Drumbeat: July 9, 2012

JPMorgan Probe Shows FERC Priority on Policing Energy Markets

The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s probe of JPMorgan Chase & Co. demonstrates a renewed focus on market manipulation as the agency beefs up its oversight of the multibillion dollar energy-trading business.

The FERC on July 2 sued New York-based JPMorgan to release e-mails, revealing an investigation of possible gaming of power markets in California and the Midwest. Since January 2011 the agency has announced 11 probes of alleged manipulation in electricity and natural gas markets and a record $245 million settlement with Constellation Energy Group Inc.

“There is a theme here,” Susan Court, a former director of the FERC’s Office of Enforcement, said in a telephone interview. “I see a fairly steady activity in the enforcement area.”

Norway Oil Industry Group Says Talks Fail to End Strike

Norway’s oil strike continued for a 15th day after talks supervised by a state mediator failed to reach a compromise that would prevent the dispute from escalating to include all of the country’s offshore oil and gas production.

“There are no new talks planned and we don’t know where we will go from here,” Kristin Bremer Nebben, a spokeswoman for the Norwegian Oil Industry Association, which represents employers including Statoil ASA, BP Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. , said in a phone interview today.

Statoil prepares to shut output; strike continues

The Norwegian oil and gas major Statoil STO -2.23% said Monday it is preparing to shut down its production on the Norwegian continental shelf at midnight after negotiations to end a strike over pensions broke down Sunday.

The threatened halt to production is the result of a lockout announced by the Norwegian Oil Industry Association, which represents the oil companies in the dispute, in response to a strike by more than 700 North Sea oil workers over pensions that began in June.

Oil Rebounds as Norway Strike Looms

Oil rebounded in New York after the biggest drop in two weeks as a labor strike threatened to halt production in Norway, Western Europe’s biggest exporter.

Futures advanced as much as 0.7 percent. Statoil ASA said it may declare force majeure on fuel deliveries as it prepares to halt more offshore fields at midnight. Prices slid 3.2 percent on July 6, the biggest decline in two weeks, after a report showed the U.S. created fewer jobs than estimated in June. European Union sanctions on Iranian imports took effect at the start of this month.

Station owners adapt as driving changes put crimp in gas sales

Gas stations have been partially growing into convenience stores for many years, and owner Tony Ioffe isn’t worried about gas sales at Georgetown Market. In fact, his June sales were substantially greater than last June, before he bought the business.

Nevertheless, Ioffe is working hard to build his inside sales, the part of the business that doesn’t go into someone’s gas tank. And they were already substantial at Georgetown Market, 3710 Meachem Road.

“What helps a lot is we have the meat market and deli,” he said, inside the large 7,000-square-foot store.

Worldwide oil, gas rig count up 4.5% in June from May: Baker Hughes

London (Platts) - The number of drilling rigs actively exploring for or developing oil or gas worldwide rose 4.5% in June from May helped by the inclusion of Iraqi rigs for the first time since 1990, Baker Hughes said Monday in a monthly report.

The worldwide count for June 2012 was 3,484 rigs, up 149 from 3,335 counted in May 2012 and up 227 from the 3,257 in June 2011, Baker Hughes said.

Denmark to take 20 pct stake in N.Sea oil producer DUC

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark has tightened its grip on the country's North Sea oil income by taking a 20 percent stake in oil producer the Danish Underground Consortium, owned by A.P. Moller-Maersk, Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell.

Danish state-run fund Nordsofonden, which bought the stake, will also push to boost DUC's oil output.

Statoil restarts Gullfaks A oil platform

(Reuters) - Statoil has restarted production at its Gullfaks A oil platform in the North Sea, after it was shut down due to a ballast tanker leak at end-June, a spokesman said on Monday.

"Production on Gullfaks A was restarted last Friday, and it has returned to normal production levels, Statoil's spokesman Baard Glad Pedersen said.

Qatar budget surplus triples to $12 bln last FY-prospectus

DUBAI (Reuters) - Qatar's budget surplus more than tripled to 44.5 billion riyals ($12.2 billion) in the fiscal year ended in March, double the original plan and helped by booming revenues from liquefied natural gas, a prospectus for the country's potential Islamic bond issue showed on Monday.

Qatar is the world's top exporter of liquefied natural gas and its fiscal surplus for 2011/12 was equivalent to 7 percent of 2011 gross domestic product, according to a Reuters calculation, up from the original 22.5 billion-riyal plan.

BP Says Still in Talks with Abu Dhabi on Oil-Production Rights

BP Plc said it’s still in talks with Abu Dhabi about renewing rights to produce oil in the Middle Eastern emirate, after a report indicated the London-based crude producer had been excluded from negotiations.

Aramco venture to spur new technologies

DAMMAM: Saudi Aramco has announced the launch of its new wholly-owned corporate venturing subsidiary called Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV).

Headquartered in Dhahran, SAEV will invest in technologies of strategic importance to Saudi Aramco that will enhance its position as a technology leader in the global energy industry, and support its broader Kingdomwide initiatives in advancing sustainable domestic energy and water consumption.

Saudi Arabia says two killed after cleric's arrest

Saudi Arabia said on Monday that two men had been killed after protests in a Shi'ite Muslim area in the eastern part of the world's top oil exporter, following the arrest of a prominent Shi'ite cleric.

Saudi counter-strikes Iran with oil line

Saudi Arabia has reopened an old oil pipeline built by Iraq to bypass Gulf shipping lanes, giving Riyadh scope to export more of its crude from Red Sea terminals should Iran try to block the Strait of Hormuz, industry sources told Reuters.

Syrian army conducts exercises in show of force as Iran warns of regional 'catastrophe'

DAMASCUS, Syria - In a show of force, Syria began large-scale military exercises Sunday to simulate defending the country against outside "aggression." Damascus' staunch ally Iran warned of a "catastrophe" in the region if no political solution to the 16-month-old Syrian conflict is found.

Tehran is Syria's closest ally, and has stood by President Bashar Assad's regime throughout the revolt against his rule despite a growing chorus of international condemnation. The relentless bloodshed has accelerated diplomatic efforts to find a solution to the crisis, and spurred some in the Syrian opposition to urge the West to intervene militarily to stop a conflict that activists say has left more than 14,000 people dead.

Sad polar bear wanders around to sad Radiohead song

Radiohead have partnered with Greenpeace for a poignant new ad that shows a homeless polar bear wandering around London, set to the fittingly unfitting soundtrack of "Everything In Its Right Place" from the Oxford band's beloved album "Kid A." With narration from Jude Law, the clip is being used to help raise awareness about oil companies looking to drill in the Arctic, a landscape already decimated by global warming.

Alberta pipeline oil spills, gas emissions stain Canada's green rep

TORONTO, Canada — Three oil spills in a month isn’t the track record Alberta wanted while peddling a major tar sands pipeline to Americans.

The spills have the provincial government and the oil industry scrambling to control the damage to both the environment and their credibility.

The Wise Way to Regulate Gas Drilling

The states have moved forward with a patchwork of regulations — some specific and prescriptive, others vague and general. Many states require some disclosure of the chemicals the drillers use, but in some states drillers decide which chemicals constitute proprietary secrets and therefore do not have to be disclosed. Some states allow operators to store toxic wastewater from the fracturing process in open pits, risking surface or groundwater contamination. Some states simply lack the experience or resources to enforce their standards.

The uneven approach is bad not only for the environment but also for industry, because under the current system, mistakes by a few bad apples could lead to overregulation or even outright bans on drilling.

A better approach is one already reflected in many environmental laws: cooperative federalism. The federal government sets baseline standards, which states can exceed but not fall below. Ideally, these would be general “performance standards” rather than detailed specifications, giving the states flexibility to meet them.

Japan’s Nuke Report Undercuts Itself With Cultural Copout

Yet for all its detail and willingness to label the Fukushima disaster as “profoundly manmade,” the report does not identify which men (and this being Japan, there probably weren’t many women) failed. Instead, it sweepingly indicts “the ingrained conventions of Japanese culture,” effectively letting individual culprits off the hook. Its conclusions and recommendations avoid any discussion of prosecution or punishment.

U.S. drivers slow to embrace all-electric vehicles

DETROIT -- All-electric vehicles that you plug-in overnight are a tough sell with drivers afraid of becoming stranded with few charging stations in operation across the nation.

Consumers want hybrids that combine gas with battery power, such as the Toyota Prius, or that plug in but have a backup gas tank, such as the Chevrolet Volt.

First Solar Bonds Financing $4.6 Billion U.S. Panel Boom

Underwriters from Bank of America Corp. to Credit Suisse AG and Citigroup Inc. for the first time are close to converting sunlight into cash to pay bond investors.

Similar to asset-backed securities that finance everything from car purchases to college tuition, solar bonds will help fund rooftop power projects that Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates will need to raise about $4.6 billion next year. Investors will be paid from monthly payments from people with photovoltaic panels atop their homes and businesses.

As Putin Tours Flooded Region, Questions of Negligence Arise

Mr. Putin toured the deluged region by air on Saturday evening, flying over towns that were inundated by rivers of muddy water churning through the streets, submerging cars and ravaging buildings. “Like a tsunami,” Mr. Putin said.

Questions about whether official negligence or misconduct had played a role in the disaster quickly came to the fore. The federal Investigative Committee said it had opened a criminal inquiry and would examine the authorities responsible for emergency preparedness to determine if more should or could have been done to prevent the deaths.

The DC blackouts and global warming

Those who are relatively wealthy will likely be able to shield themselves from many of the worst effects of global warming. They will not be victims of monsoons and flooding like hundreds of millions of people in Bangladesh and elsewhere in south Asia. Nor will they be victims of drought who are unable to produce enough food to survive, like tens of millions of farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. While no one may be able to escape the negative effects of global warming completely, the bulk of the suffering will no doubt be experienced by the world's poor.

Freak storms, flash floods, record rain – and there's more to come

What is affecting these changes in the jet stream is the million-dollar question, said Chivers. Variations could be caused by temperature changes in the Pacific, but meteorologists are also studying how shifts in the Earth's temperature, caused by global warming, affect weather conditions.

"A lot of work is being done into the decrease in Arctic sea ice," said Chivers. "Essentially, if you warm up a sea, you change the temperature differential between the poles and the tropics and that in turn influences the jet stream. Research has already shown the influence on north-west Europe winters, making them drier and colder, but what happens in the summer is still relatively unknown."

Climate Change: ‘This Is Just the Beginning’

According to Dr. Jeff Masters, one of the few meteorologists who frequently makes the connection between extreme weather and climate change, “across the entire Continental U.S., 72 percent of the land area was classified as being in dry or drought conditions” last week. “We’re going to be seeing a lot more weather like this, a lot more impacts like we’re seeing from this series of heat waves, fires and storms. ... This is just the beginning."

Fortunately, we might be seeing a lot more of Jeff Masters, too. He was a co-founder of the popular weather website Weather Underground in 1995. Just this week he announced that the site had been purchased by The Weather Channel, perhaps the largest single purveyor of extreme weather reports. Masters promises the same focus on his blog, which he hopes will reach the much larger Weather Channel audience. He and others are needed to counter the drumbeat denial of the significance of human-induced climate change, of the sort delivered by CNN’s charismatic weatherman Rob Marciano. In 2007, a British judge was considering banning Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth” from schools in England. After the report, Marciano said on CNN, “Finally. Finally ... you know, the Oscars, they give out awards for fictional films, as well. ... Global warming does not conclusively cause stronger hurricanes like we’ve seen.” Masters responded to that characteristic clip by telling me, “Our TV meteorologists are missing a big opportunity here to educate and tell the population what is likely to happen.”

Maldives eyes $100 mln tourist tax for CO2 plan

LONDON (Reuters) - A voluntary tax on tourists who visit the luxury resorts and white sands of the Maldives could raise up to $100 million a year towards the country's aim to become carbon neutral by 2020, President Mohamed Waheed said.

Maldives CO2 tax. The best would be for the Maldives to bring the matter of sea level rises to the UN


Australia plans to double its coal exports

Bulk commodity exports to increase to 2025
02 July 2012

Australia's bulk commodity (coal, iron ore and LNG) export volumes are projected to more than double in between 2012 and 2025, according to a report released today by the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE).


Here are the reports from this web site



Hypocrisy is not the word to describe a country that has a domestic carbon tax then encourages a doubling of coal exports. I find it somewhat disgusting, like say a crack dealer teaching Sunday school. Last year Australia's net emissions were 546 Mt of CO2 equivalent, a lot for a country of 22m people. We're supposed to get that down to 523 Mt by 2020. Whoopee. However I estimate CO2 from exported thermal coal, coking coal and LNG to be closer to 800 Mt a year. Make that 1.6 bn tonnes in future.

So why don't heavy industries complain about other countries getting Australian coal and gas without paying carbon tax? It's because they get 94.5% exemption from carbon tax. Like I said ...whoopee.

From the Aljazeera article, The DC blackouts and global warming , above:

This raises a final point, which should be obvious but somehow is largely ignored in the public debate. Restrictions on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are intended to limit global warming have nothing to do with restricting the market. These restrictions are about enforcing the rule of law and preventing some people from harming others with their actions.

In this way, restrictions on GHG are similar to the laws that prohibit me from dumping my sewage on my neighbour's lawn. The opponents of these restrictions don't give a damn about free markets. Opponents of restrictions on GHG emissions are arguing for the right to dump sewage on their neighbours' lawn. Their argument is that the United States is a big powerful country so we can do whatever we want to the rest of the world and no one can stop us.

Pretty much says it all, and is a primary reason I decided to drop out of the grid-based process of dumping my wastes on your lawns, and in your lungs. Naive of me to expect some reciprocity. It's all about getting others to take responsibility for their energy use beyond writing the check every month, and helping others to do the same. What we're witness to is a great turning away at a time when it is critical to achieve critical mass of awareness and concern. At least I'm no longer viewing it all from the cheap seats. Perhaps I should start suing my wealthy gridweenie neighbors...

No kidding we need mass awareness. Unfortunately, 90% of the population feel that it is their God given right to consume to no end and to drive whichever vehicle they want. The only true way to achieve change is through 1 of 2 possible routes.

1. Either resources become scarce which causes prices to rise to the point of forcing change.

2. Government policy through taxation forces change immediately.

I for one am completely supportive of #2. This is the only route we can take which won't prevent peak oil from occurring but will slow the decline and could help our species continue on for 50 more years as we transition into renewable sources of energy.

It will take worldwide change and support from all governments. If this can't be achieved, then at least the U.S. can set the standard for what needs to be done. This can be achieved by taxing all fuels by 50% of their current cost. (i.e. if unleaded currently costs 3.50 a gallon, then tax it enough to raise the price to 5.25 a gallon). Use the money raised by the taxes to subsidize the cost of purchasing hybrids, clean diesels and full electric vehicles). Everyone who switches from a vehicle getting 25mpg to a hybrid will basically be paying $2.63 a gallon for the equivalent distance travelled which will actually save them money compared to the previous gas price. This will result in consumers eventually cutting down fuel use by 50% if current trends are continued. The same can be applied to semi truck use. Tax diesel and use the tax money to provide subsidies to improve rail systems and make rail transport even more economical.

Use all of the extra tax money to build up light rail systems and invest in building up a grid of renewable energy technology.

This is the only possible solution to keep our current standard of living. Sure it would make many people furious having to pay such high prices for fuel. But if the government took the same stance of subsidizing the purchase of hybrids/full electric vehicles that they took with student loans and homes, then anyone who cannot afford it will be given the opportunity to now be able to afford it.

The US might "set the standard", but since it is and will always be based on the bottom line (money), it is certain to be the wrong standard.

We have our own standard that is 100% driven by greed. This love of money permeates our society from top down and bottom up. We blame multinationals/big corporations, but really they are just a reflection of our society. Yes, they have gotten way out of hand, and benefit immensely from out tax structure, but the reality is that "they is us". We unleashed them to suck resources from the whole world.

Other industrialized nations, some of them anyway, seem to be more balanced, and are able to occasionally make decisions that benefit the greater good. By not following us they may ease the transition to some degree.

If we (US) were to wake from our stupor maybe we could be good followers and not lead everyone over the cliff. That is the best we can offer.

Sorry to say, I don't think taxing fossil fuels will work very well. Energy is a unique commodity which is used throughout the economy and thus the cost of energy appears in all prices seen in the market. Increasing the cost of energy (in this case, oil) would result in reduced energy consumption in the short term, but over the long term, as the price is passed along thru the economy and the effects would eventually result in pressure to increase wages. The end result would be price inflation, which would reduce the effectiveness of the tax. As it is, the tax on transport fuels hasn't kept up with inflation, thus we are paying less tax now than in the early 1990's, after adjusting for inflation.

That is the result of the fact that what we call "money", that is the dollar, isn't a fixed store of value, but a way of setting relative value throughout the economic system. Thus, the level of taxation must increase as the economy adjusts to previous tax increases, which then would cause further inflation over time. It's a dog chasing it's tail situation, with predictable results. Of course, some fraction of the population will use less, perhaps because they no longer have jobs. Others will be priced out of the market as their businesses can not compete with more energy efficient companies.

Peak Oil will be different. As the available oil production declines, the scramble to find more and to switch to other alternatives will likely intensify. No taxes will be needed to limit consumption after that. Instead, I suggest that a direct rationing system will be needed to keep the fights in the gas lines from resulting in general societal distress. It might be possible to start a rationing system before the trauma of riots in the streets, but our present US political system isn't going to let that happen. Worse, the US isn't in the position to tell the rest of the world what to do...

E. Swanson

I agree that taxation will be difficult. The only alternative would be to simply outlaw the production of low mpg vehicles while also using government funds to build up light rail systems in cities and rail systems throughout the country.

You say that peak oil will be different than taxation. How can that be true. Peak oil will cause price increases across the board for fuel which will result in the country needing to increase minimum wage and inflate the dollar to compensate.

By enforcing a taxation (i.e. artificial peak oil) and using the proceeds to subsidize building up a renewable energy infrastructure, mass transportation and hybrid/electric technology we stand a chance at prolonging the inevitable decline of oil production.

You also say that taxing fossil fuels would result in energy inflation. That is not true if alternative forms of transport are provided for the shipment of goods. This will keep the prices of goods from rising due to the cost of rising fuel. If rail systems are built up to provide cheaper more efficient transport of goods, then the cost of goods will actually go down.

Also look to the U.K. to see that fossil fuel taxes don't actually increase inflation. They pay $7.00 a gallon for gasoline in the U.K. and they have not had out of control inflation. Sure their infrastructure is built differently than the U.S. and doesn't rely on long distance transport of goods, but they have managed to get by with high fuel prices for quite some time. They have more people who use mass transport systems.

We have 2 options. We either continue on our path and face peak oil when its too late, or we prepare for it now and use the extra resources we have to build up alternate sources of energy to ensure the continuity of our civilization.

We (meaning the US) will never enact meaningful taxation policy to address PO or AGW. We will, instead, do what always have, meaning that we will wait for peak oil to force the issue. Of course, by that time, that means that we are heading for a time when the real issue is not "Big Government" cramming sustainability down our greedy throats. No... instead it will be "Big Energy Corporation" forcing energy triage on the US, and on the world.

Meanwhile, increasing climate change will make living more expensive, moving impossible, and food stocks expensive and restricted. Guess who will still eat. Guess who will starve.

Today the propaganda parade will pitch Mittens as the resurected Saint Ronnie the Wrong, and like any one who has only a hammer, lowering tax rates as the solution to every problem (nail) in sight. By the time they have completed their mission (destroying Social Security), they will have aided and abetted in the destruction of the world's economy. Thereby proving that "Greed is Good" (not).

We are Hell-bent on option 1: "face peak oil when its too late." Get ready for it. Deal with it.

In this week's meeting of the clan, I will be telling all of my grandchildren how sorry I am for what we have done to them. Other than that we will have a great time together. I wonder how many more times it will be possible to gather folks from sea to shining sea into a single central location? I try to discourage it, not from lack of concern, love and compassion for my family, but rather from recognition that this is another act in derrogation of our climate. The travel industry will profit, though.

Best hopes for option 2 (the "prepare for it now" one).


It is about time to start kicking arse.

We need a new government, we need a dictator. The constitution is to be suspended, there will be no Congress until further notice.

All lobbyists are subject to arrest and detention in anti-terror facilities ... along with their pets.

The entire country will be militarized and all resources are to be made use of, without exception.

Military means will be used to eradicate coal-fired- coal mining- material mining, handling, shipping, processing: other industrial and commercial activities; automobiles, highways, 'shopping' centers and all such operations around the world.

America has the power, which is - in and of itself - the sole justification for its exercise. Nuclear weapons will be used if necessary to end atmospheric carbon emissions. All opposition will be crushed without exception.

What is considered is nothing less than the total conquest of planet Earth but the United States by military means.

'Denialism' and resistance will not be tolerated. The entire state will be regimented. The media will be controlled by the state, there will be no more 'freedom of speech'. Nothing will stand in the way of carbon reduction. There will be no more 'money' there will be no property rights, no 'private enterprise'. Offenders will be sent to concentration camps, it will be up to the administration to determine whether individuals will be fed or not.

To end the threat to the atmosphere which all life depends upon, the casualty rate for humans is irrelevant. If it is necessary to massacre half the human race to save the other half it shall be done without mercy or pity.

Economic offenders: tycoons, bankers, money-lenders, corrupts, ex-politicians will be tried, if found guilty of crimes they will be summarily executed on television by beheading. It will be up to Max Keiser, Mish and James Howard Kunstler whether criminals are executed with a guillotine or with a samurai sword, on color television or black and white.

A few smart bombs here and there put to good use will end the climate crisis as well as the debate. Getting rid of annoying loudmouths and cutting David Koch's head on a pleasant Sunday afternoon after the ballgame will indeed make the world a better place.

Cutting off Gates' and Buffett's will do the same.

'A Modest Proposal'...

Did it ever occur to you that your plan, if attempted, is just what "they" want you to do? Or, did I miss the sarcasm tag?

E. Swanson

Well don’t sugar coat it Steve, tell us what you really think :) I believe what you describe is what it would take to stop the unfolding environmental catastrophe.

I tend to think that complete global economic collapse is our best shot at avoiding environmental apocalypse as world leaders are powerless to change a growth based system because a growth based system is all they can imagine. The growth is finished (except for debt which is the new driver of growth) so every move the central banks make now just puts off the day of reckoning when debt can no longer be serviced and the great ponzi scheme that was industrial civilization slips beneath the waves of history like the Titanic.

Negative impedance is an interesting thing...

Resistance opposes the flow. If you push against a piece of paper, it moves, offering little resistance. If you push against my hand, I can impede that motion by synthesizing a resistance using opposing force. Much heat is made. Resistance can be futile.

Negative resistance is different. It draws the flow further in the direction the flow wants to go. If you push against my hand, I can grab yours and haul it even faster in that same trajectory. All is well and good until you run out of arm... the motion snaps to a halt and, in the flash of a moment, the system rebounds: now there is an impulse pulling the other way, the other direction. Continuing the synthesis of negative impedance, energy is applied in aiding this new, reverse drive. Negative resistance in a system is inherently unstable.*

One thought that people have had is to vote these very rich destructive psychopaths, the pervasive and energetic forces, the corporations, and the full loony ticket that they back... into the driver's seat. Encourage the destruction. Hasten the end of complacence.


A negative impedance connected to a resonator makes an oscillator. A two-terminal negative resistance can be made with a power supply and an amplifier. A dial can set the value in ohms. An old ohm-meter will bury its needle into the left-hand stop no matter which way it is connected to the negative resistance.

Familiar Song

Nope. Changes have to be organic and must come from within, otherwise it does long term damage. You can never be sure if you are right or the other side is. If humanity is going to go through a bottle neck event then it must, we can only warn people about the dangers, an imposed dictatorship is never the solution.

Didn't a guy named Orwell write about this, or was it a guy named Hitler, or was it a science fiction novel about a guy named Kahn? Star Trek something or other , some space western in the 20th century?

You make a valid point for world leaders, they only want one thing to lead the people and be the means to make the issues last and hold true.

But sorry we the people will fight against you, we have a flag we hold dear, it looks like a flower and has bees around it, but it is still power, we are going to oppose you, sorry we are the tree huggers, we think you will hunt us down in due time and try to take your fear mongering out on us too. Jude Law has an ad out the Polar bear hates you too.

Biowebscape Designs.

Though it might hurt the bottom line, please get them together as next time it might happen is at a furneral or something even worse that none of them can come and only send postal letters and hope the pony express will get them to you by next year.

That you are able to travel to your clan gathering is a good sign, health issues in mine limit us traveling now. Take it while you can get it, even if it hearlds the end of an age.

Biowebscape Designs.

If the tax is a percentage of the underlying price and prices rise the tax rises as well, or just tax based on carbon and adjust the taxes quarterly based on inflation, to make it really effective, start at say half a dollar per pound of carbon ($2.50 /gallon of gasoline) and increase the tax by 10 % every year until we start to approach a reasonable output of carbon dioxide as a nation (80 % below 1990 levels by 2050 at minimum). This tax would be on all fossil fuels and on all greenhouse gas emissions and for other greenhouse gases would be based on Global warming potential. Taxes are much more efficient than rationing. The tax revenue could be used for upgrading the Grid as well as public transport and could be used as a tansfer to lower income individuals that might be hurt more by the carbon taxes. See http://www.realclimateeconomics.org/briefs/Boyce_Smart_Climate_Policy.pdf


The only thing you're missing out on is taxing the intrinsic carbon in manufactured imports. In order to have the desired effect, such a tax would have to be levied on all imported manufactured goods, and on all imported food, building materials, etc., with allowances for similar taxes paid in exporting countries.

Of course this would make smuggling, from countries which do not have such taxes, very profitable. Rather than being available for transit, etc., you might find much of the revenues from such a tax absorbed in enforcement, especially border protection.

Yep. If the world really wanted to do something serious about carbon emissions then we would all have to tax imported products created using carbon intensive energy. Basically, everyone would need to slap a tax on Chinese exports. But I just cannot see the world ever doing this. This would probably violate current trading rules. And as you point out, a big smuggling market would pop into existence if such taxes were imposed.

Basically, the atmosphere is the ultimate "tragedy of the commons". Since no one completely owns it or controls it, there will always be people willing to destroy it if that is profitable.

You are correct, imported goods from countries without carbon taxes would need to be taken care of by taxes on those goods (with allowances as you suggest). Typically large punitive fines on anyone selling those smuggled goods is relatively low cost and enough to discourage the behavior.

Your comment about taxes being "more efficient" may be true from a classical economics point of view, however, if the taxes can't be instituted, they will have zero efficiency. In case you haven't noticed, the US public has been on a NO TAXES binge at least since Prop 13 in California and Ronnie RayGun continued this theme during his Presidency. Fuel taxes are especially painful to the general public, which is likely to be the reason they have not been raised for almost 2 decades at the national level.

The only scenario I can conceive of in which the public would accept an increase in the taxes on gasoline and diesel would be a national emergency on the level of a war. Other than that, we are likely to simply wait until Peak Oil pushes prices upward, then complain about the high prices for fuel. After that point, there would be no way to further raise fuel taxes. Boyce writes about a cap-and-rebate system, yet this would not appear to limit the fuel consumption by the general public who would not feel as much pain as that due to a straight tax increase.

That's why I think a rationing system would be the only logical alternative. I would build the system with a white market to trade allocations and would periodically prime the market with some fraction of the total, the rest going to individuals over 18. I would require that business purchase their allocations from the white market, which would act as a variable tax, since businesses can most easily spend money for conservation efforts, which would tend to reduce the demand for those allocations. People who wanted extra allocations would purchase them at the pump, paying cash for their use beyond their allocation.

I would make the allocations temporary, that is, expire and be returned to the market for cash at the end of some interval, so individuals who had extra allocations would see those converted into money with the next allocation credited toward their account via an energy debt card. I would stagger the allocation periods, perhaps passing out 1/4 each week, thus giving a continuing refreshment of the market. The allocations added to the market would be sold for the latest average market price, the money collected could then be used for funding energy conservation measures. I think that such a system would provide the most clear guidance about our energy and environmental problem with the greatest fairness to the public...

E. Swanson

I agree that higher taxation is unlikely, but you really think a rationing system would be more palatable? I don't, people would cry "socialism!" Couldn't we substitute a carbon tax for the income tax? Nobody is asking for extra taxes, we are looking for different taxes which will attack two big looming problems, peak fossil fuels and climate change. When WW3 starts we may see rationing, I hope it doesn't come to that. A cap and rebate system may not be ideal, but it creates the correct incentives to reduce climate change and as you suggested above any policy would be better than no policy. I haven't seen a lot of politicians pushing for rationing, at least there has been some discussion of cap and trade, and fee and rebate in the US Senate, has there been much discussion of rationing?


Your comment about taxes being "more efficient" may be true from a classical economics point of view, however, if the taxes can't be instituted, they will have zero efficiency

Taxes Shmaxes.

Figure out the ways to get rid of a certain class of middlemen. These Middlemen claim without them, the world will come to an end - yet they are a parasitic load on the system.

Look at the 70% of the funds collected then not spent on actual Carbon reduction:

How about the sewage system here:

Or as noted up at the top:

Any system for the future will have to address the parasitic loads.

"In case you haven't noticed, the US public has been on a NO TAXES binge at least since Prop 13 in California"

I think you and I are among the few who noticed this. Also, Prop 13, with its 2/3 requirement for raising taxes (and, indeed, until 2010, for all budget matters), has left us even more dysfunctional and at the mercy of the tyranny of the minority than the US Senate.


E. Swanson and Alan from the big easy and others on my 2012 ticket, lol, I did run for 2008 president on my blog, though it was mostly for the world a writer's dream. The Oil Drum should be a major player in Washington sooner or later, if it is not now.

Biowebscape Designs

Sorry to say, I don't think taxing fossil fuels will work very well.

It needs to be tested of course, but I do think taxing carbon (dioxide) emissions does have a future, and can have an economic impact. (Although I do think it is ideological nonsense to try and have "carbon credits" trade in a free market ... futile and pointless).

If you force all the major polluters to internalise some of the cost of burning fossil fuel, and use the resultant tax revenue to fund renewables and other sustainability systems, then it could be a step in the right direction.

You also provide tax credits/rebates to the poorest 30% (or whatever) so they are not burdened with extra costs that they can ill afford.

... then at least the U.S. can set the standard for what needs to be done.

My goodness - surely American Exceptionalism has its limits - but perhaps not. The US invented rampant production and totally rampant consumerism ... or has this historical reality passed you by at some stage? What astonishing silliness is sometimes expressed on here.

Why wait to switch to Green Transit?
We can switch an enormous amount in months by just RUNNING WHAT WE HAVE!
We need to reinstate the Operating Subsidies which existed from Eisenhower until Reagan
cut them for existing Transit systems to actually operate. Since 2008 over 150 existing
transit systems have faced major service cuts and fare hikes. NJ Transit cut 25% of
my trains and now is proposing to cut buses which provide the only transit to employment
for literally hundreds of people. According to the Brookings May, 2011 study
over 70% of working age Americans in 100 US Metro areas already live only 3/4ths mile
from a Transit stop. BUT only 30% could reach a job, even during peak service hours
in less than 90 minutes due to lack of frequent service, lack of express service, poor
connections and no way to get the last mile.

Tragically enough I have just gotten a copy of my own New Jersey Transit's proposed budget under Teabag Governor Christie - instead of INCREASING the operating subsidy, he is proposing a $236 Million cut (-76%) in operating subsidies for actually running our
Green Transit trains, buses, lightrail and shuttles.!
This is while Gov Christie has quadrupled highway expansion (NOT maintenance) and
raised transit fares by up to 60% so that people who used to take the train the whole way to New York City are now driving to New Jersey stops and then taking the train from
there. Utterly foolish and this does NOTHING to get people out of their cars when it is
totally feasible.
During WWII Corporations and the Government combined to cut car sales to only 300 cars and quadruple intercity train and bus ridership as well as local and regional transit ridership in only 4 years to save oil, rubber, metal and other resources for the War.
See Transport Revolutions for info on this : http://transportrevolutions.info
To some small credit Obama has proposed a few billion for transit operating subsidies but of course the Oilsoaked Republicans have opposed even that.

Well put.

There may be some interest among those following this thread in my latest blog post at Question Everything, "What Am I Watching?". The purpose is to start setting out a systems approach to tracking the major factors that can contribute to global civilization collapse. All of the various factors that have been discussed here at TOD are interrelated in complex, non-linear ways that will produce surprising results. My assertion is that we are past the point of no return. Civilization collapse is baked into the cake. Mitigation is no longer an option in any of the major factors (climate change, PO, etc.). All we can do now is try to monitor these factors, especially the rates of change and feedback loops, in order to try to find ways to adapt as best we can. I do think most people will not pay attention and therefore will not adapt.


Though I haven't installed solar panels, I have cut water use, and started a mindset advancement that we can if we were willing to do so to feed the population of our planet, with a kind of food forest gardening system. I call it Biowebscape. But there are other terms for it and people who have thier own ideas, though the thought is that we never had to waste the planet in the first place and we are smart enough to do better even though most of are acting like we are as dumb or dumber than yeast cells in a beer bottle, which if it is still fermenting explodes.

We are smart creatures and it does not make any sense to kill ourselves off in vast numbers if we can do something about it. There are people who have thought the way out of our box, but most of us, You Ghung and others excluded, have goals to feed their own wealth and glory, to the detriment of others.

These are the times that will be seen as the history in future times, they will dig our bones up and look at us and wonder "what were they thinging?"

Biowebscape Designs.
Do what you need to do to lessen the impact craters.

Police in Qatif use live bullets to disperse protesters after arrest and shooting of prominent Shia cleric and activist.


Qatif. Rings a bell?

Grains resume rally on U.S. drought fears; soy hits record high

Elsewhere, soybeans futures for July delivery traded at USD16.5025 a bushel, gaining 1.4%. Front-month prices hit a fresh all-time high of USD16.5025 a bushel earlier in the day, eclipsing the previous high of USD16.4200 hit in July 2008.

With the price of corn trending up and the price of gasoline trending down, it's going to be more difficult for the ethanol producers to make a profit. One wonders how that 15% ethanol mandate is going to play out...

E. Swanson

Drought has potential three-year ‘tail’ on beef production

Livestock producers who fail to properly manage the drought could find themselves dealing with the consequences long after the rains return, says a Purdue Extension beef specialist.

In a drought year, forages are low in both quality and quantity, which can leave cows thin and undernourished. Less-than-optimal body conditions can have reproductive consequences not only this year, but next year as well.




Less meat, how... dreadful.

Biologist On The Midwestern Drought: ‘It’s Like Farming In Hell’

... future yields will be determined in the next few weeks ... “This is a very narrow window for corn, and there’s little room for error,” said Brad Rippey, an agricultural meteorologist for the United States Department of Agriculture. “Whatever happens in that window, it is what it is — that cob is made or broken.”

Corn yields were falling five bushels a day during the past week” in the driest parts of the Midwest, said Fred Below, a plant biologist at the University of Illinois in Urbana. “You couldn’t choreograph worse weather conditions for pollination. It’s like farming in hell.”

Forty percent of our corn harvest goes into ethanol. The U.S. is also the largest exporter of corn in the world. Most of the corn goes to feed livestock. Most of what's left is turned into high-fructose corn syrup. Here's the thing: even if you don't mind eating GMO tortillas, the corn is not palatable anyway. The varieties that make great high fructose corn syrup and ethanol taste like sawdust. Only a small percentage of our giant corn harvest is direct people food, and most of that is exported.

There is some sloshing about between categories, particularly between feed and ethanol. So, interesting question, what use of the corn is most affected? Ethanol? Feed? Feed exports? Soda drinks? How much of the crop in the drought area was ever intended for direct consumption as people food?

On a local note, my early corn is looking good here in the PNW. About 80% of the second planting appears lost to torrential downpours, cool temperatures and then birds when it finally sprouted.

Corn prices surge as USDA reports 18 states hurt by drought

The U.S. Department of Agriculture report said 30% of the corn in the 18 states that produce most of the nation's crop is now considered in poor or very poor condition. A week ago, it was 22%.

Meanwhile, the price for Lobster is so low, the Lobstermen are staying home..

.. when we go out for our Annual Bug Dinner, it might be the Corn on the Cob that sets the 'Market Prices' !

We just bought a bunch of sweet corn, picked today, 6 for a dollar. You bring the sea bugs, I'll bring the corn. Where do we meet?

It's so good, I ate one raw. We make creamed corn and freeze it.

King Corn

Two kids decide to grow an acre of corn. By the time they find out how it is used, they don't quite know what to do with it.

Thank you for that link, KD. I've been figuring I would have to buy that to ever see it again. Didn't even think about checking on Hulu -- I saw it on PBS's "Independent Lens" some years ago. I can honestly say that it changed my life.

Yeah thanks, I had never heard of this movie before. I had to laugh at the ending. Perfection!

Most welcome. These things come and go fairly rapidly, so you have to keep checking.

"Gasland" is up right now on Veoh... rare.

"Citizen Kang" is always in a new spot:

Only for the US.

An extended excerpt from the documentary can be seen here.

King Corn also available on Netflix, DVD or streaming.


Landlocked South Sudan, which relies on the infrastructure of the North to export its oil, decided to stop pumping crude barely six months after becoming a state despite it being almost its only source of revenue.

But Juba and Khartoum are talking again, and South Sudan has a set of conditions it wants met before the oil starts flowing again.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, South Sudan's Minister of Information Barnaba Benhamin said, "Once they give us a good price, guarantee they will not again confiscate our oil, make sure that they will export oil through the Port Sudan terminal... we will open with them the next day."

Currently, there's no oil running through those pipelines - North and South Sudan have so far failed to agree on transit fees. North Sudan wants $36 (29 euros) a barrel, while South Sudan is only willing to pay one dollar. In January, the south accused the north of stealing large amounts of oil and stopped oil production altogether for a time.

An alternative pipeline?

The situation for oil doesn't look much better. South Sudan has poor connection to its neighbors so that exporting oil is difficult without using the north's pipelines. That's why the country is thinking about building an alternative pipeline through Kenya. The costs would be around three billion dollars - but it is unclear how the government could raise that money. Banks so far don't seem to be interested in investing in the project - some experts say that South Sudan's oil reserves might not be as large after all so that the investment might not yield enough returns.


Here are the graphs

Sudan's Nile blend in decline - why we should be concerned

Re: Denmark to take 20 pct stake in N.Sea oil producer DUC

Danish state-run fund Nordsofonden, which bought the stake, will also push to boost DUC's oil output.

"Our role as a commercial partner in DUC is to provide the state with the best possible economic returns," Nordsofonden chief executive Peter Helmer Steen said.
"From a 30-year perspective, I see a huge potential for increased production from both existing fields and new fields."

The Danes appear to be somewhat unclear on how oil field decline curves work. DUC's oil production from the Danish sector of the North Sea has shown a 9-10% annual decline rate for several years now. The reason it is declining is that DUC has produced most of the recoverable oil in the fields, and is now working on getting the last of the oil out before it shuts down the fields.

The Danish sector of the North Sea is rather small compared to the Norwegian sector and doesn't have the same amount of unexplored territory. In fact, it must have been completely covered by seismic surveys, and all the best prospects will have already been drilled.

I think the Danish government will just have to get used to watching its oil production go down year after year, and eventually it will realize that spending more money will just slow the decline, not stop or reverse it.

Denmark has been self-sufficient in energy for the last few decades because of North Sea oil and gas, but I think that time is coming to an end.

If I am correctly informed, they are the 3:rd exporter towards Sweden. Who will take up that possition once they become an importer? Norway and Russia is the two other.

I keep seeing on TV, and on internet blogs how we must cut down on CO2 emissions, how we must limit population growth, and how we must do this or that in order to save the world. And today from the Energy Bulletin we get this:
Resilience through simplification: revisiting Tainter's theory of collapse
It is all about how we must voluntarily simplify in order to save the world.

While Tainter’s theory of social complexity has much to commend it, in this paper (which is part of a larger work-in-progress) I wish to examine and ultimately challenge Tainter’s conclusion that voluntary simplification is not a viable path to sustainability. In fact, I will argue that it is by far our best bet, even if the odds do not provide grounds for much optimism.

I must vehemently disagree with the author of this piece, Samuel Alexander, and agree with Tainter. I do so because we will not voluntarily do anything. Human nature just doesn't work that way. Sure you can convince a few people to do anything, even to committee suicide because space aliens will come and pick up their souls. But you can never convince the mass of humanity to do anything.

The vast majority of people can never be convinced by argument to act. It takes the actual events to change their minds, then they react. That is tiny few see the facts of an event approaching then act in an attempt to prevent it. But the majority will simply react to the event after the fact.

Ron P.

The emerging general consensus, at least among those people not concerned about global warming, seems to be not that our fossil fuel rate of consumption is too high, but that our consumption rate is too low, and we need--and we will be indefinitely able--to increase our rate of consumption of our fossil fuel resource base.

For example, a typical Cornucopian du jour opinion piece:


Meanwhile, if we extrapolate the 2005 to 2011 rate of decline in Global Net Exports of oil (GNE) to Chindia's Net Imports (CNI), in 18 years the Chindia region would be consuming 100% of GNE. Note that this ratio is analogous to what I call the ECI ratio (the ratio of production to consumption in oil exporting countries) and an extrapolation of the initial six year rate of decline in the combined ECI ratio for six oil exporting countries, that all became net importers, was more optimistic than what the final data for the six countries showed.

Note that the 2008 to 2011 rate of decline in the GNE/CNI ratio was faster than the 2005 to 2008 rate of decline.

Thanks for the link Jeff. This article proves my point. So what do you want to believe? Of course no one can be an expert on everything so for most things people must rely on experts. Just find an expert on any subject of which you know little about and rely on his or her opinion.

Meanwhile, a recent report by oil executive Leonardo Maugeri, which was published by Harvard University, provides compelling evidence that a new oil boom has begun. If, like me, you are confused I am not surprised.

One thing seems clear: we are not likely to run short of oil any time soon...

But no matter what the debate, there are experts on both sides. And that is why we will never convince people of global warming, peak oil, or any of the major problems about to befall humanity, there are experts who will dispute the evidence you produce.

Of course many of them, like the experts in climate change denial, are pseudo experts. That is they pretend to have knowledge and evidence that does not really exist. But that doesn't really matter, as long as they give the appearance of an expert, those who wish to believe their message will believe they are a true expert.

“People prefer to believe what they prefer to be true.” Francis Bacon

Ron P.

“People prefer to believe what they prefer to be true.”

Easy for Bacon to say; he had a lot more wiggle room than most folks in his time. I'm not convinced that it's a preference for most, even today. People are so deeply invested in their current condition, they simply play the cards they are dealt. While they believe that they have choices, the choices available exist within the boundaries set by the system, as dysfunctional and destructive as it is. I'm not giving anyone an out simply because they are victims of the stories they are told. They tell themselves some whoppers; it's one thing we excel at.

It takes courage and means to stray out of what folks perceive as their comfort zone, what for many is their survival zone. I waffle a lot between individual action and collective responses to our predicaments, but know that even our 'deciders' are trapped by complexity; bound by limits. In a sense, the ability to make decisions is hindered by a virtually immovable populace, social inertia, and those who have the real power of choice maintaining the status quo. This is why we get ineffective responses that prolong and exacerbate our collective self-destruction. Easier to just turn away and react when the time comes.

It will take crises proportional to our predicaments to break the spell of humanity's self-involvement. Hence, my doomer side. Best to plant seeds of recovery from whatever our moments of realization will be. Attempting to do that.

Then again, many of us, including you, do not rely on "experts" but rather upon whatever real data we can glean to reach our own decisions. I'm not a doomer because I listened to some person predicting the end of the world. In my case, the data indicate to me that the likely hood of societal collapse is high and that I should take appropriate actions to mitigate the worst impacts. This doesn't mean I'll be able to sit back and watch the world go down the drain. My goal is to buy time so I can make reasoned decisions as to how to go forward if it does occur.


"Knowledge is Power." -- Sir Francis Bacon

...and the irony of what I just posted above, per wikipedia, is even this one is a 'depends on which expert you ask'


The phrase scientia potentia est (sometimes written as scientia est potentia) is a Latin maxim often claimed to mean "knowledge is power". It is commonly attributed to Sir Francis Bacon; however, there is no known occurrence of this precise phrase in Bacon's English or Latin writings. However, this phrase does appear in Thomas Hobbes' 1658 work De Homine, cap. x : "Scientia potentia est, sed parva; quia scientia egregia rara est, nec proinde apparens nisi paucissimis, et in paucis rebus. Scientiae enim ea natura est, ut esse intelligi non possit, nisi ab illis qui sunt scientia praediti.


I don't think it's accurate to say that Tainter thinks voluntary simplicity is impossible. Difficult, and uncommon, but he's written at least one paper about a society that voluntarily and successfully simplified: the Byzantine empire.

I don't think so. I just read part of Tainter's Problem Solving: Complexity, History, Sustainability, the part that deals with the simplification of the Byzantine Empire on page 27 and 28 of this large PDF document. Just a very small part of it quoted here:

Arab civil war from 659 to 663 caused the caliph in Syria to purchase a truce. The respite allowed Constans II to undertake fundamental transformations. The government had lost so much revenue that even at one-fourth the previous rate it could not pay its troops. Constans' solution was to devise a way for the army to support itself. He lacked ready cash but the imperial family had vast estates? perhaps one-fifth of the land in the empire. There was also much land abandoned from the Persian attacks. Such lands were divided among the troops. In Asia Minor and other parts of the empire, divisions of troops called themes were settled in new military zones. Soldiers (and later sailors) were given grants of land on condition of hereditary military service. It was apparently at this time that Constans halved military pay, for he now expected the troops to provide their own livelihood through farming (with a small monetary supplement). Correspondingly the Byzantine fiscal administration was greatly simplified.

There is a lot more, far too much to quote here. But Tainter clearly implies in this paper that simplification was forced from the top down by Constans II. I wouldn't exactly call that voluntary.

But perhaps you misunderstood my argument. I was not arguing that it cannot be done, but that it cannot be done voluntarily by the will of the people. China is reducing its birth rate with its one child policy. But it is not voluntary, it is the iron hand of a dictatorial government forcing its will upon the people.

Ron P.

I would call it voluntary. One thing Tainter points out is that people are better off after simplification. So why wouldn't they be in favor of it? IMO, that is the key to successful voluntary simplification. Forcing people do to things they don't want to do requires more resources, more control, more bureaucracy. The Byzantine empire instead gave people more autonomy.

China is reducing its birth rate with its one child policy. But it is not voluntary, it is the iron hand of a dictatorial government forcing its will upon the people.

What about countries like Japan, where birth rates have fallen without any iron hand of dictatorship?

You call it voluntary but I cannot find one sentence in the article where Tainter suggested it was voluntary. The soldiers did not voluntarily give up half their pay, Constans II took it from them by force. They were forced to earn their living with the simple plow and ox. Likewise bureaucrats were forced back to the farm also. Disbanding local governments and educational system does not take resources, it saves resources. Merging governments does not cost, it saves.

The transformation ramified throughout Byzantine society, as any fundamental economic change must. Both central and provincial government were simplified, and the transaction costs of government were reduced. In the provinces, the civil administration was merged into the military. Cities across Anatolia contracted to fortified hilltops. Aristocratic life focused on the imperial court. There was little education beyond basic literacy and numeracy, and literature itself consisted of little more than lives of saints. The period is sometimes called the Byzantine Dark Age.

I really don't Tainter is saying that the Byzantine people were better off by moving into the Dark Age.

What about countries like Japan, where birth rates have fallen without any iron hand of dictatorship?

And it is happening in Russia also, the population is actually declining. But it is no voluntary movement by the masses to reduce population growth, it is because of economics. In Japan and Russia people feel they will be better off if they have fewer children. The education of these people play no small part in this decision.

There is no mass movement anywhere in the world, by the people, to reduce the population of the country. Birth decision, except in China, are made for totally different, and very personal reasons.

Ron P.

Tainter has described what happened to the Byzantine empire as choosing collapse, and thinks it's a very good option.

The soldiers did not voluntarily give up half their pay, Constans II took it from them by force. They were forced to earn their living with the simple plow and ox.

Or...they were given lands, and control of the area around them. A lot of people today would say that was a good trade. Eventually, the soldiers' pay was increased again.

This is actually one of the major themes of The Collapse of Complex Societies. Governments have to have legitimacy, and a big part of legitimacy is giving people what they want. Forcing people doesn't work in the long term. The Western Roman Empire collapsed when people starting thinking the barbarians offered a better deal than Rome. The Byzantine empire lived on, because giving people ownership and control of lands meant they fought harder to defend them.

I really don't Tainter is saying that the Byzantine people were better off by moving into the Dark Age.

He did. He has said more than once that people are better off after a collapse. The paragraph you quote is one of my favorites. I don't read it as saying people were worse off; rather, it's explaining what some of the costs of collapse are. What they sacrificed in the name of simplifying.

I think it's pretty clear that Tainter thinks voluntary collapse is the way to go. The last part of The Collapse of Complex Societies is about why that choice is often not possible.

Tainter devotes about ten pages (117-126) in his recent book (written with Tadeusz Patzek) DRILLING DOWN: THE GULF OIL DEBACLE AND OUR ENERGY DILEMMA (2012) to discussing the "Collapse and Recovery of the Byzantine Empire" and "What the Byzantine Recovery Means for Us." It's pretty clear that the strategy of "systematic simplification" the Byzantine emperors adopted around 700 A.D. was top-down. And it is also clear, as Tainter emphasizes, that the Byzantine Empire is "the only large complex society that has...survived by simplifying to live within the constraints of less available energy" (p. 126).

'...Tainter emphasizes, that the Byzantine Empire is "the only large complex society that has...survived by simplifying to live within the constraints of less available energy" (p. 126).'

I don't have the book, but perhaps you could explain what sort of loss of energy was suffered by the Byzantine Empire at that time? The only thing I can think of might be a loss of slave labor. But that would have to be on a grand scale to even begin to compare with our eventual loss of fossil fuels. I've read that each barrel of oil contains the energy of 5 man-years worth of manual labor. That would mean that (counting only oil) the USA consumes about 35 billion man-years worth of oil-based "slave labor" each year - or approximately the same amount of energy as could be produced by enslaving the earth's entire human population for 5 years! I doubt that the Byzantines faced anything on that scale.

I think it's pretty clear that Tainter thinks voluntary collapse is the way to go. The last part of The Collapse of Complex Societies is about why that choice is often not possible.

He also argues that voluntary reduction of resources, (in order to prevent collapse) is also not possible. Beginning at 21:57 into this video: Risks of Collapse: Dr. Joseph Tainter, Nicole Foss, David Korowicz (1 of 2) Joseph Tainter says this:

About 15 months ago I first gave a presentation at the Ecological Association of America meeting in which I first formally argued that societies can't reduce their consumption of resources voluntarily over the long term. And I was told later that there were a group of students in the back of the room who muttered to themselves, Lets prove him wrong." And I hope they do.

This is a great video. In part 2, Nicole Foss argues that the collapse will be fast.

Ron P.

Ron – Maybe guessing isn’t even required. But first lets set one thing clear: lots of ways life would be greatly improved for society in general by voluntarily doing A. Pick A however you chose: proper diet, not driving drunk, not smoking, not driving over the speed limit, etc, etc. The TODsters could build a long list.

So there you go: all kinds of voluntary actions that would improve life including reducing our consumption of hydrocarbons. So Part 1 of the solution is set. Now for Part 2. Oh..wait…we’re already doing Part 2. There you go…we are saved. LOL.

I was taught a very basic premise when I began my earth science studies: the processes that sculptured the earth 100’s of millions of years ago are unchanged. The wind blows, the rivers flow, ice melts and water freezes, etc, etc. The world today runs on the same dynamics that controlled it 500 years ago: partly mankind does what it has no choice but do and then there’s what it can chose to do voluntarily. You don’t have to speculate how a world of voluntary actions would look…you looking at it right now. Of course, the dynamics aren’t completely static. Conditions will change some from time to time. But can they change in a way that we’ve never seen change before? It seems as though some folks envision a new voluntary world that would be very different than one we’ve ever experienced. Maybe they’ll be correct. But IMHO I don’t really see anything changing the process significantly. In that sense we are already living in our new volunteer driven society. With all the pain and horror we’ve seen in just the last few decades we’ve certainly had the motivation to make those voluntary changes, haven’t we?

Rockman, I don't think you understand the argument at all. We all do voluntary things every day. I voluntarily quit smoking almost 30 years ago. But that is not the kind of volunteering we are talking about.

Everyone, or most everyone, would have to volunteer, en mass, to behave in a certain way in order to achieve a desirable outcome for the nation, or a population, as a whole. Everyone would volunteer to have only one child in order to get the population explosion under control. Or everyone would volunteer to quit eating meat so that more grain would be available to feed the starving masses of the world.

But complexity is the subject we are discussing here. Everyone should volunteer to simplify their life. Everyone give up all luxuries and go back to the earth. But the point is we must all volunteer to do it together. Just one or two people volunteering to try to save the earth just don't help very much.

But as I said in my original post, it just ain't gonna happen because human nature just don't work that way.

Ron P.

It won't work for 7 billion humans anyway. Damned if we do, damned if we don't. It's ok though. These things always work themselves out.

You might be surprised at how quickly frugality can become acceptable and even "the new thing" once the financial system is finely unwound. As the saying goes 'necessity is the mother of invention'.

Ron – I think I understand the discussion perfectly and your response tends to prove it IMHO. “We all do voluntary things every day”. Exactly. And the discussion has been what we’ll voluntarily do in the future. And I made my point very clearly: you see it right now. It’s nice to toss about theoretical worlds where such voluntary actions that can significantly change our course. But when that fun has past we’re back to reality. Have we not had enough motivation in the last 20 years or so to kick in global sacrifices that will save us from ourselves? Trillions of $’s and tens of thousands of lives to establish a military presence in the ME to keep oil resources secure, millions of US citizens unemployed, an EU economy that appear on the brink of very hard times, tens of millions of Americans forces to reduce their lifestyles, trillions borrowed from future generation to support the effort to maintain BAU, the poorest of the planet’s poorest with less hope than ever for a better future yet still with growing populations, etc, etc.

So what’s the argument for a meaningful voluntary future is that we haven’t had sufficient reasons to change? Maybe when things get really bad a new sense of sacrifice for the general good will kick in? I think I see the complexity very clearly and even more clearly understand what it will take to reduce complexity if that’s the goal some envision. And it’s not a simplistic picture of voluntary response IMHO. “…it just ain't gonna happen because human nature just don't work that way.” Which was the exact point do believe I made.

“But the point is we must all volunteer to do it together” And again what I thought would be my obvious point to understand: we haven’t been volunteering to reduce the complexity of our world in my lifetime. In fact we’ve made it much more complex since the US unarguably reached its PO. Why should one expect a change now? IMHO the very complexity being discussed is exactly what will prevent any significant voluntary changes from being made.

Again, just one prson's opinion.

I agree.

I think we don't do it as an 'us' until we get our Pearl Harbor moments.. but then, many things turn on a dime.. maybe they still don't turn the right exact way, but there are events that can mobilize the great majority of people, and there's a different air in the room, where people identify with the team.

We had our Pearl Harbor moment, it was 9/11. Instead of using the opportunity to make some policy changes to make us less dependent on fossil fuels, we were instructed to go shopping. Many choose to additionally support our war efforts by affixing American Flag magnets to their SUV's.

It 'could' have been, I suppose, but clearly wasn't.

It WAS, however that sort of event in NYC, for a spell.

No, it has to be loud and painful enough to wake up the economists..

Looking on the bright side, the US has already reduced oil consumption by 2MMBPD in 4 years. Slowly, people are coming to grips with the idea that the economy is not going to rebound and are adjusting their lifestyles accordingly. It is a slow process as people go through the various stages of grief and move through the denial to the point that they are ready to face reality. As the financial system collapses, more and more people will be forced to adjust their lifestyle and reduce their levels of consumption. Eventually, when a large enough percentage of the middle class has been affected then maybe we can start making more society level positive changes to our approach. If we don't make the changes voluntarily, then eventually they will be imposed as the national charge card hits the credit limit and is politely refused by our oil exporting friends.

Looking on the bright side, the US has already reduced oil consumption by 2MMBPD in 4 years.

That is called "demand destruction" caused by a combination of high oil prices and the recession. If prices get any higher, or the recession gets any worse, you will have even more bright things to cheer about.

Ron P.

Right, and there is more demand destruction to come. The so called recession isn't going to end until the financial system resets taking wages, at least in real terms, lower with it. So, it isn't a matter of having something to cheer about but rather accepting the inevitable and looking at the ramifications which in terms of oil consumption will be positive from a conservation view point.

With enough time this will all happen without, hopefully, a major currency crises or major war.

Yup, there's nothing like the alternative being starvation to make most people "voluntarily" do something eh Rockman.

I understand what is being said. I just wonder if the analogies hold up to conditions in a world so far into overshoot of population. Perhaps the crash and ensuing simplification will be great for the survivors, but if fewer than 1 in 7 survive, can you say "people are better off?"

Just asking.


Good question Zap, and all answers would be, of course, just a wild guess. But my guess would be that they would be worse off, a lot worse off. In the wake of the collapse we will consume every wild thing that is large enough to kill and eat. We will leave a barren world. Energy and Human Evolution

Or it may prove impossible for even a few survivors to subsist on the meager resources left in civilization's wake. The children of the highly technological society into which more and more of the world's peoples are being drawn will not know how to support themselves by hunting and gathering or by simple agriculture. In addition, the wealth of wild animals that once sustained hunting societies will be gone, and topsoil that has been spoiled by tractors will yield poorly to the hoe.

Ron P.

The Hubbert Curve is a nice symmetrical bell shape and it might be accurate for modelling regions on an individual basis, for example Texas, because overall social order is maintained, albeit with a lot of poorer people around, and because other areas have been able to increase production to maintain similar or even growing worldwide production rates as some decline. But when the whole world falls from the peak there will be no "other" to depend on to maintain overall production. Once people lose faith in the future, when the monetary system collapses and we begin to enter a Malthusian ecological collapse, then I envision oil production dropping off quite sharply because all these unconventional oil recovery processes require a high degree of social and technical expertise and organization which will be absent in a world being torn apart by war. If, at the end, a billion people survive, then I wonder if FF production will pick up again as people manage to put the pieces back together, or will we be in a state of perpetual scarcity for the next century until population is ultimately reduced to say a half billion?

I fully agree that the Hubbert curve is a decent approximation for individual fields/countries as long as their are cheaper sources to exploit elsewhere. But when world-wide peak starts to hit, it won't work that way.

However, I take quite the opposite view of what happen when the world peaks . . . instead of sudden collapse, it will be a rocky plateau as people work hard to exploit previously uneconomic deposits and use the more expensive oil more efficiently. And that is what we are currently experiencing, IMHO. We are seeing previously uneconomic plays like oil sands, tight shale oil, and deepwater oil production increase. But since this oil is inherently more expensive we are simultaneously seeing more efficient oil usage as more people switch to public transport, vacation to far off places less, move closer to work, get more efficient vehicles, etc.

But there are efficiency limits and we are basically there. Beyond that we just have to revert to doing less.

We've been at peak for 7 years and I don't see any mass acceptance of the problem and a commitment to using the remaining FF's to build out renewable infrastructure. Certainly it is happening on the margins but not nearly enough. Mostly what I see is continued faith in economic growth, that unconventional oil will enable them to continue driving their SUV's cheaply for the next 30 years.

There certainly are efficiency limits. But I strongly disagree that we have exploited them to their fullest. The auto industry has been fighting them tooth and nail for decades. But only after two of the big three got pushed through bankruptcy and they learned that the oil industry is not their friend did they finally agree that increased CAFE standards are needed. The Prius already beats the standard set for 2020 or whatever the year was and I'm sure that there will be more advancements between now & then. And on the supply side, we have seen the Bakken oil scene grow like crazy. I'm sure there are many such similar formations in other parts of the world that can be extracted using the same techniques. We just haven't started on those because you go for the low-hanging (nearby) fruit first.

I happen to agree. There is enough heroic-oil (i.e. will be high priced but doable), stuff that if combined with a push for much higher efficiency of use, can make the next phase of the oil age into a sort of BAU-lite. The real question is will we resist the transition, and make it harder and less voluntary when it comes.

I think that's what's apparent around us because we're still burning off cheap fat in the system, and we're on all sorts of distracting Pain Killer ideologies and entertainments that keep the big picture and the acute discomforts from revealing their causes very clearly..

You could call it 'momentum'..

It's all part of what JMG calls "Catabolic Collapse". To paraphrase Shakespeare, "First, we burn all the furniture..."

Then we eat our seed corn.

I guess diabetes is better than starving.

One thing Tainter notes: collapse was typically accompanied by a big drop in population - about 90%. Though he is quick to add that this doesn't mean they all died.

"this doesn't mean they all died."

so what happened?

He says they could have left the area - the traditional response of humans to unpleasant conditions.

And Greer has pointed out that collapse takes place over decades or centuries, so a drop in population may be more like what's happening in Japan than a sudden, Malthusian dieoff.

The collapse will be worldwide, there will be no way to leave the area.

Beginning at 3:20 into this video: Risks of Collapse: Dr. Joseph Tainter, Nicole Foss, David Korowicz (2 of 2) Nicole Foss presents a very strong argument for fast collapse.

The collapse of the Soviet Union collapsed over a few months. And they did not have that far to fall. Russia was then far more rural than we are today. Our collapse will be far more severe but likely just as quick.

The crash of 1929 happened in a matter of days. The entire time it took for depression to completely bottom out, to the deepest depths of the depression, was about three years. It is astonishing to think that it would take a lot longer today. In 1929 we were still had, basically, an agrarian economy. People could, and did, go back to the farm. That would be impossible today. Today it would be much worse, and quite likely, much quicker.

Ron P.

What is the time frame for the fast collapse? Months, years, or decades?

Suyog, we are all just guessing here. But I would guess that the collapse will come in two parts, first the slow then the fast. I think the slow has already begun. The fast has not started yet. It could start in one year or five, perhaps even ten years. But I would guess in about five. And the collapse will take from months to a few years but definitely not decades.

A slow collapse, taking several decades, is an impossibility in my opinion. The economies of the entire Western World is based debt and growth. And the end of growth has to be the beginning of collapse.

Ron P

There are some 'brick wall' limits to water, well within the 10 year limit

From Director of National Intelligence:

National Intelligence Estimate: Global Water Security

Our Bottom Line: During the next 10 years, many countries important to the United States will experience water problems—shortages, poor water quality, or floods — that will risk instability and state failure, increase regional tensions, and distract them from working with the United States on important US policy objectives.

Between now and 2040, fresh water availability will not keep up with demand absent more effective management of water resources. Water problems will hinder the ability of key countries to produce food and generate energy, posing a risk to global food markets and hobbling economic growth.

As a result of demographic and economic development pressures, North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia will face major challenges coping with water problems.

Missing from the unclassified version is the probable inclusion of Mexico and SW U.S.

I don't know about the 10 year time frame. It's hard to separate the noise from the signal, there have been some serious shortages recently but then they have always been there.

I agree but I see a shorter time frame. The problem is not so much peak resources at this time but the inevitable collapse of the world financial system. It almost happened in 2008. The Euro-zone is little more than a Ponzi scheme just moving debt around. The major financial institutions are holding trillions of dollars in debt that will never be re-payed. We are indeed at the end of growth but it won't be peak oil that gets us first. When the TBF banks fail that will be the end.

I think the most difficult for Americans will be the immediate triage needed. "We" will have to decide what to save, and what to leave behind. Two problems I see: 1) Who decides? and 2) when the decision is who lives and who dies... who gets fed and who goes hungry. My guess: the peacekeepers/policemen/ those rendering triage get fed until starvation becomes endemic, at which point a few folks (who are still able) will put up a fight. Most will be too far gone to do much more than whimper and expire.

For a while, until easy food stocks are all gone and everything edible in the fields is consumed, there will be "civil unrest." Some 'preppers' will find out that they prepared for the mobs. Then, the first cold spell everything left gets burned for heat.

I look at St. Matthew Island for my model. When a population far exceeds sustainability, the rebound from overshoot can be way below sustainable numbers. In the case of St. Matthew Island, the numbers went from 29 introduced, to more than 6,000, and then over ten years to zero (at one point there were 59 animals, but all females). I don't think anyone knows why all the males died off first - it is instructive, however.

Since there was no where to go, they died off. Is that to be our fate? Self administered euthanasia?

Strange species, Homo Sapiens, sapiens. Wonder if they'll be missed.


No doubt financial crises can be quick; we've seen it many times before. But it doesn't lead to societal collapse. There's a huge jump to get from "the stock market can crash in one day" to a global collapse of civilization happening quickly.

More and more, it's looking like we will not only have a long decline, but a patchwork one. I once thought as you do: the collapse will be worldwide, there's nowhere to flee to. I don't think that any more. There will be stair steps down...and stair steps up. The economy may be terrible in Florida, but it's booming in South Dakota. New Orleans was a terrible place to be during Katrina. It's doing pretty well now.

IMO, the current economy is a good example of what we can expect in the future. It was three years from the crash to the bottom of the Great Depression. It's been more than three years since the financial crisis of 2008. Have we bottomed out? Not sure. Are we recovering? Not sure. Like plateau oil, we're bumping along with a plateau economy. There are some positive signs, some negative. Some places and people are doing better than others. I could see this going on for a very long time - as long as I have to worry about it, even.

I'm having trouble accepting this whole voluntary (vs. reactionary) hypothesis, especially after The Plague of Justinian wiped out about a third of the population.

The Plague of Justinian (541–542 AD) was a pandemic that afflicted the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire), including its capital Constantinople. It was one of the greatest plagues in history. The most commonly accepted cause of the pandemic is bubonic plague, which later became notable as a cause or contributing to the Black Death of the 14th century.[1]...

...Virulence and mortality rate

The number of deaths will always be uncertain. Modern scholars believe that the plague killed up to 5,000 people per day in Constantinople at the peak of the pandemic. It ultimately killed perhaps 40% of the city's inhabitants. The initial plague caused the deaths of up to a quarter of the human population of the eastern Mediterranean.[11] New, frequent waves of the plague continued to strike throughout the 6th, 7th and 8th centuries AD, often more localized and less virulent. It is estimated that the Plague of Justinian killed as many as 25 million people across the world.[12]

Hardly seems voluntary. Maybe I missed something. If some similar catalyst were to occur in our time, the response would certainly be mass simplification; adaptation to an entirely different set of conditions. Whether or not this sort of occurrence is one of our own doing (e.g. by failing to address our impact upon our ecosystem) or purely natural, to call it "voluntary" is suggesting a collective level of control that never existed. The Byzantines adapted to a new reality after the fact.

And let's not forget some of the more recent examples of involuntary simplicity:

Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin

The book is about the mass killing of an estimated 14 million non-combatants by the regimes of Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union and Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany between the years 1933 and 1945 in a region which comprised what is modern-day Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and the Baltic states

The Ukraine is a particularly telling example, forced collectivisation of farms and a stated intent to wipe out "Kulaks" by cutting rations results in mass starvation:

The chapter covering the Holodomor (a word Snyder himself avoids) goes into extreme detail, for example recounting one story of an unofficial orphanage in village in the Kharkiv region were the children were so hungry they resorted to cannibalism, with one child eating parts of himself even while he was himself being cannibalized.


Not to be flippant about such things, but 14 million murdered over 12 years is a trifle compared to the magnitude of the crisis we currently face on our badly abused little speck of a planet. Do the math: 14 million murdered EVERY YEAR for the next 50 YEARS would still barely put a dent in the 7-billion-going-on-9-billion people currently doing everything in their power to trash this place.


Not to mention the fact that the Earth's population is still growing at a rate of about 78 million a year. That's roughly the addition of another Iran or another Egypt every year. So, just limiting population growth to zero would imply that many lost lives and/or premature deaths...

E. Swanson


The Soviet famine of 1932-1933 that affected Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and some densely populated regions of Russia, has a special connotation in Ukraine where it is called the Holodomor. The famine was caused by the confiscation of the whole 1933 harvest in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, the North Caucasus, and some other parts of the Soviet Union, leaving the peasants too little to feed themselves. As a result, an estimated ten million died Soviet-wide, including over seven million in Ukraine, one million in the North Caucasus, and one million elsewhere.

On 7 August 1932 a law came into force that stipulated that all food was state property and that mere possession of food was evidence of a crime. Among the most enthusiastic enforcers of the law were urban members of youth organizations, educated under the Soviet system, who fanned out into the countryside in order to prevent the "theft" of state property. They constructed and staffed watchtowers (over 700 in the Odessa region alone) to ensure that no peasants took food home from the fields. The youth brigades lived off the land, eating what they confiscated from the peasants. They often humiliated the starving peasants by forcing them to box each other for sport, or forcing them to crawl and bark like dogs. Under the pretext of grain confiscation, the brigades routinely raped women living alone.

Soviet and Western denial
(I was never taught anything about this in school.)

A Short List of Genocides:

List of wars and anthropogenic disasters by death toll
List of genocides with death tools.
Looks like two hundred million for the very short list of genocides.

During the Congo Civil War, Pygmies were killed and eaten by both sides of the war, who regarded them as subhuman. Sinafasi Makelo, a representative of Mbuti pygmies, asked the UN Security Council to recognize cannibalism as a crime against humanity and an act of genocide. Ongoing...
"It's not very often you can hear a Pygmy singing on the radio."

I think that, as you've pointed out earlier, humans are cr@p. That is the basic problem. If they blindly run whistling into the fan, I don't think the other animals will miss them much... only the dogs... dogs really love people.

extreme cruelty to dog

Just a thought.
The UK government is planning a 20% reduction in our standing army and hopes to make up the numbers with part-time soldiers. Curious it did not happen earlier; we have not had an empire to defend, at least not one of our own, for a while now.

@Leanan, Darwinian
Here's an example of 'voluntary' collapse that echoes the Byzantine empire.

This should be of interest to Heisenberg given his military background
Let’s Draft Our Kids

IN late June, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the former commander of international forces in Afghanistan, called for reinstating the draft. “I think if a nation goes to war, every town, every city needs to be at risk,” he said at the Aspen Ideas Festival. “You make that decision and everybody has skin in the game.”

Here's the real reason why he's asking for the draft to be reinstated.

These conscripts would not be deployed but could perform tasks currently outsourced at great cost to the Pentagon: paperwork, painting barracks, mowing lawns, driving generals around, and generally doing lower-skills tasks so professional soldiers don’t have to. If they want to stay, they could move into the professional force and receive weapons training, higher pay and better benefits.

Those who don’t want to serve in the army could perform civilian national service for a slightly longer period and equally low pay — teaching in low-income areas, cleaning parks, rebuilding crumbling infrastructure, or aiding the elderly. After two years, they would receive similar benefits like tuition aid.

Cheap labor!

Yes maybe they could serve as caddies to the Pentagon's 234 golf courses overseas our tax dollars are paying for! lol

well what does it mean "voluntarily"? only someone who has some freedom of action can do things voluntarily. (i won't try to analyse this in present societies.) but in the byzantine empire surely only emperor (and some others etc) had really power to make such big voluntary decisions. so i think tainter and leanan have a point in the sense that those who could make decisions actually made some decisions which apparently really simplified the system somewhat.

also the term "dark ages" is a bit ambiguous. typically i think one means that sciences and arts didn't develop much (whatever it means for arts and sciences to "develop"). however it is less clear if the average people were less well off during the dark ages ? (than in the bright ages...)

The vast majority of people can never be convinced by argument to act

Unfortunately this is true.

I sent out emails to Australian MPs with this link

10 Mouse clicks to calculate Australian crude oil depletion of 83 %

hoping to wake them up and allowing them to check for themselves. From google analytics I could see the interest was minimal. My guess is also that the staff receiving these emails have no idea what this is all about.

Today I personally passed by an electoral office and when I mentioned that the problems with Iran have to do with its 2nd oil peak they didn't have a clue although I had advised them already several times to go through my menus and articles and look at the peaks

Of course no one can be an expert on everything so for most things people must rely on experts

That is exactly what I heard from someone in an electoral office: "We are not the experts". That's why I did the above DIY post with Geoscience Australia links but still no success

Hello Matt,

I'd like to make a few suggestions and some of this is from experience and some of this is from what I've been told to do. Our elected officials here get bombarded with emails. I've been told they do not have time to read them let alone do mouse clicks to good material. Most just scan to get a rough idea of the content, autoreply (mostly), and then delete.

I find that very terse messages with clear graphs work best as part of a letter sent via snail mail. In other words, bring the basic relevant data to your solon so they have something physical in hand they can read, mark up, copy, and act upon. In this era of the internet, so much information can be generated, that a person can be on a computer all day reading and never catch up. Having a clean, clear, and concise message in hand works best.

Back to snail mail. Yes, I started to do this,also faxing so that something remains in their offices

Contrast this conversation a bit, for the sake of US culture at least, with the "doomsday prepper" movement.

People acting individually with little or no thought of the collective outside of their own kin make up a rather large "prepper" movement in the US. Their reasons are various, some legit while some Mayan, but the most common thread is individual preparations.

I think it's important to realize that the US (as a default world leader at least) is anti-collectivist at its core and on at least one of the fringes.

That's the problem with the "A" in "AGW" -- even if you could convince them they're in trouble, the first reaction of many (even influential types who could be leaders otherwise) is likely to be something out of a Rand novel.

How is your email going to get that politician elected?

It isn't an issue that the electorate is clamouring about, or one that they will even believe.

It isn't something the politician could champion that would bring good times to all.

It won't bring in lots of money from business or wealthy individuals.

Hell, you don't even have a solution for it, just whitter on about consuming less.

No wonder it goes in the madman pile...

Dmitry Orlov is a man who sees things my way: The movement for involuntary complexity

This is really a fun article. Orlov was asked to write a paper for the Voluntary Simplicity movement, which is the subject of my original article above. He responds with this article which pokes fun at the whole idea.

Their web site does contain some practical documents that sketch out ways of reducing one's burn rate to around $30 a week. (I think that's called Voluntary Poverty.)...

To me, this picture expresses the essence of alternative consumer choice. You too can escape to a rural paradise where you can learn to grow all of your own food, and perhaps go on to teach classes on how to do it. All you need is half a million dollars to get started...

My own favorite movement is called The Movement for Involuntary Complexity. The way it works is, nobody wants to join it, because it just doesn't sound at all pleasant. But then people find out that they are part of it anyway. Their resources are limited, they face a huge number of complicated problems, and they try to solve them the best they can.

Ron P.

Thanks Ron, you are spot on as usual.

I skimmed the entire pdf, so forgive me if I missed something, but it is pretty obvious to me that there is an elephant in the room that Alexander (and some of the commentators on this thread) are completely ignoring.

In a nutshell: Even should a society somehow resolve to unilaterally simplify (voluntarily or otherwise) it really only results in that society being at a disadvantage and vulnerable to neighbors who have no such compunction.

I don't have a quote handy, but I believe it was Tainter himself who pointed this out.

For example, every ton of coal that Western industrial societies forgo consuming is gladly snapped up by China or India, with no end in sight.

So, by all means folks, simplify all you want, there are only about 3 or 4 or maybe 6 billion people who will thank you very kindly for the resources you don't consume.


The trick is to volunteer other people to forego, and when necessary, to expire. Who is likely to win that game?

Ten days after Kerry’s speech, the Washington area was struck by a “derecho,” a weather event virtually unknown to the people of the region. This straight line of fierce thunderstorms uprooted trees and knocked down power lines leaving much of the sweltering capital area in the dark and without air conditioning.

The devastation – along with forest fires in Colorado and 100-degree heat over much of the country – got lots of attention from the news media. But there was almost no discussion of the why.


It's propaganda -- quite literally, brain washing.

NBC, CBS, ABC and all the cable newsrooms remind us daily that "they" will take all this over-abundance of "news" and scour it for importance and digest it for meaning and then "they" will explain our world to us. Implied in these self-promotions is, "because it's just too complicated for you to understand without us." That implication is part of the propaganda. Even my local TV ignoramuses do that kind of advertising of themselves, when in fact they often have a hard time even reading, much less knowing, anything. /rant

Journalists do not understand the difference between signal and noise. The noise is much more exciting so that is all they report.

OPEC quotas, production, and crude price, 1982-2006:

OPEC Quotas and Production 1982-2006

I can't find the spreadsheet I used to make this graph at the moment. I put it together last year. It was a bit messy, members come and go, their production crashes (Iraq 1992), etc. The quotas are crude only, btw; no condensates, never mind NGLs., so the production line here will always be a bit higher.

You can clearly see production skyrocket in 1986, while the price goes in the opposite direction, as KSA opened the taps to punish its fellow members for not adhering to the quota. Interesting that they did the opposite to bring the price up the next year. You can see them attempting to mediate price over the next couple of decades quite clearly. Also the magnitude of the price spike beginning in 2003 is quite evident, along with OPEC's half-hearted attempt at a response. To be fair I don't think they had the capacity, if a 1:1 production to price volume was called for.

I'd have kept the series going past 2006 but as I recall OPEC or the IEA changed the formatting of their reports and it was too much trouble for me to bring it up to date; or they stopped publishing them in their bulletins, thus making it necessary to check news items to find the numbers? Have to find that spreadsheet.

Man, you don't think of people dying of TB in the US in this day and age...

Worst TB outbreak in 20 years kept secret

JACKSONVILLE — The CDC officer had a serious warning for Florida health officials in April: A tuberculosis outbreak in Jacksonville was one of the worst his group had investigated in 20 years. Linked to 13 deaths and 99 illnesses, including six children, it would require concerted action to stop.

That report had been penned on April 5, exactly nine days after Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill that shrank the Department of Health and required the closure of the A.G. Holley State Hospital in Lantana, where tough tuberculosis cases have been treated for more than 60 years.

Didn't realize it was this expensive to treat, either:

Treatment for TB can be an ordeal. A person with an uncomplicated, active case of TB must take a cocktail of three to four antibiotics — dozens of pills a day — for six months or more. The drugs can cause serious side effects — stomach and liver problems chief among them. But failure to stay on the drugs for the entire treatment period can and often does cause drug resistance.

At that point, a disease that can cost $500 to overcome grows exponentially more costly. The average cost to treat a drug-resistant strain is more than $275,000, requiring up to two years on medications. For this reason, the state pays for public health nurses to go to the home of a person with TB every day to observe them taking their medications.

Yeah, TB is a real pain since there's no good vaccine for it, it spreads really easily, and there's also a bunch of strains that are resistant to antibiotics. In Canada there's often TB outbreaks in native communities, though we don't hear much about it in the main-stream media.

And by the turn of this year, a strain of totaly resistant TB was observed in India...

Rick Scott Shuts Down TB Hospital Amid "Worst Outbreak in 20 Years"
Despite a warning from the Centers for Disease Control, it's the latest move by the Florida governor to gut public services.

Welcome to Sunshine State: Republican-run since 1998, tea party-controlled since 2010, and fast becoming one of the lowest-service states in the nation. Which helps explain how lawmakers shut down its only tuberculosis clinic last month, just as the worst outbreak of the infectious disease in America's recent history flared up with a vengeance in Jacksonville, Miami, and who knows where else—an outbreak that state and local officials sat on until last month, according to an investigation published by the Palm Beach Post.

...Rick Scott, Tea Party wing-nut and "former health care executive".

Sometimes I start to think I have a handle on the lunacy of the extreme right, otherwise known as the modern day GOP, and then guys like Rick Scott show that they're crazier than I could imagine.

Rick Scott is a criminal. His company was guilty of the biggest Medicare fraud in history, while he was leading it, and in return was given a $300 million dollar golden parachute.

I was in Florida during the race. Honestly, I have no sympathy for anyone who voted for Rick Scott. The guy is transparently untrustworthy. But this is par for the course in America, witness Bloomberg reigning over New York and the stop and frisk policy, or Romney running for president. These guys are pretty obviously the boss that will screw you with a smile, and I honestly can't understand how they get elected. People who vote for these transparent jerks are either amazingly naive or have a serious lack of ethics.

Yeah, the election of Rick Scott is truly mind-boggling. The guy's company was caught in a criminal act and paid the largest criminal penalty for healthcare fraud EVER. It was largely medicare fraud. And the old medicare dependent people of Florida voted for him. Such a sad example of blind-faith ideology trumping common sense. The guy should be in jail but is instead elected. Madness.

Shirly there is some good plenty of ideology trumping cognition, but don't forget that most folks are persistently 'taught' how to enact this ideology with caring tutelage from Fox news, Pol. Ads, etc.

It's really, really hard for these people to think clearly when they are living in this unrelenting echo-chamber. It's not just banal happenstance that keeps this set of ideas afloat.. it is being done very consciously and expensively.

(and surely I DO know how to spell Surely.. I kid cause I care.)

"Sometimes I start to think I have a handle on the lunacy..."

Not Even Close

Florida accused of hiding worst tuberculosis outbreak in 20 years

From the article:

The state of Florida has been struggling for months with what the Centers for Disease Control describe as the worst tuberculosis outbreak in the United States in twenty years.

the cover-up began as early as last February, when Duval County Health Department officials felt so overwhelmed by the sudden spike in tuberculosis that they asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to become involved. Believing the outbreak affected only their underclass, the health officials made a conscious decision not to tell the public

Although a CDC report went out to state health officials in April encouraging them to take concerted action, the warning went largely unnoticed and nothing has been done. The public did not even learn of the outbreak until June

That decision now appears to have gone terribly awry, partly because the disease appears to have already spread into the general population

A handful of doctors in India have been trying to alert the world to a spreading number of TB cases in India that are completely resistant to all antibiotics, partly as a result of indiscriminate antibiotic use in India, while there are allegations that the government has been trying to keep it quiet:


One of the unpleasant side effects of antibiotic use is opportunistic infections like C. Diff:


Keep your vitamin D level up, and if you have to take antibiotics, take lots of probiotics.

I think vitamin D is going to end up like so many other supplements before it. Pills are not the answer. At least, so far they haven't been.

From your link:

If the blood contains less than 10 nanomol (nmol) of vitamin per liter of serum, mortality is 2.31 times higher. However, if the blood contains more than 140 nmol of vitamin per liter of serum, mortality is higher by a factor of 1.42. Both values are compared to 50 nmol of vitamin per liter of serum, where the scientists see the lowest mortality rate.

In other words, the study showed a significantly higher total mortality risk for low levels of Vitamin D, versus higher levels, but I have a couple of questions. Were they testing for 25(OH)D levels, and how many people were in the high vitamin D level group, out of the quarter million samples that they tested?

In any case, the following chart shows disease prevention by Serum 25(OH)D level. Curiously enough, there are no data on the chart showing any beneficial effects from blood levels above 55 ng/ml (about 135-140 nmol/L), either because there is no evidence of beneficial effects, or perhaps because there are so few people with higher blood levels, but in any case, it’s a null data set.

It seems to me that the linked study would basically seem to confirm existing research, in the sense that there does not seem to be any evidence of beneficial effects of Vitamin D in excess of about 140 nmol/L, but there is a dramatically increased higher mortality risk associated with low levels of Vitamin D.

Disease Prevention by Serum 25(OH) D Level:


For example, there is an 83% reduction in breast cancer when the serum level is 50 ng/ml (about 125 nmol/L) versus a baseline of 25 ng/ml (about 60 nmol/L).

ABC report on Breast cancer and Vitamin D (from 2008), with interviews with breast cancer researchers:


P.S. Dr. Cannell's comments (Vitamin D Council) on the referenced study:


Pills are not the answer. At least, so far they haven't been.

Pills are not THE answer. But they are a good answer for many situations.

There are times that one can not eat enough food to overcome a deficient condition. Or even get the levels up to USDA recommended levels.

Yes, that's true. I'm talking about for ordinary people. Time and again, we've seen this pattern. People who have certain levels of whatever - vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, beta carotene, etc. - appear healthier than others, so everyone rushes to get supplements. Then they do more studies and find that people taking supplements actually die younger. I suspect what's really healthy is eating a variety of foods and getting outside, not any particular nutrient.

And yes, individual differences are important - I suspect more important that we ever realized. Iron being a good example. Certainly, supplements will help if you're anemic. But taking iron supplements will shorten your life if you have hemochromatosis - as about 10% of people do.

not the case with Vitamin D- get enough sunlight and the body will produce all it needs. Of course if your life consists of walking to your car in a garage, driving to work parking in a garage and then spending all days indoors that can be hard to do. I wonder if the reason that people with high Vitamin D are healthy is because the are also getting off their butts and walking outdoors to get sunlight?

But over the age of 40 we lose the majority of our ability to synthesize Vitamin D from sunlight, and dermatologists have been urging people to stay out of the sunlight. I have read that a woman is about 55 times more likely to die from breast cancer than from skin cancer.

Also, I believe that virtually every cancer, except skin cancer, increases the farther away one lives from the equator.

Incidentally, have you (or anyone else on this thread) had your Vitamin D blood level checked, using the 25(OH)D test?

I have been taking 6000iu's of D3 for over a year. First hand experience is that my health improved after several weeks of daily consumption. The largest benefit to me has been an improved energy level - fatigue is something that I had been seeking a solution for most of my adult life. Of course, living in the pacnw it is a given that my blood serum level would be low.

I have also become aware of individuals living in very sunny climes testing low as well. In any case no one can convince me that it is not beneficial to supplement with D3.

I wonder if the reason that people with high Vitamin D are healthy is because the are also getting off their butts and walking outdoors to get sunlight?

I have wondered that myself. This article appeared today - about how sitting is as bad for your health as smoking or obesity. And exercise doesn't make up for it.

The article recommends sitting for less than three hours a day. I suspect the average American is way over that, between school/work, sitting in a car, and sitting at the computer or in front of the TV.

Think about how much time a person sits from the moment they enter school, say 5 yrs old. That's a lot of sitting. My sitting has definitely decreased since I left corporate world, but not as much if I didn't have a computer/iphone. Recently drove to Maine from Texas. I'm in great shape but by the end of second day, my butt/leg hurt. How do truckers do it?

Which is why I spend a lot of time lying down.

Maybe there are countervailing forces working all the time. At least it is helpful to think that way. The medical biz has it made, as they always make you focus on nutrients you do not have,or diseases you may have - which if you think about it is a great way to be unhappy all the time.

Think instead of what you already have, If you are 'blessed' with a life that allows you to sit most of the time and shoot emails and answer the phone occasionally for a living, then you are avoiding the risks/drudgery of a coal miner, or firefighter, or grocery store clerk, or a rice planter in Asia.

Yesterday there was a question on how did they do it re Population growth in Kerala. All of India including the BIMARU states - Bimar means sick, stands for Bihar Madhya Pradesh,Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, states with high poverty, high birth rates. all have had sharply lower decennial growth rates. It is a question of whether population will stabilize in time before the water runs out, or any of the many problems that face India.

But if you view each life as a wave in the ocean of life, it does not matter - today there are 7 billion humans tomorrow 9 then 1 billion , no problem.

If you are 'blessed' with a life that allows you to sit most of the time and shoot emails and answer the phone occasionally for a living, then you are avoiding the risks/drudgery of a coal miner, or firefighter, or grocery store clerk, or a rice planter in Asia.

It's not a huge leap to email and answer phones while standing.


Millions of diabetics could die of tuberculosis

A third of the world's human population is infected with a dormant tuberculosis bacteria, primarily people living in developing countries. The bacteria presents a lifelong TB risk. Recent research out of the University of Copenhagen demonstrates that the risk of tuberculosis breaking out is four times as likely if a person also suffers from diabetes. Meanwhile, as a diabetic, a person is five times as likely to die during tuberculosis treatment. The growing number of diabetics in Asia and Africa increases the likelihood that more people will succumb to and die from tuberculosis in the future.

also 78 TB cases at Tokyo elderly care hospital: report

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government said Monday 78 patients and staff at an elderly care center had contracted tuberculosis (TB), including three people who died, a report said.

"But failure to stay on the drugs for the entire treatment period can and often does cause drug resistance."

This is why drug resistant TB has becone such a problem in parts of Africa. It's really hard to get people who have to walk miles every week to a clinic to get their meds. Even in cities, it's hard to get people to take meds reliably for six months. If they are given more than a couple of weeks' supply, often they will share it with friends, ensuring none get better.

A review of compliance to anti tuberculosis treatment and risk factors for defaulting treatment in Sub Saharan Africa

Even if they take the drug, there is a 1 in 3 chance it's fake

FDB worried over influx of fake drugs

... Mr Odame-Darkwa mentioned that the International Police Organisation (Interpol), estimates that about 30 per cent of medicines imported into Africa including Ghana are either counterfeit or substandard.

He revealed that drugs which are commonly counterfeited and imported into the continent included antibiotics, anti-malarial drugs, anti-diabetics and aphrodisiacs.

From your top link:

In a study published online Oct. 12 in the peer-reviewed journal Science Translational Medicine, researchers examined the mechanisms that govern the immune system's ability to kill or inhibit the growth of pathogens such as Myobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes tuberculosis.

The team found that T cells, which are white blood cells that play a central role in immunity, release a protein called interferon-g that triggers communication between cells and directs infected immune cells to attack the invading tuberculosis bacteria. However, this activation requires sufficient levels of vitamin D to be effective.

Researchers next tested serum taken from blood samples in healthy humans, both with and without sufficient levels of vitamin D. They found that the immune response was not triggered in the serum with lower vitamin D levels, as is found in many African Americans. But, when adequate vitamin D was added to this deficient serum, the immune response was effectively activated.

This is consistent with other studies that I have read. It appears that one's immune system is not fully functional without adequate levels of Vitamin D. As more and more bacteria become antibiotic resistant, a fully functional immune system will become ever more important.

The use of spices, herbs and complex sugars (see book - Sugars that heal) in ones choice of food should not be discounted either.


This website was written by Dr Bethan Davies from Aberystwyth University (Wales) as part of an ongoing committment to education, outreach and impact:


Helium shortage deflates Syracuse balloon sales, threatens research

There’s a national shortage of helium. Distributors have started rationing it, and the balloon people are at the bottom of the list.

Mike Storie, vice president of sales for Haun Welding Supply in Syracuse, is a helium distributor with customers throughout the Northeast. Until recently, he’d been able to make up for the shortages from his supplier by calling around and sending trucks all over the country to pick up extra where ever he could find it.

But now, there’s no extra, at any price. There’s a room at his business off Carrier Circle with close to 1,000 empty canisters that should be full of helium. Storie doesn’t expect to fill them anytime soon. And his supplier just notified him that there’s going to be another price increase of 20 percent. His prices had already gone up 50 percent over last year.

“We see no signs of it going backward,” Storie said.

No worries - through the miracle of economics, a substitute will be developed! :-)

Not for welding or medicine, but for the 1 percent or whatever that gets used for parties, hydrogen is a great and entertaining substitute. Think of the extra visits to the emergency room and burn wards a bonus to the economy.

Well, actually . . . yeah. The economists are 100% correct with this as far as balloons go. If party balloons are expensive, people will just use streamers, bunting, banners, etc. You really don't NEED party balloons and they'll be replaced if the price goes up.

The difference with oil is that WE HAVE NO GOOD REPLACEMENT. Gasoline/diesel is an amazing cheap and energy-dense substance that we haven't found a good replacement for. We have some substitutes but they all have critical problems:
-Public transportation - Not as convenient at times, generally takes longer, doesn't go everywhere, will take time to expand, etc.
-Electric vehicles - limited range, slow refuel time, expensive up-front to pay for battery
-Biofuels - Expensive, can't scale up very big, etc.
-Hydrogen - This a faux 'solution'. Hydrogen is not an energy source, there are no hydrogen wells or mines. It is energy carrier.
-Natural gas - requires pressurization, no delivery infrastructure, just a stop-gap system that will work for a few decades, etc.
-Bicycles - Will be used more but not great in rain/snow. Not easy for elderly or product transport. Slow.
-Conservation & efficiency - Just travel less and in more efficient gas/diesel vehicles.

I'm sure I'm forgetting some but that is most of our other options. We will move toward all of those solutions over time as oil prices grow. It is not easy to know which one will be more adopted than others. I suspect Conservation & efficiency will be the most adopted.

Yes. Gasoline and diesel are the best readily available solutions. They are easy to get, relatively easy to handle, and easy enough to store. They are energy dense. Further, their use in transportation is greatly encouraged with almost no alternative widely available as an installed base. In the western United States, the design of the cities, having bedroom communities separate from commercial areas, promotes their use. Anything else is second best. Only cost will displace them.

Actually during rush hours public transit via Rails not stuck in traffic like buses can be a lot faster than cars. For example I can reach major towns from my train stop in 10 minutes when it would take at least 20 minutes to drive. However the problem is when the
trains only run every hour then that could be an hour wait plus 10 minutes. This is why public transit frequency is critical. However running more trains employs more people and
often does not require much more equipment just running as if it is peak hours all the time. The other critical thing is Express service for longer distances which can generally be accommodated fairly easily by just providing sidings for Express trains to pass Locals.
The Japanese high-speed trains use passings for all stations - they do not generally have third tracks for long distances but Locals pull off on sidings at stations while the High-Speed Rail goes zooming past to more distantly spaced stations.

Cold fusion will create more helium than we can meter! lol

This pretty much says it all: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-v8aUBuXyjM

Definite Darwin Award Candidate. If only population reduction was this easy....

Norway Facing Shutdown of Oil and Gas Production

... If the lockout proceeds, about 6,500 workers would be idled and much of Norway’s oil and gas production would be offline within a few days. The Norwegian offshore industry produces about 2 million barrels per day of oil, or about 2 percent of world supplies.

Losing that much petroleum output ‘‘adds three or four dollars” to the price of a barrel of oil, “depending on how long it goes,’’ said Stuart Joyner, an analyst at Investec Securities in London.

The loss of Norwegian crude is not the only worry of international oil experts, who expect global supplies to tighten as Iranian exports are squeezed by sanctions. There were reports over the weekend of sabotage on a key pipeline in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. And local militia in Libya, protesting Saturday’s elections, blocked three export terminals responsible for half of the country’s shipments for two days last week.

Whatever the supply and price of oil, though, the far bigger impact of a Norwegian disruption could be on the natural gas market. Norway produces the equivalent of 1.8 million barrels of oil per day in natural gas, according to the industry association. That is about 3 percent of the global supply of natural gas.

I for one am not rooting for the workers. "Production" on the NCS might be barely keeping us self-sufficient in oil within a decade or so, which is why I think they should be less inclined to destroy fields with infantile strikes when their pensions, benefits and salaries are head and shoulders above the average either way.

The comments in this installment of Drumbeat was particularly depressing to read. I'm feeling a more pressing sense of urgency than usual. I'm sure it'll deflate by tomorrow, but I'd like some suggestions for concrete things I can do. Eat, drink, have a merry time and enjoy life? Will prepping be fruitful in 2012, or will a new obsession detract from the remaining good years that might be?

Eat, drink, have a merry time and enjoy life. Never let prepping get in the way of that ;-)

I'd go with a couple of cold Porters or Stouts and a comfortable chair facing the sunset. If that doesn't work try a couple more.

As they say, the future is not our's to see.

I'm a teetotaller so maybe not. Looks like the lockout ends with a settlement in the nick of time BTW.

"Will prepping be fruitful in 2012, or will a new obsession detract from the remaining good years that might be?"

I have come to a place where I wish I had never learned about peak oil, nor climate change either. As Darwinian quoted from Orlov above:

You too can escape to a rural paradise where you can learn to grow all of your own food, and perhaps go on to teach classes on how to do it. All you need is half a million dollars to get started...

All that knowledge of peak oil and climate change has done is to completely destroy what little enjoyment of life my health allows me. I'm aware of everything I need to do to prep, already possess most of skills even, and have zero of the massive amount of money required. I exist in a continual state of anxiety, knowing what's coming and unable to do a single damn thing about it because I'm on the wrong side of the 1%. I can't even eat, drink and be merry because doing so would mean not being able to pay the rent. I wish I didn't know.

This is my predicament also. I'm starting a new job and will try to save since I don't dare going into the housing market because that bubble is sure to burst before I can pay down significantly or sell it with a profit. My net worth is close to nothing with a student loan weighing me down. I hate spending money, because I associate every expenditure with the amount of physical work required to get money to pay for it. Also, even if I do prep, I will probably only survive a week more than the average Joe. If I get to a commune or whatever and work the land there we'll likely be overrun by hungry looters or thieves with military or police training. There's just no happy ending. WHENEVER I'm in a jolly context (dinner party or out with friends) my thoughts are drawn toward doom and that they're still blissfully unaware.


I personally went through your phase though not quite as bad it seems. Remember this - what if you're wrong? You only get one trip around the merry-go-round and then you have to get off. It's not worth going through life depressed because you supposedly know of some great doom that awaits us all. Everything is unfolding far slower than I thought years ago, and though I'm only 32, I can see a future where BAU survives for the rest of my life. Yeah I have guns and precious metals and I'm learning how to farm...but we also max out our 401ks, invest, have IRAs, and take vacations. Because if I'm wrong and collapse doesn't happen then it would suck to have worked all my life preparing for a bleak future that never came to fruition.

In other news, my wife and I learned how to can last year so now I am canning pickles non-stop. I did 20 jars last weekend and am harvesting about 7 cucumbers a day. By this weekend I should have enough jars to eat stored pickles daily for the next year and then some. Not that I expect to live off pickles while everyone else starves, but they do taste really good and we have fun making them. Next on the list are baby carrots. I have a huge surplus of those and need to save them before they go to seed and turn hard.

Because if I'm wrong and collapse doesn't happen then it would suck to have worked all my life preparing for a bleak future that never came to fruition.

Agreed, and I suspect very few people actually do that, at least for long. Greer has pointed out that "prepping" is usually an excuse to do what you wanted to do anyway. Not only do I think that's true, it's probably a good thing. Nobody gets out of here alive, after all; what's the point of living longer if you don't enjoy it?

Todd has been preparing for the collapse for what, 30 or 40 years? It sounds like it's something he honestly enjoys, both the activities and the community. So that's great for him. But that would be a terrible choice for someone who didn't like the rural life. Several people here have tried it and found they didn't like it, then moved back to the city where they were happy. Are they making a mistake? Maybe, but I'd say it's a bigger mistake to spend your life living somewhere you hate, doing things you don't like, preparing for something that might never happen.

Greer has pointed out that "prepping" is usually an excuse to do what you wanted to do anyway

That is a good summary. People who prep are generally the ones who even under ordinary circumstances would like outdoors, DIY and a simple life. Ordinary folks don't prep, they hoard and panic when they face a crisis.

The "preparing for collapse" label is a bit like rural folks applying "loves crowds and commuting" to urban or suburban folks.The benefits of pursuing a more self-sufficient lifestyle can be as broad as the benefits afforded to those who enjoy city life, as are the reasons for doing so. In my case:

I'm far more physically active than I was while living the urban/suburban lifestyle.

I'm more connected to a natural environment, assigning more value to it, and more protective of it.

My overall living costs are lower; I have fewer real and perceived demands on my money.

I eat better; I know where much of my food comes from and am far less prone to eat at restaurants: Healthier and cheaper.

I know most of my neighbors, who to trust, who not to, and am not spread as thin in my relationships. I have fewer names to remember. I know most of the local politicians and officials, and most of them know me and my character. I'm also inclined to work more at relationships rather than to just move on. Social capital is genuine and required for best success.

Far less noise and pollution, hence, less stress. Many folks find rural life too quiet (or too noisy when the birds sing at 6 AM ;-)

As for being more self-reliant, even for my area: Yes, it's a hobby, one I enjoy, one that pays off in many ways, and one I can pursue here with little interference. I can make choices that don't include paving huge swaths of your environment and polluting your world on the scale that those who are utterly reliant upon hyper-complex systems are. Little out-of-sight, out-of-mind at my place.

We've been successful at reducing our reliance upon coal and nuclear to only the few things that we acquire in stores and a bit of fuel, a huge thing since we consider these things as crimes against the future, crimes we all contribute to. It's very much a moral issue.

We have children and grandchildren living in what we consider far less resilient circumstances. We hold down the fort, so to speak. They know they have a place to come in the event of a major downturn.

We've developed a different world-view. I feel we've become more objective since we are less invested in the things we consider destructive. It goes to "it's hard to find fault with, or object to, things that your lifestyle depends upon", very hard to be objective.

I could go on, but it's something you get, or don't. I really don't worry about it much. As you say, it ain't for everyone, which is ok. The last thing we need here is a bunch of malcontents trying to turn rural life into sub/x-burban lifestyles with all of their superficial crap. We have enough of that already. I've watched the overall consumption of our community rise over the last few decades, as its resilience has dropped and many of the low-impact, 'appropriate technologies' are being forgotten. People have many reasons for moving to the country. If the move includes bringing in more complexity, consumption and reliance upon unsustainable external systems, go somewhere else or stay put. As Greer says, get about your business of voluntary collapse where you are now, because at least you'll have choices. The trend is very clear to a reasonable, lower-bias, uncluttered mind. Growth is in the past and most folks/communities won't handle that well.

That said, anyone who decides to make a move to a more rural life, better do it soon, and give it more time than many who have tried it and failed. There's a learning curve involved, lots of baggage to discard, and social capital to build. These steps generally aren't optional, here in the boonies. We can't pick up the phone and order a delivered pizza any time we don't feel like cooking. Tough life, I know :-/ Maybe consider a move to a town or small city as Greer and Kunstler have. Look carefully at the inputs required to maintain some level of normalcy and order. Resources will be spread very thinly, very quickly in large cities.

The "preparing for collapse" label is a bit like rural folks applying "loves crowds and commuting" to urban or suburban folks.

That was not my intent. Many of the people who decided rural life was not for them are still preparing for collapse. They're just doing it in the city. And who's to say they are wrong?

And my point was to not be preparing for collapse, at least as a primary motivation. It's sort of like the difference in " get busy not dying vs. get busy living. Look to the positive aspects of simplifying one's life, moving in a beneficial direction, rather than avoiding exposure to collapse (can't be done). The same applies to our energy and resource use. We don't need more sources of energy and resources; we need to use less and discover it's a good thing, on a personal level. We've become slaves to our stuff and our lifestyles. The benefits to developing a much lower MOL go far beyond one's exposure to collapse; Greer's voluntary poverty position.

I detest being referred to as a "consumer", while most folks don't blink an eye.

I don't really see that as being particularly peak oil related. There are a lot of BAU types who are into simplifying. And there are peak oilers who are not. I believe Stuart was one of those who tried the rural life, hated it, and moved to SF. He loves science and technology, and being on the cutting edge of same. That doesn't really go with a simple or self-sufficient life. He does think what he's doing is a smart way to prepare for peak oil, but he's also doing what he really wants to do.

I agree, and have never meant to imply that the only way to reduce one's consumption/impact is to go rural/loner. My son moved back to Seattle some time ago and, after getting over his fascination with cars, etc. (largely due to affordability and prioritization) lives an urban lifestyle in a small apartment in a city he loves, near his job; walks/bikes, etc. I certainly don't object. He's happy and has gotten beyond "needing" all of the things the MSM says he does.

While I consider Seattle and SF two of the more enlightened and sustainable cities in the US, I also realize that they also exist due to high levels of inputs that will assuredly be constrained going forward and that my son (and Stuart) will be competing for essentials with many others who may be better positioned to compete for these things, and who resist any suggestions that they need to reduce their consumption. Awareness is nonexistent among many.

Further, one can only adapt to a decline in essential services to a point, something we're seeing more of. I'll still be happy doing what I do; providing most of my own essential services, and working in a smaller community where it is possible to ensure others are available, a sense of equity exists, and difficulties tend to be shared more reasonably. It's much harder to assign "local" solutions to cities that have populations in the millions, IMO, and hard to remain happy in an environment where solutions become predicaments. How does one sufficiently simplify one's life in a highly complex environment?

As you've suggested before, one solution is to remain mobile, a solution that has its own inherent problems.

At my age, I prefer to stand my ground. If my son and daughters can make their way here, they will at least have a roof over their heads, a better chance for a good meal, a warm place to sleep, and a toilet that isn't backing up; things I consider prerequisites to happiness for most. The cities still able to offer these things may become overcrowded indeed, going forward. Nothing new there; I've seen it all over the world and I think it's a mistake to think it won't happen here. Again, just my opinion, having been to SE Asia, Somalia, pre-war Balkans (Yugoslavia), FSU, etc. Few Americans I know would be happy under the conditions that developed there. Then, again, many rural areas in these places became uninhabitable for some.

Some of us roll the dice and take our chances, though many have few choices. Too bad those that do seem to have little regard for those who aren't as enabled. If we collectively reduce our consumption and impact, participate in a voluntary, semi-controlled collapse, we may stand a chance. I don't see that happening on any scale or at a rate that avoids catastrophe in an historically short timeframe. Extreme overshoot will play out in ways we can't control, except, perhaps, on a very local level and in very simple ways. That's my assessment and I'm sticking to it. I'm in pretty good company, IMO.

Let Todd get a word in here:

The greatest influence in my life has been the Depression although I was born in 1938. As I grew I still saw the impact on the Depression on my family and relatives. My Dad's father lost his business and went from lower rich to upper poor. One of my Mom's uncles lived in her mother's basement until after the war. And so on.

I swore that I would not let myself face the same fate by buying into the system. Therefore, I have always had an eye out as to how I could maintain my lifestyle in the event things went to hell. For example, one of things I first noted when we bought our current property in 1979 was that I at least had firewood forever. And, it's one of the reasons we have a large garden and orchard (and a few grapes).

This is also the reason I "prep". It is unimportant to whether the world goes down in a week or decade (assuming I'm still here). I have always lived a survival lifestyle (except when I was in the chemical industry) so what I do is a normal part of my life rather than a separate part. Everything is just every day living.

As I have said in many posts, my aim is not to live without regard to things collapsing but rather to be able to buy time to make rational decisions. Only a fool believes they can stock up or prepare to the point that they will be "self-sufficient" forever.


'bout time you showed up,, and +10 on the firewood thing ;-)

You know the old joke, "You can have my wife, you can have my dog, but don't take away my chainsaw." But, here is where my/our realities come into play. Yea, I have 5 gas chainsaws (32" through 16"). But, I also have one electric one I can run off the PV system. And, as back-ups, I have 2 - 6' two man misery whips plus 3 - 3', one man "homesteading" saws.

And, If I can't use the gas powered hydraulic splitter, there are always the wedges and mauls - my favorite maul is the 25 pound, solid steel "monster" maul. I haven't used them for years but they are still there waiting for me if I need them.

I have the options just because that's the way I am.


A friend has an electric log splitter. Could be handy...

I also have 5 chainsaws, and given how much work they can do using very little fuel I think they are still viable technology. But the rest is by hand - no splitter. And I have begun collecting hand saws as well. I think that if I cannot even get enough fuel for the saws - and I could pay handsomely for that amount - then by that point all hell will be braking loose. Therefore I'm not investing intermediate fallback technology, just going straight to the endpoint. And learning to rely on them ahead of time (collapse now and beat the rush).

Nobody asked me:-) but I think you are both right.

G's version of rural lifestyle is very appealing to me exhibiting self-sufficiency and sustainable practices while at the same time recognizing he is not alone on this planet. We must foster relationships with those around us for not only for survival but our own happiness. There are 7 billion of us, so you gotta get used to us or be one miserable sob.

Speaking of miserable sob's. In my experience (lived just about everywhere in the US) most rural folk and exurbanites do not embrace the relationship part and can be the most impractical, impersonal, distrusting and surprisingly high strung people out there. In fact they exhibit many of the behaviors they complain about in "city folk".

"most rural folk and exurbanites do not embrace the relationship part and can be the most impractical, impersonal, distrusting and surprisingly high strung people out there."

Not in my experience. Then again, I realize that most rural folks don't take trust for granted, nor do they grant trust lightly. These things take time and many city folks lack the patience and persistence. These are things rural folks of character will test, and for good reason; a bad apple in a small community has a larger impact. Suffices to say, their club is a bit more exclusive ;-)

Your mileage may vary, depending on location...

Point well taken. Admittedly I am focusing too much on some recent and local experiences in a non-agrarian part of the pacnw.

I think the point we all make is to not generalize too much. As spring_tides mentions below, there are certainly benefits to city living, and I've lived in city neighborhoods, especially some older ones, where folks were very neighborly and personable, and there are things I miss about it. I've also lived and worked in rural areas which I have no interest in returning to. A county my sister moved to in Georgia seemed chock full of mean, backward folks who didn't trust each other, much less outsiders, probably due to its former isolation followed by rapid change, and that it had never been prosperous; fairly poor soil and few marketable resources. The cliche` "still living the Civil War" basically applied.

At this point, folks are generally better off staying where they are comfortable and adapted to unless there is strong evidence of unsustainability, etc.. If my home was on the Mexican boarder in a continuous drought area, I might look at relocating. Ditto for very low lying coastal areas, which have been quite livable in the past, until the hurricanes come or sea levels rise.

My concern for large cities is their reliance upon failing systems that are necessary for basic survival, and that the revenues won't be there to correct these things. Places like Gary, IN and Detroit are essentially abandoning parts of the city; triage, despite stories of resurgence we hear. I don't find anything about that process hopeful or attractive. There's little redundancy or resilience built in, especially these days. When things go wrong, they can go very wrong, as we've seen recently as the result of storms. Where I live, there's little to maintain, and maintenance/repair is fairly simple and straight forward. Again, it's all about the relative complexity of your local situation. Complexity is biting us in the butt and will likely have top-down effects.

"The cliche 'still living the Civil War' basically applied."

In such an area, wouldn't that be the "War of Northern Aggression"?

I've lived all over the place: cities of all sizes to rural areas, megalopolises to off the grid, in this country and others. I think I can live just about anywhere and adjust and be content. But when push comes to shove, I fear I am most comfortable in suburbia. Oh, the horrors.

I realized this when I was on a road trip and needed to buy something. I came upon a commercial area with a bunch of strip malls, and I was so happy. I knew I'd be able to find what I needed; I was on familiar ground. In cities, there's no place to park and often no obvious way to get there from here. In rural areas, there may be nothing but a feed store and a gas station. But in strip mall hell, ugly as it is, there's plenty of parking and you can find just about anything.

That was when I realized that underneath it all, I'm a true American. Alas.

That's why rural areas have Walmart; the best of all worlds ;-)

Both "sustainability" (however defined) and "peak-oil survivability" are very multi-dimensional problems, so trying to force them onto a simple "rural versus urban" axis means losing most of the relevant information.
A family living in a suburb in a well-insulated passive solar house, with PV and edible landscapes, plus services and community all within easy walking distance might score higher on both scales than a family living in a rural area with no garden, no transport except a gas-guzzling truck, no neighbors, and a poorly insulated propane-heated house. Or vice-versa.
So I certainly agree with what you wrote above. Life is uncertain, and the future only more so, so do what makes you happy, whether in a suburb, a city, or a rural retreat. For many Oil Drum people, low-consumption lifestyles fit their values and just feel good, whatever the global impact and future prospects. I like riding a bike today, and while it does save me money and make me healthier, I do it because I enjoy it and not for those other reasons. Grid-tied PV and a passive solar house make me feel good today, and maybe rapid development of fusion power will make those things irrelevant and un-economic 30 years from now. If so, I will deal with that reality if I experience it.
While I think US suburbs as currently constituted are very unsustainable, I also think they are undergoing rapid transformations and nobody can predict their configuration a few decades from now.
My family buys dilapidated buildings and rehabilitates them to rent out (we are remodeling an 80 year old Craftsman bungalow in Denver right now), so we both participating in and observing transformations in building stock around us. The neighborhood where our latest project is located(Sunnyside/Highlands) would once have been considered a "suburb" of Denver, but is densifying, gentrifying, and urbanizing. Since we are converting our project from a single family to a duplex, we are part of a suburb evolving to a different configuration. Many small "emergent" changes like this will change US land-use in ways we cannot now predict.

Ah, true confessions... As much as I enjoy Kunstler's anti-burb diatribes, I'm afraid that I would be considered a suburbanite myself. Mine is more of an inner-ring 60's era development, mostly simple ranch houses, so not really the McMansion laden exurbia that JK tends to lampoon. But it's unquestionably convenient. Everything we need is relatively close by, including our two grown kids and their families. I can and do ride my bicycle to work. Diagonally opposite the back of my house is a huge field of grass, owned by the town, called a "green space". They come in and mow it occasionally, but outside of neighborhood kids stopping by to play ball, nothing happens there. Every time I look at it I think "community garden."

A lot of us on TOD are visionary and somewhat ahead of our time, and I suspect that as things unravel, we will find ourselves being pulled into leadership roles, however reluctantly. The same people who think we're sort of "out there" now will be approaching us for direction when they realize we seem to have a better handle on what's going on than they do. Interesting times ahead...

You can find literally ANYTHING you want in Manhattan...

"In my experience (lived just about everywhere in the US) most rural folk and exurbanites do not embrace the relationship part and can be the most impractical, impersonal, distrusting and surprisingly high strung people out there."

Not in my rural area. From the time I moved here 20 years ago I've been made to feel welcome by my neighboring landowners, been offered all kinds of help and know-how, loan of tools, loan of labor, and general good will. Naturally, I reciprocated whenever and however I could.

When I was struck by a serious medical event a few years ago, people were very thoughtful and generous with their time (and their children's time - kids are great at stacking firewood!), helping me with things I couldn't do myself any more, yet have been sensitive to my dignity throughout, it seemed to me.

In short, this is surely not paradise or anything, and there are a couple of prickly characters around, but it is a community. I don't know where you've been, but this can't be the only place where such attitudes exist. Maybe you've just had bad luck.

Most of the things you mention, like knowing neighbors and local politicians, can be done in the city too. There may be noise and pollution, but I doubt rural areas are free of the latter, even if it isn't obvious. Think of the chemical drift from spraying on all those farms. And I have birds awaken me at 4.30 am in the summer, if my windows are open !

Most people view cities as if they could only see Downtown - i.e. just skyscrapers. People don't realize that cities can spread out for miles around - Chicago spreads out from downtown into areas of 2- and 3-flats and single family homes. Granted, one isn't as spread out as in rural areas, and some might feel constrained by a 37.5 x 125 foot lot, but one can grow quite a lot of food on a space like that.

When I was in high school we did aptitude surveys of what careers we'd be suited for. Mine ended up being "Market Gardening", mostly because I didn't want to work in an office and wanted to be outside most of the time. Oh, the horror. In spite of that, my aptitude for math and science took me first to pharmacy, and then to computer science, and now, finally, to market gardening - albeit part-time.

Personally, I wouldn't trade the city life for the rural life - everything I need is biking distance from my house. There is water, transportation, food, services, art and music, festivals, block parties.

If things collapse, who knows - we could let things disintegrate into dog-eat-dog, or group together as neighbors to solve problems together. That said, I doubt the skyscrapers would be much use except for salvage. Who'd want to have to live on the 18th floor with no elevator, and unable to open the windows ? I think downtowns would empty pretty rapidly, except for maybe the bottom 4 floors.

There have been a couple of studies that found bees are healthier in the city than in the country. Because in the country, they're faced with monocrops and a lot more pesticides.

And I've actually found the sense of community to be very strong in cities - especially the poorer parts of cities. You do get to know your neighbors, and they don't care if you or your family is not from around there. Even if you're just passing through, they'll help you out and not take payment. Perhaps because they depend on each other to do things suburbanites expect to pay strangers to do.

Bees in the city do well because of plant diversity. I often see them happily working the plants on the traffic medians, the parks, and of course, the garden stores. They particularly like the Anise Hyssop displays at Home Depot.

I wonder what kind of pollutant load the bees pick up in the city. Has anyone done an analysis of city honey vs. rural honey?

I've been looking for an analysis - I will post if something turns up.

City honey has been said to contain fewer pesticide residues than rural honey, due to large-scale applications of pesticides on farms. Although it is said that bees situated a mile from spraying are "safe", "drift" can cause pesticide to spread farther than the assumed area, and honey bees can forage up to 7 miles from the hive to find food, even though optimal distance is around 4 miles to prevent hive weight-loss.


That's not to say people in cities don't spray - of course, landscape companies routinely spray lawns and gardens, and so do homeowners. Conventional wisdom says that less of it turns up in the honey, since the area is so small, relatively speaking.

One thing we have to be careful of is spraying for mosquitoes (West Nile Virus). Thankfully, those sprayings are well-contained, and the sprays are supposed to be used when bees aren't flying and dissipate in sunlight, but I'd rather not see wholesale spraying at all.

EDIT: Heavy metal (Hg, Cr, Cd, and Pb) contamination in urban areas and wildlife reserves: honeybees as bioindicators.

Report finds statistically significantly higher amounts of heavy metals in urban areas, specifically Rome, Italy, but not a concern for human ingestion.

Don't worry, be happy. Everything dies eventually, what difference does it make if a bunch all dies sooner?

I think one of the worst existences is getting sucked into the debt slavery suburban drudgery predicament, it's like you're alive but not living. I think we will find that if and when things get interesting we will not have time to be depressed. I have found that I feel the most alive when I am in immediate personal danger. A few years ago I spent 3 months running around the jungles of Colombia, then onto a year and a half in Saudi Arabia, where I always felt like I needed to watch my back. When I came home I felt a big sigh of relief, but it was never as fun.

Life is also about death, maybe it doesn't bother me so much because I come from an ecology background and I have always accepted it.

Humanity will very likely die off, maybe it will trudge along in a miserable state for a while, but eventually it will sort itself out and there will probably be around a billion of us left, or less; if not, then maybe we'll go extinct. Evolution will bring forth a whole new set of life since we still have a few hundred million years left before the Sun eats us. I think maybe you should go to some eastern countries like northern India, or other Buddhist places and get into that. Get away from the western mindset for a while, there's entirely different ways of looking at life out there.

You address my concerns to some extent, but whatever is in store in the bigger picture doesn't really ease the passing of what I've come to expect. My baseline is political, cultural, ecoonomical stability and circumstances of "plenty". What happens in 100, 1000 or 100,000 years is not interesting to me.

It does matter to me if I die in 1 year or 30 years, obviously. I'm a biological device bent on perpetuating my existence. Everything I do is egotistical and myopic.

I get what you're saying about life being more real in circumstances of less comfort. I was assaulted by a group of drunk teens when walking back from the gym one recent sunday morning and thrown into a ditch. I froze when I should've run. The human brain is excellent at keeping records of unpleasant experiences like that. I need such wake-up calls to make adjustments to the life I'm leading. Somewhat analogous to our predicament with peak oil. Nothing is done until we're straying too far off course.

These issues we discuss here are no reason to be depressed. This predicament is simply the lot we've drawn, what happens to be the situation during the time we've ended up in this world. It's what you get and you make of it what you can, hopefully shining some light in the darkness. Many have endured awful circumstances, much much worse than we do.

Do you think knowledge of impending events or preparations is assurance of protection? Hardly, any more than waking up tomorrow is assured. It is good to be aware, and whatever your circumstances there is always something worthwhile you can do. Don't use it as an excuse to wallow in despair. Depression is your mind's mechanism for telling you something is wrong and you need to make a change.

Knowledge of these events has not deprived you of anything, because nothing was ever guaranteed to you anyway. You have lost nothing because you had nothing. Whatever positive you do with the knowledge is all bonus.

Try buying 1 acre or renting in a very rural area. Look at the population density of some possible places and give rural living a try. You do not need much land if you are near large tracts of wilderness. When you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to loose.

I used to live in cantonal Norway where the closest neighbour was 500m away :)
Whenever I'm staying at my parents I'm taken aback by the serenity of its eerie silence.
Lots of arable land since it's a farmer community. You get a 150-250 square metre house there for the price of a 30-40 square metre house in the city. Too bad there are few job opportunities there.

Well I am planning on mowing the grass like Forrest Gump or whatever I have to do when I make the move back to a really remote area. I have had enough of being a consumer; my new goal is to do be off grid and extract most of my living from the land. I grew up learning some homesteading type skills and have been accumulating books on the subject for years. I prefer to try an alternate lifestyle even if I am completely wrong about the coming collapse of industrial civilization.

Depressed, you can move back to a rural area if you embrace poverty. You know full well there is no retirement coming. Embrace collapse now before it is forced on you. I think you should begin to read some light military history; at least read the Art of War by Sun Tzu. Remember if there is complete collapse and roving bands of trained soldiers make it clear that to take you out will be risky. You may not need to win any fights because the vast majority of people will be soft targets. If you show the marauders that you have teeth they will know what it means to take a gunshot wound without modern medicine. Even if you are killed you get to dictate how you die; you need not die at the complete mercy of cruel men.

The time of depression is ending. I believe in ten years you will not have the time to be depressed; you will be quite busy trying to live. NOW is the time to take the steps to give yourself the best CHANCE to control your destiny as best you can in the coming years.

From BBC ... How Tepco glossed over Fukushima's vulnerability

Buried in the main body of the official report are new insights into how events unfolded and how as many as 60 local residents died as a result of the muddled response.

... the analysis by the investigating commission suggests that the original account of what went wrong may have glossed over crucial facts - and that the power station was far more vulnerable than previously admitted.

More commentary on the commentary..

The depth and dangers of particular decision remain mired in secrecy to be sure, but there is also reason to believe that NRC has professional and well-meaning personnel who often, sometimes, mostly try to do the right thing. But there are examples and examples of exactly the kind of cozy relationship between plant operators and the NRC that we saw in Japan. "Exemptions" from safety rules issued in secret, re-licensing decisions that explicitly refuse to consider safety issues, and the pervasive power and influence of corporate players all exist right here in the USA.

What should have happened right after Fukushima in America was a (long overdue) top-to-bottom review of the fundamental dynamics of nuclear regulation. Neither President Obama nor the ascendant republican Congressional majorities had any interest. So even after this nuclear disaster, America is sitting in a pre-Fukushima environment hoping that the worst won't happen. It's not as if we haven't been warned.


.. 'this calls for immediate discussion!'

Mobile-Phone Surveillance by Police Targets Millions Annually

Mobile carriers responded to a staggering 1.3 million law enforcement requests last year for subscriber information, including text messages and phone location data, according to data provided to Congress.

The number of Americans affected each year by the growing use of mobile phone data by law enforcement could reach into the tens of millions, as a single request could ensnare dozens or even hundreds of people. Law enforcement has been asking for so-called “cell tower dumps” in which carriers disclose all phone numbers that connected to a given tower during a certain period of time.

The newly released data shows that the police have realized the country has moved to an age when most Americans carry a tracking device in their pockets, leaving a bread crumb trail of their every move and electronic communication.

Herring can give us even more food

Herring is one of the most common table fish in the entire world, but large parts of the catch is being used for fish feed. "From an environmental perspective, it is better if the herring is used for food for humans," says Chalmers researcher Sofia Marmon. She has succeeded in extracting fish proteins from herring, which can be used for new foodstuffs. ... In addition to herring that is used for fishmeal production, other poorly consumed small fish species can be used, such as Anchoveta and European sprat, or the muscle-rich backbones that are left over when fish are filleted.

The herring is ground and mixed with water. An acid or base is added in order to adjust the pH value. When the pH value decreases or increases, the proteins become electrically charged and repel each other. The proteins open up and attract more water. When most of the fish’s proteins are water-soluble, they can be separated from the non-soluble unwanted parts by centrifugation. Most of the fish fat can also be removed. Once the pH value of the water solution has been readjusted so that the protein solubility is minimal, the proteins can be collected by a second centrifugation.

The structure of the muscle protein isolate that is extracted through the pH-shift process resembles a paste with quite a high water content. The consistency of the proteins is moldable and they can therefore be used as an ingredient in various products, or for developing entirely new foodstuffs.

... Mmmm, yummy.

I think I prefer my herring kippered and smoked, with a bit of hot sauce on a cracker. Yum!

I smoke my herring, but it's tough getting 'em lit...

Further proof that rising temperatures lead to more algal blooms

Researchers from Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden have shown that for the Baltic ecosystem, further global warming could lead to the development of more blue-green algal blooms amid the onset of lower oxygen conditions.

also Global warming favors proliferation of toxic cyanobacteria

Canadian nuclear technology company workers strike

About 800 nuclear scientists, engineers and technologists at a Canadian nuclear technology company hit the picket lines after negotiators failed to reach a contract before the strike deadline.

The Montreal-based engineering giant SNC-Lavalin owns Candu Energy Inc, whose reactors supply nearly 16 percent of Canada's overall electricity requirements.

According to IEA ...

Solar energy could meet one-sixth of global demand for heating and cooling in under 40 years

Solar energy could account for around one-sixth of the world’s total low-temperature heating and cooling needs by 2050, according to a roadmap launched today by the International Energy Agency (IEA). This would eliminate some 800 megatonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per year, or more than Germany’s total CO2 emissions in 2009.

Even Lower Oil Prices May Not Help Slowing Economy

... As the global slowdown pulled the demand rug from under the energy markets, the traditional stabilizing effects of oil returned to the fray. So much so that year-on-year drop in oil prices is almost a whopping 20 percent.

"The drop in oil is clearly one of the few hopes, even though everything is contingent on it being sustained and there are so many risks to that. Even then, you have to wonder whether any benefits just get swamped by relentless deleveraging," said Neil MacKinnon, economist at Russian bank VTB Capital.

... So, energy to the rescue? Well, maybe.

Long-term futures prices are certainly encouraging for policymakers trying to see through the fog. But the counterbalancing economic effects of spot prices go both ways and worries about oil supplies as much as demand come into play.

... IMF economists poring over the question are quick to point out that the world economy has adapted relatively well to the four-fold increase in oil prices in a decade but acknowledge that supply disruptions and a pervasive market fear of long-term scarcity make price spikes higher a constant threat.

In a recent article on the impact of oil prices on world growth, IMF economist Jorg Decressin said growing consumption of oil revenues in oil-exporting countries that used to recycle windfalls back into western debt markets means this buffer for western economies may be weakened -- not least because western interest rates are rock bottom now anyway.

"In the current situation, where global interest rates are low, increased global savings are of little help and oil price spikes would be even more unwelcome. The recycling of oil revenues does not work as well as before," he wrote.

What is fracking? Public awareness of shale gas extraction is low

Public awareness of fracking – the method of extracting shale gas — is low, despite high levels of coverage of the controversial process in the media, a new study has found. And while people link fracking to earthquakes and water contamination, more than half of those questioned believe shale gas extraction should be allowed in the UK.

In the March survey just 38% of respondents correctly identified shale gas as being extracted by fracking (or hydraulic fracturing) from a list of real and imaginary fossil fuels. Around the same proportion (39%) were ‘don’t knows’, and 17% believed the fossil fuel was ‘coal’ — the next most popular choice after shale.

“The results are surprising,” she said “Fracking has had a high profile in the media in recent months, but well over half of the population don't know what it is.”

People can't even change the oil on their own cars or change a flat tire these days. Why would anyone expect them to know about or understand hydraulic fracturing?

Interdisciplinary research looks at whole-farm sustainability

Begun in 2010, the Sustainable Dairy Cropping Systems research project involves researchers from several areas of expertise to examine dairy farm sustainability. It simulates a Pennsylvania dairy farm of 240 acres and 65 lactating cows, including young-stock, by growing crops on 12 acres of Penn State's Agronomy Research Farm at Rock Springs and using a computer program to model herd management.

Combining previous research conducted on a small scale into crop rotations at a farm-scale, the study takes a holistic approach to look at several components of a dairy farm. Various crops are grown for feed and energy use, yield and feed and forage quality are measured, and milk production for the farm's dairy cows is simulated with a computer model.

Don't know if anyone else is having problems but the ShareThis popup window is getting REAL annoying. It's nearly blocking login and any interaction with the home page.

Just started today. Any software upgrades? [Problem is not on my end]

Don't know if anyone else is having problems but the ShareThis popup window is getting REAL annoying.

Seraph, I don't know why you would want to allow any particular popup window but you should be able block any that you don't want to see. Since I have my browser configured to block all popups and allow very few exceptions I didn't even know there was a 'ShareThis popup' on this site... I'm sure I haven't missed much!


Not happening for me. Leanan is aware and has reported the issue.

I use FireFox and AdBlockPlus...I have been pop-up window free for quite a long time.

Same. AdBlockPlus is also available for Chrome. Anyone still using IE deserves what they get. ;-)

I've got Javascript turned on 'cause it's not my machine. In other-words, I have no adblocker. Using Firefox. I'm not having any ShareThis problem.


SuperG is on the road this week, and so not able to fully investigate what's going on, but he's disabled the Share This link for now. He says he's made no changes, so it must be something ShareThis did.

I recently went to a mall. Yes I went to a mall but the thing is I haven't been inside one for quite a long time. I forgot how utterly addictive it was. This mall was special in that it'd just been finished in the past year and the whole experience was surreal because everything inside the mall seemed to be designed for the sole purpose of keeping you there so you can part with as much money as possible. The whole place was packed whereas the city center of the ~200,000 population city was practically deserted on a Saturday.

I've recently given up coffee, alcohol and cigarettes but the mall itself seemed equally addictive. I guess this is the front line of the battle against consumption and I can see why the people with foresight are losing. There is no real 'high' for most people to reduce their consumption and no real reward. The people pushing the drug have the psychological high ground and the money to keep pushing that which keeps them in business and in profit. The only thing which will actually stop them is the literal end of growth and the contraction of the economy, the environmentalists can celebrate their 'major' victory when people walk out with cloth bags instead of plastic.

In most ways, I am still 'Captain BAU', but I have not been to a mall in years.

If every last enclosed mall closed, I wouldn't notice or care.

I make fewer and fewer trips around town...and tend to maximize the one I do take...don't like to deal with the many dangerous dim-wit drivers...don't like the mega-parking-lot at the Wal-Mo...I do get things I want in cardboard boxes from the World's largest rain forest though...

Tech revolution ends up in the toilet

Recent droughts, a growing global population and concerns about the impact of climate change on the world's water resources have led to a surge of interest in water conservation as well as efforts to "reinvent the toilet" to convert human waste into fertilizer and fuel.

... Caroma, based in Australia, invented what's known as "dual flush technology" 30 years ago. Those toilets come with two buttons-one for bowel movements, one for urine. The "heavy flush" dispenses 1.28 gallons of water, while the low-flush option uses just 0.8 gallons, making it one of the most water-efficient flushes on the market. Though not as common in the United States, dual flush toilets have been mandated in Australia and New Zealand since 1992.

... Composting and dry toilets, which typically use no water at all, are also increasingly available. Home Depot sells a waterless composting toilet for $1,299. Loowatt is a U.K.-based startup that converts waste into natural gas and fertilizer.

"Home Depot sells a waterless composting toilet for $1,299"

....or they did:

BioLet Electric Waterless Toilet DISCONTINUED

Oh... here it is.

Heading up to the camp tomorrow, where our 'waterless loos' are 5gal buckets, built into nice 3-wall wooden enclosures with a traditional seat on top.

We're gearing up to try some Humanure here in town, but we've got to get our duckies in a row for that adventure..

I've got two Caroma's in my house, work great and they have a very high MaP score!

I have a composting toilet called an "Air Head", designed for small boats but fits anywhere. Separates #1 and #2 and needs only a cupful of peat moss with each use. Works very well.

6x the price of a standard US flush toilet for 200bucks?!


Japan reactor back to full power after shutdown

Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO), operator of the Oi power plant in the nation's industrial heartland, said its Unit No. 3 had come back to full capacity early Monday after the reactor was switched on earlier this month.

the article failed to mention ...

Japan nuclear reactor resumes full operation

The utility began operating the No. 3 unit of the Oi plant at capacity after recovering from a fall in output Sunday due to the presence of jellyfish near its cooling water intake.


Swiss nuclear safety watchdog gives stations the all-clear

"The nuclear power stations can withstand an earthquake of the kind that occurs a maximum of every 10,000 years," said Georg Schwarz from the Federal Inspectorate for Nuclear Safety (IFSN) in a statement.

The Swiss parliament approved a phased exit from nuclear energy six months after what was the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

Under current plans the country's five reactors will be put out of action by 2034.

and American praised for getting Japan radiation data

TOKYO — Japanese seeking information on radiation levels in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster are turning to a volunteer group founded in the U.S. that has created a detailed and constantly updated visual database online.

Many Japanese were terrified about the health effects of radiation, especially for children, and worried whether their homes, schools and offices were safe. They were also frustrated by the lack of government or other official data on radiation. Geiger counters were selling out.

Within weeks, Bonner and his team created a handmade Geiger counter connected with a GPS feature that he calls "bGeigie," a reference to Japanese-style "bento" lunchboxes. It is attached to cars and takes a reading every five seconds, resulting in a massive store of data. There are 30 to 35 such mobile devices traversing Japan and 320 fixed devices.

Safecast made the technology and the data open, sharing the design and findings, and has now collected more than 3 million measurements across Japan. Other volunteers have developed online maps with the data.


There's a fellow in Colorado who is selling kits to assemble your own Geiger counter. I put one together a couple of weeks ago, which was a serious test of my limited soldering skill. There's also a knockoff available from someone in Europe, using the same design. I went with the 'Merikan, since he offered a much better instruction package and, it is, after all, his design. One needs to acquire a Geiger tube, but there are several types available as Soviet mil surplus, also on eBay. That's also where I found the one I chose to use. I still haven't worked out how to put it into a package, since I need to mount an LCD display, several switches and a USB board. There's a processor in the kit, which counts the pulses from the Geiger tube and runs the display, which can be programmed thru the USB port...

E. Swanson

Can you be so kind as to provide a link?

HERE's a LINK run by the fellow in Colorado. HERE's a LINK to an eBay listing for the knock off guy in Lithuania. That fellow also lists a completed kit with Geiger tube included, but what fun is that? One can search eBay's listings HERE for Geiger tubes...

E. Swanson

Marcellus brine migration likely natural, not man-made: study

A Duke University study of well water in northeastern Pennsylvania suggests that naturally occurring pathways could have allowed salts and gases from the Marcellus shale formation deep underground to migrate up into shallow drinking water aquifers.

The study found elevated levels of salinity with similar geochemistry to deep Marcellus brine in drinking water samples from three groundwater aquifers, but no direct links between the salinity and shale gas exploration in the region.

... The bad news is that the geochemical fingerprint of the salinity detected in well water from the Lock Haven, Alluvium and Catskill aquifers suggests a network of natural pathways exists in some locations, especially in valleys. These pathways allowed gases and Marcellus brine to migrate up into shallow groundwater aquifers from deeper underground shale gas deposits.

Geochemical evidence for possible natural migration of Marcellus Formation brine to shallow aquifers in Pennsylvania

... valleys are were most people live

Methane gas is not uncommon in well water in regions which have shallow gas reserves. If it is a problem, it can removed relatively easily.

Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development document on Methane Gas in Well Water

Removing Methane From Well Water

Methane will escape from the water when the pressure is released or when the water is heated. Depending on the amount of methane and pressure, some gas will often separate from the water in a pressure tank or a hot water heater. It is not uncommon to have this gas "spurt" out of household water taps. Gas will also build up in the tank and escape into water lines.

A galvanized pressure tank with an automatic air vent will allow gases to escape from the tank to the outside air. If large volumes of gas are present in the well, a vented pressure tank may not be sufficient to disperse the gas. In this case, a cistern with a spray unit and vent can be installed before the pressure tank. The spray unit helps separate dissolved gases from water, so they can be vented outside.

Course, the methane is not the problem. It's the benzene, xylene, toluene and God only knows what else in the fracking fluids.

There are no fracking fluids in the formations they are talking about. None of them have ever been fracked.

Apu - We haven't beat this dead horse in a while so a quick repeat. What our resident geologists here will tell you: it's physically impossible for those toxic frac fluids to be propagated upwards from those great depths THROUGH THE EARTH. And has been pointed out NG and saline waters have contaminated fresh water aquifers long before the first well was ever drilled in the US let alone frac'd. Finding such evidence doesn't prove anything about the dangers of frac'ng.

But there are very real potential dangers to the environment, (especially the aquifer system) from frac'ng operations. While the nasties can't migrate through to earth to the surface they can migrate up the outside of the well bores due to bad cement jobs. And well bores can rupture/corrode and allow the nasties access to the surface. This happens but is relatively rare. The vast majority of cases of the nasties getting into the environment are from improper/illegal disposal of produced frac fluids. And this risk can be greatly reduced with good regs and serious enforcement of those rules. And watching from afar this has been lacking in the NE states IMHO. In the early days Texas/La had similar problems but the regs now make it very uncommon for a repeat of those situations.

I'm still shocked over how some regs still greatly differ between Texas and those states. In Texas/La. over the years I've spent many millions getting rid of oil field brine by injecting into deep disposal wells. And how do they oil companies get rid of the oil field brines in PA? They give it to the county/state agencies that then spray it on the roads for ice control. If the Texas Rail Road Commission were to discover I had been intentionally doing the same for a long period of time not only would my company be fined and put out of business but there would be a fair chance I would get some time in state prison. Losing a lot of money and potentially going to jail is pretty good motivation to play by the rules down here. LOL. Maybe PA could subcontract some of the work to the Texas Rangers. They're pretty good at it...they are the enforcement arm of the TRRC.

How changing the definition of oil has deceived both policymakers and the public

Everyone knows that world oil production has been running between 88 and 89 million barrels per day (mbpd) this year because government, industry and media sources tell us so. As it turns out, what everyone knows is wrong.

It's wrong not because the range quoted above can't be found in official sources. It's wrong because the numbers include things which are not oil such as natural gas plant liquids and biofuels. If you strip these other things out, then world oil production has been running around 75 mbpd this year. The main thing you need to know about the worldwide rate of production of crude oil alone is that it has been stuck between 71 and 75 mbpd since 2005 (calculated on a monthly basis). And, that has already had huge negative effects on the world economy and world society through high energy prices that are partly responsible for our current economic stagnation.

Everything They’re Telling Us About Syria...is False?

Friday, we read in the New York Times and elsewhere about one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s most important supporters and allies having defected. The impression one gets is that Assad’s government is in a state of collapse— and this gives credibility to those pushing for Assad to turn over power.

But what the media are not mentioning is that Brigadier General Manaf Tlass did not defect directly from the Assad inner circle. He had already fallen into disfavor early in the uprising and lost his command in May 2011—14 months ago. If you had that additional piece of information, you would interpret the news reports in a totally different way.

When a piece of evidence that contradicts the overall impression is absent from the reportage, the reportage itself is almost worthless.

As are reports of horrific events without adequate fact-checking and follow-up.

also Why Russia Is Backing Syria

Cracks in Assad's Inner Circle?

"We look into Syria’s... armed forces, whose officer corps dominated by the minority Alewites, is showing signs of fissures with the recent defection of an Assad family friend, the son of a former defense minister, General Manaf Tlass. Dr David Lesch, the author of “The New Lion of Damascus: Bashar Al-Assad and Modern Syria” joins us. He knows the Assads and General Tlass..."

A Report From An Amnesty International Researcher Who Risked Her Life To Document Crimes Against Humanity In Syria

“Hope is for the Lazy: The Challenge of Our Dead World”

[This is an edited version of a sermon delivered July 8, 2012, at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Austin, TX. Audio is online here.]

In 2005, I preached on the ecological crisis in a sermon I titled “Hope is for the Weak: The Challenge of a Broken World.” Looking back, I realize that I had been far too upbeat and optimistic, probably trying too hard to be liked. Today I want to correct that.

Well worth the read

To borrow from James Baldwin, “Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” That line is from an essay titled “As Much Truth as One Can Bear,”

Thanks Seraph. Read it and passed it on.

30% of fish stocks overexploited: UN agency

Almost 30 percent of fish stocks monitored by the UN's food agency are overexploited, undermining the crucial role sustainable fisheries play in providing food and jobs for millions, a report said Monday.

The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2012 reveals that the sector produced a record 128 million tonnes of fish for human food - an average of 18.4 kg per person - providing more than 4.3 billion people with about 15 percent of their animal protein intake. Fisheries and aquaculture are also a source of income for 55 million people.

"Fisheries and aquaculture are making a vital contribution to global food security and economic growth. However, the sector faces an array of problems, including poor governance, weak fisheries management regimes, conflicts over the use of natural resources, the persistent use of poor fishery and aquaculture practices.

And it is further undermined by a failure to incorporate the priorities and rights of small-scale fishing communities and the injustices relating to gender discrimination and child labour."


As freak weather becomes the norm, we need to adapt

From killer heatwaves to destructive floods, the effects of global warming are becoming ever more obvious - and we ain't seen nothing yet. Our weather is not only becoming more extreme as a result of global warming, it is becoming even more extreme than climate scientists predicted.

There's that word 'adapt' again. I take it then the majority of people feel like AGW or climate change if you prefer will simply require us to adapt, nothing more. The economy changes - adapt. The cheap oil is gone - adapt.

Ok, it's the year 2019: The temperature at your house in Tennessee in late July is 123F, but the AC cost too much to run so you soak the family in an inflatible 1 foot deep childrens pool. Fuel at the local gas station is 6.55 a gallon. You are unemployed because your job has been sent overseas. Your wife is pregnant, so the healthcare for your wife is 6500 a month. You need a new education to get a job still in demand, but it will cost 110,000 and the interest rate on the student loan will be 14.2%. Your wife can't work because she's 9 months pregnant and xrays show the baby is in the wrong position for a natural birth, so you may get hit with a 165,000 dollar C section. The rent is due and with your other bills you need to come up with 15,850 immediately but you only have 68 dollars in checking with 150 in savings. Your gas tanks are empty and the credit cards are maxed out. Due to crop losses from excessive heat and drought, a 100 dollars worth of groceries in 2012 is now 385.

Go ahead, show us your 'adaptive' skills.

Alright, I take the student loan and start classes immediately. With part of the loan I pay for fuel, food, housing, insurance, medical bills and turn on the AC. I massage my wife's belly until the baby re-positions itself and just hope the umbilical cord isn't wrapped around its neck.

Very adaptive - congratulations!

Ok, it's 2023 and the student loan payments are beginning with interest compounding.

Alright, I sell a kidney, an iris, part of my liver...

I do agree with you, but I'll play devil's advocate.

If your guy in 2019 started right now, knowing that getting by would be much, much more difficult, he may be ready, or at least somewhat adaptive.

Maybe he gets new vocational training before then. Maybe they use birth control. Maybe they turn the back yard into a garden (with hand-built cover for shade and some extreme weather protection). Hell, maybe he's young enough now to join the military and make for 20 (I know everyone can't, but maybe he can -- not perfect but much more collectivist than a man against the world).

Go ahead, show us your 'adaptive' skills.

Agreed, funny how everyone conveniently forgets the other half of the equation that has been in force for the last few billion years:

Adapt..., or die.

Adaptation is not a given, and you only get one chance to fail.


Adaptation is not a given, and you only get one chance to fail.

Exactly. Just uttering a word like adaptation in a cornucopian attempt to be in denial about cliff edge issues does not an adaptation make. There is no assurance of that, only the comforting idea for those that entertain such fantasies that no matter what happens the punches of inevitability can somehow be slipped like a seasoned boxer.

"...and you only get one chance to fail."

Jerry, that's getting just a bit silly now.

Sometimes, you get a bad choice that leads to 'sudden death'.. but often enough, too, there are near misses, there are warning signs, we have storytelling that is essentially our way of teaching each other how to learn from other peoples' lessons.

Luckily, adaptation doesn't always have to be perfect, and it's errors are not only often non-fatal, but they are also instructive.

These absolute statements that folks get in the habit of using here (like on the rest of the internet) are a good example of an adaptation I would love to see us start to learn better, since I think they weaken the force of our arguments, precisely when they are trying to be so forceful.

Realistically, if things get that bad, before everybody quietly starves or sells off their body parts, they will rip Mitt Romney out of one of his multiple $12 million dollar houses and eat all his Mormon food storage and maybe him too.

The usual course of history is that the "Rich get richer" until the poor cannot stand for it any longer.

Extrapolating that the current trend of concentrating wealth in a tiny oligarchy continues in a straight line is likely just as incorrect as most other extrapolations are.
Perhaps with violence, or maybe by other means, extreme inequality is likely to reduced towards the mean eventually.

Inequality correlates very well with violence.
Which only makes sense, the destitute have nothing to lose, and no investment in society to preserve.
This serves as a limit in the march towards the New Feudalism.


Income inequality, trust and homicide in 33 countries.
Elgar FJ, Aitken N.
Department of Psychology, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, Canada. frank_elgar@carleton.ca
Theories of why income inequality correlates with violence suggest that inequality erodes social capital and trust, or inhibits investment into public services and infrastructure. Past research sensed the importance of these causal paths but few have examined them using tests of statistical mediation.
We explored links between income inequality and rates of homicide in 33 countries and then tested whether this association is mediated by an indicator of social capital (interpersonal trust) or by public spending on health and education. Survey data on trust were collected from 48 641 adults and matched to country data on per capita income, income inequality, public expenditures on health and education and rate of homicides.
Between countries, income inequality correlated with trust (r = -0.64) and homicide (r = 0.80) but not with public expenditures. Trust also correlated with homicides (r = -0.58) and partly mediated the association between income inequality and homicide, whilst public expenditures did not. Multilevel analysis showed that income inequality related to less trust after differences in per capita income and sample characteristics were taken into account.
Results were consistent with psychosocial explanations of links between income inequality and homicide; however, the causal relationship between inequality, trust and homicide remains unclear given the cross-sectional design of this study. Societies with large income differences and low levels of trust may lack the social capacity to create safe communities.

An excellent book on the far reaching benefits of equality (Bill Moyers interview with the authors):

The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger

I bought the book. But seeing as to how we are traveling rapidly in the opposite direction, I couldn't stomach reading it (too depressing).

I have quite a collection of unread books at this point - when Border's Books closed in our area, books were selling for $1 a piece at the end. I picked up a number of titles including "Storms of my Grandchildren", Tainter's "Collapse of Complex Societies", even a couple by Kunstler. Can't open 'em.

This might explain why we are experiencing groups of teens attacking pedestrians in more affluent areas of the city.

Significant Temperature Records at Stations
The heat wave in late June broke many records for both maximum temperatures ("afternoon highs") and minimum temperatures ("overnight lows"). More than 100 stations broke or tied all-time records (warmest not just for June, but for any day in its observing history), some of them more than once. The following tables present some of the more extreme record-breaking temperatures. Note: These data are preliminary. Many stations stilll report via paper and U.S. Mail, and may not be captured in this list. Until data are final, most counts of records for June 2012 are likely to be underestimates.

My bolds.

But, but.....that brilliant climatologist George Will says it's "just summer!"


As the Atlantic Ocean rises in Manhattan, George Will opined: "it's just water."


Ewww! If the ocean washes over Manhattan, it won't be "just water" anymore! You definitely wouldn't want to get any of that on you.

It's only a flesh wound
.. Monty Python - The Black Night :)

That's ok. It's just George Will.

(as in, "DesCartes thinks he thinks, therefore he thinks he is..")

Yes, but unfortunately Will is on the telly and, like the Newt, he's a blowhard and personification of a stupid person's idea of what a "smart" person should sound like.

That's ok too.

If you need to outrun not the Lion, but just one slower Brother Gazelle, it won't be hard to find them, eh?

Climate Change: ‘This Is Just the Beginning’

What is happening how was started let's say 50 years ago, then got progressively worse, storing up for later release.

It is going to release for a long time:

The June temperatures contributed to a record-warm first half of the year and the warmest 12-month period the nation has experienced since recordkeeping began in 1895. Scorching temperatures during the second half of the month led many cities to set all-time temperature records.

(NOAA 'State Of The Climate'). Doesn't it just make you want to go out and drill, baby drill, to save the nation?

Then get jiggy with graphs about all those barrels of oil you killed civilization with?

Yeah, 4.5F over average for a 6 month period of time! Meteorlogically, that's a huge discrepency.

Certainly the trend is toward increasing heat of late. But why was it so hot in the 30's?

Because it didn't rain. Precipitation keeps things cool. I consider 1936 to be an analog year for 2012. Interesting that both current weather and economics have strong similarities with the Great Depression.

It is not just precipitation, but high soil moisture. It takes a lot of energy to heat areas of high soil moisture.

Certainly the trend is toward increasing heat of late. But why was it so hot in the 30's?

Here's an answer to your question from this article: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/07/08/512596/already-topping-dust-...

Much as our current monster heat wave has been made worse by human activity (man-made global warming) so too was the Dust Bowl — but in that case it was bad agricultural practices. As NOAA’s discussion of “The Dust Bowl Drought” explains:

The drought came in three waves, 1934, 1936, and 1939-40, but some regions of the High Plains experienced drought conditions for as many as eight years. The “dust bowl” effect was caused by sustained drought conditions compounded by years of land management practices that left topsoil susceptible to the forces of the wind.

That explains the "dust bowl" but not the underlying drought. Or, if it somehow explains the drought, then it doesn't really explain why it ended. And according to the discussion a few days ago, the 20th century was abnormally wet in any case. So in the end, do we really know enough to spin narratives about year-to-year or even decade-to-decade variations?

The drought really wasn't that severe. There have been several periods since then as dry.

The big difference is better farming practices instituted as a result. And trees, look at the old dust bowl pictures and notice that there are no trees. They were all cut down to make room for max crops & fuel.

Look at pictures of the same areas today and there is a big difference, trees everywhere, on fence lines, on creek banks, on roadsides, etc.

Droughts such as the one which created the Dust Bowl occur about once or twice per century on the great plains. I personally have seen two droughts in Alberta which were as bad or worse than the Dust Bowl days.

During the first one, in the 1960's, there were still some farmers around who had been through the Dust Bowl. They said, "Yeah, it's just as dry now as it was back in the 30's, but now we know how to deal with it."

They have changed their farming practices drastically. In the 30's they farmed like they did back East. Now they practice modern dry-land farming techniques invented during the Dust Bowl, which go a long way to preserve moisture. It also helps that they have crop insurance, and the smarter farmers are doing a lot of financial hedging.

The biggest problem is that every few centuries, a drought comes along that is far, far worse than the one that created the Dust Bowl. White men haven't experienced one of those yet.

do we really know enough to spin narratives about year-to-year or even decade-to-decade variations?

It's starting to look like we do and it doesn't look good. From that same article linked in my earlier post:

Why is this bad news? Because the Earth has warmed only a bit more than 1°F since the catastrophic Dust Bowl — and we are poised to warm an astounding 9-11°F this century if we stay anywhere near our current greenhouse gas emissions path.

I think the dust was an amplifying (positive feedback) on the heat/drought. Without the poor soil practices that enabled the feedbacks to kick in the weather wouldn't have been as bad. Not an irreversible feedback, as not every year was like that, and the condition wasn't permanent, but one that could turn a moderately bad roll of the weather dice worse.

Patriot Coal files for bankruptcy protection

Reuters) - Patriot Coal Corp filed for bankruptcy on Monday, the first U.S. coal producer to seek court protection since prices began to plummet as electricity producers turned to cheaper natural gas.
The company and nearly 100 affiliates were part of the Chapter 11 filing in the U.S. bankruptcy court in Manhattan. Patriot said it had $3.57 billion of assets and $3.07 billion of debts, and has arranged for $802 million of financing to help it continue mining and shipments during the reorganization.
Coal producers' shares have plummeted as natural gas prices tumbled to the lowest in a decade this year, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed new rules that would make it nearly impossible to build coal-fired power plants.

Will Mitt Romney pick up this political football and run with it?

Does anyone here have problems with a "ShareThis" popup? This irritating popup only shows up when I'm on theoildrum and not other websites, and I can't seem to get rid of it.

Yes I am having it too. Started today. It is, however limited so far to IE. If I use Firefox there is no problem. What an annoying popup, why anyone would ever actually use it is beyond me.

I get as nervous seeing IE open unexpectedly on my machine (responding to an Email-send link, etc), as I do when any Popup Ad appears.. I shut it down fast.

Of course, I haven't migrated out of Windows yet.. yet the overall sensation is just a chronic, lower grade version of the above.

jokuhl, I've been having the exact same problem for a couple of days now. I think it was Sat. when it started and suddenly every time that dumb box popped up. Turns simple navigation on the site to beat the clock.

Yeah.. come to think of it, even the FB/Twitter links are really giving me heebie-jeebies now.

I went to some article off the DB yesterday, and there are all these familiar faces from 'Bob, this is your life!' down the sidebar.. it took a moment to register it was a facebook thing.

Perhaps it's actually good to be reminded just how tracked we are. Even blocking ads and tracking, one must wonder if within all this raging connectivity, anything can really assure the kind of insulated safety that suggests..

Linux/Firefox... Ahh!


No ads never.
Some sites I visit have fifteen trackers. All blocked.

Linux/Firefox... Ahh!

HOSTS file too ;)

robert@debian:~$ cat /etc/hosts	localhost	debian

# The following lines are desirable for IPv6 capable hosts
::1     ip6-localhost ip6-loopback
fe00::0 ip6-localnet
ff00::0 ip6-mcastprefix
ff02::1 ip6-allnodes
ff02::2 ip6-allrouters

# added sites to to block advertisements
#	click.adbrite.com	ads.adbrite.com	bid.openx.net	static.awempire.com	content.pop6.com

You can do that Windows as well.
Run Notepad as administrator and edit:

Yes it was driving me bats&8t yesterday to the point I was ready to quit TOD. Luckily it only happens on my work computer, maybe it's a sign that I need to give up TOD during working hours. It's ridiculously annoying though.

As Mine Protections Fail, Black Lung Cases Surge

It wasn't supposed to happen to coal miners in Mark McCowan's generation. It wasn't supposed to strike so early and so hard. At age 47 and just seven years after his first diagnosis, McCowan shouldn't have a chest X-ray that looks this bad.

"I'm seeing more definition in the mass," McCowan says, pausing for deep breaths as he holds the X-ray film up to the light of his living room window in Pounding Mill, Va.

"The mass is larger and more defined in the right upper lobe," he continues, clinically describing the solid streak that shows up white on the X-ray of his lungs. "If you know white is bad and black is good, I'm in a lot of trouble."...

...A joint investigation by NPR and the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) has found that McCowan is not alone. Incidence of the disease that steals the breath of coal miners doubled in the last decade, according to data analyzed by epidemiologist Scott Laney at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Tell me again, what century is this?

This is the face of the decline; pleasantries like the health of workers are for solvent empires, not insolvent ones on the path to deindustrialization. Brave New World here we come.

Seems to be more than coal companies not sticking to the rules. After years of decline, black lung began increasing again in the '90s. And it's different now. Younger people are getting it, and it's progressing faster.

I wonder if it's "peak" related. From MSNBC:

There are theories about why the disease has returned, but no definitive answers. One likely explanation: Miners are breathing a more potent mix of dust. Coal seams are surrounded by rock, much of which contains the mineral silica. When ground up, silica is more toxic to the lungs than coal dust and can cause faster-progressing disease.

With larger coal seams becoming mined out, companies are turning to thinner seams surrounded by more rock. At the same time, because of the price of coal and advances in mining equipment, it now makes more sense economically for companies to cut through large amounts of rock to get at the coal. Companies haul it all out and then separate the rock from the coal at processing plants.

“In central Appalachia, you look at what’s coming out of the mines, and it’s probably 60 percent rock on a good day,” said Rick Honaker, a University of Kentucky professor who consults for mining companies and has seen their data.

probably 60 percent rock on a good day.

Better than gold


How much water per barrel of oil before they shut 'er down?


I wonder if it's "peak" related.

I heard this same story on NPR last night and thought exactly the same thing.

I'm sure it's peak related; more aggressive systems going after less concentrated resources, disturbing more of the surrounding strata.

It seems inescapable that the Republican battle against "job-killing regulations" must reduce regulatory efficiency (Isn't that the whole point of the battle?).
Funny that regulations might kill jobs, but the lack of regulation very clearly kills human beings.


Republicans in Congress opened an offensive this week against government regulations, a drive finding favor with polluting industries, small businesses and some Democrats who are especially fearful about the economy.




NTSB findings re. Enbridge spill

This Vancouver Sun article gives a few early highlights:

I hope the NEB and the BC public take a close look at NTSB's info while considering Northern Gateway.

Battle Creek Enquirer adds a few details:

Nice quote at the end:
”Enbridge believes that at the time of the accident it met or exceeded all applicable regulator and industry standards in its operations,” the company said.

China Crude Imports Plunge To December 2011 Levels


Ah, where are those American consumers when you really need them?


It should be noted that this "plunge" is still one of the highest months in history at 5+ million barrels per day! It wasn't that long ago that China hit 5 million barrels a day for the first time ever. Now its common. My prediction is China will hit 6 million barrels per day sometime in 2013.

Researcher releases first results from nationwide bee count

A San Francisco State University biologist has released the initial results of her nationwide citizen science project to count bee populations and has found low numbers of bees in urban areas across America, adding weight to the theory that habitat loss is one of the primary reasons for sharp declines in the population of bees and other important pollinators.

also The Backyard Bee Count

and Interactive Map

Canada's PM Stephen Harper faces revolt by scientists

Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper, faces a widening revolt by the country's leading scientists against sweeping cuts to government research labs and broadly pro-industry policies.

Harper is accused of pushing through a slew of policies weakening or abolishing environmental protections – with an aim of expanding development of natural resources such as the Alberta tar sands.

His government is also accused of jeopardising Canada's scientific reputation by shutting down the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), a research station that produced critical evidence to help stop acid rain.

Andrew Weaver, a climate scientist at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, was even more pointed. "It's not about saving money. It's about imposing ideology," he said. "What's happening here is that the government has an ideological agenda to develop the Canadian economy based on the extraction of oil out of the Alberta tar sands as quickly as possible and sell it as fast as it can, come hell and high water, and eliminate any barriers that stand in their way."

Death of scientific evidence mourned on Parliament Hill

Scientists, concerned citizens hold mock funeral in Ottawa to protest federal cuts

The Death of Evidence

How Evidence Died

Democracy depends on informed opinion. Informed opinion relies on understanding all the evidence, not just that which supports a political objective or ideology. Science provides much of the best evidence, without regard to political agendas or ideology.

The only scientific evidence the Mr. Harper wants the public to know about is that which supports his political objectives and ideology. That’s not science, that’s propaganda.

The Harper government has embarked on a systematic program to impede and divert the flow of scientific information to Canadians through two major strategies. The first involves the gutting of programs and institutions whose principal mandate is the collection of scientific evidence. Examples of this include:

More pictures from the rally

ClubOrlov: Evidence and reason are moot in a psychotic society. Get over it.

So lock up your daughter
Lock up your wife
Lock up your back door
And run for your life!

[Bon Scott]

Feeding the Nation and Enriching the Environment

Launched today at the Great Yorkshire Show by U.K. Farming Minister Jim Paice today, the initial report of the Green Food Project sets out the first steps on the road to: using less energy and water in food production; increasing crop yields; introducing more innovative technology; improving conservation management; and boosting numbers of talented, entrepreneurial young people making careers in the food industry.

The project follows predictions that a sharp rise in population, obesity, and western diets over coming decades will bring unprecedented demand for food and pressure on land and water.

Green Food Project Conclusions

Final Report: The Future of Food and Farming: Challenges and choices for global sustainability

As the tide goes out, another one caught not wearing a bathing suit ...

FBI investigates Peregrine Financial

The Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed it was involved in investigating the circumstances surrounding a $200m shortfall in customer accounts discovered at a Chicago-based futures broker.

Peregrine reported holding $400m on behalf of customers in late June, but on Monday an NFA inquiry revealed only a fraction of that amount was deposited at the broker’s bank. The regulator, the National Futures Association, said it had learnt on Monday of the shortfalls in 2010 and 2011, and ordered Peregrine to stop doing further business. The NFA, a self-regulatory body, said had “reason to believe that PFG does not have sufficient assets to meet its obligations to its customers”.

After contacting US Bank on Monday, the NFA found that PFG had only $5m on deposit there, NFA said. Further, NFA found that two balances of $207m and $218m reported by PFG for February 2010 and March 2011 respectively at US Bank were false. PFG only had less than $10m for each of those months, the NFA said.

A “spot check” performed on US futures brokers’ customer accounts in the wake of the MF Global failure found all, including PFG, were in compliance, CFTC [Commodity Futures Trading Commission] said in January.

And ... It's Gone

also New York Fed Says It Knew of Barclays Libor ‘Problems’ ... and it didn't do squat.

Copper making salmon prone to predators

Minute amounts of copper from brake linings and mining operations can affect salmon to where they are easily eaten by predators, says a Washington State University researcher. Jenifer McIntyre found the metal affects salmon's sense of smell so much that they won't detect a compound that ordinarily alerts them to be still and wary.

Copper finds its way into streams and marine waters from a variety of sources, including motor vehicle brake linings, pesticides, building materials and protective boat coatings. Actual amounts will vary from undetectable in rural or forested areas to elevated in urban areas, especially when runoff from a storm washes roads of accumulated brake dust and other contaminants.

Northern Mali: A dying land

... The youths of northern Mali are falling in line into one armed organisation or another. Training camps are everywhere, no matter which side you want to join, and the atmosphere is primed for inter-communal violence.

... This is something for them to do - better than sitting in the village or following dying animals. Who wants to end up like the old men in the road carrying half dead sheep to market when you can have guns, money, cars, international connections and power? When you can be someone important and belong to a brotherhood and do everything in the name of Allah? When people are afraid of you and look at you with awe?

Even before the latest conflict, northern Mali was one of the world's toughest neighbourhoods.

Now, following the total withdrawal of the state, and the MNLA's failure to replace it with another, northern Mali has become a Mad Max world of roving armed groups, where having a gun and a gang is important for survival. Even the children are taking up arms.

also Embattled Sahel facing deadly cholera outbreak

The conflict in Mali could turn a cholera outbreak that has already killed 60 people in the Sahel this year into a serious regional epidemic, the UN children's agency said Tuesday

There was support for a Taureg state, so long as the region remained orderly - MNLA sought this, Islamists have dragged the region into chaos. Calling Ansar al-Dine (Defenders of Faith) an offshoot of al-Queda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is misleading - I've seen reports that make the jump between the two groups because there is a kin relationship between a single AQIM player and one of the Taureg leaders.

Half of all western hostages held in Africa are in northern Mali. There are comparisons to Somalia and Afghanistan but neither is correct. Lacking the coastal access Somalia has and the treacherous mountain terrain that protects Afghans, groups of fighters in northern Mali face long commutes with little to no cover. Mauritanian gunships have made cross border ventures to terminate the travels of larger groups. The presence of Libyan weapons is often discussed, but the underlying climate issues are the substrate of the trouble.

Stillborn Azawad (literally land of transhumance) won't be another Afghanistan, but it might well become a playground for drone operators, but only after some player who can afford such things musters the political will to squelch the trouble there.

A drying time, a dying time, and no power on Earth can stop it.

Nuclear Weapons Lab Underestimates Risk of Radiation Leak, Study Finds

One of the nation’s main nuclear weapons labs has sharply underestimated the amount of radiation that could leak from the facility as a result of an earthquake, according to a federal advisory panel.

The radiation could be more than four times as intense as the Los Alamos National Laboratory predicted in a safety analysis last year, according to a recent report by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

The advisory board’s findings come at a time when nuclear weapons laboratories, which are managed for the government by private contractors, are pushing for greater freedom from oversight.

Former Los Alamos Director Robert Kuckuck said in written testimony to a House committee on June 27 that “burdensome” oversight at Los Alamos means that staff have “invented ‘work-arounds’ to avoid confrontation with the overseers,” such as the advisory board. Kuckuck said he favored a legislative proposal that would downgrade the board’s power.

Clearly, these invisible toxins should be managed by the invisible hand.. oversight is best served slightly sightless..

EIA: OPEC oil output dropped slightly in June

HOUSTON--Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries saw their crude oil production drop slightly in June on lower Saudi output and the possible impact of stronger international sanctions against Iran, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Tuesday.

OPEC produced an average of about 30.54 million barrels a day of crude oil in June, a 1.2% drop from the level seen in May, the EIA said in its monthly Short Term Energy Outlook.

Scientists attribute extreme weather to man-made climate change

Researchers have for the first time attributed recent floods, droughts and heatwaves, to human-induced climate change.

Last year's record warm November in the UK – the second hottest since records began in 1659 – was at least 60 times more likely to happen because of climate change than owing to natural variations in the earth's weather systems, according to the peer-reviewed studies by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the US, and the Met Office in the UK. The devastating heatwave that blighted farmers in Texas in the US last year, destroying crop yields in another record "extreme weather event", was about 20 times more likely to have happened owing to climate change than to natural variation.

Climate scientists saw 'year of extremes' in 2011

Severe droughts, floods and heat waves rocked the world last year as greenhouse gas levels climbed, likely boosting the odds of extreme weather events, international scientists said Tuesday.

The details are contained in the annual State of the Climate in 2011 report, compiled by nearly 400 scientists from 48 countries and published in the peer-reviewed Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Presentation 2011 State of the Climate: http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cmb/bams-sotc/2011/webinar-briefing-s...

Consumer group: Elderly, vulnerable losing homes over just few hundred dollars in back taxes

Local governments can seize and sell a home if the owner falls behind on property taxes and fees. The process helps governments make ends meet at a time when low property values and the weak economy are squeezing tax revenue.

But tax debts as small as $400 can cause people to lose their homes because of arcane laws and misinformation among consumers, says John Rao, the report's author and an attorney with NCLC.

...Tax lien sales differ from most foreclosures, which happen when people fall behind on mortgage payments. In many states, homes sold because of tax debts can be sold for only the amount of back taxes owed.

That means a $200,000 home might fetch only $1,200, the report said. In the process, homeowners can lose thousands of dollars in home equity that they have built up by making monthly payments.

Our republican mayor has opted to go this route, reversing the former democrat mayor's ban against it.

The very stuff of infomercials.

No matter the drilling method, natural gas is a much-needed tool to battle global warming: study

No matter how you drill it, using natural gas as an energy source is a smart move in the battle against global climate change and a good transition step on the road toward low-carbon energy from wind, solar and nuclear power.

That is the conclusion of a new study by Cornell Professor Lawrence M. Cathles, published in the most recent edition of the peer-reviewed journal Geochemistry, Geophysics and Geosystems. Cathles, a faculty member in Cornell's Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, reviewed the most recent government and industry data on natural gas "leakage rates" during extraction, as well as recently developed climate models.

He concluded that no matter the timeframe considered, substituting natural gas energy for all coal and some oil production provides about 40 percent of the global warming benefit that a complete switch to low-carbon sources would deliver.

Russia vows to open up Arctic to energy firms

President Vladimir Putin vowed on Tuesday to conquer ever broader expanses of the Arctic for Russia's oil and natural gas giants while inviting foreign majors to take part in the development boom.

The Kremlin chief said the Arctic now represented Russia's main hope -- and that tie-ups with foreign majors were its best option for exploiting the forbidding environment fast.

"In the coming years, we have to develop the geography... and more actively reach new shelf deposits," Putin said in a live television transmission of the meeting.

"We must attract foreign capital," Putin added in reference to three major Arctic deals the state firm Rosneft signed in the past year in hope of gaining access to global markets and the technology needed to tap hard-to-reach sites.

Russian oil giants face loan liquidity squeeze-bankers

Requests by oil giants Rosneft and TNK-BP for syndicated loans with a combined total of $1.5 billion have prompted concerns among lenders as to whether enough liquidity can be raised, as many anticipate aggressively-priced deals.

The firm also signed a $2 billion deal in early December 2011, which means it has squeezed $4.16 billion out of international lenders in seven months.

"Nobody is sure what appetite there is left is out there for Rosneft, as there is a lot of overhang," a banker said.

Rising carbon dioxide in atmosphere also speeds carbon loss from forest soils: study

Elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide accelerate carbon cycling and soil carbon loss in forests, new research led by an Indiana University biologist has found.

"It's been suggested that as trees take up more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, a greater amount of carbon will go to roots and fungi to acquire nutrients, but our results show that little of this carbon accumulates in soil because the decomposition of root and fungal detritus is also increased," he said.

Carbon stored in soils, as opposed to in the wood of trees, is desirable from a management perspective in that soils are more stable over time, so carbon can be locked away for hundreds to thousands of years and not contribute to atmospheric carbon dioxide increases.

Climate change may lead to fewer but more violent thunderstorms, study says

Researchers are working to identify exactly how a changing climate will impact specific elements of weather, such as clouds, rainfall, and lightning. A Tel Aviv University researcher has predicted that for every one degree Celsius of warming, there will be approximately a 10 percent increase in lightning activity.

An increase in lightning activity will have particular impact in areas that become warmer and drier as global warming progresses, including the Mediterranean and the Southern United States, according to the 2007 United Nations report on climate change.

An increase in lightning and intense thunderstorms can have severe implications for the environment, says Prof. Price. More frequent and intense wildfires could result in parts of the US, such as the Rockies, in which many fires are started by lightning. A drier environment could also lead fires to spread more widely and quickly, making them more devastating than ever before. These fires would also release far more smoke into the air than before.

Researchers predict fewer but more intense rainstorms in other regions, a change that could result in flash-flooding, says Prof. Price. In Italy and Spain, heavier storms are already causing increased run-off to rivers and the sea, and a lack of water being retained in groundwater and lakes. The same is true in the Middle East, where small periods of intense rain are threatening already scarce water resources.

Check out the rest of the story:
More modeling madness: increased temperature ‘may’ cause more violent thunderstorms – but other studies show what they missed

Yes, you must consider the storm initiation. The one thing the Tel Aviv researchers apparently have not taken into account in their GCM’s is urban evapotranspiration increases (due to irrigation), aerosols (dust and other cloud seeding nuclei from the urban area) and the role of UHI and boundary layer surface roughness in helping thunderstorm formation. Such factors have been shown to be a powerful convection assistant: . . . It seems that when they ignore important and significant mesoscale urban factors like these in favor of broader GCM models, the Tel Aviv researchers have a clear case of modeled confirmation bias on their hands.

Russia Sends Warships to Mediterranean

... A flotilla of Russian Navy ships set sail Tuesday for the Mediterranean, where Russia maintains a small base at Tartus, Syria.

A destroyer and three landing ships left the Arctic port of Severomorsk. A second destroyer left Russia’s base at Sevastopol, Ukraine. And Interfax reported that more warships from the Baltic Fleet, based in St. Petersburg, are preparing to join the flotilla.

U.S. Dept. of Defense Non-Leathal Weapons Program

Get a glimpse of recent Department of Defense Non-Lethal Weapons presentations

also http://jnlwp.defense.gov/

The Scariest Chart in Europe Just Got Even Scarier

Official youth unemployment in Greece and Spain has crossed 51 percent. That's worse than twice the rate of the entire euro zone (22%) and more than three times worse than the already-quite-bad youth unemployment in the United States and Canada (16% and 14%, respectively).

... Ironically, after a bubble built on too much money, austerity has starved both economies of the very thing they need more of today: money. Without the promise of more euros to support banks and businesses, Spain is doomed and Greece is toast.

or somebody else from Alberta.
What with the heat related rolling blackouts in Calgary & Edmonton? Power plants off line? 30C isn't that hot.


Yeah, people in Alberta are also asking that question. Apparently we were NOT at record high levels of electricity use, it is just that 6 power plants went off line at the same time (more or less) and that was a bit too much. Some fancy verbal footwork coming from various spokespeople but mainly Albertans are in the dark. It was not too bad, as the outages did not last overly long, but if you were in traffic at the wrong time, it was a bit of a wait.


It's really a consequence of poor planning and insufficient regulation. Four big coal-fired plants went off-line simultaneously, and at the same time the wind stopped blowing so the wind generators in Southern Alberta weren't generating power, either, nor is there transmission capacity to get the power to Northern Alberta, which is where the blackouts were.

The power companies are not doing maintenance on their coal-fired plants because they are at the end of their service life and due to be decommissioned in the next few years. They don't see any reason to spend more money on them when they are going to be scrapped anyway, and they are becoming very unreliable. They are not going to build new coal-fired plants because they are worried about proposed new CO2 emission regulations.

There is a bunch of new wind-power coming on-line but as has been brought out frequently here (and just as frequently denied) wind power needs backup for periods of no wind, usually in the form of natural gas peaking units. The required number of NG peaking units haven't been built.

And the grid as a whole has insufficient transmission capacity. The lines are overloaded and running hot because they are carrying too much electricity, and when lines run hot they lose power to excessive resistance. Of course the NIMBY's are blocking the construction of new transmission lines.

It's all just bad planning, or no planning at all, and a lot of resistance to new generating facilities and power lines from people who know nothing about electricity.

It's all just bad planning, or no planning at all...

RockyMtnGuy, it is likely nothing was wrong with the planning. The fact is more contingencies occurred than what was planned for. You can plan for more contingencies, but that adds to the cost.

No, it's bad planning, combined with a reluctance to make hard decisions. The events which occurred were statistically probable if you use normal accident theory to analyze them.

Details emerge about Alberta power failure

The body that manages Alberta's power grid hit three levels of emergency alert in just 33 minutes as it grappled with a series of power plant failures that led to rolling blackouts throughout the province.

More details emerged Tuesday about the sequence of events that led to controlled outages, knocking out power for tens of thousands of people on Monday.

It was a day that would see power demand shoot up to 9,885 megawatts - a summer record in province - as Albertans turned to air conditioners to beat the heat and farmers worked irrigation systems.

Market operations director Doug Simpson said the crisis hit so quickly, with six plants shutting down during the course of the day, that AESO simply couldn't rely on voluntary power reductions.

"When you lose that many generators in that short of a time period, other action would have been required," he said.

Shortly after 1: 30 p.m., AESO declared its first level of alert and began restricting power to its interruptible service customers, largely oilsands operations.

They get lower prices in exchange for being the first to have their power cut.

Wind generation, primarily in southern Alberta, was also dropping, and bottomed out at just six megawatts during the afternoon.

In all, seven "blocks" of customers from all four quadrants were shut down in sequence. In all, more than 56,000 customers were hit by power outages of as long as half and hour. The last was lifted at 3: 48 p.m.

Andre van Dijk, the systems operations vice-president at Enmax Power said the quick shedding prevented a more dire situation that would have led to more widespread and less controlled outages.

AESO rescinded all emergency alerts at 6:48 p.m., helped by cuts to demand and wind power that recovered with 180 megawatts.

Fortis Alberta, which serves much of south and central Alberta outside metro areas, shut down power to almost 9,000 customers.

Company spokesman Jennifer MacGowan has "pre-picked breakers," based on maximum loads in their service area that have minimal customer impact.

"It's mostly oilfields that would have got impacted (Monday) from our service territory," she said.

When the oil companies got the notice, they would have fired up their backup generators and reduced their demand by a huge amount, but they can't do that instantaneously - they need a certain amount of time to do it.

U.S. drivers slow to embrace all-electric vehicles

Consumers want hybrids that combine gas with battery power, such as the Toyota Prius, or that plug in but have a backup gas tank, such as the Chevrolet Volt.

I've been watching the EV segment for a while and this definitely seems to be the trend. I had thought pure electrics would do better due to the simplicity and the money saved by not having an engine, transmission, fuel system, exhaust system, etc. could be allocated to providing the car with a big battery. And initially, the Leaf was leading. With the Leaf's lower price, you could buy a user car and a Leaf for the cost of GM VOlt. But Nissan raised the price of the Leaf by $3K after the first year and sales have significantly slowed.

I think battery prices have not dropped as fast as many anticipated. And people are a bit worried about short range and long recharge times. So for now, the PHEV model is the winner. The Volt is selling around 3X as many Leafs each month. Congrats to GM!

But things could change . . . the Smyrna, Tennessee plant to build Leafs in the USA opens this fall. If Nissan cuts the price of the Leaf by $3K, sales may pick up. A lot of people are waiting to see what Nissan does. However, the Mitsubishi-i seems to have bombed badly. It is very inexpensive (for an electric car) at $29K but it has a short range, it is pretty small, and it is pretty chintzy.

Of course, the big backdrop to all of this is the price of oil having dropped down to ~$80/barrel. With oil prices that low, lots of high MPG conventional cars being introduced, and lots of good hybrid options . . . well the electric market is struggling. I'm kinda surprised the Volt is selling as well as it is. I suspect many are buying because of tax-credit and the carpool lane sticker.

We have had a Nissan Leaf for nearly a year, and a Chevy Volt for a few months. We like both of them. The Leaf is great for all in-town driving (never had range problems). We just drove the Volt to Colorado and back to Texas, 1000 miles each way, no problems. In town, we hardly use any gas in the Volt. Even on our long trip, we would stop and fill up with gas, and it would be 3 or 4 gallons to fill it up.

It's a mystery to me why these cars aren't more popular.

But, it will only take one gasoline shortage like the 1970's and suddenly everybody is going to want an electric car.

A Gold Rush in the Abyss

Tom Dettweiler makes his living miles down. He helped find the Titanic. After that, his teams located a lost submarine heavy with gold. In all, he has cast light on dozens of vanished ships.

PROSPECTOR Tom Dettweiler’s company, Odyssey Marine Exploration, scours the seabed for valuable ores. “There’s a lot at stake,” he said.

Mr. Dettweiler has now turned from recovering lost treasures to prospecting for natural ones that litter the seabed: craggy deposits rich in gold and silver, copper and cobalt, lead and zinc. A new understanding of marine geology has led to the discovery of hundreds of these unexpected ore bodies, known as massive sulfides because of their sulfurous nature.

Peak Oil Oppositional Disorder: Neurosis or Psychosis?

The latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has grown to include 297 disorders, but it seems that there is always room for one more.

Richard Heinberg recently published an article that addresses various recent claims that Peak Oil is no longer a concern. His term for the phenomenon is “peak denial.” It sounds good, and dovetails nicely with Richard's overall theme of “peak everything.” It's a thoughtful piece that does a thorough job of exposing the surreal nature of the optimists' projections, and I have no issues with his argument. I do, however, have an issue with his terminology. First, since denial does not happen to be a nonrenewable resource with a characterizable depletion profile, its peak, should we detect one, is not particularly meaningful, because it could just as easily peak again tomorrow and then again next century.

Dmitri at his best!

'Culture of Deviance' at Enbridge, Finds US Transport Safety Board

'Corrosion' of safety culture 'throughout the Enbridge organization' led to Kalamazoo disaster.

By Andrew Nikiforuk

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has concluded that Calgary-based Enbridge "took advantage of weak regulations," tolerated a "culture of deviance" on safety and failed to detect and properly respond to the largest and costliest oil pipeline spill in U.S. history.

NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman also noted that Enbridge's poor handling of the rupture reminded her of the Keystone Cops and that the company's pipeline safety management lacked integrity.

Another NTSB board member Robert Sumalt said that the accident demonstrated a "corrosion" of the safety culture "throughout the Enbridge organization."

Peak Oil: A Dialogue with George Monbiot

Nicole Foss (Stoneleigh)

I sent George a short response to his article, by way of opening a dialogue:

What we are facing is a demand and price collapse that will render unconventional supplies uneconomic. Natural gas is leading the way over the next few years. The high cost and low EROEI are fatal flaws.

And received this reply:

If there's a collapse in demand, peak oil is not an issue, right? If there's a resurgence of demand, unconventionals become economic again. As for EROEI being a constraint, try telling that to the tar sands producers in Alberta.

With best wishes,


The debate continues. Here is my next installment:


You mention the tar sands, and they are indeed an interesting case - an arbitrage between cheap natural gas and expensive syncrude that can continue while the price disparity is maintained. They are able to make money, even though they are not producing much net energy. Unfortunately for the tar sands producers, the price disparity is set to reverse.

To be frank I think George is right when he says there is more than enough FF to fry us.

We're already sizzling aren't we?

Still it was a bit daft on his part to use the Maugeri paper to make his argument. Though maybe, he thinks that the Peak is not soon enough?

When things start burning and people start to panic, they can do some pretty silly things. Maybe George is starting to panic.

Can't say I am to comfortable about the heat myself this summer. The river near my work has slowed to a trickle, which is very unusual at any time, and we have another seven days of 5 to 7 degrees Celsius above normal temperatures forecast.

As for EROEI being a constraint, try telling that to the tar sands producers in Alberta.

And they would have nodded and said, "Oh, yes, but we're working very hard on that problem".

Rising cost of dental care worrisome

"Not enough is said about the outrageous prices in dentistry."

Perhaps it's a good time to get dental work done while we still have novocaine.