Drumbeat: July 20, 2012

Oil, politics and resource wars

At the 10th conference of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas in Vienna, Austria, Dr Robert Hirsch, Professor Michael T Klare, Dr Karin Kneissl, Dr Daniele Ganser, and Jeremy Gilbert discussed for Asia Times Online and Matterhorn Asset MGMT different important aspects of oil.

Robert Hirsch: Chaos is going to occur just because of the announcement that Peak Oil is real.

Hirsch is a senior energy program advisor at Science Applications International Corporation, a senior energy advisor at MISI, and a consultant in energy, technology, and management. He is a former manager of Petroleum Exploratory Research at Exxon and assistant administrator of the US Energy Research and Development Administration responsible for renewables.

Maugeri on peak oil

I agree with Maugeri that new production from places like the United States and Iraq is going to be very helpful. But I think he substantially overstates the case for optimism. If we are counting on sources such as shale/tight oil, oil sands, and deepwater to replace production lost from mature conventional oil fields, the days of cheap oil are never going to return.

The Peak Oil Crisis: Technology Races Depletion

In looking at what we will need to maintain some recognizable semblance of our civilization in coming decades, it is clear that we are going to need new sources of energy that can be implemented at a faster pace than is happening with our current crop of renewables. Or we are going to have to come up with major efficiencies in the way we use fossil fuels. We are currently happy with, and can afford, vehicles that burn fossil fuels at tens of miles per gallon, where as with coming technology, hundreds of miles per gallon should be attainable. The missing ingredient is simply that motor fuels are still too cheap to spark a major transition to other forms of powering transportation. For now the political will to drive this spark through taxation is simply not there, particularly in the United States and we will have to wait for market forces to raise prices.

Experts in efficiency tell us that here in America we could get along with a third less energy and never miss it. The Europeans burn half the oil we do in the Untitled States and seem to get along.

‘Peak oil’ a certainty, just as was ‘peak cod’

Paul Schneidereit’s July 10 column “Humans’ love affair with fossil fuels won’t end anytime soon” slammed soothsayers who supposedly predicted doom because we would run out of oil. One such soothsayer was King Hubbert, a geophysicist who worked for Shell Oil and the U.S. Geological Survey. In 1956, he predicted crude oil production in America would peak in 1970. His “peak oil” theory was debunked at the time. It remains disputed by Schneidereit in 2012, who states “peak oil” has failed to materialize and informs us the world is not running out of oil.

But crude oil production peaked in the U.S. in 1970 at 10 million barrels per day (BPD). Today, oil production in the U.S. is five million BPD. Granted, in the last four years, U.S. production has increased 10 per cent, due to the production of shale oil and an increase in Texan production, enabled by hydraulic fracturing of petroleum basins. This in an arid state that suffers from drought! Did someone ask the question there: “Do you want water or gasoline?”

Oil Drops From Nine-Week High on Signs Demand May Weaken

Oil fell from a nine-week high in New York, paring a second weekly advance, as worse-than-expected economic data added to signs seasonal crude demand is weakening.

Futures slipped as much as 1.4 percent, snapping a seven- day run of gains that was the longest since February. Oil may fall next week on signs of slowing economic growth, according to a Bloomberg News survey. European stocks slipped and the euro weakened before finance ministers hold a conference call to set terms for Spain’s bailout. Existing U.S. home sales unexpectedly dropped in June and manufacturing in the Philadelphia region contracted a third month in July, reports showed yesterday.

Gas prices head higher: Up 11 cents in 3 weeks

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Gasoline prices have risen 11 cents a gallon from the start of the month, following a rise in oil prices that was spurred by increasing tensions with Iran, an easing of the crisis in Europe and hopes for more stimulus from central banks.

Gas prices often lag crude prices by a couple of weeks.

Gas prices may go up too because of drought

The slim silver lining to the global economic malaise has been low prices at the gas pump. That’s about to change.

Economists are already predicting price increases for staples like milk and beef as scorching heat and drought wreak havoc on America’s corn crop. Now, beleaguered consumers can add gasoline to that list.

“We’re pretty well hooked on ethanol,” said Bruce Babcock, professor of economics at Iowa State University. “It’s 10 percent of our gasoline supply.” The complexity of the market makes it hard to predict exactly what this will mean for drivers, but Babcock estimated the impact of ethanol, which is derived from corn, among other grains, could be as high as 15 cents a gallon.

Widespread Drought Is Likely to Worsen

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The drought that has settled over more than half of the continental United States this summer is the most widespread in more than half a century. And it is likely to grow worse.

Drought Puts Food at Risk, U.S. Warns

The Obama administration warned Wednesday that food supplies were at risk from the worsening drought afflicting more than half of the country and called on Congress to revive lapsed disaster aid programs.

Crop Traders Extend Bullish Streak on U.S. Drought: Commodities

Corn and soybean traders are bullish for a 13th consecutive week on mounting concern that yields will keep dropping amid the worst U.S. drought in a half century.

Duke CEO Switch Probe Shows Pain Inside Progress Merger

Duke Energy Corp.’s ousted Chief Executive Officer Bill Johnson offered rare insight into the strains that can occur in multibillion-dollar takeovers in testimony at a hearing before North Carolina regulators yesterday.

“They had buyer’s remorse,” Johnson said of Duke’s $17.8 billion takeover of Progress Energy Inc. “They wanted the merger, then they didn’t want it, then they couldn’t get out of it, then they didn’t want to be stuck with me as the person who dragged them to it.”

Plant arrives for Dh40bn Abu Dhabi gas project

The delivery is part of a US$11 billion (Dh40.4bn) project to increase the emirate's natural gas supply that is in its final stages.

Called the Integrated Gas Development, it is Abu Dhabi National Oil Company's project to bring more fuel to the emirate required for power generation and to increase oil production at fields where natural gas is a by-product.

Unconventional gas gathers pace in Middle East

The development of unconventional gas resources in the Middle East is gathering pace, as Algeria closes in on agreements with international oil companies to explore its shale gas potential.

The country is in advanced talks with ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell over shale gas exploration, said the head of Sonatrach, Algeria's national oil company.

France not budging on fracturing ban

The new French Energy Minister has said her government will stick to its opposition to the use of hydraulic fracturing, which was banned by the previous administration last year.

"The government clearly and definitely keeps its position on shale gas extraction," Delphine Batho told French television, according to Reuters.

"Nowhere in the world has it been demonstrated the extraction is possible without causing considerable damage to the environment and risks to public health," she said.

Global oilfield growth lifts Schlumberger, Baker Hughes

(Reuters) - Schlumberger Ltd and Baker Hughes Inc, the world's No. 1 and No. 3 oilfield services companies, posted higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Friday as revenue piled up outside North America.

Investment cycles outside the volatile U.S. and Canadian oilfield markets are generally smoother, and analysts said Schlumberger got a particularly big lift from Europe and Africa.

Rudd warns of tensions in S China Sea

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd has warned of rising tensions in the South China Sea, urging all parties to take a deep breath and a step back to avoid potential catastrophe.

Mr Rudd said all progress towards a new and credible Pax Pacific - a multilateral, regional rules-based regional order - could be rendered null and void if tensions escalated into a full blown crisis.

ASEAN urges South China Sea pact but consensus elusive

PHNOM PENH/JAKARTA (Reuters) - Southeast Asian states sought to save face on Friday with a call for restraint and dialogue over the South China Sea, but made no progress in healing a deep divide about how to respond to China's growing assertiveness in the disputed waters.

After heated discussions at a summit last week that saw its customary communique aborted for the first time in its 45-year history, the Association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN)issued a six-point statement that omitted the contentious issues that had its 10 members locked in a bitter dispute for days.

Kenya refinery buys crude for itself

MOMBASA, Kenya (Reuters) - Kenya's only refinery will on Saturday receive its first direct purchase of oil, 82,000 tonnes of UAE Murban crude, its chief executive told Reuters on Friday.

Until now, only fuel marketing companies have been importing crude and paying processing fees to the Mombasa refinery, which is owned by the Kenyan government and India's Essar Energy.

Private firms tout Iran oil cheap to beat sanctions

LONDON (Reuters) - Obscure private firms are offering Iranian crude oil at steep discounts to European oil traders as Tehran seeks ways to restore oil export flows hit by Western sanctions.

Traders who buy crude for European refineries say they are getting daily calls offering Iranian crude, sometimes accompanied by the promise of fake paperwork to disguise it as oil from a different origin.

Japan shippers to resume loading Iranian oil on Friday-sources

(Reuters) - Japanese shippers will start loading on Friday their first cargo of Iranian oil in a month and a half, after the government provided insurance guarantees to replace EU coverage which was suspended due to sanctions against Iran, sources said.

The government signed contracts with two domestic shipping companies earlier this week to provide coverage for two super tankers, which are to load a total 3 million barrels of Iranian crude by the end of July for Japan's biggest refiners, industry and government sources said.

Silly Dictator Story #10: Iran's Oil Output Apparently At Record Levels

By most accounts, sanctions have severely affected Iranian oil output. But that’s not the case if you ask one of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s most senior advisors.

Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani Rasht, Director of the Office of the Supreme Leader, told a group of clergymen and scholars in Gilan Province that Iran “is currently producing between 19 and 20 million barrels of oil a day.”

Iran builds power station in Iraq

Iran is building a steam and gas power station with 525 MW at its own expense in the Al- Heydariye district in the Iraqi city of Najaf, MEHR said today.

The plant construction will cost $300 million. Iraq imports 1,000 MW of electricity per day from Iran. So far, Iraq owed ​​Iran $500 million for energy imports.

Iraq gets "positive" Obama response on Exxon concern

(Reuters) - Iraq's prime minister said U.S. President Barack Obama backed Baghdad's concerns over Exxon Mobil's oil deal with the Kurdistan region and had emphasized Washington's respect for the Iraqi constitution and laws.

Syria Rebels Fight for Control of Border Crossings

Syrian rebels fought for control of some of the country’s border crossings as the government held funerals in the capital for top security officials killed in a bomb attack two days ago.

At the United Nations in New York, Russia and China blocked a proposal to sanction President Bashar al-Assad’s government. A Russian diplomat said Assad has accepted the need to cede power in a “civilized manner.”

Is Syria Facing a Yugoslavia-Style Breakup?

Even if the regime loses its grip on growing swaths of territory, the civil war's sectarian dimension could see it opt to retreat into enclaves controlled by its base of Alawite, Christian and non-Sunni support.

Italy Seeks $18 Billion Investment Ditching Offshore Ban

Mario Monti’s government is trying to attract as much as $18 billion in investment to Italy by relaxing a ban on offshore oil and gas exploration imposed by Silvio Berlusconi after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill.

Brazil Berates Chevron for Oil Spill

Brazil's oil regulator laid heavy criticism on U.S. oil company Chevron Corp. (CVX) Thursday for an oil spill at an offshore field last November, but said it has no objections to the firm restarting production.

Can Arctic oil drilling be done safely?

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The Arctic's ice cap is melting, and oil companies and other industries are moving into the region to take advantage of its abundant, newly accessible resources.

But as they do, many are asking if the Arctic can be developed without putting its sensitive environment, and the people that rely on it, at risk.

It’s Not Just Spills—the Climate Risks of Arctic Drilling

The main problem isn’t the oil itself—although, of course, if the 90 billion barrels of oil believed to be obtainable in the Arctic are burned in cars or trucks, the carbon released will help undoubtedly help intensify climate change. It’s chiefly the natural gas that will be produced along with that oil. Natural gas is essentially methane—and methane is a powerful, albeit short-lived greenhouse gas, with more than 20 times the warming potential of plain old carbon dioxide. By some estimates, there’s as much as 1.7 trillion cubic ft. of natural gas to be found in the Arctic.

But companies like Shell aren’t braving the elements in the Arctic to bring back natural gas. They’re there for the oil, which is worth far more—and not incidentally, is a lot easier to store and transport than gas. Natural gas either needs a pipeline network that can allow it to be shipped from the well to a consumer, or it needs to be cooled to super-low temperatures, after which it can be shipped on an LNG tanker. (Oil, by contrast, can be loaded without any intermediary steps onto a tanker.) There are neither many pipelines nor many LNG facilities in the far North, which means it’s not easy nor cheap for oil companies to actually do anything with the natural gas they’ll be producing alongside all that lovely oil. “The race in the Arctic is about the oil,” says Banks. “But the gas that goes along with it can be a huge source of carbon.”

U.S. missing out on Arctic land grab

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- There's an international race to divvy up the Arctic Ocean's oil and mineral bounty, but the United States could lose out on a big chunk of it because it hasn't signed a United Nations treaty governing the area.

Who Needs Cute? A Jab at Shell and Arctic Drilling

On Thursday, a satirical billboard depicting a family of polar bears went up near Shell’s Houston headquarters. “You can’t run your S.U.V. on cute,” its slogan reads. “Let’s go.”

In North Dakota, the gritty side of an oil boom

This remote corner of North Dakota is the site of the biggest U.S. oil rush in decades. It is pumping new supplies into oil markets and swelling state coffers; advocates say it could help reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. But the boom is also spreading a degree of chaos across the rural towns and gently undulating pasturelands here.

Piecing the Puzzle Together on Dolphin Deaths

Unusually cold water in the Gulf of Mexico combined with damage to the food web from the BP oil spill probably caused the premature deaths of hundreds of dolphins in the region, a new report concludes.

Trying to Tally Fukushima

Reflecting myriad uncertainties, a new study suggests that anywhere from 15 to 1,300 people could die as a result of radiation exposure related to the Fukushima Daiichi accident.

Nuclear Resurgence Seen Luring Paladin Bids

Australian uranium producer Paladin Energy Ltd. is tempting acquirers from Canada to China with a stock price that’s less than the value of its net assets as Japan restarts idled nuclear reactors.

Paladin, which lost almost 80 percent of its value after Japan suffered the worst atomic crisis in a quarter century, is now trading at a 22 percent discount to book value, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. While uranium prices have tumbled 26 percent since the meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant in March 2011, the Perth-based company is projected this fiscal year to post its first profit since beginning production of the nuclear fuel, analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg show.

Paper Plants Join JPMorgan as U.S. Probes Power-Market Gamblers

The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proposed penalties of $29.8 million for alleged manipulation of New England’s power market in the agency’s expanding investigations that also ensnared JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM)

Rumford Paper Co. and Lincoln Paper and issue LLC, two paper mills, along with consultant Competitive Energy Services LLC and an employee were ordered to pay fines and give up financial gains made by claiming “phantom” cuts in electricity use in 2007-2008, according to documents released July 17.

Yemen's children caught in food crisis

The political unrest and fighting has taken a toll. Entire villages have abandoned their rented farmlands. Prices for fuel tripled, and villagers in many towns are unable to afford the diesel needed to pump water to irrigate crops.

Former farmer Salman Ahmed Marali, 60, says this is the "worst crisis faced by Yemen in my lifetime."

Usually the 300 or so families here would subsist on the crops they grow, selling some for income and keeping small herds of goats and cattle. But unable to afford diesel prices, families who work in the fields surrounding the village were forced to give up planting crops and had to sell their livestock for money.

Checkbook diplomacy? China pledges $20 billion in credit to Africa

BEIJING -- Chinese President Hu Jintao on Thursday pledged African governments $20 billion in credit over the next three years and called for more China-Africa coordination international affairs to defend against the "bullying" of richer powers.

Hu made the lending pledge during the opening ceremony of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing. The credit line is double the amount offered in 2009 at the last forum held in Egypt.

Eco-luxury: All-electric Nissan Leaf stretched into a limo

Don’t be surprised if eco-conscious celebrities ditch their Priuses and show up at next year’s Academy Awards in Nissan Leaf limousines.

The first such all-electric limo has already hit the circuit, running short trips for VIPs staying at an Embassy Suites hotel in Franklin, Tenn.

Governor signs law to make California home to nation's first truly high-speed rail

Los Angeles (CNN) -- California is poised to become home to the nation's first truly high-speed rail system with Gov. Jerry Brown's signing Wednesday of a law authorizing the first leg of construction for a line that will eventually connect Los Angeles and San Francisco.

California will issue $2.6 billion in bonds, with the federal government providing an additional $3.2 billion, to build the initial segment of the high-speed rail between Merced and the San Fernando Valley on the north side of Los Angeles, officials said.

China's 'unwanted' single women feel the pressure

"On the other hand, traditionally the Chinese say one should 'make do' when marrying. Marriage has never been synonymous with happiness.

"The new generation of women don't want to 'make do'. Many live quite well alone and don't see the point in lowering their standard or life in order to marry."

Still, the pressure on women is huge.

Part of this is due to China's one-child population control policy, which adds to the desperation of parents for their only offspring to marry and produce a grandson or granddaughter.

Tea Party Blocks Pact to Restore a West Coast River

The agreement was meant to revive the salmon population and to ensure water for farming in Oregon and California, but the local Tea Party has paralyzed the deal.

Dumping iron at sea can bury carbon for centuries, study shows

Dumping iron into the sea can bury carbon dioxide for centuries, potentially helping reduce the impact of climate change, according to a major new study. The work shows for the first time that much of the algae that blooms when iron filings are added dies and falls into the deep ocean.

UK police close 'Climategate' investigation

The local British police force investigating the breach said Wednesday that its officers had been caught out by the complexity of the attack and the three-year-long statute of limitations on Britain's Computer Misuse Act.

Greenhouse Projects Watch as EU Polluters Profit: Lobby

Developers of United Nations- sanctioned emission-reduction projects say they are “bitter” as polluting factories in Europe may be making more money buying their credits than they can by selling them.

Canada energy industry must improve green record: Senate report

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will not be able to fully benefit from huge resources of oil and natural gas unless the energy industry improves its environmental record, a Senate report concluded on Thursday.

The report, from the Energy Committee of the Senate, said Canada should do more to persuade the world it was developing its resources responsibly.

Native Americans seek plan to respond to climate changes they say affect their way of life

WASHINGTON - Native American and Alaska Native leaders told of their villages being under water because of coastal erosion, droughts and more on Thursday during a Senate hearing intended to draw attention to how climate change is affecting tribal communities.

The environmental changes being seen in native communities are "a serious and growing issue and Congress needs to address them," Tex Hall, chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation of New Town, North Dakota, said Wednesday.

Bill McKibben: Global Warming's Terrifying New Math

When we think about global warming at all, the arguments tend to be ideological, theological and economic. But to grasp the seriousness of our predicament, you just need to do a little math. For the past year, an easy and powerful bit of arithmetical analysis first published by financial analysts in the U.K. has been making the rounds of environmental conferences and journals, but it hasn't yet broken through to the larger public. This analysis upends most of the conventional political thinking about climate change. And it allows us to understand our precarious – our almost-but-not-quite-finally hopeless – position with three simple numbers.

My French Tram "porn"

Beautiful pictures to provoke desire - certainly considered obscene by API and the Radical Right !


And words too - as an added bonus !

Detailed looks at Aubagne, Bordeaux, Grenoble, Orleans, Montpelier and Mulhouse - plus an overview of France and a comparison of trends in Danish, French and American oil consumption 2001 - 2011.

Buried further down are two plans to pay for an American version for the policy wonks.

And various other scribblings.

Best Hopes for Pretty Pictures !


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

On the point of aesthetics, the answer appears to be clearly no.

Alan, wonderful tram porn! Excellent blog. The pictures do a great job of telling the story.

You must be the possible Hamster.

A step up from doomer porn to be sure. Thanks for sharing Alan.

Makes me sweat. Beautiful.

The thing I first noticed is that these seem to be smaller-scale vehicles than the typical new light-rail systems in the US. Below is a photo of an Orleans tram, and a Denver light-rail passenger train. While there doesn't appear to be a lot of difference in height, the Orleans tram appears much narrower. Presumably lighter as well, with assorted cost savings possible because of that?

In Seattle we are busily expanding commuter rail, light rail and streetcars. and yes, they are all on different gauges with different size rolling stock.

Apparently, voters and planners in Seattle have gotten the memo on mass transit.


i worked on the construction of the seattle light rail
hope to work on more of it,,

Seattle has the same track gauge (distance between the rails), but different loading gauges (width of cars + wobble).

New Orleans streetcar track gauge is 6" wider than standard (1435 mm). We set a standard in 1834 and only Philly and Pittsburgh followed it !

Best Hopes for more Urban Rail - whatever the guage !


Toronto's streetcar and subway track gauge is 4 ft 107⁄8 in (1,495 mm), which is 23⁄8 in (60 mm) wider than the standard track gauge of 1,435 mm.

This was done over 100 years ago so horse-drawn carts and carriages could ride on the inside flanges of the streetcar tracks and avoid getting bogged down in the unpaved streets of what was then called, "Muddy York".

Later, when Toronto built its subway system, it adopted the streetcar gauge because there were some proposals to run streetcars on the subway tracks. This never happened, but now the subway also has a 1,495 mm track gauge.

Then, when Toronto built a new experimental semi-rapid transit system, they used standard gauge. This became a problem because the rapid transit system ran out of capacity (so they wanted to convert it to use subway cars), and the manufacturer stopped making the unique RT vehicles (so it would have been really nice to use some of their streetcars on it).

They couldn't do either, because none of their other vehicles fit the standard gauge tracks. Also the electric power system was incompatible with either the subway or streetcars, and the curves were too tight for subway cars, although the streetcars could have made the turns if they had fit the tracks..

This is why most rail transit systems use the international standard rail gauge throughout - it is standard and almost every manufacturer's vehicles fit it.

Keen eye !

The "standard" Light Rail width is 2.65 meters - but if you have an old city with narrow streets - you may need to go narrower.

The first Orleans line opened in 2000 - and the trams are 2.32 meters wide. I assume all photos are from that line.

The second Orleans line opened this year - and the trams on that line are 2.4 meters wide.
Quite a few other French tram lines are also 2.4 meters wide.

France has a reputation - even within Europe - for a general lack of obesity. So perhaps they are happy with narrower seats.


Best Hopes for the French !


PS: Are you as good with the centerfold measurements ...

They actually look much like the Calgary light rail system, except these French trams are the new low-floor models that can load from low rise platforms (1 foot high) or direct from the street, rather than from high-rise platforms (3 feet high).

The French are also into grassing the tracks, which makes it look really "green" and reduces the noise levels (which were already very low). In North America it would have the problem that people probably wouldn't realize what they were and would sit down in the middle of the tracks to sleep or have a picnic.

Nouvelle Orleans is also into grass tracks. Significant public demand for grass running where-ever possible on any new streetcar lines.

On the Canal Streetcar Line, the streetcars are quiet (except for the bell) when on concrete passing 15 meters from the point with the highest average level of public intoxication in the United States (the exit of Bourbon Street), but VERY quiet when running on grass track.

And we Nouvelle Orleanians know what to do with grass track - jog between the rails, walk besides them :-)

Transit advocates that visit our city are continually amazed at how we routinely use the space - between streetcars passing :-)

To quote one - "We do *NOT* do that in Los Angeles !"

Best Hopes for our French Heritage,


sit down in the middle of the tracks to sleep

Occasionally drunks that pass out have to be removed from the tracks. Not very often, passerbys will typically steer them to one side, and then the cops will pick them up to keep the RoW clear.

Alan, I grew up out in Kenner, left for college 15 years ago, and finally came back home this past October. Uptown's gonna be a pretty good location to be when energy gets expensive (always wanted to live in town). I live on Prytania and get to jog between the St Charles tracks in the morning. But if I can't sleep, I'll hop onto the streetcar late at night, put on a podcast, and just ride. It's a dreeeamy life..

Anyway.. figured I'd say "hi." I've enjoyed your writing for a while!

(and I haven't run-into any drunks on the tracks yet.. but it's only a matter of time, hehe!)

The only one I have run into was on the Canal Line, just lakeside of Claiborne, where the grass starts. I asked the operator and he said he has had to pick a couple off since Canal opened in 2004.

So, perhaps a once in a lifetime "only in New Orleans" happening :-)

Perhaps we can get together for an Abita soon. My eMail is linked to my name here.

Best Hopes,


I see where Calgary is fighting over where to put the next Light Rail line - to the Southeast or North.


Why not the French approach and build both of them ASAP ?

I do see where Calgary has sexed up their paint jobs just a bit.


Best Hopes for Exporting MORE Oil - by using less,


Well the problem is that the Southeast line would cost $2.7 billion all by itself. The North line would cost less, which is why City Council is debating doing it first, although the commuters in the Southeast would be very upset about that. Doing both at once would probably cost around $5 billion, and there's no federal or provincial government money available, so the city would have to pay for it all itself.

If I was calling the shots, I would tell them to do both at once and take the money out of the road budget, which would mean no new roads at all for a decade or two, but I'm not calling the shots.

What about converting some "free"ways or bridges to toll roads ? And/or a slightly higher gasoline & diesel tax in the Greater Calgary area ? A special property tax on commercial parking spaces ? Special property taxes near new stations ?

Bond the expected revenue, cut the road budget by 75%, and build ?

No one likes higher taxes & tolls, but if there is a worthwhile, tangible result ?

Just thoughts,


Calgary has very limited power to impose taxes, particularly fuel taxes. It would require enabling legislation from the Alberta government, which isn't that enthusiastic about new taxes. Keep in mind, we don't even have a provincial or local sales tax in Alberta, and nobody has ever put a toll on a road or bridge here.

Fortunately the city has a very broad tax base, so it gets a lot of revenue from its existing property tax. However, it has to stick within its existing taxing limits. City councils in Calgary have a history of operating with very sharp pencils, which is why the streets are unusually narrow and they don't plow the side roads in winter.

Calgary has a significant fraction of all the voters in Alberta.

If the Calgary City Council went to their MPs and the Provincial Transport Minister and asked for a special taxing district to build more Light Rail, and there was general support amongst the Calgary voters, I cannot see why it would be denied.

For an MP in Red Deer, Edmonton or your current MP, "it is no skin off my nose" if the price of gas goes up a nickel in Calgary.

Build Southeast and North Central first, then the extensions planned on the existing lines and any past that.

Best Hopes,


Actually, the smart thing would be for the provincial government to increase the fuel tax province-wide and earmark the money for public transit. The money could be distributed to local governments on a per-capita basis.

Both Calgary and Edmonton have popular light rail systems they want to expand, and they account for more than half of the population of the province. The smaller cities could spend the money on their bus systems.

The rural governments could use their share for their road systems, but unbeknownst to most people, Alberta is the most urbanized province in Canada, with over 80% of the population living in the cities and towns.

It would go over better than in the US since there is more support for public transit and less resistance to fuel taxes in Canada - even in Alberta, as long as there is a specific purpose in mind. There's lots of room to increase fuel taxes since Alberta has the lowest fuel taxes in Canada, and the other other provinces have much higher taxes.

Nice to see Calgarians fighting to get light rail into their area. In Ottawa, neighbourhoods fight to NOT have light rail come through their area!

I think that in Ottawa, the NIMBY's got control of the political process and blocked the construction of light rail through their neighborhoods despite the fact it was for the common good.

In Calgary the city council just ignored the NIMBY's and build the lines through their neighborhoods over their objections. In some cases, they just ran the line down the middle of their street, taking two of the four lanes, fenced it off, and left a one-way lane on each side. I know some NIMBY's who got steamrollered this way, and it came as a horrible shock to them. The city told them that if they objected, it was willing to buy their properties for market value and they could move somewhere else.

If I was them I wouldn't have sold to the city, because the city just turned around and sold their houses and condos at a profit to people who wanted to be close to public transit. They could have done that themselves and put the profits in their own pockets. I don't think that occurred to them.

I suppose the main difference is that the people and politicians in Ottawa expect the government to accede to everybody's wishes just because they complain, whereas the politicians in Calgary are mostly hardheaded capitalists who aren't afraid to run roughshod over people if they have to.

The Future - if we are so lucky !


Best Hopes,


Beautiful and kind of hypnotic.

You've got to love the Dutch!

I worked at a bike rental company in Ottawa many years ago. It would open in early Spring, early enough that it was still cool and occasionally rainy, leaving time to build more bikes for the busy season. On a cool, and sometimes rainy, days if someone showed up to rent a bike it was likely a tourist from the Netherlands.

Those who claim bicycles will not work as transport should have to watch this 'Clockwork Orange' fashion.


Oh hey, more of the rat race, on bikes. ;) (But at least it's a slower race.)

Any rollerblader sightings? If I was there at that time, there might be.

I like the kids in the front boxes.

Now, it's off to Copenhagen (Here, I like the couple kissing.)

Oh, and Tall Ships coming to a north eastern Atlantic town near you.
(This part of the post dedicated to Dmitry Orlov and Jan Lundberg.)

Looks like oil's going up again...

There's a town that's considering getting all its green energy needs from the Hulk.

(Ok, joking about that last part.)

Lots of bicyclists, yet so few are wearing proper head protection, (helmet).

An 11 mile an hour head injury/impact will result in 50% fatality. I also wouldn't want to be one of those other 50% with serious brain injury either.

Wear a helmet.

Anybody who doesn't wear a helmet while bicyling probably has never hit something and gone over the handlebars onto hard ground.

If you do this just once, you will probably see the importance of wearing a helmet. Unfortunately, many people don't get a second chance.

I did this one time (wearing a helmet) and got a massive purple bruise that extended all the way down my leg from my hip to my ankle. I hobbled back to the house full of doctors I was staying with, they looked at it, and said, "fortunately you landed flat and those big leg bones are really hard to break".

Most of the Dutch cyclists in the video have been cycling since childhood as a major source of transportation. Bicycling is a normal, everyday activity. However, their risk of being hit by a Dutch car are almost infinitesimal compared to American cyclist risk from cars, trucks and SUVs.

If solo bike or bike on bike accidents were a major concern in the Netherlands, they would dress and perhaps bike differently.

We is the US "buckle our seatbelts" and EVERYONE knows someone that was killed or seriously hurt in an auto accident. Apparently, there is no comparable social memory in the Netherlands towards bicycling. My conclusion is that biking in the Netherlands is extraordinarily safe and 98% of the people do not feel the need for a helmet. And this "feeling" is based on a lifetime of daily experience.

There is a "Dutch bike" type that American cyclists generally dislike. Upright rider, with a bell, heavy durable frame, moderate width tires and pedaling at what is considered a sedate rate by most Americans. I suspect that the "Dutch bike" has evolved because it is the best type bike for their conditions.

Best Hopes for evolving towards Dutch conditions,


I suspect part of it is what we get taught in advanced driving (and motorcycle riding) "Avoiding other peoples' accidents". As one instructor summed it up "I want to be stopped, turned around and heading in the opposite direction before they have their accident.". If you ride around, buckled up in a humpty ton SUV feeling that you are in a safe tank you will feel very different to someone who has learned the feel of the road and developed an awareness for those around. OTOH I knew one cyclist who could not understand why he had so many accidents and blamed drivers, this was just after he rode into the back of a parked van and flew through the read window, one wonders about where his attention was.


Addendum Today to my Blog

Added to the Essay on what a rail saturated Washington DC would look like "Oil Free Washington DC".

State of Good Repair - WMATA has no significant source of dedicated funding. And the decisions on allocating fare subsidies is determined more by social justice concerns than technical reality.

In FY 2013, $411 million of subsidies go to support bus service, $110 million to support para-transit and $183 million to Metro, despite Metro carrying well over 2/3rds of all the passenger-miles today (Metro trips are typically longer than bus rides, and there are 215 million Metro rides vs. just 125 million bus rides. See subsidies above).

Which links to the pdf presented to the WMATA board.

Buses are an endless money pit ! In 2013, bus fares will cover 27% of operating costs vs. 80% for Metro. More money = more bus service (and more para-transit) and not proper maintenance and operations of Metro. The first stage solution is to split off Metro operations and maintenance (adding Light Rail and streetcars) from the much more expensive to operate buses - including BRT.

Some possible future funding sources that support the transition to an Oil Free Washington DC.

- A gas tax, but one that is not fixed as so many pennies per gallon, but so many $ raised per year. Every quarter the gas tax is adjusted, based on volume, to raise a certain amount per year.
May I suggest a ratio in taxes/gallon, based on the benefits received. DC = 1, Counties bordering DC = 0.8, Counties served by Metro (including future Light Rail) and not bordering DC = 0.4. So a dime a gallon in DC, 8 cents/gallon in Fairfax and Montgomery and 4 cents/gallon in Loudoun.
- Tolls on congested highways & bridges - which will reduce congestion.
- A property tax on commercial parking spaces - say $50/space/year. If converted to bicycle parking, no taxes.

Taxes for Urban Rail should be high enough to both keep Metro in a "State of Good Repair" and also reduce fares. Both general fare reductions and targeted reductions - such as for the elderly, disabled, students, etc.

WMATA buses and para-transit should have separate funding streams. The reason for splitting the revenue streams is that history has shown that Metro will get just a fifth of the subsidy per ride and a tenth of the subsidy per passenger-mile that buses get and will simply not be kept in a state of good repair. When the choice is between replacing rail ties and more bus service - buses win.

Hi, Alan, to be honest, it should also be said that the Bordeaux tram ran in a number of technical, FOAK difficulties, and ended up very much over budget. It's been harshly criticized for it's cost. During the last 15 years, it has really been a faze of building trams in middle sized French towns (Delanoe in Paris also has his), with many of those towns ending with significant debts. It's actually a bit silly to think we used to have trams everywhere (it shouldn't be difficult to see them in any WWII period movie happening in France), but the so-called "ugly" rails were removed everywhere some 20 to 30 years ago. But it may partially explain why much effort has been made on the aesthetic of it.

On another subject : I've been reading your comments about the German Power grid and the ability of EDF in France to do load following with nuclear. I think your conclusions are wrong, and would like to rise the subject again. I think you are confusing two things, leading to a misunderstanding : the first, is EDF technically able to do load following with nuclear, and my answer is a resounding yes, but the second is does EDF usually *want* to do load following with nuclear, and there for several reasons, the answer is most of the time, no. They are several aspects playing here, and a very important one is that the marginal cost of nuclear is almost zero, so that even if selling nuclear electricity at a very low price, EDF is *still* making a profit compared to reducing the power of it's plant and not producing. If anyone is willing to buy that electricity, whatever the price, it's probably worth it to produce it (not 100% the time, you may also want the reload of fuel in the plant to happen at a low load period, that must also be taken into account).
Also one should never forget that EDF also has hold of very significant hydropower ressources, and as with any other operator in the world, even if nuclear can quite efficiently do load following, hydropower stays *the* weapon of choice to do load following, which means that most of the time load following with hydropower will be the first choice, and load following with nuclear will be done only when for some reason, hydropower was not available.

But it's easy to check how fast the production of French nuclear plants can vary, since the exact information is available here for each separate NPP reactor :
I'd love to see such detailed production info for the renewables, but I can keep dreaming I believe. Paluel and Penly are the most recent, so the one with which EDF does load following most frequently. They prefer to use the old ones, like Fessenheim, as pure base load.
For a good example, go see what happened at Penly 1 on the 29 april 2012. There quite obviously was a mishap in the prediction of what the demand would be, which lead to reducing production in 3 hours from 96% of the 1330 MW capacity down to 26% of it. It stayed there for 3 hours, and next was brought back to above 90% in 2 hours time, and then even to 99.8% to handle the evening peak. That obviously was prediction mishap but not an accidental situation as demonstrated by the ability to bring it back almost immediately to max power.

From what I've understood with many large coal plants if you try to that, 100%, then 26%, then back to 100%, within just a few hours, you're left with a pile of scrap instead of a power plant. They just will not resist the thermal dilatation that it means.

Thank you for posting this. Very interesting stuff.

Nukes can only load follow to that extent shortly after they have been refueled. After a month or two of operations, the decay of the fission byproducts is too great. Only God could possibly turn off that heat source (and likely She would have problems with so many atoms naturally decaying).

And I look at the clumsiness of EdF nuke load following (the highest demand hour has the 11th highest nuke generation, the highest nuke generation hour is the 8th highest demand hour on some days I looked at) and I respectfully disagree.

The new EPR is designed for load following, so it will be interesting to see.

My French is not as good as yours, but I thought EdF preferred to turn off their older nukes (all the ones in the 900 MW range) on the weekends, Spring & Fall.

And a 27% to 90% increase in load over two hours at a coal fired plant should be quite doable if it was originally built for load following and not base load.


And I would NOT dismiss transient operational problems as the cause of the Penly 1 production dropping. In fact, that would be my guess. It could a transmission line issue, an overheated transformer reading (later found to be bogus), etc. and not necessarily a reactor issue.

Keeping the entire fleet at near 100% and dialing down one plant by 3/4ths ? That is not the way things are usually done.

The entire fleet did not stay at near 100%, I found that example by searching from the whole production page http://clients.rte-france.com/lang/fr/visiteurs/vie/prod/realisation_pro... for a day where the whole fleet production had seen some large variations, and then checking how each individual plant varied. Penly 1 was the one that varied most, but some other one also had some large variations on that day.
The fleet was at 39.66 GW at 13h, 35.3 GW at 17h, and then 41.6 GW at 22h. Whilst not a huge change in percentage, it does represent some significant load following.

EDF uses bore injection to keep the xenon poisoning under control. They have a lot of experience in doing that, and whilst the EPR was designed from start for load following, they are able to handle it quite well also with the older reactors. I saw an operator from Fessenheim announce what the level and speed of accepted variation was under non accidental situation, and it was quite surprisingly high. They also have an emergency switch to immediately bring it down to zero if required, with all the heat being just evacuated and not producing power anymore.

I have seen French load profiles before - and never one where 39.66 GW at 13h, 35.3 GW at 17h, and then 41.6 GW at 22h matched the load. 18h is often a primary of secondary peak on weekdays. People come home and start dinner - while at the office lights and heating or cooling are still on.

I did not say that EdF nuke generation did not vary - I said that it did not load follow very well. High production at 22h and low production at 17h is the exact opposite of what I would expect from the load.


The actual peak is at 20h, French people don't eat early. There's a secondary peak at 22h30, because that's when the cheaper night rate begins.

If you go to the load profile for that day here http://clients.rte-france.com/lang/fr/visiteurs/vie/vie_reconst_flux_his... it does fairly well match the nuclear productions curve.

There's a peak of demand at 34.4GW at 12h30, then low at 25.5 at 17h, then max at 38 GW at 22h. That's a Sunday, where the load curve is sometimes a bit unusual, people aren't as predictable that on a week's day.

As I said earlier if you expect a minute for minute match between nuclear and consumption then it just won't happen.
- for the short term matching hydro is better
- sometimes you need to include wind, I just checked the numbers for that day, wind was at 3.6 at 13h, and then 2.3 at 23h
- actually I hadn't checked hydro, it was at 7.6GW at 12h45, 4.7 at 17, and then 11 GW at 23h (it's max level I believe). So that's the key point, the behavior of demand on that day was too unexpected for hydro to follow.
- We actually restart coal at 17h, it goes to 500 MW at 21h (coming from 3 rather small unit of 250 MWh, that apparently can indeed do a 2 hours start).
- also what you see the national consumption, but each NPP first answers the local demand, to reduce the distance that electricity travels before being used, and that local demand can be quite disconnected with the national one.

On Bordeaux, I wrote:

Bordeaux pioneered modern 3rd rail in street (APS - L'alimentation par le sol). Power is switched on only when the tram covers that section of rail - preventing pedestrians from being electrocuted. Problematic at first, this technology has now been "debugged" and is used in several French cities and abroad. Due to the high cost per meter, this wireless mode is only used in historic areas.


Conclusion: A city and metro area of 1 million people in France were able to build a viable, heavily used and affordable oil free transportation system in just one decade (2000 to 2009). The efforts and results of Bordeaux dwarf what has been built, and the ridership numbers, in the over four times larger city of Houston, Texas (Construction start 2001, a year after Bordeaux, 12 km - 7.5 miles, 16 stations, 34,000 daily passengers today) during that same time period. Although the Houston Light Rail system cost one fifth as much ($325 million - about €250 million vs. Bordeaux's €1.25 billion).

Yes, Bordeaux had cost overruns - but compared to American Light Rail costs, they still look reasonable even after the cost overruns. I do give the costs for each line in my blog.

Compared to Houston, the capital costs/passenger are a bit lower in Bordeaux - and the cost per pax-km is undoubtedly significantly lower in Bordeaux. The reason is that the longest tram trip possible in Houston is only 12 km and I suspect the average trip in Bordeaux approaches than 12 km (given their network).

So even with cost over-runs, Bordeaux got a better deal than Houston. Bordeaux gets more passengers per euro than Houston - and the passengers travel further by tram in Bordeaux than in Houston.

As for debts, trams cost less to operate than the buses they replace. That savings has been capitalized.

And I thought the French were ALWAYS concerned about the aesthetic :-)

Did you read by essay on National Policies & Oil Consumption ?

Best Hopes,


Some good news for Green Transit from New York City's MTA:


The Metropolitan Transportation Authority unveiled plans on Thursday to restore or expand service on nearly 40 subway, bus and commuter rail lines, two years after approving deep cuts amid a budget shortfall.

German Formula 1 racing track bankrupt

The downfall began in 2004, when grandiose plans to build an entertainment park on the Nürburgring’s premises took shape. Viewed by purists as blasphemy, the plot was supported by Rhineland-Palatia’s Social Democrat government. Shady investors promised to pump funds into the project, but the money never came in. But so far, the state government has invested more than €500 million (more than $610 million) in the complex—a spending spree the European Union now wants to put to an end. Without the government subsidies, the Nürburgring can’t pay the hundreds of millions owed to the banks.

Victim of peak oil? Discuss!

And now Austin, Texas is madly building an F1 Track - which will lead to huge traffic issues on race days - leading to calls for major road bonds to expand the roads. All of this will be paid for (or defaulted by) the taxpayers who have been sold a bill of goods that this is "good for the Austin economy" and therefore good for YOU.

Re: article from Bill McKibben about 2 degree warming. Read what the Australian Prime Minister had to say 5 years ago in this interview on ABC TV:

5 Feb 2007
TONY JONES: Prime Minister, what do you think living in Australia would be like by the end of this century for your own grandchildren and for the grandchildren and great grandchildren of others, if the temperatures, the average mean temperatures, around the world do rise by somewhere between four and possibly even more than six degrees celsius?

JOHN HOWARD: Well, it would be less comfortable for some than it is now.......


Save this document as a hard copy for the survivors

I read that at 6 degree C rise in temperature, Siberia have a tropical climate.

The article indicates that two degrees is too much:

"If we're seeing what we're seeing today at 0.8 degrees Celsius, two degrees is simply too much." NASA scientist James Hansen, the planet's most prominent climatologist, is even blunter: "The target that has been talked about in international negotiations for two degrees of warming is actually a prescription for long-term disaster."

...So far, though, such calls have had little effect. We're in the same position we've been in for a quarter-century: scientific warning followed by political inaction. Among scientists speaking off the record, disgusted candor is the rule. One senior scientist told me, "You know those new cigarette packs, where governments make them put a picture of someone with a hole in their throats? Gas pumps should have something like that."

...Scientists estimate that humans can pour roughly 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by midcentury and still have some reasonable hope of staying below two degrees. ("Reasonable," in this case, means four chances in five, or somewhat worse odds than playing Russian roulette with a six-shooter.)

...We have five times as much oil and coal and gas on the books as climate scientists think is safe to burn. We'd have to keep 80 percent of those reserves locked away underground to avoid that fate. Before we knew those numbers, our fate had been likely. Now, barring some massive intervention, it seems certain.

...Yes, this coal and gas and oil is still technically in the soil. But it's already economically aboveground – it's figured into share prices, companies are borrowing money against it, nations are basing their budgets on the presumed returns from their patrimony. It explains why the big fossil-fuel companies have fought so hard to prevent the regulation of carbon dioxide – those reserves are their primary asset, the holding that gives their companies their value. It's why they've worked so hard these past years to figure out how to unlock the oil in Canada's tar sands, or how to drill miles beneath the sea, or how to frack the Appalachians.

In effect people in the fossil fuel business are discussing and planning out how to commit ecocide, like several teens in a suicide pact planning out how to pull off their ultimate demise:

"The numbers are simply staggering – this industry, and this industry alone, holds the power to change the physics and chemistry of our planet, and they're planning to use it.

They're clearly cognizant of global warming – they employ some of the world's best scientists, after all, and they're bidding on all those oil leases made possible by the staggering melt of Arctic ice. And yet they relentlessly search for more hydrocarbons – in early March, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson told Wall Street analysts that the company plans to spend $37 billion a year through 2016 (about $100 million a day) searching for yet more oil and gas."

Drill baby drill = burn baby burn ...

Also from the article:

Most of us are fundamentally ambivalent about going green: We like cheap flights to warm places, and we're certainly not going to give them up if everyone else is still taking them. Since all of us are in some way the beneficiaries of cheap fossil fuel, tackling climate change has been like trying to build a movement against yourself...

Exactly! How refreshing to finally see a so-called climate activist admit this painfully obvious fact. This is why I laugh out loud everytime I see a climate "protest", why in the world can't the idiots see that they are only protesting against themselves?!? The wonders never cease.


"so-called climate activist"

So-called? In what sense is Bill McKibben a "so-called climate activist"? He's been working his butt off on this issue for over 20 years.

"why in the world can't the idiots see that they are only protesting against themselves?!?"

Many know that we are all locked in a SYSTEM, and that it means everyone needs to rethink business as usual. Yes, there are some clowns who want "solutions" that enable to continue BAU. Too bad.

What is your solution, Jerry? Just roll over and take it? Or make fun of people. Or don't you think it's an issue?

McKibben is the U.S. premier climate activist and was sounding the alarm before hardly anyone had a clue as to what global warming was. No doubt he is not perfect but the best we've got. It is too late, though, and mankind simply is not wired to make any significant changes in order to safeguard a future, even if that future seems to be coming closer and closer faster than we have thought. Up here in Colorado, warming is so obvious and has been so far at least two decades. I am blessed by the fact that I am getting up in years and would certainly not want to be a child given our all but certain calamitous future. Hell, the present is calamitous.

Pray tell, how do you know what humanity is and is not wired for, especially when the topic of choosing genuine sustainability remains a totally forbidden one within the power structure and MSM?

As for wiring, we know for sure that we're wired for compatibility with a vast array of past and present ways of living. Why couldn't future lifestyles be sustainable society and also enjoy some feasible, chosen level of modern science and technology? Seriously, on what evidence are you drawing final conclusions about human wiring?

It would help if leaders like McKibben stopped spreading blame for what's permitted onto the table of power onto "most of us." Vastly most of us have no way of getting this topic properly opened up, and have never done anything but try to live within proffered options.

Malthusian just-so stories are just about as unscientific as climate change denial.

As for so-called "movements against ourselves," that too is pretty questionable. If the best outcome is clearly to enact radical reform, why not explain why that's so and save the Pogoism for your tea parties?

I continue to be flummoxed by the degree to which would-be green reformers shoot themselves in the feet like this. I suppose it comes from lifetimes living in our demobilizing, anti-radical political/propaganda culture. Scratch a green, find Reverend Malthus crossed with Daniel Boorstin (the leading consensus historian, who wrote books about how class-free and pristinely democratic the USA is)...

What are you trying to say? You seem to be flummoxed indeed.

"Scratch a green, find Reverend Malthus crossed with Daniel Boorstin (the leading consensus historian, who wrote books about how class-free and pristinely democratic the USA is)..."

You seem to be raving. Are you OK?

So, sgage, you think conventional history and biological fatalism are NOT memes being actively replicated by so-called greens?

Are you OK?

Take a look. It's 96 percent of what's out there.

Written by Michael Dawson:
... how do you know what humanity is and is not wired for...?

By observation of human failure to proactively address major global issues such as peak oil and climate change.

Thomas Robert Malthus theorized about limits to population growth due to resource constraints and disease. Because few environmentalists mention peak oil or even human population, your association is not valid. History covers a rather large range of topics leaving me completely perplexed by how you associate environmental activists with conventional history. Since the post by Jerry McManus refers to climate activists, you have changed the subject somewhat. You seem to be another one of those deniers who cling to any irrational argument to justify your continued pollution and resource consumption, as though your beliefs, by sheer will, overcome physical limits.

Reminder...attack ideas, not the people who hold them.

Just parking this here because it's convenient. It's for everyone in this thread.

We are both beneficiaries and prisoners of the fossil fuel industrial system. Individually, a person can get out to a great degree, with effort... but as a society, there are no exits.

I live in a state where almost all the power comes from oil, despite being ideal for solar and ideal for wind (Hawaii). This is also a state with a fairly decent environmental consciousness. I went to a question and answer session the governor gave on energy... And what did I see? Solar installers, sure - but most live in apartments here in the city of Honolulu, and don't own their roofs. Also, power plants are typically not individually paid for, but rather paid for by taxes or however - so where is the power company, coming door to door to install solar? Where is their committment, out of the profits they make? And what will happen when this stops working so well?

On top of this, they are cutting the bus schedules (partly to pay for rail). And this where traffic is the worst in the nation - because everything is built for cars, in a place without the space for a car-centric lifestyle.

So, for the average person here - are they a beneficiary or a prisoner? Their job is likely to be supported by tourism or the military, but they probably need a car to get to work, and probably have no choice but to buy fossil fuel electricity.

Jerry McManus,

You distort the article with a vague quote out of context. McKibben clearly stated:

But what all these climate numbers make painfully, usefully clear is that the planet does indeed have an enemy – one far more committed to action than governments or individuals. Given this hard math, we need to view the fossil-fuel industry in a new light. It has become a rogue industry, reckless like no other force on Earth. It is Public Enemy Number One to the survival of our planetary civilization. "Lots of companies do rotten things in the course of their business – pay terrible wages, make people work in sweatshops – and we pressure them to change those practices," says veteran anti-corporate leader Naomi Klein, who is at work on a book about the climate crisis. "But these numbers make clear that with the fossil-fuel industry, wrecking the planet is their business model. It's what they do."

Those in that industry will suffer even greater mental impairment based on their repression of guilt through denial unless and until they put their shoulder to rejecting any further participation in the largest mass murder in the history of civilization.

One of the first thing you notice when you become aware of issues of peak energy is the singleminded obsession of the world's governments with endless economic growth. It is the paramount concern and trumps all others. If these fossil fuels must be burnt to maintain a minimum level of growth, they will be burnt. Reluctantly, guiltily maybe, but they will be burnt.

That's why it might actually be worse if some miracle new reactor were discovered. In the pursuit of infinite growth, the world would keep building more and more of them, without any ability to stop, until waste heat turned Earth into an analogue of Venus.


I didn't fully realize that the oil in the ground is already on the books.

Yes, this coal and gas and oil is still technically in the soil. But it's already economically aboveground – it's figured into share prices, companies are borrowing money against it, nations are basing their budgets on the presumed returns

If you told Exxon or Lukoil that, in order to avoid wrecking the climate, they couldn't pump out their reserves, the value of their companies would plummet... at today's market value, those 2,795 gigatons of carbon emissions are worth about $27 trillion. Which is to say, if you paid attention to the scientists and kept 80 percent of it underground, you'd be writing off $20 trillion in assets.

So, forget it... It's already a done deal. Anything that threatens the timely completion of this $30,000,000,000,000 transaction is a great threat to the participating interests. That understanding goes a long way towards explaining the wars against any notice of the environment and against any alternatives like wind. If some bright type did invent the wonder power source, there are thirty trillion urgent and exciting reasons to snuff them.

I see.


I do find the need to correct Einstein. The modified law is:
"The only TWO things infinite in this universe are human stupidity, and human greed"!

K – The situation is even more significant then you point out. The easy model is the current shale play the pubcos are hitting so hard. There’s even more asset value attributed to value then the currently producing wells. Let’s specifically use the current unconventional resource whipping boy: Chesapeake. The value of their stock is determined by the perception of potential buyers. And that perception is essentially set by the Wall Street brokers. What broker is going to recommend a stock that he doesn’t think will increase in price. So CHK is worth $X/share today based upon those PROVED PRODUCING reserves. Thus is by some natural or manmade action CHK is required to cut production rate 50% their stock price would plummet for a number of reasons. First the dividend falls. But as pointed out even more important so does their cash flow/borrowing base which fuels future drilling.

So not only is the value of existing production discounted but less drilling greatly reduces the PUD’s – Proved Undeveloped reserves. It’s been the booking of PUD’s that have driven the value of the shale pubcos. When I’ve made a conventional discover there was a finite and relatively small areal extent (and thus small PUD reserves) yet to drill. Not so with the shale plays. This is exactly why the pubcos are there: millions of acres of POTENTIAL PUD’s. Years ago the SEC allowed companies to book ridiculous amounts of PUD’s based on a limited number of wells actually drilled. Not nearly as bad with the new regs but pubcos are still allowed to book a multiple of future PUD locations for each well actually drilled. And remember stock price is based upon perception of growth and not such hard numbers (even when the validity of those numbers is in question).

It appears that a combination of insufficient cash flow and lower than anticipated borrowing base may be slowing up the shale treadmill which will have a negative impact on that perceived value. Now add some mandated reduction in development as an effort to “leave resources for future generations” and what should we expect to happen to stock value? So is it a bad thing to leave resources in the ground? Not for future generations, of course. But what about current generations? Some folks still don’t understand who are the majority owners of these pubcos: it’s tens of millions of everyday Americans and not some fat cats sitting at the Club sipping brandy. A huge percentage of ownership is held by retirement accounts…accounts of union workers, school teachers, policemen, millions of folks retired from private sector companies, etc. Reduce the perceived value of ExxonMobil stock and Mr. XOM doesn’t pay the price...many of those retirees do. In some ways the practical effect of the loss of actually daily production seems minor compared to the loss many millions of our citizens would suffer in their investment accounts.

Again, this is just one aspect of the hydrocarbon trap we’ve developed for ourselves over the decades. Another aspect is the jobs energy extraction provides. And then there’s the ripple effect: fewer jobs means less personal, corporate and production taxes collected at various govt levels at the same time demands on the public safety net increases. So ask the average American if they would be willing to leave some reserves in the ground for future generations if it means reducing the value of the accounts making their retirement payments, reduce the incomes of some of the folks in their community, reduce the taxes being collected some of which are used to support services they use, increase the number of folks on welfare and, last but not least, being willing to pay more for gasoline.

I can’t think of any more appropriate term than trap.

And what about the owners of all those gas stations!!! They stand to lose, what?, a penny a gallon? They are completely disposable too, just like any other small-time chump in the chain. The little investors are just place-markers, bag-holders, a sink/sump/reservoir... the cold-end. Their retirement accounts evaporate for any number of reasons, like the litany of frauds that seems to grow everyday. Their collective mass and the flow circulating through it gives concentrated profits and power to the much smaller layers above them in the hierarchy of wealth. I've pointed this out before, with references from the very players themselves saying "Yes, the power flowing through the investment machine concentrates to the operators".

If the source of energy was allowed to find another focus, then all the jobs would shift there.

The best plan for the big carbon players is to deny any environmental effect, like the ridiculous polar bear thread above, and to quash any attempt at shifting away from their products. I used to think that these interests could adopt, adapt, and improve as science and technology advanced away from burning stuff... but, now I understand that they have already, in effect, sold their projected future production: the recoverable carbon in the ground is already on the books, I am told. It must be produced and burned in order to fulfill their private promises and dreams.

Like Vanderbilt said: "The public be d@mned!"

Extra Saudi forces deployed with Iran in mind

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia has deployed more troops in the oil-rich Eastern Province and cancelled some military leave amid worries of fresh unrest stoked by Iran and regional tensions, Saudi government sources and diplomats said on Thursday.

A Saudi government source said that top commanders, in a directive issued on June 26, ordered extra security forces to be stationed in the kingdom’s crude-producing east, home to a majority of the country’s Shiite population. The source said Saudi troops were put on alert and summer leave was cancelled for some officers but “those already on holiday are are not being called back.”

Western diplomats confirmed that holidays for troops had been suspended since the end of June.

Peak oil and global warming mix:

Iran VP Blames West for Drought – It Then Begins to Rain, a True Story!

Iran’s Vice President Hassan Mousavi said on Monday that the West was using new technology to create a drought condition in Iran.

“The world arrogance and colonist (the U.S. and the EU) are influencing Iran’s climate conditions using new technology... The drought is an acute issue and soft war is completely evident... This level of drought is not normal,” Mousavi said. (Fars News Agency/AFP/businessinsider.com)

Moments after the VP made the pronouncement, it began to rain. It really did.




Iran playing war games but not in video arcades

We just flipped the switch and turned on our rain machines.

Here's some more Peak Oil / Global Warming juxtaposition.

For those who don't know or have forgotten, I work at a truck stop on the Oklahoma - Kansas state line (Oklahoma side). We have a brand-new water tower and an associated water pumping station.

Recently, the oil-frakking boom has come our way, and the water tankers have made frequent use of our facilities. Now, thanks to the worsening drought, we have had to close the pump station to everyone except cattle ranchers for their livestock. I imagine the tank trucks are filling from ponds.

Last year it got to the point that the truck stop itself had no water, and I had to block off the public restrooms. I fear things are heading in that direction again.

That is very unfortunate but interesting.

Re: Widespread Drought Is Likely to Worsen
and Drought Puts Food at Risk, U.S. Warns

Here's another story about the drought from a source closer to the land:

'Exceptional' drought grows

Here's a look at what's beginning to happen in the futures market, in a video commentary:

Big Picture: Panic hits the CME Group floor

It's still July folks. Things aren't looking good just now...

E. Swanson

Drought's caused by sin, see link.

Your leaders are like wolves who tear apart their victims. They actually destroy people’s lives for money! And your prophets cover up for them by announcing false visions and making lying predictions. They say, ‘My message is from the Sovereign Lord,’ when the Lord hasn’t spoken a single word to them. Even common people oppress the poor, rob the needy, and deprive foreigners of justice. Ezek 22:23-29

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. The more that things change, the more they stay the same.

The law of the environment is preserve or perish.

Pastor Tim, in his own words:

I’m just ignorant to believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God and the only truth for us. I don’t read too many other books, I just stick to the basics of the Bible.

Perhaps CME shouldn't have been in such a hurry to hang out the "We Are The 1%" signs...

YOY change in oil consumption from a group of producing nations, data from BP Stat Review 2012:


No numbers for Iraq or Nigeria in the BP data. FSU would have skewed things a bit too much, I think. How many years have they decreased consumption?

# of Contractions <-25 <-50
Iran 8 7 4
Kuwait 20 3 1
Qatar 7 0 0
Saudi Arabia 7 4 2
United Arab Emirates 8 1 0
Indonesia 9 2 0
Venezuela 12 4 2
Algeria 8 0 0
Egypt 12 2 0

Some of those years had contractions that were political in nature, of course. Bit of the old accelerating trend here. Track that against your secular increase in crude price, and what do you get?

Here is what we show for combined liquids consumption for the top 33 net exporters in 2005 (BP + Some EIA input):

2005: 16.6 mbpd
2006: 17.0
2007: 17.5
2008: 18.0
2009: 18.0
2010: 18.9
2011: 19.5

2005 to 2011 rate of change: +4.1%/year

Notice how KSA haven't contracted in over a decade, not that they did much previously in the first place. Looks like 2011 would have matched 2010 if not for geopolitical goings on in Iran/Egypt, also.

Midnight Rulemaking, and More from CRS
July 19th, 2012 by Steven Aftergood

New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that Congress has declined to make publicly available online include these.

See www.fas.org

Seraph, have you figured out yet how S.Aftergood gets these "not public" CRS reports? It has always irritated ME that CRS reports are not all posted online, because the CRS is paid by We the People; it stands to reason that We the People should have full access to their research.

Edit: to clarify my irritation

How the Elites Built America’s Economic Wall

The libertarian author of this article argues that economic inequality is caused by over-regulation. For the past 30 years, poor areas have stopped catching up to rich areas, and she points to a study that suggests the reason is too much regulation. It makes housing prices so high in rich areas that working class people can't afford to move where the high paying jobs are.

The closest she comes to "limits to growth" is this paragraph:

In their paper, Shoag and Ganong don’t look at why high- income states tightened their regulations, thereby increasing segregation by education level. One possible explanation is that as people get richer and cities get more crowded, the tradeoffs between cheaper housing for newcomers and a pleasant (or at least stable) environment for current residents look different. When postwar developers were turning California orange orchards into suburbs, residents focused on the new houses rather than the lost landscape. Now opposition to new construction is not only common but institutionalized. Well-organized residents fear losing the amenities that attracted them in the first place.

She makes it sound like it's just a matter of houses vs. orange groves. But eventually, the petri dish gets full. Take Manhattan as an obvious example. It's an island. Real estate is limited. Suburbs sprawl for miles around, but there still has to be a way to get people to the city if they're to work there. Traffic congestion, the bottlenecks of the bridges and tunnels, the capacity of public transportation...it may be theoretically possible to jam more people in, but you reach a point where it's just not worth it.

It all boils down to how "quality of life" and "standard of living" are defined. If both are defined by increases in GDP, then any constraints on growth don't make any sense. If people value other things, then limits to growth in an area make all kinds of sense. At a certain point, another theater, hospital, school, restaurant, etc. doesn't add much to a metro area that already offers these amenities.

Housing in the urban core of the metropolitan area I live in is more expensive arguably because...

  • That's where the jobs are most concentrated,
  • Relatively easy to bike or walk to work, and to shop for food
  • The greater relative population density means there are more public transit options to get you where you want to go (more bus routes to your destination)

And the further from the core the fewer public transit options there are.

I found this Paul Krugman blog post from 2008 relevant. He posts a map of "percentage of income Sydney area residents will spend on gas" (he found the map by reading TOD).

If my geographical sense of Sydney is correct those who spend the least live closest to the core, where the houses are the most expensive, but the commute is shortest. Though now that I think of it, if those in the core may have higher incomes, and presumably they do as they can afford to buy a more expensive house, then their higher income alone would account for the lower percentage of income spent on gas.

Maybe Matt knows if my sense of Sydney is correct.


There have been some studies in the US which demonstrated that housing costs + transportation costs are relatively constant among US cities, although the portion allocated to housing and the portion allocated to transportation varies widely. It seems people have only a certain amount of money in their piggy banks, and the portion they allocate to housing and the portion they allocate to transportation depends on their personal preferences, although the total amount of money in their piggy bank are the same.

Certainly, the people who live in the downtown cores of cities have very high housing costs, but at the same time their transportation costs are very low - in big cities with expensive housing they may not even own a car. OTOH, in a city like Houston, the average suburban dweller pays more for transportation than for housing.

The trouble in the post-peak-oil era is that the amount they spend on transportation will rise so much that they will no longer be able to afford the suburban housing they now live in. I think that has already happened in the US.

" It seems people have only a certain amount of money in their piggy banks, and the portion they allocate to housing and the portion they allocate to transportation depends on their personal preferences, although the total amount of money in their piggy bank are the same."

Very true. The monthly budget only has so much money, but you are certainly free to change the allocation between the mortgage and transportation costs. So, closer to town saves transport costs, but usually increases the rent/mortgage payment. Or you can head out of town for the reverse. In my case another factor came into play as well, the need for a 4 bedroom house. The closest one I found was well out of town, so my hand was forced.

Make the two girls share a room you say? As I said, my hand was forced :-/

People's expectations in housing have become too high. In the old days, a 3-bedroom house was considered more than adequate because Mom and Dad would have their own bedroom, and they would throw all the girls into one bedroom and all the boys into the other. Families were bigger then, but since the kids spent all their time outdoors anyway, it worked as long as they could fit enough bunk beds into the bedrooms.

In the post-peak-oil era, things will become more constrained and people will have to reduce their expectations. Maybe kids will have to go back to sharing bedrooms so Mom and Dad don't have to drive to work, and they'll have to walk, bicycle, or take public transit to school because Mom and Dad aren't going to drive them there.

It's going to be hard to break those expectations that set in during the era of cheap oil, though.

My dad was raised in a three-bedroom house. His sister didn't even have a room. The parents were in one bedroom, the five boys shared the other two. The lone girl slept in the hallway.

And there was only one bathroom. Nowadays, it's hard to sell a house if it only has one bathroom.

There's a lot of room to cut back. People might not like it, but there's a lot of room to cut back.

I was raised in a 3 bedroom house too - parents had one room, my sister and I shared one, my brother had one. My grandmother, who lived with us, had a converted space in the attic.

I've probably posted this before, but the house I have now was built in 1904. The original house was living floor- two bedrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom - attic (unfinished), and basement (unfinished). It was considered a typical single family home for this area.

Over the years, the attic was finished and converted to one bedroom, ensuite bathroom and additional living area, the basement was finished into a small apartment, storage and laundry area, and an addition added onto the back of the house.

Total living area went from about 1000 sq ft to about 1800 sq ft (2400 sq ft if one includes the basement space).

It is considered a small home, by contemporary standards.

We have a lot of room to downsize.

I grew up in a three-bedroom garage. My father couldn't afford a house, but there was a garage attached to our store, so he built rooms inside.

There was one bedroom for Mom and Dad, one bedroom for the two girls, and one for the two boys. The decor was Early Plywood, although we kids eventually painted it because our Dad didn't have time. We had our choice of whatever paint didn't sell in the store, so my brother and I had a bright red bedroom with gold flecks, and the girls did something similar in bright blue.

The garage didn't have a proper foundation under it, so it started separating from the store, and my brother and I had to keep stuffing old socks into the steadily widening gaps in the walls to keep snow from blowing into our bedroom. My brother made the situation worse by shooting hockey pucks through the wall on MY side of the room. I retaliated by throwing HIM through a wall (Dad had skimped on 2x4s).

It had one bathroom, but the pipes kept freezing in winter, so we wrapped the pipes in heat tape and always had to leave the door open when we weren't using it to let the heat in. The ceilings were very low and one time I got overexcited during a TV show, jumped up, and broke the living room lights with my head.

Kids don't know how comfortable they have it nowadays. Mind you, Mom and Dad said the same thing. They would launch into monologs about five kids having to share two beds in the same bedroom and having to break the ice on the washbasin to wash their faces in the morning. And then Grandma would start talking about homesteading in an unheated one-room sod shack, and Grandpa would talk about having to walk 50 miles to see Grandma on weekends because he was building the first railroads for $1/day and couldn't afford a horse.

There is a lot of room to cut back, but hopefully not to the unheated one-room sod shack and no horse level.

Rocky – The conversation feels like we’re going back to our pioneer days. LOL. I suppose it goes to what “normal” is to any of us. I’ll guess that many of us from such humble beginnings don’t recall feeling very bad during those times. All of my childhood was spent sleeping in the front room of a 4 BR “shot gun” rental in New Orleans. I say childhood but I didn’t have my first shared bedroom until my senior year in college. Which was also the first time I had air conditioning. Thankfully my next shared bedroom was with my new wife the first year grad school. I clearly remember feeling that I had made it to the big time. And it only got better: after working for Mobil Oil for a year I was able to buy my first car…at age 25. I know I felt I was in high cotton by that point. LOL.

Are we better off with such childhoods with respect to who we became? Maybe…maybe not. Many of my friends didn’t make it out of the old neighborhood…except to prison, potter’s field or maybe a military cemetery. My daughter has always had her own BR, air conditioning, computer, family car, etc, etc. Would I wish for her the same life I had growing up? HELL NO! LOL. I think that many of us who made it well after such beginnings did so not because of those rougher times but despite them. My 12 yo daughter has a better head on her shoulders now than I had thru much of my young adulthood. I obviously have many more “things” now then in my childhood but still don’t think back to really be deprived on anything back then. Perhaps that's one of the benefits of the aging process: not only is it difficult to remember where I put my car keys but I don’t remember details of that childhood

Rockman, my childhood was happy too, despite our lack of money. We got to paint our own rooms using paint nobody else wanted, we built two story playhouses out of packing crates from our parent's store, and played marbles with ball bearings from old transmissions. We had 55 gallon drums to play with, old tires to roll down the street, trees to climb, sloughs to raft across, sewers to crawl through, and dogs to shoot when they chased us, plus hundreds of gophers and rabbits to gun down. I learned to shoot at six and bought my first gun at ten.

But, despite our relatives' expectations, none of us ever went to jail. Our only involvement with the law was finking on people who deserved to go to jail much worse than we did.

Unfortunately during my childhood I had to share a bedroom until I graduated from University. My brother was bad enough, but we could resolve our differences through fistfights. Some of my University roommates were sick people who were best dealt with by staying as far away as possible, especially when they were drinking. There were as many as five of us sharing a two-bedroom condo at a time. I spend my whole university education sleeping in a sleeping bag, usually on a floor, but sometimes on a couch or a folding cot. It was years after university before I was comfortable sleeping in a bed again.

My brother and I got our first car at about 14 (he was 11) but it didn't involve any monetary cost. Our father traded 100 pounds of potatoes and some welding for it. We learned a lot about mechanics from that car, and its successor, which cost $400. In University I got rid of the car because it was too expensive, and sometimes walked three miles to classes to save 25 cents on bus fare.

However, things have been getting progressively better for subsequent generations since my grandfather's day. One of my grand-nieces has traveled in about 20 different countries, has meet the Queen, been kissed on the cheek by the Prime Minister of Canada, is an accomplished tennis player, canoeist, and skier - and she's not even in grade one yet. I suppose there are some limits on how advantaged kids can be, but I don't think we've found them yet.

So the living environment is viewed through a gun-sight?

Not since I was a kid. I traded my rifle to someone for a good used stereo several decades ago. I believe in the "live and let live" approach to wildlife now, and just wish the wildlife around here would take the same approach to me.

A pine martin just ran across the driveway. Who needs a rifle to shoot squirrels when you have a pine martin?

My grandfather (my dad's dad) built the house himself. He wasn't a carpenter. It was just a skill that men of his generation had. I wasn't around at the time, of course, but I'd guess the whole family pitched in to help.

He made a lot of things that his kids and grandkids would never think of making themselves. I'm still impressed when I find things he made. He was very clever.

I still remember how much fun I had playing in his workshop when I was a kid. We were allowed to take whatever we wanted from the scrap bin, and use whatever tools we wanted, as long as we put them back when we were done. Nowadays, most parents probably wouldn't allow their young kids to play with saws, drills, etc.

It's something of a tradition in my family to build your own house. I built my own house, my father built his own house, and my grandfather built his own house. I don't know how far this tradition goes back, but back past a certain point everyone who wasn't rich enough to buy one built their own house.

It's not that hard to do (if you say it fast), it's just a lot of planning and hard work, and a willingness to tackle big projects without knowing what you are getting yourself into.

I'd guess my grandfather had an inkling of what he was getting into. He probably helped his own relatives build their homes. Probably starting from childhood.

His brother built a house next door that is nearly identical.

I enjoyed the article but I think that Thomas Sowell in Basic Economics makes the point even better when explaining how some regulations on housing actually hurt the poor the most. For example, cities with rent control have created slums while builders who build condos and upscale buildings don't have to follow the same regs. Housing for the poor shrinks while condos get built everyday. I think there were even situations where people would keep paying rent on properties that were covered by rent control even though they had moved into a better home, because the property under rent control was too good of a deal to let go. So that property never made it back on the open market because of rent control.

The elite create the regulations, so why wouldn't we expect those regulations help the elite?

It's fairly easy to demonstrate using basic economic theory that rent controls will create slums, and eventually serious housing shortages if they go on too long. Most cities have figured this out and avoid imposing rent controls because they know what will happen. In cities like New York which have them, people have their own institutionalized mindset and denying the reality of basic economic principles is a way of life.

It is possible for a city to manipulate the market to drive down the cost of housing, but it takes a lot of clever planning and costs the land speculators a lot of money, which they hate. They will try to argue that it is, or should be, illegal, immoral, and some kind of communist plot.

I've never seen it done with residential housing, but I have seen cities manipulate the industrial land market to drive the industrial land prices down to the point where building a factory in their city is a no-brainer. The goal the city has is to increasing the industrial tax base, since industrial users don't require a lot of services. As a result, the land speculators have to make their money only from home buyers rather than industrial users, but the industrialists are just as big a lobby group as they are, so complaining gets them nowhere.

Its also a matter of different timescales (discount rates). Short term rent controls keep rents down. Longer term the gradual decay of the housing stock makes the problem worse. Also it is an indirect effect, and very easy for fallible human logic to overlook. Most humans revert to moralistic thinking, "greedy landlords must be put in their place".

re: Gas prices may go up too because of drought

This illustrates one of the obvious problems with making fuel ethanol from corn. They are turning food into fuel, and if there is a drought, it creates a shortage of both food and fuel, and affects not only food prices but fuel prices.

The US is currently turning 40% of its corn crop into fuel ethanol. Because of the ethanol mandates, if a drought reduces the corn crop by half, the oil companies would be forced to turn 80% of the corn crop into fuel. That doesn't leave very much for people and animals to eat.

It could also cause food shortages in third world countries because many people there have become dependent on cheap imports of US corn. Poor people would starve so Americans could drive their giant SUV's to their remote shopping centers.


I very much agree with you on corn ethanol. It's daft to be using corn to fuel an inefficient transportation system.

It should be pointed out though that in the short term there is some flexibility to the ethanol mandates. I came across this the other day from farmdocDaily...

Rationing the 2012 Corn Crop - Are We There Yet?

It is widely argued that ethanol use is perfectly price inelastic up to the quantity mandated under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). But this ignores the feature of the RFS that allows fuel blenders to accumulate carryover stocks of RINS credits that can be used to meet the mandate in lieu of blending actual gallons of ethanol.

More detail and explanation in the post, so worth reading. Of course once the RINS credits are used up then the fuel blenders have a problem... and so do we.


Yes, but ...
Most of the non-biofuel US corn goes to feed livestock, and some of US corn is exported, again mostly to feed livestock, as is about 40% of the US soya crop (the soya goes mostly to China). It is the US wheat (and Russian wheat), however, that carries a direct effect, raising basic bread prices in those importing countries having poorer populations, e.g. Egypt.
There is, it has to be said, a likely knock-on effect from corn drought, if the livestock growers turn to feeding internationally traded wheat instead of corn. At the moment the rise in wheat price is lagging the rise in corn, and as yet world wheat is nowhere near the 2007/2008 spike. "There is still hope", according to the UN's FAO. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/jul/19/record-cereal-prices-f...

[Soya stats are here http://www.soystats.com/2012/Default-frames.htm ]
In the past about 16% of US corn crop went for export.
A 20 July view on this year's US corn crop is here http://www.carrollconews.com/story/1872845.html

Wheat prices have hit $8.40 a bushel in the recent rally, levels last seen in the price spike of 2010, but they remain much lower than the 2008 record of $13.345. Rice is trading more than 40% below its high in 2008.

Their prices seems to be a bit outdated. Looking here: http://markets.ft.com/research/Markets/Commodities I see that as of Friday 20th, the price is over $9.40. I wonder how it will develop over the next couple of weeks.

Poor people would starve so Americans could drive their giant SUV's to their remote shopping centers.

To buy a plastic pumpkin ... or some other shipped-from-china plastic trinket that will end up in the junkyard within a short time!

I think whats changed is the location of those poor people. Now, many of them are much closer to home. In the old days, it was overseas, out of sight.

re: U.S. missing out on Arctic land grab

The United States Congress has refused to ratify the International Law of the Sea Treaty despite the fact that both Democratic and Republican administrations have been in favor of it.

This could be a serious mistake because the other four Arctic nations - Russia, Canada, Norway, and Denmark (Greenland) - have signed and ratified it, and at this point in time are involved in dividing up the mineral resources of the Arctic Ocean among them. The US is not involved in this process.

Presumably the US thinks it can enforce its interests through military force, but this is not completely certain because two of the Arctic nations (Russia and Canada) are G-8 countries perfectly capable of sinking US aircraft carriers and submarines. (In Canada's case it is because during the Cold War it developed the capability of sinking Russian aircraft carriers and submarines.)

The US has unresolved boundary disputes in the Arctic with both Canada and Russia, and there is really no peaceful mechanism to resolve them than through the Law of the Sea Treaty.

The conspiracy theorists would point out, it would be in the global military industrial complexes best interest to go back to a state of Cold/Hot war/skirmishes with the Russia.

The problem is the US probably does think it can play bullyboy.

However 162 countries have ratified the treaty. If the UN committee says (A) and the US tried to impose (B), then it's everyone against the US, and they are quite at liberty to lawfully embargo the US.

Maybe this is the route to getting US oil consumption down to a sustainable level...

[Canadian] Senate energy committee backs sending western oil east

The Senate’s Conservative-led energy committee is throwing its support behind efforts to ship western oil east to be refined in Ontario and Quebec.

Acknowledging Canada has so far failed to secure public support for shipping more oil sands oil south to the United States and a new pipeline to the Pacific remains controversial, the committee’s Conservative chair David Angus says looking east is a “no brainer.”

“It’s pretty crazy when you have such bountiful supplies of your own,” he said, embracing the argument that Canadian oil is more “ethical” than imported oil. “Why would we have all these ships coming in from Nigeria into the St. Lawrence river with crude oil when we’ve got so much of it in other places of the country?”

The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources:

Consensus Report Outlines an Energy Vision and Priorities for Canada’s Energy Future

NOW OR NEVER: Canada Must Act Urgently to Seize Its Place in the NEW ENERGY WORLD ORDER

Fukushima worker was ordered to shield dosimeter with lead cover to make integral dose look low

170,000 people joined protest in Tokyo “We won’t die in insult.”

It was inevitable. Having begun a massive nuclear reactor construction program, and having stolen all the relevant technology from Western companies, the Chinese are probably going to become the #1 international source of new nuclear reactors in the world.

If China stole the technology ignoring the patents, then how will they construct the nuclear power plants in Western countries without paying big fat royalty checks to the patent holders?

The patents have all expired. We're talking about Trade Secrets, and if you reveal a Trade Secret to someone else, it's no longer a Trade Secret. That's what the Western Countries did, and the Chinese stole their secrets fair and square.

People don't really know much about intellectual property law - in fact the word, "property" is a misnomer and not useful in the international context. Most countries, excepting the US, do not have any constitutional protection of "property".