Drumbeat: August 10, 2012

IEA Sees Oil Demand Growth Slowdown on Weaker Economy

The International Energy Agency cut global oil demand forecasts for this year and next, estimating that growth will slow in 2013 amid weaker expectations for the economy and the restart of nuclear plants in Japan.

The Paris-based adviser, which last month predicted a pickup in demand for next year, estimates that growth in world oil use will decelerate to 800,000 barrels a day, or 0.9 percent, in 2013 from 900,000 a day, or 1 percent, this year. Global demand will average 90.5 million barrels a day next year, or 400,000 a day less than estimated last month as a result of revisions to data since 2010.

IEA: Refinery Runs In 3Q Up 200,000 B/D From Previous Year

Refinery runs overall have been relatively healthy so far this year and are likely to continue to rise in August to a seasonal peak of 76.1 million barrels a day, the IEA said. In China, however, the outlook is pessimistic.

The IEA said weakness in China's refinery runs, due to high inventories there and faltering domestic demand, caused it to revise lower its prediction for third-quarter refinery runs by 300,000 barrels a day. In addition, there are unscheduled refinery outages in the U.S. and Japan. Still, the IEA expects China's crude intake to increase in the coming months, just at a slower pace than previously expected.

Oil Pares Weekly Gain as China, IEA Signal Slower Growth

Oil fell the most in six days, paring its weekly gain, as a collapse in China’s export growth signaled the global economy is weakening and the International Energy Agency said demand expansion is slowing.

China's July crude imports rise 12.4% on year to 21.83 mil

Singapore (Platts)- China's crude oil imports in July rose 12.4% year on year to 21.83 million mt or an average 5.16 million b/d, according to preliminary customs data released Friday.

July imports were up from June's absolute volume of 21.72 million mt (5.31 million b/d) but down 2.8% on a barrel/day basis, the lowest so far this year.

China Increases Fuel Prices for First Time in Five Months

China, the world’s second-biggest oil consumer, increased gasoline and diesel prices for the first time since March after global crude costs climbed.

Indian Oil Posts Nation’s Biggest Quarterly Loss of $4.1 Billion

Indian Oil Corp. (IOCL) posted the nation’s biggest quarterly loss of 224.5 billion rupees ($4.1 billion) after the government failed to compensate it for capping fuel prices and processing margins turned negative.

Atlantic Storm Speeds West, Ernesto Breaks Up Over Mexico

Ernesto, formerly a hurricane, weakened to a tropical depression as it dissipated over the mountains of southern Mexico today while the next Atlantic weather system sped westward toward the Caribbean.

Asian oil buyers help Iran stave off the worst, for now

(Reuters) - Asia's major crude buyers are finding ways around tough U.S. and EU sanctions to maintain imports from Iran, suggesting that, for now, the worst may be over for the OPEC producer that is losing more than $100 million a day in oil export revenues.

China, India, Japan and South Korea buy most of the one million barrels per day of crude Iran is able to export despite financial, shipping and insurance sanctions aimed at curbing funds for its controversial nuclear program.

Sanctions on Iranian Gas Exports to be Costly For Europe

Any move to impose sanctions on gas imports from Iran will turn out be more costly to Europe, which has had extensive gas dealing with Iran, and has been more dependent on Iranian oil, EU economic advisor Mehrdad Emadi told Trend News.

Norway oil wealth fund sees 2.2 pct decline in Q2

OSLO, Norway (AP) -- Norway's vast oil fund saw a decline of 2.2 percent in the second quarter, losing 77 billion kroner ($13 billion) in the period, mainly because of investors' concerns over the global economy.

Norway oil fund ditches more euro zone assets

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's $600 billion sovereign wealth fund cut its exposure to the struggling euro zone further in the second quarter and aims to pick up more emerging market assets, particularly bonds, in the months ahead, it said on Friday.

Enough of this hypocrisy

A one time United States of American Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, once referred to Nigeria as the poorest oil rich nation in the world.

What an oxymoron? How can a country be oil rich and yet extremely poor? This is because her wealth is looted by conscienceless power elite given to stealing everything within reach. They steal public funds with the impunity and ruthlessness that will stir the conscience of even the most dangerous armed robber.

Coal Ministry to deduct bank guarantee for delay in mine development

NEW DELHI: To fast-track the development of captive coal blocks, the government has finalised a policy for deduction of bank guarantees of mine holders if they do not start production from allotted mines within the stipulated time frame.

California starts review of new AES Huntington Beach power plant

(Reuters) - California energy regulators started reviewing U.S. power company AES Corp's proposed 939-megawatt (MW) addition to the Huntington Beach power plant in Orange County.

AES wants to build two natural gas-fired, combined-cycle plants on a 28.6-acre site located within the existing footprint of the existing Huntington Beach facility about 30 miles south of Los Angeles.

Louisiana probes cause of massive bayou sinkhole

Assumption Parish Sheriff Mike Waguespack said Thursday he is now concerned the sinkhole is close to a well containing 1.5 million barrels of liquid butane, a highly volatile liquid that turns into a highly flammable vapor upon release. A breach of that well, he said, could be catastrophic.

The salt cavern is part of the Napoleonville salt dome that sits under the area. Salt domes are large, ancient formations of salt in the ground that are used for the commercial mining of petroleum, salt and sulphur, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Videos Shed Light on Chaos at Fukushima as a Nuclear Crisis Unfolded

Though incomplete, the footage from a concrete bunker at the plant confirms what many had long suspected: that the Tokyo Electric Power Company, the plant’s operator, knew from the early hours of the crisis that multiple meltdowns were likely despite its repeated attempts in the weeks that followed to deny such a probability.

It also suggests that the government, during one of the bleakest moments, ordered the company not to share information with the public, or even local officials trying to decide if more people should evacuate.

Chinese investment in battery maker A123 sparks controversy

If completed, the deal would give China's Wanxiang Group Corporation an 80% percent stake in a company that many held up as America's answer to Asian dominance of the battery market.

The deal is also drawing fire from some lawmakers. A123 has contracts with the Pentagon, and some are leery of such a large foreign presence in a sensitive company.

Electric car owners immune to gasoline price spikes

On Monday the Chevron refinery in Richmond CA blew up, disrupting gasoline supply on the West Coast, and a spike in gasoline prices, but electric car owners drive on blissfully unaffected by the turmoil.

The coming glut in oil - and its impact

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Forget America's fiscal cliff, Europe's currency troubles or the emerging-markets slowdown. The most important story in the global economy today may well be some good news that isn't yet making as many headlines - the coming surge in oil production around the world.

Is The Inclusion Of Natural Gas Liquids In The Definition Of Oil Plausible?

A new debate has emerged in recent days around the new definition of oil. In a commentary published on July 16, 2012 on Peak Oil Review, Kurt Cobb argues that the idea that global oil production has been spinning around 88 and 89 million barrels per day (mbpd) this year is wrong. This is because these figures include, following the new definition of oil, not only crude oil but also natural gas plant liquids (NGPL) (mainly, ethane, propane, butane and pentane) and biofuels.

According to him, excluding these products from the analysis, global oil production would be reduced to only about 75 mbpd. Moreover, since 2005 the volume of crude oil would have stalled between 71 and 75 mbpd, while liquids extracted from natural gas would have grown "rather rapidly" and biofuels to a lesser extent.

Should We Really Re-Elect This Fracking President?

Fracking is the energy industry's answer to peak oil, catastrophically offloading the increased cost of oil and gas extraction onto farmers, ranchers, humans who drink water, and the environment itself. It's about as ethical and responsible as the brain deciding to mine the liver and sell the contents. And it's national energy policy under the Obama administration.

The Peak Oil Crisis: The Anomalous Heat Effect

Last week Martin Fleischmann died in England. He was the electro-chemist who started all the "cold fusion" fuss back in 1989 when he and a colleague announced the discovery of heat which could only be coming from a "cold" nuclear reaction. Now, I understand they do not give out the Nobel Prize posthumously, but perhaps they could make an exception for the guy who saved the world by showing us the way to get off fossil fuels in time to avoid extinction.

Transition movement brings new environmental approach

A new movement is afloat. The Transition movement blends aspects of the environment movement and broad grassroots organizing. It combines some 19th century utopian thinking with new technology and daunting data about peak oil and climate change. Portland, Ore., and Oakland, Calif., have officially declared themselves Transition Towns. What's going on here?

The Search for Energy Takes a Turn Underwater

EASTPORT, Me. — The fearsome tides that sweep out from the easternmost shores of the United States have for more than 80 years teased engineers and presidents like Franklin D. Roosevelt, who have dreamed of harnessing their force to make electricity.

And next week, a device that looks a bit like an eggbeater turned sideways will be lowered into the water here to catch the energy of the rushing water, spinning a generator that, come September, is scheduled to begin sending power to the grid.

The Secret to Solar Power

The future of solar belongs to whoever can convince consumers that it’s not just for tree-huggers and rich people.

Corn prices rally to new record high

Corn prices climbed to a record high Thursday, staging a fresh rally as investor gear up for the U.S. government's latest snapshot on corn production due Friday morning.

"Analysts are making some pretty dire predictions," said Sal Gilbertie, chief investment of Teucrium Trading, which runs the Teucrium Corn ETF (CORN).

Ethanol Credits May Ease Pressure on U.S. Corn, IEA Says

Ethanol credits held by U.S. refiners may help reduce demand for the blending fuel and ease pressure on rising prices of corn, from which ethanol is made, the International Energy Agency said.

U.N. official: Shelve EPA ethanol mandate

WASHINGTON (UPI) -- Washington should shelve a mandate siphoning 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop for ethanol and use the corn for food and feed, a top U.N. hunger official said.

Suspending the mandate could help fend off a world food crisis, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization Director General Jose Graziano da Silva said in a Financial Times opinion piece published Friday.

Here's Where Farms Are Sucking The Planet Dry

This map is disturbing, once you understand it. It's a new attempt to visualize an old problem — the shrinking of underground water reserves, in most cases because farmers are pumping out water to irrigate their crops.

4 Decades on, U.S. Starts Cleanup of Agent Orange in Vietnam

DA NANG, Vietnam — In the tropical climate of central Vietnam, weeds and shrubs seem to grow everywhere — except here.

Forty years after the United States stopped spraying herbicides in the jungles of Southeast Asia in the hopes of denying cover to Vietcong fighters and North Vietnamese troops, an air base here is one of about two dozen former American sites that remain polluted with an especially toxic strain of dioxin, the chemical contaminant in Agent Orange that has been linked to cancers, birth defects and other diseases.

Small Fires Won’t Be Ignored

Scientists view fires as a natural part of forest regeneration. But allowing fires to burn can go wrong, as happened last summer in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, where a fire that burned slowly at first grew out of control, burning about 145 square miles and costing $23 million to fight.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Between God & Green’

The book is a scholarly work that explores the concept of “creation care” or, more specifically, “climate care.” It primarily follows the conversion and progress of creation care evangelical elites who advocate for climate-change politics, policy and personal commitment. “Between God & Green” is fairly thorough in its in-depth exploration of the world of evangelical thought on humans’ relationship to the environment. The book’s assessment of the role of Christian eschatological (end time) beliefs on how a person views and treats the environment is particularly revealing.

“Between God & Green,” however, is somewhat slanted. It portrays the climate care movement’s leaders and fellow believers as more or less apolitical, moderate and Spirit-led, while those who challenge their faith — that mankind is responsible for the sin of climate change — are painted as essentially right-wing dupes of the Republican Party.

Carbon tax best approach to curbing global warming

Just when record heat and punishing storms are shriveling climate-change denial like ears of corn in a Dust Bowl-style drought, along comes news of a United Nations fiasco that was supposed to reduce heat-trapping emissions but has instead put more of them into the air — while putting huge profits into the pockets of those who gamed the system.

Canada must target energy sector to meet emissions goal

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada must do much more to meet its 2020 target for reducing greenhouse gases, given rising emissions as the energy sector develops the oil-rich tar sands of northern Alberta, government officials said on Wednesday.

Making the 2012 heat wave matter

And the third landmark heat wave? It's very possible we're living through it right now. Summer 2012 has broken thousands of records in the US, bringing misery and worse to millions. The nation is suffering the worst drought in 50 years, leading the US Department of Agriculture to declare 1,000 counties - one of every three in the nation - natural disaster zones. "It's like farming in hell," Fred Below, a plant biologist at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, told Bloomberg Businessweek.

Seeking hardier breeds for drought, climate change

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Cattle are being bred with genes from their African cousins who are accustomed to hot weather. New corn varieties are emerging with larger roots for gathering water in a drought. Someday, the plants may even be able to "resurrect" themselves after a long dry spell, recovering quickly when rain returns.

Capital plans to have giant seawall completed in 2020

The city administration is planning to complete the Jakarta Coastal Defense Strategy (JCDS) in 2020, five years faster than its previous plan.

The project will likely skip the second phase so it will become more effective in solving Jakarta’s flooding problems caused by subsidence and rising sea levels. “We decided to skip the second phase because it’s a short-term solution that will only solve flooding problems in the Northern part of the city for around 10 years. To make it more effective, we will just proceed to the third phase,” said Nursyam Daoed, the head of facilities and infrastructure division at Jakarta Development Planning Board (Bappeda).

Protection and Planned Relocations in the Context of Climate Change

Climate change is expected to lead to increased human mobility in the forms of migration, displacement and planned relocation of communities as areas become uninhabitable because of the effects of global warming. While considerable attention has been directed toward the first two categories – particularly from humanitarian actors and migration specialists – the third form of movement has received much less attention. Most of the experience with planned relocation of communities has occurred in the context of development projects. This paper seeks to contribute to the discussion on mobility and climate change by focusing on planned relocations of communities as an adaptation to climate change.

USDA Slashes Corn Yield, Production Forecast On Drought

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)--The U.S. Department of Agriculture Friday slashed its forecast for corn production this year by about 17% as drought conditions in key growing regions worsened . . .

"Ending stocks for 2012-13 are projected at 650 million bushels...and the smallest carryout since 1995-96," the USDA said in the supply and demand report. The July report predicted ending stocks at 1.183 billion bushels.

From July to August, a 45% reduction in the ending stock estimate.

It remains to be seen just how damaging the food inflation will be. The last one led to the Arab spring.

However, rice and wheat is the staple for much of the 3rd world and many nations have been stocking up quite heavily(in no small part as a response to the Arab revolutions).

Still, corn prices drive up rice and wheat prices considerably, as well as soy.
It remains to be seen how much the stock of foods can cushion the hike, until it goes down(at least temporarily).

Lester Brown (7/24/12), emphasis added:

The world is closer to a food crisis than most people realise

Not only is the current food situation deteriorating, but so is the global food system itself. We saw early signs of the unraveling in 2008 following an abrupt doubling of world grain prices. As world food prices climbed, exporting countries began restricting grain exports to keep their domestic food prices down. In response, governments of importing countries panicked. Some of them turned to buying or leasing land in other countries on which to produce food for themselves.

Welcome to the new geopolitics of food scarcity. As food supplies tighten, we are moving into a new food era, one in which it is every country for itself.

Well, as I pointed out, this isn't 2008 in the same sense because the stocking up has already happened. It's already a fact on the ground.

But that doesn't mean their societies will be immune by a longshot. Nonetheless, it helps if you got literally months of wheat stored up to give to the people.

From my viewpoint, the crucial factor won't be the nominal high of the price, but the duration. If it goes on too long, the stocks will be depleted much faster and then we'll have a fullblown crisis rather than an escalated situation.

Of course, I was emphasizing the Export Land Model (ELM) aspect. The math is relentless. Given an ongoing production decline in an exporting country, unless domestic consumption declines at the same rate as the rate of decline in production, or at a faster rate, the net export decline rate will exceed the production decline rate, and the net export decline rate will accelerate with time.

Arguably, the worst position to be in would be a developed country that is heavily reliant on both food and fuel imports, e.g., Japan.

I expect that EROI applies as well to food, similarly to oil, as inputs (fuel, water, fertilizers) become more constrained and expensive. Throw in a little climate change and soil depletion.... there ain't no viable substitute for eating.

Corn at $8.25 now, after hitting a record of almost 8.30/bushel.

The math on extreme weather events is also relentless.

Science Briefs
The New Climate Dice: Public Perception of Climate Change
By James Hansen, Makiko Sato, Reto Ruedy — July 2012
The greatest barrier to public recognition of human-made climate change is probably the natural variability of local climate. How can a person discern long-term climate change, given the notorious variability of local weather and climate from day to day and year to year?


Public Perception of Climate Change and the New Climate Dice

I have started a menu

The Al Jazeera weather reports are very interesting

The Al Jazeera weather reports are very interesting

Go on...

What does a "zero (or one) standard deviation temperature anomaly" mean ?

It is not an anomaly is the temperature is at it's mean/median.

I would like some clarification.



The zero '0' is the average temperature

+/- 1 SD (standard deviation) represents the area under the curve occupied by 67% of the temperature deviations from the average.

+/- 2 SD represents the area under the curve occupied by 95% of the temperature deviations from the average.

+/- 3 SD represents the area under the curve occupied by 99.7% of the temperature deviations from the average.

+/- 4 SD represents the area under the curve occupied by 99.994% of the temperature deviations from the average.

Temperatures deviations from the average within +/- 2SD are considered 'normal'.

You would expect temperature anomaly >2SD< to occur once every 20 years; >3SD< to occur 3 times every 1000 years. (once every 330 years); >4SD< to occur 6 times every 100,000 years. (once every 18000 years)

We are now seeing >3SD< temperature anomalies several times a decade. This is VERY BAD!

Yes, we have Google too. But that answers only the questions that don't matter, and begs the important ones.

Is one SD indicative of a 0.001 Celsius change in temperature, or a 10 Celsius change, or a wholly arbitrary change in the value of some wholly arbitrary "anomaly" construct carefully invented solely to "show" an "effect", or what?

And why, oh why, would anyone even think that the short-term SD (years or even decades) of any construct built over any weather number would in any way represent the long-term SD? If it did, the well-known long-term North American hot spells and droughts of the last few millennia, never mind the slower glaciations, couldn't really happen in the lifetime of the universe, or of many universes.

IOW why would it ever surprise or scare anyone that such a short-term SD drifts around? Surely there must be enough going on to eliminate any need to wallow in vague, subjective, undefined scale-free nothingness? Or, actually, isn't there??? I'd like some clarification too.

"Is one SD indicative of a 0.001 Celsius change in temperature, or a 10 Celsius change, or a wholly arbitrary change in the value of some wholly arbitrary "anomaly" construct carefully invented solely to "show" an "effect", or what?"

Not "indicative" of temp change but correlated to (and expected as a result of)rise in global temp. Now, as illustrated by the study, even more probability of the 3x SD events.

"why, oh why, would anyone even think that the short-term SD (years or even decades) of any construct built over any weather number would in any way represent the long-term SD?"

Again, the greater frequency of extreme events is consistent with rising CO2, rising air temperature, rising ocean heat content, and steep YOY declines in sea ice, particularly consistent with the rapid increase in temp since 1980. These are not "normal" times.

Personally, I'll take my chances with Hanson's team. No one understands the temperature records better than he does.

This still leave us utterly at sea as to whether the graphs themselves (not other information elsewhere) actually show anything to worry about. The refusal to say anything about the actual scale suggests that maybe they do not. If one assumes (very, very questionably) a Gaussian, then by wandering arbitrarily far out into the tails to define one's anomalies, one can amplify the relative incidence arbitrarily, because of the squaring of the exponent. (One also decreases the size of the sample set, and indeed the graphs are remarkably noisy.) But if the actual temperature exceedances producing a highly amplified "3X SD" anomaly incidence were only 0.01 Celsius, well, so what? OTOH if they were 10 Celsius, maybe a different story. (Though, to be discussing one side of 3 standard deviations, or 0.15% of incidences, in only a mere 130-year record, seems beyond ridiculous; given the large geographical and year to year correlations, it seems inconceivable that the data set says anything at all that far out.)

So are the graphs consistent with a change that nobody but a climate Ph.D needs to care about? Or are they consistent with a systematic change large enough for the broad public be able to notice? After all, 2012 looks something like the 1930s; there was a severe heat wave in the East circa 1895; and North American droughts and heat waves over any time that's substantially longer than the unusually cool, wet, and stable 130-year instrumental sampling period seem to make the 1930s look like a doddle. Blocking highs have repeatedly parked in inconvenient (for those seeking cool wetness) places and for long periods; the only certainty is that they will do so again with or without AGW (making a completely lunatic dog's breakfast out of permanent ethanol mandates.)

In other words, Hansen is trying to scare ordinary folks - not climate Ph.Ds - into that trusty old US fashion statement, "doing something" (or, more precisely, into demanding that "the government" order somebody else, most especially any evil, wicked folks who dare to enjoy more income than the loudmouthed scar-ee, to "do something.") But after all, July 2012 exceeded the record - across only a mere 130-year span - by only a mere 0.2 degrees, in one particular country. (For example, it seems to have been rainy and cold in Old Blighty.)

If that's about all there is to it, so what? Why should anyone but a nit-picking, microscope-wielding specialist feel scared into "doing something"? But if there's more to it, then what is the scale of said more in the graphs that Hansen claims are worrisome? Most of all, why the refusal to say anything about that scale - is it still really conceivable that the emperor has no clothes?

But if there's more to it, then what is the scale of said more in the graphs that Hansen claims are worrisome? Most of all, why the refusal to say anything about that scale - is it still really conceivable that the emperor has no clothes?

Paul, take a look at screen five of the following presentation.


That scares the bejeepers out of me!

If it doesn't scare you then I suggest you spend about $10,000.00 on a living reef aquarium and let the pH start dropping. Perhaps that will help you get it!

As for scale on that graph, pH is logarithmic and a change in pH from 8.2 to 8.1 is equivalent to a 30% increase in acidity.

Try letting the pH in your reef tank drop below 8.0 and let me know what happens.



Give it a rest, Fred. Paul's increasingly elaborate bargaining says much. Perhaps he's getting a little hot under the collar ;-) I suggest he, and others, devote some of that income to adaptation strategies.

I'm actually continually amused by the "nit-picking, microscope-wielding specialist" lines delivered in whining bombast. Fred's counterpoint is much appreciated.

Well, but you changed the subject yet again. Does anybody know what the scale is, or is it Hansen's personal secret?

I think someone's just gonna have to do the math. Obviously, it's a scientific paper, so we're all free to recreate the results, or at least look at his datasets, and see **what temperatures he was using that resulted in the given SD graphs**. The temperature history is not 'Hansen's personal secret' last I'd checked. I think one could see how many degrees we're talking about just by looking. Or one could just listen to the innumerable predictions already made, which seem to lie in the range 2-10oC (->18oF!), and do a linear fit for whatever time period one was interested in, never leaving the bounds of simple algebra.


His "scale" is based on the seasonal mean temp in 250 km grids globally. Thus units are appropriately Standard deviations. He explains also why 1951-1980 is reasonable temporally. He explains very succinctly in the paper. Anomalies in nominal temperature are naturally inappropriate as a local grid in say St Louis area (mid latitude) will have greater variability in temp than say Aruba. The paper is quite clear and freely available at giss.nasa.gov.

That scares the bejeepers out of me!

And me!
Oh dear; that increasingly stratified warming ocean!
And the speed of change really matters (see below)!

The longterm consequences look interesting as well.
If you want to be really scared for life a few centuries or so from now, do a little digging about the PETM (a disordered carbon cycle lasting some 100,000 years).

For now here is a quote from the above link:

These predicted changes are of a similar nature to those observed to have taken place in the south Atlantic during the PETM, although the Anthropocene carbon addition to the oceans is taking place much more rapidly than occurred at the PETM.

Please get out of your US based perspective, we are talking about simultaneous worldwide events, heat waves in Russia, Europe, droughts in Africa and extreme climate in East Asia.

I doubt you will find a decade as extreme as the one we are experiencing right now. Show a year in recent history where such worldwide extremes occured.

There will always be uncertainty in science and climate is one area where we are stuck with limited amounts of data. One can define SD for a particular data set, such as a time series of temperatures, but all those measurements are short term compared to the longer time periods we see in the proxy records. We do know that droughts have regularly occurred in parts of the Western US, much worse than that seen since Europeans arrived on the scene, so expecting the available short term measurements pr precipitation to represent a complete boundary is not reasonable. Human activity might trigger a new Ice Age, which would be way beyond anything experienced over the course of human civilization. Or, the dew point temperature might exceed human survivable limits as the temperature rises.

That said, there are numerous proxy records extending back over thousands of years, which generally set limits on the extremes of temperature which might naturally occur. Plants have left pollen assemblages in sediments which show climate in an area, given that plant types generally tend to exist within certain well defined climate zones. As the climate has changed, plants have been able to migrate to stay within appropriate climate zones. The same is true for the plant species living in the world's oceans and they have left proxy temperature records as well.

The yearly range of temperatures at any location appears to be rather tightly constrained by physics. You may wish to ignore the data, but it's clear enough that the temperature in Kansas is most unlikely to ever hit 0F in July or 100F in January. Either would be many SD's outside the range of the available data and would represent major climate change, IMHO...

E. Swanson

If what you are trying to do is say "its different now than it had been the previous one hindred years", than SD is just the thing. If you want to know the practical effect, than you have to expess the change in some phyically meaninfull units. Since we are still fighting AGW doubters, that is still a relevant argument. And it does have some relevance to the expectations about extreme events. Granted climate change is very unlikely to just be change of the median value, with the same SD. Indeed, it looks like the SD is getting larger, so the impact on extreme events is much larger than naive theory would suggest.

Is one SD indicative of a 0.001 Celsius change in temperature, or a 10 Celsius change, or a wholly arbitrary change in the value of some wholly arbitrary "anomaly" construct carefully invented solely to "show" an "effect", or what?

Based on the Northern Hemisphere land only data from Hansen's group, 1 SD appears to be about 0.8°C on average (these plots show distributions of anomalies for all his weather stations in the Northern Hemisphere - some SD's will be larger than others, of course).

Then it is mislabeled.

I am asking about the data set.

Is it daily temperatures for 3 months for every Northern Hemisphere reporting station ? The base line is all 92 days 1951-1981, for each and every weather station, which sets the mean and standard deviation (apparently so) ?

I guess I need to read the paper, and not just the summary as I have done so far.


BTW, I am planning to show this to my father, who retired teaching Statistics and Quantitative Methods. Sloppy "look at this" gets me a "D" at best.

The Standard Deviation is one of the hardest concepts to understand, especially for a non-mathematician like myself. There are dozens of explanations on the web but one of the simplest is found here" Standard Deviation"

However one explanation I read years ago described it as "The average difference between any two individuals, objects, or whatever, picked at random." In other words the average difference between the size or weight of any two grains of sand picked at random from the beach would be one standard deviation. (You would have to pick a lot of them to figure out the average however.) That would also hold true for the height, weight, IQ, or anything else between any two people picked at random. From the link I posted:

Computing the value of a standard deviation is complicated. But let me show you graphically what a standard deviation represents...

 One SD=68 percent of the bell curve, 2 SDs=95 percent, etc.

One standard deviation away from the mean in either direction on the horizontal axis (the red area on the above graph) accounts for somewhere around 68 percent of the people in this group. Two standard deviations away from the mean (the red and green areas) account for roughly 95 percent of the people. And three standard deviations (the red, green and blue areas) account for about 99 percent of the people.

Ron P.

Hi - I puzzled over these graphs long and hard ... there is a LOT of info stuffed in these little curves. What it shows is the distribution of summer avg T anomalies for all the weather stations Hansen and Company use in the N. Hemisphere. The reference distribution is 1951-1980 ... these anomalies (difference between that summer's average T at that site and the average T over all the summers 1951-1980 at that site) are normally distributed about 0 in 1951-1980 (which they have to be). So, per probability of normally distributed data, 68% of the summers are within 1 std dev of the median, 95% w/in 2 std devs, and 99.7% are within 3 std devs of the median.

In decades following, the anomalies are still normally distributed, but around a different median, some distance away from the reference median on the hot side. The take-home message is that summers that used to occur 0.3% of the time now occur 10% of the time - since medians are no longer 3 std deviations away from the original 3-sigma line.

The actual value in °C of one standard deviation varies from weather station to weather station. I would guess for most of them 1 std dev would be in the neighborhood of 1°C. That would be interesting to know.

Some data questions.

What are the weather stations they use, and the criteria for their selection ?

What are the temperatures measured ? Daily highs, daily highs & lows, 24 average, etc.

To they do each day independently, or ??

I am basically trying to understand what they call "anomalies" - a very curious choice of words that tells me little.

Best Hopes for Understanding,


Re why they use anomalies:

see the NASA GISS site (this is where Hansen works):

Our analysis concerns only temperature anomalies, not absolute temperature. Temperature anomalies are computed relative to the base period 1951-1980. The reason to work with anomalies, rather than absolute temperature is that absolute temperature varies markedly in short distances, while monthly or annual temperature anomalies are representative of a much larger region. Indeed, we have shown (Hansen and Lebedeff, 1987) that temperature anomalies are strongly correlated out to distances of the order of 1000 km. For a more detailed discussion, see The Elusive Absolute Surface Air Temperature.

iirc, they also like anomalies v absolute T because that takes care of station bias - the absolute reading may be less than perfect, but the difference from the average (aka anomaly) may still be useful.

this link has more info on the weather stations they use


How are anomalies defined ?

I will read your link later today, so if it is clearly defined there, post an answer only for others.

This is a two step statistical analysis that my father is used to designing - but is fraught with difficulties.


Yes, you are right that this is a complicated reduction of the data. I think anomaly (in this graph) is defined as the difference between a given summer's average Temp and the average Temp of all the summers 1951-1980.

your question is a good one - scouting around I found this on wikipedia:

In atmospheric sciences and some other applications of statistics, an anomaly time series is the time series of deviations of a quantity from some mean.[1] Similarly a standardized anomaly series contains values of deviations divided by a standard deviation.[1] Location and scale measures that are resistant to the effects of outliers are sometimes used as the basis of the transformation.[1]

The location and scale parameters used in forming an anomaly time-series may either be constant or may themselves be time series. For example, if the original time series consisted of temperatures measured every hour, the effect of typical daily cycles of temperature might be remove by subtracting a time series containing mean temperature values for each hour of the day: clearly, this can be extended by including seasonal variations of temperature.

In the atmospheric sciences, the climatological annual cycle is often used as the mean value. Famous atmospheric anomaly time series are for instance the Southern Oscillation index (SOI) and the North Atlantic oscillation index. SOI is the atmospheric component of El Niño, while NAO plays an important role for European weather by modification of the exit of the Atlantic storm track.

From a recent Hansen paper:

Anomalies are defined relative to a specified climatology, the observed climate in a chosen base period. The base period should be long enough to provide sufficient data for statistical analyses—we choose 30 y, consistent with the period used by most weather and climate services. The period should also be fixed because, as we show later, a shifting base period hides potentially important changes in the nature of the anomaly distribution.

We choose 1951–1980 as the base period for most of our illustrations, for several reasons. First, it was a time of relatively stable global temperature, prior to rapid global warming in recent decades. Second, it is recent enough for older people, especially the “baby boom” generation, to remember. Third, global temperature in 1951–1980 was within the Holocene range, and thus it is a climate that the natural world and civilization are adapted to.

good luck explaining it to your dad!

In round numbers, the USDA in June was forecasting a 2012 US corn harvest of about 15 billion bushels. In August, about 11 billion bushels. If I am interpreting the following info correctly, this decline would be approximately equivalent to all global exports of unprocessed corn.

An item from September, 2011:


Exports of unprocessed (whole) corn from the U.S. vary substantially from year to year, ranging from 1.588 billion bushels to 2.437 billion bushels over the past 10 years, but generally have been trending lower since 2007-08. Annual exports from all other origins are also variable, but have been increasing since 2008-09 (Figure 1).

It's obvious why the UN official is calling on the US to shelve the ethanol mandate:

U.N. official: Shelve EPA ethanol mandate (uptop)

U.S. reply to United Nations official:

Let's see now. You want us to drop the ethanol mandate which would devastate our ethanol industry, crash the price of corn received by our farmers and jack up the price of crude oil and gasoline globally so that your overpopulated countries can get a bargain price for corn and continue multiplying like rabbits.

Or we keep the ethanol mandate, keep our ethanol industry, allow our farmers to profit, halt exports of corn, allow the price of corn to increase for everyone, allow the price of gasoline to increase in the U.S. and keep the price of crude oil stable globally. Hopefully shortages of food in overpopulated importing countries will spark revolutions to reduce their populations and to overthrow the inept leaders who allowed their populations to exceed their local carrying capacities.

The choice is between extend and pretend; and tough love.

Me thinks the U.N. official is not smarter than yeast.

...inept leaders who allowed their populations to exceed their local carrying capacities.

Well, maybe. But in the real world, how could leaders - be they ept or inept - go about disallowing that, without being replaced by other leaders who would allow it? Even in China the "one child policy" had its loopholes right from the outset, when it was put in place by a highly oppressive government more all-powerful than most.

But in the real world, how could leaders - be they ept or inept - go about disallowing that, without being replaced by other leaders who would allow it?

The same way that "advanced" countries did: by investing in education and health for their people. Do that, and suddenly people want to trade quantity for quality in their children. Instead of having six or eight ill-educated and malnourished kids, they have just two or three and invest in their schooling.

That's what happens in the real world.

Yeah, but sex education and condoms make supply-side baby Jesus cry. (Or Muhammad or who ever the local prophet is.)

An apt leader would have taken that power away from religion as necessary to prevent over population. Some leaders use religion to control their populations in the short-term but fail to respect the monster they create in the long-term. A junky is not cured by giving him his fix on demand. When population is allowed to grow out of control, solutions are brutal. Population must decrease.

Population must decrease.

One reason that there are no warnings on cigarettes in China, and the average Chinese is as aware of the dangers as the average American was in 1950. And Chinese air pollution will decrease population as well.

In the USA, let's just ignore obesity - and cut funding for diabetes support and teaching. Get Hollywood to promote fat acceptance. Let's also stop the waste in medical $$ on preventative care. It will help reduce the population.


"It remains to be seen how much the stock of foods can cushion the hike, until it goes down(at least temporarily)."

peak everything is temporary...temporarily

just need to "mitigate" net 250K new persons joining the party each day...

Rice and Wheat have been hit as well, although not to such an extent...Floods in South East Asia, Heat wave in Ukraine, Russia and erratic monsoon in India. Europe on the other hand is praying for some sunny days so that their harvest is of good quality.





If such global climate weirding ain't climate change, I don't know what is. Along with PO this will be like a one-two combo punch for humanity.

The interesting number from this report is the estimated 10.8 billion bushels of corn supply. This is almost a 2 billion bushel drop from last month and will probably be revised downward at a slower pace as the corn is harvested over the next few months.

With the all of the pressuring on the Obama administration to drop the mandate, I think that is holding back prices at the moment. I think the mandate repeal is somewhat priced in at this point but there will still be short-lived downward movement when the news is announced which will help ethanol producer margins. Also like our farmer said, if gasoline prices are high enough then ethanol is still viable.

US Drought Map

for those interested


"From July to August, a 45% reduction in the ending stock estimate."

Just imagine the future in 10 or 20 years if these droughts signify a new norm.

The intersection of food, water and energy seems to be getting more attention:

Oil companies desperately seek water amid Kansas drought

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Oil companies drilling in the drought-ridden fields of southern Kansas are taking desperate measures to get the water they need to tap into the state's oil reserves.

Huge amounts of water are required to extract oil, especially when companies use hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which requires millions of gallons of water to crack the shale rock and bring oil to the surface. But now that the entire state is in emergency drought status, with only 1.19 inches of rainfall last month -- the 10th driest July on record -- unprecedented water shortages are making it difficult for drillers to get the water they need.

Some companies are paying farmers for any remaining water they have left in their ponds, drilling their own water wells, digging ponds next to streams or trucking in water from as far away as Pennsylvania -- all of which is costing them a handsome sum of money and time.

Profits and the economy notwithstanding, it seems to me another case of societies faced with robbing Peter to pay Paul; signs of the times...

signs of the times...

As somebody on TOD said recently: ... "just buy a big bag of peanuts and watch the show".
The Archdruid said last week I think: " its awfully late in the day".

Peanuts are getting too expensive. Nice to be able to watch the show if you aren't starving.

The distributor decreased the volume of the peanut jar from 16 ounces to 14 ounces, and the grocery store increased the price by 25%. Consequently I did not buy peanuts last time I was at the store. I think I will munch on some corn from my garden.

For those who never lived from a water well: if others in the area start pumping, your well may go dry. The oil people just happen to be really good at drilling and pumping.

I have a memory from about 2 years agoof making the estimation based on then avilable data that the worlds food inventory will be depleted in 10 years. If I was right, the next famine breaking out in 2020 will be virutally un-aided by the world. Will be horrible to watch the news.

Just imagine the future in 10 or 20 years if these droughts signify a new norm.

What scares me more than the idea of drought being a new norm is the idea of extreme variability being the new norm.

Imagine what happens if one year there is extreme flooding and the crop is reduced by a third, then the next year is a bumper year with 200% crops everywhere. Then the next year, another bumper crop most of which has to be ploughed into the ground, and then an extreme drought lasting three years, and so on and on, with no predictability.

Farmers could never make money in this situation - either they have little to sell, or prices are rock bottom. With no profits, farmers can't invest in drought and flood protection - maybe they can't even buy fertilizer or replace their equipment any more. After a decade of this, farming could become uninsurable and therefore undoable.

OK, I'm exaggerating. But how much, exactly?

I prefer the term "Climate Chaos" but there will be few bumper crops years.

Just two months ago the USDA was predicting a good - if not superb - corn crop.

Most crops require decent soil moisture when planted, and weather within a fixed range until harvest.


IIRC, back in April the USDA was predicting record crops and the corn price was falling ... despite their own met. people predicting a dry summer at the time.

But that's not a huge problem. Say there are five major growing regions in the world: North America, China, South and South-East Asia, Europe and Western Russia, and South America. The world can cope with major crop losses in any one of these areas, provided the others are having good to middling years. This year, for instance, India has harvested a record wheat crop, and rice harvests have also been good. So we may not get a repeat of 2008's food riots.

But we'll have trouble if two regions have simultaneous crop failures. And the odds of that go up much more than the odds of any one region having a failure.

I'll simplify. Say that in the past, the odds of a bad year in any region were 10%. The odds of simultaneous failure in two regions is 10% x 10% = 1%. Once a century on average: most people will never see it in their lives, or be too young to remember it.

If now the odds are two in ten, then the odds of two regions failing simultaneously is 20% x 20% = 4%. Once in 25 years on average. Doubling the odds of a single regional failure has quadrupled the odds of a twin failure.

I guess most people here have done a calculation like this. But what about the other side of this coin?

If everyone increases plantings to cope with increased crop failures, we have the opposite problem when there isn't a failure: massive oversupply and depressed prices. It seems like a "heads you lose, tails you lose more" situation for farmers.

I understand that your example was for illustration purposes - but

- Population keeps growing (slowly in the EU, - in Russia, not so slow elsewhere).
- Non-weather limits to crop yields are increasing. Water for irrigation, fertilizers, adaptive pests
- There are other things that can happen.

If no region does better than it's 20 year average (say two at just below average and two well below average - worst crop in eight or ten years, but not a failure), and there is a major failure in one region, that is about as bad as two regions failing.

More chaotic weather patterns lend themselves to poor crop yields as well as failures. If US farmers had known what to expect, more would have planted soybeans (or wheat) and fewer would have planted corn. Erratic, unpredictable weather is bad for yields.


What was that advice to the Pharaoh?
I suppose somebody had to pay for precautions and storage back then.
An insurance policy backed with real collateral?

Carbon tax best approach to curbing global warming

I have to disagree. Politicians won't set the tax high enough to achieve deep emissions cuts so it becomes largely a feelgood exercise. Carbon tax is revenue neutral so the proceeds are repaid via income tax cuts and welfare increases. Electricity, cement etc go up in price but consumers have more in their pocket. In theory consumers then switch to lower carbon products. Maybe not. Better I think is cap is cap and trade with the scams removed, notably free or 'grandfathered' permits and worthless carbon credits. The CO2 cap should shrink by say 2% a year. Again the problem is politicians... do they have the cojones to make it tough?

The Australian carbon tax was set at $23 per tonne of CO2 or equivalent emitted. From the very start some of the worst polluters like steel mills and coal fired aluminium smelters were 94.5% exempted. Petrol and diesel are exempt for now. A billion dollars was paid to some lignite (brown coal) fired power stations for 'asset value compensation'. Then some were to be replaced by gas fired plant except it is now realised the Australian east coast won't have cheap gas for very long. Either that or the carbon tax should be $40 not $23.

By July 2013 the Australian carbon tax will have been in place for a year. My guess is that will save a measly 10 Mt or so of CO2 out of around 550 Mt. Note that 550 Mt is a lot for just 22m people. CO2 from exported coal and LNG nearly doubles that figure. The electricity demand reduction is not just due to the tax but other electricity price hikes for network building costs. The carbon tax is a start but it's never going to be enough to make the deep CO2 cuts climate scientists tell us we must make.

I think a better solution is to impose a global ban on exporting coal and building new coal fired power plants anywhere in the world.

Imposed and enforced by whom?

The same people who were proposing cap and trade.

the US Military, of course

Yes! The U.S. military could enforce the use of oil and coal along with a worldwide ban on wind, solar, and electric cars. Carbon credits would lure consumers with free vacations and iPhones as reward for their fossil purchases. Together, these could provide the 2.5% growth in oil demand needed for a return to a healthy economy.

Here in my home town, they want increase coal trains heading north along Puget Sound to a proposed coal export terminal.
This weekend is the annual 'Taste of Edmonds' event where the NW's seafood is offered at various booths and family entertainment the theme. http://atasteofedmonds.com/
I wonder how a booth offering BBQ'd salmon with a nice coal dust slurry sauce would go over ? yummmmy
Howzabout a little coal dust on that strawberry shortcake today ?? mmmmmmmmmmmmm,, yes please :)

Too little too late, is better than doing nothing (the current trajectory). At least it applies a tilt in the right direction to the playing field regarding fossils versus renewables and efficiency. Lets not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Carbon tax is revenue neutral so the proceeds are repaid via income tax cuts and welfare increases.

You are referring to one of the dysfunctional proposals for a carbon tax that negates the price signal. The tax revenue should pay for equipment to remove about 20% of the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and force everyone to pay for their pollution.

IEA Sees Oil Demand Growth Slowdown on Weaker Economy

From up top.

A realistic scenario going forward is oil demand increasing sub-1 % for the rest of the decade(barring a recession world over, which seems to be slowly coming into fruition).

China's exports rose just 1 % year over year(estimates were over 8 %).
China's real GDP growth yoy is probably sub 5%, not least since almost half the economy is geared towards exports(the U.S. is at about 15 %).

Going forward, if we assume that oil demand will grow about 0.7 % for the entire decade(if we include a recession or two), the question is: can even that low amount(historically) be done?

Because a 0.7 % increase is larger in absolute terms each time.
And just about all of the increased 'capacity' that the IEA publishes in their very, very broad 'liquid fuels production' wasn't crude oil. It was NGL's and biofuels etc. World crude production has been almost totally flat for years and years.

And increasing biofuels by a lot, especially in light of the corn droughts, is probably not going to be a political winner(as if it's a feasable plan anyway...).

As far as I can see, the only major crude going online is shale oil (and to some extent oil shale, which is a different category). Brazil is going to ramp up quite a bit, Iraq still has capacity. The U.S. can both increase production and reduce their own use. Per capita useage of gasoline has decline quite a bit in the U.S.

And even if the world managed to get by on 0.7 % oil growth per annum(a tall order in of itself), that translates into much lower economic growth. To get healthy economic growth you need around 2.5 % increase in oil demand. And that is simply mathematically impossible.

And who's going to bring the bad news?

re: End This Hypocrisy (article).....Nigeria state of affairs.

"They steal public funds with the impunity and ruthlessness that will stir the conscience of even the most dangerous armed robber."

And we have our bankers and banking systems doing the same. Apparently, it is overlooked that numerous banks have been caught red handed laundering drug money, financing arms sales, etc etc etc. Not one prosecution.

Go Iceland GO!!! They took them on and said no more.


August 10, 2012
Federal Investigators Punt On Goldman Sachs Prosecutions

By 2006, Goldman Sachs traders knew that the investments packed with subprime home mortgages they had been selling at big profits for the last few years were more dangerous than they were letting on.

Internally, they characterized these offerings as "junk," "dogs," "big old lemons" and "monstrosities." Nevertheless, the bank congratulated itself for successfully offloading the mortgage bonds onto others. The head of the bank's mortgage department extolled its success in reducing its subprime inventory, writing that his team had "‘worked their tails off to make some lemonade from some big old lemons.”

David Wells, a spokesman for Goldman Sachs, said in an email, "We are pleased that this matter is behind us.""

For industry critics, the decisions to drop the investigations are the latest indication that the federal government's law enforcement response to the greatest financial catastrophe since the Great Depression will end with a whimper.

The megabank scandals will continue.

The Peak Oil Crisis: The Anomalous Heat Effect

Defkalion are starting to present details of their Hyperion product http://www.defkalion-energy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=1288 which is supposed to be a anomalous heat producer. National Instruments taking and interest but then of course they want to sell control and measurement equipment thus winning whatever the outcome.

CoP 1:8 to 1:22

I wonder who got Tom Whipple down this path.
So far he made a lot of sense but this? Come on. What's next? eCat?
As soon as I see a peer reviewed article in a major journal that shows sustained energy production I'll change my mind.

The need for hope ?

I do respect Tom enormously.


That pretty much must be it. The characteristics of this "discovery" are almost too perfect, too seductive. It can fill much the same need as a religion does: just-in-the-nick-of-time salvation. A "crazy eddie" effect, for those geeks here who catch the reference.

I have felt for some time - and have said here and elsewhere - that Tom W has seemingly jumped the shark on this one.

On the other hand... (disclaimer, I also have a nominally human brain and am not immune in principle).... IF there was some anomalous effect in nature that was accessible to mankind and could put huge energies in our hands, this is exactly the sort of place it would hide. An effect that takes awhile to show up, in some area of knowledge not that well mapped out, such as the behavior of particles when constrained by surface effects.

I have communicated with a number of scientists who are pretty credible and who describe a repeatable effect. I've had the chief scientist of a NASA center tell me that it's real and will revolutionize the world.

So either way it falls, this story is extraordinary. There are a lot of pretty competent people very convinced. Seems like the physicists think it's BS and the chemists think it's real, to oversimplify things. I hope the chemists are right. Not impossible. My personal feeling is hovering around 90% "doesn't exist" and 10% "does exist", with a lesser probability of it being the hail-mary technology that will power us scrubbing CO2 out of the air, and proceeding to destroy the world in a different way en route to a krell-like destiny.

Interesting stuff, either way.

I don't think Tom factored in the many problems inherent in scaling up this technology to any useful effect. Sure they are cheap and easy to make, but what real good are they when what they produce is heat and what we really need is liquid fuels? Can a heat engine of this type be made with power to weight and size ratios anywhere near those of an internal combustion engine? Can it produce enough power to transport itself and 4 or 5 passengers down a road, or pull a semi-trailer loaded with food to the local supermarket? If not, this technology (if it is even real) is too little too late to save the world. (Some potential for a bit of possible global warming mitigation is nice but hardly world saving)

The point you make is one not well appreciated by most.

Back a couple years ago I was in communications with Dr. R. Bussard about organizing a large-scale (larger size) buildout of his polywell IEC fusion approach. It seemed unlikely to work, but not impossible, and IF it worked, it could at least in principle have been shoehorned into existence without a huge rebuild of infrastructure. He felt that scientifically demonstrating the effect would be sufficient, I felt that it would not be: even if such a technology existed, it would be a hard road to stop the inertia of carbon extraction/combustion, and fusion would more likely become a niche product than a replacement. Anyhow, the upshot of that was that he preferred the relative obscurity and comfort zone of military grants.

In fact, IF this "anomalous heat" effect turns out to exist and be usable, it may simply add another dimension of poignancy to an already tragic situation. Anyone who thinks homo sap couldn't cheerfully ignore free energy because it didn't seem as convenient as burning stuff, hasn't been paying attention. Fossil carbon is still pretty much free energy - and to the extent it ISN'T free, the effort it costs is protected by influential stakeholders and societal inertia.

We ALREADY have feasible options to not destroy the planet, we simply choose not to follow them. The problem is less in physics than in the fact that humans in aggregate are not conscious, self-aware, sentient or sapient. Individually we have awareness that we do not possess as communities, societies, or as a species.

Even if such energy was discovered and proven, it would probably take a perturbation on the level of a full-on war to get it implemented. It would not be done due to enlightenment.

Then again, wars are already baked into the cake, so I hope the effect turns out to be real and useful. We're entering "crazy eddie" times...


You make some great points in both of your posts. Human optimism springs eternal. I particularly like what you said about our species "...proceeding to destroy the world in a different way en route to a krell-like destiny."

Along those lines, though, I have to take exception to at least part of:

"We ALREADY have feasible options to not destroy the planet, we simply choose not to follow them. The problem is less in physics than in the fact that humans in aggregate are not conscious, self-aware, sentient or sapient. Individually we have awareness that we do not possess as communities, societies, or as a species."

I very much agree with the part about humans "in aggregate" and I'll go 'ya one further and say that even as individuals much of our "awareness" is illusory, just a highly over-rated byproduct of a fragmented consciousness composed of competing neuronal centers in which this recently evolved awareness resides in a neocortex that originally evolved for socialization (but don't get me started on that one)!

I cannot agree that we "...ALREADY have feasible options to not destroy the planet, we simply choose not to follow them." I have never seen a comprehensive list of those feasible options. In the end, homo sapiens operates within the same physical and biological limits as any other species on the planet. We are not smarter than yeast in any way that really matters to our survival.

I cannot agree that we "...ALREADY have feasible options to not destroy the planet, we simply choose not to follow them." I have never seen a comprehensive list of those feasible options. In the end, homo sapiens operates within the same physical and biological limits as any other species on the planet. We are not smarter than yeast in any way that really matters to our survival.

I'm saying feasible in terms of physical possibility.

- a "society of sloth" in which we simply stop burning fossil carbon, and write poetry instead of scurrying around at high speed seeking brain stimulation

- draconian birth control/population reduction in advance of a malthusian dieoff

- etc

"not destroying the planet" is so dead-easy that about any species can do it. However, by discounting the future to nonexistence, we're able to prevent most mental dissonance and continue our pyromaniac inertia.

I can't actually see that we disagree much.

On the gripping hand, even if it's real we wouldn't put the right resources into it. There's money laying on the ground all over for energy efficiency, and we as a society aren't bothering to stoop to pick it up.

P.S. Good book

There are a lot of pretty competent people very convinced. Seems like the physicists think it's BS and the chemists think it's real, to oversimplify things.

"You show me that it works
and how it works

And when I've recovered
from the shock,

I will take a compass
and carve 'fancy that'

on the side of my c@ck"

That's actually a reference to homeopathy from Tim Minchin's, 'Storm The Animated Movie' but I think it works for this as well...

From the article:

the general idea seems to be that hydrogen is first loaded into the metal lattice of nickel or palladium; then subjected to an electronic pulse or heat, which squeezes the proton (the hydrogen nucleus) so hard that it absorbs energy and an electron thereby turning itself into a low energy neutron. These neutrons in turn quickly combine into isotopes of hydrogen which then decay into helium giving off prodigious amounts of heat as they lose mass (Remember E=MC2).

Squeezing the electron inside the proton and creating a neutron would be a trick. It does happen in supernovas and the result is a neutron star but I have never heard of it happening on earth. And I don't think hydrogen can decay into helium. Turning hydrogen into helium is nuclear fusion. That happens in ordinary stars and is where most of their energy comes from.

So what he is talking about here is cold fusion. That is enough to make the whole thing questionable but turning protons into neutrons makes it a real hoot.

Such nonsense is unbecoming of an ex CIA agent.

Edit: A neutron generator expels a neutron but it does not create one. The process is explained here: Deuterium-Tritium (D-T) Reaction

Ron P.

Despite only giving it a 10% likelihood, I'll be the advocate at the moment.

Near as I can tell, anyone who says they know what's going on is bullsh*tting. There is no theory yet, just an unexplained effect which seems (if you believe a surprisingly large and growing number of experimenters) not to be going away.

For instance, here's a recent industry vid I just found on quick search. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=A4HG9raN_2U. It doesn't really make any claims except that it's interesting. I think if you take the Rossi's and others out of the mix, there may be something interesting going on.

As I noted here in the past, there are phenomena which occur in the real world which we could not have predicted to exist starting from first principles, because they are simply too complex to model. The one I mentioned previously was stable sonoluminescence. It is surprising that it occurs, and once one sees it occurring they can work back and figure out how the heck it happens. Picosecond flashes of extreme temperature from sound waves and water - cool. The universe probably has a number of other tricks up its sleeve, complex emergent effects of energy/matter/dimensionality, of which we certainly don't yet have a full inventory.

As I say, it's interesting. I'd caution to ignore those who claim to know what's going on, and maybe pay attention to those who admit to not having any idea... because that's what's I find interesting.

Greenish, I watched the video and was not impressed. The video simply explained that something was creating hear, they thought, and they were not sure what it was. After all that's what the word "Anomalous" means, or: Something is happening and we are not sure what it is.

It could have been a simple chemical reaction, or nothing at all. Anyway it was just cold fusion repackaged. I don't believe a word of it. There is no such thing as free energy.

Ron P.

Unexplained, unanticipated effects are the most exciting thing in science, in my opinion.

I heartily agree with that. In this case it can set the stage for a technical revolution.

The problem remains with homo sapiens, however: with more leveraged technological tools we cam also muck up more things, more drastically.

The problem remains with homo sapiens, however: with more leveraged technological tools we cam also muck up more things, more drastically.

True that.

However, we seem to be painting ourselves into a corner with the ocean acidification and ocean/atmospheric heat retention experiment. That's looking SO bad that alternatives MIGHT be better, even if we remain shallow and clueless.

It makes no sense to me too. A proton doesn't turn into a neutron by absorbing an electron. It can turn into a neutron by absorbing a negatively charged pi meson.

Someone correct me if I am wrong.

Where do neutron stars get all those pi mesons? ;-)

Neutron Stars

Neutron stars are compact objects that are created in the cores of massive stars during supernova explosions. The core of the star collapses, and crushes together every proton with a corresponding electron turning each electron-proton pair into a neutron. The neutrons, however, can often stop the collapse and remain as a neutron star.

Ron P.

They say that the hydrogen collects extra neutrons creating heavier and heavier isotopes of hydrogen. That heavy isotope of hydrogen is already known to decay into Helium, that part isn't new science at all.

The effect has been duplicated by MIT, SRI, and plenty of other real labs. Even high school students can get it to work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khnc-zTlsLo&feature=related

Well perhaps. I knew that heavier radioactive atoms could decay into lighter atoms. That is fission. But I never knew that lighter atoms could decay into heavier atoms. When two light atoms become one heavier atom that is fusion, not fission. Cold fusion???

I have no idea what your youtube video was showing. I don't speak whatever language it was that was explaining the process.

Ron P.

That high school class has started an "open source" for LENR and post instructions for building it (in Italian). The video shows a pretty violent reaction that sure doesn't look like it could be explained by chemistry alone - they are only applying a few milliwatts.

The technology is taking time, it's still at an "Edisonian" stage where all the physics isn't entirely understood and it may still be a few years before a commercial reactor really ships but it sure looks real.

The technology is taking time, it's still at an "Edisonian" stage where all the physics isn't entirely understood and it may still be a few years before a commercial reactor really ships but it sure looks real.

But it ain't real, it is just wishful thinking. There is no such thing as free energy. You have heard it all your life, "There is no free lunch." What makes you think it is now possible? From WT's post below:

It was the product of wishful thinking and very, very bad science. The catch is that it promised salvation - cheap, clean infinite energy - which is what made it so enticing. As I predicted at the end of the book, that kind of promise would lure people to it long after it became obvious to any reasonable scientist that it was simply wrong, and so interest in the subject would keep going indefinitely, although it would asymptotically approach zero as the years went by. Twenty years later, that prediction was dead on. . .

Ron P.

NO, it's not just wishful thinking, or bad science; it's real.

The bad science was some of the original skeptical reports from MIT (they wanted to protect their hot fusion experimental funding) and a scientist at Cal Tech who is now the chief scientist at BP. They gave it a bad name, MIT just deleted all the positive data because they didn't believe it. But that's all over, now everyone agrees the effect is real.

Want to argue with NASA? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtHR1NCzeKU&feature=relmfu

I'm hoping this is just really good trolling. Complete with government-funding and evil oil company conspiracy theories. Nice touch.

But it ain't real, it is just wishful thinking. There is no such thing as free energy. You have heard it all your life, "There is no free lunch."

Well, since I'm being a tentative advocate for the "maybe it's real" position at the moment, I'll note that ALL energy we've ever seen is free. We're winding down from an ultra-low-entropy "big bang", which for our purposes was the ultimate free lunch. Fission, fusion, radioactive decay, black holes converting matter to energy... there are a number of phenomena which kick out energy. I think the "no free lunch" concept is more about equilibrium thermodynamics.

I agree there's a lot of wishful thinking going on; the main reason to distrust this effect is that it's EXACTLY the sort of deus-ex-machina outcome our deluded little brains would wish to see.

Of course, the universe doesn't care what we do or don't want. But it is not malicious: experimental results may be relied upon. It seems as though experimental results are showing inexplicable extra heat. IF that is true, it's damn interesting.

Tritium most assuredly decays into Helium3


If you wish to fact-check Wikipedia, check with the U.S. government:


What isotopes of hydrogen? The Handbook of Chemistry and Physice 74th edition, 1993, only lists deuterium and tritium, neither of which decay into helium.

The decay mode of a free neutron is 1 proton and one electron with a half-fife of 10.3 minutes. Under appropriate conditions, the reaction should be reversible as in the case of a neutron star. The pressure at the surface of a neutron star is on the order of 1035 Pa (source: Wiki: Neutron Star). Air pressure at STP is 1.01325 x 105 Pa. Please explain how humans attain this massive pressure and produce net energy in the process.

The Handbook of Chemistry and Physice 74th edition, 1993, only lists deuterium and tritium, neither of which decay into helium.

Incorrect, with respect to Tritium.

Tritium is radioactive, and decays to He3. Tritium has a half-life of ~12.3 years or so.

{From the second link above, reply to Ron's post}

Helium-3 Recovery – Tritium radioactively decays to helium-3, which has become a precious commodity. One reason for the tremendous growth in demand for helium-3 is its use in neutron detection equipment that is being installed all over the world to protect our nation and its allies from terrorism. We recover, purify, and bottle this valuable byproduct of tritium. SRS is the sole producer of helium-3 gas in the United States.

You are correct. Tritium decays into alpha and beta particles. HC&P does not list the alpha particle.

No, it decays into Helium 3 by beta decay. It cannot form an alpha particle as it only has 3 nucleons, an alpha requires 4.


"Squeezing the electron inside the proton and creating a neutron would be a trick. "

It's called electron capture, and a few radionuclides do it outside of a stellar core.


To make this work you would have to create the neutron, then combine it with a proton to get deuterium. Then fuse the deuterium to get helium.

The neutron will decay back to a proton and and electron with a 10 minute half-life, so you have to be quick too.

They say these slow neutrons will immediately bind with any nearby nucleus. So you start with hydrogen, add a neutron, then add a second, and a third and get hydrogen 4, which quickly decays to He 4. They also say these reactions are common in nature and explain a wide range of nuclear effects. This includes transmutations in exploding wires, and in exploding transformers, and production of neutrons by lightning.

The defkalion announcement that started this thread includes their theory. They say the electron is forced into an unusual state and ends up spending a short time very close to the proton. This makes something that behaves a lot like a neutron just long enough to allow two protons to fuse. Muons (similar to elections but heavier) can be used to catalyze fusion in a similar way. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muon-catalyzed_fusion

The thermal neutron absorption cross-section for deuterium is exceedingly small. That's why why use in in reactors that use natural uranium. If you have than many neutrons wandering loose in the area, they will absorb into anything else first, making that radioactive instead.

The free energy calculation may say it works, but the kinetics do not favor that path.

It does seem quite strange. He was a believer in the eCat, even though it had "scam" written all over it, and I would expect an ex-CIA guy to see that from miles away. Rossi's history alone should have tipped him off.

Tom is not talking about the eCat any more, so I guess he realizes it's not legit. But he still thinks cold fusion can save us. Very odd. If it's just that he needs something to believe in, why not a more solid technology, like wind or solar?

I see this phenomenon all the time with nearly all of the PhDs and Engineers, aged 40 and up, that I interact with...all govies. General Schedule Civil Servants.

Almost to a person, they eschew wind and solar as anti-capitalist socialism/ganola-eating enviro-issue driven dead-end wastes of capital, and espouse a combination of 'there is plenty of oil and coal if the government stops over-regulating', 'global warming is a hoax', and 'we need to build lots of nuclear power starting 10 years ago'...nuclear power is very acceptably safe and would be more so if (again) the government got out of the way.

The lock-tight, rock-solid phalanx of opinion thus amongst some of our most highly technically educated folks is breathtaking.

I could be wrong, but my impression is that Tom is not a techie. His bio at Post Carbon says he's got a degree from the London School of Economics, so perhaps he's an economist or political scientist?

Bad Science: The Short Life and Weird Times of Cold Fusion
By Gary Taubes

A 2004 review of Gary Taubes' book:

Gary Taubes Has A Lot of Explaining To Do, November 7, 2004
By  JohnyC (USA)

This review is from: Bad Science: The Short Life and Weird Times of Cold Fusion (Hardcover)

Well, now it's 2004, eleven years after Gary Taubes eulogy to Cold Fusion, "Bad Science : The Short Life and Weird Times of Cold Fusion". Unfortunately for Mr. Taubes, science eventually sorts things out and figures out what's real and what's not real. Well, now fifteen years after the big Pons & Fleischmen announcement, it turns out that Cold Fusion is on the cusp of regaining legitmacy in the scientific community. Not only has the U.S. Navy revealed a decade of clandestine Cold Fusion research, but numerous reputable labs around the world have verified that the Cold Fusion is real.

While a well written, and fairly well researched book, Mr. Taubes' burial of Cold Fusion is going to more of a historical artifact in the long saga of Cold Fusion than the definitive last word for this controversal field of science. Seems like Mr. Taubes is going to have to update this book soon, with an admission that he missed the mark in 1993.

Well it has now been 23 years since Pons and Fleischman made their famous announcement and we are no closer to proving cold fusion than we were when Taubes wrote his book. I really don't think he should worry about updating it just yet.

Ron P.

The 17th International Conference on Cold Fusion is August 12-17 in Korea. Let's see what news comes out of that.

The Japanese and the Italians are doing well with heat from nickel powder and hydrogen. The owners of oil, natural gas, and coal companies will not allow research into heat from nickel and hydrogen in the U.S.. That's OK the U.S. is only one place in a big world.

The owners of oil, natural gas, and coal companies will not allow research into heat from nickel and hydrogen in the U.S.

Does that make any sense to you? How would they even go about enforcing that? Do they buy up all the nickel? Do they have hit-men that take out anyone that manages to purchase both hydrogen and nickel?

How do they do it? One example from around 2001, a lab rat who excelled at icp-mass spec in a geology lab in eastern Canada was given urine samples from Canadian veterans of GWar One. She found not only depleted Uranium, but Plutonium, Neptunium and and Americium in old urine samples. Possibly the US manufacturors had mixed in some submarine waste with the depleted UR 238 used in the shells.

This was a geology lab at the University of Newfoundland. http://stgvisie.home.xs4all.nl/VISIE/atlanticlab.html



Time passed, her data went into reports and hit papers. She was suddenly out of a job. Her web site prior was all about her equipment.


I could also say Dr. Barbara McClintock, Dr. Rosalie Bertell and Dr.Alice Stewart. Nobel prize long after research done and her research savaged often, Right Livelihood prize and no obituaries after death, especially nothing in Globe and Mail or Toronto Star, and Dr. Stewart aslo won the Right Livelihood prize.

2009 interview with Gary Taubes:


Daily Bell: Bad Science: The Short Life and Weird Times of Cold Fusion (1993) ...

Taubes: This was about the erroneous claim in 1989 of cold fusion by two scientists at the University of Utah and the firestorm that followed. I ended up interviewing some 300 people involved, and described how and why it came about, and how it played out among the scientists, the politicians and in the press. Cold fusion was a non-existent phenomenon. It was the product of wishful thinking and very, very bad science. The catch is that it promised salvation - cheap, clean infinite energy - which is what made it so enticing. As I predicted at the end of the book, that kind of promise would lure people to it long after it became obvious to any reasonable scientist that it was simply wrong, and so interest in the subject would keep going indefinitely, although it would asymptotically approach zero as the years went by. Twenty years later, that prediction was dead on. . .

Daily Bell: Explain the term "pathological science" if you don't mind?

Taubes: It is a term invented by the Nobel Laureate Irving Langmuir to describe what he called "the science of things that aren't so." Cold fusion is a classic example of pathological science: it doesn't exist. It's a non-existent phenomenon, but that didn't stop dozens, maybe even hundreds of researchers from studying it or publishing papers about it, etc. And those researchers, as Langmuir put it, were mostly the ones who "are tricked into false results by a lack of understanding about what human beings can do to themselves in the way of being led astray by subjective effects, wishful thinking or threshold interactions."

Yup. They've been saying stuff like this for years. In 2004, there was a great deal of excitement because the DOE ordered a review of cold fusion. But the results found that cold fusion was still where it was in 1989. Even those who supported it admitted that the results were not repeatable, the magnitude of the effect has not increased over the years, and the quality of the research is poor.

The fact that the effect is so erratic suggests that even if it's real, it will be a very long time before it provides anything practical, if it ever does.

I think this is going to be another Blacklight Power. In another ten years, we'll probably still be talking about it, but it won't be any closer to mainstream acceptance or practical results.

Dekalion is moving there operation from Greece to Vancouver, Canada. Very odd.

Well the sci-fi channel seems to be based out of Vancouver, like attracts like.

google "nesmont and gold" and then "Bre-X" and it will be obvious.

Re: The coming glut in oil - and its impact

This story appeared on the NYT web site yesterday. There's another article by the same author on the companion to the NYT, the International Herald Tribune:

When the Choice Is Jobs or the Environment

Both refer to the recent report by Leonardo Maugeri regarding future oil production, in which the author claimed that oil production will rise substantially above today's level. I submitted a comment about the second article...

E. Swanson

The same article appeared in the Toronto Globe and Mail last evening.

...while the truth was still putting on it's shoes :-/

I am regularly dismayed by the articles that I have been seeing in the Globe and Mail. They used to have a reputation as a serious paper.

Curiously, the Ottawa Citizen published an article today under the title "Tempering US Shale Potential" by Yaduallah Hussein. A highlighted quote states "The world will not find itself awash in oil (shale or otherwise)". This article may still present a scenario that is on the optimistic side, but it certainly is far more credible than a lot of the stuff that we have been seeing. And this is from a Postmedia publication - go figure.


From up top: "Assumption Parish Sheriff Mike Waguespack said Thursday he is now concerned the sinkhole is close to a well containing 1.5 million barrels of liquid butane, a highly volatile liquid that turns into a highly flammable vapor upon release. A breach of that well, he said, could be catastrophic."

If you want to follow the developing story this is THE web site: http://assumptionla.wordpress.com/

The DNR order calls for a "relief well". I think “evaluation well” would be more appropriate. Relief well would imply they know the cause of the problem and a way to fix it. Neither has been offered yet. No indication yet exactly where they’ll drill. It will be interesting to see what drilling contractor they'll use. Getting private insurance will be tricky. This should be more dangerous than killing a blowout.

I’m planning to drill a well about 6 miles from the sink hole. But I just found out the parish may not allow it. There's no risk of the sink hole affecting my well or vice versa. But the parish doesn’t have that data. The seismic clearly shows the salt dome doesn't extend under my location. I'll try to meet with the parish rep this weekend. If I pick up any juicy insider info I’ll post when I return.


I would NOT want to be 6 miles (10 km) from 1.5 million barrels of butane when pressure is reduced.

I am trying to think through the physics of a phase change if, say, a 2 or 3 meter hole developed with 1 bar (atmosphere) pressure. Ground temperatures are higher than needed to transform butane to gas at 1 bar. That delta in temperature could provide the energy for phase change (I would have to look up tables, and not enough time ATM)

My first guess is an "explosive" expansion that would rapidly enlarge the hole. If no immediate spark, a rapidly enlarging ball of butane would develop with the surface of the ball (and some distance in) would be between the upper and lower explosive limits. (Distant memory - butane has a wide band between LEL & UEL).

Something close to a fuel-air bomb could develop in XX seconds if there is no immediate spark. The results could rival Texas City and Halifax for the largest non-nuclear explosion.

Best Hopes for delaying the well,


Something close to a fuel-air bomb could develop in XX seconds if there is no immediate spark.

My thoughts exactly:



Discovery channel demo:


Of course, the volume of NGL's in a fuel-air bomb is tiny compared to the potential volumes they are talking about.

Even visiting the Parish, I would recommend staying at least 15 to 18 miles from the sinkhole.

That is far enough away to very likely survive a, say 100 kt explosion with no more than minor injuries.

Best Hopes for All of Assumption Parish


PS: Start pumping that butane out *NOW*

I think the rate limiting reactant might be oxygen. It might start as a fuel air explosive (0.5-2.5 kt range) then switch to a BLEVE (Video). The heat pulse and shock wave would probably extend 2-3 miles.

IMHO, the two greatest variables are

1) How long is spark ignition delayed ?

2) What are the characteristics of the enlarging hole ? i.e. How quickly does butane gas + entrained droplets of butane enter the "butane ball" ?

Liquid to gas phase change outside the storage cavern (the entrained droplets) would drive quick expansion of the butane ball, and some limited convection mixing with air via turbulence.

I could see 95+% of the butane escape in one minute if the hole enlarges quickly - and if the delta between gas phase @ 1 bar and ambient temperature of the butane is greater than the energy required for phase change. My "gut" says it is.

I have almost no knowledge of the structural properties of rock salt. How quickly does it fracture, etc. ?

The volume of butane that escapes per-ignition is the limiting factor. The dynamics of combustion may do a good job of mixing butane with air (first & secondary combustion) or not - but all butane out of the hole will burn within a few seconds once started.

The upper limit of the force of the explosion is pretty high, IMVHO.


Vaporizing butane requires heat energy, i.e. once it starts evaporating it starts cooling. So there should be some selflimiting to the rate of release. A big blast isn't particularly likely, but probably can't be ruled out, so it is best to stay away if you don't need be nearby.

Without looking it up (see below when I did), the delta between the ambient temperature of the liquid butane (my guess above 80F) and the boiling point of butane at 1 bar is greater than the heat of vaporization.

If so, then there is no self limiting in the vaporization. No heat has to be absorbed from the surroundings - the butane is hot enough to energetically "flash boil" once pressure is reduced.

The limits are in the pressure gradient at the breach hole.

Boiling butane creates pressure that will keep the liquid butane behind it still liquid (pressure @ multiple bars). But that same "explosive" boiling expels the butane gas (within entrained droplets) and potentially expands the hole (what is the mechanical strength & shock resistance of damp rock salt ???)

That is why the cavern could empty so VERY quickly once breached.


BP of butane-n is -0.4 C at 1 bar. Latent Heat of Evaporation at boiling point 386 kJ/kg. Specific heat 1.675 kJ/kgK

Assume ambient temperature of +29.6 C (30 C above BP). 30 x 1.675 = 50.25 kJ/kg of "excess heat energy". This is much less than the latent heat of evaporation - so the butane would NOT flash boil.

    My assumption was wrong.

It would "boil strongly" but not flash boil.

Alan/wt - As that old curse goes: may you live in interesting times. Just have to wait to see how it unfolds. I may have to sit the rig 24/7 when the time comes. Many rigs hands have been told "Don't worry" by some suit sitting in an office 300 miles away. This may require some onsite confidence building. Difficult to speculate on the relative risk: might be more likely to be hit by a drunk while going for dinner than seeing the area turn into a giat Bic lighter. This is the land of the "drive thu daiquiri" shops, remember. There are those times on a well when you know the situation is safe and there are times when you should run like hell. The trick is to recognize that usually short transition period. LOL.

Still can't get details. But now I wonder about the order from DNR to drill a relief well. Pure speculation but I wonder if they already know there's a problem with the butane storage wells. Maybe they're already showing signs of failure. One safety procedure would be to set "storm chokes" in the wells that would automatically stop a blowout (sometimes). That's what they do when a hurricane blows into the GOM. Maybe if I play my cards right I can get a local parish biggie to let me get a close up look. Film at 11. LOL

Hope to delay my well??? Hush your mouth, son. Rockman's job isn't to not drill wells. I'll probably be at greater risk by slipping on muddy location boards with my crutches. LOL.

Just speculation, but

1) The explosion would start at one point of the butane ball of gas (rapidly expanding with inertia). Very likely the spark ignition would be at ground level.

2) The flame front would advance pretty rapidly, but the shock of the beginning explosion would advance at the speed of sound in butane gas. I suspect that the shock wave would arrive to the far side (top) of the butane ball before the flame front did. This would promote greater mixing of butane & air before the flame front arrived.

3) As the surface of the ball exploded, butane gas left on the inside would be forced at hypersonic speeds into surrounding air, at much elevated temperatures. The residual gas inside the butane ball would likely burn/explode faster than the surface gas, creating a sharper pressure pulse, even if the mass is smaller (could well be larger).

4) The residual butane left in the cavern would just form a large flame that should burn out in minutes.

If spark ignition is delayed till most of the butane is out of the ground (XX seconds), a 100 kt explosion seems quite possible to me.

Pump the butane out *NOW*

And add a spark ignition source on the edge of the sinkhole. Better quick ignition than seconds later.


Emergency flaring? Then again, what if relieving the pressure actually caused a collapse? Whoops.

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

- Robert Burns, 1785

Alan - Actually one of the constant concerns on a rig is to have a sudden volatile gas discharge that isn't immediately ignited. Usually some sort of automatic sparker or flare equipment. A small flash is typically survivable. But letting a huge volume escape and accumulate and then ignite can be devastating. As per the discussion of O2 being a limiting factor: allowing the butane to spread over a very large area before ignition and you might see the glow from the French Quarter. LOL.

And hear the bang !

I suspect our windows will survive.


Strange things happen when pressure tanks vent ...

Once saw snow in July when a propane tank vented into fog. PV=nRT.

It's also strange the MSM only picked up this story when there was a hint of danger. Sat on it for 2 months.

S - Let's just say the state/parish aren't exactly welcoming the MSM with open arms. There's only one road in...the little town is right on the edge of the swamp. And I've heard rumors of an official no fly zone other than authorized aircraft. That's why if I have a chance to get close it will have to be under someone's wing. An important someone.

Rock - If you see anything like these, take a picture.

ROCKMAN; the first eye witness to the Big Bang!

Hmmm, are there many thunderstorms in that area around this time of year? Might make things interesting.


When I saw the Nville dome xsection in the Assumption Parish blog posted ppt, I was shocked you could permit a solution mining well that close, 300', from the salt boundary. It's likely that the cavern got connected to the sediments, causing the collapse. On the section the sinkhole directly overlies the near vertical salt flank about 400' offset from the well location.

Looked at the DNR regs: "Salt Periphery. Without exception or variance to these rules and regulations, the minimum separation between the walls of a salt cavern at any point and the periphery of the salt stock shall not be less than 300 feet."

With conventional surface seismic, you're never going to position a steep salt wall with the needed precision to snuggle right up to that limit. Even with salt proximity borehole seismic using surface sources, that's pushing it hard. IOW, how accurate could the salt map in the permit application be?

Presumably the operators have a more accurate picture from borehole sources postdrill or from other nearby wellbores, but putting a solution mine this close to the flank would give me the willies, especially if you decided to use it for NORM disposal as this one apparently was.

This one will keep the lawyers busy for decades (e.g. Lake Peigneur).

Just hoping this doesn't reach the storage wells.

Just to make sure everyone gets NOLA’s point: every geologist who has ever worked a salt dome is laughing himself silly over those distances. Even a 300’ “safety” zone is joke in most cases. And less than 40 miles away another screw up that got almost no public attention. For two years I was drilling around the edge of Choctaw Dome in Iberville Parish. Choctaw is also an SPR reserve. The feds also have a rule about not storing oil in a cavity any closer than 300’ from the edge of the salt. Woops….got within 30’ and guess what: millions of bbls of tax payer oil disappeared. Other than hearing about it from field hands I never saw one public report. Not sure of the volume but they did transfer some of the oil to other storage facilities.

Search Google Map for Bayou Corne and you’ll see a very nice little subdivision within a few thousand feet of the sink hole. Very cute street names: Crawfish Stew, Jambalaya, Sauce Piquant, etc. The Assumption Ph web site will show exactly where the sink hole is.

This web-page by one of the pipeline companies gives an exact location;


On the "relief well," I suppose they can get an accurate survey of the cavern and demonstrate failure, but then what? Plugging the cavern will keep the cement contractors busy for a long time. Is there another solution besides letting it run it's course?

I'm optimistic that it will stop growing soon, but if it doesn't, several storage and disposal facilities are endangered, not to mention people's homes, businesses, and jobs.

Haven't seen this posted anywhere here, though it's a bit late (Aug 22).

N-Solv receives new round of funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC):

For more information about n-Solv see http://www.n-solv.com/technology.php

I personally don't see this pilot going anywhere (as do many R&D colleagues of mine), but I guess we'll see what happens.

Also for those who wonder why getting bitumen out of the ground qualifies for "sustainable development" monies, while the news briefs claim SDTC is all about the environment they are also allowed to give funds for projects for "economical sustainability".

More Abandoned Children as Europe Austerity Wears On

As the euro zone debt crisis deepens and austerity measures take their toll across Europe, the number of young children and babies abandoned across the region has increased, according to local charities.

The rise in the abandonment of infants across Europe is most visible in the spread of “baby hatches” or “boxes” across Europe, where unwanted infants are left anonymously.

The phenomenon was previously more prevalent among immigrants, but it is becoming more widespread among financially desperate members of the local population.

The 'baby box' returns to Europe

Boxes where parents can leave an unwanted baby, common in medieval Europe, have been making a comeback over the last 10 years. Supporters say a heated box, monitored by nurses, is better for babies than abandonment on the street - but the UN says it violates the rights of the child.

CBO drilling revenue projection differs with industry estimates

A Congressional Budget Office report finds that opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other federal land would bring modest federal revenues, despite more optimistic projections by the oil and gas industry.

If opened to drilling, the refuge and parts of the Atlantic, Pacific and Florida coasts together would yield $7 billion over the next decade, the CBO said. That's less than 5% of the $150 billion the federal budget already stands to get over that period from oil and gas leases on federal land already open to drilling.

Opening more of the American coastline to oil and gas development would yield an additional $2 billion over 10 years, to be divided between federal and state authorities, the CBO said.


Apparently this CBO report was requested by Paul Ryan (R-Wis). It will be interesting (and mildly amusing) to see how the "drill baby drill" crowd will spin this report.

How much federal revenue (and oil industry profits) will result from opening these areas depends absolutely on how much economically recoverable oil is found. And no one, not the USGS or anyone else, knows that answer. Estimates of undiscoved oil are at best only educated guesses, based on very limited data.

My own personal opinion is that overall the USGS estimates are OK on the upside, but they don't suffienctly weight the downside. In other words, their maximum case is probably OK as to what could be there. But their minimum case and mean case tend to be too high. I say this even though I know several of the USGS guys, and I've been known to drink a beer (or 2 or 3 or...)with them when they're in town. They are good geologists, but mostly come from an academic background. People who drill wells for a living soon learn to be humble. The earth is full of surprises, some are nice surprises and some are not. It is best to allow for those surprises.

People also don't understand those USGS numbers, or in many cases deliberately pretend not to understand them. This is true on both sides of the debate. Hence the MSM is full of distortions, either unintentional or deliberate. Dave Houseknecht, one of the key players at the USGS, once gave a hilarious talk about their ANWR estimate. He would show a headline from one side of the debate: "USGS says ANWR oil could ......blah blah". Then Dave told us "no, what we really said was..." Then another headline from the other side: "USGS says ANWR oil would only....yada yada". Then Dave says "in this case they twisted our numbers as....". Headline: "USGS estimates....." Dave: "I honestly don't have a clue where they got that from." Like I said, it was a hilarious talk, but also very sad.

From the article ...

... For its calculations, the CBO cited estimates of 8 billion barrels of oil within the Arctic Refuge. However, the Energy Information Administration — the research and analysis arm of the Energy Department — says the amount is more likely 1.9 billion to 4 billion barrels.

Using the higher estimate, the CBO found that opening the ecologically sensitive wildlife refuge to oil and gas production would yield $5 billion over the next 10 years — 50% to 90% of which would go to Alaska under current law.

Yes, I saw that. Not sure what your point is? I'm not disagreeing with the CBO estimate. Their guess is as good as yours or mine.

Note that there is almost certainly some oil in ANWR. Point Thomson is a known gas/condensate/oil field which almost certainly extends at least a short way into ANWR. There are at least a couple of other small known but presently un-economic oil accumulation immediatly adjacent to ANWR (eg. BP's Sourdough propect). However, it is entirely possible that the amount of recoverable oil in ANWR is much less than the pro-development people would have us believe.

My point is that all of these estimates of how much oil and how much revenue there is to be had from any of these areas are just guesses. Anyone (on either side of the debate) who claims to know for sure is full of bull poop.

Using the higher estimate, the CBO found that opening the ecologically sensitive wildlife refuge to oil and gas production would yield $5 billion over the next 10 years — 50% to 90% of which would go to Alaska under current law

Yes, I saw that. Not sure what your point is?

can't speak for Seraph but perhaps his point is this? That sum pales in comparison to what it costs to clean up let alone restore sensitive wildlife areas once they have been inadvertently damaged by an accidental spill, eh?


BP oil spill costs to hit $40bn

Company increases estimate from the Deepwater Horizon explosion by $7.7bn

IMHO the true costs of BAU far far outweigh the benefits but I guess that's just me...


Seem like mums the word on National Coverage? Some Local coverage when it affects a local plants.

Crime Wave Engulfs Syria as Its Cities Reel From War

ALEPPO, Syria — The consequences of the war here have become familiar: neighborhoods shelled, civilians killed and refugees departed. But in the background, many Syrians describe something else that has them cowering with fear: a wave of lawlessness not unlike the crime wave Iraq experienced during the conflict there.

From Dara’a, near the Jordanian border, to Homs, Damascus and here in Syria’s commercial capital — the fighting has essentially collapsed much of the civilian state. Even in neighborhoods where skirmishes are rare, residents say thieves prey on the weak, and police stations no longer function because the officers have fled.

... Things fall apart, the center cannot hold ...

Heard of similar happenings during the economic collapse in Argentina

Regarding Protection and Planned Relocations in the Context of Climate Change , above, I just read/skimmed the paper (pdf here) which focuses mostly on the processes involved with relocating perhaps millions of people, and on the impacts on those being relocated. It only briefly touches on those 'accepting' refugees, primarily as a result of climate change.

Pages 28-30 are interesting. Some excerpts:

10. Communities to be relocated as well as others affected by the relocation, such as host communities, should be consulted and measures taken to ensure that their rights are upheld in all phases of the resettlement process, and that the arrival and resettlement of relocated communities does not cause social tensions or disputes...

Protection and human rights:

13. Persons to be relocated are entitled to and should be supported in claiming and exercising their rights and provided with effective remedies, including unimpeded access to the justice system, in case of violations or when conflicts emerge within or between communities affected by the relocation.

14. Relevant authorities should ensure that persons to be relocated have access to public services on a non-discriminatory basis...

17. Governments are responsible for acquiring land for resettlement of communities who must be relocated. In this respect the government must consider the safety and environmental integrity of the new site(s) and ensure that the rights of both those resettled and the communities which host them are upheld. This may often require investments in the host areas to create alternative income sources for both the host and resettled populations. In particular, authorities must take measures to ensure that the land chosen for resettlement is not vulnerable to future climate-related hazards, to minimize potential future displacement...

One wonders how accepting communities are going to be when faced with a permanent increase in population, cultural adjustments, competition for jobs and other resources, this in what will likely be an already resource constrained environment. Some hints from a recent case:

Five Years Later, Houstonians Conflicted About Katrina

They came by the tens of thousands, forced from homes by a wall of water and rescued from the horrors of mass shelters only after days of suffering. Bus after bus deposited throngs of the poorest people from one of America's poorest cities into Houston — perhaps the only nearby metropolis with the wherewithal to handle the influx. Others from Louisiana, those with more means, had fled to Texas even before the storm hit land.

The uneasy arrangement was a shotgun marriage from the beginning: ...

...Five years later, residents of the Bayou City remain conflicted about the experience: deeply proud of their role yet suspicious of the newcomers' impact, according to Rice University researchers who have explored the effects of the historic population replanting on Houston's economy, crime, social services and collective psyche. Despite the city's lauded efforts in comforting the Louisiana diaspora, Houston Mayor Annise Parker did not mark Sunday's Katrina anniversary in any official way. “We put out the welcome mat and stepped in to lend a hand to our neighbors in need," she says of the massive relief effort the city mounted as exiles poured in, "but Katrina was not our disaster.”

"...not our disaster"? May you live in even more interesting times :-/

Belgian nuclear chief 'sceptical' reactor can be restarted

The head of Belgium's federal agency for nuclear safety AFCN said on Friday he was "sceptical" that an ageing reactor closed over fears of cracks could be restarted.

According to French-language daily Le Soir, a crack in the protective vessel surrounding the core of between 15 and 20 millimetres (0.6 and 0.8 inches) was discovered during a test in June. There has been no denial of this report.

According to the agency, repairs are "practically impossible" and are "not an option" for fear of creating new tensions "which we must avoid at all costs."

Installing a replacement meanwhile has never been attempted anywhere because of the problem of high radiation levels.

The agency is also mulling the permanent closure "in the worst case" of a second reactor in the country's south near Liege.

The tests showed "faults in the steel base material" on which the reactor vessel is mounted, the AFCN said.

The Dutch firm, Rotterdam Drydocks, that made the vessels is out of business, which has amplified concerns about others it delivered in Europe and in the Americas.

Neutron embrittlement is not your friend. And if the welds were not fully stress relieved, then it gets worse. Even if they were fully stress relieved, the design could have them under enough stress to make the neutron damage worse anyway.

"9 million inhabitants within a radius of 75 kilometres (47 mi)"


So, reward for running the plant anyway if nothing goes wrong; handsome certificate in a quality plastic frame.

Reward for running the plant anyway if it lets loose; 9 million people screaming for your head.

I know which way I'd be leaning.

US will not prosecute Goldman Sachs for fraud

The US Justice Department has said it will not prosecute Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs or its employees in a financial fraud probe.

"The department and investigative agencies ultimately concluded that the burden of proof to bring a criminal case could not be met based on the law and facts as they exist at this time,'' the department said.

The Justice Department's decision capped a good day for Goldman as the Securities and Exchange Commission decided not to file charges against the firm over a $1.3bn subprime mortgage portfolio.

A Senate subcommittee chaired by Senator Carl Levin in April 2011 found that Goldman marketed four sets of complex mortgage securities to banks and other investors but that the firm failed to tell clients that the securities were very risky.

The Senate panel said Goldman secretly bet against the investors' positions and deceived the investors about its own positions to shift risk from its balance sheet to theirs.

The Senate panel probe turned up company emails showing Goldman employees deriding complex mortgage securities sold to banks and other investors as "junk'' and "crap".

Levin questioned the accuracy of testimony Goldman Sachs executives gave to Congress about whether the firm steered investors toward mortgage securities it knew likely would fail.

... but if your 'little people' ...

City police arrest 41, collect thousands of dollars in warrant sweep

York City police say they arrested 41 people during a citywide sweep Tuesday in which they targeted people with outstanding warrants.

Police said many of them paid a total of $9,306 in fines and costs on 116 warrants for offenses such as parking, traffic and disorderly conduct.

Ten people went to York County Prison after they didn't pay their fines or post collateral, police said.

I think some of those "disorderly conduct" charges will turn out to be against Occupy protestors.

Despite More Oil Production, Gas Prices Climb

... Chief economist John Felmy of the American Petroleum Institute, which represents major oil companies, said Friday the reason prices have gone up at the pump is because crude oil prices, which are subject to worldwide forces, have risen from $77 per barrel in early June to $92 thisweek. [Shh ... Don't mention that the June 28th quote was $77 and June 29 was $92, early June was $83]

... pay no attention to the burning refinery behind the curtain.

And WTI is only relevant to North American Mid-continent refiners and producers, since refiners are paying WTI based prices for crude, but generally charging Brent based prices for refined products.

S – It never ceases to amaze me when folks throw around numbers like “$77/bbl”, “$82/bbl” and “$92/bbl” as if those numbers mean anything nationally. I have not sold one bbl of my coastal Texas or La. crude for less than $99 for a couple of years. For a while I was getting over $116/bbl. Even worse folks often aren’t tossing out the actual sales price of any crude in the country but what’s being posted for the futures market.

Obviously folks are going to be confused when someone tells them crude is selling for $25 per bbl less than the refiners are actually paying for the crude they are turning into the gasoline they burning.

“The California refinery disruption has an influence on gasoline speculation even though California is separate market from the rest of the United States in terms of formulation,” Goss said.

So are they saying that prices are rising because of speculation and not because the Richmond refinery is taking out somewhere between 50,000 bpd and 150,000 bpd of the US gasoline supply for three months? A quick calculation indicates that the US will lose 4.5 to 13.5 million barrels of gasoline unless otherwise made up by other refiners. Since almost all US refiners not undergoing maintenance were already at or near maximum capacity, the only hope for the US is to start importing gasoline if possible - and fast.

If the West Coast takes imports originally destined for the East Coast, then yes, prices in the rest of the country would rise - speculators or not.

What do you think of the possibility that there will be moves to restrict the exports of gasoline and distillates? Of course, before we can restrict product exports, we have to import the crude.

What!? We won't be net petroleum exporters anymore?!

Fairly low possibility of restricting imports if the refinery can keep going, say at 50% of capacity. It seems that the West Coast gasoline suppliers are already trying to line up imports, possibly pulling some that were intended for the East Coast or a foreign destination to the West.

In the worst case scenario, say the refinery is totally shut for three months, I would say there is some possibility of limited export controls. Possibly in the form of requiring swaps, that is refiners can only export gasoline if they can line up a foreign supplier to export to the West Coast.

Ever wonder what Gary Taubes' blood work showed?


I’ve been tied up the past month, finishing and closing my New York Times Magazine article on sugar and high fructose corn syrup, It came out in the newspaper today. But before the sugar article took over every spare minute of my life,  my wife, Sloane, a source of wisdom and humor (and patience) in the family, strongly suggested I get my blood lipids checked and post the results for those who were dismayed or discouraged by my choice not to do so on the Oz show. Sloane wasn’t the only one to suggest this was a good idea. Some of those commenting on my blogs were insistent, to put it mildly.

So it took me awhile to get to a Quest lab with a prescription. Then it took another week for the results to come back. That was three weeks ago. Now I finally have the time to post them. Keep in mind as you go through these that I do indeed eat three eggs with cheese, bacon and sausage for breakfast every morning, typically a couple of cheeseburgers (no bun) or a roast chicken for lunch, and more often than not, a ribeye or New York steak (grass fed) for dinner, usually in the neighborhood of a pound of meat. I cook with butter and, occasionally, olive oil (the sausages). My snacks run to cheese and almonds. So lots of fat and saturated fat and very little carbohydrates. A deadly diet, according to Dr. Oz. Without further ado, here are my numbers,

Total Cholesterol: 204
LDL: 116
HDL: 68
Triglycerides: 64

Triglycerides to HDL ratio: 0.94, indicative of Type “A” LDL particles* (the large, non-dangerous type). And his particle size test confirmed Type “A.”

*3.5 appears to be a good dividing line between predominantly Type "A" (below 3.5) and predominantly Type "B" (above 3.5). Ideally, the ratio should be at 2.0 or lower.

in the DB:

Since 2002, subsidence in North Jakarta has been more than one meter. The area could sink below sea level in a decade. The JCDS findings show around 40 percent of land in Jakarta already below sea level.

More than 1 meter of subsidence in 10 years... due to excess water withdrawal from aquafiers. Neat... Better build that wall.

One Fifth of California's Electricity Came from Renewable Sources So Far This Year

A new report from the California Public Utilities Commission found that more than 20 percent of the state's electricity was generated from renewable sources in the first half of 2012.

From January to June, California added more than 330 megawatts of electricity from clean power sources such as photovoltaic panels. By the end of this year, CPUC anticipates the installation of more than 2,700 MW.

Uh,, shouldn't that be MwHs (megawatt hours)? Just askin'.

No, the numbers given are MW's of capacity. The installaion of new capacity purportedly shows progress in increasing the share of usage (MWH's) provided by renewables (which is what the 20% number is based on). Of course, those numbers include purchased renewables credits.

I think the actual report is that 1/5th of the 3 large IOU's power came from renewables, not CA as a whole.

Nice. And it should continue to grow. With the low solar panel prices and the Federal tax-credit, PV systems are being installed at a decent rate. I hope wind continues to grow fast as well.

Never saw this phenomenon before...raft of pumice on the ocean with a surface area > 6x that of Rhode Island:


Reinforces greenish's observation that there are still many surprises out there...

Not the first time that has happened, by any means. A few years back someone sent me some photos taken on a sailing trip of a very similar large pumice raft. In some cases, the floating pumice gets colonized by critters and sea plants, and carried a long ways. The linked article says this sort of thing happens every decade or so.

Romney picks Paul Ryan of Wisconsin for VP.


Dick Cheney says he worships the ground that Paul Ryan walks on-- his words (just watch the video below)-- and Paul Ryan says he feels the same way about Ayn Rand, a self-proclaimed anti-Christ (now watch the video way below). Ryan is Wall Street's dream candidate for a complete takeover of America. By forcing him down Romney's throat today-- even if it's going to turn out to be as failed a bid as it now looks-- Ryan will be set up as the GOP presidential nominee for 2016. The Big Business interests and Tea Party financiers who Ryan represents are getting exactly what they want...

Ryan won his seat in 1998, at the age of twenty-eight. Like many young conservatives, he is embarrassed by the Bush years. At the time, as a junior member with little clout, Ryan was a reliable Republican vote for policies that were key in causing enormous federal budget deficits: sweeping tax cuts, a costly prescription-drug entitlement for Medicare, two wars, the multibillion-dollar bank-bailout legislation known as TARP. In all, five trillion dollars was added to the national debt. In 2006 and 2008, many of Ryan’s older Republican colleagues were thrown out of office as a result of lobbying scandals and overspending. Ryan told me recently that, as a fiscal conservative, he was “miserable during the last majority” and is determined “to do everything I can to make sure I don’t feel that misery again.”

The Ryan family made it's mark building roads:

The Ryans were major road builders, and today Ryan, Inc., started in 1884 by Paul’s great-grandfather, is a national construction firm. The historic Courthouse section of Janesville is still thick with members of the Ryan clan.

..roads... Why couldn't it have been railroads (like Ayn Rand's Dagny Taggart, Atlas Shrugged)? Still, a bit spooky...

Edit: Romney just introduced Ryan as "...the next President of the United States!". It don't get any better than this, folks.

I can take the drought, warmest US July on record, higher food prices, brent back up to 113, arctic ice extent probably going to set new record this yr. over 2007, but a Romney-Ryan ticket? Now that's darn right scarey!

According to a recent WSJ article, the numbers of people in the undecided category is so small that both campaigns are going to primarily focus on efforts to mobilize their respective bases to get out and vote. In this context, the Ryan selection makes sense.

Just parking this reminder here because it's convenient...

I know it's tough in an election year, but please, folks - this isn't the place for political rants. Criticism of Paul Ryan's energy policy is fine. Posts about how stupid conservatives are and how much you hate them are not. We'd like to keep the same old political partisanship to a minimum here, if only because it's taken over so many other sites.

Is this why Heisenberg's post was removed?

If you mean in the August 11 Drumbeat...yes, and so were a couple of others.

If you mean in this thread, he removed his post himself.