Drumbeat: July 27, 2012

The Age of Scarcity

In both 2008 and 2011, agricultural prices rose in tandem with energy prices, just as they did in the 1970s. That’s in part because it takes 160 liters of oil to produce a metric ton of corn in the U.S., and the cost of natural gas accounts for three-quarters of the cost of nitrogen fertilizer.

Growing demand for crops—from more people, more farm animals, and more use of biofuels—has also raised pressure on prices. Between 1990 and 2010, total global per capita consumption of beef, pork, and poultry increased by 1.2 percent annually. Over the next 50 years food output will have to rise 50 percent to cater to 2 billion extra people and their growing appetite for meat. Meanwhile, growth in global biofuel production rose 30 percent per year from 2006 to 2008. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations predicts that biofuel production will double by 2018, causing an estimated 14 percent rise in grain prices.

The Hidden Cost of Peak Oil

I know you've read the same headlines that I have...how we are going to "frack" our way to energy independence by exploiting shale oil and other unconventional sources.

But here's the thing.

Nobody's talking about the high cost of getting the new oil out of the ground. But very soon, high extraction costs will kick crude oil prices into high gear.

Oil Pares Weekly Drop on Speculation ECB to Boost Efforts

Oil pared its weekly decline in New York amid speculation the European Central Bank may take further steps to address the region’s debt crisis and avert a deeper global slowdown.

Futures advanced as much as 0.9 percent as France’s Le Monde reported that the European Central Bank is preparing to buy debt after ECB President Mario Draghi said yesterday that policy makers will do whatever is needed to preserve the euro. Crude pared gains after Germany’s Bundesbank said restarting the ECB’s bond-purchase program was not the best solution, and amid forecasts that data today will show the U.S. economy grew at the slowest past in a year.

Consumers Opting for Better Fuel Economy This Year

An analysis indicates that the fuel efficiency of vehicles purchased by consumers in the United States set a new record in the first half of this year. It attributed the shift to automakers’ offering a wider variety of models with good fuel performance, and to shoppers’ reacting to higher gasoline prices by choosing smaller models.

U.S. natgas futures slide 2 pct ahead of expiration

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures slid 2 percent in early trading, edging off ahead of the front-month contract's expiration later Friday despite continued hot, summer weather.

Prices remained below this week's seven-month spot chart high, and most traders expect they will have a hard time remaining above the $3 level, where gas tends to lose its appeal over coal for power generation.

The Peak Oil Crisis: Middle Eastern Chaos

Should Assad fall, Iran will lose its only true ally in the Middle East. This could push the Iranians closer to the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad, which is facing insurrections from its own Sunni minority who are used to running things as well as the Kurds who want to be an independent country. There is no other term for all this than "a can of worms." It is going to be a long hot summer in the region with the likelihood that things will get a lot worse before fall comes.

India bans US-sanctioned Iranian ships from entering its water

India has banned US-sanctioned Iranian ships from entering its water, impacting crude oil imports from the nation's fourth oil largest supplier.

The government had in early July allowed import of crude oil from Iran in ships arranged by Tehran after European sanctions evaporated insurance cover to domestic shippers.

Iran Nuclear Plants Hit By Virus Playing AC/DC, Website Says

Iran’s nuclear facilities have suffered a cyber attack that shut down computers and played music from the rock band AC/DC, the F-Secure Security Labs website said.

A new worm targeted Iran’s nuclear program, closing down the “automation network” at the Natanz and Fordo facilities, the Internet security site reported, citing an e-mail it said was sent by a scientist inside Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.

Siberian court awards $3 billion damages against BP

(Reuters) - A Siberian court has awarded more than $3 billion in damages against British oil major BP in a suit brought by minority shareholders in its $60 billion Russian venture TNK-BP, the plaintiffs' lawyer said on Friday.

The setback for BP comes as the company continues to talk to potential buyers of its share of TNK-BP. BP formed the 50-50 joint venture with AAR, a consortium representing four Russian tycoons, nearly a decade ago to tap in to the country's vast energy reserves.

Shell sees US energy independence; profits drop

The chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell PLC on Thursday said that whichever political party wins the U.S. presidential election in November should formulate an energy policy with a view to achieving "near energy independence" within 20 years.

Swiss CEO Peter Voser, who heads Europe's largest oil company, was speaking after his company's second quarter earnings showed a greater than expected decline in profits, due mostly to lower oil prices.

Exxon Profit Profit Rises as Asset Sales Offset Prices

Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s biggest oil company by market value, earned less than expected as oil demand stalled in the world’s largest economies and U.S. natural-gas prices dropped.

Occidental Profit Falls as Oil Decline Outstrips Output Jump

Occidental Petroleum Corp., the largest onshore crude producer in the continental U.S., said second-quarter profit fell 27 percent as new output in California and Texas failed to make up for declining oil prices.

Mexico's Pemex posts steep second-quarter loss

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico state oil monopoly Pemex reported a second-quarter loss on Friday, hurt by higher expenses, the weaker peso and lower prices for Mexican crude.

Pemex posted a loss of 25.9 billion Mexican pesos ($1.9 billion), compared with a year-earlier profit of 16 billion pesos.

TranCanada profit falls on weak natural gas prices

(Reuters) - TransCanada Corp, which is seeking to build the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, reported a 23 percent fall in second-quarter profit on low natural gas prices.

TransCanada wins key permits for pipeline to refineries in Texas

TransCanada Corp. says it has won final approval on three permits needed to build an oil pipeline to refineries on the Texas coast.

The Calgary-based company says the permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers mean construction of the 780-kilometre oil pipeline can start in the coming weeks.

Shell May Trim 2012 Alaska Drilling for Inspections, Ice

Royal Dutch Shell Plc may have to scale back its Arctic oil-exploration this year after unrelenting ice and trouble passing U.S. Coast Guard inspections delayed the planned July start of drilling.

The company’s fleet remains in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, days away from the Chukchi and Beaufort seas off the state’s north coast, waiting for ice to break up and the U.S. to issue final permits for drilling five test wells. Arctic conditions require Shell to quit work by late October, before ice reforms.

Premiers turn attention to debate on energy

Canada's premiers will today turn their attention to talk of a national energy strategy now that a plan on how they can improve health care has been put forward.

Friday is the last day of the premiers' meeting in Halifax and today's discussion could prove to be a lively one because of the divergent views on energy resources.

Offshore Oil Expansion Passes U.S. House as Obama Considers Veto

The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation opening the California and Virginia coasts for offshore oil drilling, defying a presidential veto threat.

The measure, if approved by the Senate, would replace President Barack Obama’s 2012-2017 leasing plan, almost doubling total sales to 29 from 15 and speeding auctions off the north coast of Alaska.

Court Rejects a Ban on Local Fracking Limits

A Pennsylvania court on Thursday struck down a provision of a state law that forbade municipalities to limit where natural gas drilling could take place within their boundaries.

'Hydro-fracking' film draws crowd, exchange of barbs


For those on either side of the debate, the use - or misuse - of the word alone can stimulate the heart as quick as any pot of coffee, pack of smokes or rush-hour traffic jam.

Thursday evening, during a gas industry-sponsored event and screening of new pro-fracking film, "Truthland," at Burchfield Penney Art Center on the Buffalo State College campus, proved to be no exception.

China's solar firms call for trade war over European challenge

China's solar firms warned of a trade war today and urged the Chinese government to respond with all means to an anti-dumping complaint filed by European competitors.

Report shows US drought rapidly intensifying

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The widest drought to grip the United States in decades is getting worse with no signs of abating, a new report warned Thursday, as state officials urged conservation and more ranchers considered selling cattle.

The drought covering two-thirds of the continental U.S. had been considered relatively shallow, the product of months without rain, rather than years. But Thursday's report showed its intensity is rapidly increasing, with 20 percent of the nation now in the two worst stages of drought — up 7 percent from last week.

A Climate and Energy Stalemate

The public is divided, with fervent minorities at either end of the debate and a broad crowd in the middle that believes that human activity is altering the climate but remains conflicted over what government, corporations and individuals should do about it. Attuned to the public’s ambivalence, both political parties and their presidential candidates are playing down the climate issue. Instead, what passes for an energy debate in the United States is rivalry over which party is more devoted to extracting oil and gas from the ground and the seabed.

U.S. ups the pressure on European Union in airline row

WASHINGTON/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Washington will ratchet up the pressure next week to find a global solution to a bitter row over an EU law that makes airlines that use European airports pay for carbon emissions.

In the U.S. Senate, the powerful commerce committee will hold a vote on Tuesday on a bipartisan bill that would make it illegal to comply with the EU law.

Brussels rolls out carbon market fix

The European Commission has announced a twin-track approach to fixing Europe’s depressed carbon market with a short-term ‘backloading’ of carbon allowances, to be followed by proposals for long-term structural change before the end of the year.

How summer thunderstorms could be punching new holes in the ozone layer

A study looking at conditions in the lower stratosphere, where the ozone layer resides, suggests a link between climate change and the amount of ultraviolet radiation reaching Earth's surface.

Study: Many U.S. cities unprepared for future heat waves

Climate scientists say that if the planet keeps warming, we can expect more frequent and severe heat waves around the United States. Heat stress will get especially severe in cities, where the bulk of the population lives. What’s more, as demand for air conditioning in cities surges, that will put increased stress on electric grids, which are already buckling under this summer’s heat.

Yet many localities aren’t prepared for this eventuality: Stone and his co-authors examined the climate plans of 50 major cities and found that only one-quarter of them even addressed this growing urban heat island effect.

ANALYSIS-Evidence for climate extremes, costs, gets more local

OSLO (Reuters) - Scientists are finding evidence that man-made climate change has raised the risks of individual weather events, such as floods or heatwaves, marking a big step towards pinpointing local costs and ways to adapt to freak conditions.

Melting Arctic sea ice: How much is down to us?

(Phys.org) -- Natural climate variations could explain up to 30% of the loss in Arctic sea ice since the 1970s, scientists have found.

Sea ice coverage at the North Pole has shrunk dramatically over the past 40 years. The ice is now more than a third smaller each September following the summer melt than it was in the 1970s. This affects wildlife, while potentially opening up new northern sea routes and controversial opportunities for oil and gas exploration.

How Nigeria’s vortex of violence is being driven by climate change and desertification

Climate change is a driver of conflict. Scarcity of resources, be they farmable land, water or livestock, is creating mass migrations and antagonising pre-existing tensions in a vicious circle.

Variability in food production and prices leads to social unrest while social unrest itself exacerbates the instability in food production and local investment. This cyclical crisis is evident in Plateau State and beyond in the Sahel region of West Africa.

Re: How summer thunderstorms could be punching new holes in the ozone layer

There's a similar story in today's NYT:

Storms Threaten Ozone Layer Over U.S., Study Says

Apparently, the problem is an unexpected interaction between high stratospheric water vapor from intense thunderstorms and the ozone destroying chemicals from CFC's. The so-called "ozone holes" which have been of concern previously were rather local events at polar latitudes during the spring. This new finding adds even greater urgency to efforts to reduce the emissions of these ozone destroying chemicals, which are still being produced by some nations...

E. Swanson

http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/uva-and-uvb/ozone-and-uv-where-are-... has some nice graphs.

Tried to find a site that backed up one alarmist I am aware of who claims the UV index is on an uptrend - but based on the above links graphs - that uptrend may be happening but still be part of a normal cycle.

Some of the UV index uptrend is probably the result of a weakening of the earths magnetic field possibly in advance of a reversal.

At the moment the UV Index has little to do with the magnetic field ...

Over the last two centuries the dipole strength has been decreasing at a rate of about 6.3% per century.[9] At this rate of decrease, the field would reach zero in about 1600 years.[20] However, this strength is about average for the last 7 thousand years, and the current rate of change is not unusual.[21]

19. Jackson, Andrew; Jonkers, Art R. T.; Walker, Matthew R. (2000). "Four centuries of Geomagnetic Secular Variation from Historical Records". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A 358 (1768): 957–990. JSTOR 2666741.
20. a b "Secular variation". Geomagnetism. Canadian Geological Survey. 2011. http://nrhp.focus.nps.gov. Retrieved July 18, 2011.
21. Constable, Catherine (2007), "Dipole Moment Variation", in Gubbins, David; Herrero-Bervera, Emilio, Encyclopedia of Geomagnetism and Paleomagnetism, Springer-Verlag, pp. 159–161, DOI:10.1007/978-1-4020-4423-6_67

Earth Magnetic Field

From NatGeo ...

Summer Storms to Create New Ozone Holes as Earth Warms?

More storms may trigger ozone depletion in populated areas far from the Poles.

... and what that may look like ...

New simulation shows consequences of a world without Earth's natural sunscreen (w/Video)

The year is 2065. Nearly two-thirds of Earth's ozone is gone -- not just over the poles, but everywhere. The infamous ozone hole over Antarctica, first discovered in the 1980s, is a year-round fixture, with a twin over the North Pole. The ultraviolet (UV) radiation falling on mid-latitude cities like Washington, D.C., is strong enough to cause sunburn in just five minutes. DNA-mutating UV radiation is up 650 percent, with likely harmful effects on plants, animals and human skin cancer rates.

... this also has the potential to significantly change atmospheric circulation patterns ...

New study links ozone hole to climate change all the way to the equator

While previous work has shown that the ozone hole is changing the atmospheric flow in the high latitudes, the Columbia Engineering paper, "Impact of Polar Ozone Depletion on Subtropical Precipitation," demonstrates that the ozone hole is able to influence the tropical circulation and increase rainfall at low latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere. This is the first time that ozone depletion, an upper atmospheric phenomenon confined to the polar regions, has been linked to climate change from the Pole to the equator.

... but it may all be a horserace ...

Greenhouse gases to overpower ozone hole

"The Hidden Cost of Peak Oil":

..that it's taking more money to get oil out of the ground nowadays, and that it will be getting more expensive to do so.

Why should that surprise people? I think if that were Peak Oil's only message, then I don't think anyone would have much of a problem with it.

It's the rest of the message that gets people to reject the whole concept - that these rising prices and more difficult production (using more complicated technology) will have great consequences..

Cheers, Dom

Why should that surprise people?

Because thats not what people are hearing, when various actors claim we have zillions of barrels, and we will soon be energy independent. Since most people form their views from what they hear/see, rather than forming and thinking about a model, it is what they expect. The people pushing the cornucopian message are omitting the price part of the message, because that would soften future demand -by for instance making the consumer choose a much more efficient vehicle.

Getting comments from "respectible" analysts will be believed by the ingorant crowd.

Crude oil has fallen 20% in less than 2 months. The drop has been sufficient to prompt most bears to declare victory and cover their shorts or even ponder getting long near last year's lows in the mid-$70s. But Jeff Kennedy, chief commodity analyst at Elliott Wave International thinks those buyers are early by about $40.
He bases his outlook on pattern recognition and psychology. His work suggests crude will plunge to the December 2008 lows of $38 a barrel then pause prior to falling another 50%. All in, Kennedy is forecasting an additional 80% drop in crude to $16.70 a barrel; a level not seen since November 0f 2001.

We'd have to see a complete global financial meltdown for that. That would be the final time bomb of derivatives exploding. It wouldn't be sustainable, then price would be back up, way up, as people scramble for physical things to hold onto as wealth rather than the then-nonexistent money we currently use today.

It's a little difficult to "drive up" the price of oil when money is "nonexistent"!!

When money becomes nonexistent the oil price will trend towards infinity in $$'s.

Yet oil's value, in comparison-to/exchange-for another material good, would certainly rise. Any concentrated, stable, useful, easily transported good may do the same.

Small-ounce bottles of Jack Daniel's anyone?

ammo may be the best precious metal to own.

If you had invested your money based on Robert Prechter and his "Idiot Wave Analysis" you would be completely broke and homeless by now.

This guy and his "Idiot Wave Analysts" have been almost completely wrong about almost everything for a very long time.

I am ashamed to admit that I was a subscriber in 2002-2003. Here are some of his predictions from that time frame:
1. Dow Jones will fall to 1000
2. Gold will fall to $110
3. US $ will skyrocket (it is well below where it was in 2001-2002)
4. Oil and commodities will collapse completely (he was gloating when oil fell from $147 to $33 in 2008: "I hope the peak oil crowd stays warm by burning their peak oil theory books")
5. Completely ridicules fundamentals and asserts that price of everything is driven solely by popular emotion

This quack has also linked the stock market performance to the following (I am not kidding):
1. Michael Jordan's basketball career
2. The popularity of slasher films like Kill Bill
3. Sun spots (LOL)
4. Donald Trump writing a book about real estate

He called the real estate bubble correctly, but so what? A lot of us saw it coming. And even in the worst markets, real estate did not drop by 90% (that is what he predicted).

But the Economist Magazine predicted that $16.70 would be perhaps three times too high:


Cheap oil will also mean that most oil-producing countries, many of them run by benighted governments that are already flirting with financial collapse, are likely to see their economies deteriorate further. And it might also encourage more emissions of carbon dioxide at just the moment when the world is trying to do something about global warming.

Yet here is a thought: $10 might actually be too optimistic. We may be heading for $5.

Well that was 13 years ago. And oil did hit close to $10/barrel.

i still like the dog=economy/chain=oil theory.
but since high oil price in 08 crashed the economy, we have big debt.(sick doggy)
currently, total US debt/unfunded liabilities $177T or a
stack of $1000 bills 8,160 miles high. that's fubar.

Scientific Breakthrough Halts Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder

I wonder if the reality justifies the headline?

The bees love California Lilacs. I've noticed that in Vancouver there are hardly any bees on them but out on the pristine west coast of Vancouver Island there was a swarm all over them.

Meh. To save folks the bother: it's basically just a reprint of a commercial press release filled with newly-minted buzzwords. It says a whole lot about "journalism" these days, and very little about bees.

Saudis, Emirates push nuclear power plans

The Saudis have built a foreign assets cushion of around $500 billion from oil exports. It has used this immense wealth to buy its way out of trouble; for instance, heading off pro-democracy protests with massive social spending in recent years. But, the Middle East Economic Digest observed, "a more serious set of challenges now faces the kingdom that threaten to be even more destabilizing.

"Inefficient and wasteful energy consumption, coupled with a rising population, is leading the kingdom to burn even more of its natural resources at home rather than selling them abroad and adding to the proceeds of the half-trillion-dollar cash pile.

"Unless action is taken, the kingdom could find it needs the oil price to be $320 a barrel by 2030 just to balance the budget," the weekly, published in the United Arab Emirates, warned.

Saudi ECI (Export Capacity Index, or the ratio of production to consumption, BP):


Is this going to end up like how it was OK for the Shaw of Iran to have fission reactors but its not OK now for Iran to have 'em?

Will Saudi Arabia's citizens be the kinds of operators who would generate little to no incidents WRT NCR reporting or the kind who generate many NRC reports?

And what happens if the reactors are seen as targets in war or just a plain old asymmetric conflict?

And this little item from the article:

For one thing, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states, including the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Egypt, have no wish to lag any further behind Iran and Israel in developing nuclear technologies.

Interesting - how long before the same posters who'd complain about Iran and its program will complain the same way about Saudi Arabia?

Rhetorical question, right? :)

Probably about as long as it will take pro-Iran posters to support Saudi reactors.

What pro-Iran posters? Very, very few are pro-Iran. What we are is pro-international law, pro-NPT, pro-disarmament, anti-empire, and anti-war.

The United States could make the Middle East a nuclear weapons free zone in weeks, if it wished to do so. It could also acknowledge Iran's NPT rights in exchange for constant inspections. It could also insist that all its allies sign the NPT. It could also work to meet its own NPT obligations.

Alas, it has no intention of doing any of that. Instead, it will stick to its double-standards and war crimes (see what the UN Charter says about threatening war).

How would you propose the U.S. make the Middle East a Nuclear Weapon Free zone, without at a minimum some state or regional Wars breaking out? You have to be able to back up any action with force. At least thats my thought, maybe there are other options.

For a start denuclearize Israel.From then on it it could be easier.

How? Even if the pres/congress decided it no longer feared AIPAC, the Israelis would simply say no. Then what do you do, threaten to Nuke em if they don't do what we say?

We could start by cutting off the money, weapons, and intelligence we send them.

Barring a left-wing conquest of the Democratic Party or growth in social movements, I'm under no illusions this will actually happen, mind you. Israel is too valuable an imperial asset in the ME to lose its privileges.

But that doesn't mean we should shut up about the obvious hypocrisy and criminality going on in our name and on our dime.

The closest to "pro Iran" would be taking the position of not bombing/attacking based on a suspected weapons program. I'm more willing to stake out 'why is bombing a civilian nuclear power plant acceptable' in an attempt to get to questions about how useful fission power is if it becomes a target or the more important 'moral' idea of "why does one nation get to have nuclear civilian power" vs another.

stick to its double-standards

Part of the reason I asked the rhetorical question, hoping that out there somewhere a mind gets opened and ponders why....

According to the article, SA has 52gw of current capacity.

They're planning on 110gw from nuclear by 2032.

Recent news indicate they're planning on 41gw from solar by 2032.

So if every current gw of capacity is replaced, they're planning on demand increasing by 200% in 20 years? Does that sound right?

Also, since their strategy is to displace oil consumption, it seems solar is a wise investment in the short term from a cash flow perspective despite having over double the installed cost per watt. Solar can be developed much more quickly and in smaller increments.

Assume 2gw per year of solar installed over 10 years, then flat for 10 years. That's $50b in capex.

Next, assume 50gw of nuclear comes online in 10 years, then produces flat for 10 years. Also $50b in capex.

At year 10, solar will have displaced 27.5 gw-y of oil consumption. 110gw-y at 6 hrs/day.

1 gw-y of electricity is worth about 24 million boe of displaced oil. So 27.5*24= 660 million boe, or roughly $66 billion at $100/boe if all that displaced oil gets exported.

So solar would have already paid back capex and made a nice return by the time the nukes start generating electricity.

Those 20gw would displace an additional 50 gw-y worth of oil (1.2 billionion boe or $120b) over the next ten years.

The nukes would quickly catch up, displacing 500 gw-y over the next ten, or 12 billion boe or $1.2 trillion.

So it seems like the optimal strategy would be a mix

I think it's a good part of the reason that some countries see solar as a strategic industry. The future trade potential of being able to swap solar technology for oil imports has a lot of benefits when importers are bidding up prices and exporters are desperate to keep money coming in

In SA the cost difference between PV and nuclear is around 1.2 and still decreasing:

1 kW nuclear costs 5000 USD and provides 7000-8000 FLH

1 kW PV costs 1500 USD and provides 2000 FLH

PV is a no-brainer in SA when crude is ~ 65 USD/b. Your strategic scenario sounds correct, however, my bet is that the PV is increased when the prices go down as IIRC much of the electricity demand is during daytime due to ACs.


FLH = Full Load Hours

24 * 365 = 8760 hours per year

Nuclear is 80-90% capacity factor
PV is 23% capacity factor

(using the figures above)

Green Transit increasing
Despite disproportionate money spent on Auto Addiction and highways, Green Transit continues to increase as Americans grapple with gas prices.
PATH ridership up this year, projected to break annual record

PATH ridership is up during the first half of the year, with 2012 projected to surpass the system’s annual record set last year, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said today.

The 39 million riders from January through June made for a 3.7 percent increase over the same period in 2011, the agency said. A projected 78 million riders would break last year’s record of 76.6 million passenger trips.

This is some good news for grappling with Peak Oil and Climate Change.
The question is at what point the PATH between New Jersey and NYC will need major expansion?

China's solar firms call for trade war over European challenge

China's solar firms warned of a trade war today and urged the Chinese government to respond with all means to an anti-dumping complaint filed by European competitors.

This is kind of rich coming from the Chinese as explained by John Hempton on his blog: http://brontecapital.blogspot.ca/2011/12/extent-of-chinese-solar-subsidi...

I hope that the Chinese distortion of the solar market doesn't stunt innovation as they put their western competition out of business.

The 'invisible hand' viewpoint expressed by Hempton is so twentieth century. State capitalism is the new trend and all the cool countries are doing it.

Chinese glass fiber (for wind turbine blades) sells at less than half the price of the equivalent American product. Labour is not the reason, as both plants are fully automated, with maybe 10 machine-minders on the floor at a time. The difference lies in Chinese government tax incentives and interest free loans. The current 5-year plan calls for more renewables and climate change action, so they make it happen. The hilltops of the northern provinces are becoming covered with turbines, just as the roofs of the towns are covered with solar hot water panels, and PV starting to show up too.

Germany's government is likewise committed to renewables. The main difference is the relative size of skilled vs unskilled labour force; Germany concentrates on automated production, and beyond a certain threshold robots beat even the cheapest labour. I doubt that the European governments will really care about anti-dumping duties as the product is made for domestic use.

My government subsidizes GM and tar sands. The 5-year plan is 'get re-elected', and if that doesn't look likely then leave the biggest possible mess for the next guy to look bad cleaning up.

Make no mistake the Chinese Government is commited to using/exploiting/harnessing ALL forms of energy available. Has nothing to do with a commitment to moving to renewables, wind and solar etc. are just another energy resource.

Both Germany and China for the moment at least are not starved of assests, monetary or labor, and are able to leverage these. Politics are the same, think U.S. in the 1950's.

Future of major high-speed rail project looks green

California has reason to be optimistic that the state's proposed high-speed rail project, due to begin construction next year, can prove to be a viable transportation alternative from environmental and sustainability standpoints.

... Chester and Horvath compared the future sustainability of high-speed rail with that of competing modes of transportation, namely automobiles and air travel. They determined that in terms of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, a mature high-speed rail system wins out when it deploys state-of-the-art trains powered by greener electricity. This was true even after accounting for the emergence of more fuel-efficient airplanes and automobiles.

"We're showing that if this high-speed rail system is deployed, it is likely that California will reduce its transportation environmental footprint," Chester said. But to reap those environmental benefits, the state will have to wait until the system becomes fully operational, which could take an estimated 20 to 30 years after groundbreaking.

"Comparable high-speed rail systems in Europe and Japan have been in place for 30 to 50 years. Why would we expect California's system to provide a return on investment in a short period of time?”

Environmental advantages of railways are highlighted in new report

A new publication by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the International Union of Railways (UIC) highlights the environmental sustainability of rail transport.

The report – Railway Handbook 2012: Energy Consumption and CO2 Emissions [32MB PDF] – includes the latest information from the UIC and IEA databases. This publication will be updated annually in order to provide institutions, associations and decision-makers, such as the European Commission and the Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transport, with robust and up-to-date data.

The transport sector is responsible for nearly one quarter of all energy-based carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions worldwide, mainly due to road traffic. Total transport CO2 emissions have constantly increased since 1990 and all transport modes – except railways – have increased their greenhouse gas emissions from fuel combustion. Railway companies operating worldwide produce less than 1% of the total CO2 emissions caused by the transport sector.

S - I also think the folks modeling high speed rail in CA have to depend on certain assumptions which may prove false. How much the system reduces GHG emissions will depend upon its utilization. They have to estimate how many folks will take advantage of the system and leave their ICE's at home. One important variable in that assumption is the ticket price. The best comparison of the worst case scenario is the Chunnel train between England and France. They had assumed a certain level of ridership which they actually did come close to. But not anywhere close to the ticket price they had predicted. Folks would take the train but not at the fares they had assumed. Essentially the fare income was insufficient to repay the bonds and cover maintenance costs. If I recall correctly they had to transfer perpetual ownership to the bond holders who would then continue to receive interest payments indefinitely but never recover the principal.

On paper the CA high speed system may work with certain assumptions. But if the ridership cost is too high it will be underutilized and GHG reduction will be less than anticipated. Or fares may have to be reduced low enough to encourage sufficient utilization but drive the system into financial ruin. I'm not criticizing the plan or the expectations but just cautioning against believing the models will actually play out in the real world as predicted. Only time will tell if it's a useful decision or not.

Don't they also have to bring it into the big cities before it will get high ridership? Isn't the approved portion a line from nowhere to nowhere, with real usability still pending unknown decades of NIMBY lawsuits and judicial grandstanding?

Alan from Big Easy has commented to this effect here before. I hope he comes back to chime in here.

A map of the French LGV network - now and future.


SNCF makes a profit off their 800 daily TGV trains, using this LGV network.

Which will go just about everywhere in France when finished.


But see SNCF's opinion of California HSR.

I put together a brief compilation of the different High Speed Rail lines in France and when they were completed - or planned to be completed - in my blog.

Second from right in the second row.

Beneath the pretty French Tram "porn", I am trying to show several things. One is how quickly things can get done under French BAU (a month off every year, <40 hour week, occasional strikes, strong unions, etc.)

*IF* people want it done - It is possible to paddle upstream against Peak Oil.

OTOH, I try to keep most comments short (I do have some 9 page dissertations thrown in).

Any constructive criticisms on the words ?


"Simply put, the California High-Speed Rail Authority has a wish list, not a plan," an SNCF presentation stated. "This lack of an investment-grade business plan is a deadly defect, particularly in a project that by law cannot rely on government subsidies for its operation and maintenance"...

"The French are not interested right now because of what they have seen," McNamara said. "They don't think it is a feasible project the way it is currently designed.""


I concur with SNCF - which has built about 1,750 km of High Speed Rail and operates 800 HSR trains a day at a profit.

OTOH, I like most of the Amtrak plan for the Northeast Corridor - but not all.

Replacing century plus old infrastructure that is operating at capacity with higher capacity new infrastructure is a no-brainer.

Upgrading to 160 mph will be fairly cheap with the infrastructure upgrades. Good.

Upgrading again to 220 mph - I do not see economic value of the extra minutes saved being worth the massive investment. Or the higher energy costs (Aerodynamic friction is proportional to velocity squared).

Amtrak assumes a major change in consumer preference between cheaper, slower trains (which will also go faster with improved infrastructure) and Acela Plus trains. I do not understand why the consumer preference shift from economy to premium should happen.

Union Station in DC needs more capacity. The plan ignored the first two cheap steps. Electrify to Richmomd (at least) and change locos there instead of DC Union Station. The other is through run MARC & VRE commuter trains.

A new $7 billion Taj Majal ? I don't think so.

Best Hopes for Wise Investments,


The Hidden Cost of Peak Oil

A good piece IMHO. Except: "But very soon, high extraction costs will kick crude oil prices into high gear." Once again there's a bit of confusion over cause and effect. What I sell my oil for has nothing to do with what it cost me to develop it. I surely wish it did: many of my marginal wells would have yielded a better profit had I been able to make the buyers pay more based on what I spent. But buyers couldn't care less what it cost to get the oil to them: they pay the market price and not a penny more.

Its higher oil prices that allow operators to spend more for the tech to get that difficult to produce oil out of the ground. All the expensive tech operators are throwing at the shale plays was available 10+ years ago (and it was expensive then). And operators have known about the oil in the shales for decades. The difference is the price of oil: the low oil prices of the late 90's didn't justify the costs. As long as oil prices stay elevated the tech will be utilized. Drop oil prices significantly and the tech will be put back on the shelf. Which is what happened for the most part in the dry gas shale plays of east Texas when NG prices collapsed. This relationship isn't new. It has ruled the oil patch from the beginning.

Again, it's not confusion. They're talking aggregates and marginal production, you're talking one well.

JP - Nope. I'm talking about every freaking well in the US. Not one bbl of oil every sold in the US from the beginning of time has been priced based upon what it cost the operator to produce it. And never will be.

What determines price? OPEC? What about before them when the US was the main producer?

What determines price? OPEC? What about before them when the US was the main producer?

For the most part, the Texas Railroad Commission. Which set the percentage of capacity at which well operators in Texas could produce. Operators in Oklahoma used the same rate. The TRRC was actually pretty effective at producing stable oil prices for quite a while. Until 1971, when they said "Y'all can pump at 100%" and output didn't change. The TRRC was the model for OPEC, but OPEC wasn't as effective at control because they didn't have the Texas Rangers to enforce quotas.

What about now? I seem to recall that OPEC is losing its control.

Losing control or losing the ability to change output volume?

I'm guessing if OPEC said "$300 a barrel" it would not be long (assuming no externalizations like assassination) that's where the price would be.

What determines price? OPEC? What about before them when the US was the main producer?

Spare capacity:


What determines price?

What a seller hopes to be able to get a buyer to pay.

Null - Opinions may vary but I'm not sure OPEC has ever had great control over pricing. In the past they tried to affect pricing by controlling output. In the eqrly 80's as the world slid into a major recession and demand was falling OPEC as a whole refused to reduce production so the KSA did so almost all on their own. But only until 1986 when they couldn't take the lower cash flow any longer. So they opened the valves wide and drove many oil prices below $10/bbl. One could argue about who was controlling what: the KSA increased production significantly due to lower prices. So who was really determining the price of oil...the buyers or the producers?

The dynamic is always the same IMHO: the seller charges a price that maximizes cashflow. The buyer can't pay more than they can justify. The sellers can't force the buyers to purchase the same volume priced at $150/bbl as they would at $70/bbl. And some buyers can't force the sellers to accept $70/bbl if other purchasers are willing to pay $100/bbl.

If you buy that logic no one entity controls the price of oil: it's a negotiated arrangement that seeks some mutually acceptable balance. Much like "romance" was in my youth. LOL.


The market determines the price of oil through the interaction of supply and demand. When people say higher extraction costs will increase prices, I think they mean in the long run. In other words, the new oil supply needed to fill in for depletion in older wells will not be forthcoming unless oil prices rise.

It is similar to what you often tell us about natural gas, your company won't do much natural gas development without an increase in prices.

I do realize there are companies drilling for natural gas, but at these low natural gas prices, the companies producing expensive gas are getting killed. If natural gas prices don't rise, many of these companies will go out of business.

Bottom line, in the long run, high cost oil (oil that is expensive to extract) requires higher oil prices or oil companies will not undertake the expensive, high risk investments which are necessary to produce it.

If oil companies do not expect prices to be at a level which will enable them to profit from their investments, they will not undertake those investments because the last time I checked the oil companies are in business to make money.

There is no presumption that anyone can name their price.


Dc – I think we view the situation in a similar light. But I will always denounce the concept that higher extraction cost produces higher oil/NG prices. And you seem to be in agreement:”...the new oil supply needed to fill in for depletion in older wells will not be forthcoming unless oil prices rise.”

I think it’s dangerous for the public to be ingrained with the idea that all this “new” technology will make a secure and lower cost energy future for them. Believing there is a silver bullet out there that reduces the necessity of changing their energy consumption habits is a large part of the reason we’re in the situation we’re in today. They’ve been feed such BS by politicians and Big Oil for decades.

"If oil companies do not expect prices to be at a level which will enable them to profit from their investments, they will not undertake those investments...” Exactly my point: the oily shales would be insignificant today had not oil prices risen despite the existence of the existing tech. The east Texas dry shales would not have boomed without the price increase. And this with all the “new” tech sitting on the shelf. The cost of extraction will never determine the price of oil/NG. But as you say the price of oil/NG will determine how much any tech is utilized.

In my 37 years I’ve not once seen any tech that made hydrocarbon extraction feasible if there wasn’t sufficient price support to justify the effort. In fact just the opposite: the high cost of new tech more often required prices to increase in order to be applied. But that isn’t the same as causing prices to rise. PO is the fundamental cause IMHO. And as PO causes prices to increase more expensive tech will come into play.

No one is saying it is. That's what you're not understanding.

"The Age of Scarcity"

"Over the next 50 years food output will have to rise 50 percent to cater to 2 billion extra people and their growing appetite for meat."

I calculate 3 to 4 times as much, not 1.5 times. The majority of the world's population lives with meat scarcity.

Page 2:

First, we know how to deal with climate change: Stop subsidizing pollution and put a price on CO2.

Well,, that takes care of that :-/

...... or maybe some people should consider eating less - for their own health's sake

Globesity - Fat’s New Frontier

This startling Foreign Correspondent special exposes the shocking explosion of global obesity in places where just a few decades ago hunger was a headline health concern.


Given rapidly declining soil fertility, drought, and the coming physical shortages of NPK, global cereal production has no chance of rising to meet that challenge. Indeed, from the data I've seen, global cereal yields are due to decline because of the factors I noted. And the already grossly inequitible global food distribution system will become even more unjust and spawn major food riots that will become continuous. Climate Change will destabilize just about everything in rapid fashion, which some climatologists are now beginning to admit.

U.S. senator urges Washington to use China’s bid for Nexen as leverage

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer said on Friday that the Obama administration should use a bid by China’s state-run CNOOC for Canadian oil company Nexen Inc. as leverage to fix long-standing trade and investment issues with China.

Mr. Schumer wrote to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Friday, saying he does not object to the $15.1-billion (U.S.) deal on its merits, but suggested the government should require China to address some thorny foreign investment and trade issues.

CNOOC has asked the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to review the deal because Nexen has about 10 percent of its assets in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

One would think that this is overreaching on the part of the Senator, since this is a bid by a Chinese company to take over a Canadian company. True, it has 10% of its assets in the US GOM, but that is not a lot and CNOOC/Nexen could easily sell it to another company if it was a problem.

One would think that it would be up to the Canadian government to approve or disapprove this takeover. The US government is basically a bystander and should keep its nose out of it. Of course, the US government is not good at keeping its nose out of other countries' business, even though this has cause it to suffer some hard kicks in the face over the years.

It's so quaint when the northern satrapies of the empire start to think they're somehow independent. You'll get over that soon. SPQR

SPQR = the Senate and People of Rome.

Or, Sonno Pazzi Questi Romani - these Romans are crazy :)

[from the book 'La Bella Lingua']

Rocky - Perhaps the Chinese may suggest to Mr. Shumer that they expand that discussion to include future interest rates on US bonds the Chinese will purchase as well as the volume. I do beleive the days of the US speaking softly and carrying a big stick have greatly diminished. A simple approach might be just to move of the time line of the US annexation of Canada. LOL.

Schumer is a schmuck if there was one.He took a delegation to China(along with the other idiot Barney Frank) to threaten/warn them over currency manipulation.The Chinese took him in the back room and showed him the treasury holdings and he returned with the tail between his legs(better his head in his a***).Then he said the US should deny visiting/residence rights to any one who gives up his citizenship after the Facebook founder relinquished his for Brazil.This guy is a bum and comes up issues just to make noise,but that is what CNBC,Bloomberg and the other "presstitutes" want as Gerald Celente calls them.All hat,no cattle in USA and All air no,punch in Europe.

Why no space after a period? I've seen a few other posters do this too.

I'd guess they're posting from a smartphone or something where spaces aren't convenient.

But please, folks...try to use something resembling proper spelling, punctuation, etc. It's difficult to read otherwise.

Chinese holdings of Treasuries are close to a non-issue for the U.S. Let them sell, they'll be doing us a favor. Here's why:


"One would think that it would be up to the Canadian government to approve or disapprove this takeover."

Yeah, Rocky, like one would think it would be up to the US Govt. to approve (or not) a Canadian pipeline across US citizens' land. Didn't stop Harper and Alison Redford from sticking their noses in, did it, or Keystone from sending their lobbyists to DC? Anyway, better brush up on your Chinese, aye?

I don't have to brush up on my Chinese, the Chinese are mastering English. There are more people who can speak English in China than there are people who can speak English in the United States.

They use it mostly to talk to other people who don't speak Chinese, e.g. the Indians, Africans, and South Americans.

One of my sisters (the one in Taiwan) and both of my parents speak Mandarin--pretty well for laowai, I'm told. My Mom says she does it to stave off dementia (she read something which says the multilingual have much lower rates of mental deterioration with age). My parents (both high school dropouts) frequently tell me the latest dinner conversation they have had with some Chinese PhD or other; it opens doors (they live near a graduate university). Two of my other sisters have only a hundred word or so vocabulary in Mandarin but speak Spanish (one well enough that native Spanish speakers are always trying to figure out where in the Spanish speaking world she is native). The other one has recently moved to Peru, so I expect her Spanish will be excellent in a year or so. I apparently didn't get that gene.

Navy: We’ll Never, Ever Overpay for Biofuels

Last week, Danger Room published a critical look at the Navy’s efforts to launch a renewable-powered “Great Green Fleet” — and kickstart the market for biofuels in the process. Not surprisingly, the Navy’s leadership had all sorts of objections to the piece. In this exclusive op-ed, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy Tom Hicks says the Navy will never pay that kind of premium.

Danger Room incorrectly reported that the Navy could spend as much as an extra $1.8 billion per year on biofuel; a completely incorrect projection lifted from a 2011 Congressionally-mandated report (.pdf) that did not use realistic data or take into account the Navy’s commitment regarding biofuel purchases for operations. The figure is based on a crude extrapolation of analysis and is wrong for several reasons.

First, the $1.8 billion figure assumes oil prices won’t be higher in 2020, and that biofuel costs won’t go down. We just don’t live in a world where oil prices never go up, technology doesn’t advance, and economies of scale don’t bring down cost; in fact, history tells us that the exact opposite is true.

Eight years ago, the cost of petroleum was just under $40 per barrel and the annual volatility was plus or minus 10 percent. Today, the price of petroleum has more than doubled and the annual volatility is more than 30 percent. It is impossible to accurately predict where prices will be eight years from now, but with ever-increasing global demand and continued political unrest in oil-producing countries, nearly all experts agree that oil prices will increase, and we have seen the price of biofuel drop.

and we have seen the price of biofuel drop.

That is until the recent Climate Change induced Midwestern drought!
Food prices have also been inexorably rising as they are impacted by both the price of oil-associated inputs and now Climate Change...

"and we have seen the price of biofuel drop."

Really depends on what you call Biofuel. If you look at it as a replacement for diesel, no it has not dropped, it has tracked the price within a few percent in it's own band. Following the decline in diesel prices is not a drop, relative to everything else. The author seems to want it both ways.

More readable, Thanks. Wish Kerosene was included.

Saudi forces 'open fire' on protesters

Saudi security forces have opened fire on Shia protesters in the Qatif district of Eastern Province, wounding several of them as hundreds marched to demand the release of detainees, witnesses said.

Live rounds fired by anti-riot police injured a number of protesters who took to the streets in the early hours on Friday, the witnesses said, without specifying a figure.

In recent days, confrontations have intensified between police and protesters from the kingdom's marginalised Shia minority, estimated at about two million and mostly concentrated in the oil-rich Eastern Province.

also Saudi riot police fire live rounds on Shiite protesters in Qatif - reports (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Bahraini police fire tear gas on thousands of protesters (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Violent clashes erupted in Bahrain as thousands protested the government’s move to limit political marches.

That's outrageous! Someone should bring this up within both Free Speech Zones at the upcoming American political conventions.


Russia Today
One source of the information
You don't get in the U.S.A.


Big Oil's Achilles Heel: Cheap US Gas

Quarterly results are normally a fairly predictable affair in energy. ... But read between the ‘numbers’, and it’s becoming alarmingly clear – big oil has major problems cross subsidising cheap gas right now, and nowhere more so than in the United States. Something has to give.

Take Exxon Mobil ... The consistent line from Rex Tillerson was that Exxon had deep enough pockets to invest through the cycle after its acquisition of XTO in 2010. Not so last month; Tillerson admitted energy companies were ‘losing their shirts’ from low gas prices. European majors are no different.

But as far as the US is concerned we can expect several things to happen. The first is IOCs will increasingly get into wets to offset dry shale economics. The second is an ongoing shift from coal to gas... All ‘nice stuff’, but it holds zero interest for big oil. If they’re going to keep faith with US shale and invest through the cycle, that means taking a serious look at gas-to-liquids and far more importantly, LNG export potential to capitalise on enormous spreads between the US and Asia.

... it’s worth remembering that big oil operates on a global basis, which inevitably entails opportunity-costs wherever they decide to set up shop. Continually haemorrhaging cash on US shale isn’t really part of the script, not unless they stick around and wait for Chesapeake et al. to implode and pick up the pieces. But even then, it’s the long term export potential IOCs really want, both for oil and gas.

The more gas America keeps at home, the more likely it becomes that the only international investment they’ll attract is from Asian National Oil Companies. After all, if the economics don’t stack up, that only leaves those with a strategic mandate at the table.

Interesting choice of words...

That’s before you go through the long list of US shale players that have been slapped with impairments over the past year. Anadarko Petroleum, Noble, Encana, SM Energy, and of course the ‘poster boy’ of shale gas frack-ups, Chesapeake, that’s racing against the write down clock, trying to court finance from wherever (and whoever) they can.

The second is an ongoing shift from coal to gas...

It will be funny if oil companies start demanding carbon restrictions in order to try to shift more electricity generation from coal to natural gas.

And another one bites the dust ...

Delta shuts down Comair; workers given notice

Delta Air Lines is shutting down its shrunken, 35-year-old regional carrier Comair at the end of September as it switches to bigger jets and it is sending termination notices to its 1,700 remaining employees.

... Delta said the smaller regional planes are expensive to fly because they are not as fuel-efficient and cost more to maintain as the fleet ages.

"We just really couldn't get the cost structure to where we wanted to get it," said Don Bornhorst, senior vice president of Delta Connection and a former Comair president. "It ultimately was a cost issue; it wasn't a quality issue with Comair. They're a good airline, great employees, very innovative ... we just could not solve the cost issues."

Aviation analyst Mike Boyd of The Boyd Group said he expected the Comair shutdown, because the regional airline business doesn't work anymore.

"It's not going to turn around,"

Maybe they should check out Westjet. Their business model seems pretty effective with higher costs to boot.

Westjet's regional carrier will fly 76-passenger turboprops, which are considerably more fuel-efficient than Comair's small jets. In addition, Westjet is a non-union operation and will pay the crews on the prop planes considerably less than those on the jets.

Being the kind of outfit it is, Westjet asked for the approval of its non-union employees to start up the regional turboprop branch and pay the regional employees less than the main airline. The original employees already work on jets, have seniority, and could see opportunities for themselves in this so they voted overwhelmingly in favor of it. They could see that the economics of 76-passenger turboprops didn't support high wages or high overhead.

The employees of the regional turboprop branch will have an opportunity to work their way up to jets when they get some experience.

A Climate and Energy Stalemate

Perhaps the scale could be tipped away from a stalemate if the public realized that Sigmund Freud advocated for a division within psychiatry that would analyze groups, even civilization itself, for signs of neurosis and psychosis.

Under that psychoanalysis the fossil fuel industry would be patently psychotic, and in need of intensive therapy.

Well, yes, anyone who doesn't toe the party line as propounded by whoever is speaking at the moment must be crazy and in need of "treatment". Where have we heard that before, and how did that system work out after 1989? But even leaving that aside, how do you "treat" an abstraction?

But even leaving that aside, how do you "treat" an abstraction?

By partying like there is no tomorrow!


Climate change? What climate change?!

I think they are perfectly sane and rational in the context of what they want to accomplish which is profits above all else. More like sociopathy that psychopathy. And btw, I don't expect them to behave any other way as long as the people and governments let them get away with it. To mess with the oil companies is trying to fight the elemental forces of nature. I think this phenomenon of our culture and economics was well covered in the movie Network. Our President, who claims, or at least used to claim, concern about climate change, has adopted the approach of drill everywhere for everything, drill now, and let the devil take the hindmost.

Our President, who claims, or at least used to claim, concern about climate change, has adopted the approach of drill everywhere for everything, drill now, and let the devil take the hindmost.

I agree. What were once strong positions based on personal opinions of right and wrong, in particular climate change, flexed into a whatever will get the most votes type approach. My biggest peeve is the claim he would end lobbying - he never even broached the topic after getting elected let alone bring a bill to the floor!

All Iranian gas export routes to EU deadlocked
as Syrian corridore subdued by instability.

Sydney will be without a refinery by 2014. The following article shows a graph on Chevron's declining petroleum sales since 1999

After Sydney's refinery closure: Caltex to import fuel from Chevron's shrinking sales

From last year:

Australia's fuel import vulnerability increases as Sydney's Clyde refinery is closing

Hume: Premier’s decisive indecision on oil pipeline is a no-win strategy

By Stephen Hume, Vancouver Sun

In politics, the key to survival is to appear to know what you’re doing.

So, pity Premier Christy Clark, who stumbles from an appearance of inept dithering on the controversial northern oil pipeline to an appearance of decisive indecision.

Caught between Conservatives (in favour, with reservations) and New Democrats (opposed, without reservations) on the Northern Gateway pipeline proposed by Enbridge, Clark begins to look painfully like a chameleon trying to blend with the background on a black- and-white checkerboard.

First, the premier tried to duck the controversy by insisting that the B.C. Liberal government wouldn’t take a position on the project, to link Kitimat with the Alberta oilsands, until all the evidence was in.

Fence-sitting played poorly. Critics pointed out that this acquiesced to a surrender of provincial sovereignty and that British Columbia would garner all the risks while virtually all the benefits accrued elsewhere.

Next she acknowledged that there would, indeed, be “a very large risk” from the proposed pipeline to the environment and that the majority of British Columbians hasn’t been persuaded that the risks are acceptable. Indeed, in movie theatres where Enbridge has been playing a slick commercial about the pipeline’s benefits, the spin has been greeted with boos from the audience — and worse, laughter.

Hume: Citizen Marsh calculates the odds of a Northern Gateway oil spill

By Stephen Hume, Vancouver Sun

Democracy works when citizens act.

Democracy is not simply government creating a frictionless environment for the transaction of corporate business or dispensing with the inconvenience of being accountable to critics.

It’s really about citizens embracing the messiness of debate, dissent, disagreement and the opportunity to object to policy and practice. This capacity is what makes the dishevelled and cumbersome and often frustrating process we call democratic government worth having.

Corporations are not democracies and generally don’t behave like they are. And corporations have only one allegiance — to their shareholders and investors, who expect returns, not red ink.

That is why, in a healthy democracy, it’s important for citizens to challenge the influence of elites who seek advantage and to keep nudging the process back to transparency and accountability.

And this is why we should all be grateful to Kelly Marsh.

Marsh is a 52-year-old millwright. He’s lived in Kitimat for 40 years. He’s a longtime volunteer with the local search and rescue organization. He’s by no stretch of the imagination a political militant.

When they start laughing in theatres at your PR spin you've probably lost the battle. And if folks in Vancouver movie theaters don't want a dilbit pipeline terminating at an export terminal in Kitimat, why are they going to accept an expanded Kinder Morgan pipeline to carry dilbit to China from Vancouver's harbours?

The pipeline debate is detached from reality

By Susan Riley, The Ottawa Citizen, July 26, 2012

If you are looking for evidence that Canada’s political leaders are completely detached from everyday reality, consider the current dust-up over the Northern Gateway pipeline.

It is all about the spoils: is British Columbia getting its fair share of the resource bonanza promised by the pipeline, should Alberta be forced to compensate its unhappy neighbour for environmental risks, and what about the rest of Canada? How do Ontario and Quebec grab their share of the loot?

Or, its about the Constitution: does an enabling province have the right to demand a share of another’s energy wealth and, if so, won’t this make the country unmanageable? And what is the role of the federal government when provinces spar: impassive observer, or impartial arbiter?

Enough. You want to take the premiers, the prime minister, Jason Kenney and the rest, by the shoulders and (if it weren’t so crude and derivative) shout: It’s the environment, stupid!

While they have been going about their usual business in air-conditioned offices, half the country has been experiencing torrid temperatures and a taste of the drought already commonplace in prairie regions.

How long are they going to claim its just “weather”? How long are they going to deny, or downplay, global warming when the evidence is all around us — not only in parched lawns, and damaged crops, and increasing food prices, but in implacable statistics declaring yet another record high.

Excellent column! We all know what would happen down here (US). The "job creators" would win by default. A win that would include piddly migtigation costs tacked on to shut up the citizens (whoops) consumers.

I don't want to take anything away from the above, but I just have to post this amusing and not totally off base remark from the comments section:

"I think that the oil should just flow south to the U.S. where it can be processed before the U.S. starts WW III over oil. Give the big fat murderous crybabies some oil."

Former PMO staffer, Bruce Carson, charged with influence peddling

The Ottawa Citizen, Today

A former senior staffer in the prime minister’s office with a string of fraud convictions has been charged with defrauding the government.

Bruce Carson, 66, allegedly “accepted a commission for a third party in connection with a business matter relating to the government,” according to the RCMP. He has been charged with one count of fraud on the government, also known as influence peddling.

Carson left the PMO in 2009.

The RCMP launched an investigation in March 2011 after a referral from the PMO that he allegedly lobbied the Indian Affairs Department for a water filtration company involved in a multi-million dollar deal in which his fiancée, a former upscale call-girl from Ottawa, stood to gain a lucrative commission.

Nikiforuk wrote a thorough piece of investigative journalism over a year ago that goes beyond the silly sex stufff and gets to the heart of the matter, the public interest.

Bruce Carson Scandal Greased by Harper's Oil Sands Agenda

Taxpayer millions set up PM advisor to push petro interests from U of Calgary. A special Tyee investigation.

Everyone loves a good political scandal and the Bruce Carson affair squarely fits the bill.

A 66-year-old former senior policy advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper seemingly lobbies the government on behalf of his 22-year fiancée, a former sex worker.

She dresses in sexy lingerie. Newspapers publish lurid photos.

Ottawa talks, yet its busy gossipers recognize Carson as your average political fixer with an active sex life and a couple of criminal convictions.

Everyone that is, except the Prime Minister. Harper, a tough guy on crime, acts appalled and abruptly refers the whole matter to the RCMP.

The scandal seemingly ends.

But that's not the full truth, let alone the real scandal.

In fact, the Bruce Carson affair is a much darker tale about the character of the Harper government and its abuse of the public trust.

We were talking about the increasing power of erosion that climate change will bring the other day on the drumbeat. Thought this was relevant.

What Happened in Johnsons Landing?

Greg Utzig, whose cabin was spared, recalls the day as both a local and a landslide expert.


It was a shocking scene, with both personal and professional impact. Utzig is a soil scientist -- a terrain stability specialist with decades of experience that includes having mapped the soils and terrain in the area above Johnsons Landing. He also co-authored a recent study on how West Kootenay forests may be affected by climate change.

Would steep terrain covered by that much loose soil be a smart place to build anything even without climate change? It seems like climate change is becoming a way for people who choose foolishly where to build (unstable mountainsides; unstable sandbars miles off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts; most of Miami; etc.) guilt-trip others into paying for their folly. But there's no reason why people should allow themselves to become chumps by paying up.

Bloomberg has a photo essay of Enbridge's Kalamazoo spill.

Enbridge's Quiet $765 Million Oil Spill

The accident was triggered by a six-and-a-half-foot tear in Line 6B, a 30-inch carbon steel pipeline. Enbridge knew about corrosion and cracks in the pipeline for at least five years before the spill, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded in an accident report issued on July 10.

Things aren't looking so hot in Iraq:


BAGHDAD, July 24 (Reuters) - Iraq hit out at Chevron Corp over its just-signed oil contract with Kurdistan, barring it from any oil agreements with the central government in a move meant to deter other companies from dealing directly with the semi-autonomous northern region.

Baghdad has long held that contracts signed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are illegal, and last year Exxon Mobil Corp aroused its anger by striking a deal with the region while also running a project at a supergiant oilfield in the south.

Baghdad retaliated by banning Exxon from an exploration tender in May.

Chevron followed its larger rival into Kurdistan last week, and Baghdad's action on Tuesday will be closely watched by other oil majors, such as France's Total, which is widely expected to be the next to make a Kurdish oil play.


Baghdad (CNN) -- Suspected al Qaeda militants clashed with Iraqi forces Thursday, in attacks that began two days after a wave of violence across Iraq.

At least five federal police officers were killed and four others were wounded during the clashes in Hadida, about 50 miles north of Baghdad, Interior Ministry officials said. The fighting erupted late Wednesday and carried on through early Thursday.

Monday's violence, in which 103 people were killed, evoked the bloodiest days of the war, when random and targeted attacks routinely killed scores of people daily. Attacks have declined sharply since their peak in 2006, but insurgents have continued to target civilians and security forces since the United States withdrew its forces in December.

Before Monday's attacks, the deadliest day this year had been June 13, when coordinated attacks nationwide killed 93 people.

We dusted off the TV to watch the London Olympics opening ceremonies. "In the Beginning" there was a representation of Britain's agrarian past followed by a surreal transformation to the birth of the industrial revolution, complete with giant smokestacks rising from the stadium floor, belching real smoke into the crowd. Quite the commentary on the birth of the fossil fuel age. Those who became slaves to the machines were well represented, dirty and tormented; a culture transformed by imperial industrialization.

What followed was a bizarre evolution through to the digital age, whether by intent or accident, quite a statement on the devolution of western culture and empire, interlaced with what I assume were poor attempts to incorporate British humor, along with ripoffs of American music. The closing included some currently popular British Rap 'artist', along with some young inter-racial couple in a loft. At least they stopped short of the porno scene ;-/

It left me a bit sad, really; British Rap?! (hint: it's 2012, and Rap is about as current as the Bee Gees; stayin' alive somewhere in the past).

Did anyone else find this thing as strange, and, frankly, disturbing as I did? Was this an unintended revelation of where we are, or a brilliant shot across the bow of western society? Just askin', because I'm generally quite accepting and liberal about these things.

The Queen didn't look amused...

it was like watching the destruction of the shire and the rise of Isengard. I'm also not sure they did enough to represent England's imperial past.

London has the unfortunate distinction of staging the world's first post collapse (summer) Olympics.

Knowing what we know, it's difficult to get worked up about, isn't it? In 2008 it was still possible to pretend.

Actually, I think the show (I didn't see it, but read a description) sounded pretty amazing. Go back 10 or 15 years. Would they have done anything like that if it was their Olympics in the recent past? I doubt it. I bet fossil fuels would NOT have gotten a moment of airtime, not a second. I think there would have been some military stuff on WWII, some stuff about boats, ships, some people dressed in ELizabethan outfits, and some celebrations of famous places like Stonehenge.

But now, their eyes and their minds are focused on WHAT HAPPENED to bring their island from a green and fertile zone to a modern cement block.

And now there were bicyclists wearing angel wings.....car drivers, by implication, are the bad guys. They didn't show them, I guess, or if they had, they would have been tricked out in little Devil's horns and holding pitchforks! Hey, now THAT would have been over the top! 50 Minis and Aston Martins, not to mention a few Rolls and Jags, out there driven by little red devils waving pitchforks out the window! The title of that one? "Road Rage". Hahaha. Now we're mad at the darn cars.....

This was a turning point in awareness about what has occurred. It was not elitist or hoi polloi, it was for everyone, and it was pretty STARK if you ask me.

I see it as total progress. Man can learn from his mistakes.

There was a Mini featured at some point, IIR, made by BMW :-/

Beauty destroyed, age of industrialization brought us the "end of living" and beginning of survival.

I didn't unpack my TV. It's still neatly wrapped in a box though I did catch it by chance at my friends place. Looking at all the pomp and show it seems people still haven't gotten the message that the age of plenty is behind us. But then looking back at the history of the world I don't think anyone ever gets the message, theatrics and resource abundance are usually inversely proportional.

"It left me a bit sad, really; British Rap?! (hint: it's 2012, and Rap is about as current as the Bee Gees; stayin' alive somewhere in the past)."

Whilst English rock still rocks so much, they should have played it safe and go with their national institution, combining both (good)British humour and powerful, haunting anthems, the legendary Killing Joke:

"Sit back, enjoy/ A three-dimensional screening of the end of the world" (Endgame, from their 2010 album "Absolute Dissent")!

While I'm a big fan of British Rock, the selection seemed a bit off. The Michael Oldfield Tubular Bells (The Exorcist?) thing was an odd selection, perhaps another statement, but I would have preferred David Gilmour, though I expect he wouldn't be interested.

"Did anyone else find this thing as strange, and, frankly, disturbing as I did?"

I thought it was pretty sad, knowing what we know. The most bizarre was the lineup of Victorian gentlemen in top hats and long coats, Kenneth Branagh smoking a cigar and grinning like the Cheshire Cat, just a micro step away from rubbing his hands together like Scrooge...

Forging of the ring (along with the smell of sulphur in the stadium) seemed a lot like a famous trilogy written by an English author.

Maybe one could see satire in that, somewhere, but it's an odd stage for political theater. On the other hand, Mr Bean, and the nightmares of children...but, after all, the director did do a movie about a virus that turns people into zombies, and someone remarked there were a billion people watching...

I think the Queen got a kick out of saying "Good evening, Mr Bond", but she did seem more serious than the occasion required. Perhaps other bad news, somewhere.

The Industrial Revolution segment was titled "Pandemonium", a word which was apparently coined by John Milton to describe his Circles of Hell. I thought it very ironic that the modern British citizens who volunteered to appear in the production were reduced to pantomiming the heavy work that their 19th Century forebears actually performed.

I watched the Olympic Games opening with my wife, two kids, and their boy/girlfriend.

We had many of the same comments as you all have posted so far:

- We keyed right in on how that one musical riff was some kind of sample/derivative of the Exorcist music...interesting playing that with a bunch of hospitalized children in/on beds, being tormented by evil characters.

- The one announcer was half a step behind our living room comment about how the 'Big Baby' unveiled during the overhead shot of the end of the NHS/Marry Poppins brigade vs. Lord Voldemort et al scene was culminating...when he said he thought the giant baby was creepy.

- We were expecting a legion of dirty-faced waifs to break out in song and dance amongst all the Victorian era dudes in their black fine clothing and top hats...a little Oliver Twist action...

-The theme of transforming the shire to the Isengard industrial Hades to the vapid twittering house party representation of today's culture was nothing but honest....too honest for some I'm sure.

- The British war experiences were represented in a low-key respectful scene showing some contemplative, if not grim, soldiers. It wouldn't do well politically to glorify the battle of Trafalgar, the sinking of the Bismarck, the Blitz, various African military adventures, or the American Revolution or the War of 1812 etc....or the Falklands campaign.

Our viewing was of course a combination of critiques and amateur comedy hour.

Some of the things we were looking for but didn't see:

- Acting out the scene of the ancient era folks building Stonehenge and holding ceremonial dancing around/in it etc.

- Camelot! Arthur! Merlin! Morgana!

- Spamelot! What, no Monte Python? No 'Every sperm is sacred' musical? No 'And now for something completely different'? (that should have been the theme of the spectacle).

- Sir Topham Hat (or the Fat Controller in England) and the Thomas the Tank Engine cast of engines...

- Austin Powers

- 28 Days Later fast zombies being shooed away by the umbrellas of the Mary Poppins Brigade.

- A TARDIS spinning on Hollywood wires down from above and landing on the field of spectacle discharging the Doctor and his companion....doing battle with Draleks and Cybermen.

- A scene showing the erection of three windmills to replace the three smokestacks

All in all, it was an odd, yet fairly entertaining show. I am very glad that the Brits simply didn't try to out-do the Chines (We will have 100,000 drummers!)...they did something quirky

Of course the whole Olympic enterprise has a negative ROI...I can't believe that politicians still lie to their people and say that there will be a net economic benefit to these events.

I liked the retrospective played preceding the Opening Ceremony about how London hosted the 1948 games, and how everything was lower-key, get it done, minimal spectacle and waste....hey, we are glad we made it and you came, let's compete in some sporting events!

I think I spotted a Dalek moment in some dancers with large, round, black and white skirts in the 60's scene...

In terms of vision, perhaps John Cleese would have done something "completely different"...but not unfamiliar. Maybe the organizers were looking for a new vision.

Also, perhaps the theme of "conquest" - saxons, normans, vikings - etc etc is "been there, done that".

Retrospectively, though, I'm not sure any nation would want credit for the industrial (carbon) revolution.

You're right! We saw the same dancers with the black and white cone dresses.

It was entertaining, by virtue of its quirkiness.

Was looking for Mel Gibson dressed as William Wallace to shout 'FREEDOM!' and lead the charge across the field of battle...

I was imagining the the opening video being interrupted by a man in a Guy Fawkes mask ...

...maybe then displaying a graph with two lines: North Sea oil production from inception until today and UK population since 1700.

Did anyone see a volunteer stage player dressed as Thomas Malthus in the spectacle? It would have been an interesting counterpoint to the grinning Monopoly Man Victorian banker...

And as another counterpoint, my daughter mentioned that there is a news story that in the Olympic Village, only the British athletes and coaches were afforded air conditioning...my family doesn't grok LTG.

On July 26, 2012, Dr. Leonid Yurganov uploaded the Arctic methane emission map for June 2012 and revised maps from January 2011 through May 2012. The scales and some of the data have changed. The numbering for the horizontal scale appears to be incorrect with the following unordered sequence in ppbv:

1780 1800 1820 1840 1860+ 1780 1800 1820 1840 1860+

Assuming it is a mere labeling error the methane emission over Russia for June 2012 look greater than the emissions from any previous June since 2003. The emission is not particularly high over the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS).

Northern Hemisphere Methane Maps at 400 mb

"The main conclusion of this paper is a detection of high and growing with years methane mixing ratios
in areas coinciding with predicted locations of methane hydrates. According to the satellite data this
emission was small before 2008."