, circa 2005, for UK North Sea oil

Here is the latest EIA information as the blue data points

This last year has shown the highest proportional drop yet.

Laherrere has an even better prediction here

The bottom-line is that all that mattered to get a decent prediction was to adequately count the discoveries that were contributing to reserves, and then assume steady proportional extraction. I included no discoveries after 2005 because I didn't have a good discovery model at the time. That may have brought up the tail a bit to match better the production profile.

It's obvious that UK oil production is now in steep decline and is now only 1/3 of what it was a decade and a half ago. In the absence of big new discoveries, of which we have seen none, the decline will continue and production will hit zero in another decade or so.

The UK government doesn't seem to be too worried about this, but it should be because they need to find a better energy policy ASAP. Whatever policy they have at the moment, if any, is not going to work.

I updated this chart because of another discussion with a few AGW skeptics who want to blame the high cost of fuel in the UK to the green-leaning politicians placing taxes/tariffs on carbon use.

I pointed out this chart to them and one responded "Isn’t that cute."

The PO and AGW movements have been symbiotic in some sense but they also fight over which is more relevant.

"I pointed out this chart to them and one responded 'Isn’t that cute.'"

Meaning that to them, the chart confirmed that "green-leaning politicians" were to blame for the prices, and for the downslope as well?

That would indicate a "communications problem" at the very least. Of course if the politicians aren't seen by the wider public as doing everything possible to counter the downslope, with such an all-out effort failing to work for reasons that can actually be explained to broad satisfaction, maybe the communications problem is insurmountable for the time being.

Nice to see the update, WHT. In this world of resource prediction, the only real-world tests available are natural experiments. It would be interesting to see what your discovery model would have added, as a retrospective update to the last 5 years and prediction of the next five, but I know you're busy.

It doesn't take a high-accuracy model to yield a good sense of the future, though. Production is up a tad now because economics support an expanded resource base. When oil gets to $200, it'll be larger still. However, there is a decreasing marginal return factor that is undeniable as EROEI of each more desperate source decreases.

I see Saudi Arabia now thinks $110 dollars is "fair". It will be interesting to see what countries fall off the edge at $110, now that we're seeing those that couldn't handle $100.

Per the suggestion, I am considering an update with a discovery model, thanks.

D.Coyne did an update for Norway recently: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/9153/890745

Fraudsters fleece Egypt using foreign wheat

Top wheat importer Egypt's decision to increase the price premium paid to its own farmers has given fraudsters a golden opportunity to pass off cheap foreign grain as locally grown and profit at the country's expense.

Traders and a government official admitted that despite efforts to check whether local farmers really grow the grain they sell, the problem of disguising imported wheat to profit from the payments will remain or worsen this year as the rewards grow.

"Egypt usually produces between 2 to 2.3-2.4 million metric tons (2.2 to 2.53-2.65 million tons) of wheat," the trader said.

"The last 2-3 years they've been talking about 3 million metric tons (3.31 million tons) so you can kind of tell how much is coming in."

Puerto Rico ponders alternatives to gas pipeline

Members of a committee appointed by Gov. Luis Fortuno to find alternative energy sources said in a statement late Friday that they have rejected part of the original proposal calling for a pipeline to bisect Puerto Rico. The committee offered three alternatives to move natural gas from storage facilities on the island's south coast to plants in the north in a push to minimize the U.S. territory's dependence on oil.

Puerto Rico relies on petroleum to generate nearly 70 percent of its power, and electric bills are at least twice as expensive on average compared with those on the U.S. mainland. Fortuno originally envisioned a 92-mile (148-kilometer) pipeline he said would save $1 billion a year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 64 percent.

Critics said the pipeline would destroy some of the island's most fragile ecosystems and expose people living nearby to potentially deadly explosions.

Billionaire pledges 90,000 acres of his ranch as a conservation easement...


This project, if it comes to fruition, reminds me of the arrangement for Valles Caldera in NM:


I wish everyone success in making this happen.

A question for WT or ROCK - you guys snicker off and on about a drilling boom in the Austin Chalk in days gone by; was that the one 20 years ago you have in mind, or 30? I see there are references to a lot of poking holes in the ground at both periods.

TX gained 11 kb/d YOY in 1991 and 10 kb/d YOY in 1981. Was anyone expecting great things in 2001? ;) Now, 2007/08 were 0 and -1 respectively, but every other year since 2005 has been positive; led by 2011 and a whopping 289 kb/d, your largest surge forward since, drumroll please, 1951 and 477 kb/d. The good ol' days of prorationing! Frickin' socialists! ;)

Anyhow this latest crowd are doing something right. Or it's this $100+/bbl. I'm wondering that about that uptick in 1991, if the price per bbl hadn't sucked would tight oil have been economic then, or was the tech not quite in place yet? Or does that uptick prove that it was?

Of course, the EIA's 1/12 estimate for Texas crude oil production is 500,000 bpd higher than what the RRC shows.

But what I find interesting is that the RRC shows that Texas natural gas well production had a recent peak in 2008 (absolute peak in 1972). RRC shows that Texas 1/12 natural gas well production was 20% below 1/09 level.

KLR – Snicker…moi? If I ever cut loose a snicker you’ll know for sure. LOL. The Austin Chalk had two booms close together. The first started in the late 70’s and was spurred by higher NG prices and the panic induced by the embargo. These were vertical wells with big fracs. In the 80’s the AC boom gained new fervor with the development of horizontal drilling. It was the hottest play in the country. And, as today, the boom was largely driven by public companies trying to satisfy Wall Street’s demand for increasing reserve base. Not only were oil prospects becoming increasingly difficult to find but the global recession had depressed the price of oil to less than $10/bbl in many areas.

The “new” plays like the Eagle Ford Shale in S Texas and the Marcellus Shale in the NE were well known back then. Much of the current activity in the EFS is coincidental with the AC trend. Companies tried to capitalize by drilling EFS, Buda, Georgetown, etc shales that also fall in the trend. I drilled and frac’d my first EFS well over 25 years ago. There is nothing new about the EFS trend other than the increased drilling activity inspired by high oil prices and that same desperate need of pubcos to increase their reserve base y-o-y. Current EFS wells have much longer horizontal bore holes and more multistage fracs than past plays. But not because these are new capabilities. Comparable wells could have been drilled 20+ years ago. They’re done now out of necessity not new capability. We were using the same hz drilling methods long ago. And we’ve been pumping fracs in much the same way for more than 40 years. Some tweaking has been done but no major changes.

Hot new shale gas plays in the northeast??? The New Albany Shale was the first commercial NG developed in the USA. The NAS wasn’t named for New Albany, Texas, ya know. LOL. It was used to light street lamps in the very early 1900’s. It actually had a bit of a boom about 10 years ago. The production capabilities of all the shale plays being developed today have been known for many decades. If you do a web search and skim past all the current results you’ll find plenty of references to the early works in all those plays.

Of course high oil prices are a driving force behind the EFS et al. But I can’t emphasize enough about the sheer panic public companies have experienced with the decreasing prospect availability. You may remember that my private company drilled only conventional prospects…fractured shale just aren’t profitable enough for us. And we’ve had a very difficult time coming up with places to drill. Last year I gave back $4o million of budget for lack of prospects. This year, thanks to the drop in NG prices, I’ll turn back $60 – 80 million. We’ve just about shut down our entire NG drilling program. I’m in the process of changing our course to enhanced oil recovery from a trend of fields discovered over 60 years ago. I don’t think I’m exaggerating: if it weren’t for the shale plays at least half the public oil companies would disappear overnight. Probably many more in a couple of years. Folks should remember the origin of PO...it's PP...Peak Prospects. That is where all new oil will come from: drilled prospects

I have never snickered at the shale plays. They’ve been very useful to public companies try to keep the market cap up. But I won’t hesitate to snicker at anyone who thinks these shales plays and the technologies used are some sort of new Holy Grail that has miraculously arrived in the nick of time to save us from PO. The dry shale gas plays were the Holy Grail here to save us just 5 years ago. And when NG prices collapsed in late ’08 that Holy Grail turned into a rusty tin cup. LOL. It ain't hz holes. It ain't big fracs. It's $'s per barrel. That's what driving the activity.

I’m not predicting of course, but if oil prices continue to slide as far down as a few are proposing keep an eye on the pubcos playing the oily shales. Some are already showing some structural weakness.

Thanks much, ROCK. Gotta bookmark your remarks for future ref. I'm going to see what's afoot in ND, Gail pointed out a decline in rigs late '09 which, huh, led to production dipping a bit. And production there's slightly seasonal courtesy the bitter winters, as can be seen on a graph, RockyMtnGuy confirmed as much. They don't have the same problem on the North Slope for some reason...

Anyway, downloaded the Baker Hughes stats today and want to see what kind of precipitous decline can be modeled. Of course all of these holes punched in the ground just make up for 10 years of backsliding in LA, or 5 years in CA, etc. Makes a lot of other things too of course, namely $$$$. Gotta love all that $$$$.

KLR - Keep "lag time" in the back of your mind as you plow through the numbers. Short and long lags. Short: high rig count in Month 1 may not yield obvious production stat increases till Month 3 to 5. Takes a long time to build and install production equipment. Long: drilling slowdowns won't show a quick production drop. Besides the lag of putting wells on production natural declines are slow compared to boom time increases. Also, as drilling slows up due to a price drop many operators will actually strive to maximise their production rates to increase cash flow as per unit prices fall.

Cold weather ops. Rocky could give better details. But sometimes ops slow up more between seasons in some areas. It might be rough on the knuckles but frozen conditions can usually be handled easier than the sloppy spring thaw. Especially true with ground transport. I suspect N. Slope activity is easier in the middle of winter. At the other end of the weather many operators try to avoid drilling in the GOM and S La. during hurricane season. And that brings up very long lags in offshore production. The Deep Water drilling moratorium might not show up in the production stats for a few more years. It can take 5+ years between discovery and production. Drilling may have been delayed but building the production infrastructure didn't miss a beat. Those previously discovered fields will come on line as had been scheduled.

That's true - it's easier to drill in northern areas in the winter. In winter the ground is frozen and you can move your equipment over it and set up your drilling rig. Sure, it's cold, but people just wear the right clothes (parkas, toques, mittens, and mukluks). In summer it melts and everything turns to mush. You can't go anywhere because there's no bottom to the mud.

It's called "muskeg". They've lost entire railroads in muskeg, tracks, trains, and stations, everything. It all sinks into the mud. They've lost highways, too. I've been pulled by a tractor over a section of paved highway that they graded and paved in the winter, and it just disappeared into the mud when spring came. To fix it, they had to excavate the roadbed about 30 feet deep to bedrock and replace all the dirt with hard gravel before they put pavement on top. It was a real learning experience for the highway construction people.

There is a good use for your dead trees. Rather than burn them in the woods, chip them up and use the chips for light weight fills over soft ground. Its been done for a long time and works well

Plus its artificial peat. Too bad no-one will give you carbon credits for doing this.

Actually, they are doing it with live trees. Here on Vancouver Island loads of crap hemlock are being shipped out east for corderoy roads for rig support and access roads like days of past. I like hemlock for firewood, and it makes great trim, but no real market for it since the crash of pulp and paper. They are also using it for 1 time concrete forms in China. I see many loads of it heading out, everyday. The old growth of hemlock can grow for several hundred years, not as old as fir or cedar. The drilling stuff is 30-40 year old trees. A result of this harvest is the deer and cougar population exploding as the slash increases.


Interesting, I haven't heard of anyone building corderoy roads in years. Definitely no shortage of wood fiber at the moment. I hope the old growth is being preserved, there just isn't that much left, particularly in the temperate regions.

Right, I know about how they have that limited window on the North Slope due to sea ice on the one hand and the need for frozen ground on the other. But ND is flat out agricultural/ranch land; it's so boring they don't even have any sand dunes like Nebraska, I think. Maybe the odd kettle lake? Red River Valley. Some minor mountains overlooking same. Badlands.

Bakken Production by County:


Note the dip down every late fall/winter. Late '08 was economic driven, but the others?

KLR - Just a WAG but it may be a lack of weatherized equipment. Hopefully someone working the Bakken can provide the correct answer.

For selected counties, I calculated half-life times for average wells:

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

Right, I know about how they have that limited window on the North Slope due to sea ice on the one hand and the need for frozen ground on the other.

You are thinking about Shell's planned work offshore in the Chukchi and Beaufort, where sea ice is an issue.

Onshore, work goes on year around (see my other post). Below a short depth the tundra is frozen year around. It is called "permafrost".

I was under the impression that one factor in holding up exploitation of ANWR (once you get past the obvious barriers) was the need to barge in equipment; hence material too bulky to haul up the Dalton Highway. Does that ever really happen, is the DH sufficient to handle anything needed for day-to-day operations on the North Slope?

The Dalton Hwy is open year around and handles most of the day to day material needs of the slope. Some really big items (pre built production modules and whatnot) are constructed elswhere and are barged up. The biggest I can recall was the sea water treatment plant (to provide water for injection to maintain pressure at Prudhoe). This was built down south on a barge, which was then brought up and permanently beached at Prudhoe.

In the early days of developement of the N Slope, the annual barge "sea lifts" were a big deal. High anxiety time for the field operators. There was often only a short open water interval to get the barges around Pt Barrow and over to Prudhoe. If you didn't get the stuff there during the open water, it would set back your plans for an entire year. In recent years, due to global warming, the open water season has been much longer (most years anyway), and the sea lifts aren't nearly the problem they once were.

The bottom line is that open water season for barges won't be a major impediment for ANWR exploration. To explore or not explore ANWR is a political issue, plain and simple.

I don't think they have much muskeg in ND. Michigan, up in the northern reaches near Canada, yes. Other northern states, not so much.

Muskeg really has to be experienced to be believed. The closest analog would be Louisiana swamp country, if it froze in winter.

The Chinese and Russians have already tackled this

Qinghai–Tibet Railway

There are many technical difficulties for such a railway. About half of the second section was built on barely permanent permafrost. In the summer, the uppermost layer thaws, and the ground becomes muddy. Chinese engineers dealt with this problem by building elevated tracks with foundations sunk deep into the ground, building hollow concrete pipes beneath the tracks to keep the rail bed frozen, and using metal sun shades.[18] Similar to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System portions of the track are also passively cooled with ammonia based heat exchangers.

Highest Railway in the World (photo thread)

Trans-Alaskan Pipeline heat exchangers

Striking picture from the same search

I suspect N. Slope activity is easier in the middle of winter.

It depends on what activity one is talking about, but in general, N Slope production goes up in the winter.

At Prudhoe Bay (the biggest field) wells produce a lot of gas, all of which is re-injected to maintain reservoir pressure. The major constraint on production is gas handling capacity. The compressors for re-injection work more efficiently when it is cold, so gas handling goes up, so production increases in the winter.

Production drilling is all done from gravel pads, and goes on year around. The only exception is that at Prudhoe drilling is shut down for brief periosd during extremely severe weather. The rigs can still operate, but in an emergency the weather could impede truck traffic to and from the wells (we operate in a post Macondo world).

Depending on what you are doing, some maintenance and construction can only be done during the summer months. In particular, TAPS usually does one or more planned shutdowns for maintenance during the summer. Some of the production facilities also do planned maintenance "turn arounds" in the summer, generally planned to coincide with TAPS maintence.

Some of the most difficult times to do activities is during spring breakup. The "Spine Road" which runs the length of Prudhoe and Kuparuk Field crosses the Kuparuk River. The river is frozen all winter, and is only a small stream with a bridge in summer. However it floods every spring and washes out the approaches to the bridge. This blocks the Spine Road for a brief period. The flood is quite dramatic when it happens, but the river is monitored closely and the flood is basically a planned event withr respect to the road. Other pars of some of the fields are also not accessable for brief duing breakup due to.

Exploration and other activities outside the major fields is mostly done in winter. You aren't allowed to do anything on the tundra until there is sufficient snow cover. Then ice roads are built to move rigs, etc. There are brief periods during severe storms when activities stop, but otherwise work goes on all winter long. I remember once being out on a seismic crew and watching two mechanics doing some minor maintenence on a vehicle engine. Outside, with the temperature about -40 F. Gloved hand comes out of mitten, picks up wrench, makes one turn on bolt, goes back in mitten to warm up. Repeat as necessary. The job gets done, just more slowly!

Venezuela with the largest oil reserves in the world and the largest group of refineries sitting across from it in the Gulf of Mexico with the largest market place selling for 25 cents on the dollar in the stock market. In addition, the refineries are only a pipeline away from another huge source of oil from the north and a military who will invade little questions ask.

Why ?

Why what?

Is your question: Why don't we in the U.S. and the people of Vz aggressively develop the Orinoco and put it on a continuous line of tankers from Vz to the U.S. GOM coast and make the people of Vz rather wealthy? Also Why don't we pipe the Canadian oil from the Tar sands to these same refineries on the Gulf coast and live the vida loca?

I dunno. Perhaps we are saving these resources for later on when we really need them.

Or maybe the Orinoco is too expensive/difficult to develop, both technically and due to the Vz government.

I defer to the oil barons and high priests on this board for a credible speculation...

The Venezuelan oil sands deposits are big, probably bigger than the Canadian ones, and each exceeds the total amount of conventional oil in the world.

However, Venezuela is politically unstable, doesn't have large amounts of capital, and doesn't have the technology to produce its oil sands. This differentiates it from Canada, which is very politically stable, has access to large capital markets, and has developed a lot of technology for producing oil sands. Hence Venezuelan oil sands production has been declining while Canadian oil sands production has been increasing.

The oil refineries on the US gulf coast don't particularly care where their oil comes from, but Venezuelan production has been declining and the pipelines from Canada don't reach that far yet, so they are experiencing a shortage of oil feedstock.


You said,

"The Venezuelan oil sands deposits are big, probably bigger than the Canadian ones, and each exceeds the total amount of conventional oil in the world."

The resources are quite large, but reserves not so much. According to BP world reserves are about 1650 Gb (billion barrels) and 400 Gb of these reserves are in the oil sands and Orinoco belt(I call these extra heavy reserves). This leaves about 1250 Gb of oil that is not extra heavy.

I am not sure how much of this 1250 Gb you consider to be unconventional and where you would draw the line. Are you dividing Opec reserves (not including the Orinoco reserves) in half to reduce the reserves by 500 Gb, so that reserves minus extra heavy reserves would total 750 Gb?

If we further assume OPEC reserves were roughly accurate in 1983 at 470 Gb and assume 20 % reserve growth since 1983 (reserves increase to 565 Gb), then subtract Opec output from 1983 to 2011 (270 Gb from EIA) we are left with 295 Gb reserves for OPEC and 460 Gb for non-OPEC reserves for a total of 755 Gb (reserve numbers from BP).

I have read that Venezuela assumes about 20 % of OOIP (original oil in place) for its reserve estimates from the Orinoco belt whereas Canada assumes about 10% of OOIP to arrive at 170 Gb of reserves in the oil sands. If we assume 20 % for Canada and thereby double oil sands reserves to 340 Gb, then we would need to assert that more than half of the 755 Gb of the reserves that are not extra heavy reserves are “unconventional” such as deep water, tight oil, or polar oil.

Jean Laherrere has recently estimated deep water ultimate at around 200 Gb, but I am unsure of overall deep water production to date, I will assume 20 Gb produced to date which gives 180 Gb of deep water reserves (some of these are undiscovered). To be able to claim that Canadian oil sands reserves (at 340 Gb) are greater than conventional oil reserves, we would need polar and tight oil reserves to be more than 755 Gb minus 520 Gb (deep water plus oil sands) or 235 Gb.

If we add oil sands and Orinoco reserves together (560 Gb) it is easy to see how these extra heavy reserves are greater than conventional reserves, if these are as defined by Colin Campbell exclusive of polar, deep water, tight oil, and extra heavy oil. Note that I have doubled Canadian oil sands reserves from 170 Gb to 340 Gb so some might consider these estimates optimistic.

I am sure that RMG knows the difference between resources and reserves so he may have been thinking along these lines. I would be curious to see how far off I am because he knows much more about the oil business, geology, and particularly Canadian oil sands than I do.


d - I would be cautious with the definition of "unconventional" reserves. By oil patch standards both Deep Water and tite reservoirs are conventional reserves. IOW they are recovered using conventional drilling and lifting methods. But even in the oil patch there can be some inconsistancy. Oil sands and shale reservoirs would be considered unconventional by most. The shale not so much because the matrix is tite but because they are dominated by fracture production. As far as "polar" goes since we don't have a characterization of those potential reservoirs we can't distinguish conventional or otherwise. But given the cost of drilling and operating in such an environment it's difficult for me to imagine anything but conventional reservoirs to ever be produced in that region. Similar to DW GOM: probably lots of fractured shale potential out there they will never be economic to develop.

Something else to remember when evaluating the impact of X amount of reserves or even resources: production rate. Two plays may have the same reserve base but if one has a much slower recovery rate its impact on PO will be greatly muted. If the DW GOM wells delivered production at the rates of typical onshore wells (a few hundred bopd) few if any of those fields would have been developed due to a poor rate of return. Operators out there readily give up on maximizing URR in favor of high production rates.

Which is why the discussion always centers on Peak Oil and not Peak Reserves at the end of the day. Having a few trillion bbls of oil sitting in the ground won't be of much benefit to the world's economies until it reaches the surface.

Thanks Rock,

I agree with your definition of conventional, though I am not quite sure if you would put the Orinoco belt with the oil sands of Alberta or in the conventional category. When you say shale do you mean the tight oil in North Dakota (I can never remember if it's oil shale or shale oil so I call it tight oil)?

I was creating definitions of conventional oil to reconcile RMG's comment about the oil sands being larger than conventional oil, though he may have meant the resource was larger.

I agree it is about output not reserves, Canadian bitumen and Orinoco extra heavy will not be able to be produced quickly enough to avert an eventual peak.

I recently created a future oil scenario using WebHubbleTelescope's Shock model where I modelled Canadian oil sands and Orinoco belt extra heavy separately to account for the slower development of these resources. I also modelled natural gas to forecast NGL output making assumptions about how NGL per unit of natural gas might progress in the future (I made the optimistic assumption that worldwide levels of NGL/cu ft of natural gas would increase to US levels over 20 years then remain constant). NGL and biofuels were reduced to account for their lower energy content per barrel (NGL by 75 %, ethanol by 57 % and biodiesel by 88 %). I also included shale oil (from Green river shale) and processing gains+other liquids (these two remain constant after 2030). I made no guess about coal to liquids or gas to liquids but assumed that biofuels would increase by 33 % over the next 20 years, while processing gains would stay level, although this is optimistic because crude output will be declining after 2020 (it is possible that coal to liquids or gas to liquids could rise to fill the gap of smaller refinery processing gains).

So the chart is below with a peak around 2020, URR = 3950 Gb without Green river shale and 4530 Gb when Green river shale output is included out to 2300 (output is constrained by water availability) these numbers are for all liquids (for C+C+NGL URR= 3330 Gb out to 2500):


note that pg=refinery processing gain, other=other liquids as defined by the US EIA, eh=extra heavy oil from oil sands and Orinoco belt, shale=oil from keragen in Green River deposit in Colorodo and Wyoming (United States) based in part on a Rand report from 2005(link below):


total = all liquids (including c+c+ngl+other liquids+refinery processing gain)
note that extra heavy and shale are included in the total (EIA would report them as part of C+C).

larger chart at : https://sites.google.com/site/dc78image/images/futureoil.png


story from up top

"Delta CEO Says Airline To Pressure Prices As Jet Fuel Seller"

Biggest factor in jet fuel prices is cost of oil, secondly the cost of electricity, thirdly maybe the cost of natural gas if upgrading or cost for the maintenance/facility improvements (cost of capital).

So somehow Delta is going to be producing jet fuel at lower cost than other east coast refineries, yet have the same input costs? I don't think so. The crack spreads were so low that the original owner of this refinery chose to sell it rather than spend money to upgrade in a saturated market.

If Delta was really wanting to lower their cost of fuel they would have bought a refinery that could use tar sands oil or oil from Bakken which both sell at a $10 or more discount to Brent (sets price for most east coast oil). This would have meant buying a refinery in Texas or perhaps Colorado, where Delta has large hubs.

Another option for Delta to lower its jet fuel costs would be investing in an oil producing company, but certainly not a refinery.

Many years ago most western railroads had investments in refineries to supply lower cost diesel fuel (Santa Fe, Burlington Northern, Southern Pacific). The railroads also some interest in oil companies or outright ownership of oil companies to supply these refineries with oil, thus the ability to control all costs of diesel fuel production, from the well to the fuel tank. Not so with Delta. The only cost savings for Delta will be the profit margin on jet fuel, which is quite low these days.

Analysts have been questioning the wisdom of Delta's purchase of an oil refinery. Refining is not a game for amateurs, and Delta is an amateur in that game. It puts them in two high-risk businesses - oil and airlines, and there are some doubts that there is any synergy between the two.

The railroads got into oil refining because they received large land grants in the west to build their rail lines, and there turned out to be large amounts of oil and gas on that land. There could be some synergy between railroads and oil because the former is a low-risk industry and the latter a high risk one, so it's a way to spread the risks and the profits, but mostly it's the fact they own the oil rights on so much land.

From the article:

“What this does is gives us the opportunity to participate in the Platts function for setting the price of jet fuel,” Anderson said.

That would seem to imply trying to move the price by manipulating a benchmark built into oil-purchase contracts(?) rather than by actually changing anything physical, such as the quantity supplied. So a question for our resident experts: would sellers have to sit still forever for an artificially depressed benchmark (or buyers for an artificially elevated one)? Is there any sort of "safety valve" against such manipulation?

They're probably kidding themselves to think that they can influence the price of jet fuel by owning a refinery.

What they will probably find is that if they reduce the price of the jet fuel, the airline will make more money and the refinery less, and if they increase the price of jet fuel, the refinery will make more money and the airline less. In both cases the profits or losses come out the same. In other words, its a zero-sum game. I suspect that's not the type of game they wanted to play.

A zero sum game is preferable to a losing game. And the airline business is a losing game as and when oil prices rise significantly.

They could get most or all of that by hedging in futures. So why take on the potentially infinite liability, given the hostility and legal clout of environmentalists, of an oil refinery?

You can only hedge when, and at a price, that the counterparty is prepared to accept.

Exactly! An airline can buy fuel for future delivery at a guaranteed price. That is called hedging. But in a rising market, that price would be even higher than today's price. And in any case the airline is not likely to buy fuel in the future at any price very much lower than today's price.

Hedging is a way to get a guaranteed price in the future, not a guaranteed low price. All it gains you is a a guarantee that the price will not skyrocket on you. And if the price happens to be lower than your futures price, you lose, you still have to pay the price you contracted for even though the actual price may be far lower by that time.

Ron P.

Apparently they seem to think they can get some kind of multiplier effect by "participating in the Platts function", whatever precisely they mean by that. So it's the part I really wonder about, manipulating benchmarks rather than actual supply.

Edit: Updated to K-Index 6
Possibility of aurora tonight at high latitudes - if it gets dark enough...


Space Weather Message Code: ALTK06
Serial Number: 285
Issue Time: 2012 Jun 16 2247 UTC

ALERT: Geomagnetic K-index of 6
Threshold Reached: 2012 Jun 16 2245 UTC

Synoptic Period: 2100-2400 UTC
Active Warning: Yes
NOAA Scale: G2 - Moderate
Potential Impacts: Area of impact primarily poleward of 55 degrees Geomagnetic Latitude.
Induced Currents - Power grid fluctuations can occur. High-latitude power systems may experience voltage alarms.
Spacecraft - Satellite orientation irregularities may occur; increased drag on low Earth-orbit satellites is possible.
Radio - HF (high frequency) radio propagation can fade at higher latitudes.
Aurora - Aurora may be seen as low as New York to Wisconsin to Washington state.

An S1 proton storm is also occurring. These events are due to the arrival of 2 CMEs initiated a couple of days ago, from Sunspot Region 1504.

thank you for posting this.

Interesting study released from NREL, with the basic conclusion that there is no technical reason that doom has to occur. Existing renewable technologies could supply 80% of US electricity demand by 2050, from an engineering point of view. Detailed modeling including an open database of technology cost and performance assumptions used in scenario analysis are included.

Whether the political and economic steps required to create such a renewable future will happen is a whole different question, not addressed in the report.

Personally I am very happy that my tax dollars helped pay for this effort.


Renewable Electricity Futures Study

A report published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Renewable Electricity Futures Study (RE Futures), is an initial investigation of the extent to which renewable energy supply can meet the electricity demands of the continental United States over the next several decades. This study explores the implications and challenges of very high renewable electricity generation levels—from 30% up to 90%, focusing on 80%, of all U.S. electricity generation from renewable technologies—in 2050. At such high levels of renewable electricity generation, the unique characteristics of some renewable resources, specifically geographical distribution and variability and uncertainty in output, pose challenges to the operability of the nation's electric system.

Key Findings
Renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050 while meeting electricity demand on an hourly basis in every region of the country.
Increased electric system flexibility, needed to enable electricity supply-demand balance with high levels of renewable generation, can come from a portfolio of supply- and demand-side options, including flexible conventional generation, grid storage, new transmission, more responsive loads, and changes in power system operations.
The abundance and diversity of U.S. renewable energy resources can support multiple combinations of renewable technologies that result in deep reductions in electric sector greenhouse gas emissions and water use.
The direct incremental cost associated with high renewable generation is comparable to published cost estimates of other clean energy scenarios. Improvement in the cost and performance of renewable technologies is the most impactful lever for reducing this incremental cost.

I've been watching as many videos featuring the words of the late Hermann Scheer as I can get my hands on lately. For those who don't already know, Hermann Scheer was a 30 year veteran of the German parliament who was the chief architect of Germany's renewable energy policy. I am trying to understand his reasoning that, goes contrary to what is often stated here that, renewables can not fill the void that will be left by declining FF, in particular oil. In his speeches, Hermann Scheer spoke of "the renewable energy myth", "that renewables cannot work".

As someone who has become highly suspicious of the motives of entrenched interests in the software industry (Linux vs MS and the rest) and the cancer industry, I am beginning to wonder whether many "energy experts", of whom Hermann Scheer was highly critical, are knowingly or unknowingly playing to the interests of the entrenched energy players. It seems perfectly logical to me that the entrenched players would play "Wack a Mole" with any technology that threatens their hegemony. I am sure no one else here believes that large corporate interests would lie, deceive, mislead, bribe and otherwise bamboozle a largely malleable public, into believing what the corporate masters want them to believe. They have never done that, there are no precedents./sarc

Alan from the islands

Any links to any good videos/mp3s?

As usual typing "Hermann Scheer" into the search bar of youtube will yield useful results. If you understand German there are a few in his native tongue. The first video below is basically what I said in my previous post, from the mouth of Herr Scheer, in two and a half minutes.

Can Renewable Energy Power The World? Hermann Scheer"

Next is an interviews he did about a month before he died:

Hermann Scheer on the Big mistake in the Energy Debate 1/3

Here he is speaking to a group in Canada:

Hope for a Change: Renewable Energy - Part 2

Last are three documentaries that feature clips of interviews with Herr Scheer:

Journeyman Pictures - The Sustainable Star - Germany

Earth Report(UK) - Feed-In Tariffs - Germany's Renewable Energy Program

Free learning from The Open University The German Model - Energy Policy and Climate Change (5/7)

He also wrote 4 books

Alan from the islands

It is open warfare on renewables/renewable-energy/green-energy and the environment/enviros/greens.

Americans for Prosperity (AFP)
AFP is a conservative, pro-fossil fuel political action committee that has taken particular aim at green energy subsidies and programs.

American Petroleum Institute (API)

National Petroleum Refiners Association (NPRA)

Heartland Institute


Wind is hated:

United Kingdom
Who’s funding anti-renewable energy efforts? Polluters, of course.
"The fossil fuel-funded strategy proposes a partnership with local anti-wind groups, the biggest climate denial think tanks and the ultra right-wing Tea Party. Suggested tactics include creating a ‘think tank’ to create credible looking reports and disseminate misinformation, fake businesses to buy anonymous billboard advertising, and an ‘astroturf’ campaign to create the illusion of grassroots support.

The goal? “To cause subversion of [wind] so that it effectively becomes so bad that no one wants to admit in public that they are for it.” Sound familiar?

The end is nigh for outdated 19th century energy and they are terrified."


...(learned) a few days before the Ontario, Canada election that the Power Workers Union was caught .... It seems that the pro-nuclear, pro-coal lobby group was funding an anti-wind, and anti-renewables campaign of commentary in newspapers, on the radio, and on the internet.

And on and on

Type "14,000 abandoned wind turbines" into Google...


Why such world-wide concerted and expensive efforts to stop people from playing with wind power?

"The goal? “To cause subversion of [wind] so that it effectively becomes so bad that no one wants to admit in public that they are for it.” Sound familiar?"

Yes it does. The same concept was used against nuclear power in the early 1970's. It worked too, making the US safe for coal for the next 40 years.

What stopped nuclear power dead in its tracks, in the US at least, was not campaigning by the coal industry but rather Three Mile Island. Then Chernobyl. Fukushima has Germany and Japan reconsidering. Honestly, I can't see nuclear as anything less dangerous than coal. If all coal generation was replaced by nuclear, then by now how many "events" would have occured? How many will occur before nuclear is given up on as an energy source?

I think the problem is probably deeper; any attempt to harness and use such large amounts of energy will have serious consequences. This is true of hydroelectric dams as much as it is of coal plants, and I think it we can be pretty sure that attempting to put in enough solar and wind to continue modern industrial society as-is, BAU that is, would probably have serious negative effects as well.

That said, I'd much rather see windmills and solar panels than more coal or nuclear.

It is quite possible that Three Mile Island and Chernobyl were used as propaganda tools to influence American opinion, just as 9/11 was used as a propaganda tool to push multiple wars. Modern mass media is enormously powerful in shaping public opinion. It is not that all people are easily persuadable, but enough are to comfortably keep the group as a whole firmly in line with policies that are detrimental to themselves. It works as well as it does both because many people are poorly educated and because national level policy is an extremely difficult problem to analyze.

Your personal opinion is irrelevant to the facts. To date, nuclear is by far the safest of all power generation options (http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-source.html) when analyzed by deaths per energy unit. Coal is by far the worst due both to mining disasters and the extremely dirty coal plants of China, but even in America it is dangerous. Three Mile Island was not a major event - the safety systems worked exactly as planned. Even Fukushima is not nearly so disastrous as Chernobyl, which remains the only catastrophic nuclear power plant disaster in history when evaluated by the number of deaths involved. Furthermore, there are nuclear plant designs which have passive cooling systems capable of working without any power at all.

Yes, with great power comes great responsibility, and there is no doubt that BAU energy inefficiencies will need to change, but it seems clear that humanity will continue to do everything possible to increase energy consumption - nuclear is being abandoned because there are currently alternatives available, not because people have accepted the notion of life with far less energy available.

I'm sorry, but I must object. You wrote:

Three Mile Island was not a major event - the safety systems worked exactly as planned. Even Fukushima is not nearly so disastrous as Chernobyl, which remains the only catastrophic nuclear power plant disaster in history when evaluated by the number of deaths involved.

TMI happened because of a stuck pressure relief valve, which allowed the water to leave the pressure vessel. There was no monitoring of this process, thus the people in the control room didn't know what was happening or what to do. The Emergency Core Cooling system didn't work because the inlet valves had been closed for maintenance. As a result, the core was almost completely destroyed. It took 8 years to get to the bottom of the core to fully assess the damage, thus the news media had long since forgotten the problem and took no notice of the fact.

As for the Fukushima impacts, the deaths which will result won't be known for decades, due to the delayed effects, such as cancers and birth defects. Considering only prompt casualties is likely to give a grossly low estimate of overall impact. The situation in Fukushima is still not resolved and it will take many years, if not decades to better assess the true magnitude of this accident.

Your claims are so flawed that one must conclude that you are spreading disinformation in support of nuclear power...

E. Swanson

You seem to have not understood the context of my statement that TMI was not a major event - despite a number of in depth epidemiological studies over several decades, there is no evidence that TMI led to increased cancer mortality (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Mile_Island_accident_health_effects). I'm not arguing that there was zero impact, but that the TMI accident was less deadly than your typical coal plant. It would have been more appropriate to state that the containment system worked sufficently at TMI to prevent a catastrophe like Chernobyl. Fukushima sit in between with more severe radioactive release than TMI but less than Chernobyl.

In any event, here's a list of nuclear accidents by death toll (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_and_radiation_accidents_by_death_toll). By comparison, here is a list of various estimates of deaths caused by coal (https://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/pollution-de...). There is simply no possible debate about which power source has historically been more deadly. The anti-nuclear argument boils down to what-if scenarios that are certainly important to consider and discuss but are difficult to quantify. Even the catastrophic failures of nuclear plants have caused an order of magnitude fewer casualties than the death toll of coal-based power.

You ignored my central claim that nuclear has caused fewer deaths than coal, and your criticisms, while welcome, do not touch the central thrust of my argument. For some reason you have picked on incidental statements and ignored their context to accuse me of spreading misinformation. By contrast, you responded to my claim that nuclear is less dangerous than coal with a description of the TMI failure while completely avoiding any discussion of its health impacts, which is a poor form of obfuscation.

I welcomed your comments up until your baseless accusation. Stick to the facts, please, and do not be so quick to attack those who disagree with you.

I invite any interested parties to browse through the 'Fission Stories' Feature on the Union of Concerned Scientists web site, in the 'All Things Nuclear' section:


It is quite possible that Three Mile Island and Chernobyl were used as propaganda tools to influence American opinion

Quite possible? It seems 100%.


The basic cover-up is described by Jane Rickover, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover's daughter-in-law in this signed, notarized statement:
"In May, 1983, my father-in-law, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, told me that at the time of the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor accident, a full report was commissioned by President Jimmy Carter. He [my father-in-law] said that the report, if published in its entirety, would have destroyed the civilian nuclear power industry because the accident at Three Mile Island was infinitely more dangerous than was ever made public. He told me that he had used his enormous personal influence with President Carter to persuade him to publish the report only in a highly "diluted" form. The President himself had originally wished the full report to be made public.
In November, 1985, my father-in-law told me that he had come to deeply regret his action in persuading President Carter to suppress the most alarming aspects of that report."
[Signed] Jane Rickover

Your personal opinion is irrelevant to the facts

The same can be said about asinine posts. (Note to mods - asinine is the user name)

To date, nuclear is by far the safest of all power generation options (http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-source.html) when analyzed by deaths per energy unit.

Good thing that the pictures of Fallujah children shows they are not dead then. A city where depleted Uranium - a known mutengentic heavy metal - that would not be used in bulk lots if it wasn't the by-product of Man's attempt to control atomic power. For the moral position of 'deaths' to be taken by honest people, such honest people would have to include the heavy metal Uranium and its use in such a way to aerosolize into the biosphere.

Yes, with great power comes great responsibility

Like TEPCO when they claimed no responsibility for the contamination of a golf course?

Tokyo Electric Power Co. stunned lawyers by saying the utility was not responsible for decontamination because it no longer “owned” the radioactive substances.

An honest attempt of the sort you suggest would have to include every war death ever by every technology ever invented, and is an absurd proposition.

In any event, every response to my posts has been an attempt to argue by anecdote or changing the topic. You seem to be quite inflamed at the idea that nuclear power is safer than fossil fuels to the point that you cannot engage the concept rationally.

From the report:

'First, this study focuses on renewable-specific technology pathways and does not explore the full portfolio of clean technologies that could contribute to future electricity supply. Second, the analysis does not attempt a full reliability analysis of the power system that includes addressing sub-hourly, transient, and distribution system requirements. Third, although RE Futures describes the system characteristics needed to accommodate high levels of renewable generation, it does not address the institutional, market, and regulatory changes that may be needed to facilitate such a transformation. Fourth, a full cost-benefit analysis was not conducted to comprehensively evaluate the relative impacts of renewable and non-renewable electricity generation options.'

So they don't know if it will actually break down, or how much it will cost.
They do a nice headline though.

First, Consistent with the study’s focus on commercially available renewable generation technologies, ...nuclear technologies, ...were not included.

The report is an initial investigation of the extent to which renewable energy supply can meet the electricity demands of the continental United States over the next several decades.

Key findings:
Renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050 while meeting electricity demand on an hourly basis in every region of the country.

The rest of it is up to the vagaries of the market/corporations/government/economy.

Before everyone goes singing and jumping for joy over the new report, perhaps a little research needs to go into what it actually assumes and says.

Firstly the assumptions..

The high demand case assumes 2.4% pa GDP growth and .9% poppulation growth. It is the BAU situation in their eyes. It includes the following...

1. Residential 2% decline in intensity over 2010 levels
2. Commercial 5% increase in intensity over 2010 levels
3. Industrial 35% decline in intensity over 2010 levels
4. Transportation <3% plug-in hybrid electrical vehicle (PHEV) penetration.

I don't see agriculture mentioned anywhere here.

The low demand case also assumes 2.4% pa GDP growth and .9% poppulation growth. It includes the following...

1. Residential 30% decline in intensity over 2010 levels
2. Commercial 32% decline in intensity over 2010 levels
3. Industrial 50% decline in intensity over 2010 levels
4 Transportation 40% of vehicle sales are plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs)

This is all shown at 15-1 of the report.

How realistic are these assumptions, let's look at some numbers. Electricity useage in 2010 was 4151 Twh it had grown from 3723 Twh in 1999. This is an increase of about 1% pa during a time of great economic turmoil with much outsourcing of industry to developing countries, especially China. At this rate of growth in electricity useage the US would be using 6184 Twh by 2050, yet the assumption of the report with 2.4% GDP growth, gives a figure of ~5100 Twh in the HIGH demand case. Note that the high demand case assumes less than 3% electric vehicle use.

Figures for electricity consumption here...


To me it is unrealistic. I'll see what else is in there.

"The High-Demand Baseline represents a business-as-usual case that assumed that trends within the residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation sectors recently forecast by the EIA (EIA 2009d and EIA 2010) to 2030 continue through 2050.8 This scenario assumed no radical changes in available technologies or consumer behavior, although current technologies will evolve in terms of cost and efficiency. No new regulations or laws not already enacted are included in an AEO Reference Case, and beyond its 2030 horizon, a simple extrapolation is made to 2050. The AEO Reference Case was chosen to represent a higher demand trajectory because it does not include planned equipment and appliance standards or proposed energy code changes, which are expected to lower demand."

"The Low-Demand Baseline assumed a moderately high level of energy efficiency within the buildings and industrial sectors. The Low-Demand Baseline assumed that approximately 40% of the light-duty vehicle stock becomes electrified by 2050. In the buildings sector, the efficiency improvements necessary to achieve ultra-high-efficiency buildings are estimated,9 while in the industrial sector, estimated responses to carbon restrictions, based on the Waxman-Markey cap and trade provisions, are applied."

Sadly, the projections take into account America's fall both as an industrial power and as an economic leader.

There are many inputs to the model. There are many references. I would wager that endless second-guessing of a 950 page report in an attempt to produce a convincing and immediate dismissal may be as ambitious as it is revealing.

You have a 950 page report that uses as its high demand case a FORECAST from the EIA, not anything to do with reality of what is happening. We are not talking about the low case here.

In the past I have been involved in the production of government reports in a different area and know a little bit about how the system works. To start you need to know what answer you have to produce, then work backwards, including using assumptions that will give the correct answer.

Many other assumptions in various parts of the report show prices coming down or remaining constant for both capital and ongoing expenses. For example in PV the Balance of System costs are to halve by 2050. Then there is the delivered price for dry matter in the biopower section remaining at $82.60/tonne.

In a world of peak oil, such assumptions for 38 years time are just ludicrous. The high demand case with less than 3% PHEV assumes something else is powering the transportation of the nation, even the low case with 40% of the light vehicle fleet being PEVs assumes heavy transport to be diesel or something else.

The whole report pretty much ignores Agriculture, Mining and Heavy Transport because they are outside the electricity high users. Ignoring them makes the whole report useless, yet it is worse than that.

It is another report that cornucopian politicians can wave about and claim that there are no energy problems and we can continue on with BAU by tweaking a couple of things over the next few decades. We don't have to do anything now as there is plenty of time.


Today is another day when I feel like I'm living in The Matrix. I've known all my life that something is wrong with this picture, this civilisation I'm living in but I can't quite put my finger on it. Behaviours and/or activities that are unsustainable or detrimental to the ecosphere or society are being rewarded and giving those that participate in said behaviours/activities disproportionate power and influence over world/national/regional affairs. As a result, anyone who questions the current state of affairs is marginalized.

Case in point, how many people are aware that there are fairly decent free, open source alternatives to the software products that make up the bulk of Microsoft's business namely Windows and Office? I am aware, I use these alternatives and feel none the worse for it, except when a particular vendor only supplies software or drivers that run on Windows. I have had people give me funny looks when I tell them that I use Linux or OpenOffice/LibreOffice and understand that, they must have been influenced by the considerable amount of exaggeration, misinformation and downright lies that have been spread about these products.

Another area where I have found conventional wisdom to be lacking is the whole area of medicine vs nutrition and the use of vitamin supplements. It is quite apparent to me that the industrial agriculture interests are quite happy to have the world eat the stuff they produce in massive quantities and balk at the suggestion that a diet based on their products is in any way unhealthy. In the mean time the pharmaceutical industry and the doctors whose training has been highly subsidized by big pharma, don't seem the slightest bit interested in establishing links between vitamins (which can not be patented and thus exploited for profit) and health (or vitamin/nutritional deficiencies and chronic degenerative conditions). See the discussion started further up by a comment from RMG, for example.

Similarly I think there maybe other areas where the conventional wisdom says things wont work when, it's in the interests of fairly powerful groups for conventional wisdom to go unchallenged. The German experiment with renewable energy is not without it's opponents but I think it is fair to say that, they are all without exception, beneficiaries of the status quo.

As a result, I'm stuck in a quandary. Do I take criticism of this report as bona fide criticism or propaganda on behalf of the entrenched interests? I want to believe Hermann Scheer's 100% renewable plan for Germany can work but, if the opposition to his ideas has it's way, we will never know until the last drop off oil, the last whiff of natural gas and the last speck of coal are all gone.

Alan from the islands

The AREDS and AREDS II vitamin therapy are the best way to slow the progression of oracular degeneration. Some low cost providers provide teh same mix of vitamins - without paying royalties, but the boxes with "AREDS" on it pay royalties.

One day, the patent will run out - but the knowledge of what works will not.

Best Hopes for Innovative and Practical Treatments,


Alan that does sound like you are aiming this at me...

Do I take criticism of this report as bona fide criticism or propaganda on behalf of the entrenched interests?

Despite what I have written about the numbers, I have a great interest in renewables. We use our own electricity generated from 5Kw of solar panels, we have wood heating from our own property, I make biodiesel from used cooking oil. I grow cash crops thatare sold mainly at farmers markets and I have a couple of hundred olive trees (young and growing) to produce olive oil.

My opinion is that carbon based fuels should be taxed at an increasing rate and the money raised subsidise as much/many renewable schemes as possible.
My belief, based on the actual numbers, is that we (humanity) have left the push to renewables far too late, plus we have overshot the planets carrying capacity by billions.

Alan that does sound like you are aiming this at me...

Not really. As someone who regularly takes doses of vitamins C and D well in excess of the RDA, in the region of what most consider mega-doses, I have become fairly cynical having read pages from the web site www.doctoryourself.com including the links:

No Deaths from Vitamins

(OMNS, June 14, 2011) Over a twenty-seven year period, vitamin supplements have been alleged to have caused the deaths of a total of eleven people in the United States. A new analysis of US poison control center annual report data indicates that there have, in fact, been no deaths whatsoever from vitamins . . . none at all, in the 27 years that such reports have been available.

TESTIMONY by Andrew W. Saul before the Government of Canada, House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, regarding natural health product safety

This report states that there have been four deaths attributed to vitamin/mineral supplements in the year 2003. Two of those deaths were due to iron poisoning. That means there have been two deaths allegedly caused by vitamins, out of over 53 billion doses. That is a product safety record without equal.

Pharmaceutical drugs, on the other hand, caused over 2,000 poison control-reported deaths, including

Heard Anything Bad About Vitamins Lately?

Recent much trumpeted anti-vitamin news is the product of pharmaceutical company payouts. No, this is not one of "those" conspiracy theories. Here's how it's done:

1) Cash to study authors. Many of the authors of a recent negative vitamin E paper (1) have received substantial income from the pharmaceutical industry. The names are available in the last page of the paper (1556) in the "Conflict of Interest" section. You will not see them in the brief summary at the JAMA website. A number of the study authors have received money from pharmaceutical companies, including Merck, Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis, AstraZeneca, Abbott, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, Amgen, Firmagon, and Novartis.

If you did a search on Google for "vitamin toxicity" 5 years ago a page from doctoryourself.com would be close to the top but, today you have to dig down to the fourth result page to find a page from the same web site. Go figure!

Do I need to say that I am a proponent of Orthomolecular Medicine?

As I've said before, as a Linux user I'm well acquainted with FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) aka misinformation campaigns.

Similar thing happening with electric vehicles (Fox news vs Chevy Volt).

Similar thing happening with Peak Oil.

Similar thing happening with renewable energy.

Get the picture?

Note to self: Need to stop aligning myself with fringe ideas.

Alan from the islands

I will have to admit that my response to you was primed by DaveW/r4ndom. The many reverberations of scripted thought arouse the spam filters.

Not knowing how radical the speaker is or what time frame or scenario they are considering also confounds understanding. So commonly, a discussion about some incremental improvement will be loudly dismissed with something like "Cars are insane!" or "There won't be any metal".

"the United States should eventually consider easing its restrictions on crude exports"

Maybe the USA should consider becoming a member of OPEC ASAP? :-)

The US hasn't been a net oil exporter since 1949. Notwithstanding a recent uptick in domestic production and a decline in domestic demand, it is not really in danger of becoming a net exporter again in the foreseeable future.

Notwithstanding that, the US does export some oil to Canada under NAFTA rules (mostly because the US oil wells are near the Canadian refinery), but the balance is overwhelmingly the other direction. Canadian production is much higher than Canadian demand, and the production grows slowly but relentlessly, year after year.

As we say in the mountain West, the chances of the US becoming a net oil exporter range from slim to none, and Slim has left town.

Rocky – And to emphasize your point and respond to some earlier comments: even though fed law doesn’t allow the foreign sale of oil produced from fed leases it does allow swaps. We have “exported” N Slope fed oil to Japan but it was swapped for equivalent volume Japanese companies bought from other exporters. Called a paper swap it saved the transport cost for both the US and Japanese companies.

Folks should also understand that oil has a title just like you have on your car. Oil doesn’t belong to the country where it happens to reside at any one point between the well head and the refinery. In theory Canadian oil sand production could be shipped to the Gulf Coast, loaded on to tankers and shipped to China. A long as the title remained in the name of the Canadian or Chinese company it will never be US oil. No different than a foreign owned airliner landing at a US airport...it doesn't become a US aircraft. Now a more likely scenario: Canadian tar sand oil, owned 100% by a Chinese company, is shipped to a US refinery. But that refinery didn’t buy that oil…it bought an equivalent value of oil from the KSA and swapped it for that Chinese Canadian oil.

One significance of that trade is that volume of KSA oil is removed from the market place…no one else could buy it. In that scenario Chinese ownership of Canadian oil benefits the US since we are a market that’s not only more able to afford expensive oil but represents cheaper transport costs. At least until the Canadians develop west coast export capabilities. Even then such paper swaps may be more logical/economic. Sorta following the Mutually Assured Distribution Of Resources model. At least until the day the Chinese can’t buy enough oil in other markets to make the swaps.

Along those same lines with the completion of the upgrade of the Motiva refinery owned 50/50 by Royal Dutch Shell and the KSA: 600,000 bbls of KSA heavy oil could be shipped to the US converted into products that are then shipped to any other country. That oil, like the refined products, was never owned by a US company and thus the govt has no say in its disposition. OTOH, just as with the Canadian oil sands, the US market would be cheaper to sell to given our massive pipeline infrastructure as well as buyers with deeper pockets. Which may explain why Motiva was created in Texas and not the EU. It’s good to remember the Motiva joint venture was approved more than over 5 years ago…long before the latest hyper focus on the current EU economic problems. Seems like the Dutch and Saudis were thinking long term.

In the case of the Motiva refinery, I don't think it's going to be 600,000 bbls of KSA heavy oil being processed.

Since it's a 50:50 Aramco/Shell joint venture, it's more likely to be 300,000 bpd of KSA heavy sour oil and 300,000 bpd of Canadian bitumen that are processed, and the products shipped to other countries.

If the US objects, it will probably be reminded by KSA and Canada that none of this oil was produced in the US and none of it is owned by US companies.

Canada, however, will probably proceed with a pipeline to the West Coast since Canadian politicians don't really trust US politicians any more, give the dysfunctional state of US politics.

Rocky - May well go that way. Makes me wonder: does Shell own any oil sands fields? If so which one: Royal Dutch or USA? In any case, as you say, flexibility with an uncertain future is a valuable commodity.

Yes, Shell has a major oil sands operation:

Athabasca Oil Sands Project (AOSP)

The Athabasca Oil Sands Project (AOSP) joint venture (Shell 60%) has a current capacity of 155,000 b/d of synthetic crude. Today the AOSP consists of the Muskeg River Mine and the Scotford Upgrader, located in Alberta, Canada. A 100,000 barrel-a-day expansion is underway.

It's Shell Canada that operates it. Shell Canada is 100% owned by Royal Dutch Shell, PLC.

Thanks Rocky. Makes even more sense now. Upwards of 600,000 bbls cracked daily in Texas but owned by foreign companies makes one heck of a bargaining chip in the forthcoming global poker game.

Of tamarind and tolerance

"For centuries, long rows of grand tamarind trees have marked our roadsides, particularly in southern India.... Under the dense canopy, thousands of pedestrians and riders of two-wheelers found quick shelter from rain. Or, in scorching summers, a refreshing coolness cast by the millions of tiny leaflets."


Interesting, I hope they don't tear up too many of the tamarinds. I think modern society is allergic to shade trees, it has such a tendency to either tear them up or not plant them. In Japan, I saw ginko trees trimmed into pillars with just a few leaves on them, something utterly impossible for me to understand (especially in the summer heat)... But then, I've lived in Florida and Hawaii for most of my life now, and where are the shade trees lining the streets? Here and there they exist (in particular they are sometimes planted in subdivisions in Florida), but it's a rare exception, especially in urban areas. They probably either were never planted or were ripped up long ago. Despite both places having skin-cancer giving, extremely warm sunlight, the idea of having shade trees seems not to have caught on.

I think trees are out of step with modern society. They are high maintenance, shedding leaves and flowers that someone has to clean up from the streets, they require space we "need" for parking and driving, they have to be cared for and looked after. They drop seeds and fruit that dirty our shoes, and sometimes they even smell funny (like ginko nuts, but there are plenty of others)!

Shade trees are alive and well in New Orleans. Many planted after Katrina. Some dispute over species (I prefer cypress and crepe myrtle, and dislike palms) but there is no discernible "anti-tree" bias anywhere.

Best Hopes for More Urban Trees !


My are of the city has many shade trees.

My rather small suburban lot has 12 trees and about the same number of bushes, and zero turf/grass (decorative rock underlain by wee-block matting).

Apricots, nectarines, cherries..., and other trees by the driveway which have beautiful white flowers reminiscent of Dogwoods and which spew sap on our cars, which we wash ~once every week or two.

Love the shade from the very bright sun here...

Actually, the biggest "problem" may be the expense of working around them. So every time there's a construction project, they're liable to be cut down to make it easier and cheaper to move the equipment. And these days, there's always a construction project. Nothing lasts any more - they'll tear up a road or building, and then tear it up again ten or fifteen years later - so the trees never get a chance to grow big enough to make much difference.

Trees can be a problem in cities. The roots damage roads, foundations, drainage, plumbing, etc. If they break or fall over in a storm, they take down power lines. Fruit can be a problem, not because it's messy, but because kids pick it up and throw it at cars, creating a safety hazard and liability. Not all trees can survive in the stressful conditions in a city. And particularly valuable trees may be stolen (either dug up or cut down).

Here in the northeast, there's handful of trees that are acceptable, and tend to be used over and over. Juniper, red maple, etc.

You need to pick the right trees - ones with non-invasive roots that don't go into sewers or under sidewalks, but go straight down and hold it upright in a storm. Basically a tree with one big tap root.

And then pick one that doesn't drop fruit or otherwise mess up the street. Evergreens don't drop their leaves in the fall so you don't have to pick up the leaves. They do drop cones but then the squirrels gather them up and take them away.

You have a lot more choices than I do. There are only a few types of tree that grow here in the Canadian Rockies because the altitude and cold winters are tough on them. You have numerous possibilities, the key is to pick the right species.

Around here the council trims any trees that are a threat to the power lines. Cable and telephone similarly.


What does all of this matter if industrial civilization is on the fast track to collapse and die off?

What does all what matter? We have no way of knowing which post or article you were responding to.

Ron P.

Electricity rates in our province are on the rise and our local utility has been taking a pounding because of this; for example:

How a 9.9% hike raised my power bill 37%

Nova Scotians were outraged by the announcement that Nova Scotia Power Corporation will seek a further six per cent increase in its rates over the next six years. I'm still trying to understand how the last 9.9 per cent hike increased my home power bill by 37 per cent.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/thenovascotian/108032-how-a-99-hike-raised-...

NSP is in full damage control but they appear to be fighting a losing battle:

Change hard, but necessary for NSP and Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Power is going through massive change, and Nova Scotians are feeling it. For families and businesses already struggling with higher costs for things like gas and groceries, it’s a real burden. We understand that. We hear it every day from our customers, friends, neighbours and families.

But not changing isn’t an option. We have to stop burning coal. It’s a provincial law, and soon will be a federal law. And it’s the right thing to do, because the way we’ve generated electricity for the past 30 years is unsustainable, both economically and environmentally.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/107784-change-hard-but-necessary-fo...

Further complicating matters is the loss of their second largest customer, Bowater Mersey, which closed its operations yesterday, and the very real possibility of losing their largest customer, the former NewPage mill which has been in "hot idle" since the beginning of the year. The combined loss of these two accounts would effectively vaporize 25 per cent of provincial demand and NSP's year-over-year sales are already down 15 per cent as it is. The fixed costs associated with serving this lost load will be now passed on to a significantly smaller customer base and we all know what that means.

In addition, the 60 MW co-generation plant that they were jointly developing with NewPage to satisfy their renewable energy requirements may no longer qualify as "renewable" if there's no buyer for the process steam. And even if the former NewPage mill is taken over by Pacific West Commercial Corp (and that deal depends upon, among other things, a one billion dollar transfer of tax loses to the utility in exchange for below cost power, and that has yet to pass the sniff-test with the public utility review board and, more critically, Revenue Canada) only one of the two lines will resume operation and so a lot less steam will be required. Moreover, Pacific West may find it more economical to produce their own steam internally by burning natural gas. Remarkably, NSP was well aware of these risks -- at that time, NewPage was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy -- but decided to press forward anyway.

BRIGHTON: Biomass plant faces green test

To pass the province’s test for renewable energy, a biomass plant must produce heat for a host industry as well as electricity for the grid.

Pacific West Commercial Corp., as the potential owner of the Point Tupper mill, has sufficient capacity in its own boiler to supply the steam needed to make paper. It does not need to take steam from the biomass plant.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/business/108035-brighton-biomass-plant-face...

A huge drop in demand + stranded assets + the costs of transitioning away from fossil fuels + questionable business decisions + public anger over higher electricity rates makes for some pretty interesting times. I sometimes wonder if we're being pulled ever closer to the upper rings of the declining spiral of death with respect to utility supplied power.

As sidebar to this, we're now actively promoting the installation of high efficiency ductless heat pumps along with our lighting retrofits. For one of the clients that we audited on Friday, the proposed upgrades to their lighting and heating systems will cut their total electrical load by more than two-thirds.


I have lurked around on here for a couple of years now. I keep my posting to a minimum, however I have always wondered if anyone has show the math and energy requirements it takes to move a standard automobile around vs something different, maybe lighter. That is what if an auto was 500lbs vs 3000lbs, what is the difference in energy it takes to move that along with its passengers to a destination 10 miles away. I would think the different mathematically would be impressive and would make people wonder why they have to drive such a large vehicle.

There are some historical precedents from Europe in the 1950s, for example, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messerschmitt_KR175 . This and other "bubble" cars were based on the motorcycle technology of the time. Probably one could obtain significantly better fuel economy and performance using modern engine technology and other improvements. However, most North Americans would have a difficult time getting used to this sort of vehicle. I recall a BMW model was prominently featured in a book on the "World's Worst Cars" with the safety aspects drawing severe criticism.

It seems like a moot point. You can't build a 500 pound car. A large motorcycle weighs 500 pounds.

But reducing weight is clearly important. Take a look at the Edison VLC, Aptera, VW's XL1 and L1 prototypes, etc.

A combination of consumer acceptance and government regulations really prevent lightweight cars from getting anywhere.

Of course, one can build a 130 lb car - the Peel P50 from the Isle of Mann.
The Top Gear episode with 6'4" Jeremy Clarkson driving it is quite amusing.

Yeah, that is a very funny episode. But such a vehicle would not be street legal in the USA. As I pointed out "A combination of consumer acceptance and government regulations really prevent lightweight cars from getting anywhere." That "car" is not legal in the USA and even if it were, hardly anyone would buy it.

Check the fuel usage of motorcycles, 2012 Motorcycle and Scooter Models. The lest efficient in the list uses 26.6 MPG (8.8 L/100km) and the most efficient uses 132.0 MPG (1.8 L/100km).

26.6 MPG? Plus you can be killed by some random driver that does a left in front of you. Ouch.

yes fuel consumption of motorbikes is quite high in fact, especially considering the frontal surface compared to a car, which is so important for the overall energy, and weight, even a 125cc scooter can go 3,5 or 4 litres per 100km easy (around 50 60 mpg), really not so impressive compared to small cars.
I wonder if a lot of efficiency improvment in scooter/bike engine are still possible compared to cars ?

Look up "supermilage". These are single-person aerodynamic shells. Not just the weight, but the speed really makes a difference. Slowing things down would lower consumption and allow other solutions to the transportation problem to co-exist... like bicycles.

3,000+ miles per gallon.


In the EU and even more the USA, increased crash protection has increased the minimum weight considerably. The new BMW Mini vs. the old Cooper Mini for example.

1,360 to 1,512 lbs grew to 1,140 kg (2,508 lbs) in Europe and 2.668 lbs in the USA.