Drumbeat: July 11, 2012

In the Land of Oil, Fears of Excess Use

LONDON — One of the cooler places to hang out in Saudi Arabia is a motor racing track built among grassy dunes on the outskirts of the capital, Riyadh. Wealthy drivers, including at least one prince, race their Porsches and Lamborghinis there in front of an adoring crowd of young Saudis — some of them wearing reversed baseball caps and baggy jeans.

The twisty circuit is built to the highest specifications and managed with a big emphasis on safety. Still, it is hard not to see the track as emblematic of a Saudi and Gulf culture of lavish and ever-increasing consumption — fast cars, gargantuan shopping malls, grandiose homes — all dependent on abundant and cheap gasoline and electric power. Saudi Arabia’s oil use has nearly doubled over the last decade to 2.9 million barrels per day, about a third of what it usually produces.

Saudi oil consumption cannot go on growing this way, a few Cassandras are warning. “It’s not sustainable because domestic consumption is growing at an alarming rate. It is going to eventually eat into exports,” said Paul Stevens, an energy expert at Chatham House, a research institute in London.

Oil Gains From One-Week Low as U.S. Crude Stockpiles Drop

Oil rebounded from the lowest close in more than a week in New York on speculation declines may have been excessive amid shrinking stockpiles in the U.S., the world’s biggest crude consumer.

Futures climbed as much as 1 percent after slipping 2.4 percent yesterday. U.S. inventories fell 695,000 barrels last week, the American Petroleum Institute said after the settlement. A Department of Energy report today will probably show supplies slid 1.38 million barrels, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. China reported passenger- vehicle sales that beat analysts’ forecasts.

US trade deficit fell to $48.7 billion in May; cheaper oil lowered imports while exports rose

WASHINGTON — The U.S. trade deficit narrowed in May from April, helped by cheaper oil that lowered imports and an increase in American exports to Europe and China.

But economists cautioned that decline wasn’t enough to alter weak growth forecasts for the April-June quarter.

Cost of gasoline is starting to rise again

After dropping 75 of the previous 77 days, gas prices are ticking back up and could remain high for the remainder of the summer. NBC's Mara Schiavocampo takes a look at what's fueling the recent price surge at the pump.

Why Gas Is Getting Cheaper – and Could Hit $3 a Gallon

To anyone who drives a lot, today’s national average gasoline price of $3.38 a gallon may not sound particularly cheap. But it’s 13% less than what regular gas cost in early April. This sharp three-month drop in the price of gas is even more remarkable when you consider that gasoline prices typically stay high through the summer after they run up in the spring. But this year, they peaked in early April and have been falling every since. Why has that happened, where do gas prices go from here, and what does the trend signal about the state of the economy?

China Cuts Fuel Prices to Lowest Since 2010 as Crude Costs Slide

China, the world’s second-biggest oil consumer, reduced fuel prices for the third time since May after crude tumbled, easing costs for factories and motorists while threatening profit margins at refiners.

Has the dreaded China crash finally arrived?

This week, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao warned that the Chinese economy is facing "huge downward pressure," the bluntest message to date from Beijing about the Asian powerhouse's economic problems. China's GDP growth is still expected to clock in at a relatively impressive 7 to 8 percent in 2012, but that is considerably slower than the jaw-dropping 10 percent rate it has recorded in recent years. With exports falling and the real estate market cratering, China's government has taken steps to boost economic growth by cutting interest rates and approving new infrastructure projects. However, some analysts worry that China's "stimulus lite" policies will do little to prevent a hard fall, which would have negative consequences for the U.S. and other countries that have come to rely on China to fuel the global economy. Is China on the verge of an economic crash?

Saudi cranks up June oil output, Iran slumps

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia ramped up output to record rates in June despite a big drop in oil prices as Iranian production sank to its lowest in more than 20 years, OPEC said on Wednesday.

Riyadh said it pumped 10.1 million barrels per day (bpd) last month, up 300,000 bpd on May, according to a monthly report from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Iran keeps oil flowing to china despite freight dispute

Iran is shipping oil to its top buyer China despite a dispute over freight terms and has so far dispatched a third of the 12 million barrels due to load in the first 20 days of July, traders and shipping sources said.

The dispute over shipping costs had threatened to disrupt the flow of crude from Iran to China, one of Iran’s few remaining customers after European Union and U.S. sanctions halved Tehran’s total oil exports.

Loving that Obama Gas

I want to say thank you to the Europeans and President Obama for insuring that all of us will be warmer next winter and driving farther this year. The price of oil is collapsing.

The first sign of an oil collapse was the dropping of the euro. Oil is priced in US dollars; when the dollar goes up, oil goes down, when the dollar goes down, oil goes up. (It’s like a teeter-totter.) You can manipulate the commodity and currency markets by exploiting these relationships. Throw in some phony geopolitical crisis and use the lie of peak oil, and voila, you can control the world’s economy.

Peak Oil Guru Robert Hirsch Gives A Dire Outlook For The Future

A year and a half ago, we featured a presentation by Robert Hirsch, the author of the first major US government report on peak oil.

Peak oil is the theoretical point in time when oil production peaks and begins to fall.

He recently reiterated his argument at this year's Association for the Study of Peak Oil conference in Vienna.

Before he began his remarks, Hirsch made sure to clarify that while he still believes the world faces a liquid hydrocarbon crunch, the broader energy picture is not all that gloomy.

"Longer term, I totally believe we are going to electrify a lot of our technologies and we are going to have a better longer term future, it just won't happen quickly," he said.

The New Energy Revolution And Its Biggest Losers

While the chattering classes yammered on about American decline and peak oil, a quite different future is taking shape. A world energy revolution is underway and it will be shaping the realities of the 21st century when the Crash of 2008 and the Great Stagnation that followed only interest historians. A new age of abundance for fossil fuels is upon us. And the center of gravity of the global energy picture is shifting from the Middle East to… North America.

The shale gas-ification of oil

Everyone now knows what happened in the US’ natural-gas sector. Strong Henry Hub prices brought a costly, tricky method of gas extraction into the mainstream. Just a few years after US politicians and forecasters were fretting about dwindling reserves and firms rushed to build liquefied natural gas import terminals to capitalise on the inevitable rise in prices, hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling unleashed vast new supplies. Production costs tumbled as the drillers honed the technology. The US is now in an age of gas abundance.

IT'S TIME to stop stockpiling canned foods and ammunition, because a similar story is playing out in the oil world. From Brazil’s pre-salt deep-water play to Canada’s oil sands to the Bakken of North Dakota, peak-oil theories are being demolished, well by well, barrel by barrel.

Peak Oil: A Dialogue with George Monbiot

Note the critical paradox of unconventional supplies. That is where the cornucopian view of energy, where Monbiot now seems to have landed, breaks down.

The same argument applies to renewable power as it is currently practiced. Without affordable conventional fossil fuels, the increasingly complex alternatives cannot be developed and exploited.

We find ourselves in a world of receding horizons.

Chevron: Ready To Rally On Q2 Earnings

Chevron's earnings are being watched closely by investors. Its last quarter of 2011 showed weakness and hopefully this next quarter will show improvement. Peak oil is probably a thing of the past, natural gas prices have a long way to go before they can be viewed as being exciting again, the refining business is scaling down in OECD countries, and traditional energy companies are facing a lot of pressure from environmental groups and government agencies to bring the industry in line with new guidelines for climate and population safety. What does the future hold for Chevron?

Chesapeake Energy seeks to void order to buy energy rights

Chesapeake Energy Corp., facing suits by hundreds of mineral rights holders over canceled oil and gas lease offers, will ask appeals judges in New Orleans to reverse a $19.7 million judgment to a Texas lease owner.

State oil firms plan to boost Venezuela investments

(Reuters) - State-run oil companies plan to boost investments in Venezuela and source higher volumes of crude oil from the South American country, India's junior industry minister said on Wednesday.

CNPC overseas equity oil output up 4.6% in H1

Overseas equity oil and gas production of China National Petroleum Corp, parent of PetroChina, rose 4.6 percent year-on-year to 25.3 million metric tons of oil equivalent in the first half of this year, the company said.

CNPC's crude oil output at Iraq's Rumaila oilfield was 12.06 million tons in the January-June period, 1.93 million tons more than its target, CNPC said in an in-house newsletter seen on Wednesday.

Ecopetrol Beats Top Global Oil Companies as Rebels Loom

Ecopetrol SA is the best-performing major oil company after turning decades-old fields in areas once overrun by guerrillas into drivers of double-digit output growth. The success is putting it back on the rebels’ radar.

Kenya’s Deepwater Debut Heralds East Africa’s First Oil

Apache Corp. will drill Kenya’s first deepwater oil well next month, a prospect that could add a $70 billion crude find to the record natural-gas discoveries along East Africa’s coast.

Apache and partners including Tullow Oil Plc said the Mbawa well is likely to strike oil based on seismic data and slicks seen on the Indian Ocean’s surface. The drilling is targeting as much as 700 million barrels, a resource valued at twice Kenya’s annual economic output at today’s oil prices. With a 50 percent a stake in the well, a strike could add more than 10 percent to Houston-based Apache’s reserves.

China Wants Sea Spat Off Asean Agenda as Clinton Urges Talks

China warned nations to avoid mentioning territorial disputes with the Philippines and Vietnam at a security meeting this week, rebuffing U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s call for talks on the issue.

Clinton indicated yesterday the U.S. would raise concerns over the South China Sea during meetings in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where envoys from 26 Asia-Pacific countries and the European Union meet tomorrow. Speaking at a press conference in Hanoi with Vietnam’s Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, Clinton called competing claims in the waters a “critical issue.”

Russia Woos Syria Opposition, Annan Pushes for Power Sharing

Russia is reaching out to the Syrian opposition to keep its influence in the Middle East country after the potential exit of President Bashar al-Assad, an ally it has shielded from international censure.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met today with Abdulbaset Seida, the Syrian National Council’s new chief, after talks with Michel Kilo, another opposition leader, on July 9. Russia isn’t “clinging” to Assad and Syria should be left to decide his fate, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said yesterday on the ministry’s website.

Iran warns media against reporting impact of sanctions

Iran has warned the media against the publication of reports concerning the impact of Western sanctions, urging it to cooperate so that "the country is not hurt," local newspapers reported on Wednesday.

"Our country is not in a position to allow the media to publish (any) news or analysis which is not compatible with the regime's and national interests," said Mohammad Hosseini, the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, whose ministry oversees the Iranian print media and official news websites.

Japan Insurers Expand Cover to Boost Iran Oil Shipping Capacity

Japanese insurers are expanding their maritime coverage to allow more domestic tankers to transport Iranian crude, as Tokyo looks to keep oil flowing despite tough Western sanctions, industry sources said on Wednesday.

Sudan Crude Stuck Off Singapore Shows Trade as War Victim

More than 15 miles offshore Singapore a black-and-red hulled tanker has been stranded for about 150 days holding South Sudanese crude worth almost $60 million, a hostage of a two-decade war.

South Sudan says its northern neighbor stole the shipment on the ETC Isis and about 2 million barrels more. Sudan says it had the right to sell the oil. The feud over the cargoes, worth more than seven days of the South’s annual economic output, has entangled lawyers in London, shipowners in Cairo, buyers in Japan, dealers in the British Virgin Islands and Trafigura Beheer BV, the world’s third-biggest oil trader.

Saudi Shiites throng funeral of slain protester

Thousands of Shiite Muslims turned out for the funeral of a man killed during protests triggered by the arrest of a prominent Shiite Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia's oil-producing Eastern province, witnesses said on Wednesday.

Afghan exit will cost U.S. billions, Pentagon's No. 2 says

WASHINGTON – Moving the mountain of U.S. military gear out of Afghanistan after more than a decade of war will cost billions of dollars and prove far more difficult than last year's withdrawal from Iraq, the Pentagon's No. 2 official said Tuesday.

Obama paying utility bills? Scam victims nationwide think so

The criminals have been marching across the country, making their way from state to state, persuading victims that a special federal government assistance program -- sometimes described as a bailout authorized by President Barack Obama's administration -- is available to pay their utility bills. Victims are given bank account and routing numbers to use when paying their bills online, but only after they "register" by surrendering their Social Security numbers and other personal information.

There is no such utility payment assistance program. But electricity users seem to be falling for the ruse everywhere, making it in one of the more successful scams in recent times. Last week, 2,000 people were tricked in Tampa the local utility company, TECO Energy Inc., told msnbc.com. There were more victims in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and across New England. Utility firms in Utah and Californiareported similar scam epidemics earlier this year. And at least 10,000 people fell for the scam in New Jersey in recent weeks, Public Service Electric & Gas told msnbc.com.

U.S.: 47th in freedom, 1st in cheese production

We're billed as the land of the free, but we're actually 47th in press freedom according to Reporters Without Borders, behind Botswana and El Salvador. We're 10th in economic freedom, according to the Heritage Foundation — not bad, but not quite on the level of Canada or Mauritius.

...So what do we lead the world in?

...Roads. Our highways and byways sport some potholes, but we still have a lot more miles paved than any other country. Good thing, because we also own the most cars.

Editorial: To cut power outages, bury key electric lines

Some countries bury most or all of the lines that distribute power to homes and businesses. Germany is one, and its power grid is remarkably reliable.

Big U.S. cities long ago buried their downtown wires, and many parts of the country require new housing developments to bury electric lines. But whenever the idea of burying existing lines comes up — and it usually comes up after every big storm-related power outage — utilities and public service commissions argue that it's too expensive.

Opposing view: 'Undergrounding' power lines is no cure-all

Underground systems can be damaged by flooding and lightning strikes. Moreover, finding and repairing underground damage is costly and time-consuming. And experience has shown that during a major outage, such as the recent super derecho storm, the entire utility system is affected, not just the overhead system.

In addition, every underground system is connected somewhere to an above-ground resource, such as feeder lines and substations. It has been suggested that burying some "critical" above-ground equipment could reduce the number and duration of outages. But such "hardening" efforts likely would remain no match for major storms.

Can fracking contaminate drinking water?

The salt of the Earth may hint at trouble for the fracking industry's safety claims, according to a new geological study – although other researchers disagree.

Hydraulic fracturing uses pressurised fluid to crack open deep shale rocks to release the methane trapped within them. Geologists say this potentially harmful fluid is unlikely to percolate up through a few kilometres of rock to reach the shallow aquifers that supply drinking water – but Avner Vengosh of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, thinks the methane itself could do so. The gas would be an explosion risk.

Alaska: Groups Sue Over Drilling in Arctic Ocean

Ten environmental advocacy groups filed suit in federal court in Alaska on Tuesday to try to force Shell and the Interior Department to take additional steps to protect the Arctic Ocean from the dangers of an oil spill.

BP abandons plan to develop Alaska field

BP PLC has decided not to proceed with a groundbreaking $1.5-billion (U.S.) offshore oil project in Alaska after concluding it would be too expensive.

Sometimes Fiscal Urgency Tops Desire to be ‘Nuclear Free,’ Cities Find

In December 1983, the City Council passed the Takoma Park Nuclear Free Zone Act, prohibiting the development, storage or transportation of nuclear weapons within city limits. The measure also outlawed city investments and public contracts with corporations connected to the nuclear weapons industry.

So, it came as a shock last month when the mayor and Council approved a waiver to the ordinance to allow the local library to keep a five-computer desktop system operating on computers made by Hewlett-Packard, a Silicon Valley company that has worked on the country’s nuclear weapons programs. Other waivers have been granted in the past, but this was the first that defied the recommendations of the group established to supervise adherence to the act. The action left some questioning whether the city was straying from its values.

E15 Fuel Reaches the Masses (at One Station)

More than 18 months after the Environmental Protection Agency first approved the idea, a gas station west of Kansas City has begun selling E15, a fuel blend that is 15 percent ethanol instead of the 10 percent blend that is now standard in most of the country.

The Phillips 66 brand station on Route 10 in Lawrence, Kan., uses “blender pumps” that allow the customer to choose a gasoline-ethanol mix that is 10 percent, 15 percent, 30 percent or 85 percent ethanol. Technically, the 15 percent blend was already available to drivers of “flex fuel” cars that can burn mixtures of up to 85 percent, but that is a tiny slice of the automotive fleet. The Kansas station is the first to offer E15 for regular cars.

NYC mayor challenges apartment builders to think smaller

NEW YORK -- Could apartments in New York City get any smaller? Mayor Michael Bloomberg hopes so.

On Monday he announced a competition for architects to submit designs for apartments measuring just 275 to 300 square feet (25.5 to 28 square meters) to address the shortage of homes suitable and affordable for the city's growing population of one- and two-person households.

Do the Suburbs Make You Selfish?

While Glaeser’s argument here remains speculative, it’s in line with a great deal of recent research that suggests wealth (and the attendant ability to segregate oneself from the poor) may make people more selfish and less empathetic. In a cover story in the latest issue of New York magazine, Lisa Miller uses this research to present a compelling case that “Money Can Make You Mean.”

Keeping farm in family requires strategy

According to the Department of Agriculture, family farms account for about 98% of all farms in the USA and for 85% of the nation's total agricultural output. About 70% of the nation's farmland will change hands in the next two decades, and recent surveys show that about 89% of farmers don't have a farm-transfer plan, according to the USDA.

If farm families fail to plan for succession, the farm is more likely to go out of business, be absorbed by larger farms or be converted to non-farm uses, according to the agency.

The Chain Saw Circle: Women of the Woodlands

Women who own woodlands constitute a fast-growing demographic, according to the federal Department of Agriculture, which is allocating funds to the Oregon extension service to develop WOW networks nationwide.

Through workshops and other gatherings, WOWnet seeks to connect mentors with women seeking information on a range of topics, from estate planning to tree identification to tractor safety, and to forge friendships among women who share the same challenges. “WOW saved us,” Kathryn Kemp said.

Could China's one-child policy change?

When the one-child rule was first introduced in 1979, China's leaders were reacting to an unprecedented population boom - from 540 million to 960 million people in just under 30 years. And this was happening while China was one of the poorest countries in the world, with little prospect of economic growth. With certain exceptions, the policy was meant to restrict married, urban couples to having only one child. Officials sometimes resorted to extreme measures to implement the rules.

But do they make sense any more? Leaving aside the immoral practice of forced abortions, China is facing a demographic disaster.

A Gold Rush in the Abyss

A new understanding of marine geology has led to the discovery of hundreds of deposits rich in gold, silver and copper in volcanic zones across the seabed.

Africa: Facing the challenge on climate-smart agriculture

With climate change and climate variability, producing enough food for the projected global population of 9 billion people in 2050 must be done in ways that are climate smart: That increase the overall efficiency, resilience, the adaptive capacity and the mitigation potential of the agricultural production systems.

Farmer says Arkansas drought turns cattle ranch into 'desert'

ATKINS, Ark. — Drought now covers more than half of the lower 48 states but few have it as rough as Arkansas, where the entire state is listed as suffering from lower than average precipitation.

"It's just devastating," cattle rancher Karen Haralson told NBC News. Having never seen her land this barren, she compares her ranch to "a desert."

2011 was hottest year in US since 1895

Last year in the continental United States has been recorded as the country's hottest year since 1895, government scientists have said.

According to the BBC, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said that the US had broken its record for the hottest six months.

Agency's weather experts said that climate changes were playing a major role in the changes in the temperatures.

Texas drought, British heat linked to climate change

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Climate change increased the odds for the kind of extreme weather that prevailed in 2011, a year that saw severe drought in Texas, unusual heat in England and was one of the 15 warmest years on record, scientists reported on Tuesday.

Overall, 2011 was a year of extreme events - from historic droughts in East Africa, northern Mexico and the southern United States to an above-average cyclone season in the North Atlantic and the end of Australia's wettest two-year period ever, scientists from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the United Kingdom's Met Office said.

In the 22nd annual "State of the Climate" report, experts also found the Arctic was warming about twice as fast as the rest of the planet, on average, with Arctic sea ice shrinking to its second-smallest recorded size.

England flood risk to rise fourfold by 2035-report

LONDON (Reuters) - The risk of flooding for many English homes and businesses could increase fourfold by 2035 if more action to deal with the impact of climate change is not taken, government advisers said on Wednesday.

As severe floods continue to batter parts of Britain after the wettest June since records began, around one in seven homes and businesses face some kind of flood risk, the climate advisers said.

Ouch! A rather harsh report on the Enbridge Kalamazoo Dilbit spill

Rachel Maddow did a piece on this last night: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/vp/48143060#48143060

'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

Slash spending and raise taxes: The medicine for Spain shall be our medicine in the U.S.


Shared sacrifice: Take significant pain soon, or take much greater pain later.

American politicians: break out of the Matrix!

MIC, Non-MIC, everyone into the pool...do less...with less. Live within the resource means.


I attended the opening session of a sustainability conference at the local university on Monday. Amory Lovins presented his version of the future, claiming that by 2050, the US could be almost completely off fossil fuels. That is, no coal, or oil and little natural gas. He thinks electric cars will be the solution and that the electricity can be provided by a mix of renewables and major conservation efforts. He gave a lovely slide show to a rather large crowd of academics, who appeared quite receptive to the idea.

Of course, getting there is the problem. If we pass thru a situation similar to that of Spain or Greece, there may not be a US by 2050. With our mix of educated liberaltree huggers pitted against the Randian-Libertarian-Tea Party-Fundamentalist Repugs, the prospect for such massive change doesn't look good...

E. Swanson

I wonder how Mr Lovins proposes to deal with asphalt prices which have already quadrupled to date in the future to do the endless repaving required for the six lane highways for all his electric cars? As oil prices rise, the cost of asphalt will also rise concommitantly.
Electric cars can run cleaner than ICE cars but still require substitute electrical power when the electricity grid is already strained on the order of a small house per car. How does Mr Lovins propose to deal with that issue? More coal? Billion dollar nukes which take years to build?
The big question is WHY continue to sustain Auto Addiction?
Why not run Green Transit now and get on with it?
The biggest oil/energy conservation the US could do is to get off of Auto Addiction.
In case the affluent Mr. Lovins has not heard yet, Peak Cars was already reached in 2006 and electric car sales are in the tank except for a shrinking small group of affluent car buyers subsidized by $7500 courtesy of US taxpayers.
Auto Addiction is over just like the heyday of the Airline industry.
Grow up and deal with it Mr. Lovins!

I agree. Electric cars are not the solution. Auto addiction is coming to an end, and the younger generation is not even bothering to get driver's licenses. There's no point.

Electric rail, and if passenger volumes are low, electric buses, bicycles, and walking are the solution. Many people think they are going to continue to be able to drive everywhere they want. That's not going to happen.

Electric cars are certainly not THE solution. They are part of a solution. I fully agree that Electric rail, electric buses (especially wired systems on regular routes), bicycles, electric bicycles, NEVs, and walking are also parts of a solution.

I think electric cars rank somewhat below bicycling and walking as solutions to the peak oil problem. Just a personal opinion.

Is there a solution? We as a species are in massive overshoot. A die back is inevitable and it isn't going to be much fun. The best we can hope for is a controlled "power down" with higher death rates and lower birth rates. I can't think of any country or government thinking in these terms.

China, of course the way they are trying to implement lower birth rates, is in a typical bureaucratic style which may work in the end, but mistreats millions.

Plauge would probably be the best scenario in the long run, as it would not be completely even but much more even accross all soci/economic levels.

Geeze! You are saying they should find some way to start a plague that would wipe out a large percentage of the population? And this would be preferable to their one child policy? My God, words fail me. In my entire lifetime I have never heard a more absurd proposition.

Ron P.

It's kind of the Adolf Hitler approach to population reduction. I think we're beginning to attract some sociopaths to this web site.

No kidding! How overt such an action would be. At least climate change, pollution, and destruction of the environment are discrete and untraceable... well... except when a name does get put to it, like the Heartland Institute, or the Enbridge pipeline rupture: "We're going home", or tiny, unknown little things like Ontario Minamata disease.


I was thinking of less draconian solutions to the population, like giving away free condoms and birth control pills in countries with high population growth rates. Education for women has also been shown to be highly effective in reducing birth rates.

This of course doesn't appeal to the US religious right. They would prefer to give them guns and bombs so they can kill each other off (although that is not the stated objective). Unfortunately they are prone to using them on Americans as well as each other.

A deadly epidemic tends to kill people indiscriminately including a significant portion of workers. The disruption to the workforce makes the economic situation worse than reducing the birthrate or terminating the elderly early. China's approach is as good as it gets for population control.

I have very rarely seen a "THE" solution. I find that there are usually a variety of solutions given the various circumstances under which we all live. I find I end up directing my energies to foreseeing problems, asking questions and then attempt to identify solutions. How are our farmers going to get their chickens, eggs, veggies and fruits to market in the age of dwindling fossil fuels? Walking? Bicycling?, Electric Vehicles (electrified pickups)? By bus? If they have a problem in getting their food to market, I have a problem in getting enough food to eat. How do I supplement my diet? How do I grow my own food? How do I preserve it?

How are ranchers going to get their cattle, herds, etc. to market? We may see cattle drives to rail heads. How are the ranchers going to cross over other ranchers' land to these rail heads especially if there are no major roads to those rail heads? Will we establish Chisholm Trails?

In a city, I can see walking, mass transit, and maybe bicycles (electrified or not). I've ridden my bike to work when I was younger but the wife did not like the idea of being a widow with young kids to raise. Now I'm looking at biking again now that there are trails and protected bike lanes in our area. How do we make biking safer?

If it takes 7 barrels of oil to make a set of car tires, how will we make tires in the future? Will our bikes have a rubber band around the rim with shocks to take up the impact of the bumps? Will we make tires out of trees? Do we have enough trees to heat our homes in winter, build houses in the spring, and create furniture for those houses? How will we (I and my family) stay warm in the winter if there are not enough trees or too many have been cut down?

We should not disregard technological advances. A recent article mentioned that Korean scientists had found a non oxidizing electrolyte for a Lithium Air battery with the promise of 10 times the energy density of today's moderately powerful Lithium Ion batteries. It's a long way from the lab, to actual production of a worthwhile product but progress is being made.

How will we recharge that type of battery if and when it comes to market? Will we have enough resources to do so? What will we likely need? Can we get our photovoltaics up to 50% efficiency at a cost of a $1 a watt?

Lots of challenges going forward. Good luck to you all.

How will the farmers operate? Pretty much as they are with diesel tractors and trucks. It will be more expensive though. But if we electrify lots of light-duty transport, that frees up oil for applications that are harder to electrify like long haul trucking.

If it takes 7 barrels of oil to make a set of car tires

This cannot be true. It doesn't cost $700 for a new set of tires.

You don't electrify long-haul trucking, you switch long-haul carriage to the railroads, and then electrify the railroads. It's a much cheaper, much more efficient solution.

The major problem I have with Lovins promotion of various flavors of electric car as THE cornucopian solution is not that battery-powered or hybrid electric vehicles have NO role to play in a Green Transition to preserve a reasonable quality of life. It is that this idea is instantly seized upon by all the powerful interests and deeply ingrained US Auto Addiction complex to put off the biggest payback Green Transit solutions of Rail, shuttles, bicycling, walkable communities. We have already seen how even the babysteps of the Obama Administration have been eviscerated by the Koch Bros funded Teabag Republicans - the House Republicans originally proposed slashing ALL rail, lightrail, bus, bicycling and walkable funding in favor of roads,roads,roads until their constituents fought back.
The Teabag Republicans killed the revival of ordinary Rail service from Cincinnati to Cleveland across Ohio which was scheduled to have started by now, the high-speed Rail from Orlando to Tampa with lightrail connections in both cities, the ARC NYC tunnel project in New Jersey, a modest extension of Rail service in Wisconsin.
The vested interests backing Auto Addiction are huge - the Oil companies, Auto companies recently bailed out with billions of our tax dollars, Auto company suppliers, highway pavers, Sprawl developers who crashed the economy, the Corporate media which receives about 20% of its advertising from the above.
I had never realized until reading "Cars and Capitalism - the path to disaster" that the
Auto Lobby conspiracy which pretty much successfully destroyed the trolley systems all across the USA actually was started by Alfred Sloan of GM back in the 20's in alliance with
the rubber companies, oil companies etc. Furthermore GM and the Auto Addiction lobby also brainwashed a couple generations of urban planners by funding Auto-centric "Urban Planning"
schools in many Universities. See Robert Moses for the NYC area.
Just like the cornucopian tales spun about shale oil and fracking gas, so straws like electric cars to solve all the problems of Auto Addiction without really changing anything or forcing any existing commercial interests to adapt to reality are grasped and promoted even by Environmentalists like Lovins who should know better.
AND it is utter folly to pay $7.5 billion to subsidize electric cars for the affluent when
poor people in my own state are having existing bus service slashed that allows them to even get to work saving a pittance of $1.5 Million. As opposed to the $17.7 Million wasted to slightly improve ONE entrance Ramp for a county road 2 miles from my house.

I agree that electric cars are not THE solution, and I like your idea better than that of Lovins (the electric car part, the energy efficiency part makes sense to me), it does seem to me that electric cars could be a part of the solution along with the ideas you propose. It will depend on the price of the cars, the price of electricity and the availability of public transport and roads. Transport can work without asphalt, it is slower, less comfortable, and sometimes impossible in the rain. I di some travelling in West Africa in 1982 and there were very few paved roads, not great when it was very rainy.


In his latest book, Reinventing Fire, Lovins presents his case for all to see. There's much more than just electric cars in his scenario for the future, such as major changes in the way we build and operate structures. Don't forget that Lovins was an early advocate for compact florescent lights, which are now in wide use, and he promoted "hyper cars", similar to those which are soon to be built by VW. I do agree that there are going to be many bumps in the road to his future world, the most important being: who will be able to pay for all his high tech stuff?..

E. Swanson

VW has long talked about that high MPG vehicle but they never have solid plans to build it. The actual direct Lovins' spin-off Bright Automotive went bankrupt. He is a great evangelist. However, he talks about a lot of pie-in-the-sky stuff that just isn't practical for most. Some of it will eventually be practical but I worry that he gets too far out there and that ends up back-firing. Green energy & EVs have taken quite the hit lately with the fairly large number of efforts that got government support but are now bankrupt or near bankrupt. :-( Everyone knows Solyndra but there is fairly long list of other ones.

VW has long talked about that high MPG vehicle but they never have solid plans to build it.

A Ford ad playing locally has a 1-2 second visual that has a vocal about the future of Ford and a visual of 100 MPG in the last part of the vocal.

100MPG with a hydrocarbon fuel cell bicycle, sure.

As an aside, the tdi uses about 2gal per 24hrs to keep the fridge on. Not too bad.

Saw this in an Amazon review for an inverter. Is this total BS or could it be that fuel efficient idling?

Turnbull, small diesel engines are that efficient. A TDI engine has about 120hp, so running a fridge is no load for that engine. If you were powering your entire home, you would go through about 1 gallon per hour. If the TDI were connected to a generator, the alternator would melt trying to power a home. Look up Lister Diesel engines, they are single cylinder engines that run for an hour producing power for about a quart of diesel. Another thing to look at is that diesel engines are about 50% efficient, meaning they can extract about 50% of the energy available in a gallon of diesel. ICE cars are about 22% efficient, the rest is wasted as heat.

Slow-Turning 5 kW Yanmar Diesel Generator

.25 gallon/Hr is the average I have seen. That makes this guys claim of .083 gal/Hr quite suspicious.

Edit: I'm thinking I made an incorrect assumption that he ran it continually.

My (full-sized) refrigerator averages about 70watts, or 1.67KWhours. Now human metabolism is allegedly about 100watts, and a human cosumes much less than the equivalent of a gal of petrol in food. So the gas tank to fridge efficiency is very low. Now the TDI probably consumes roughly a gallon per hour at highway speed, so we only have to get down to about a twelth of that for idle. Idle RMS are usually a small fraction (maybe a fith to a tenth) of under load RPMs, so I find it believable.
Obviously using the TDI to run a refrigerator is an inefficient use of fuel....

I wrote off Lovins years ago when I found out his institute is located WAY out in the boonies of CO where you can only get to it by car. There is nothing the least bit "sustainable" about commuting 50 miles up the side of a mountain every day. Ridiculous.

But that's nothing, last night PBS Newshour ran a puff piece about Kurzweil and his mythic "singularity".

Ray Kurzweil on Melding of Man and Machine

More than one person sat in front of the camera and expressed genuine consternation that they had not been born a decade or two later because, darn it, they will probably die just before that supreme, magical instant when machine intelligence suddenly solves all our problems and humans achieve immortality.

I nearly fell out of my chair when Kurzweil shook his head and lamented that the real problem with explaining technological heaven on earth is that people just don't understand exponential growth!

Fortunately my, um, faith in mankind was restored later that night when a local station ran "The China Syndrome".


Kurzweil is certainly a smart guy and has made many great contributions. But he has gone off his rocker with this singularity stuff.

Things can follow an exponential curve until they stop. And they generally do stop when some sort of limits are reached. And that does apply to technology as well . . . transportation technology followed a really cool exponential trajectory for a while and then it stopped. We should be on spaceships zipping around right now if it kept following such a trajectory. But eventually the costs and energy required became too high.

Machine intelligence certainly has room to grow but things are not certain. Building 3D chips is difficult and the heat dissipation issues are big. Moore's "law" ends eventually.

Lovins . . . yeah, it is nice aspirational stuff. But the costs of doing these things are never as low as he thinks they are.

That's right. I'm reminded that any model is only as good as the assumptions that went into building it. Sure, no problem, if one assumes there are no limits then it's trivial to model an exponential curve going to infinity and beyond. No particular genius required for that mental exercise.

Maybe the best part was when Craig Ventor was asked about it. He grinned and replied "You want immortality? Do something useful in your lifetime!"

Edit: Link to actual puff piece with transcript is here:


How about something a lot easier than flying in a spaceship- like flying a commercial airliner faster than the speed of sound. Although flying on the Concorde was limited to a few it is still noteworthy that the current generation will not be able to do what their preceding generation was able to do. So much so for technology only moving in one direction.

Yes. This article is over ten years old now, but it's still accurate.

Tainter's The Collapse of Complex Societies is all about why technology is not a one-way road to constant improvement.

It occured to me the other day I belong to the same generation as my grandfather.

From birth to when my mom begun going to school he saw the introduction of the floor (yes), electricity, indoor water, phone, radio, tv and the car.

I on the other hand saw the digital camera, the personal computer, internet, the cellphone and the DVD.

It apears to me most great consumer stuff that came in my age was the information techs.

Kurzweil developed one heck of a keyboard synthesizer, the k2000 was a groundbreaker with an incredible set of soundmaking algorithms(sorry, since I play keyboard this is how I mainly know his name.

At age 17, Kurzweil made an appearance on the television show "I've Got a Secret" performing on piano a piece of music composed by an electromechanical relay computer he had built in 1965. In high school he had written a program that analyzed the works of classical composers, and then synthesized songs in similar styles.


Kurzweil worked on optical character recognition, OCR. This allowed computers to acquire text. He worked on the text-to-speech problem: converting written words to vocalizations. Combining these, he manufactured the Kurzweil Reading Machine. This is from where I know of him, having worked in the speech synthesis field.

Machines have already made inroads towards transcending human intelligence*. Fly intelligence has presented a more robust problem**.

Creativity is an easy target. The genetic algorithm can come up with solutions you wouldn't dream of in one million years. Humor is an error-exit out of the creative process within the context of cultural norms and relational expectations... easy enough. Narcissism might become the last bastion of human uniqueness... though it could be simulated. Humans just aren't all that extra much. Check out the story of Lucy. http://www.radiolab.org/2010/feb/19/lucy/ Image: http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_kywr8fDTdw1qz7e7fo1_500.png

The human brain is a cost-reduced little nightmare. It consumes 25% of all you eat. It has to fit through a given radius at birth. It has the same layout as a sheep's brain. Brain: http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/course/zo250/Lab9b.gif Brain: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41CfjefCfQL._SL500_AA300_.jpg Something had to give in order to get more functionality within the same constraints. The safety and stability of neocortical symmetry and cross-checking were sacrificed.

The exponential that is referred to is the exponential rise in information***. When the point is reached that enough information exits that it becomes self-extracting, what happens?

*Chess, integrated circuit layout, adaptive algorithmic problem solving

** Zipping around in 3-space using visual clues.

*** Data, Knowledge, Technique, Embodiment

The human brain is a cost-reduced little nightmare. It consumes 25% of all you eat

Yes it is. I think when our species was evolving our brain was more of a liability than anything else. Look at human babies, they can't even walk till they are one year old and utterly helpless till two or three. Our brains are the biggest evolutionary gamble mother nature ever made and it has paid off rather handsomely.

The Singularity fascinates me, not as a destination, but as a thought experiment. I think most everyone here gets that long, energy dependent supply chains are going to fray and then snap fairly soon. We'll be crutching old equipment if we can get it at all. If we have any great advance we're going to do it the way mystics have since we first developed the ability for symbolic thought - prayer, meditation, diet restrictions, and other disciplines.

Even so, the philosophical and creative space made available by the concept of the Singularity has been a rich ground for exploration. Kurzweil preaches it, but authors like Vernor Vinge and Charles Stross take the premise and make magic with it.

I think tech innovation and PO will go hand in hand. As ROI drops, corporations will try and squeeze the last drop out of the chain through more and more automation. I develop computer vision algorithms for robots, phones and cars, there has actually never been a better time in this field. Everyone wants to get rid of human beings, be it driving a car or running a machine and all the engineers are in the same boat as well, though for different reasons, most of my colleagues genuinely believe that this will bring in more safety and save lives.

Exactly right.

The Singularity is real, and it is a constantly present phenomenom which picks up speed as time goes on, faster and faster.

The question before us is: which will hit us first. Most likely PO. But will it be sustained and deep enough to prevent the singularity?

Remember, in order for that to happen we only need to employ the top 2 % in the world in terms of IQ and not even most of them. A lot of this has to do with the steady improvement of computational power. Humans are not that needed.

The Singularity would not necessarily solve the liquid fuels problem directly but it could do wonders for energy use overall, for example completely eliminate the need to grow crops(thereby freeing up a lot of oil), insulate us from biological diseases and many other things.

Of course, and as Ray will admit, viruses won't be abolished. What gets your computer today could get you(although in a mutated form) tomorrow. But it might not kill you, just weaken you. Maybe you'd just need a reboot and a change of hardware instead.

So far the doomsters have been proven wrong. But the Singularity's true effects won't truly kick in until after 2020, and that's probably a date when the peak has irreversibly arrived. All demand destruction, more efficiency in extraction etc etc aside.

These two twin forces will be very important and my guess is that both will happen and both will affect each other in ways nobody can yet estimate.

People who blow off the singularity are usually the same kind of people who blew off Darwin. It's not about intelligence, it's about psychology. Once you reach a certain age, most minds tend to close in on itself. Precious few retain the gift of learning how to challenge the paradigms that they take for granted.

"People who blow off the singularity are usually the same kind of people who blew off Darwin."

Excuse me for being blunt, but this is utter bullsh*t. It is the singularity crowd that are the religious believers, not the people who blow it off. The Singularitarians seem to forget that trend is not destiny.

Well I am definitely a Darwinian, and I definitely agree with Sgage in this debate. I have never given the singularity much thought but I just read up on it when I came across this thread.

The Singularity is an era in which our intelligence will become increasingly nonbiological and trillions of times more powerful than it is today—the dawning of a new civilization that will enable us to transcend our biological limitations and amplify our creativity.

I haven't read such a crock since I quit reading religious texts.

Ron P.

the dawning of a new civilization that will enable us to transcend our biological limitations and amplify our creativity.

What absolute utter nonsense! The Singularity is complete BS!

To fail nature's inspection means immediate rejection! That's nahchural selecshun...
Enjoy, this is a good one.

+1 for the "utter BS" call.

The "singularity" is yet another handy filter to detect those who misapply logic, and a striking one.

(...yet a nitpick: if a hyper-powerful computer existed NOW and thought it was Ray Kurzweil, how would that keep the meat Kurzweil from curling up his toes and drawing flies in traditional manner? It's a poor sort of immortality that doesn't keep you from dying... )

I won't call it totally BS. Computers are still advancing . . . but things have slowed down a bit. And there is a lot of risk & difficulties in going into 3D circuits. AI has never advanced as fast as people expect it to.

"singularity" by 2020? LOL, no. It is not going to happen that fast.

And I'm not anti-technology at all. I believe that we will eventually have conscious beings in computer form eventually. I just don't see it happening in my lifetime.

I belong to the crowd who belive we might have made the Singularity, going to space (for real, not just sending up a few scientists in LEO) and then beyond that, but we blew it,squandered the natural resources,messed up the climate system and created an unsustanable economy and built a complex society upon it,and hence, we will never reach the singularity, go to space and beyond etc.

Conscious computers is something I don't belive in for a second. We can only create it if we know how it works, and I don't even see it as in the scientific domain to decode consciousness.

I don't believe for a minute you have to understand something to create it. Sometimes a combination of luck and a good selectivity algorithm can work wonders. Look at plant (or dog) breeding. We've done it for thousands of years with incomplete (and often totally bogus) understanding. They still do it in bio-tech -have a machine generate a gazillion possible molecules, and test them all hoping to get lucky and find something useful.

I'd claim consciousness (whatever it is), emereged in a similar (but uncontrolled) process.

Now, in some ways I agree with your blown chance at the singularity crowd. We might have been able to transcend many of the current barriers, but we would have had to play our cards extremely well. It seems that large scale human societies are not very good card players.

Yeah, we really don't have to know how something works to copy it. We don't fully understand the way the brain works. But an individual neuron is not so complicated and we can figure it out. Copy the neuron, hook a zillion of them together, and then get the system to learn on its own with some training. That's the way the brain works. That's the magic of the brain . . . it is based on simple basics like the neuron. But if you couple enough of them together and have training, amazing abilities arise through emergence. Nature stumbled upon it by accident. We can just copy from nature.

Imagine I have a box, and outside of it a keyboard and a screen. You can write on the KB, and it will apear on the screen. Then you will get replies from inside the box. Now the question is; is the thing inside the box a machine, or a man? So you ask questions of all kinds, till you are sure it is a man. Uncover the box, and to your surprice, you found a computer. The machine has now passed the Turing Test.

Follow up question: Is the machine aware? And how would you prove it is,or is not, scientifically? Asking it? You can't even prove I am conscious.

But either way, I don't think you will ever see such a machine, as to the "blown chance" above. Unfortunately, we are beyond solving our technical problems with more techs now, I belive.

Yes, I know what the Turing test is.

And yes, if we used neural networks and trained a machine to be totally indistinguishable from a person at the other end . . . it is conscious. How is not conscious? To say otherwise is just being a narcissistic human that thinks we are better/different. We are not. We are just (extremely amazing and rare) biological machines. By saying I can't prove you are conscious is just trying to claim the goal unattainable by fiat.

Consciousness is merely an awake functioning human brain. If we can build a machine that does everything an awake functioning human brain can do, it is conscious. That is a concept that many people reject but they generally cannot provide cogent argument against it. It is just a feeling of "I'm different/better."

The logic holds but this kind of talk steals the soul out of the beauty of life. Do you have pets? Would a stuffed animal that begs, eats and poops have the same appeal? There is such a thing as empathy which is whole 'nother argument.

Your reply brings up the question of what is a person's "soul" and is it something which is acquired from long experience or is it innate. A very young child isn't much different from a very young dog. Both grow in mental power as they age, though dogs seem to max out sooner at a lesser level of intellectual capacity. If a big neural computer were similarly given the sort of training by experience that people and dogs have as they grow, perhaps the result would be a computer with "soul".

As I understand it, having studied AI a couple of decades ago, neural net computers must be trained, not programmed like your PC. The other side of the problem is that the brain is plastic with the structure changing as the living being grows. New links are formed between cells and many cells are pruned as the growth process continues. Our senses feed a steady stream of information into our brains and what we become is the result of both this data flow and our ability to move and interact with our environment including the other people and life forms around us. The result may be a massive store of data which describes one's surroundings, along with some memory of earlier events and scenes. Then too, humans have acquired the ability to use language to communicate, along with writing to extend language beyond one's local experience in space and time.

I think that a neural computer would need to be trained in a similar way to produce a "soul" in a machine. Not to mention the fact that humans have evolved over many generations and computers don't evolve (yet) in a similar fashion to benefit from the effects of trial and error. This leads to thoughts of self replicating autonomous robots which have somehow developed a way to optimize their replication process to increase their "brain power". Not a new concept in the science fiction literature, is it?..

EDIT: Corrected some spelling

E. Swanson

Any embodiment will do: The use of a simulated component called "a neuron" is not necessary. Neurons are not as simple as they appear. There are things like electrotonic connections that have an electrical component, and neurosecretory outputs that have a chemical component, while both lack a neurotransmitter impulse. The glia, the support structure within which the neurons and their fibers float, is not just passive fat. Glial cells are much involved in memory... explaining the memory impairment associated with statins.

Neural networks, or any adaptive system, can be trained. Once trained, the "weights", the connections tables and templates and such, can be recorded and loaded into mass-produced "cloned" units. There is no need to train each one. The experiences of a new unit can be allowed to add to that heritage. This is how GE sonars work.

Really nice presentation of adaptive networks.

"These networks were achieved in fewer than 50k bytes of storage, suitable for embedded implementation."

Language and mind becomes a chicken and egg puzzle.

The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain

Ultimately, my argument was that language itself was part of the process that was responsible for the evolution of the brain. I mean that in the following sense.

Imagine the evolution of beavers. Beavers are aquatic animals today but they are aquatic because of what beavers in the past have done. That is, beavers have created their own world to some extent. They’ve created an aquatic world by building dams and blocking up streams and turning them into small lakes. Beavers’ bodies have evolved in adaptation to the world that beavers created. It’s a kind of complex ratcheting effect in which what you do changes the environment that produces the selection on your body.

I think language is, in a sense, our beaver dam. Language has changed the environments in which brains have evolved. That changes the picture radically because now one can look at the brain, so to speak, with an inside out perspective of the problem and ask the question, “What’s different about human brains and how might that difference tell us something about the forces that shaped it?” If those forces include language then the brain itself is a wonderful signature, a wonderful trace for the forces that helped it evolve in this complicated interaction.

David Boulton: So, would you say that there was a kind of morphic resonance between the evolution of language and the structures in it and the evolution of the structures in the brain - that there is this kind of resonant co-evolution in the process?

Nice beaver:
@ 0:11

Language and Mind
The last chapter is interesting.

"David Hume remarked; and, as Darwin commented a century later, there is no reason why “thought, being a secretion of the brain,” should be considered “more wonderful than gravity, a property of matter.”"

Given the genetic algorithm's ability to create solutions "without the aid of mind", conscious thought may not be all that it is cracked-up to be.

"Consciousness," "Awareness," is the most persistent and influential illusion people have. We feel like pilots sitting in a cockpit behind our eyes, steering the body. We feel as if we inhabit our bodies, rather than our senses being interpreted by our organism. The "soul" prized by Fishoil comes from a sense that our perceptions must be something more than organic.

Consider fiction, classic and popular. The god of Genesis made a figure of clay and breathed life into it. No muscles, no blood, but it moved. Pygmalian brought a marble statue to life (again, how could marble move?). Modern horror movies are filled with malevolent dummies and dolls walking around wreaking havoc. We assume that because we are animated by spirit, other things can be, too.

And, because we are animated by spirit, we look at the universe and assume that it also must be animated by a spirit, hence, God.

We need to learn what the philosopher Nelson Goodman teaches in his The Ways of Worldmaking -- every human baby constructs a world using its physical equipment and the inputs of its senses. Words, naming things, language, have a lot to do with how we perceive. All "the beauty of life" and the universe is perceived in our brains. There is a "real world" outside, but it's unknowable in itself (galaxies, atoms, radiation); we see it through the colors, shapes, sounds, etc., of our senses. All this is obvious when you think about it, but human beings don't so much think as tell stories. Our stories are grand, and since Galileo, Newton, and Darwin, can be based on evidence, but we still feel like spiritual intruders in a natural world.

Nope. Consciousness is organic, understanding is narrative, and each of us inhabits our own little world.

"Consciousness," "Awareness," is the most persistent and influential illusion people have.

The Magic of Consciousness

Are you saying that consciousness is organic and exists, or that consciousness is an illusion and it does not exist? You seem to vacillate.

Also, if consciousness is an illusion, then one could reason that consciousness exists, since illusions are products of consciousness. Thus saying consciousness is an illusion is not equivalent to saying it does not exist, which you seem to imply. When we say that something illusory does not exist, we mean the depicted object of the illusion does not exist, like the tower in the mirage. But if consciousness is illusory, this must mean that consciousness is the depicted object of the illusion and does not exist, yet having an illusion implies that consciousness already exists.

If consciousness is organic and exists, then it's clearly a very rare material phenomenon not easily accounted for by physics of non-sentient stuff. It might not even be reducible to the first principles of physics for non-sentient stuff (thus be "emergent"), and therefore consciousness might actually be like a ghost in the machine in a certain sense, or like the pilot looking out the window of the cockpit, even on a materialist account.

Consciousness is produced by the organism. Consciousness doesn't exist independently, or animate the organism. It's an effect of brain chemistry. (Many studies show that the brain is quick to offer reasons for what the body just did, whatever the cause. There seems to be a rationalizing center in the brain that provides cover stories.)

And "brain" is shorthand -- brain, spine, nervous system, all work together in operating the organism.

And yes, if we used neural networks and trained a machine to be totally indistinguishable from a person at the other end . . . it is conscious.

What you are saying is it is impossible to create a machine that behaves like it is conscious without beeing so. Of course it can be done. Your logic is flawed.

I recall a sci fi story about that - it supported the theory that, if you have enough neural connections, consciousness would arise.
The gist of the story was that, at one point, there were enough telephone connections in the world to consitute a neural network of critical mass, and the phone system woke up.

Is a dog aware? What about a hamster? A goldfish? A fly? Me thinks there is some sort of continuum.

Have you read "The Singularity."? It states the amount of energy needed, and posits that all of that energy will somehow be provided. Eventually, as said better above in this thread, it becomes impossible to continue exponential growth of anything in a finite universe.

OTOH, if you want to sit around waiting for "the singularity" to become your machina to deliver the goods, any old deus will do in a pinch, I suppose. Myself, I prefer to do something about it by way of preparation. I think Sci Fi is fun to read. I am still not convinced. Maybe if you show me some of those flying cars, maybe I will change my mind.


I think we need to make a distinction between singularity and technology. Singularity is a long way away but self driving cars are already here, true AI is nowhere to be seen though. Also I must mention that one guy with prosthetics is competing in this years regular Olympics and this is already generating a lot of debate. I don't see people ditching their body parts for plastics in the near future but some day it could happen. When people think of tech they are usually swayed by movies and fiction, actually it's much more rudimentary, something like remote controlled demolition bots taking away the job of construction workers, it's already happening. Much cheap to hire a worker in third world and have him remotely operate a vehicle sitting a ten thousand miles away.

Self-driving cars have been demonstrated in a small number of initial proofs-of-concept trials...but they are not in-service 'out in the wild'...out in general society, on the public roads...not that I know of.

I am skeptical that self-driving cars will be in service any time soon in the U.S.

I think it will happen eventually, there's just no getting around the fact, it will save lives and save money. It may be delayed because of legal reasons though, no car company wants a multi-million dollar lawsuit because of some one line bug in the code, the issue of accountability will have to be sorted out first.

Self-driving trains have been in use for years, as anyone who has ridden the fully automated Vancouver SkyTrains can testify.

Self-driving cars are totally different because they are trying to retrofit a system that was never designed for driverless operation. It's a nearly impossible technical technical challenge compared to building one from scratch. You could use the popular miniature slot-car systems as a starting point for a completely new system.

In addition, the system they are trying to retrofit is going the way of the Dodo - cars and freeways are going to become a smaller part of people's lives, and it doesn't make sense to spend trillions of dollars to automate something that should just be scrapped.

In addition, the system they are trying to retrofit is going the way of the Dodo - cars and freeways are going to become a smaller part of people's lives, and it doesn't make sense to spend trillions of dollars to automate something that should just be scrapped.

Nope. Replacing you from your driver's seat is not the only intention of a driver less car program, this will spin off many different technologies, we have to develop a host of technologies just to enable the computer to realize what's around it. You talk about a slot car system, I think that's a good idea, what you don't realize is that you don't have to build slots, could just paint a white line on the road and the car's visual system will track it like a train tracks a rail. Cars could be turned into wagons with this technology, you could build little small luggage haulers which would disassemble at a town and then assemble back into a train when out of town, there are a lot of possibilities, don't just think in binary terms.

The current system of highways and cars is going away but there's an awful lot of paved roads out there, we might as well use it for some other purpose.

just paint a white line on the road and the car's visual system will track it like a train tracks a rail.

The trouble is that the automobile environment is too complex, and normal accident theory predicts you will have a lot of accidents. The advantage of a rail system is that it can reduce it to a one-dimensional problem, and that is easy to solve with electronics.

I got tired of these "Popular Science" automobile solutions several decades ago because they never seem to pan out in the real world. My grandfather was confidently waiting for the flying car to arrive 80 years ago, and I'm still waiting.

I got tired of these "Popular Science" automobile solutions several decades ago because they never seem to pan out in the real world

All I can say is that you were born too early, line follower robots are incredibly easy to make. Several decades ago you prolly had to work with clunky Altair systems which didn't even have 1/10th the processing power of today's iPods. And yes the automobile environment is very complex which is why it takes an army of researchers hacking away at the problem for decades to get it right. Till date google driverless cars have driven 225,308 kilometres on public roads without any assistance so technology has come a long way since you graduated from college, a lot of things like lane change indicators, traffic sign detectors and accident collision systems are already in place without people even realizing it.

The latest BMW and Mercedes cars are actually very hard to crash since they will hit the brakes themselves even without you even realizing, so parts of the jigsaw puzzle have been solved already, and don't throw in a flying car in the argument, it has nothing to do with AI. You actually don't have any arguments other than it hasn't happened before

What a colossal waste of effort, energy and money on something that cannot work and will not be deployed. As Steve from Virginia has pointed out, driving around in vehicles produces very little net benefit and has huge negative impacts, and automating the processes won't fix that. It hopes to solve a problem that is at best tangential to the real issue - lack of sufficient quantities of high EROEI in a useful form to support automotive transportation - when an effective solution to that problem has existed for a hundred years (electric rail).

there's an awful lot of paved roads out there, we might as well use it for some other purpose.

No doubt people will be walking on them for quite a long time, at least in those places where they are still above water and not in a region to hot or radioactive to support life.

No doubt people will be walking on them for quite a long time, at least in those places where they are still above water and not in a region to hot or radioactive to support life.

LOL. :-) Sometimes I just have to sit back and laugh at the doomerism produced here.

I have listed the effects to two things that are happening right now - climate change and places becoming contaminated by radioactive waste. Both are very real - you will see the increasingly devastating effects of Fukushima on Japan and the world is filled with these things, and the initial effects of climate change should be obvious as well as that it is only beginning.

Yet you laugh at these as though it were some fantasy, and chatter endlessly about cars, always referencing every discussion to the automobile and the glorious future of the EV. I would laugh at that but I find it sad.

In fact, I was quite optimistic, as I envision people using one of the things produced during the fossil fuel age for a long time to come. Perhaps you are unaware of just how important roads are in a world powered by muscle?

I'm sorry . . . I like to deal with reality and objective facts.

What percent of the net land mass is now permanently underwater due to climate change?

What percent of the land mass is now radioactive and uninhabitable?

I grant you that there is some of both . . . but both are in teeny-tiny percentages that they are in the noise range. You will be long dead before either of those statistics comes even close to even being 1%. So try to keep things in perspective. This kind of overblown doomer talk makes these issues look like tin-foil hat stuff and you are going to alienate people you'd like to be concerned about these issues.

In my view you seem to expect the world will continue pretty much as it is now, but with some minor tweaks. Just a nip and tuck here and there, Different kinds of cars, etc.

My efforts to understand what is coming lead me to believe this is utterly impossible and that much larger changes are coming. Therefore it does not matter what percentage of land is contaminated with radioactive particles now as much as it does that we'll not be able to prevent similar problems at the many plants which surround my home. We don't have that capability, we've never developed it and we can't afford to do it now. Or tomorrow in a collapsing society. My guess is that 1/4 of Japan will be uninhabitable, at best.

I guess the seas cannot rise more tomorrow than they did yesterday, and nothing matters past my own lifetime? This is nonsense. Another willfully blind optimist trying to discredit those with their eyes open, or a troll.

Well I in turn have to laugh at the optimists who are apparently unable to understand that the global economic and financial system is FAILING now with the fossil fuel energy that is CHEAPER than the alternative energy they assume is coming. I guess optimists are just, well to optimistic to see industrial civilization is a ponzi scheme that requires growth to service the towering trillion dollar deficits laying around. Without CHEAP energy growth is hard to come by other than using DEBT as the engine of growth.

Haven’t you guys noticed yet that the global elite do not seem to be interested in anything other than getting the economy growing like it is 1995? Policy makers appear to be listing to economists who say that human ingenuity is greater than resource depletion. Only when the world reaches a crisis state will leaders do anything; and then they may only blame all troubles on immigrants or evil oil companies depending on who is in power.

There is a looming debt crisis waiting in the wings to teach all the optimists that industrial civilization has been living beyond its means for decades. Only credit stands between the world of today and the post industrial world that is coming; and the credit creation mechanisms are breaking down. Oh I know you don’t believe my ramblings but the central bankers are running out of ammo. They cannot create credit worthy borrowers; just debt/money.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37FGyLxahAE Nate Hagens breaks it down.

You optimists should fire off a letter to Greece explaining all they have to do is build some electric cars and trains; and they will have a bright green industrial revolution. I guess all that stands in the way is negative thinking, like what sank the Titanic. If more optimist had been on the Titanic they could have come up with pumping solutions quite easily; probably patched the hole in the hull in a day or two. LOL

Uh . . . the sentence I quoted did not refer to financial matters at all. Focus.

Focus, wise advice. Using roads for walking or other muscle based transport is a reasonable outcome for a post-industrial civilization destroyed by economic collapse due to resource depletion. I took from your comment it was laughable doomerism. If the current response to resource depletion is how the global elite handle resource depletion induced economic collapse in the future, I feel we will be lucky to decommission the world’s nuclear reactors safely. The fact that the economic system is breaking down is why I usually agree with what Twilight posts on this list.

"You optimists should fire off a letter to Greece explaining all they have to do is build some electric cars and trains; and they will have a bright green industrial revolution."

This is never anything like what Speculawyer advocates.. do you guys really want this forum to become a bunch of HighSchool ranting like the rest of the Net?? These wild-eyed exaggerations are just crackpotting this place up. Please.

Alright Jokuhl , we will see what was wild-eyed exaggeration versus normalcy bias induced head in the sand complacency in due time. Maybe you could suggest some guidelines as to what future scenarios are wild-eyed so that they can be avoided.

In suggesting that EVs will play a significant role in the future without detailing how the CAPITOL will be raised to fund this idea, while our current industrial economic system continues its ponzi collapse, strikes me as wild-eyed optimism. And there is plenty of that already on the internet.

Dude, this is incredible; I think I just got it. I never looked at it this way before. All you skeptics, think wagon-bots. Delivery systems. Small electric self-propelled goods-carriers. They disembark from the electric train at the station, or from the warehouse, containing their payloads. Forget the white line on the road; they would navigate via machine vision the same way we drive. They wouldn’t have to go fast; just cruise along slow but sure. 360 degree vision would alert them to anything; they could stop anyplace and converse with someone via AI and/or link to a remote operator. They pull into your driveway and deposit your package; maybe you personally swipe your credit card or cell phone to open the cover and release it. Then it’s on to the next destination. If one breaks down, another one comes along and tows it to the repair depot. If someone tries to steal or vandalize one, you have HD video record of the assault. Video record of any accident as well. Plus on-board tracking so you can always determine its location.

We need to simplify, no, "have to" simplify. Not make things (incredibly) more complex.

At some point yes, maybe. But we have the systems in place now to churn these things out, and as wiseindian points out, the designs are being developed as we discuss this. The system would consume a very small proportion of the material and energy presently required to convey items from A to B. I'm sure UPS and Fedex are looking into schemes like this. The light-weight vehicles would be easy on the roads, and not having to carry people eliminates that liability as well.

In the early 1900's, there were electric delivery trucks. The neat trick was, for some, the batteries were circulated by train and charged at the power company at cheap industrial rates.

'Just paint a white line', I can see that anyone with a can of white paint, near a road, will be hauled in as a terrorist lest they paint their own white line leading off the road and over a cliff.


I think you'll find that they are indeed 'out in the wild' on the public roads. They are still under development, and at least in the initial stages of roll out would likely be driver aids, but things are further progressed than you realise.


the challenge for "self drive vehicles" will not be the technology but the liability. Who will be responsible for damages when there is an accident- the auto company, the occupant of the car, the owner etc. My guess is that this technology will first be tried out on a battlefield- using self driven supply vehicles to protect soldiers from road side bombs- where liability is not an issue.

As it currently stands the technology is pretty impressive- lane departure warnings, adaptive cruise control,self braking,crash sensing (priming brakes and tightening seat belts) collision forecasting, blind spot detection. They will add to that list of technology but leave the driver in charge.

the challenge for "self drive vehicles" will not be the technology but the liability

I agree, as I've already mentioned before, the legal issue are where the real headaches lie and thanks for listing out the already existing technologies on the road.

I am actually disappointed with the reactions here, to me this resembles denial just as some people are in denial about PO or AGW. The fact is that a lot of incremental development has already taken place and evidence is right in front of us, it would be stupid to ignore all of this just as it's stupid to ignore the PO and AGW evidence. No one's talking about Skynet or flying cars here, we are attempting something complex but completely feasible within the scope of current technology. Take Siri for example or it's latest google counterpart (which works offline), they are not perfect but they are an incredible improvement over what was possible ten years ago. And lest people forget I should remind them that AI is still a low hanging fruit, it's complex but it's applications will have profound implications for mankind. I don't know how the future is going to look like but the current developments are not going to go away in a hurry.

If homeless people can have smartphones and twitter accounts, no reason why a depressed economy due to PO can't have smart cars.

I think this stuff comes in incrementally. Not suddenly like, you see an add on TV and go out and buy a self-driving smart car. More like, we gradually gain assistance from the vehicle electronics/sensors. It will help you parallel park, improve reaction time in the case of impending accidents etc. Maybe allow you to join a car-train (several vehicles, communicating with each other, following at ridiculously close intervals). Maybe allow you to take a special road/lane, which is designed to 1 dimensionalize the problem, and here the auto-system is allowed to be the driver...

I am disappointed too, and have been in the past. It is sad to watch every new idea get squished. This is not the best forum for such things. There is a porch of old men eager to tell you why it can't be done. Other eyes stare out from behind bunker doors that shade murmurs of "There's No Point". "Pearls before swine" often comes to mind. It is the world, too... the reactionary, the frightened and the hopeless. There are others that you can talk with.

October Sky

I think this is a misrepresentation. In a world with limited resources one must be careful about what projects are attempted, as there won't be enough for large scale projects in every direction. Conversely, in a time of great change when new solutions will be needed there is value in "disensus", as Greer terms it, and we'll need a lot of people trying different ideas. But so many of these ideas are just warmed over BAU-light attempts to effectively avoid accepting the need for real, substantive change, and some of us are looking at the big picture and see that - and also the basic problems that will be encountered.

That does not, by a long stretch, mean there is nothing useful that can be done or that we're not doing anything. Many of those who come across as most "doomer" are also the ones actively doing more things on a personal level, rather than talking about how we can tweak things a little bit and keep on doing what we've always done.

Another note on your quote:

"Everyone wants to get rid of human beings, be it driving a car or running a machine and all the engineers are in the same boat as well, though for different reasons, most of my colleagues genuinely believe that this will bring in more safety and save lives."

And they are right. We will one day wonder in amazement how we allowed humans to fly us to places or to drive us somewhere, or we ourselves to drive others.

Machines have long made our lives easier and that will only continue.
In Ray's book he actually theorized that the last thing to be outsourced to machines would be things like a hairdresser for the lower/middle classes and novelist, intellectual etc for the upper classes. But the pattern is the same nonetheless, the humanists, in other words.

I did read a seperate book on the growth of drones and robotics in warfare, and one of the engineers made a similar joke that although a lot of jobs that require automation (cashier etc) would be cut, the more aethestic jobs would be very hard to replace for a robot because they require a specific human touch(or at least so we think so far). And he then joked that his job would be cut before the hairdresser that cuts his wife.

Now, even that might become untrue. Perhaps one day you'll have humans at the high-end fashion houses who decide what haircuts are in or not and then robots will be able to perfect perfectly to the millimeter. But I'd also guess that if that day comes then we would have moved beyond the constraints of a biological body and no ordinary job as we know of today would be needed.

And personally, I have never seen the value of a biological body to begin with. What defines human beings is our human spirit, our consciousness, our culture(in all it's variations, both defects and beauties) and our intellect(I mean that not as in how intelligent we are, which is not really that intelligent, even if you look at our smartest bunch, but rather the functions in of itself of an intellect. To question, debate, theorize, engage and so on).

All these things can be done and be done more efficiently with another carrier.
A non-biological carrier should not be excluded merely on the basis of tradition.

And personally, I have never seen the value of a biological body to begin with.

Obviously not an athelete! Nor a yoga practictioner.

"Mens sana in corpore sano." is my favorite motto.


Your motto is actually a strong confirmation of my argument, Jonathan.
Our bodies are weak and frail. If we replace them with something much stronger, then, at least according to your favourite motto, our minds will be much stronger too.

People have a knee-jerk rejection to these ideas based purely on tradition and, frankly, a fear of the future.

Who said being a Luddite ever went out of fashion?

Leiten: "Who said being a Luddite ever went out of fashion?"

As I recall, the Luddites protested mechanization because it took their jobs away. You haven't addressed that detail with your singularity fantasies.

"All these things can be done and be done more efficiently with another carrier."

Yes, efficiency is all that matters.

Do you honestly believe that "our human spirit, our consciousness, our culture" has nothing to do with being a biological organism? Do you really believe that "intelligence" is a scalar, measurable, one size fits all quantity?

"A non-biological carrier should not be excluded merely on the basis of tradition."

I don't exclude it on the basis of tradition. I exclude on the basis of impossiblity. We don't even know what consciousness is.

One last question: Are you trolling? ;-)

In my opinion these ideas are the consequences of mental illness and delusion and should not be taken seriously. I am a biological entity and to not see the value of machinery, nor of immortality. I do not wish to live forever.

I think one of the inevitable types of people who flock to Peak Oil sites are natural pessimists. There's no question a need for people who tend to be on the depressive side of life. Optimists are not always right.

But even a casual look at human history reveals that over time, optimists have been much more right than the pessimists. People talk about "well after the Roman Empire, civilization went backwards, ergo, progress ins't always forwards!".

But that's a narrow, Euro-centric view. Progress did go forward, only in Asia. And before the Greeks, human progress was concentrated in Egypt and before that Assyria/Mesopotania.

What's happened is that the bridges between the world have been dramatically narrowed down, and human progress have been accerlating at an enormous pace, if you view it from history.

How the world will look 20 or 30 years from now, nobody of us can know.
Peak Oil will doubtless have had a strong impact.
But it would be utterly foolish to believe that in an unquestioning manner civilizational progress would slow, or even reverse - for good.
I am far more optimistic than most people here over the long-term and although nobody can be certain he or she is right, history is squarely on my side. That ought to temper you and people who are similarily governed primarily by fear and have a strong mental disposition to ignore all signs of a counter-point.

This is not to say that Peak Oil will have huge consequences. I think that's a given whatever your outlook is. It's merely an affirmiation that the future is uncertain and we should be careful of dismissing something we cannot predict, especially when we've overcome greater challenges before. And those who say "we've never faced anything like this" don't know their history. We have. Much worse.

It is not an optimism/pessimism thing. It is a realism. I've worked as a patent attorney in silicon valley for many years. I've got a pretty good grasp of what the state of the art is. I'm not in the least bit worried about being enslaved by robots within the next 20 years.

It may not be in 20 years... but let's face it. We already know human level intelligence and movement is possible. We see it when we look in the mirror.

Now we just need to reproduce something similar in a non-organic format. Hard, yes. Impossible? Not when it already exists biologically.

That being said, Kurzweil's vision will most likely fall afoul of reality vs prediction. We didn't get flying cars (the predicted). We got mobile phones (the cheap and useful).

I do not subscribe to your religion of progress, nor agree that man has "progressed" anywhere within the the history we know about. We have learned many things, chiefly about how to harness energy sources that will soon be inaccessible, but we have also lost much - much more than we have gained in my opinion, and that is what is now becoming apparent. It is easy to see progress and destiny when one has discovered enormous supplies of resources to exploit.

This is not an optimism/pessimism issue, that is merely an attempt to re-frame the issue as good/bad and discredit the opposing view, since in modern parlance optimism is defined as good. I find nothing optimistic in these visions (nightmares) of the future. I see instead a child-like fear of death and a refusal to perceive and accept the universe as it is. Also a lack of understanding of technology and science that would be laughable if it were not so pathetic.

Now I will take my own advice and stop debating with fantasists.

Depends a lot on your definition of "progress". Who's to say the world is a better place now than it was 3,000 years ago? Most of the planet's surviving species would question that assumption and the thousands of extinct ones have no doubts at all about the hubris of humanity.

With all due respect.. I think you just sent me into another depressive episode.

the last thing to be outsourced to machines would be things like a hairdresser

Why not?

At one point part of ancient Greek Society staked out a 'work enough to get by, rest is leasure'. And in the 1920's during the deperession such an idea was pitched by groups like parts of the Technocracy movement.

Like it or not, robots and replacement of "work" by machines will continue. Up until the CME that crushes part of the planet. Imagine a 'jetson' world where everything is a machine operated by button push - then 1 side of the planet getting hit with a CME. How long would the planet not facing the source of the CME remain on top?

"Everyone wants to get rid of human beings"

i think that sums it up pretty well: we need economic growth, human beings are just a nuisance.

You can write off whoever you like, Jerry.

Lovins is writing off energy that once would have been expended at an impressive rate, both in his own buildings and for big clients. He actually has significant accomplishments to show.

"The key is integrative design that gives multiple benefits from single expenditures," said Lovins. An energy retrofit of the Empire State Building, built in the 1930s, has reduced energy use by at least 38 percent, building partners announced in May.

Incorporated in the retrofit were new windows that let in light but not heat, Lovins said.
Lovins also pointed to his own home in Snowmass, Colo., which in the past reached winter temperatures as low as -47 degrees Fahrenheit.

Because of integrated design, the home requires no heating, he said.


People at TOD are constantly talking about finding some safe harbor away from the cities and the suburbs in some kind of sustainable or super-efficient dwelling.. but Lovins does it and it's suddenly egregious and despicable? You and I can visit RMI any old time the same way we talk to each other.. no commute necessary.

I just think it's foolish to talk so glibly about 'writing someone off' who has shown so many good ideas, just because you've also found areas where you disapprove. It seems clear that many of his implementations could do a lot of good.

If Lovins is only half right about the future, then things will be much different from BAU. I liked the photo he showed of his bananas growing in his greenhouse in winter at 7,000 feet elevation in Colorado...

E. Swanson

Lovins has definitely given in to his cornucopian instincts, but he used to be quite a witty fellow.

Two of my favorite anti-nuke quotes actually come from him from back in the 70's:

"Using nuclear energy to generate electricity is like using a chainsaw to cut butter".


"Nuclear Energy - a future technology whose time has passed".

I'd be shocked if there is anyone who is as much as half right..

I think Lovins becomes an easy target, and I don't think it's deserved. I disagree with some of his perspectives too, but he has put together some great combinations and some very well-proven thinking.. proven by results such as I've linked to above.

I think we need to take as many solid and proven ideas as we can find, and not worry that none of us can see 'the whole elephant'.. Lovins is at least one of us in as much as he can see that we have a HUGE hurdle ahead of us. I don't really care what people think the landing is going to look like. We're basically all 'not even wrong' on that part of it at this point.

Mayhap Lovins is best thought of as a modern Leonardo daVinci:
A "cornucopia" of ideas, mostly not very practical but worth having around as inspiration.

Unfortunately the original had a future that could appreciate his ideas. Lovins: not so much.

At least Lovins understands the ideas he writes about. I think it's funny that Leonardo da Vinci has drawn some very prescient things, but his descriptions of those items show that he had a limited understanding of them; a lot of those ideas came from the Hellenistic Greeks.

I have never understood why our buildings are designed so amazingly poorly. I think there are two main reasons:
1) Energy has largely been damn cheap such that it was never really worth putting much thought into energy efficiency. This is slowly changing but energy still is pretty cheap.
2) Aesthetics and inertia. We all have preconceived notions on what a building is supposed to look like. And when designers stray far from it, people reject it. I think the same problem has resulted in the unnecessary burning of billions of gallons of gasoline with cars having bad aerodynamics. People expect cars to look a certain way and if you do things that make them look too different then people reject them. If you have some sort of covering for the rear wheels (like on the old Honda insight), people just don't like it. They expect to see rear wheels.

Your only part right "Spec."

Fender skirts were in style back in the late forties we thought they were "cool" as they say today.

The building industry is very conservative. One reason is the fact that the funding comes from banks that write the mortgages. This process works with building codes such that it's rather easy to calculate the value of a structure which is built to code. Adding options to increase efficiency may not appear as increased value to the banksters, especially if the structure which results has a non-traditional appearance. Also, your typical tract house is sold on price, thus there's little incentive for the builder to spend any more money for those efficiency improvements, such as one might find in high efficiency appliances.

Lovins makes the point that there are synergies involved with energy efficiency, such as, including more insulation to exceed code requirements will also result in the opportunity to use a smaller HVAC system and using a more efficient HVAC system often translates into further reduction in the size of the HVAC equipment. Building a very well sealed envelope with thermal recovery venting also results in a smaller sized HVAC system. Using more efficient lighting, such as CFLs instead of incandescent will reduce the A/C needs in summer while taking advantage of passive solar heat with thermal mass results in another reduction in heating needed. All this also means that the electric supply can be sized for a smaller load, which saves copper wire, etc.

Of course, the banksters don't see any of this, because the cost of energy is not considered when the buyer's loan limits are being calculated. The banksters also ignore the expected commute distance and the expected cost of fuel to drive a car, nor do they consider that subdivisions with cul-de-sac designs tend to force people to drive everywhere as walking the shortest distance means crossing others property. There appears to be no easy way out...

E. Swanson

Lovins is wrong a lot of times, and right a lot of times. I would hope for more people as wrong and right as he has been. I have followed his preaching since he was a funny little smart guy living out of a suitcase with his smart and more politic travel companion Hunter.

I just ended 11 straight days of no grid power on my little dead end ridge road. Alone among the homes along the ridge, I was able to keep the freezer and fridge food, and the house quite livable, by simple applications of the teachings of Amory- lots of insulation, big thermal mass, ventilating during cool hours ( of which we mercifully had enough even on 38C days) and a dinky little 1kW of PV.

In contrast, almost everybody else on the ridge had to throw out a lot of hard won garden produce and venison, and their spouses and kids were griping about the heat and humidity in the living room. And they kept running up and down the road in a tizzy trying to keep their stinky loud generators going.

I kept a record, and ended up the 11 days with a 4kW-hr deficit, but today found it hadn't been even so much as that, since my battery state of charge measuring gadget had sprung a leak in its little float, and the batteries were more up than I thought, and took a full charge with little extra boost from the grid.

I am sure there are many such stories from other folks who have listened to Lovins to their profit.

PS- I had a fun bull session with a bunch of other hands-on types trading stories of silly and sometimes serious mental goofs during the great power poop-out. One guy hypothesized that our brains have got into some kind of saprophytic link with the grid, so that when it goes down, they go down.

Certainly the building industry and banks are very conservative, but there are ways around them.

Just go to the builder and request some changes in his standard poorly-insulated package - R40-R80 ceilings, R20-R40 walls, high-E windows, insulated basement floor, etc. He'll shrug and estimate it, and it won't be that much more money. 2x6 studs walls are only a few hundred dollars more than 2x4 walls, and it doesn't take any more labor to nail them in place.

The bank won't like to loan you extra money to put these things in, but if you top up the financing yourself, it's none of their business.

And then, why give it a non-traditional appearance? 2x6 walls don't look any different than 2x4 walls, and 2x12 walls don't look any different either. Making a high-efficiency house look like a low efficiency one will cost more and won't add any value, but it won't subtract any value, either.

These days it's particularly easy. Buy a lot from a bankrupt developer, have a starving architect design it, go out for bids to a horde of hurting contractors, and then be prepared to do an end-run around the banks and get creative on the financing. I've always liked doing end-runs around the banks. They don't like it, but that's just their opinion. They're such a staid and unimaginative bunch, and easily hoodwinked.

Come to think of it, that's the way I built the place I'm living in now. I really saved a large fortune on it, particularly in taking the land off the hands of the developer's bankruptcy receivers for chump change. You have to wait for the bottom to fall out of the market, and then go in with a low-ball bid to see just how desperate they are.

That will get you a nice high efficiency conventional house. But I'd like to see more houses be these zero energy houses where they are designed so clever that they need pretty much no extra energy.

That's the perfect solution fallacy, one of the informal logical fallacies. In the real world, an imperfect solution that is cheap and works will always trump a perfect solution that is unaffordable and unattainable. In the real world a zero-energy house is unattainable if only because of the extra energy needed to build it.

No! I'm clearly for very efficient houses. But it just frustrating that by simply modifying the design a bit in ways that don't really add much (if anything!) to cost, we could get much better results and yet we don't do it or even think about doing it. Just simple things like which way the house is oriented in relation to the sun, which walls have windows, whether a nice large southern exposure roofline is provided for adding solar, etc. Those add NOTHING to the cost but can make a big difference in the house's energy costs. But instead, we get cookie-cutter tract homes with ZERO attention paid to path of sun.

It is amazingly stupid. How many commercial buildings have you been in with hot spots and cold spots because the HVAC system is installed with uniform delivery instead of realizing that the south side will probably need more AC than the north side.

Orientation of house, shade trees, uniform delivery of ac (good one! - didn't consider that). Frustrating that these have not been taken into consideration and will not be given even passing thought by most builders today and tomorrow.

Despite how smart we think we are isn't life still just a zero sum game. We talk about technological advancement and all, but we are too stupid to even consider these most basic and very practical measures.

Orientation of house, shade trees, uniform delivery of ac

That's why you have to be involved in the design of your own house. For instance, I made sure that my roof overhangs shade the house in summer but not in winter, and then I planted trees that shade the house in summer but not in winter.

A/C? Don't need it. See above.

I did balance the cooling by judicious placement of shade trees. There is lots of sun in the morning to warm the house up, especially the master bedroom and bathroom, but then it goes behind the trees in the afternoon to make sure it doesn't overheat. And then there's the deck, which always has some areas in the sun and some in the shade to make sure you always have a perfect place to hang your hammock.

The "energy efficient house" isn't really all that energy efficient. Some of it is make believe; new "energy efficient" appliances for example; washing machines, dryers, etc. The idea that these newer appliances are energy efficient simply isn't true. Sure, they draw less electrical current and can lower one's monthly utility bill, but they accomplish this by using lighter, less durable motors, transmissions, etc. So, these appliances only last one third as long in the real world. Once more frequent replacement costs are added onto the balance sheet along with the imbedded energy costs behind their manufacture, they ain't very energy efficient at all.

You are thinking of appliance design as a zero-sum game. To do better at this, I have to do worse at that. I don't think we are any where near that point. Using less energy, means less energy is available to go into wear and tear of parts. We aren't starting from perfectly optimized designs to begin with, but rather with things that have a lot of historical baggage designed into them.

Do you have any evidence at all to back up this assertion?

He must have overlooked my quote above about the Amory Lovins' home..

Lovins also pointed to his own home in Snowmass, Colo., which in the past reached winter temperatures as low as -47 degrees Fahrenheit.

Because of integrated design, the home requires no heating, he said.

Wild, unchecked, easily disprovable assertions.. it's the Silly Season in extended reruns!

I agree that those who build their own house (or pay someone else to add the extra features) can do so under present codes. My point was that the average builder of a spec house doesn't do this, since he/she is building it to sell, not to live in. That applies to land developers as well, since it takes more effort to design the layout of the property with solar access in mind. If those solar collectors are on the street side of the house, their appearance will impact their sales potential. If the building site has a desirable view on the north side, using smaller windows in the structure for energy conservation would minimize that view, thus reducing the attractiveness of the finished product and lower the sales potential. And 2x6 walls won't give an R-40 insulating value, only R-18 with fiberglass insulation, which is the reason I designed my house with double 2x6 wall construction...

E. Swanson

And there are liability issues. It would be easy for me to desgn a house with low thermal impedence (being supe well insulated), but if I were to put a million such units onto the market, have all the little gotchas been worked out. How vulnerable to fire/flood, mold, etc is it? Until a lot of experience has been gained commecial builders are going to be very conservative, they'd rather build something traditional, that won't run the risk of their getting the pants sued off of them because of some unforeseen problem.

How vulnerable to fire/flood, mold, etc is it? Until a lot of experience has been gained commecial builders are going to be very conservative

Oh, sure, selling houses to the unwashed masses they are going to be very conservative, but if you spec 5/8" fireproof drywall inside, concrete roof tiles, brick siding, and a fire sprinkler system, and produce a flood survey showing your house has zero chance of being flooded in the next 1000 years, they're not going to worry a lot about it.

Adding to the general conversation, there is Faswall:


Good insulation, thermal mass, recycled materials, fire resistant, does not support mold growth, you can do it yourself, made in the Pacific Northwest. Stucco on the outside, plaster on the inside and the wall breathes.

Have used this product. Great people to deal with.

Looks like a good system to use, however, the insulation value they claim is only R-25 using poly-iso foam inserts. That's not an especially great R value and it would appear difficult to add more. There's some thermal bridging via the vertical edges of each block, so the net R value may not be that large, but test data would be required to prove the actual R value of a completed wall. Still, these are likely to be better than some of the ICF systems I've seen...

E. Swanson

Actual R value of the whole wall is greater than the R value of the block itself.

A similar product which I have also used is RASTRA.


The whole house testing for this product is here:


Will try to find out if Faswall has a similar study.

Also, with both of these systems very little bracing required to pour. Have mono-poured buildings with walls to 60' length at 12' high with no problems.

Well, yes, that's why you don't buy a spec house - it doesn't meet YOUR specs. Most people, of course, take the easy way out, and are the ultimate losers as a result.

Smart people give the builder their specs, because they know he likes not having the risk of building a house nobody will buy. OTOH, if you sign a firm sales contract to build exactly what you want, he'll be happy to do whatever it is you want because it's guaranteed money in his pocket. (If it's cash under the table he'll be even more happy.)

Yes, you have to have 2x12 walls (or double 2x6's) to get R40 with fiberglass. I know that.

The building industry is very conservative. One reason is the fact that the funding comes from banks that write the mortgages. This process works with building codes such that it's rather easy to calculate the value of a structure which is built to code. Adding options to increase efficiency may not appear as increased value to the banksters, especially if the structure which results has a non-traditional appearance. Also, your typical tract house is sold on price, thus there's little incentive for the builder to spend any more money for those efficiency improvements, such as one might find in high efficiency appliances.

Much of this is human psychology. We just don't value things well. A house the costs a tiny bit more but is much more energy efficient will be much cheaper than a less expensive house that is not energy efficient.

And sadly, unlike what you suggest, the very same is true for appliances. If it wasn't for the government twisting the arm of the appliance industry with the Energy Star program and utilities that offer rebates for more energy efficient appliance purchasing, people would stupidly buy appliances that end up being very expensive in the long run. The free market simply does not work when it comes to costs over time. If it worked, the payday loan biz would pretty much not exist, credit card debt would be much lower, etc. It works for some people but many people do massive amounts of things against their own interest. Me included.

Heck . . . we have morons fighting to save the inefficient crappy incandescent light bulb. If they had a clue, they wouldn't give a crap because it is just the elimination of something they would not even want if they had their own best interests in mind. Instead, you get brain-dead "logic" like "Well, the incandescent bulbs are good because they help heat my house in winter." Yeah, they displace some work that should have be done by your much more efficient heating system with expensive electric heat you moron!

You can write off whoever you like, Jerry.

Of course, it should go without saying that my opinion was formed in the larger context of my growing realization that the various techno-fantasies proposed by Lovins and his ilk are woefully inadequate and oftentimes willfully ignorant of the scale and magnitude of the various crises facing industrial civilization.

If Lovins had done anything, and I mean ANYTHING in the intervening years to demonstrate that there is more to him than a thin veneer of techno-narcissism then I would have been happy to change my opinion.


Well, Lovins does claim that they retrofitted the Empire State Building to reduce the energy needed to operate it. I suppose that one would need to read his book to find out how much he and his outfit has accomplished. Or, maybe, go to the RMI web site and look for ONE successful project...

E. Swanson

In fact, it was the building owners who asserted that their energy costs were 'at least 38 percent lower'.. but that number can probably be ignored if there was any measurable 'Techno-narcissism' around the site.

It's not hard to find a current list of RMI's accomplishments, if one has any cause to seek it out.

As I said before, I think Lovins is just a bit too broad, short and strange for many people, and like the "Greens", but for different reasons, makes a good punching bag.

Using a Passive House concept is intelligent. The overall primary energy balance is very good, i.e. you invest compared to a conventional house more energy for better insolation, windows and appliances, but you save for decades a lot of energy (>80% of the heating).

For a Passiv House low temperatures (-15 °C) are not the problem as long as the sun shines, the large windows harvest much more than you loose by transmission, much more problematic is foggy weather around 0°C for a couple of days.
Have not done the calculations for -47°F, this would be around -40 °C, I would have a least a small back-up system :-).

One of the first Passive Houses in Austria belonged to a larger family (6-8 persons), the only differnce between summer and winter operations was that they switched to normal bulbs in winter (-15 °C), in a highly insolated house number of inhabitants and life style (cooking) make a real impact, people in normal houses usually can not believe these things.

Technological progress has increased exponentially, but so have its costs and consequences. Today most tech exists to mediate concerns previous tech created: Electric cars to diminish the pollution of gasoline cars, cars at all to travel the large distances our mobile society demands, a mobile society to increase worker productivity, and so on and so on.

The second derivatives of costs and consequences -- the rates at which their rates-of-increase increase -- are higher than the second derivative of progress. Returns diminish, and risk goes infinite before reward.

Thanks for that!

good stuff, thanks. Quotable.

And as long as I'm at it, good posts by you today, Twilight.

Re: In the Land of Oil, Fears of Excess Use (uptop)

Saudi oil consumption cannot go on growing this way, a few Cassandras are warning. “It’s not sustainable because domestic consumption is growing at an alarming rate. It is going to eventually eat into exports,” said Paul Stevens, an energy expert at Chatham House, a research institute in London.

I always find the Cassandra metahpor interesting, since her curse was that she was always right, yet no one believed her:


While Cassandra foresaw the destruction of Troy (she warned the Trojans about the Trojan Horse, the death of Agamemnon, and her own demise), she was unable to do anything to forestall these tragedies since no one believed her.

And growing internal Saudi consumption is going to "Eventually" eat into exports? The cumulative shortfall between what the Saudis would have net exported at their 2005 annual rate of 9.1 mbpd (BP, total petroleum liquids) and what they actually net exported from 2006 to 2011 inclusive if about 2.5 billion barrels of oil.

The ratio of Saudi total petroleum liquids production to domestic liquids consumption (BP), from 2002 to 2011 (extrapolation based on 2005 to 2011 rate of decline in ratio):


Yes and another quote from same article up top:

Whatever Saudi representatives say, the kingdom’s oil industry will struggle to produce more than 10 million or 11 million barrels per day of oil, so the oil Saudis burn at home inevitably reduces what is available for export.

Finally someone has decided to tell the truth about Saudi production capabilities. And notice they say "Whatever Saudi representatives say, implying that one cannot rely on whatever Saudi representatives say.

Ron P.


And this week saw the first uptick in gas prices for 13 straight years.
This is pretty amazing if you think about it. We're in the middle of eceptionally slow job growth and real GDP is trending at about 1.6 %(which is stallspeed).

By all measures, the gasoline price should continue to tumble down. But now it is rising - in the teeth of an economic slowdown. Because Brent prices are rising again.

And it's Saudi who are cutting production again. But soon enough they won't have to cut production because their own consumption will eat into their exports(even more).

Remember, we used to talk about how demand destruction chills the economy and falling oil prices allows the economy to heal. Well, now that's gone. 3.61 isn't 4 dollars a gallon but historically it's high indeed, even adjusting for inflation. And this is now the 'low point'.

What's happening is that the pattern of oil retrenchment keeps getting smaller and shorter by the year. This is a very worrisome sign.

Worrisome for sure... I am crossing my fingers and hoping you are wrong.

Certainly, demand in the US is falling, but other countries are rising, and new world supply is not there to meet it. Prices are a trade-off between supply and demand, so they are remaining high because the global supply is really insufficient for the global demand.

The people in the US who claim that the world oil supply is endless because the Bakken Formation is starting to produce a lot of oil are living in a fool's paradise. The recent uptick in US non-conventional oil production is minuscule compared to the size of the global oil supply problem.

I estimate that the 2005 to 2011 rate of depletion in post-2005 Saudi Cumulative Net Exports (CNE) was about 8%/year.

And it's Saudi who are cutting production again.

Where did you hear that rumor? Saudi is still producing flat out. The new OPEC Oil Market Report is out today with OPEC members crude production through June. Production numbers are on page 49.

Saudi Arabia Crude Only in kb/d. Last data point is June 2012

Saudi Arabia

Ron P.

OPEC sees 2013 oil demand growth slowing

World oil demand growth will slow in 2013 from the already weak 2012, OPEC said on Wednesday, citing Europe's debt worries, a faltering U.S. economic recovery and deceleration of growth in emerging markets.

OPEC left its 2012 world oil demand growth forecast unchanged at 0.9 million bpd and said growth in 2013 would slow to 0.82 million bpd.

OPEC forecast non-OPEC supply to increase by 0.7 million bpd in 2012 and 0.9 million in 2013.

Demand for OPEC's own crude is expected to average 29.6 million bpd in 2013, almost 2 million below its June production levels of 31.36 million.


Data is KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) Crude only in millions of barrels per day from EIA short term energy outlook custom table builder http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/steo/query/ This shows a decrease in KSA crude from March through June from 10 to 9.7 mb/d.

Dcoyne, (how do you pronounce that name?), the EIA short time energy outlook is by far from the most reliable source. They have been guessing wrong for decades. But anyway dropping 100 k a month for three months can by no stretch of the imagination be automatically considered as "cutting back". That could be natural month to month fluctuation or simple decline. And it is well within the margin of error, after all this is just someone's estimate as to what Saudi is producing.

Saudi Arabia themselves say they reached a new all time high in June 2012. According to the OPEC Oil Market Report, page 50, their production in thousands of barrels per day was:

April  May   June
10,102 9,807 10,103

Let that sink in for one moment. Saudi says they produced more last month than any month in the history of the Kingdom. If they are cutting back they sure don't want anyone to know it.

So who's word are you going to take? Saudi Arabia's, the EIA's, or OPEC's secondary sources. I would vote for secondary sources but who knows?

The point is that Saudi Arabia is not cutting back, they are producing flat out. That should be obvious to anyone who has been following Saudi Production figures for a year or so. I have been following their production, every month, for over ten years.

Also, the EIA Short Term Energy Report is all liquids. The OMR is crude only. And we are definitely talking about crude oil here, not crude + NGLs.

Ron P.

There are many who do not trust the numbers from KSA (I believe you are among them.) The Short term energy outlook numbers are not all liquids, they are crude only. Their predictions through the present may be revised, but they probably use similar secondary sources as the OPEC report, my point was simply that, there could be some justification for thinking that Saudi output is lower, also, things look a little different when the graph is zero scaled.


For OPEC countries the STEO custom table builder gives Crude Oil Production, for non-OPEC countries you are correct that Total liquids is reported.


What's happening is that the pattern of oil retrenchment keeps getting smaller and shorter by the year.

Exactly! The exporters are no longer waiting months to make sure our economy is doing better before restricting supply to raise price, they are reacting faster. It's almost as if our economy is slowly being tortured by forcing it to remain afloat at the minimum growth rate. Like we are being tested to find out the smallest amount of drip solution we the patient can exist on and then tweaking it as needed to keep us alive.

However, here's the big buggaboo. The US is running over a trillion in deficit every year recently and we haven't even seen what would happen to the patient if we try to balance the budget. What would Brent have to sell at then? Or should I ask what would be the drip rate? 85 a barrel? Once we can't compete against other importers like Chindia at the going price, the only thing we can do is use less, but that contracts the economy even more. The cliff is getting closer.

For your "Available Net Exports" note the corresponding astounding 18.2% increase in oil imports by China:

China crude imports reached a record level in May 2012 increasing by 585 tb/d or
10.8% from the previous month to a total of 6.0 mb/d. On a y-o-y basis, Chinese imports
have grown by 18.2%, an increase of 929 tb/d.
On a year-to-date basis, China crude oil
imports increased by 10.4%.

OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report, July 2012, p 63
Probably a pragmatic stocking up on "cheap" oil before prices shoot back up next year.

6.0 mb/d. Wow. My prediction was China wouldn't hit 6.0 until sometime in 2013. China has gone from 4.0 to 5.0 to 6.0 in less than 3 years! Are we now counting down to 7.0?

From the OPEC Oil Market Report:

China crude imports reached a record level in May 2012 increasing by 585 tb/d or 10.8% from the previous month to a total of 6.0 mb/d. On a y-o-y basis, Chineseimports have grown by 18.2%, an increase of 929 tb/d. On a year-to-date basis, China crude oil imports increased by 10.4%.

From the Zero Hedge blog:

China Crude Imports Plunge To December 2011 Levels
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 07/10/2012 09:21 -0400

So who are you going to believe, the OPEC OMR or Tyler Durden? ;-)

Actually Tyler got his data from Dow Jones. But the point is when it comes to production, imports and exports there is a lot of data out there, much that contradicts other data. And I am not, at this point, going to say which one I believe. How about you?

Ron P.

Ron P.
Bloomberg reports:

Oil extended its drop after a report from China’s General Administration of Customs showed the nation’s net crude imports fell to 5.28 million barrels a day in June. That’s the least since purchases of 5.1 million barrels in December and compares with a record 5.98 million in May, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. China is the world’s second-biggest oil consumer after the U.S.

It could be an "interesting" year:

Chinese inbound shipments increased 6.3 percent in June from a year earlier, the customs bureau said today in Beijing, short of the 11 percent median estimate among 32 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

Unemployment Problem Includes Public Transportation That Separates Poor From Jobs

"CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- In the two months since he lost his job driving a delivery truck for a door company, Lebron Stinson has absorbed a bitter geography lesson about this riverfront city: The jobs are in one place, he is in another, and the bus does not bridge the divide."

The fallout from the car culture continues.

Per usual it does not take long to find that Rails ARE indeed still available in the Chattanooga Area and, per usual, running entertaining tourist trains:
When will we get serious about actually using these Rails for more than gawking?
233,000 miles is a lot of Rail track still all over the USA people...

A similar story was the lead in today's Nashville Tennessean . Most Sunbelt cities have a problem with density; finding four dwelling units per acre (the threshold used in public transit planning), can be tough. That said, bus ridership here in Nashville is expanding, as is our commuter rail ridership on the Music City Star. I have to drive a short distance to the closest shopping center and park, but from there I can get to most places in the city via bus. Our mayor is leading an expansion of routes starting this fall, and engineering is underway for a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route.

Eight dwelling units per acre is a more realistic lower limit for efficient public transit, and in addition, the neighborhoods should be walkable, both of which would be rather rare for Sunbelt cities.

Unfortunately, Sunbelt cities might be past their best-before date in the post-peak-oil era.

In general Bus Rapid Transit is a major strategic error. Although it costs somewhat less initially it winds up costing more in the long run and does not attract the ridership of LightRail. For a long-term strategy as Anthony Perl and Richard Mandel suggest in "Transport Revolutions: Moving People and Freight without Oil" the most efficient and sustainable transit is Grid-controlled-Electric i.e. LightRail or possibly overhead trolleys.
(see http://transportrevolitions.info for details)
Besides being part of a long-term strategy to move towards non-fossil-fueled electricity,
Lightrail also gets more ridership and in the long run is actually CHEAPER to maintain than BRT. See http://www.lightrailnow.org/facts/fa_brt_2006-08a.htm
This article lists a bunch of real-world examples, here are a few:

Salt Lake City – The region's relatively new 15-mile light-rail line, opened in December 1999, was by 2001 already carrying an average of 20,000 people on weekdays – 43 percent above projections, according to a transit agency spokesman.

· Dallas – The metro area's new LRT line experienced ridership that exceeded projections by 30 percent.

· St. Louis – The region's 7-year-old Metrolink LRT system was attracting ridership 14 percent over projections for the year 2000, according to an agency spokesman.

BRT proponents also claim it is "cheaper" than LightRail but this is via lopsided comparisons of inflated LightRail costs and discounted full costs of BRT.
For example see the Ottawa BRT outlined by the LightRail website:

Did installation of the busway, rather than LRT, produce major cost savings? By 1996, the Ottawa Transitway had cost $440 million Canadian, or about $330 million in US dollars, equal to about US$376 million in 2000 dollars. [See the article on this website, Ottawa's BRT "Transitway": Modern Miracle or Mega-Mirage?] For roughly twenty miles (about 16 miles of new busway construction, plus reserved lanes and other facilities), that is approximately US$19 million per mile without adequate downtown station facilities or segregated guideways, or including the cost of the extra buses, storage lots, garages, etc. required for the Transitway system.

In contrast, LRT projects for Denver, Portland (service to the Portland Airport), Salt Lake City, and East Saint Louis – 46 miles in all – were all completed about 2000 at an average total cost of $23 million per mile (in that year), which does include downtown stations and other facilities (to handle passengers adequately), as well as the fleet of cars, storage yards, and shops.

Factor in LRT's lower operating costs per passenger-mile and potentially higher fare revenue, plus the longer life of electric rail vehicles, and Ottawa's "BRT" Transitway begins to seem much less the bargain it has been portrayed to be.

Especially if LightRail can leverage existing Rail lines or tracks it can have further advantages.

Yes, bus rapid transit was definitely oversold in Ottawa, as exemplified by this article:

Ottawa, Closer than Ever to Replacing Bus Rapid Transit with Light Rail

The transitway has so many riders that it puts 2,600 daily buses onto two downtown streets, and by 2018, the system will have literally no more capacity. By 2030, Ottawa would have to get a bus downtown every eighteen seconds to accommodate all of its riders — an impossible feat.

The biggest problem was that the Ottawa BRT was close to maximum capacity when it was first built, and has run out of expansion capacity. By contrast, Calgary built an LRT system for about the same amount of money at about the same time. It now carries about the same number of passengers as Ottawa's BRT, and still has lots of capacity for expansion by simply making the trains longer and running them more often. If and when they decide to make it into a subway, it's a simple matter of digging a trench, laying the tracks, and putting the street back on top (called cut and cover).

When Ottawa built its BRT system, and Calgary built its LRT system, Ottawa had far higher transit ridership than Calgary. Now the two cities have roughly the same ridership despite the fact that Ottawa is still a bigger Eastern city and Calgary is still a sprawling Western city full of pickup trucks. What does that tell you about the relative popularity of buses versus light rail with the riders?

Also, the Calgary LRT has much lower annual operating cost because of the fewer number of drivers (1 per multi-vehicle train), lower fuel costs (wind power instead of diesel), and longer life of the vehicles (probably about 40 years on average).

It will cost Ottawa about $1.2 billion to replace its BRT system with an LRT system, which is about as much money as it would cost to build an LRT system from scratch. So, basically, Ottawa has to throw away the capital investment it its BRT system and start over again with LRT.

When I was in Calgary in June, 2008 the local paper had an editorial discussing the problems Ottawa was having in getting an LRT system off the ground. The essential point was that Calgary simply started building a system where it made most sense, whereas in Ottawa the process keeps getting derailed by the NIMBY crowd. It seems that a lot of people believe that light rail is for "other" people to use so they don't want it passing through their own neighbourhood. Four years have past, and there is still no resolution on the route of the line west of the downtown area. Ottawas politicians seem to be completely incapable of making decisions that are in the best interest of the community as a whole.

I'll be passing through Vancouver in a few weeks and am looking forward to traveling on the new Canada line connecting the airport to the downtown.

I thought the Vancouver SkyTrain was rather gold-plated compared to the Calgary LRT system when it was first built, but now the ridership levels are getting into the range (350,000+ passengers/day) where grade-separated systems make more sense than light rail. It's getting to be a serious rail transit system.

I took the Canada line downtown from near the airport a couple of months ago and it worked rather well.

Actually, I took the ferry from Sidney on Vancouver Island, to the Tswassen ferry terminal south of Vancouver, then I took the express bus from the ferry terminal to the Canada line, the Canada line to downtown, an express bus from downtown to the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal north of Vancouver, and then the ferry to Bowen Island. It was a lot quicker than I expected, only about 3 hours end-to-end and only cost about $30 in total, including the ferry rides.

Article on ethanol above

Ethanol blended E10 would take 14 years to replace ULP in Australia

Energy Export Databrowser updated to BP 2012 data

All language versions of the Energy Export Databrowser are now using the latest version of the BP Statistical Review:

Deutsch English Español Français Italiano Nederlands Svensk

A few of the stories found in the data include:

As the Greek economy falters, balance of trade issues are forcing Greeks to reduce their consumption of expensive, imported oil. Other countries displaying the same rapid consumption decline include Ireland, Portugal and Spain.

Argentina nationalized their biggest oil company, YPF in May of 2012 on the grounds that it failed to make the investments needed to boost production to keep up with local demand of oil and gas. Already a net importer of natural gas, Argentina just last year reached zero net exports of oil.

German adoption of wind and solar power along with improved efficiency are bringing total energy consumption from fossil fuels down to levels not seen since the 1960's.

Total energy consumed by Gulf Cooperation Council nations increased by 6.8% last year.

North Sea Oil Exports dropped by half from 2010 to 2011. Zero net exports in 2012?

Happy Exploring!


Thanks Jon! Love the tool.

I was looking at the futures data browser (Futures) and I can't see the black dot for current close.

Re: U.S.: 47th in freedom, 1st in cheese production

Looking up the ranking in economic freedom on Heritage Foundation's website, I unsurprisingly see that Singapore is #2, as on many other of these rankings, and which paradoxically is also a highly autocratic country. Primary to expectations that free markets lead to democracy, countries like Singapore and China buck the trend, even performing better than the West. The current trend instead seems to be the West becoming less and less democratic, and that seems like a worrying development.

As an amusing aside, I once read a Singaporean dissident write something like "forget Cuba, Singapore is the closest thing to a command economy in history" in a desperate bid to ignore this trend.

Singapore is a corporation, and everyone is a "Associate".
The only country of its size never to win a Nobel Prize.

But I make a profit of three and a quarter cents an egg by selling them for four and a quarter cents an egg to the people in Malta I buy them from for seven cents an egg. Of course, I don't make the profit. The syndicate makes the profit. And everybody has a share.
Milo, Chapter 22: Milo the Mayor.

Singapore is a corporation, and everyone is a "Associate".

So? How is that different than the US of A?

In the USA, many are NOT associates. :)

The list, in order, of freedom of the press;

Ghana, Slovenia, South Africa, New Guinea, Niger... perhaps, someday, we will be as free as they... but we have a long and beautiful struggle ahead of us to get there.

For northern California TODers:

I know some of you visit the Mendocino National Forest now and then. Right now there is a 17,000 acre fire that is only 30% contained and everything is shut down. This might not be a good weekend to visit.


I know, we are breathing its smoke in a triple digit heat wave. thank goodness we can still afford AC.

Drift smoke in Humboldt and 101 degrees in Willow Creek. Must be summer finally.

Plus a 4.0 quake today--must be earthquake weather...

I read on The Weather Underground this high, thin drift smoke may actually be from Russia. Apparently, they are having an even worse fire season than the big one in 2010. The smoke got up into the jet-stream and then came back down when it hit the high pressure area. Hazy from Portland to N. California (probably more, but that's what I saw on Monday).

Looks like we will have our own local smoke soon.

Has the dreaded China crash finally arrived?

The Chinese Government is finding out that their imported corporations do not pay the Chinese workers enough to create a consumer economy, which is what they would need to continue the way they were. Needless to say, American consumers are not up to the task any more.

Prediction: slave labor (real slaves, not just wage slaves) will replace workers in the next generation of corporate gluttony. First step: undermine education (under way here in the good ol' US of A). Next step: worldwide depression (just a moment away), political paralysis (you are seeing it played out daily), and universal debt (starts in school) and ending of personal bankruptcy protection (it has started already, just watch the next steps they take).

The wealthy are prepping for the low energy future... sort of reminds one of The Matrix, eh?

Best hopes for selecting the correct color. (pill)


There's no need for slaves, as correctly explained by many. Slaves are necessary in a system where pop density is low and slaves want to run away, there's nowhere to go right now.

Yes, people are lining up to be slaves at min. wage.

And the people that aren't even worth enslaving are living on the streets. Better to make minimum and live in a tiny place shared with others than to make nothing and have people trying to take even that away from you.

In the Siberian gulags, if you didn't work, they wouldn't let you in at night.


NYC mayor challenges apartment builders to think smaller

At least it is energy efficient!

According to no lesser authority than my wife of many years, 300 square feet per person is the minimum - anything less leads to mental problems. And, so says she, 500 sq.ft. is preferred.

Sorry... no research to verify these numbers. Since she has used them since well before the PC came into use, it may take real library lookin' to do that. What fun!

Best hopes for IKEA livin'


Just offered as a datapoint: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/pad_is_oh_so_rich_G1uI9bbtn...

I must admit her last name - Denise Rich - is a tad ironic.

Oh, and she is - or has - renounced her US citizenship.

This goes a long way to explaining what is wrong in America. 275 sq.ft. for 1 or 2 of the 99%, 12,000+ for the 1%. More like 99.99% and .01% maybe?

And, since the small % own all of the organs of propaganda, formerly known as news media, as well as the politicians, we should not expect to see much by way of change, no matter what we believe in.

IMO, the small % will continue BAU as long as they can, and they will have the upper hand toward survival in the energy restrained future. Their attitude shouts that they don't care. I think their belief is that the only difference in the years ahead will be that their percentage will increase, not by increasing numbers of very wealthy, but by diminishing numbers of po' folk.


I currently live in a 400 sq ft. apartment and have enough space for everything I need. With a higher ceiling or more creative use of space, I could probably deal with only 300, but that would be tight. The bed would need to fold into the wall, maybe the table as well.


Still, many people would simply not be comfortable with this sort of environment, and it doesn't work for two people.

300 square feet is actually rather lavish by international standards:

Luke Clark Tyler, Who Lives in a 78-Square-Foot Apartment, Tells Us Why

I left the country, and I actually lived in a 35-square-foot apartment, in Kenya. It was 7 feet by 5 feet. It had mud walls; the roofs are thin metal sheets. The thing about my place, which was smaller than the average 10- by 10-foot one, was that I was the only person living in it. Most of the others had families of five. I was working on a project and spending most of the day on construction. I was just there doing work and sleeping. That's why, when I came back here, I thought, I don't have much stuff and I don't need that much space.

Do you feel like people in New York and the rest of the country are living in too much space?

I know I have more than I need. But I could go shopping and imagine having a beautiful piece of furniture or even having a sink. I think it's just the general attitude; we have more than we need. If you were to ask what the typical American dream is, it probably does involve the white picket fence and cars and a garage and a bedroom for every child.

Here is the whole documentary about tiny houses it is about one hour long but I found it very inspiring:


I live in a 250sq feet apartment (around 25m2) and can fit all of my belongings without trouble. Computer, bike, desk, bed, some books and clothes.

If I ever were to buy a house I'd want the walls to be about a metre thick to provide insulation and energy efficiency (passive houses) or something along those lines. I want to be pragmatic.

I live in a septic tank.

That's my dog on the right at 0:10

Awsm stry bro.

Excerpt from my 2007 ELP Plan essay (slight correction regarding JHK quote):


I think that “Tiny Houses” will become more popular, as larger homes are no longer viable. Where there are jobs nearby, many McMansions could be subdivided, but absent local job centers, I expect large swaths of American suburbia to be essentially abandoned. As Jim Kunstler warned, American suburbs represent the “Perhaps the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world.”

Very small (250 square feet or so), highly energy efficient, perhaps prefabricated housing makes a lot of sense, and this may become a growth sector.

Not sure what the lower limit is; not found much empirical research (just comments of people at the IKEA mockups). Likely we'll adapt psychologically to what reality allows.

Use slide below in my class to show change in home and household size since 1900 (I have data back to 1850 but it's unvalidated):

By 2020, the average emissions from new cars will have to be no more than 95g of carbon dioxide per kilometre driven, a cut of more than 40g from today's levels and of 35g/km compared with the 2015 target, if the proposed new regulations are accepted.


However, these are 'official' emissions figures. The official test bears very little if any relation to the real world. It takes a hyperhiler driving under optimal conditions to match the fuel consumption calimed for new vehicles.

Loving that Obama Gas

I don't know whether to laugh or cry at this article. First off its full of the usual denier/BAU pipe dreams outright lies that the US is an oil exporter... Then it tries to claim that gasoline is cheaper than when Obama was elected (I guess the author is chart reading impared) and give credit for same solely to Obama. But then at the end he takes a turn for the rational and calls for more renewable and local action.

It is a pretty stupid op-ed. That said, it is no more stupid than the 8 zillion articles that blamed Obama for the high gas prices so perhaps a balance of stupidity would be better than one-sided stupidity. ;-)

Peak Oil Guru Robert Hirsch Gives A Dire Outlook For The Future

Aye, so he did. But his dire outlook hangs on a ~4% YOY decline in oil production starting no later than 2015. Is that time scale still viable?

Jersey, who knows. But 4% YOY is not going to happen. If because of underground factors oilproduction would drop so drastically, the world would enter a depression soon after, leading to huge demand destruction.

Hey, let's not accuse Hirsch of saying something that he is not saying at all. What he says, concerning the decline rate is:

If path A decline is << 1%, the problems are manageable.
If path B decline is > 3-4% then the problems are disastrous.

And one to four years means no later than 2016, four years from now. And yes it is viable?

And Han, decline is decline no matter whether it is caused by geology or economics. And some exporting countries could deliberately cut back, saving the oil for themselves.

I expect the early decline to be in the neighborhood of 1 percent. But after three or four years the decline will accelerate, likely to above 3 percent per year.

Ron P.

And the current decline rate is not only << 1%, it's actually negative. Annual consumption is increasing.

In his final ASPO newsletter (Dec 2008) Colin Campbell predicted peak oil (all liquids) of 80 mbpd in 2010, declining to 77.5 mbpd by 2012.

He was wrong. It's currently approx 90 mbpd.

Also, oil reserves (per capita) are up over 50% since 1970 (BP).

In his final ASPO newsletter (Dec 2008) Colin Campbell predicted peak oil (all liquids) of 80 mbpd in 2010, declining to 77.5 mbpd by 2012.

He was wrong. It's currently approx 90 mbpd.

It is not obvious to me he was wrong. You are comparing apples and oranges. I can't reverse engineer Colin Campbell's numbers but it is clear he was tallying in terms of "oil equivalent" i.e., adjusting for the energy content of a lot of the stuff we try to substitute for oil. Also, he explicitly excluded biofuels (~1.5 million barrels per day). So his numbers can't be directly compared to the All Liquids gross value of 90 mbpd. If you compare his tallies to EIA's tallies from the same period, it's plain that his accounting metrics were different.

Would it surprise you to learn that 2008 All Liquids production, tallied conventionally, was something like 89 mbpd? All these high prices, all these additions to reserves, Bakken, the steady march of tar sands, pre-salt this, East Africa that and we have netted 1 mbpd globally in four years .... not much to show, really.

Honestly, while clearly the conflation of all liquids with oil is a classic route of denial... I have come to believe that all liquids actually IS ultimately more important. A decline in C+C can be covered with other liquid sources - yes, it leads to economic issues, but BAU is supported in some fashion. I think a decline in all liquids will be much more harmful, and a much more meaningful marker.

One reason for this, is that other energy sources will be pulled in to make up liquids, which puts stress elsewhere. Ethanol puts stress on food systems and agriculture... gas to liquids, which looks to be the next phase, will put pressure on natural gas use in non-transport areas. If coal to liquids starts becoming a thing, I think BAU will be effectively dead.

Every input is important. The trouble is that all liquids number is going to toss apples and oranges into the same count and will probably count some apples for a second time. This has been shown to be the case in ethanol, which is counted in all liquids. Piss-poor EROEI, consumes diesel for the tractors and transportation, natural gas for distillation and then winds up right back in all liquids. Rather than subtracting the amount of diesel it takes to make it before putting it back in, it just adds to the number.

Worse than double-counting are simply the low EROEI fuels being introduced into the mix. Can you with a straight face say that 80 mb/day of 10:1 oil is as good as 100:1 oil? There's a much larger amount of that 80 mb/d dedicated to fueling the next cycle at 10:1 than there is at 100:1. It's like being paid less week to week, but also working more hours week to week...you're getting the same paycheck at the end of the week - but can't figure out why you're so tired and it's just getting worse.

No question that is true. But we've been working harder and taking lower pay, in this analogy, pretty much from the 2nd day they started to drill oil. Deepwater oil goes into C+C, and so does tar sands oil... And surely long before "unconventional" sources were brought online, there were harder wells and easier wells.

EROEI is important, but it's a complex number that in my opinion is too opaque to nail down. All liquids is not perfect, for all of the reasons you cite, but I think there IS a good reason to use it. Liquid fuels are the key to modern transport, and when we can't find a way to put something, anything, in the tank... Then we're truly on the way down.

As to what you say about ethanol - that is exactly my point. We will be using more fuel to get fuel, in a desperate attempt to produce liquid fuels. I think ethanol may not be a gain in total energy, but almost certainly is a gain in liquid fuels - the natural gas used along the line is cheap, while the ethanol is somewhat more valuable as you can mix it with gasoline. Liquids are already eating into other energy sources. When all liquids starts declining, I expect BAU as we know it will start dying in a more visible manner.

And Han, decline is decline no matter whether it is caused by geology or economics

Yes Ron, of course, I only wanted to say that geological decline is not the only one that counts, as the comment of Jersey supposes.
The last time more often I think that past peak above ground factors will be more important for the decline rate. Even more so oil exports. Regarding hoarding for instance, so many times mentioned by you.

City heat from ancient mines

People living in Glasgow could get around 40% of the energy they need to heat their homes and businesses from tapping into the rocks and water in old abandoned mineshafts and other mine workings beneath the city.

NERC's British Geological Survey (BGS) is working with Glasgow City Council to work out which parts of the city could best supply 'geothermal' energy from this source. The researchers believe it could help Glasgow meet government targets to lower carbon emissions and supply 11% of heat from renewable sources by 2020.

Editorial: To cut power outages, bury key electric lines
Opposing view: 'Undergrounding' power lines is no cure-all

Question for our resident "supervising senior engineer at a major investor-owned utility" benamery21.

Do you agree with My contention that it would be cheaper to buy everyone a whole house generator than to bury powerlines?

This excludes urban areas, and new subdivisions.

I was reading through the comments on Amazon the last time someone linked to a generator there. One of the more sober commenters stated that you could easily spend $8,000 in total between the genny and installation. In most areas you are going to need a permit for making a new connection to your gas line, maybe a concrete pad for it to sit on, and running new piping to it etc. Unless you are a licensed HVAC/Plumber and electrican, this is not going to be a DIY project (at least not legally!). There is also the installation of the transfer switch, and it sounds like if you do not not use a certified installer, you risk having Generac not supporting your installation or voiding the warranty. The sober commenter also noted that it costs him between $3-5/month for the natural gas used in the weekly testing. He said it's about $20/day in gas when the genny's running full-time.

I also have from many commenters that they had to make major expensive repairs to their units after 3-5 years and from others whose units tested fine every week for years and then failed when they had to run for an extended periods of time. What do you figure the average cost for setting up these genny's is when you calculate that it would be cheaper than burying power cables?

Given the choice between a nat gas backup for $5-8,000 and a comparable PV solar system with battery backup for $10-12,000, I think the solar setup is a no-brainer. After the renewable energy credits and selling power back to the grid, you will have a system that slowly pays for itself, instead of costing money each month, and one that will last for decades (excluding the cost of replacing batteries).

I heartily agree that spending the money on solar PV(and maybe a mid-size portable gen) is the way to go.

The buried cable costs estimates I have seen in news articles range from $15,000 to $30,000 per customer.

My friend has a propane powered whole house Gen. Just paid $610 to fill the tank. Was 2 years since last filling. Each of those weekly 30 minute test runs cost about $5. He figured a 12 hour outage last week cost him $200 in propane.

He would be only running his Honda EU2000 if only up to him.

My 13kW LP gas generator burned about 1.1 GPH at around 75% load (~9kW). At $3.00/gal. it would cost @$40 for a 12 hour run. Most whole house gennies won't have that kind of average load, unless running a large AC system continuously, or something similar. Your friend either has a big house/generator or pays a lot for propane (or both).

I always know my generator load since I'm charging batteries and data logging. Our diesel is about 35% more efficient, especially at full load. It'll run everything in the house at once and still put about a 3kW charge on the batteries using about 0.75 GPH (no central AC or electric hot water), though the microwave makes it crazy, cycling on and off.

Natural gas takes an efficiency hit of about 10%, but it's also generally cheaper.

Yes/Yes($4.38/G), plus a wife with no sense of conservation.

All of these analysis make the (IMO unnecessary) assumption that the backup needs to be able to provide the same level of service as the primary.

I'm not in an area very prone to outages but we do have a perpetually wet basement, and a failure during an event like the rainy spring a few years ago or a hurricane could lead to a flooded basement and thousands $$ in damages. So I do have a backup that I installed myself: About $800 total for a 3200 watt gasoline portable and a hardwired reliance controls transfer switch (its really not hard if you have good DIY experience and can read the code book).

That is more than enough to run my sump pump and refrigerator a couple hours a day. I can also run some household items like the microwave, coffeemaker or toaster to prep food also, just not all at once. Sure I cant run A/C or blast the home theater but this is an emergency not a vacation!

If its a winter outage heat is already taken care of via the woodstove.

BTW- Even this would be unnecessary if the house still had the functional gravity drain to daylight for the basement that some previous owner tried to "improve" by blocking it off and installing a pump.

BTW (2) - None of this is to say that I would not jump at solar if it was affordable and I was in a location with good sun potential.

wood_heat said:

"None of this is to say that I would not jump at solar if it was affordable and I was in a location with good sun potential."

Solar is affordable. The question is how much of your consumption is affordable? You mention microwave, toaster, a/c, coffeemaker--these normally aren't part of a modest off-grid photovoltaic setup.

We went for 11 days on 1kW of PV, using all the things we usually use- microwave, toaster, 3 water pumps, fridge, freezer, lights. all adding to an average of about 4kW-hrs/day. At the end of that time, we were a little low on the batteries (5kW-hrs, storage to 50% charge).

Both the microwave and the toaster take a kW, but only for minutes a day. Our big eaters of electrons are the freezer and fridge both taking in sum about 2.5kW-hrs/day.

No AC. Never!

I have ordered 2kW more PV, which should make us totally safe from grid dropout, which is mighty common around here- frequent big thunderstorms and a lot of big trees.

I recall an article a year or two ago where a fellow was converting upright refrigerators to chest type. Mounted on their backs so the cold air doesn't spill when opened, electricity usage dropped something like 80%.

White roofs, replace swinging doors with revolvers, give up floor space to have chest type rather than upright refrigerator, and we can dramatically cut electric usage. We have too many things that are built as they are because it's convenient for the builder rather than sensible for long term use.


My chest fridge (Vestfrost freezer turned into a fridge) consumes about 0.1 kWh a day. It works only about 2 minutes per hour. At all other times it is perfectly quiet and consumes no power whatsoever. My wind/solar system batteries and power-demand-sensing inverter simply love it.

Just get a real, made that way, chest-type refrigerator. Many stand-up refers won't take kindly to be laid down... even once.

top-opening freezers are a wonderful way to use PV with minimal batteries... basically just need one or two to deal with the startup surges. We put them on a timer and only run them during daylight hours, using salt-water filled jugs to keep the temp below freezing the rest of the time. Jugs of salt water are a lot cheaper than batteries and they don't wear out.

Given the choice between a nat gas backup for $5-8,000 and a comparable PV solar system with battery backup for $10-12,000, I think the solar setup is a no-brainer. After the renewable energy credits and selling power back to the grid, you will have a system that slowly pays for itself, instead of costing money each month, and one that will last for decades (excluding the cost of replacing batteries).

Seriously. It is quite the no-brainer to go with the PV system if you had to choose between those two.

That said, the even easier choice is no back-up. Losing power for more than a few hours is a very rare event and when it does happen, it isn't that big of a deal. Unless you have a medical device requirement, I think people can get along w/o power for a few days just fine.

On the other hand, the investment in photovoltaic power begins to have a useful return continuously and immediately. This may be a good thing if they start to play with the value of money and the cost of power. During the Enron scam, the price of power in San Diego went up ten times. The generator is of little value when the grid power is available to you: it is too expensive to run the generator for just making your own power.

Losing power for more than a few hours is a very rare event and when it does happen, it isn't that big of a deal.

Losing power here, often for extended periods, is hardly a rare event - I'm on the US east coast in a rural part of an otherwise heavily populated region. It's simply a consequence of the decay of the grid infrastructure. I have a cheap 5kW backup generator and am working on repairing a better one I got for free, but would prefer another solution. The only big deals to me are water and refrigeration. At this point I plan on putting together a 12V backup system, which should allow me to provide for those, plus some lights and a couple of window fans. I also want to pick up some mosquito netting since our home still has its old sleeping porch intact. It is hard to find time and money for these projects while I'm still working and trying to function in the "old" world/economy.

We sound like neighbors (No. VA?)!

There is another alternative to the above generator options. We live in a 250 year old stone house. So we have opted to go old fashioned almost entirely.

We lose power a LOT. The longest was for 5 days. We do not have any kind of backup electricity. We just revert to the 1800's. The house ghosts appreciate us! We use our wood stove for heating and cooking during non-summer outages and the propane grill for cooking in the summer. We keep a couple of dozen 1 gal plastic milk cartons full of frozen water in the deep freeze. When the power goes out we fill up the fridge with them and rotate as needed. We have never lost any food at all. We use candles after dark (on rare occasions we use a small Coleman lantern) for light. We use bucket water from the rain catchment system or the spring to flush toilets (when you are on a well you have no water when power is out). The spring water is potable so we always have drinking water. Sponge bath as needed.

The whole arrangement works fine and gives one an appreciation for modern amenities as well as to how critical they actually are.


Well, we're in PA but otherwise our situation sounds similar. Our house is also old and we heat almost exclusively with wood (the almost is some electric space heaters but they are not required). We have two surface wells, one of which is our primary source. I've looked at 12V RV well pumps, but they don't claim enough lift (I need about 25'), although I may try one anyway. I may also try grafting on a more generic 12V motor to one of my old well pumps.

I plan to make a spring house for the other well to use for keeping food cool (they used to set metal milk cans in the water for that purpose).

We have a couple of LED lanterns that go a very long time. We don't have A/C, but we do have some very big shade trees. I've found some nice 12V window fans that would be very nice to have.

Living in a house from the 1830's I never forget that the vast majority of people who lived here did so without electricity. My long term plan is to learn to do the same if needed, and the addition of a small amount of power should make life a whole lot easier.

How wide is your surface well? RV pumps need less than about 10 feet on the suction side, but you can mount one in something that floats and lower it into the well if there's room. A block of foam would work. You can easily get over 60 feet of head out of the discharge side (about 45 psi) with a small shurflo 12 volt pump. Just make sure your wiring is big enough to avoid too much voltage drop (stalls the pump). We're using this little pump to push several hundred gallons a day up a hill (about 60 feet of head) for our garden. You could even mount it in a small cooler as I've done and suspend it above the water line if there's room. Fun project.

Shurflo, Sunpumps and others sell DC submersible well pumps, but expect to pay several hundred $$ for one. That's what we use for the house; PV powered.

Those are the kinds of pumps I've been looking at. There is enough room to mount a pump in the spring house, but three is no wiring down there at this point. Hardly a show stopper, but I would prefer to keep the pump in the basement where it is now - about 20 to 25' above the spring. Presently I do not have to use a surface pump rigged with the injection pipe for deeper wells, a single suction line works. It's just that those Shurflo pumps don't seem to be rated for that lift - OTOH they really are not intended for that use so I wonder how they might really perform!

The shurflows are rated at maximum 12 feet to self prime, but if you have a foot valve in the spring house and if your water line (suction side) is large enough (1 inch?), once these pumps are primed I've seen them pull water 25 feet or more on the suction side. These guys have a selection of Shurflos, some heavier/continuous duty. May be worth a try. Diaphragm pumps are fairly robust and forgiving. Are you charging a pressure tank?

Ghung, thanks for the information/tips. I've been running a 120vac shur-flo for 10 years in my hand-dug well, but never thought about putting it on a float. I've been manually raising & lowering it with water level fluctuations. The main reason I use 120vac even tho being off-grid is that it runs on fewer amps, therefore runs cooler during long pumping sessions. I've tried using a larger diameter suction hose but it doesn't seem to prime as easily. Priming has been the weak link of these pumps, so it would work better to float one instead of mounting it above ground and expecting it to hold 25 feet of prime all the time. Of course your well diameter has to be large enough to permit the pump, which could be mounted vertically, with motor section higher. The pump runs on 80 -120 watts, so less than 1 amp @120vac. vs up to 10 amps in the 12 volt version. This makes wiring less expensive also. A $75 inverter (300-400 watts) will run the pump reliably & add maybe another 25 watts or so to your load, if you otherwise have no inverter in your 12 volt system. Putting even a miniature pressure tank inline will make the pump last a lot longer. At Ghung's link it has the 120vac shur-flo priced at $110, not bad at all

My water line is 1-1/4", has a foot valve, and yes I charge a pressure tank. Thank you very much for that info - I suspected as much but the pumps are not cheap so I hesitated to experiment. Now I am very motivated to do this project - I can easily plumb the 12V pump in parallel with my grid powered pump with valves to allow me to switch over. They'll both stay primed all the time. Priming the exiting system is a nasty task already, but luckily I have a second well with a pump on that too (normally used for water for the barn).

A couple of years ago the 50 year old steel pipe failed and I had to dig most of the line up, by hand, taking apart stone walls, etc. Then I had to attach fittings to the old pipe - luckily I found a coupler near each end, which I was able to finesse off with a cutoff wheel. Then the next year the entire spring house was crushed by a large oak. Keeping running water inside a house is not trivial, but it's a modern convenience I really would not like to give up!

How about one of these,


We have 2 at camp and I'm always amazed how efficient they are.
They will run off a good 1000W inverter.

I have measured the 1hp one at 690 watt running, 1668 watt(14.5A) start.

I have two identical pumps without the pressure tank and switch. Great little pumps, but one fried a rectifier in a nice 1300 watt inverter during heavy use. They run nicely connected to my Outback inverters.

I bought two of those pumps from HF for use on the second well that supplies the barn, and both failed quickly. One had a punctured air bladder from new. After the second one failed I bought a name brand unit for a bit more, and it has been flawless. They did pump fine before they failed though.

Well, we're in PA but otherwise our situation sounds similar. Our house is also old and we heat almost exclusively with wood (the almost is some electric space heaters but they are not required). We have two surface wells, one of which is our primary source. I've looked at 12V RV well pumps, but they don't claim enough lift (I need about 25'), although I may try one anyway. I may also try grafting on a more generic 12V motor to one of my old well pumps.

I plan to make a spring house for the other well to use for keeping food cool (they used to set metal milk cans in the water for that purpose).

We have a couple of LED lanterns that go a very long time. We don't have A/C, but we do have some very big shade trees. I've found some nice 12V window fans that would be very nice to have.

Living in a house from the 1830's I never forget that the vast majority of people who lived here did so without electricity. My long term plan is to learn to do the same if needed, and the addition of a small amount of power should make life a whole lot easier.

When we lived in the Ozarks, there was a dry spring house outside the kitchen door where a woodchuck had taken up residence. I kept hoping that he'd strike water and get the spring running again, but no luck.

San Bernardino becomes third California city seeking bankruptcy

The city council of San Bernardino, California, voted on Tuesday to file for bankruptcy, marking the third time in recent weeks a city in the most populous U.S. state has opted to seek protection from its creditors.

"Am I troubled? You bet," said Larkin. "I couldn't believe how quickly this vote happened."

Larkin noted the concerns of San Bernardino's staff about the risk of the city not meeting its payroll in coming months may be eclipsed by concerns it could be frozen out of the muni debt market if it goes through with a bankruptcy filing.

That would be the same muni debt market that the banks have been rigging for the past 10 years ... see The Scam Wall Street Learned From the Mafia and Notes on Wall Street's Bid-Rigging Scandal... and the same bid rigging that the MSM has kept off the front page and TV since the news broke.

also Rate Scandal Stirs Scramble for Damages

As unemployment climbed and tax revenue fell, the city of Baltimore laid off employees and cut services in the midst of the financial crisis. Its leaders now say the city’s troubles were aggravated by bankers’ manipulation of a key interest rate linked to hundreds of millions of dollars the city had borrowed.

Dozens of lawsuits filed by municipalities, pension funds and hedge funds have been consolidated into a few related cases against more than a dozen banks that are involved in setting Libor each day, including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank and Barclays.

So was Meredith Whitney wrong on her call regarding 'muni doom'? Her call was for 2011. Maybe it was the wrong year.

But looking at the macro data, state and local governments are going into positive territory for the first time next year. But they are holding back new hires because of the uncertain situation(wise move).

Scranton, one of the places that defaulted in the last week or so(or is on the verge on bankruptcy at least) already tried to default last year but because of the arcane rules in Pennsylvania, a special court had to try the case first if it was 'acceptable' and it ruled no, back to the drawing board. Now they are trying again.

I'm not as familiar with California but a guess would be that a lot of leftovers from the past few years are now starting to go into default, and to minimize the bad news, they do the smart thing from a PR perspective and get into the mix with everyone else to avoid too much scrutiny.

That would be the same muni debt market that the banks have been rigging for the past 10 years

Rigging allegations aside, cities should not being going into the debt market to cover operating expenses. The words, "We're going to have to borrow more money," should set off alarm bells ringing in city hall. The problem with these cities is that they thought the good times could roll forever, and the good times never roll forever. At some point the banks want their money back, with interest.

However, on the flip side of the coin, we have this item from the extremely fiscally conservative City of Calgary (I've posted this before, but it's worth repeating).

Calgary’s fiscal stability reserve fund growing at unanticipated rate

Calgary’s rainy-day fund continues to grow much more quickly than aldermen can tap it for their various spending ambitions.

In fact, the emergency fund is now lucrative enough to fund the entire fire department and the 911 call operation for an entire year, with enough left over to pay for all expenses and salaries in the mayor’s office and council offices.

Thanks to a tidy surplus and lower-than-expected losses from property tax appeals in 2011, the fund rose by $16 million — even in a year in which council drained the fund of $37 million to offset some revenue losses and fund special projects like a snow removal trial.

Matt Taibi's piece is incredible documentation of just how corrupt our financial sector and government truly is. But 4 basis points or 5.04% versus 5.00% is trivial compared to the
real gouging when Goldman Sachs was suddenly reclassified as a Commercial Bank and allowed to get virtually free money from the Fed at 0.25% and then lend it out at 6%, 7%, 8%.
Or worse when JPMorgan Chase gets Fed $$$ for 0.25% and then gets credit card interest of 29%.
The real gouging is this difference which North Dakota avoids by having their own State Bank and getting Fed money at 0.25%. Why shouldn't all municipalities be able to get money at the same rate as banks? What function are the banks actually performing besides even lower level
banksters like Goldberg making over $2 Million per year for scraping pennies over large bond issuances?
Also the banksters gamed a bunch of municipalities and Green Transit systems into their
fixed interest schemes and then making them pay.
The true gouging by the banksters is on this order not just .04%!

Good points :)

Just think of all investment in infrastructure and jobs if that free money was fed directly to municipalities. Instead we create this positive feedback loop by rewarding the ponzi schemers with even more fodder.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending July 6, 2012

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged about 15.8 million barrels per day during the week ending July 6, 143 thousand barrels per day above the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 92.7 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging 9.3 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased slightly last week, averaging 4.7 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 8.6 million barrels per day last week, down by 148 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged nearly 9.0 million barrels per day, 229 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 919 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 91 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 4.7 million barrels from the previous week. At 378.2 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 2.8 million barrels last week and are in the lower limit of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 3.1 million barrels last week and are below the lower limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 1.0 million barrels last week and are in the upper limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 3.0 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged nearly 19.0 million barrels per day, up by 0.2 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged about 8.9 million barrels per day, down by 3.9 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged 3.6 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, up by 2.8 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 5.4 percent higher over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

Gasoline Sales Fizzle over Fourth/EIA Revises Oil Use Upwards

While not the biggest fizzle over the Fourth of July holiday (that honor goes to the illuminating but very brief San Diego fireworks display), gasoline sales per both the EIA and MasterCard’s Spending Plus incrementally declined over the last week (when including seasonal adjustments). According to MasterCard, US retail gasoline demand fell about 3% over the last month, as compared to last year, while the EIA says gasoline ‘products supplied’ at the wholesale level fell about 4%. The EIA figure is subject to revision, as you may remember in March 2012 they retroactively increased the 2011 gasoline product amounts.

Speaking of revisions, this week’s EIA report incorporate a number them, mostly related to their review of April refinery output. As best as can be determined, oil inventories were revised down 3 million barrels, gasoline up 2.5 million barrels, and distillates up 3.5 million barrels. These adjustments appear to account for much of the net changes in various supply levels.

Missing in the week ago report (issued July 5) was about 3 million barrels of oil that was delayed from arriving in US ports along Texas and Louisiana due to a tropical storm about two weeks ago. It was thought that this oil was offloaded last week, or the drop in oil inventories may have been even steeper.

Perhaps the key figure in this week’s report is that US oil demand growth continues to gain at a rate of about 3% per year. It has been widely reported that US oil demand is falling, when in fact, it is not. The misperception originates from the fact that oil demand in the first four months of 2012 declined, leading to the presumption that trend would continue.

Northeast refiners still cannot keep up with demand. The large Colonial Pipeline, which runs from Louisiana to New Jersey with many branches, has been running at maximum capacity for the transport of gasoline for at least three weeks. The discrepancy between demand in the Northeast and supply in the Gulf of Mexico region has resulted in Northeast wholesale prices about 12 to 14 cents/gallon higher than in the Gulf. That price spread is probably kept from expanding by the use of gasoline barges leaving the Gulf; using them costs about 10 to 12 cents/gallon in shipping costs per gallon - per a report earlier this year from the EIA.

The latest shipping reports indicate that both oil and gasoline imports, in general, will slow over the next few weeks.

Just like oil, after the MOL of corn in the pipeline is reached, spot shortages develop forcing end users to sit down for awhile. If I was to project the corn stock-to-use ratio for 2012/2013 based on current consumption and a forecast yield of 135 b/a, it would be negative so there is much, much more demand to ration.

U.S. ethanol output drops to lowest in nearly two years

Ethanol production last week fell 4 percent, or 36,000 barrels per day to 821,000 bpd, the lowest since the week ending July 23, 2010, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Stocks of the biofuel fell 761,000 barrels to 19.53 million barrels, the lowest since January.

Individual differences in altruism explained by brain region involved in empathy

What can explain extreme differences in altruism among individuals, from Ebenezer Scrooge to Mother Teresa? It may all come down to variation in the size and activity of a brain region involved in appreciating others' perspectives, according to a study published in the July 12th issue of the journal Neuron. The findings also provide a neural explanation for why altruistic tendencies remain stable over time.

Thank you! I've always wondered whether brain structure played a role in altruism. This is very exciting news!

Some folks get it:

" It's day six of the storm-induced power outage that has crippled much of the Eastern United States under unrelenting heat and painfully slow repairs. The unmistakable irony for more than 1 million people still without power on Thursday is that the sweltering sun that followed the brutal storms was tailor-made for rooftop PV with battery storage — a combination that keeps the lights on even in a blackout."


We had the same thing here when summer fires shut down the grid and gas/propane delivery.

Every Network Gets Extreme Weather Story Right, ‘Now’s The Time We Start Limiting Manmade Greenhouse Gases’ — ABC

... the extreme weather has been so unprecedented — and NOAA and leading climate scientists have been so blunt — that we have the unprecedented situation of the evening news shows last night on ABC, CBS, and NBC (and PBS) all talking about the link between greenhouse gases and the stunning heat wave.

Fed survey: Median income fell 7.7% in 3 years

The Fed survey found that the median value of family income, when adjusted for inflation and before taxes, fell by 7.7 percent – from $49,600 in 2007 to $45,800 in 2010. The median is the midpoint of all family income, and while it fell in all four corners, it fell most in the South and West.

The Fed found that median net worth fell 38.9 percent – from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010. That essentially took net worth back to levels recorded in 1992, and reflects the steep erosion of housing wealth. Middle-class Americans have a greater proportion of net worth tied up in their home than do the rich.

For the past quarter century, there’s been a widening gap between the richest Americans and everyone else. The Fed noted this income disparity and said that the decline in average income of the richest 10 percent between 2007 and 2010 “stands in stark contrast to the generally steady pattern of rising mean incomes at the top of the income distribution over the past two decades.”


The Silence on Global Warming

... Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, gave a major speech on the Senate floor on June 19 lamenting the failure of the U.S. political system to address the global-warming crisis but the speech got little play.

Kerry said, “As a matter of conscience and common sense, we should be compelled to fight today’s insidious conspiracy of silence on climate change — a silence that empowers misinformation and mythology to grow where science and truth should prevail. It is a conspiracy that has not just stalled, but demonized any constructive effort to put America in a position to lead the world on this issue. …

“In the United States, a calculated campaign of disinformation has steadily beaten back the consensus momentum for action on climate change and replaced it with timidity by proponents in the face of millions of dollars of phony, contrived ‘talking points,’ illogical and wholly unscientific propositions and a general scorn for the truth wrapped in false threats about job loss and taxes.

“Yet today, the naysayers escape all accountability to the truth. The media hardly murmurs when a candidate for President of the United States in 2012 [a reference to Mitt Romney] can walk away from previously held positions to announce that the evidence is not yet there about the impact of greenhouse gases on climate.

... Kerry continued, “The level of dissembling — of outright falsifying of information, of greedy appeal to fear tactics that has stalled meaningful action now for 20 years — is hard to wrap one’s mind around. It is so far removed from legitimate analysis that it confounds for its devilishly simple appeal to the lowest common denominator of disinformation.

“In the face of a massive and growing body of scientific evidence that says catastrophic climate change is knocking at our door, the naysayers just happily tell us climate change doesn’t exist. In the face of melting glaciers and ice caps in the Arctic, Greenland and Antarctica, they say we need to ‘warm up to the truth.’ And in the face of animals disappearing at alarming rates, they would have us adopt an ‘ostrich’ policy and simply bury our heads in the sand. …

“Al Gore spoke of the ‘assault on reason.’ Well, Exhibit A is staring us in the face: Coalitions of politicians and special interests that peddle science fiction over science fact. A paid-for, multi-million dollar effort that twists and turns the evidence until it’s gnarled beyond recognition.

“And tidal waves of cash that back a status quo of recklessness and inaction over responsibility and change. In short, it’s a story of disgraceful denial, back-pedaling and delay that has brought us perilously close to a climate change catastrophe. …

“What’s worse, we’ve stood by and let it all happen — we’ve treated falsehood with complacence and allowed a conspiracy of silence on climate change to infiltrate our politics. …

“The conspiracy of silence that now characterizes Washington’s handling of the climate issue is dangerous. Climate change is one of two or three of the most serious threats our country now faces, if not the most serious, and the silence that has enveloped a once robust debate is staggering for its irresponsibility.

So what was the reaction to Kerry’s address? It got some notice on blogs, especially those dedicated to climate-change issues, but received almost no attention from the mainstream news media.

Our news media is no longer the 'loss-leader' that it once was. We now expect the news to turn a profit. And if you tell people things they don't want to hear, they'll turn to a different channel. Climate change is just one of those topics that people don't want to hear about . . . it is not good for ratings.

Climate change is just one of those topics that people don't want to hear about . . . it is not good for ratings.

I'm not sure, Spec. It could be that people do want to hear about it but the owners don't want that to happen. So they tell us, "you don't want to hear that." And, like good little sheep, we follow along.


The big story on Monday was Obama announcing his plans for the Bush era tax cuts. The other big story was a guy in a kayak got followed by a shark.


It's a total non-story except for the fact that somebody snapped a really sexy photo of the kayak being trailed by a dorsal fin. The story was on every MSM news show Monday evening.

A couple of them even managed to interview some shark experts to get the real story. Globally, there are on average 5 deaths per year from shark bites. Humans kill between 40 and 80 million per year. Your bathtub is far more likely to kill you than a shark, but there is something so tantalizing about the fear we have of things that could make meals out of us.

Total non-story, especially for anyone that kayaks frequently.

A sea lion once tried to join me on-board my kayak off Cape Disappointment (US Washington Coast). Had there been a photo or video, it would have totally blown that story out of the water :-)

Animals have curiousity too. I once watched killer whales put on a show in the wild. They didn't just go by... They knew we were there and were showing off a bit. This was in Washington, in the San Juan islands.

The analogy I heard, from someone who dives and kayaks, was that sharks were a bit like dogs.

I've watched dolphins chasing windsurf boards being towed by a RIB. When I snorkelled out to try and see them, one broke off and swam at me like a torpedo, turning away at the last moment. They played around the windsurf school for hours. What stuck out in my mind was that totally wild animals were coming in just to play with a completely different species, they wanted to play with us.


I think a lot of our fear of other creatures stems from our utterly weak physicality in relation to pretty much any wild animal.
Had that dolphin, even though playing, not peeled off at the last moment, you wouldn't have been around to write that post.
It always strikes me how, we, the "dominant species", are the first species in the history of the planet to become so purely by our brain's inventive leverage, rather than overwhelming physical power.
Maybe some insects being a partial exception to that, in a collective manner.

Like hearing about these things. That's what it's all about :-)

Our planet has sentient nonhuman aboriginals, and you met one.

They have very bad luck that we evolved contemporaneously, because they'll likely go extinct. I've spent 35 years trying to prevent it, but when you stack acidifying oceans on top of all the other stuff we've done to them, the outlook isn't good.

Always good to bear in mind that what we think of as human problems are affecting critters who were likely pondering their existence in the universe before we had the capacity to.

Gary Paulsen tells in one of his books about observing a sled dog patiently teaching a pup to suck marrow out of a bone. Wolves, dolphins, have self-perpetuating communities almost tribal in how they operate. Octopuses are intelligent and have better eyes than mammals do. What limits nonhumans is lack of language to amass and pass on knowledge, and fingers to manipulate the environment. (I wonder what raccoons would accomplish if they could converse.)

Paulsen in another story tells how he let a load of logs get away from him while working with an experienced logging horse. The horse cast him a contemptuous glare that clearly said, "Amateur." (Paulsen wrote the famous survival novel, Hatchet.)

"the fear we have of things that could make meals out of us."

Fascinating book on man as prey.

Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind. David Quammen.


Thanks for that, I will check it out. The subject of human treatment of predators is one that fascinates me.

This book describes situations/cultures where man is the food, not how we treat other large predators. There isn't many such places anymore, or predators of sufficient stature to consume people. But living in such a situation, where you know you could be the next meal, gives a different outlook.

Excellent, thanks for the link!

Although at the rate we are going we will finish the job by 2050 and then be left with only each other (and our mechanized progeny) to fear...

But by the year 2150 big predators may only exist on the other side of glass barriers and chain-link fences.

An alternative explanation ...

New reporter? Call him Al, for algorithm

The new reporter on the US media scene takes no coffee breaks, churns out articles at lightning speed, and has no pension plan.

That's because the reporter is not a person, but a computer algorithm, honed to translate raw data such as corporate earnings reports and previews or sports statistics into readable prose.

Algorithms are producing a growing number of articles for newspapers and websites ...

While computers cannot parse the subtleties of each story, they can take vast amounts of raw data and turn it into what passes for news, analysts say.

And I am at work developing a computer reader who will sit at my chair and use algorithm's to decide if the computer reporter's stories are worthwhile to pass on to me or better used to line the cage of my virtual parrot.

http://www.narrativescience.com/ if you'd like to automate your postings to TOD.

I think its a lot less about what the people want to hear, and much more about what the sponsors want to spoon feed to the people.


Generally the only time a senator's words reach the MSM is when there is going to be a vote on a major piece of legislation. Senator's expound on all sorts of topics all of the time and unless you're a policy wonk who watches CSPAN-2 all day, your likely to miss this type of stuff.

But what's the headline for an MSM story? Kerry Believes in Global Warming: Makes case for Meaningful Action in Blistering Nearly Hour Long Senate Floor Speech

Ugh, 50 minutes of Kerry pontificating eloquently, I'll be sure to watch this if I'm having difficulty falling asleep! FWIW I'm a dem and someone who really wanted to see Shrub get replaced in '04 but twas not to be!
I'm listening to it now, and it's a very effective speech. Unfortunately, I'm solidly in the choir already!

"almost no attention from the mainstream news media"

LOL. They'd probably feel obliged by journalistic pretensions to air an excerpt. But this being Kerry, zzzzzzzz. Can't have the viewers fast asleep for the next commercial, the bills don't get paid that way.


“The level of dissembling — of outright falsifying of information, of greedy appeal to fear tactics that has stalled meaningful action now for 20 years — is hard to wrap one’s mind around. It is so far removed from legitimate analysis that it confounds for its devilishly simple appeal to the lowest common denominator of disinformation.


What happens to individuals also happens to entire societies. Take a neurotic Peak Oil-denying industrial civilization, put it through a terrible global financial crisis, tell it that economic growth is over forever, and what you get a psychotic, delusional industrial civilization. In Civilization and its Discontents [1930] Freud wrote of the capacity of delusions to propel an entire culture toward disintegration in a maelstrom of violence, and in Constructions in Analysis [1937] he pointed out that once delusional thinking permeates an entire culture, including its religion and its politics, that culture becomes inaccessible to logical argument. Delusion is a sort of tyranny—internal in the case of a sick individual, external in the case of a sick culture—that traps reality within specific images, precluding any possibility of self-understanding or objectivity.

...applies equally well to climate change. Much of our society is beyond the denial stage and has become psychotically delusional. I don't think the majority is going to handle these things well... not at all, especially when these things become undeniable. We're overshooting many peoples' ability to cope.

I met two very nice people today visiting from AZ, mid 70s, parents of a friend. It became apparent that they are completely delusional about where we are as a society and environmentally, and where we're headed. I didn't bring any of this up, just a fly on the wall, so to speak, and got the impression that this is a mantra they repeat where ever they go; what's wrong with the world, who's to blame, and how to fix it. When the guy started to rant a bit and shake, I quickly asked him to help me pick beans and squash, since they'd come to see the garden. Quite a surreal encounter.

I live in AZ. Surreal existence.

Israel Facing Blackouts as Natural Gas Shortage Looms

JERUSALEM--Israel is likely facing rolling electricity blackouts this summer as a heatwave and natural-gas shortage could result in energy demand outstripping supply, the state-run Israel Electric Corp. Ltd. said Wednesday.

The electricity shortage results from both a shortage in natural gas provisions and lack of sufficient infrastructure, including power stations, the electric company said, although any blackouts would only likely last for one hour each day, and occur in one geographic region at a time, the state company said.

Geoscientists discover trigger for past rapid sea level rise

The cause of rapid sea level rise in the past has been found by scientists at the University of Bristol using climate and ice sheet models.

The process, named 'saddle-collapse', was found to be the cause of two rapid sea level rise events: the Meltwater pulse 1a (MWP1a) around 14,600 years ago and the '8,200 year' event. The research is published today in Nature.

Making 'renewable' viable: Engineers develop new technology for grid-level electrical energy storage

A team of researchers from Drexel University's College of Engineering has developed a new method for quickly and efficiently storing large amounts of electrical energy.

... The team's research yielded a novel solution that combines the strengths of batteries and supercapacitors while also negating the scalability problem. The "electrochemical flow capacitor" (EFC) consists of an electrochemical cell connected to two external electrolyte reservoirs - a design similar to existing redox flow batteries which are used in electrical vehicles.

This technology is unique because it uses small carbon particles suspended in the electrolyte liquid to create a slurry of particles that can carry an electric charge.

Uncharged slurry is pumped from its tanks through a flow cell, where energy stored in the cell is then transferred to the carbon particles. The charged slurry can then be stored in reservoirs until the energy is needed, at which time the entire process is reversed in order to discharge the EFC.

That chart looks like a robot!

China reshapes role in rare earths, could be importer by 2014

China, the world's biggest producer of rare earth metals, is likely to turn an importer of the vital industrial ingredients by as early as 2014 as it boosts consumption in domestic high-tech industries rather than just shipping raw material overseas.

China's appetite is growing fast as it seeks to maintain its stranglehold over the group of 17 elements used in new technologies like smartphones and hybrid cars.

A concerted effort to build an entire industrial chain means that China, which produces more than 90 percent of world supplies of rare earths, is now consuming 65 percent of output versus 25 percent a decade ago.

China's coking coal sector offers a lesson, analysts say. Determined to feed its own steel mills instead of shipping the material abroad, China changed itself from the world's biggest exporter into one of the biggest importers.

The "heavy rare earth issue" keeps cropping up in media reports and on TOD. This presentation, given in 2011 at the Thorium Energy Alliance conference, points out that the United States can be self-sufficient in heavy rare earths from just one mine using one monazite ore deposit - if the thorium by-product wasn't a liability. In other words, if thorium (which is much less radioactive than uranium) was treated like the NORM (naturally occurring radioactive material) in coal, oil and gas production.

James Kennedy - "U.S. Heavy Rare Earth Cooperative"

James Kennedy isn't looking for the "free pass" that NORM seems to get. (Rockman and RockyMtnGuy - what do you have to do about NORM when you're drilling? How correct is my impression?) Kennedy just wants someone to safely store the thorium that "literally drops out (of solution)" in the milling of the rare earths.

The conference, of course, had more on the agenda and looks at thorium differently than what I see as the TOD community's perception.

The thorium connection to rare earths is sometimes downplayed on perceptions of adverse publicity. The new rare earths plant in Malaysia brushes aside radiation concerns while another proposed for Australia highlights the thorium byproduct. Both use ore from hard rock deposits. In contrast a major mineral sands company in Australia concentrates monazite sand which at one stage it was looking to sell. Perceptions would change completely if there was an off-the-shelf thorium reactor with a proven safety record.

Andrew – I’ll give a heavy handed over the top opinion about NORM at least with respect to the oil patch: it is huge pile of horse poo poo designed to separate operators from their money. $millions have been spent sending NORM contaminated equipment to certified PRIVATELY owned companies to deal with this hazardous material. When it covers a piece of production tubing it’s called NORM. When you scrape it off you shoe it’s called DIRT. Here’s the summary of a report from a group not exactly considered to be oil patch friendly:

“This report presents the findings of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) that New York State oil and gas production equipment and wastes are not significantly contaminated by naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM). The concentrations of NORM found on oil and gas production equipment and wastes pose no threat to the public health and the environment.”

I don’t recall the timing of the move to label dirt as NORM but the move by the regulators/politicians that pushed it was brilliant IMHO. Who would allow the public to be exposed to RADIOACTIVE material? LOL. Now that I think of it those produced frac fluids should be full of NORM. Granted probably not as much NORM as contained in the granite counter tops in many homes in PA/NY. But that’s not what’s important: they are letting oil companies produce fluids containing RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL into the environment. I can’t believe the opponents of frac’ng missed that one.

OK…a little heavy handed. But I’ve paid many tens of $thousands to have companies certify that the dirt on my production equipment won’t make someone’s hair fall out. Obviously a sore point with me.

Rockman, I was once in New Jersey, many years ago, when the government discovered a large area of soil contaminated with radioactive material. Since this was obviously a nuclear crisis, they started excavating this soil and trucking it away to a nuclear disposal site.

Fairly quickly they discovered that it was part of a large trend of radioactive soil that started in New Jersey but extended into Pennsylvania and New York State. So, they covered up their excavation and pretended it never happened.

Most people don't know that radioactive material is rather common in the rocks and soil of our planet. Granite, in particular, is typically about 2% uranium, and if you have large amounts of granite in your house, you should make sure that it is well ventilated so it doesn't build up high concentrations of radon gas.

Two percent sounds very very high to me. I don't have time to look it up, but 2% would be considered to be some pretty rich ore wouldn't it.

Tselinny uranium mining project in Kazakhstan - average ore grade 0.12% uranium

Cigar Lake in Canada - average ore grade 19.06% uranium

There is a very wide geological variety of uranium deposits. The currently most important mineralization styles are unconformity-related Proterozoic deposits (mainly in Canada and Australia), roll-front deposits in Mesozoic-Cenozoic sandstone (Kazakhstan and USA), and IOCG (Iron Oxide-Copper-Gold) deposits in hematitic granite breccias where uranium is a by-product of copper mining (Olympic Dam, Australia). The uranium deposit spectrum is controlled by the high aqueous solubility of uranium in the hexavalent state, and low solubility in the tetravalent state. This geochemical background is reflected in large-scale leaching of uranium by oxidized meteoric or formation waters, and precipitation of uraninite (UO2) at redox fronts. Evapotranspiration under arid climate conditions can lead to uranium enrichment in near-surface calcrete deposits (Namibia and Australia). Paleoplacers (quartz-pebble conglomerates), restricted to Late Archean to Early Proterozoic age, contain a large low-grade resource of clastic uraninite (South Africa, Canada).


I was quoting from memory, and I think I was quoting someone who didn't know what he was talking about.

Granite - Natural radiation

Granite is a natural source of radiation, like most natural stones. However, some granites have been reported to have higher radioactivity thereby raising some concerns about their safety.

Some granites contain around 10 to 20 parts per million of uranium. By contrast, more mafic rocks such as tonalite, gabbro or diorite have 1 to 5 PPM uranium, and limestones and sedimentary rocks usually have equally low amounts.

So, assume 10-20 ppm uranium as an average for granite fireplaces in Canada. By contrast, the ore at Cigar Lake is over 20% uranium, which is an example of the uranium levels we DIDN'T have to deal with in the Canadian oil and gas industry. Cigar Lake was well to the north of our oil fields.

Radioactivity in Granite at the Cemetery

Stay away from the red granite!

RockyMtnGuy - what do you have to do about NORM when you're drilling?

We didn't do NORM in Canada. We were drilling where the radioactive material was not. Canada has some of the biggest uranium deposits in the world, but none of them are in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin, where most of the oil and gas is found.

Saskatchewan has a lot of oil in its south, but it also has a vast deposits of uranium in its north. If somebody told them the wells we were drilling were radioactive, they would tell them that they were nuts, and didn't know what real radioactivity was.

Uranium in Canada

Canada was the world's largest uranium producer for many years, accounting for about 22% of world output, but in 2009 was overtaken by Kazakhstan.

Production comes mainly from the McArthur River mine in northern Saskatchewan province, which is the largest in the world. Production is expected to increase significantly from 2013 as the new Cigar Lake mine comes into operation.

With known uranium resources of 572,000 tonnes of U3O8 (485,000 tU), as well as continuing exploration, Canada will have a significant role in meeting future world demand.

Guidelines in Alberta

In Canada, working with man-made radioactive sources falls under federal jurisdiction and is regulated by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. NORM are exempt from CNSC legislation except for the import, export, and transportation of the material. The jurisdiction over radiation exposure to NORM is thus the responsibility of each Canadian province and territory. To date, the province of Alberta has not yet implemented NORM-specific legislation or regulations.

Rocky - "We were drilling where the radioactive material was not." The heck you were, bubba. LOL. You never drilled a shale in all your years? You never see a "hot" gamma ray curve? FYI for the TODsters: the gamma ray log is one the first and more fundamental tools we run down hole to identify the rock types present. Shales are made predominantly of clay minerals compared to the quartz et al minerals common in sandstone. And the clay minerals tend to have more naturally occurring radioactive elements and thus the "hot" (high gamma count) shales.

I can understand your confusion Rocky if your regulators didn't jump on the NORM scam in Canada. But yes: shale cuttings/dust stuck on a piece of tubing need to be certified as non-dangerous NORM before I can sell it to someone or just to dispose of it on the surface. And don't ask why I can dump several tons of those shale cuttings on the ground and spread it without treating it as NORM. I've asked regulators that more than once and the answer was always the same: because that's how the regs are written.

You reminded me of the big radon scare years ago. As you say many areas have a measureable amount of radioactive gas slowly rising from igneous rocks. I don't know if hit you way up there but about 30 years the "threat" loomed big down here. I don't recall the details but someone (academic/govt?) wrote a report about the dangers of cancer from radon gas. At one point at checkout counters in food stores and drug stores you could buy a small "radon gas" collector box (about 4" X 8"), set in your house for X days and then mail it off. It would be analyzed and the results mailed back. I also think I recall someone offering to install a foil shield to stop the RADIOACTIVE GAS from leaking into your house. There was some documented risk but it was from currently leaking radon. The risk would be if you had a basement in an area with significant radon flow but only after 30 or 40 years of the radioactive particles accumulating in the dust collecting in the basement/enclosed area. Then if you disturbed the dust and breathed it in you could deposit enough radioactive particles in your lungs that you might develop cancer many years down the road. Vague memory but the radioactive gas scare last a couple of years or so.

Just searched and found it easily: http://www.radonzone.com/?gclid=CKCi-K-HlLECFSdgTAod9BYEmQ

"It is estimated that radon causes many thousands of deaths each year because breathing air that contains radon can cause lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of contracting lung cancer is especially high. There are simple, relatively inexpensive measures for radon reduction that you can take to fix a radon problem and even very high levels can be reduced to acceptable levels."

All those folks in the NE US were worrying about health problems from frac'ng and here they were ignoring a real hazard. For a mere $134.95 they count mount a radon gas detector on the wall next to their smoke detector. I'm curious how many TODster knew they were living in such danger. Of course, were I planning to be living on top of a granite batholith for the next 30 or 40 years I wouldn't be quit so sarcastic. LOL

We were drilling where the radioactive material was not.

Let me qualify that. We were drilling in areas where there were no massive world-scale deposits of highly concentrated uranium that could be mined and sold to nuclear reactor operators world-wide. The governments had bigger fish to fry - they were more concerned that someone would build a housing development on top of a giant uranium ore deposit. Actually, they were mostly concerned about the money they could make from it, since they own the mineral rights.

Of course, were I planning to be living on top of a granite batholith for the next 30 or 40 years I wouldn't be quit so sarcastic.

And that's a valid point. If you lived in Canada's capital of Ottawa, or even Montreal, you might very well be living on top of a granite batholith and not know it (the bureaucrats in the environment department might know it, but they wouldn't tell you because they didn't want to get stuck with the cost of fixing the problem). If you are in Alberta, there's pretty much a zero chance of that happening.

There was a classic case in which the federal government tested the well water near the Whiteshell nuclear research facility in Manitoba for radon, and as a control, compared it against well water near the Manitoba capital of Winnipeg. Guess what? The well water near Winnipeg turned out to be far more radioactive than that near the nuclear research station. So they quietly swept that study under the rug and moved on.

Sure, there is some radiation in the ground in Alberta, but not enough to upset anybody except those persons suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder (which I think includes a lot of US environmentalists and government bureaucrats.) There may be a potential uranium mine somewhere in Southern Alberta, because there is uranium in the well water, but the government is more concerned about ranchers' water wells than oil wells, because the oil companies know how to handle it.

Occupational Health and Safety Code 2009: Radiation Exposure

NORM is not regulated in Canada because its source is natural background radiation. However, guidelines describing safe work practices and procedures to be followed when dealing with NORM are available. The maximum exposure limits to NORM are the same as the exposure limits for all sources of ionizing radiation

Oil companies just test the radiation levels in the oil and gas, and if they are too high, they pick up the phone and call in the consultants, who tell them how to handle it. The standard is ALARA - "As Low As Reasonably Achievable — economic and social factors being taken into consideration". Kind of a loose standard.

The US actually had very little uranium to begin with, and back during the Cold War the government subsidized companies to mine it and turn it into atomic bombs (I had a long discussion with an old uranium miner about this). Now that its gone, there are only low-grade deposits to worry about. But, I guess people don't have enough other things to worry about, hence all the regulations.

"If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of contracting lung cancer is especially high."

The Surgeon General is correct. Many years ago the uranium mines had a problem with sky-high lung cancer levels among their workers. After doing considerable study they found a simple solution - they stopped hiring smokers. Their lung cancer rates dropped into the normal range for underground miners. It was only uranium miners who smoked who were a problem.

The same applies to householders - if you find high radon levels in your house, don't smoke there. Actually just give up smoking completely, it's easier that way.

All, and especially Rockman and RockyMtnGuy - thanks for your replies and for helping me understand NORM better. There's certainly minimal logic or rational thought behind either the regs or the media's treatment of radioactives. The media especially could stir up a lot more panic with just a few minutes of Wikipedia research and some simple arithmetic, to say just how much NORM comes out of the oil patch. For instance - at only the average values of uranium concentration in rocks (2.5 parts per million), I calculate that half a kilogram of uranium is contained in the cuttings from one kilometer of 30 centimeter (12 inch) well bore. Even using that uranium in conventional reactors (fissioning U-235 only) the raw energy value (I calculate 2.5 hundred billion joules) is more than the heat value in 50 tonnes of gasoline.

Rockman - thanks also for your comment on gamma ray logs. It strikes me that oil companies have inadvertently prospected uranium resources over the years. Modern in-situ leaching (ISL) uranium extraction - drill a hole, pump in a chemical mix that sounds simpler than fracking fluids, pump out the leachate, mill out the uranium - sounds like it's right in a driller's area of expertise. The gamma ray logs and permeability data could help identify and characterize an extraction target IMO, and the oil patch has a lot of logs and other data. According to a World Nuclear Organization leaching article 45% of the world's uranium production was by ISL in 2011.

Are you aware of anyone buying log info or using cores to characterize mining targets? There may be opportunities out there beyond uranium, as well. The only "problem" with uranium is that production is currently 63,000 tonnes a year (forecast for 2012) rather than the 80 million barrels (10 million tonnes) of oil per day we're producing now. It would be a major change in business models...

I live in Calgary, and the media here haven't realized that all the granite and sandstone in the buildings downtown are radioactive. For me, there's a certain irony in all the granite in oil company offices, especially the building faces, lobbys, and executive floors.

Andrew - Actually long ago Texas wasn't considered a viable candidate for U exploration. But the GR logging of oil wells discovered fairly significant concentrations of U in shallow sandstone reservoirs. And the concentrations weren't completely independent of oil/NG accumulations. I don't know the details but the U migrates via the water column and gathers in "wave fronts". Find a wave front and it's mined exactly as you describe via leeching.

The U hunters just used water well drilling rigs to search for those concentrations. About 20 years ago I drilled NG test and at 1,900' foot saw a huge GR spike. An old U geologist told that had it been at 1,000' it might have been a commercial deposit. Even more interesting was the water pit I had filled from a shallower well: the bluest water I had ever seen in S Texas. That U geologist told me it was deuterium...heavy water. Not uncommon to be associated with U deposits he said.

Oil/NG deposits often develop a "chimney" effect as a result of a reduction environment causing a number of interesting side effects such as U deposits, magnetic anomalies, radon anomalies, oxidation anomalies. A variety of exotic exploration techniques have been used to chase them but nothing coming close to a magic bullet. Very complex relationships to say the least.

Are you aware of anyone buying log info or using cores to characterize mining targets?

In Alberta, the provincial government requires oil companies to turn over all their log data and well cores as a condition of drilling, so it is publicly available.

See Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board - Data Sales & Service

One of the major functions of the ERCB is to provide access to data and information about the energy industry. Two areas of the ERCB form the major interface for access to public data and records:

Core Research Centre
Core, drill cutting samples, and tour (daily drilling) reports

Information Sales
Coal, gas, oil, oil sands and pipeline records, documents, and data

And, yes, there have been a lot of interesting minerals found through well cores in Alberta. Not much uranium, though.

And, yes, the granite in the oil company offices is mildly radioactive. The oil companies know about it, have tested it, and found the levels are within acceptable limits. If they weren't, the granite would have been quickly ripped out of there. Especially out of the CEO's office.

A radon vent is part of the building code for new houses in NE Washington. The tighter the building envelope, the more of a problem radon becomes; old loose houses, not so much.

ewak - Interesting. There is an area in Texas (the Central Mineral District/Llano Uplift) that actually has granite exposed at the surface. I've often wondered if enough radon contaminated dust had accumulated in those old houses to become a threat. Not much concern on the coast where I am given those igneous rock are 100s of thousands of feet deeper.

Radon contaminated dust accumulating?? Radon has a half life of a few days. Now , dust with say Uranium, which has Radon in its decay chain would be something else.

It's the radon gas becoming trapped in a tight envelope that is the problem. I did the groundworks/foundation for a 6000 sq. ft. house with geothermal radiant heat. The entire house site was located on a decomposing granite dome that had to be blasted to level.

4" of pea gravel or "radon rock" is placed under the slab. A 3" ABS vent goes from the gravel thru the roof. A vapor barrier, code minimum 6 mil plastic, goes under the slab to trap the radon gas as well as preventing capillary moisture.

On the big house we opted for some thick virgin vinyl, imported form Europe, instead of the plastic because of a much longer expected life span.

Finance Is Lost. Is Banking Redeemable? An interview with John Fullerton of Capital Institute

John Fullerton is a former managing director at JPMorgan.

Finance drives economics, he says, and economics largely determines the fate of the planet, yet the resources of the planet are finite. “The notion that exponential growth can go on indefinitely in a finite planet is in violation with arithmetic and basic physics.” As long as growth is the sine qua non of market economic ideology: “We are lost.”

If we don’t redefine self-interest, said Fullerton, in this conversation recorded in New York in late June, “I think we will look back, and our grandchildren will ask us, What were you thinking?”

"...our grandchildren will ask us, What were you thinking?”"

We weren't thinking, we were consuming. Everybody now! We were CONSUUUMING.

Canadian wind opponents welcome noise study

Opponents of wind farms are hailing Health Canada's decision to study the possible connection between noise generated by the towering turbines and adverse health effects reported by people living close to them.

There are ones out there that produce a lot of noise, but they're getting better: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JD0v9_zV2uk

Woosh woosh: http://youtu.be/78QwBM_AD3s

This one is a little more clear: http://youtu.be/PEnL7meWzBc

It's interesting to note the high root twist and taper with droop tips - probably an elliptical loading as you'd see in a highly efficient airplane wing (accompanied usually with nasty stall characteristics).

The "beat" appears to be an interference issue with the tower - and I remember reading that it's worse with a "downwind" type of turbine where the tower shades the blades. It's pretty hard to believe in the first clip how quiet it really is...the tips of those blades, though they appear to be moving slowly, are actually going upwards of 100 miles per hour (161 kph).

Short documentary: http://youtu.be/SNxvkrgoPLo

One of the largest problems with wind turbines is that they usually have to be put in conspicuous places, they're super tall, and they move - so in every way they make their presence known.

This is why I prefer PV over wind - though it might not be as good EROEI it's something that can be lived with. It doesn't move and isn't distracting, doesn't make any noise, and it can often integrate into a structure without anyone realizing it. It's put in at Point-of-Use and the infrastructure to distribute the energy is already present.

Funny about wind turbines and noise complaints. How many millions of people live near highways or airports? When I was a kid in Atlanta, the "perimeter" highway, I-285, was built and we were more than 2 miles away. When the highway was opened the noise was remarkable, especially since we didn't have air conditioning and kept the windows opened. Nobody was concerned about the noise pollution then. During the same period, Lockheed Marietta was building the C5A "Galaxy" transport, at the time the largest jet in the world. It flew over our house daily and was so loud it shattered windows. Both of these projects were considered important and "necessary".

When I could hear our little wind generator doing its thing, I considered it comforting; thrilled that it was busy charging our batteries.

I consider most folks' disconnect from their energy sources obscene. Spoiled rotten they are. They better get their sh@t together, and soon, but it ain't gonna happen.


Wind turbines are often rural, and thus are near certain people, like pensioners, or rich people living in mansions. As it clearly conflicts with "unspoiled nature" (ie it bugs them), they want the damn things taken away. Where shall their electricity come from, then? Coal and nuclear plants in densely populated worker areas.

As a "rural pensioner" living near relatively "unspoiled nature" I prefer to make electricity from photovoltaic panels on site rather than have miles of poles traipsing across the landscape (not to mention the cost of having it brought in). Also from a small wind generator that nobody can hear but myself. This method is not limited to remote locations, everyone could do it this way.

The highway noise, which can be terrible if you're within a half mile of it, is at least random. At a distance it can often times sound like wind through trees or a river/waterfall. The wind turbines apparently have that steady beat...like water dripping in the sink but unstoppable. Drip drip drip drip drip drip drip...

The Military Solution: How to Set the Planet on Fire and Learn Nothing

Americans may feel more distant from war than at any time since World War II began. Certainly, a smaller percentage of us -- less than 1% -- serves in the military in this all-volunteer era of ours and, on the face of it, Washington’s constant warring in distant lands seems barely to touch the lives of most Americans.

And yet the militarization of the United States and the strengthening of the National Security Complex continues to accelerate.

If the institutions of American life and governance are increasingly militarized, then it shouldn’t be surprising that the problems facing the country are ever more often framed in militarized terms and that the only solutions considered are similarly militarized. This paucity of imagination, this constraining of what might be possible, seems especially evident in the Greater Middle East.

From Pakistan and Afghanistan to Yemen and Somalia, the evidence is already in: such “solutions” solve little or nothing, and in a remarkable number of cases seem only to increase the instability of a country and a region, as well as the misery of masses of people.

Thanks for this post.

Unfortunately, the article is correct: the vast majority of U.S. Americans do not know the scope and extent of the MIC, and nor do they care. It is now part of the scenery...like the dirt underneath and the sky above.

Re: Texas drought, British heat linked to climate change

The article say that the type of weather we saw in 2011 is now att odds of becoming more common. Below follow the global heat anomaly for the last years. Also the top 10 list (since 1880) and positions :

 1997      0.41      0.40       
 1998      0.58      0.39       3  0.58
 1999      0.33      0.43    
 2000      0.35      0.46     
 2001      0.48      0.46
 2002      0.56      0.49       6  0.56
 2003      0.56      0.54       6  0.56
 2004      0.49      0.56       10 0.49
 2005      0.62      0.56       2  0.62
 2006      0.55      0.54       8  0.55
 2007      0.58      0.55       3  0.58
 2008      0.44      0.56 
 2009      0.57      0.55       5  0.57
 2010      0.63         *       1  0.63
 2011      0.51         *       9  0.51

As you see, globally, 2011 was not particulary warm. On the contrary, it was one of the coldest yet of the milennia; only 2001, 2004 and 2008 was colder (2000 is technically the last year of the previous milennia).

So this artcle say this was a warm year, and we may see more of those. Statistics says it was a relatively cool year, and most years will be even warmer forward.

Data from http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs_v3/Fig.A2.txt

It is possition 10 in your list, 9 in mine. So given the climate of the last decade, a relatively cool year.

It was a La Nina year, the hottest La Nina year on record. It's supposed to be cooler, but our cooler years (La Nina years) are getting hotter too.

So using the home run hitter on steroids analogy; he hit the ball out of the park last year, but without AGW last year he probably would have, at best, only got to second. Actually given it was a La Nina year he shouldn't have even got on base.

If you study the statistics of the last 2 decades a while, you will see that in this last decade, not much hapened to the highs, but the lows got higher. If this trend continues into the next decade, we will have excatly the same heat every year, wich is a metereological impossibility. And it will not get colder. So my prediction for the tens is it will primarily be the highs that goes up. The lows will stabilise at around current highs. What the twenties will look like, I dare not even think about.

Little harm from Chevron Nov oil spill off Brazil - report

A November oil spill at an offshore field operated by Chevron Corp. northeast of Rio de Janeiro did not kill or harm marine life, the Globo newspaper said on Wednesday, citing a crime lab report from the Brazilian Federal Police.

Brazilian courts and police typically do not allow the pubic access to criminal investigations and court proceedings until a verdict is reached. Prosecutors and police tend, also, to leak information to the media in high-profile cases. Nearly all Brazilian legal proceedings are conducted in writing rather than in open testimony in court.

Santos de Oliveira, the federal prosecutor, is seeking 40 billion reais ($20 billion) in civil damages from Chevron and Transocean over the spill, which he has described as one of the worst ecological disasters in Brazil's history.

NIST releases test framework for upgrading smart electrical meters

Next-generation "smart" electrical meters for residential and commercial buildings will have computerized operating systems just as laptops or mobile devices do. On July 10, 2012, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published its first-ever draft guidelines* to help utility companies test their procedures for upgrading meters securely from a remote location.

Copies of Advanced Metering Infrastructure Smart Meter Upgradeability Test Framework (NISTIR 7823), are available at http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/drafts/nistir-7823/draft_nistir-7823.pdf

Widespread exposure to BPA substitute is occurring from cash register receipts, other paper

People are being exposed to higher levels of the substitute for BPA in cash register thermal paper receipts and many of the other products that engendered concerns about the health effects of bisphenol A, according to a new study. Believed to be the first analysis of occurrence of bisphenol S (BPS) in thermal and recycled paper and paper currency, the report appears in ACS' journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Kurunthachalam Kannan and colleagues point out that growing evidence of the potentially toxic effects of BPA has led some manufacturers to replace it with BPS in thermal paper and other products. BPS is closely related to BPA, with some of the same estrogen-mimicking effects, and unanswered questions exist about whether it is safer.

The study detected BPS in all the receipt paper they tested, 87 percent of the samples of paper currency and 52 percent of recycled paper. The researchers estimate that people may be absorbing BPS through their skin in larger doses than they absorbed BPA when it was more widely used – 19 times more BPS than BPA. People who handle thermal paper in their jobs may be absorbing much more BPS.

also Till receipts coated in chemical linked to cancer: study

Letter carriers respond to fictional bioterror attacks

A total of 2 million households in five cities will have a surprise visit from their letter carrier this summer, and the carriers won’t be delivering mail.

Escorted by a police officer, they will deposit up to two bottles of emergency Doxycycline in each mailbox, first responders to a fictional anthrax or other bioterrorist attack.

The pill bottles won't actually contain real drugs. But everything else about the delivery will look real, a scenario designed to prepare local officials for a biological terror attack with a quick strike delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.

The tests follow an executive order President Obama issued three years ago to create a model where postal workers would deliver medication during a widespread biological emergency. The idea is to keep people from panicking as they head to medicine distribution centers and to reduce lines

I don't know... for my emergency Doxycycline I always go with FedEx overnight shipping :)

is this really related to energy matters/TOD?

Bacteria have a lot of energy

Taste Of Chicago To Serve Up Free Asian Carp Sliders On Wednesday

"CHICAGO (CBS) – You know them as the invasive species trying to enter Lake Michigan, but one Taste of Chicago booth could get you to think differently about Asian Carp.

WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports Asian Carp will be on the menu at a booth run by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday, starting at noon."

If you can't beat 'em, eat 'em.

Could be worse ...

Piranha hunt underway after attacks in Chinese river

A hunt has begun for piranhas in the Chinese city of Liuzhou, after two people were bitten while swimming in a lake over the weekend.

Usually indigenous to South American rivers, it is suspected some of the flesh-eating specimens may have been released into the lake by people who had smuggled them into the country as pets.

... eat'em before they eat you.

Sure could...

“Ball Cutter” Fish Found In Illinois Lake

"The Pacu is primarily found in the Amazon and can weigh up to 55 pounds; their teeth assist them in grinding up nuts (the kind with shells) and seeds."

Residents of Papua New Guinea, however, report them grinding up other items...

The Last Taboo


The United Nations projects that world population will stabilize at 9.1 billion in 2050. This prediction assumes a decline from the current average global fertility rate of 2.56 children per woman to 2.02 children per woman in the years between 2045 and 2050. But should mothers average half a child more in 2045, the world population will peak at 10.5 billion five years later. Half a child less, and it stabilizes at 8 billion. The difference in those projections—2.5 billion—is the total number of people alive on earth in 1950.

How do they make these predictions? I think they are just wild guesses. How can you possible know what the cultural situation will be 20 years from now. How will women's rights have changed? How will religion have changed? How will peak oil have changed things? They don't know . . . they are just making projections based on how the fertility rate has changed over time. But such simple extrapolations are never correct.

They are observing that the number of children per woman is dropping in virtually all countries world-wide (and has been doing so for 50 years), and assuming that this trend will continue until it drops below the replacement rate.

In the post-peak-oil era, this is not an unreasonable assumption, since it will put a limit on the population in those countries which have declined to limit their population.

The people in those countries will not be happy about that, of course, since they thought the good times would roll forever. Inevitably, they will blame it on the countries which did limit their population to a sustainable level - and are therefore much more prosperous...

There are two parts here. The growth rate based on fertility and death rates are nearly an exact science, and nothing very hard to calculate, and should be wrong with less than 1%.

The other factor is what the actual birth and death rates will be. This is where guessworking comes in. Off course we can not KNOW. This is why they talk about "if" birth rate changes so and so.

If the generation replacement rate at some point reaches exactly 100% and stay there, it will still take generations for the poulation to stabilize. When the generation that is born is of the same size as the generation that dies, population don't change. So even if we reach a GRR of 100% tomorrow, popwill still grow at least till 2050 and then some.


From my TV listings for next week’s CNBC programing, the show is new with the date of production as of 2012.

I have been tracking LENR (Low Energy Nuclear Reactions) for a while now and news is about to break (in August and September) from two companies with the announcement of reactors in the 1 MW and 10 KW range. The 10 KW home units are undergoing underwriter’s lab (UL) certification.

Though you might be interested.

Slightly off-topic, but this seems to be symptomatic of our current predicament.

Man Accidentally Kills Huge Lawn

Slight failure to read the instructions, er...small print, and the Law of Unintended Consequences...

I was heartbroken to see this on the Beeb this morning:

Thousands of turtles crushed by bulldozer in Trinidad

I wonder, if we outlawed toxic chemicals and destructive machines would humans just find more creative ways to screw things up?


You'd starve to death in under 3 years, tops.

I wouldn't, but I'm convinced you would...

Cystic Fibrosis
While cystic fibrosis is a serious disease itself, high levels of air pollution can further aggravate the condition.

Being as his kids have this condition you'd think he might shy away from spraying any kind of noxious crap around; for us all to enjoy I might add.
Gotta have that perfect damn lawn I guess.


Japan island ravaged by deadly floods

The heaviest rainfall on record in Japan's southwestern island of Kyushu has left at least 20 people dead, 20 missing, and 50,000 forced to evacuate, officials and reports said.

Troops have been deployed as almost 100mm [3.9 in.] of rain has fallen in a hour in some areas. Kumamoto experienced 50cm [19.7 in.] of rainfall in less than 24 hours.

The local government has received reports of at least 19 missing people, many of them swept away by swollen rivers or going missing after their homes were destroyed.

The national weather agency has said there is a risk of tornadoes as winds pick up and the weather gets worse. "We may get more rain later and we are increasing our alert level for rivers overflowing," another official said.

Platinum is wrong stuff for fuel cells as it wastes energy, researcher suggests

Fuel cells are inefficient because the catalyst most commonly used to convert chemical energy to electricity is made of the wrong material, a researcher at Case Western Reserve University argues. Rather than continue the futile effort to tweak that material - platinum - to make it work better, Chemistry Professor Alfred Anderson urges his colleagues to start anew.

Even in the best of circumstances, Anderson explains, the chemical reaction that produces energy in a fuel cell like those being tested by some car companies ends up wasting a quarter of the energy that could be transformed into electricity. This point is well-recognized in the scientific community, but to date efforts to address the problem have proved fruitless.

Anderson blames the failure on a fundamental misconception as to the reason for the energy waste. The most widely accepted theory says that impurities are binding to the platinum surface of the cathode and blocking the desired reaction.

"The decades-old surface-poisoning explanation is lame, because there is more to the story" Anderson said.

What might tomorrow's cities look like?

With its "Action Plan for the 2020 Hightech Strategy," at the end of March 2012 the German Federal Government set the pace for the implementation of ten future projects. The Morgenstadt project is included among these most important political topics. This plan is closely connected with the federal government's sustainability strategy, energy policy and the current energy research program.

Morgenstadt is a vision of a sustainable, livable and innovative city of the future and its suburban surroundings. The challenge is not to optimize individual technologies, but rather to merge them together over the long term to create a fully integrated system in a sustainable city of the future. Thanks to their broad and closely intertwined research capabilities, the Fraunhofer institutes are perfectly equipped to carry out this task. This forward-looking project aims to achieve concrete goals related to scientific and technological developments.,/blockquote>

also Drive toward a viable 'City of the Future'

MORGENSTADT: Project description

Crime may rise along with Earth's temperatures

When most people think about global warming, they envision rising temperatures and sea levels. Robert Agnew, a professor of sociology at Emory, thinks about rising crime rates.

... Agnew believes the pressures caused by climate change will become "one of the major forces – if not the major force – driving change as the century progresses." He lists strains such as increased temperatures, heat waves, natural disasters, serious threats to livelihood (thinking farming, herding, fishing), forced migrations on a massive scale and social conflicts arising as nations and groups compete for increasingly scarce food, fresh water and fuel. Especially in the developing world, he believes crime will become a critical issue, making it more difficult to keep the peace in megacities heavily populated by immigrants.

This government's energy policies are a timebomb

Sometime in 2018 or shortly thereafter, the UK will experience a crisis. Electricity supply will not be enough to meet demand. When this happens, people will look back to 2012 and the disastrous policy decisions taken by the UK.

What has become clear is that the government cannot rely on the market to supply the £110bn of investment in generating capacity that will be required to replace the old nuclear and coal power stations, which are likely to be turned off after 2017. What should perhaps cause the most surprise is that it is George Osborne and the Treasury who have so singularly failed to understand the logic of the markets.

At no time in the past 10 years has investment in Europe's energy exceeded €70bn, yet the government's plans are based on the assumption that in every year of the next seven years investment must exceed €80bn.

The answer is obvious . . . they are just not going to turn off those old plants. They just like to say they are going to because it makes their projected plans look better since it eliminates CO2 emissions from coal plants and worries about old nuclear plants. But when push comes to shove, are they going to shut them down and huddle in the dark? Of course not. They'll just keep using the old plants.

It has been my bet too all the time.

Spec, I think they will continue to use them until they stop. Then they will try to build new ones, and find out there is no capital for that (or for anything).

The reason there is no hyperinflation today is that there is insuficient need for new infrastructure today, as old infrastructure is still going along. Maybe not fine, but still going. And, no one will lend money for infrastructure because it would be far too expensive. When it becomes a crisis, then the price will go up by hyper inflated margins, and we will find out that it is only because banks and funds are not lending that inflation is 'low' today. If we were not in position for hyperinflation, we would be seeing deflation today, just as we did in the '30s when everyone who had money 'saved' it instead of spending it. Only read difference I can see is that the people who are hoarding the money are the rich, who of course are the only ones who have it.

Which is why describing them as job creators is nuts. They are money hoarders. And they have not, and will never learn. Money has no value of itself. Only as a measure of labor, just as anything else is valued by labor. Not gold, not dollars, not euros. Labor. And the entire economic system today, as always, is a function of division of labor. Distort the labor function and you distort the whole economy.

So... we will see about those old plants, and what new ones will cost, as time goes by. The speed with which infrastructure deteriorates will determine the sort of crash we live through - fast and steep or slow and gradual. Either way we end up at the bottom of the hill.


Which is why describing them as job creators is nuts. They are money hoarders. And they have not, and will never learn.

This is absurd. People don't hoard money. They keep it in the bank (from where it can be lent) or invest it somewhere. No one keeps millions of dollars in cash in their basement. I agree that rich people are not creating many jobs; that is because there is no demand to satisfy. Entrepreneurs and businessmen create jobs when there is a demand to satisfy. If there is no demand (because people have too much debt & other reasons) it is no one's fault. Another factor is that globalization has enabled businesses to send jobs abroad where labor is cheaper. So for every job that gets created in OECD countries, many more are created in developing countries. Again, this is no one's fault.

The banks aren't lending.

There is no demand because there are not enough good jobs.

Maximum profits are had using slave labor.
Deutsche Bank

It's not so much that banks aren't lending, it's more accurate to say that companies aren't borrowing and using the money to build new plants and buy equipment to create new jobs.

As Keynes said during the Great Depression, it's like pushing on a rope. Central banks lose their ability to stimulate borrowing and therefore economic activity.

The reality is that governments in the US and EU screwed up their economic policy, and corporations are just acting as they always do. When there is no money to be made, they don't spend any money, and don't create any jobs.

Fortunately, I live in a country which didn't screw up its economic policy (Canada) so things are moving along relatively well. The main drag on the Canadian economy is the American economy.

spec - "They'll just keep using the old plants." Naturally. Some folks who still think the end of the coal age is upon just amazes me. Seems like everyone should be aware of all the new coal plants coming online in China. And let's not forget about that new coal plant in Texas that will burn Illinois coal that the current resident of the White House has given a Clean Air permit. About the only positive spin one could toss is that the new plants may be more efficient. But regardless of that they are still burning coal.

Such is true. China is still building one or two new coal-burning power plants PER WEEK, and India is constructing quite a few as well.

The US is unique in that its shale gas surplus allows it to shut down old coal plants and build new NG ones (which are quick and cheap to build) but Europe doesn't really have that option - particularly not the UK, whose North Sea NG production has fallen off a cliff.

Most likely the old, dirty coal-burning plants will keep operating a lot longer than a lot of people think. Particularly the people in government.

Get with you friends and fellow Texans and lead an advocacy for more wind, solar, and NG power, along with a huge state-subsidized push for massive energy efficiency measures. Better than trying to lay down in front of the bulldozers!

By the Way, I mentioned your standing advice to TOD readers to a friend in ND who is very conservative, and also a great outdoorsman - bird hunter. He was lamenting to me about his distaste for fracing in ND (he is from WY, so I bet his concern extends to there as well)...I told him to band together with the other ND citizens and lobby their politicians to copy and emulate the strict oil/NG pollution extraction environmental regulations you cite as being in force in TX and LA.

He sounded PO'd about the illegal dumping of fracing fluids, yet apathetic to the idea of citizen advocacy...he has found out that the corporations and the free market won't always have his best interests in mind, yet he is conflicted because he likely sees citizen advocacy as somewhat 'Hippy' or indicative of being a weirdo/malcontent, and he likely doesn't want any negative items showing up on his next background check for his job...

...this is the way of things...lots of people are not going to conduct citizen political advocacy for the things they privately believe in...because they don't want to be ostracized by the friends, family, or their employers.

My friend in ND...you...and me. We are all in thrall to the system. There is no percentage in being a pariah, and it doesn't bode well for continued marital bliss either!

[Edit] President Obama: Excoriated for imposing a 6-month moratorium after the Macondo well leak, now taken to task for approving a coal-fired power plant in conservative TX, for crying out loud.

Perhaps we should elect Mitt Romney and abolish the EPA and any environmental regulations and see how that works for all of us.

Coal is unfortunately a necessary part of our present and future energy paradigm. If the residents of TX prefer nuclear power over coal, perhaps the state can jack up electricity rates 2x or more to pay for the huge up-front design and construction costs, and for the various tax breaks and incentives and lobbying of the EPA to enable building some more nuke plants there. Will the spent fuel be kept on site for many decades...in cooling pools which require continuous power? Will dry cask storage be mandated? Will TX step up and build an underground nuclear repository for at least its state's own nuclear power reactors?

Lots of issues...no easy answers.

The British farmers growing exotic crops

From bananas to tea to chillies, many UK producers have turned to plants commonly grown in warmer climates.

A few progressive growers are trying "exotic" crops, in the hope of riding out the vagaries of the British weather, perhaps benefiting from predicted climate changes. This should please the government, which this week published a report into sustainable farming, suggesting UK farmers could grow curry ingredients such as chickpeas.

... [the] message to other commercial growers is to diversify: "Our weather is just too erratic to rely on one crop.

Pardon me if I restate the obvious...

Given increased climate variability could it be that small farms prove more resilient?

Would the large mono-crop operation, anchored to producing one particular crop regardless the weather pattern du jour, be more prone to suffer losses?

While the typical truck farmer, growing a variety of produce (planted at various times of the year at that) would stand a better chance at weathering things out.

What say ye?

I think it would be hard to say.

Though there's a theory that the traditional pattern found in parts of England - where pieces of farms are scattered all over the place, many of them very tiny - helped guard against weather and other natural disasters. (The patchwork is a result of family farms being repeatedly divided.)

I was watching a show on British history last night which brought out the fact that the traditional pattern of every farmer getting strips of land in each of several fields was to share out the good land and bad land equally among the farmers. (There's still one such field sharing system left in Britain, but only one).

The problem was that droughts and crop failures tend to be rather large scale and all the fields would fail simultaneously. The only fallback the peasant farmers had was growing edible weeds in their home gardens. They could usually count on the weeds growing even if nothing else did. People still starved to death in droves during the famines, though.

The modern system of having huge grain exporting countries on different continents (North America, South America, and Australia in particular) is a much better hedge in that there is unlikely to be a crop failure simultaneously on all continents - and the exporting and importing countries tend to hold large reserves of grain in any case. Also, if a multi-year drought occurs on one or more continents, farmers in the grain-growing countries on the other continents have the ability to drastically increase their planting areas and fertilization levels in the anticipation of good sales and high prices. Farmers in the middle ages didn't have that option.

Burtynsky’s Giant Oil Photos

There’s no doubt that Edward Burtynsky’s photos from his Oil series are best viewed as enormous prints on a gallery wall. Known as one of the preeminent projects about the industrial age, the photos rely on scale to deliver their message about how oil has changed both the earth and human kind in profound and lasting ways.

White LEDs Lighting Directly On Paper

Imagine a white luminous curtain waving in the breeze. Or wallpaper that lights up your room with perfect white light. These might sound like flights of fancy, but the applications are not very far away.

In his thesis, Gul Amin, who recently received his doctorate at the Physical Electronics and Nanotechnology group, Campus Norrköping, shows how it is possible to grow white LEDs directly on paper and also to print them on wallpaper for example -- this method has a patent pending.

More magic with zinc oxide. Titanium dioxide is fun, too.

Catch Robert Rapier's video:
Enough Oil to Fry the Planet? — R-Squared Energy TV Ep. 25

In this week’s episode of R-Squared Energy TV, I discuss the recently released paper by former Eni executive Leonardo Maugeri — in which he suggests global oil supplies will increase by 17 million barrels per day by the end of the decade — as well as George Monbiot’s highly publicized reaction to the report.

Robert seems to be hedging his bets, saying that Maugeri and Monbiot are "only partially right". He says that oil production will continue to rise but not as fast as Maugeri predicts.

My prediction, or my best guess, is that we will remain on this plateau but not very long.

By the way, the EIA Short Term Energy Outlook has June non-OPEC liquids down over one million barrels per day from December 2011.

Ron P.

Since I begun thinking about the Peak Oil / Climate Change link, I has been of the position from the start that we will have the worst of both worlds: PO will not be fast and bad enough to save the climate, but it will also not be irellevant enough to save the economy. I think evidence is mounting up, this will be the case.

Eventually production must start going down; those old aging mega fields will ne be easy to replace.

California Hits Solar Power Milestone

1.255 GW of solar power is now generated from more than 122,000 rooftops across California. The migration to solar by low- and middle-income homeowners is the main reason behind the popularity of solar power in the Golden State. The data is revealed in the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) 2012 California Solar Initiative (CSI) Annual Program Assessment, which was issued a few days ago.

Sexual Liberation in Fish Is Nothing to Celebrate

Despite ongoing health concerns about the endocrine-disrupting chemical known as BPA -- that it may promote breast cancer growth, for instance, harm sperm quality, or cause erectile dysfunction -- the Food and Drug Administration has yet to come down hard on the use of the substance in consumer products. It's still regularly found in our water bottles, soda cans, and even receipts.

But while we might look past threats to our own health, a new study published yesterday in the journal Evolutionary Applications linking BPA to inter-species mating in fish may be troubling enough to make the issue worth revisiting.

After all, nothing fires up the masses like some good, old-fashioned moral outrage.

Worst drought in at least 12 years in continental U.S.

Drought conditions now cover about 61 percent of the Lower 48, the most extensive area in 12 years of records. Another 19 percent of the country is on the brink of drought. 80 percent of the country is classified as at least abnormally dry in the latest U.S. Drought Monitor.

Drought now covers the entirety of 12 states: Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Arkansas, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Missouri.

“In the 18 primary corn-growing states, 30 percent of the crop is now in poor or very poor condition, up from 22 percent the previous week,” reported the Drought Monitor. “In addition, fully half of the nation’s pastures and ranges are in poor or very poor condition, up from 28 percent in mid-June.”

also Drought Covers One-Third Of U.S. Counties, The Largest Agricultural Disaster Area Ever Declared

A 12-year drought? That's not very impressive. Imagine what it would be like if it was a 100-year drought. Imagine what it would be like if it was a 1000-year drought. The former would be similar to the Dust Bowl of the 1930's. In the latter case, I think most of the US would become rather Sahara-like and we would have a massive agricultural disaster on our hands.

'Extreme' solar flare erupts, looks like storm is headed to Earth

A heavy-duty solar flare erupted on the surface of the sun midmorning Thursday, and it appeared from early data that a solar storm from the X-class eruption was headed toward Earth.

also http://www.spaceweather.com/

Big sunspot AR1520 unleashed an X1.4-class solar flare on July 12th at 1653 UT. Because this sunspot is directly facing Earth, everything about the blast was geoeffective. For one thing, it hurled a coronal mass ejection (CME) directly toward our planet. According to a forecast track prepared by analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, the CME will hit Earth on July 14th around 10:20 UT (+/- 7 hours) and could spark strong geomagnetic storms. Sky watchers should be alert for auroras this weekend.

The explosion also strobed Earth with a pulse of extreme UV radiation, ... The UV pulse partially ionized Earth's upper atmosphere, disturbing the normal propagation of radio signals around the planet. Monitoring stations in Norway and Ireland recorded the sudden ionospheric disturbance

Hey, where's Undertow? This may be interesting. Might give me a chance to see how the circuit protection I've built into all our electric utility products over these last many years works under these circumstances. Nothing like a real world test after all. Maybe I'll fire up the generator tomorrow night and pick up some gasoline and oil, just in case.

That's what I was wondering, he would be all over this.
And dohboi has not been giving us methane updates.
And x has not been giving us his insights on corn prices/ethanol outlook.
It's certainly understandable if people choose to stop posting , but when it's a regular who has carved out a niche...
Heck, since Bob Shaw left, I have no idea what is going on in the world of fertilizer!

Odd that you should post that because I was just wondering today where dohboi is especially with all the recent AGW news. He was to climate change what Darwinian and westexas are to oil on this site.

I believe dohboi has been banned, or just can no longer log in.

Maybe an admin confused him for a spammer, or he got drunk and changed then forgot his password?

You can find his posts at peakoil.com still, though clearly not everyone has time to read multiple oil sites so this won't be possible for everyone.

I think he posted a "so long, and thanks for all the fish", sometime in April.