Drumbeat: August 13, 2012

Will high oil costs permanently ruin world’s economy?

WASHINGTON — For President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney, the race for the White House seems indisputably centered around one issue: Who can do more to bolster the sputtering U.S. economy.

But to some experts, spikes in oil prices over the last several years have signaled an ominous turn that could make it nigh on impossible for any president to expand the economy as it has in the past.

Unlike previous oil price jumps stemming from turmoil affecting Middle East oil producers, prices surged over the last eight years because tightening supplies couldn’t keep pace with Third World demand, researchers have concluded.

Oil Gains Amid Concern Mideast Tensions May Curb Supply

Brent crude rose to a three-month high amid concern that Middle East political tension may disrupt oil supplies.

Brent climbed as much as 1.9 percent after the U.S. said one of its guided-missile destroyers collided with an oil tanker near the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. Israel will hold home defense drills this week as the Haaretz daily reported that the nation is considering a strike against Iran over its nuclear program. Brent has advanced 17 percent since European Union sanctions against Iran took effect last month.

N. Sea output drop sends key Brent oil to 3-month high

LONDON (Reuters) - A fall in the number of North Sea crude oil cargoes in September due to oilfield maintenance and natural decline has helped push global benchmark Brent to a three-month high and raised fears a distorted market could drive near-term prices even higher.

Alaska looks to Hawaii as customer for natural gas

For more than a year, some Alaska political leaders have been quietly pursuing an untapped market for the state's vast stores of natural gas: Hawaii.

And Hawaii, with electric bills so steep they rival those in rural Alaska, is interested.

China's oil demand uncertain on mixed economic outlook: analysts

Singapore (Platts)- China's oil demand outlook remains uncertain despite expectations that the government will do more to stimulate the economy.

Apparent oil demand -- net oil product imports plus refinery throughput -- fell to 36.84 million mt or 9 million b/d in June, the lowest level since September last year, according to Platts' calculations last month. This was a 1.9% contraction year on year.

Hedge Funds Reduce Wagers After Longest-Ever Rally: Commodities

Hedge funds trimmed bets on a commodity rally for the first time in nine weeks as signs of U.S. growth and speculation that central banks will do more to stimulate economies drove prices to a three-month high.

Gas prices rise on lower Norway, LNG imports

(Reuters) - Wholesale gas prices in Britain rose on Monday morning as the system opened under-supplied and firm oil and power prices helped lift the market, traders said.

S Korean Kogas' July LNG sales rise 16.5% on year to 2.26 mil mt

Seoul (Platts)- South Korea's state-owned Korea Gas Corp. said Monday that its sales of LNG in July rose 16.5% year on year on demand from the power sector due to higher temperatures.

One in ten Scots in fuel poverty

MORE than one in ten people in Scotland are living in fuel poverty, according to government 
figures obtained by shadow energy minister Tom Greatrex.

The Westminster MP challenged the SNP and the Scottish Government, saying more should be done to reach people struggling to pay their bills.

Iraq Daily Oil Output Reaches 3.2 Million Barrels, Minister Says

Iraq’s crude-oil production has risen to 3.2 million barrels a day and will increase as planned to 3.4 million barrels a day by year’s end Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs Hussain al-Shahristani said.

Energy industry leaders discuss technology at Woodward conference

Horizontal drilling and other technological and regulatory approvals have helped create the oil and gas boom throughout western Oklahoma, according to speakers at the Tri-State Oil & Gas Convention in Woodward.

Oil services firm Petrofac warns of contract delays

Petrofac, which designs and builds oil and gas infrastructure, counts state-run national oil companies among its largest customers.

Chief Financial Officer Tim Weller said Petrofac was seeing a slowdown in awards in Iraq and Saudi Arabia in particular, where it is bidding for contracts to construct the pipelines and plants that help extract and process oil and gas.

BP sells US refinery, Arco retail to Tesoro

LONDON (AP) — Oil company BP says it has agreed to sell its refinery in Carson, California and other West Coast assets to Tesoro Corp.

Saudi Electricity signs 700 mln riyals power deals

(Reuters) - State-owned Saudi Electricity Co is splashing out hundreds of millions of riyals to improve its power distribution network, after thousands of people suffered blackouts last month including some in two of the kingdom's biggest cities Jeddah and Riyadh.

E.ON triples net profit as nuclear past fades

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - E.ON AG, Germany's largest utility, said net profit more than tripled in the first half of the year, benefiting from a gas price deal with Russia's Gazprom and absence of charges related to Germany's exit from nuclear power.

German utilities have posted strong first-half results so far, thanks to renegotiated gas purchase contracts and higher selling prices, in a recovery from the downturn caused by the government's decision last year to shut nuclear power stations.

Is the World in Need of Iran's Oil?

Almost a month ago, the United States requested that countries stop purchasing oil from Iran, as an attempt to put pressure on Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions. Iran gets nearly 80 percent of its revenue from oil, but since the U.S. sanctions—the demand has been cut pretty drastically. So in other words, the world is still turning and oil markets aren't looking disturbed. “That’s mostly because we’re swimming in crude as it is. Saudi Arabia is overproducing. Iraq just passed Iran as OPEC’s second-largest oil producer. Libya is back. And production in the U.S. is rising faster than anyone thought.”

Eni's Iran oil imports stall

Italy's Eni has been unable to import Iranian oil for a second month running, due to bank payment and insurance problems, despite having European Union clearance to receive the oil to recover $1 billion in debts, industry sources said.

An EU ban on imports of oil from Iran came into force on July 1, but the bloc exempted Eni to allow it to recoup long-standing debts it is owned by Tehran for work it undertook in the energy sector, which are being paid in oil.

Mursi Sidelines Egypt’s Top Generals Amid Power Struggle

Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi ordered the retirement of the country’s two top generals, in his most ambitious push yet to reclaim some of the authority the military had stripped from his office.

Qatar offers Egypt $2bn loan package

Qatar has agreed to lend as much as US$2 billion (Dh7.34bn) to Egypt in an effort to buoy the country's depleted finances and support an economy ravaged by 18 months of political turmoil.

The Arabian Gulf state will become the second country after Saudi Arabia to forward a big loan to Egypt without waiting for an agreement with the IMF as insurance.

Fire-hit Chevron refinery unit may be down 6 mths-report

(Reuters) - The sole crude oil unit at Chevron Corp's Richmond, California, refinery may be shut for at least four to six months due to "extensive damage" from last week's fire, industry intelligence group IIR Energy said in a report.

In the report issued on Friday that suggested the outage could last twice as long as previously estimated, IIR Energy said investigators have found serious damage in the cooling towers, pipe racks and heater tower.

US Navy ship collides with oil tanker in Gulf

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer was left with a gaping hole on one side after it collided with an oil tanker early Sunday just outside the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

Alaska Governor Asks Salazar to Expedite Point Thomson Decision

Alaska Governor Sean Parnell asked U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to help expedite an Army Corps of Engineers decision on permits to develop the state’s Point Thomson oil and gas field after it was delayed.

What Voters Don't Know About Energy

More than half of Americans cannot name one type of renewable energy and nearly 40 percent can't identify a fossil fuel, according to New York-based research organization Public Agenda. Many wrongly think the US gets most of its oil from the Middle East, and few realize that it will be years before green energy makes up a large portion of our resource mix.

Even when there is money on the table, we are often oblivious. An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found that less than 20 percent of Americans know important details about energy efficiency rebates, tax credits, and other incentives available to them.

Peak Oil? How about Peak China?

It may be hard to believe, but it’s been a full four years since China hosted the Olympics. At the time, Beijing 2008 appeared to herald China’s return, after a 500 year hiatus, to great power status. Commentators were falling over themselves to pronounce the inevitability of China’s rise and its implications for American influence in Asia.

But is it possible we will look back on those Olympic Games as the peak of Chinese power, rather than the beginning of its rise?

World over-using underground water reserves for agriculture

The study, published in the journal Nature, found that 80 percent of the world's aquifers are being used sustainably but this is offset by heavy over-exploitation in a few key areas.

Those areas included western Mexico, the High Plains and California's Central Valley in the United States, Saudi Arabia, Iran, northern India and parts of northern China.

US drought exposes water management problems

The historic drought withering much of the United States this summer has revealed a need for strategies to better manage water supplies that could remain under severe pressure both this year and in the longer term.

Redirecting Fresh Water Raises Fears for Farmers

Prime farmland in the Sacramento River’s delta would be affected in the diversion of fresh water to the state’s more economically vital areas.

Shrinking Mississippi River Means Higher Prices

The giant American Queen has to let passengers off on a levy because the water is too shallow where it normally docks.

Huge areas of river bed sit exposed; looking like desert, causing one law maker to quip the Mississippi’s got more beaches than Florida.

Which would be funny if it wasn’t about to cost us all.

You see the Mississippi moves all sorts of things we use a lot of – like grain, oil, coal and steel.

Severe dry spell to hit Pakistan next year

Karachi: A lacklustre monsoon and the slow melting of glaciers in Pakistan’s northern altitudes may cause a severe dry spell in the country adding to economic and social woes, the latest weather forecast suggested.

Earlier, the Pakistani met office forecast that the country might witness 20 per cent more rainfall during the current monsoon season that began in July and lasts until September. On the contrary, however, the monsoon rains remain quite poor and erratic.

Ban Ki-moon launches new UN initiative to protect oceans

The UN chief announced a new project to protect oceans from pollution and over-fishing and to combat rising sea levels which threaten hundreds of millions of the world's people.

The initiative, called “Oceans Compact”, wants to tackle the the "precarious state" of the world's seas, said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Gambia: Banjul Risks Sinking As Sea Level Rises

Banjul is at risk of going under water as sea levels rise by one meter as a result of climate change and other environmental ramifications, the minister of works, constructions and infrastructures, Francis Leity Mboge warned Thursday.

Editorial: Sea-level rise must be taken seriously

Plan for the worst; hope for the best.

That's the best strategy to follow with regard to global warming, rising sea levels and development along the North Carolina coast. But our General Assembly and Gov. Bev Perdue are using a totally irresponsible approach in planning for the best and hoping that the worst doesn't happen any time soon.

Re: Will high oil costs permanently ruin world’s economy?

I'd say the answer is an obvious "YES". Still, it's good to see Peak Oil being discussed in the MSM...

E. Swanson

What about two of my favorite "example" nations - France & Denmark - that are shifting both away from oil and towards higher energy efficiency with infrastructure investments ?


If the price doubles, but you use half as much as before - the bill stays the same.

And if you "only" cut demand by a third, the price doubling is much more manageable.

However, neither nation is an island (or the only nation making such investments) and even if they can easily manage much higher oil and natural gas prices, their less wise trading partners will suffer.


Best hopes for Alan. Your posts are one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal day.

Alan,I love your posts and the work you do .Fantastic .The problem is that maths is not always the answer in the real world .Ever heard of Hermann(was it Helmut)Kahn.A one man think tank who traveled not with clothes but a suitcase full off books . When young he worked in a food store and in a few days calculated the exact size of paper bags that would be optimal for the store's customers.His boss told him that he was correct but the problem was that the woman always will(or took) the biggest bag so that they could use it bag their trash back home . So while your observations are correct but in the real world things turn to be surprisingly different. I use to think that energy will undercut economics but now I am sure that economics will undercut energy.

I read Kahn's Thermonuclear War as a teenager (see later warped development :-)

The nations that prepare to use less oil, that create oil free transportation "change the game" for themselves at least.

Avoiding Depression when most of your trading partners are in one, is difficult but possible. Japan did it during the Great Depression.

Best Hopes for the Prepared,


I am not sure but is it possible that Japan avoid the great depression because it invaded and occupied Manchuria and got many loot and slaves for their military buildup to invade central china?

That, and exporting CHEAP goods (low quality & low price).


If the price doubles, but you use half as much as before - the bill stays the same.

Too simple for the average politician.


If the price doubles, but you use half as much as before - the bill stays the same.

Not exactly, Alan. You see, if you use half as much, there is an unstated but implicit use of some "other" source of energy. You are still paying full tilt to the oil brokers, and an additional amount to other providers, be they electric, gas, or even in the case of shipping wind-powered ships (the additional cost is measured in time lost, additional manpower and, of course, build-out of ships - the new infrastructure).

So, as usual, we can see that the principal of TANSTAFL applies.

Best hopes for sustainable society.


And to add if you use half, your economy tanks and you have high unemployment,people on the street,populist(totalitarian in the later stage)politicians.Take your pick.The peak oil issue is a liquid fuel problem and not an energy problem.Also you need a MOL of liquid fuel to run the highly complex system we have built.Where do we cut,who decides?

Both of the above comments make no sense to me.

If I change my lifestyle in a way that reduces my gasoline consumption by half -- let's say I found a job closer to home -- I don't need to replace the unused gasoline with some other source of energy. I am simply using less. And now I get to spend all of the money I'm not spending on gasoline on things I enjoy more -- like eating out. Taking money out of the hands of the energy industry and putting it into the hands of local chefs and waitresses seems highly desirable in my book.

This isn't hypothetical wishful thinking. This is the story of lots folks who have moved into my functional, in-city neighborhood and have adopted an apartment-and-bicycle lifestyle.

Of course we can use less energy. And we'll be much better for it.


The changes happening in plain sight remind me that "people who say it can't be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."

+10 yourself


I think that hole in the head's comment refers to the fact that some 70% of our economic activity is consumer oriented. If a large fraction of the public reduces their individual consumption, that implies less stuff must be made and sold, which then means fewer jobs. This is similar to Keynes' claim about the paradox of thrift in which saving results in lower consumption, thus less employment, etc. Either way, my savings is another person's lost job. We have the ability to produce enough basic necessities for everyone to survive, but the distribution is based on income, not need. In an ideal free market capitalistic economy, if you don't have a job, you might as well be dead, to put it bluntly...

E. Swanson

...my savings is another person's lost job.

True enough. But isn't the premise here different. Our understanding is that, given energy descent, we will be consuming less, ready or not, prepared or not.

Thus, we've already included the other person's job being lost. Our take is, can we prepare better for the descent, can we pre-familiarize ourselves with the new reality emerging?

my savings is another person's lost job.

Unless your savings are invested in something physical. For instance you could "invest" your savings, in say better insulation, which you have calculated will over a few years time pay itself off. Or you buy solar panels, -or invest in a solar or wind farm, anticipating a future revenue stream selling the power. We have some choice as to how much of our income is consumed, physically-invested, or invested in some paper asset.

What you suggest is not saving, as Keynes would define it, but consuming something different, that is, using your money for capital investment. I think Keynes was writing about using the Bank of Serta, not Bank of America, though I'm not vary clear on Keynesian economic theory...

E. Swanson

The boundary between "savings" and "investment" can be very fuzzy. Bills under a mattress are savings, and I would claim gold bullion is as well. Buying a bond, or even putting the money in the bank, -not so sure, a third party is probably trying to invest your money then.

The key point, of course, is that our capitalist economy is incompatible with a steady state or even shrinking economy. And yet, a steady state or declining economy is mandatory if we are to have any chance of reducing our energy consumption in a meaningful way. Personally, I live on a whole lot less than I used to but am much happier and fulfilled as a result of my chosen activities and consumption patterns.

But then, there is always the job problem, which becomes an income problem because we don't have a income floor that one is entitled to regardless of one's income situation. That is what we needed decades ago and we still need it. We need a way to overcome the necessity of having a job. Another approach would be more job sharing and part time work as opposed to simply laying people off.

On an individual level, however, it is prudent to save and find ways to live a high quality of life without massive consumption and an inordinate consumer oriented life style. Let the society figure out a way to deal with that.

Taking money out of the hands of the energy industry and putting it into the hands of local chefs and waitresses seems highly desirable in my book.

This isn't hypothetical wishful thinking. This is the story of lots folks who have moved into my functional, in-city neighborhood and have adopted an apartment-and-bicycle lifestyle

Possible, but does it underpin economic growth ? Does reverse the process of globalisation underpin economic growth ? I have a hard time believing this, and still think this leads to economic contraction.

Possible, but does it underpin economic growth ? Does reverse the process of globalisation underpin economic growth ? I have a hard time believing this, and still think this leads to economic contraction.

The current paradigm of continued economic growth on a finite planet is simply unsustainable! So yes, whether we like it or not we are all headed towards a future where we are going to see massive economic contraction. Actually we are seeing it already all over the world. Europe, Middle East, China, USA, South America, etc... all of these economies are in a slump or will be soon.

We need to somehow let go of this ridiculous notion the unbridled economic growth is going to solve our problems... just look around the world and see what a mess it has caused so far! A completely new paradigm is long overdue, question is, can we come up with one that is sustainable and gives us a reasonable standard of living. Manufacturing and consuming more disposable stuff that consumes ever scarcer resources and pollutes the environment with toxic wastes is a path to complete ecological collapse! At which point economic contraction becomes the least of our problems...

Our economic growth meme is a suicide machine! STEP AWAY FROM THE MACHINE!

At which point economic contraction becomes the least of our problems...

I hope so, Fred. Greece, Italy and Spain are no glimmers of hope

And at what point do people stop worrying about a "birth dearth" too, like in that article about China:

In short, China may face the prospect, unknown in human history, of growing old before it gets rich.

You heard similar things about Greece just a couple years ago - not so much anymore.

growing old before it gets rich.

OMG! That is part of one crises converging upon us. The entitlement mentality of the wealthy!


Its just really hard to market this revelation. And the few who have thought about it, don't really have an answer to how to make the transition. We really (most of us) are stuck on this treadmill, with no obvious way to step off.
Its not clear we gotta have a contraction. In paper, at least one could smoothly transition from a growing to a steady state economy. Its just that we gotta build the culture that goes with teh steady-state one in order to do this. The current paradigm, that everyone needs a full time job just to survive, fuels the treadmill.

The current presidential campaign is about jobs, jobs, jobs, and the the inability to create sufficient jobs may decide the election. Both left and right agree that jobs are the most important issue. And that is why we are screwed as neither party can think outside the current paradigm.

True enough. In essence, we are told we must sacrifice the planet and our children's future because it is imperative that we grow at all costs. Well, we can choose to stop growth now or have it imposed on us later. If the society does not figure out a way to accommodate that reality, then tough patutie. The way I see it, the future needs to involve a great deal of sharing or a great deal of conflict and killing. My guess is that the latter will be the preferred solution.

I don't need to replace the unused gasoline with some other source of energy.

So what happens is the Chinese (and Indians) get the unused portion.

What's important is that we use whatever dwindling supply of energy we can get our hands on with which to build the future infrastructure because in the forseeable future, it'll be unavailable. The Chinese, unfortunately, are urbanizing all their peasants converting each of them from 1 unit energy from biomass to 3 units energy from fossil fuels and there's no getting around that there'll be much, much less for the rest of us.

Unless we nuke 'em, that is.

I'm not sure it translates to the whole economy level. At least not without good leadership, of which we are totally lacking. If you can get enough people to make creating an oil efficient economy a priority, then a downshift can work. But, if we just let things fall as they will, without the bulk of the poeple understanding why/what's going on, I think economic contraction is hughly likely. And it takes time to re-arrange our jobs, lifestyle, transport options etc. Which is why pro-active leadership is needed, because otherwise the job will be deferred until its too late.

Car > Bicycle requires some paint for bike lanes, some space and metal for bike racks, and some long lived infrastructure for Phase III (bike paths, bike & ped bridges).

Car > Urban Rail requires a significant investment upfront, but very long lasting (components > 30,40,50 years, tunnels > 100 years, etc.)

Truck freight > electrified RR freight as above.

Amortized, the cost of switching fuels (as above) is quite affordable and not a massive new burden,


Direct construction costs are only part of the story.

With respect to "Car > Bicycle", as someone said quite a while ago, driving costs money, but biking costs time. Lots and lots of time, see back-of-the-envelope at the link. Cutting that time down to something reasonable will often require living in the astronomical-rent district, or else putting up with a hideous, NOLA-style astronomical crime rate.

With respect to "Car > Urban Rail", that also costs plenty of time - all that walking and waiting; especially outside the weekday rush hours, or when the tram/train doesn't actually go where you need to go, or when the wrong kind of leaves fall on the line... oh, wait, that's England, but the USA's lazy civil "servants" never run short of lame excuses either. And it probably costs even more money than "Car > Bicycle" - possibly even enough to pay for a mini-fleet of cars. After all, "Urban Rail" can only exist (financially) when it links up the most absurdly overcrowded places - for which read exorbitantly costly, extravagantly overregulated tax hells (the soda police and the vast, leaden army of other big-city bureaucratic parasites don't "work" for free.)

With respect to "Car > Bicycle", as someone said quite a while ago, driving costs money, but biking costs time. Lots and lots of time, see back-of-the-envelope at the link. Cutting that time down to something reasonable will often require living in the astronomical-rent district, or else putting up with a hideous, NOLA-style astronomical crime rate.

Are you serious?! If I didn't know you by now I'd say that was a Poe!

Plug in the numbers yourself for a reality check.


Going car-free can make you a millionaire!
You're paying more for your car than you think. A typical American who goes car-free for 35 years can save over a million dollars, even adjusted for inflation, and even if they pay for taxi, bus, and car-share trips often. Use the calculator to find how much you can save in your particular situation. Yes, not everyone can go car-free, but more can do it than would care to admit. And isn't a million dollars a pretty good incentive? If work is too far away, then consider living closer to your work. And if housing costs more closer to where you work, does it cost more than the million dollars you could save by ditching your car? (ULI has a calculator that shows the combined costs of transportation and housing for a few U.S. cities). Oh, and big thanks for the plug from Get Rich Slowly, which is well worth your time.

Did you even look at Professor Haab's post? But yes, as you yourself indicate, in order to save substantially you would indeed have to ditch the car altogether. Most of the cost is nearly-fixed. Rust, insurance, and deterioration never sleep, even if you drive the thing only a very modest amount.

Despite wild, off-the-wall flimflam from advocacy organizations with axes to grind, Haab's tacit assumption would certainly be valid for almost everyone: namely, they're not going to be ditching the car altogether, but only for some trips. So they can forget the Big Savings - even the excerpt you just posted yourself basically admits that. The family is unlikely to give up taking the kids and all the equipment to the hockey and soccer games halfway across the state. Nor are they likely to lock themselves inside the house all winter, when only a handful of brashly risk-taking college students who think themselves immortal might consider the poorly plowed roads and ice-covered sidewalks or paths suitable for cycling. (This last is of course not an issue in tropical countries where it never snows.) And given that the car is not ditched altogether I see nothing at all outlandish on the back of Haab's envelope; I absolutely don't see why his post should be taken as a Poe.

Also, your own quoted excerpt seems to suggest that a person could save $1,000,000 over 35 years, or $28,600 per year, by ditching a car. I think they ditched a decimal place somewhere, or are counting "savings" that you can't actually realize. Given a typical 12000 mile annual VMT average, costing about $6600 using the IRS/AAA 55 cents/mile, $28,600 is far beyond ridiculous as a blanket figure even if it does apply to a handful of supercommuters. And one is not obliged to spend the full IRS/AAA figure - it's just an average, and as such is unduly influenced by high spenders.

In the end, I think there are reasons why the traffic is so awful even in European megacities, never mind US ones. Many people simply find the alternatives worse - regardless of what I might or might not think, and certainly regardless of what you or the advocacy group you quote might like to force them to think. And yes, that gets us right down to what seems to frustrate campaigners and advocates and drive them out of their gourds with anger: they just can't seem to force people in general to think in lockstep with them.

Had a bike problem. Fortunately, it only needed a lube that cost 75 pesos (about 7 bucks). If I had had to change the clutch, er freewheel, that would have been about 380 pesos (say 35 bucks). Now, if that had been a car, how much would my wallet be lighter? Not to mention how much I am saving on not buying fuel or gym membership.


If it works for you, go for it. Especially, as I said, in a tropical country where there is no winter, no snow and ice (which I infer from "pesos".) Just don't expect it to be relevant to this discussion on any scale that matters very much, and don't waste "psychic energy" getting angry and frustrated when other people don't take it up.

That's really the point on which I take issue with the handwaving of starry-eyed idealists. They seem to expect that other people will merrily take up their visions, when said visions don't actually make much sense in those other people's lives. For the time being, there is more to life than saving some dollars or pesos on energy or vehicle expense - which was the point of the post I cited. For most people under most circumstances in most "developed" countries, that "more to life" seems to well outweigh the expense.

After all, even in Europe, where we do see some actions taken from time to time, we mostly see a lot of pious but meaningless gob-flapping from posturing Union politicians seeking to leave political "legacies". (Right now they look like gob-flapping themselves straight into the abject failure of the whole Union project but we'll have to wait and see.) And the USA is not even Europe, and no amount of handwaving will make it into Europe. Look for example at California, which is often held up as some kind of shining light, but where the best Governor Moonbeam can get is a fantastically expensive train from nowhere to nowhere, to be paid for by magic from a position of near-bankruptcy.

Pesos - tropical Mexico. We get dry season and wet season. Dry means dust, wears chains. Wet means the potential for getting VERY wet but also roads washed out, pot holes and so on, don't get me started on the puddle that a kind cager made me go through that had a pothole in the middle. Winter, huh, try 34C and 70% hummmidity. However, if you look at countries like Holland, Denmark, the UK, they have the things you talk about and people still bike. It is something that can work for many, many people. What is lacking, in certain places, is not the right conditions but the will to make a change. It is excusitus, looking for reasons not to do it.


"A typical American who goes car-free for 35 years can save over a million dollars,"

Well, that's bogus. I did not spend 86% of my gross income (much less my net) on my car. (I just hit the employed for 35 years mark, so it was a good test.)

Of course, I don't drive a 5 series either.

Kind of weird for me to add this comment on the Oil Drum, but I don't think anybody knows me by my real name. My wife would be very annoyed about me discussing financial details publicly.
But my family has accumulated about $2 million in real estate equity over the last 28 years. We purchased our properties with the money we did not spend on cars, among other things. Right now we have 5 adults sharing one car, plus using car-share. So I don't think having about 4 less cars (right now) than most families our size directly saved us a million but most of my co-workers as engineers bought new cars every few years, with massive depreciation costs per year which we completely avoided (never bought a new car). My estimate for our family direct savings by reduced car usage/purchase would be about $40,000 per year (average 2.5 less cars per year at 10K per car) X 28 years or $700,000 compared to the engineering cohort I work with. Clearly some of my friends spent a lot more than that over the years, when stock options vest technology parking lots sprout Porsches and BMWs, which could easily have $20K depreciation in the first year.

For a general broad-brush discussion I would use at most about 2 cars, not 4. Few family units will have, need, or "need" 4 cars for very long, much less for 35 years. This is part and parcel of an ongoing quarrel I have with these discussions - cherry-picking idiosyncratic or infrequently occurring circumstances, and then generalizing from them to what the wide population ought to be doing, or possibly ought to be forced to do.

About Insurance

In some countries, comprehensive insurance policies are available for cyclists; like their counterparts for motorists, these policies cover cyclists for risks such as liability, personal injury, uninsured motorists, and theft. Unfortunately, comprehensive insurance policies for cyclists are not available in the United States

The risk of personal injury or death must be quite a lot higher for regular cyclists, so increased insurance costs, loss of income due to injury, etc, should be figured into the calculation.

Personally I don't have a car or a bike; I'm lucky that I can walk to shops for daily needs and take public transport for that special something. Going out at night is a problem because I'm afraid of getting mugged. I have to rely on the kindness of friends. But I don't go out much.

This makes me curious: walking entails quite a lot of risk too, unless one can completely avoid crossing streets and driveways. For example, a low-speed crash that dismounts a bicyclist, bends the handlebars a bit, and causes some bruises, may well break one or both of a pedestrian's legs in a manner well-known to emergency responders. Do they have uninsured motorist policies for walkers too?

>driving costs money, but biking costs time

Wrong, wrong, wrong!

Commuting to work (7 miles each way) takes me 30 minutes by car, 30 minutes by electric bike, 40 minutes by road bike. A rather minor difference.

Plus, when I ride the road bike, I get 40 minutes' worth of exercise at a cost of only 10 minutes -- a 4:1 payoff.

Bicycling is so good for your health that all the time you spend cycling is free: on average, the time you spend biking is entirely repaid in longer lifespan.

So: net cost of driving is 30 minutes each way, not to mention stress and dollar costs, but net cost of biking is zero.

Depends on where you live. I live and work within 300 meters. Even biking wouldmean I'dhad to lock/unlock the bike tweice say, and there is an uphilun the way to work. I prefer to walk. If it cost me an extra minute, I'd care nothing. A car would be totally iresponsible, economicly speaking.

You must live in a very unusual place. What is slowing the cars down that much without also slowing down the bikes? Or do the cyclists run a lot of red lights?

I live in Austin, Texas. Unusual? Our motto is "Keep Austin Weird."

What slows cars down is the usual: traffic and red lights, a great equalizer.

A bike averages about 12-13 mph in town, a car perhaps 20 mph. A bike is about the same speed as a bus on average: the bus goes faster, but stops to let passengers on and off.

The other thing is that I park in a garage and walk to the office, whereas with a bike I can go door-to-door and keep the bike in my office.

I had an interesting experience driving parallel to a bus in stop-and-go downtown traffic. We ran side-by-side for about 20 blocks. Every block, the bus stopped to drop people off and pick up others. While it was doing this, a gap would open up ahead of it, but then it just accelerated into the gap and caught up to me again. For 20 blocks. Cars didn't want to move into the gap because they hate being pushed around by buses, and the bus drivers weren't averse to pushing them around. From this I deduced that when the going gets tough, the buses aren't any slower.

For cities who want to take advantage of this, there are advance lights for buses. The buses have their own lanes on the right at stop lights. They line up at the red, and they get the first green - buses only. Once the buses are ahead, everybody else gets a green. There's also the advance arrow on left turns, buses only.

Total aside, I used to park my bike in the armored loading dock in the Bank of Canada Building in Calgary. It was just me, other bicyclists, and the armored cars dropping off fresh money and picking up old bills for shredding. The first time I did this, I started locking up my bike, and the security guard behind the bulletproof glass said on the intercom, "You don't really need to bother - everything's being recorded on video". Quite a cozy arrangement.

That bus also could have had a "Green Light Signal Priority" system.

You must live in a very unusual place. What is slowing the cars down that much without also slowing down the bikes?

The average speed of a car in Manhattan during the day is 9 mph. Downtown Toronto is similar, but 14 km/h in metric. You can easily outrun that in a dedicated bicycle lane. Failing that, you can ride between the lanes of cars. And, yes, run red lights, shortcut down alleys, and go the wrong way down one-way streets.

I don't know if you've experienced this where you are, but in some places if you are sitting at a red light in your car, bicycles will start filtering past you on both sides and collecting in front of you. Eventually all the bikes are ahead of all the cars. And then when the light changes, they're off to the races!

Put in dedicated bicycle paths with overpasses and underpasses over/under the streets, and see what happens. And don't say it can't be done because it has been done in some places.

My experience precisely, down to the mile and the minute. You're not in the SW US are you?


Alan: I think you will agree that bikes are nice; they can even be fun. And, that in Dallas, TX, or Calgary (or Chicago, or any other locale having extreme weather for all or part of the year) they are only viable for part of the year, and then only for those who are physically able to ride one. Moreover, you will agree I am sure that [electric] mass transit is the only truly sutainable and viable transportation paradigm.

Establishing mass transit nationwide is not happening today; when the situation becomes sufficiently dire, perhaps we will see movement in that direction. By then, we can expect bad things will be happening. This is without describing the consequences of failing to provide food, heat (in cold weather), and shelter. Not meaning that the nanny-state should be doing the providing, but rather that it will become impossible in any meaningful way for folks to do more than secure a barely survivable minimum.

As far as being affordable when amortized, that means borrowing money to do the buildout. Where is that going to come from? We needed to be doing this 20-25 years ago! Is it too late? We will find out I am sure.

Best hopes in coming from behind.


I know of a professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Iceland that bicycles to work year round - and he is nearing retirement age. Studded tires do wonders - as does Viking blood.

In my main blog I have two overlooked ways to pay for the required investment. "That Fellow behind the Tree" and "Free Tax Credits for Oil Free Transportation". Just scroll down past the pictures of pretty French trams :-)


And I am working on details for a rail build-out in Washington DC. Another group is going to start on Los Angeles.


Best Hopes,


There can be two practical problems taxing the fellow behind the tree.

(1) He resists successfully. That's the USA way. People see themselves as next in line to be put behind the tree, so they vote accordingly.

(2) He re-domiciles in a tax haven. That's the European way. It's why, say, the island of Jersey has such a ridiculously high proportion of authors and whatnot in its tiny population.

There is no free lunch, at least not for long.

Studded tires do wonders - as does Viking blood.

Yes they do, though they are not, repeat not, a panacea. Just don't expect them to scale up enough to matter anytime soon. (Don't expect Viking blood to scale either.) Even if someone should merely mention such a thing, the opening of the family argument leaps instantly to mind: "Are you nuts? You want to take a chance like that when you're responsible for your children?"

As I've said before, it's quite impossible to train people, as has been done with wild success ever since the 1960s, to go flat-out bonkers with moralizing hysteria over even the most utterly insignificant or wholly imaginary risk - and then turn right around and expect them to blithely take a blindingly obvious, even if unquantified, risk. Can't have that both ways. Won't have it both ways. Not ever.

You shouldn't really mention Calgary, because bicyclists there do ride to work year-round. Mountain bikes with studded snow tires.

It was a little disconcerting to see them out on the bicycle paths at 40 below, but I guess it worked for them. I took the electric trains instead. Driving could be suicidal for those who couldn't steer a car out of a skid on black ice. The trains were pretty safe.


Who is McClatchy Newspapers?
I never heard of them. Is it main stream if they only have a few thousand readers?

First hit on a google search of McClatchy Newspapers:

"The McClatchy Company is the third-largest newspaper company in the United States"

Very mainstream.

McClatchy is huge. They're like Gannett - own a lot of papers and syndicate their articles to others.

Have you heard of Knight Ridder? McClatchy owns them.

On the subject of Will high oil prices permanently wreck the world's economy?, I recently wrote a post called A GDP Forecast to 2050. In it, I forecast what would happen to world GDP between now and 2050, if we reduce fossil fuel usage by 80% and ramp up renewables by enough to keep the reduction in world energy supply to "only" 50%, based on energy/GDP ratios since 1820. The post shows at that if we assume that everything can "hold together" under these circumstances, world GDP can be expected to decline by an average of 0.59% per year between now and 2050.

Even if we do not make the assumption of trying to reduce fossil fuel use, it seems to me that there is a significant chance that world energy consumption will drop by 50% between now and 2050. If we think of the forecast in this light, it gives a different indication that what Charlie Hall is saying in the top post is right.

I forecast what would happen to world GDP between now and 2050, if we reduce fossil fuel usage by 80% and ramp up renewables by enough to keep the reduction in world energy supply to "only" 50%, based on energy/GDP ratios since 1820.

Gail, what about your statement in the past that renewables, at least windenergy, are just fossil fuel extenders.

The post shows at that if we assume that everything can "hold together" under these circumstances, ....

Seems to depend largely on the oil-export situation. If the last saturday noticed trend: "We seem to be losing one major net exporter per year"
continues, the situation becomes more than critical long before 2050. This or next decade already.

I agree, the assumption that we can ramp up renewables by that amount is pretty unlikely. It could be argued, though, that if wind and solar are fossil fuel extenders, even with 80% less fossil fuel, we could still have more renewables. It all depends on the extent to which they extend fossil fuels.

Whether things can hold together until 2050 is pretty iffy, I agree. We need oil, and there are not easy substitutes.

I vehemently disagree that renewables are only fuel extenders. Had we not had liquid/solid fuels, but came up with the science/engineering for wind/sun/water (some of it we had in primative form hundreds of years back), we would have developed a society based upon renewables (without ever knowing thats what we were doing). We will end up there, since the fuels will go by the wayside over the course of roughly a century. The steps for the next couple of decades are pretty similar for fuel-extenders versus longterm sustainabilty however, so we should just get to work.

Big problem for you. Another that can't come to grips as to where abundant cheap oil has led us to.
Without oil and FF's in general we would not have the present, serious population problem, which feeds back to other problems of pollution, resource depletion and species extinction.

If you can't accept that right now, all that renewable energy is doing is simply extending our ability to burn all we can, then you are most likely in denial.

You have to look at the situation as it stands now, not what could have been. We are for all intents and purposes burning at peak. That ability would be greatly curtailed if we were not supplementing the use of FF with so called renewable energy.

The only way to (at this point in time) justify the use of renewable energy is if FF's are abandoned at the same rate they are replaced, (the process should have begun sixty years ago). Of course this is not happening in the slightest. We are still exploring, increasing the burn of ethanol, tar sands, heavy oil, deep water, fracking mountain top removal and other expensive endeavors. Now it is far too late to be really meaningful.

What we like to do it seems is congratulate countries that build bike paths and windmills, yet export as much fossil fuels as the market can bear. If that is not FF extending what is it?

"We will end up there", is that a place you want to be after we've burnt everything we can? Seven billion people will ensure we do, unless we actively restrict or ban the mining and extraction of fossil fuel. If we do that, there is a chance to leave something.

The ultimate ‘what if’
Hussein Shobokshi

The demise of oil as we know it today might be an exaggerated economic prophecy but it is a matter that needs to be looked at very seriously, particularly for countries such as Saudi Arabia where economic dependency on oil exceeds 89 percent of total economic output — an alarming figure, to say the least.

Saudis themselves are becoming one of the most important consumers of their own crude with continuous increase in consumption at a horrific rate but this, as it has been discussed many times, is simply not sustainable at all.

I wonder how much of that increase is due to needing more oil to produce the same amount, i.e. a declining EROI.

That could be extremely important and I'm not sure anyone has really looked at that possibility.

Is the World in Need of Iran's Oil?

“That’s mostly because we’re swimming in crude as it is. Saudi Arabia is overproducing. Iraq just passed Iran as OPEC’s second-largest oil producer. Libya is back. And production in the U.S. is rising faster than anyone thought.”

Of course, the fact the oil has risen 25% from $92 to $114 in the last 6 weeks has nothing to do with the loss of supply from Iran.

I recently wrote another post that may be of interest:

Reaching Financial Limits - What Kinds of Solutions are Available?

Since TOD doesn't publish posts of this type, I don't plan to submit it here.

TOD isn't interested in potential solutions?

What she means is that TOD tries to concentrate on energy and energy related subjects. They don't like special threads on purely financial issues.

Ron P.

The economy is powered by (cheap) energy, not money. Although many countries try to do the trick now with money.

Of course the economy is powered by energy, just like an automobile is powered by gasoline but money is the driver. If money collapses it would be the same thing as the driver dying. The automobile would go no further, it would run off the road.

You don't use oil to buy groceries and companies don't borrow oil from the bank to run their business or open another business. And people don't get paid in oil.

If people and companies cannot borrow money, cheap money, then the economy collapses and people get laid off. If all banks were to stop lending tomorrow then the economy would collapse completely. People would not be able to buy houses or cars or any other big ticket item that they finance. College students would not be able to finance their education and millions of people who's jobs depend on industry that depends on people being able to borrow money would close down immediately.

This would be the entire automobile industry and all industry that supplies the automobile industry. And more important the entire construction industry would collapse. And all the suppliers, truckers, realtors and all associated industry would collapse.

Do not underestimate the importance of money, money flow and borrowed money in the economy. They are the economy.

Ron P

Ron is far more right than wrong on this analysis Han.

Go back to the start of TOD - where the 'its oil' and 'its money' factions squared off. The 2008 high cost of fuel had an effect - but that was not isolated from the real estate fraud bubble going pop. Many of the pure oil arguments predicted just didn't happen.

What'll be the post-pop once this 2012 election cycle is done? (thus tying politics to this thing.) What destructive forces will be set loose to avoid a discussion about energy and/or the funny money system?

eric - I'm willing to split the sheet with Ron and Han on this one. THE controlling factor is power. However obvious such a simple statement might be taken. What is the source of power? Or more specifically the sources? At one time the British ruled the world thanks to sea power. Not so much anymore. At one time Japan appeared to dominate the world through financial power. Not so much anymore. At one time the world shivered in the shadow of Soviet military power. Not so much anymore.

OPEC once appeared to be in Charge. Not so much anymore. The Saudis seem to alone hold that whip to some degree. We can argue today about what power the US holds over other countries. Opinions will obviously vary. Power is the fulcrum that the US will leverage to secure its place in a future world. The question remains as to where we draw that power from IMHO.

At one time the British ruled the world thanks to sea power. Not so much anymore.

And because of the Military 'might makes right' they had the Pound be the Pound the World 'Round.

They learned from the rise and fall of Spain, Portugal, and all the other "western" naval power-taking raw materials from the new world phase of history.

Right now, the US of A is the big dog with its Military and because of that the US Dollar is Big Dog. If Ron Paul was to do what he wanted to do and shrink the Military it would crash the Dollar. (See Chalmers Johnson 4 book trilogy on the topic) To cut back on the Military runs the risk of the US Dollar blowing up. But what else runs the risk of such a blow up is the citizens of other nations deciding 'the Dollar is no good here' - how does a Nation morally justify attacking another Nation if no one wants to take your money?

"...how does a Nation [morally] justify attacking another Nation...?"

Just say they possess WMDs.

Words and phrases drift in meaning. Firemen fighting a fire have been declared to be in a "fire-fight" for years now on the news. A car containing firecrackers, two gas cans and three propane tanks is now a "Weapon of Mass Destruction"... both in the news and officially. I wonder how many rural drivers qualify on the 4th of July? How many recreational vehicle owners at any time of year?

Faisal Shahzad

The matter of definitions is also worrisome in Syria: "Chemical weapons will only be used against outside forces"... yet, the rebellion is said to be influenced or even fought by outside forces.

Syria insists chemical weapons would only be used against outside forces

Syrian troops overrun rebellious district in Aleppo

"Meantime, the state-run SANA news agency said a unit of Syrian forces pursued an "armed terrorist group" in Jouret al-Shayah area in Homs, killing a large number of "mercenary terrorists" and wounding others.

Syria brands the various groups of rebels as "terrorists" particularly after recent report that al-Qaida has joined the fight against the Syrian administration."

I chucked some old nonworking smoke detectors into the trash recently, and commented to my wife that if I put out a press release about it I'd probably be considered a nuclear terrorist. So I didn't put out a press release.

There was a story on CNBC awhile back, that claimed the pound remained the world currency for 60 years after the U.S. economy eclipsed Britain's. Arguing that faith in the dollar may continue for far longer than is justified.

Usually I think your posts are very sharp.

But to state that the British ruled the world because of sea power is not correct.

The sea power they came by was due to coal, which was located in Newcastle and northern England, and which they sailed down to London. In the process they got good at boats. And they got rich on the coal too, and became an Empire, usuing their might. But without coal, they would have been nothing special in my opinion.

It's very arguable that the US owes its hegemonical power also to its energy resources.

The Japanese and their financial might was just a flash in the pan, a brief crest as that economy went into overdrive and then started its terminal fall (still underway), and that has been due to its incredible reliance on oil.

Who has the power to print money? Maybe that's the better question to ask....

Certainly, some governments still do have that power. But on CNBC, there is discussion (already) about how long that can go on.

England was the major sea power long before they used coal in shipping. The certainly "ruled the waves" at the time of the American revolution, 1776. They were a "power" in 1588 at the time of the Spanish Armada.

So too the Dutch had command over the seas and finances...New Amsterdam (Now New York). There are lots of Dutch-named places in NY State in particular, Pennsylvania, the Virgin Islands. Then ::poof::

No, actually coal became the major fuel for England, eclipsing wood, before the end of Queen Elizabeth's reign in 1603.

Coal use surged in the 1560s,70s,80s, I think it went up by a factor of five in London alone.

The had been using it in London since the 1300s (back then more limited, commercial, not households, but lime kilns) and they had had ample time to get good at boats by 1600.

I'll have to disagree with you on this. British sea power went waaaay back before then. The build up of the navy was one of the reasons for decline of ancient oaks. Being an island nation we had a lot of trade with the rest of Europe for millennia. There is evidence for boats being used to transport the stones that made up Stonehenge.


Ok, money is the driver. However with expensive energy, the pure financial issues like in 'Reaching financial limits' are now indeed linked to energy. An increasing part of the money is 'lost' in primary necessities. That's why the system is so fragile now. Pumping tremendous amounts of money into it is racing the driver to the intensive care unit.

Darwinian: Below there are 24 articles about neutrinos, the sun’s rotation, and the universe. It is far off the main course of TOD.

Hey, I was simply explaining Gail's point. It was not my point. Anyway Gail was talking about special threads like "Comments on BP Statistical Review 2012", or "Tech Talk - Tensions Over Oil in the South China Sea" not individual posts on Drumbeat. That should have been obvious because what I wrote was: They don't like special threads on purely financial issues.

Ron Patterson, aka Darwinian


My impression is that TOD really wants to come across as not having any type of "political agenda". The assumption seems to be that a structured discussion about a potential solution will almost by default imply an such an agenda.

While I agree that TOD is wise to avoid having, or even having the appearance of, any type of manipulative agenda, I feel that it should be possible to have broader range of discussions about possible solutions without one.

IRS rules for a 501(c)(3) corporation:


Exemption Requirements - Section 501(c)(3) Organizations

To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.

Organizations described in section 501(c)(3) are commonly referred to as charitable organizations. Organizations described in section 501(c)(3), other than testing for public safety organizations, are eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions in accordance with Code section 170.

The organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, and no part of a section 501(c)(3) organization's net earnings may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual. If the organization engages in an excess benefit transaction with a person having substantial influence over the organization, an excise tax may be imposed on the person and any organization managers agreeing to the transaction.

Section 501(c)(3) organizations are restricted in how much political and legislative (lobbying) activities they may conduct. For a detailed discussion, see Political and Lobbying Activities. For more information about lobbying activities by charities, see the article Lobbying Issues; for more information about political activities of charities, see the FY-2002 CPE topic Election Year Issues.

FedEx to offer US staff buyouts in cost cut effort

FedEx will soon begin offering buyouts to U.S. employees in an effort to cut costs in the face of a weakening global economy ... Express is where FedEx got its start in 1971, and it’s still the company’s biggest segment by far. The speedy shipping division, which moves 3.5 million packages on an average day, has been hit hard as people shift to slower delivery methods to conserve cash. The unit is also being dragged down slowing Asian growth and a reduction in demand for Asian goods from the U.S. and Europe. The unit reported revenue of $26.5 billion in the latest fiscal year and has more than 146,000 employees worldwide — 102,000 of those in the U.S....

... UPS also said it’s making cuts in its business to make up for the shortfall. It predicts global trade will grow even slower than the world’s economies — a trend not seen since the recession. ...

emphasis mine

These guys are going to be under our microscope for a while. Lots of energy and transportation histories to comb-through..

As the U.S. Presidential Election Begins in Earnest, a Study in Contrasts


In matters of transportation, this attitude would steadily decrease the role of the federal government in sponsoring infrastructure projects, especially those that cannot be sponsored entirely through user fees. It would discourage the consideration of negative externalities, such as pollution and congestion, in the considerations of what subsidies should be provided for alternative transportation — because its political ideology opposes government subsidies altogether. It would dismantle enforcement of federal environmental regulations, especially those that recognise climate change, and encourage the privatization of public services such as transit systems or parking meters. These are the very tangible implications of a Romney-Ryan presidency.

On transportation, Mr. Ryan voted against every piece of transportation legislation proposed by Democrats when they controlled the lower chamber between 2007 and early 2010, with the exception of a bill subsidizing the automobile industry to the tune of $14 billion in loans in December 2008. This record included a vote against moving $8 billion into the highway trust fund in July 2008 (the overall vote was 387 to 37), a bill that was necessary to keep transportation funding at existing levels of investment. Meanwhile, he voted for a failed amendment that would have significantly cut back funding for Amtrak and voted against a widely popular bill that would expand grants for public transportation projects. He did vote in favor of the most recent transportation bill extension.

Poor assumption:

We can only assume that Mitt Romney’s decision to share the platform with Mr. Ryan implies an endorsement of the latter’s views — especially in terms of policies where Mr. Romney has not been specific.

With respect to "subsidizing the automobile industry," Paul Ryan had the Janesville Assembly Plant in his Congressional District. The General Motors workers there made trucks and SUVs.

I recall asking my dental hygenist how business was going in 2009: She said that she was busy with GM workers getting care before the plant closed. Her husband, one of the fortunate workers, had enough seniority that he was offered a position at a plant in Texas. He, smartly, accepted the offer. The Janesville preliminary unemployment rate for June 2012 is 9.4%. The unemployment rate peaked in June of 2009 at 13.3%.

All that Tea Party posturing will evaporate, once it touches actual power, if it ever does. It's one thing to talk about one's principles when one has no hope of winning a fight. It's quite another to impose costs on the overclass. Small government and too much restraint with automotive infrastructure will not be tolerated by those who own the game. In fact, I'd wager very heavily that the Tea Partiers know all this full well and wouldn't even propose the cuts they purport to want, if they were ever in charge of anything. Of course, there's little prospect they ever will be. Ryan's leash will be short and strong, if he's ever VP.

Don't believe the hype.

I am not so sure about that. Politicians do lie a lot, so they are rarely taken seriously when they are saying what they really mean. The Ryan stuff is actually very popular with a certain set, and as for the overclass - you can't feel the potholes if your limousine is good enough. Besides, you only need to get from the airport to the destination anyway... If the overclass cared then you wouldn't see the inequality of many places in the "third world", such as Equatorial Guinea.

I think the tea partiers are fundamentally religious in a sense. Although their ideology is actually bad for most of them, they will still push it. In transportation especially this is true; even people who ride the bus won't support better public transit. Nobody in America wants to admit that they are poor, or side with the poor. Here in Honolulu, there is the issue of the rail - there is a lot of opposition (not entirely unjustified, the plan is far from perfect), but we also have the worst traffic in the nation! Of course, it doesn't help that they are cannabalizing the bus system to pay for rail... But in all honesty, nobody wants to push for true world-class transit here. Instead TheBus is touted as the best bus system in America, which is pretty much insultingly bad compared to world transit - the best of a bad bunch, gold medal against darwin award winners...

Is it because they are ignorant? I think that is part of it - many have never seen good public transit and so think of public transit as horrible. But I think it is also religious, in that America is about cars, and even people who don't have cars think of "good infrastructure" in terms of cars. They want public transit to "pay for itself" and it is seen as a leech on public resources. Ultimately, these arguments are applied to roads as well in many states, and what you get is toll roads.

I think Mitt may not believe anything much, but Paul Ryan may be sincere. The GOP as a whole may be surprisingly more sincere in its religious beliefs in the market than you would think. The proof is already there - states turning down federal money for transit, knee-jerk opposition to anything seen as "green", etc. Don't bet they won't do what they say.

Gosh golly, it is exciting! Such political tension! I wonder how the empire of oil will fare?


There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party ... and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat.

K – “I wonder how the empire of oil will fare?” I think the oil patch’s fate is fairly well cast at this point. And it looks promising. The only negative is that as time passes there will be fewer players, especially pubcos, in the game.

The problem is religious beliefs in general. Both are right wing in religion as well. Both support "personage" laws that would outlaw and criminalize birth control and contraception. Womens health issues would be under the bus.. Censorship of TV, internet , and movies would be the order of the day and first amendment rights would be threatened. The Supreme Court would be more right wing. Control of the press would be controlled by the corporatism growth in Government. Repeated attacks on Islam will increase and war will follow. Debt will soar. These people are mean.

Petrobras Output Drops On Chevron Field Loss: Corporate Brazil

“We’re not bullish on Brazilian production -- they’ve got massive declines,” Jamie Webster, the head of market intelligence at PFC Energy Inc…

“Deepwater fields generally have steeper decline rates than shallow water and onshore fields,” T.J. Conway, a research and advisory manager at New York-based Energy Intelligence Group, said in a telephone interview from Washington. “It’s a technical challenge, just maintaining production or mitigating production declines in the deepwater, and it has important implications for cash flow.”…

Petrobras’s average oil output in Brazil fell to 2.018 million barrels a day in the first half, compared with 2.022 million barrels in all of 2011…

About 80 percent of Brazil’s oil comes from the Campos Basin,...

Output at the basin fell 7 percent in the 12 months through June to 1.8 million barrels a day, according to ANP. It holds 9 of Brazil’s 10 biggest fields.

Yet Brazil still maintains they will be producing 5.7 mb/d in 2020 and that is after they downgraded their expectations by 11 percent from their estimate last year. I think they, like most everyone else, are grossly underestimating the decline rate in deep water fields.

I have caculated the combined decline rate of four deepwater fields in the Gulf of Mexico, Thunder Horse, Atlantis, Tahiti and Blind Faith. The four had a combined production of of 583,144 barrels per day at their peak on September 2009. In May of this year they had a combined production of 205,399 barrels per day. That is a decline rate of over 24 percent.

However that figure is slightly exaggerated because Atlantis completely shut down on about April 2nd and remained shutdown the entire month of May. In March Atlantis produced 61,362 barrels per day. But even if they had produced that much in May the combined decline rate of the four fields would still have been around 20 percent per year.

Understand the decline rate of 7 percent in the Campos Basin was in spite of any infill drilling they they did or any new oil they found in the basin.

From a very optimistic article in 2007: Petrobras tank full of energy

"There are also some older discoveries in carbonates that we are starting to bring into production, and there is exploration acreage still to be drilled. There are decades of production ahead of us in the Campos basin," he adds...

Ron P.

Ron - Interesting blast from the past - 2007: "There are also some older discoveries in carbonates that we are starting to bring into production, and there is exploration acreage still to be drilled. There are decades of production ahead of us in the Campos basin," he adds..."

Which is exactly what one could correctly say about the USA today. Just substitute "Gulf Coast" for "Campos". All depends on what one reads into such simplistic statements. Or what the Spin Meisters want you to think.

Looking at your Gulf of Mexico data thru March, we see a decline from 583 kbbls/day to 267 kbbls/d, the result is only 45.8% of the Sept 2009 rate. As a linear trend over 2.5 years, that's a rate of 22% per year. However, if the decline process is an exponential, the compounded decline rate would be 26.9% a year, (if I've done the math properly). You might try to plot both decline curves vs your data to see which gives a better fit. Either way, that's still a rather rapid fall off...

E. Swanson

Dog - Exactly my point. All you've said may be very accurate. But it's also true the Gulf Coast Basin will be producing oil for "many, many decades". Which is what irritates me when folks use such phrases as I just did. It doesn't matter if the GCB declines 50% in the next 30 years or 99%; the statement that it will be producing oil for many decades is true. It's also relatively meaningless in terms of production rate. The statement that the Campos Basin will be producing oil for decades would be true whether Bz had made any Deep Water discoveries or not.

We constantly see statements, often from the MSM, that want to imply there's no serious problems ahead. But they spin that tale with non-numeric "facts". I have no doubt the US will be producing FF 50 years from today. We are the third largest oil producer and largest NG producer on the planet, after all. But that doesn't mean we'll be producing or importing all that we require. You did what a rational person might do: try to quantify those statements. Which is exactly why such statements are made in the first place IMHO: to not quantify the expectations and thus can't be challenged by the numbers.

Well production is so erratic that it is hard to nail down the exact decline rate. As I said Atlantis was shut down for all of May and all but about a day and a half of April. I have no idea why or when or if they will restart. Anyway:

Combined production for Thunder Horse, Atlantis, Tahiti and Blind Faith in barrels per day. The last data point is May 2012.

Atlantis, Thunder Horse, Tahiti and Blind Faith

Ron P.

Ron - I don't know about that. The wells may be erratic but the trend lines seems pretty clear: 590k bbl bopd in Oct 2009 to 280k bopd in Apr 2012. I've studied literally thousands of declines curves and this one seems pretty clear: a decline of 310k bopd in 31 months. Or about 120k bopd/year. Were these onshore fields I would expect the decline rate to decrease to a much lower magnitude. But DW fields have such high fixed cost LOE they can't producer stripper rates or anything close to it out there in the deep blue sea. If nothing else the oil/water separation systems may already be maxed out. Onshore you just skid in some more separators. Can't do that on a platform when there's no more room. IMHO it's an easy call to expect their combined production will drop below 100k bopd in a couple of years.

Just one of the advantages of being a geologist: we don't need no stinkin' regression lines...our eyeballs are accurate enough. LOL.

Ron,Rockman,RMG etc,this forum would be"A boiled egg without salt and a kiss without a mustache".Thank's for the music(ABBA).

Update: This article just published yesterday lowers Brazil's projected crude oil production even further.

Brazil steps up bid to boost domestic oil industry

Foster recently had to revise downward the company's estimated production in 2020 from 4.91 million barrels per day to 4.2 million.

That's a 710,000 barrel per day downgrade and 1.4 million bp/d downgrade from the numbers in the article I posted just yesterday.

I would not be surprised if the if not another well is drilled in the pre-salt area. Contractors may look at the extreme decline rates in the first fields and decide against it.

Brazil's Pre-Salt Oil Potential: The Hype and the Reality

Even with Brazil’s growing oil reserves and accelerating production, the country could never become a major oil exporter as all the incremental oil production will be needed to fuel the country’s economic growth.

Nuff said about all the hype about Brazil becoming another world oil power. That's another thing that just ain't gonna happen in the oil world. ELM hits Brazil before it ever become a major oil exporter.

Ron P.

Good info Ron - I think you are right.

I remember an exploration guy from Brazil who came to the ASPO meeting in Denver (can't remember his name) to give a talk in which he led off with the question "Do you still believe in Peak Oil?" Then he went on to tout the huge production potential of the pre-salt and how that would destroy future talk of peak oil. Needless to say he ran into a somewhat hostile audience but he stuck to his guns. He was convinced that he was right but did not want to answer questions about cost and technical difficulty, which he dismissed with a wave of his hand.

And he finished his talk with "Do you still believe in Peak Oil?"

Hope he comes back to an ASPO meeting for an update.

New world record for highest freefall [oilrig] lifeboat

The world’s leading lifeboat and davit manufacturer Schat-Harding has set a new freefall lifeboat record with its new generation FF1200 boat. The boat was successfully dropped from a freefall height of 60 meters. The world record drop was conducted as part of the certification tests of the boat.

The ability to drop safely from greater heights is required as offshore installations get larger. The FF1200 was designed for that purpose and to meet stringent new standards for performance in heavy seas which will facilitate the evacuation of rigs and installations in the Norwegian North Sea.

Video: FF1200 World Record 60 meters freefall lifeboat drop

... Olympic judges scores: 9.2, 9.2, 9.1, 9.4, and 9.5

Shrunken Head: [With a Jamaican accent] … Yeah, take it away, Ernie! Fasten your safety belts, clench your buttocks! It's going be a bumpy ride!
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - 2004

From IEA: US ethanol production plunges to two-year low

Production of fuel ethanol – produced from fermenting sugar or starch bearing crops such as corn – has dropped to around 800 thousand barrels per day (kb/d) in the US, the lowest level in two years, according to the International Energy Agency’s latest Oil Market Report (OMR).

... The OMR points out that US ethanol stocks are fairly high at 800 million gallons, providing the possibility to satisfy at least part of the 13.2 billion gallons mandated for 2012.

In addition, according to the Renewable Fuels Association, around 2.5 billion ethanol credits, so-called Renewable Identification Numbers (RINS), have been banked in recent years as refiners blended more ethanol than was required by the RFS.

“These RINS provide some flexibility for blenders to meet the 2012 RFS requirements despite the projected lower ethanol output, and could help reduce some of the pressure on corn prices,” the OMR concluded.

White House offers drought relief, feels heat to waive ethanol mandate

President Barack Obama announced emergency measures Monday to ease the impact of the worst drought in half a century, but stopped short of waiving the government’s requirement that a large portion of the now-shriveled corn crop be diverted to make ethanol.

Obama announced that the Department of Agriculture will buy up to $170 million of pork, lamb, chicken and catfish to help support farmers suffering from the drought. The food purchases will go toward "food nutrition assistance" programs, like food banks.

... The White House faces conflicting demands for sharply limited supplies of corn.

Warm Seawater Forces Conn. Nuclear Plant Shutdown

Connecticut's nuclear power plant shut down one of two units on Sunday because seawater used to cool down the plant is too warm.

Unit 2 of Millstone Power Station has occasionally shut for maintenance or other issues, but in its 37-year history it has never gone down due to excessively warm water, spokesman Ken Holt said on Monday.

Water from Long Island Sound is used to cool key components of the plant and is discharged back into the sound. The water may not be warmer than 75 degrees and following the hottest July on record has been averaging 1.7 degrees above the limit, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said.

... Millstone provides half of all power used in Connecticut and 12 percent in New England. Its two units produce 2,100 megawatts of electricity, which is reduced by 40 percent with Unit 2 down, Holt said.

This has to be IRONY with a capital I. So many were counting on nuclear power to ease Global Warming.

One has to ask the question: If the water at the inlet is too hot to run Unit 2, how can Unit 3 run when it's inlet is right next to Unit 2? Just sayin'

... higher water temperatures could lie ahead. The sound’s temperature usually does not peak until late August.

The issue is total heat load into the bay. The condensers are doing fine unless they are badly fouled, but then they would have said so. There is no shame in "The cooling tubes are full of barnacles."

But is you have a four gigawatts of heat going into the bay, (nuclear plants are only about 30% efficient due to lack of steam superheating) and the bay overheats, then you can turn off/down a reactor and have less total heat going into the water, so that the natural circulation can remove it from the bay without parr-boiling the local fish.

Most likely Unit 3 has a different design that allows for a higher water temperature.

So many were counting on nuclear power to ease Global Warming.

Yeah, right!

“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power!
I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”
Thomas Edison, 1931

I think I'd add, "and until we finally see nuclear power as really lousy alternative "

Are methane hydrates dissolving?

... Professor Christian Berndt from GEOMAR - Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel is leading an expedition starting today on the German research vessel MARIA S. MERIAN which will analyse the sea off the western shore of Spitsbergen in order to find out whether the first methane hydrates in the sea bed are dissolving and what the consequences might be.

The expedition builds on research conducted by marine scientists from Kiel who worked in this area of the sea in 2008. Back then they found over 250 places where gas was escaping the sea bed. "These spots lie directly on the border of the area of stable hydrates" explains Professor Berndt. "Therefore we presume that the hydrates are dissolving from the rim inwards."

... Parallel to this, geophysicists, led by Professor Sebastian Krastel from GEOMAR, will investigate the slopes under the gas outlet spots for signs of instability using acoustic and seismic methods. "The methane hydrates act like binding cement on these slopes. If they dissolve, chances are that parts of the slopes will slide," explains Professor Krastel, who focuses on marine hazards at GEOMAR.

More from Japan and its ongoing "issues" from just a couple of fission plants failing..


The number of surviving worms are as below.
Container 1. 56
Container 2. 55
Container 3. 56
Container 4. 3

Container #4? No alpha blocker.


We collected the first-voltine adults in the Fukushima area in May 2011, some of which showed relatively mild abnormalities. The F1 offspring from the first-voltine females showed more severe abnormalities, which were inherited by the F2 generation. Adult butterflies collected in September 2011 showed more severe abnormalities than those collected in May. Similar abnormalities were experimentally reproduced in individuals from a non-contaminated area by external and internal low-dose exposures. We conclude that artificial radionuclides from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant caused physiological and genetic damage to this species.

From BBC: 'Severe abnormalities' found in Fukushima butterflies

... Scientists found an increase in leg, antennae and wing shape mutations among butterflies collected following the 2011 Fukushima accident.

Now increase the size of that baby by many many times, and you got Mothra!

If only these worms and butterflies had just smiled and not got themselves all stressed out listening to scare stories about radiation, they would have clearly been perfectly fine.

And surely the 50 times increase in pre-cancerous nodules detected in Fukushima sub 5 year old children would vanish if they just laughed a bit more.

If former plant manager Yoshida had just seen the funny side of the multiple meltdowns there's clearly no way he would now be suffering from the multiple cancers sadly now afflicting him.

If the US hadn't accidentally published the fact, through FOIA requests, that effective thyroid doses in the Tokyo area were 100 times the lie published by the Japanese government then nobody need be worrying now.

Why are we frightening all these poor children with stressful tests anyway? Let's build more nukes now as they are perfectly safe just like George Monbiot proclaims. Although why I should expect a bunch of self-deluded peak-oilers (as Monbiot also informs me the inhabitants of TOD are) to listen to a word I say, I just don't know.

Thank you George Monbiot for helping me see the light.

Couple years back there was a study on insects around Chernobyl. They look alot like those from Fukushima

Study: Malformation of True Bug (Heteroptera): a Phenotype Field Study on the Possible Influence of Artificial Low-Level Radioactivity (nice pictures)

Swiss Artist Catalogs Mutant Insects Around Nuke Plants

... She collects so-called "truebugs" living near nuclear facilities and areas affected by chemical pollution. True bugs "suck liquid from the plants they live on," she says. "So if the plant is contaminated, they take a lot of radioactivity into their bodies."

Conventional wisdom holds that nuclear power stations don’t leak enough radiation to create mutants. But in some locations, Hesse-Honegger discovered mutations, such as asymmetrical wings and eye-cysts, in as many as 30 per cent of the bugs she gathered. "For me," she says, "the mutated bugs were like prototypes of a future nature."

Thanks Seraph, that paper is quite an eye opener! Especially the fact that it was done in Switzerland, a reasonably enlightened society with respect to environmental issues.

4. Conclusions. – Over the last few years, environmental issues have become more
and more important, and a new understanding of the wholeness of Nature seems to be
gradually developing. Still, while many people are mostly concerned with daily
problems such as climate change, smog, or spoiled water, there is much less
consciousness regarding the pollution of the biosphere, especially on a microscopic
level. Even more so, the production of atomic energy, often considered a clean
technology, is thought to be safe and efficient. However, as a matter of fact, the
more than 210 nuclear-power and nuclear-reprocessing plants worldwide (with over 430
reactors) are constantly polluting the environment; or as Graeub says in his standard
monograph 8The Petkau Effect9 [23]: 8A nuclear-power plant emits countless of tiny
glows in the form of artificial radioactive nuclides. [...] The multifarious mixture of small
doses of highly dangerous radionuclides is randomly scattered throughout the environment,
and hence, eludes all control.

Just keep repeating: Nuclear Power is Safe! Nuclear Power is Safe! Nuclear Power is Safe!

To borrow a phrase from Jeffery Brown, "It's always nice to have visitors from Fantasy Island"

"the mutated bugs were like prototypes of a future nature."

For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled."
Richard P. Feynman

Unfortunately people can!

The biggest alternative for nuclear power: coal plants

Coal plants are safe ! Coal plants are safe !

The biggest alternative for nuclear power: coal plants

I'll stick my neck out again. What about using less? Why is that never on the table?

Having lived in the US and in Europe I can assure you that the biggest asset the US has going forward is the obscene level of over-consumption and waste. Americans could cut their level of consumption of energy, consumer products and especially food in half and still live very enviable lifestyles.

Will there be some economic hardship along the way to lower consumption? Of course! But those who take the early steps in adopting a low-consumption lifestyle and those who create businesses catering to those early adopters will come out way ahead.

In an earlier era, word processing software put women working in the typing pool out of work. A little later, globalization eviscerated manufacturing centers like Flint, Michigan. There have always been winners and losers and today is no different. Smart people work hard to identify the trends and get on the right side of them.

Going forward, those who are unwilling or unable to reduce consumption will be the losers. Those who work in industries enabling reduced consumption will be the winners. This applies to the individual, community and even national level. With this lens, Germany looks to be a big winner going forward as they are hard at work figuring out how to do more with less. In contrast, the US is hell bent on denying that we will ever have to change. So sad. It's well past time to embrace change.

Tempora mutantur omnia nos et mutamur in illis.

"Times change, and we change with them."

Using less is in direct contravention of the economics principle of more growth.


Let's assume you reduce energy consumption enough to close one existing power plant.

You have two options: a nuclear plant, or a coal-fired plant.

Which would you choose?

I would close both and install wind and solar power.

Thank you for the voice of sanity! Pointing out the blindingly obvious gets wearying.

What about using less? Why is that never on the table?

Having lived in the US and in Europe I can assure you that the biggest asset the US has going forward is the obscene level of over-consumption and waste

One of the problems of using less and eliminating waste is that this will lead to a crash of the stock markets and bankruptcy of pension funds.

Those things will happen anyway - to what end do we go to prop it up a little linger?

Huh, here I was a thinking the biggest 'alternative' is using wind/solar

For those planning on eating popcorn during the collapse ...

Butter flavoring in microwave popcorn, thought safe for food industry workers, is respiratory hazard

The ingredient 2,3-pentanedione (PD), used to impart the flavor and aroma of butter in microwave popcorn, is a respiratory hazard that can also alter gene expression in the brain of rats. Manufacturers started using PD when another butter flavoring, diacetyl, was found to cause bronchiolitis obliterans, a life-threatening and nonreversible lung disease in workers who inhaled the substance. New research on PD with implications for "popcorn workers' lung" is published in The American Journal of Pathology and indicates that acute PD exposure has respiratory toxicity which is comparable to diacetyl in laboratory animals.

Also Triclosan -- chemical widely used in antibacterial hand soaps -- may impair muscle function: study

Triclosan, an antibacterial chemical widely used in hand soaps and other personal-care products, hinders muscle contractions at a cellular level, slows swimming in fish and reduces muscular strength in mice, according to researchers at the University of California, Davis, and the University of Colorado.

"Triclosan is found in virtually everyone's home and is pervasive in the environment," said Isaac Pessah, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Biosciences in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and principal investigator of the study. "These findings provide strong evidence that the chemical is of concern to both human and environmental health."

I liked the phthalates revelations:

Phthalates, Diabetes, & Obesity

Perfumes and fragrances: Everything has fragrance these days. Perfumes are blasting out of the clothes dryers. It's hard to find a non-scented kitchen trash bag.

plasticizers: Plastic bottles, food-wrap film, containers...

Bad news: the chemicals in your IV bag could be giving you diabetes

"Industry groups are obviously pushing back on these findings, and hard. Steve Risotto, senior director for the American Chemistry Council, a trade association for chemical manufacturers, described the researchers' experimental methods as "flawed"..."

...and, now, the butter flavor... Et tu, Brute? They are said to be naturally occurring. Perhaps it's not so good when concentrated or served without their cohorts.

Molecule of the Month: 2,3-Pentanedione

"2,3-Pentanedione occurs in butter, bread, milk, yogurt, chicken, meat, cocoa, coffee, potato chips, roasted almonds, pecans, beer, red and white wine, rum and whiskey."

(PDF) http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/flavorings/pdfs/Hubbs-FlavoringsAbstract...

The molecular formula for is 2,3-pentanedione C5H8O2
Structure of 2,3-pentanedione (acetyl propionyl):
Image: http://blogs.edf.org/nanotechnology/files/2010/01/23-pentanedione.jpg

The molecular formula for diacetyl is C4H6O2.
Structure of diacytal (butanedione):

Diacytal is a natural byproduct of fermentation.

Popcorn's butter flavoring may trigger Alzheimer's disease

"Diacetyl, already linked to lung damage in people who work in microwave popcorn factories, is also used to produce the distinctive buttery flavor and aroma of margarines, snack foods, candy, baked goods, pet foods, and even some chardonnays.

University of Minnesota drug-design expert Robert Vince, PhD, and colleagues found that diacetyl causes brain proteins to misfold into the Alzheimer's-linked form called beta amyloid. Vince's team also found that diacetyl has an architecture similar to a substance that makes beta-amyloid proteins clump together in the brain -- clumping being a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease."


Structure of Triclosan:
Image: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fc/Triclosan.png

I just avoid processed foods (fairly easy to do) and read the labels of those I do buy (nut butters for example), buy the fragrance free laundry detergent, use my solar dryer to dry clothes and buy hypoallergenic bath soap.

Still get some exposure to the fragrances & chemical additives, but far less than most Americans.


As a chemist, the phthalates concern me the most, just because they're everywhere so I feel the overall environmental impact is going to be the most severe (although I doubt it's a major or even minor cause of diabetes in the US).

The popcorn flavourings on the other hand I am not too worried about, looking at the structure it seems that the mechanism of toxicity would be acylation of lung and airway surfactants and the like via the methyl esters. This is only possible though massive aerosol exposure ... so the people at the factory should really be wearing respirators.

Also with the whole alzheimer "trigger" deal, I don't see where they demonstrate the phamarokinetics of their mechanism so I don't think the study really uncovers anything. I mean just google "cause of alzheimer's" and you'll see the scientific community can't even decide on the principle mechanism of the disease.

As for Triclosan, I'm more worried about the whole overusing an antibiotic, cause you know superbugs always works out well for us.

Just my 2 cents.

But how much of that scientific community is still eating white flour products, glazed with white sugar products and wrapped in 'sta-fresh' plastic?

The blinders around following the most basic data on nutrition is still barely seeping into hospitals, much less the dens of other intensely educated people. How many drink too much, or fail to manage stress as they propel themselves through the obstacle course of validation, peer pressure, financing and other class-dependent issues that go hand in hand with being valued and trusted in the UMC, even if you don't identify as a member of it? (Upper Middle Class)

Cognitive Dissonance never had it so good..

Don't know about the states, but family docs in Canada are taught to provide nutritional advice ... you won't find as much nutritional health mentoring in hospitals, but that's partly because nutrition is generally considered the responsibility of primary care physicians such as family docs and not the specialists found at a hospital.

As for the UMC, a lot of them know what they're getting into and are making a conscious choice for expedient rather than healthy products. Ultimately health choices are up to the individual, and there is nothing stopping people from consciously making poor health choices for whatever reason, but there's little reason to suggest they have blinders.

You can only make helpful and responsible choices if you've got information. To suggest that either good information is being presented with any sort of balance or fairness, or that most people have been left with the perspective to enable that choice is clearly not in evidence.

The choice that most people are aware of now are fed by relentless Processed Food and Pharma Advertising, or the sort of hackneyed Nutritional advice that has left people thinking that by getting their processed food as 'Low Fat with Artificial Sweeteners' is going to help their health.

With those choices shouting through the echo-chamber, it's unbelievably onerous to try making truly healthy choices for most North American food consumers.

There are others who have some responsibility for all this. Are you willing to hold them to their obligations to their neighbors?

I definitely agree with all your point if we were talking about people who have not developed critical thinking skills; however I would argue that most in the UMC have university educations where they have developed critical thinking skills - so I would envisions the choices made by those in the UMC would not be as influenced by advertising. On the other hand I've spent most of my time with chemists and medical doctors who seem to be very skeptical folks ... so I might be observing a poor sample group.

Well, ultimately, I think my point is that this food paradigm we are in is pernicious, when we do still see foods that I would label as simply Poisons being served to hospital patients, in clear view of their Attending Phys's and various other highly knowledgable professionals.. almost apart from what they eat and drink themselves.

Alas, I am not only saying 'Doctor, feed thyself.', but also, 'Let's call poisons poisons, even when they've been very profitable for the junkfood industry.' But we're highly disinclined to challenge success, and we seem to be very fond of telling the poor (and not so poor) schmucks at the receiving end of the food-lines to accept responsibility and be the ones to change the system.

Bad news: the chemicals in your IV bag could be giving you diabetes

The aggravating part is that hospitals routinely put patients on an IV whether they need it or not. Makes it easier for the hospital to collect insurance.

The really aggravating part is how people don't understand that one of the main purpose of many IVs is ensure proper hydration and electrolyte balance to improve patient care.

Sorry, I don't mean to be snarky, but there is medical evidence that IVs are useful for things like hydration and electrolyte balance, which are very important when curing disease. I mean here in Canada, where everything is paid for, you get IVs for most hospital and a lot of ER visits because there is medical evidence to do so.

Also I reiterate, I think Americans have a few other heath crises contributing to diabetes to not worry about than a study that concludes that phathalates could be correlated to diabetes. The elevated phthalates could result from the fact that people with diabetes are more likely to use IVs and needles than a control person (the whole correlation does not prove causation point) which is just as likely a scenario. There needs to be a blind control study done to determine if to determine if there is any veracity to this story.

Another really agravating part is how people don't understand it that one of the main purposes of many IV's is as a precaution, in case it becomes necessary to rapidly deliver medications into the system in an emergency. Many "routine" medical procedures are not without risk. Hence an IV is often started, not because it is normally required for the procedure, but in case something goes wrong and rapid intervention becomes necessary.

I understand the purpose of IVs. My spouse is an RN with 37 years of experience. There are many routine admissions who are in no danger of dehydration and who won't likely need IV administered drugs. They get the IV anyway. Similar to antibiotics, IVs are simply overused. As are expensive tests such as MRI. There is far too much moral hazard with respect to the hospital's ability to milk the patient for all the insurance they can. I'd like to see the data on average length of stay for a given condition for those with insurance and those with little or no insurance. I would bet heavily that the latter category has a quite significantly shorter stay.

Edit: add to that, the risk of infection from an IV, which is not insubstantial.

Do you factor defensive medicine and patient expectations into your comments?

We get a lot of touristas who get severely dehydrated here. I am talking about to the point of collapse, we see them in heaps on the footpaths. IV rehydration is essential to them. Plain dehydration can be dealt with by oral fluids, even so there are days when I struggle to keep the balance and have considered an IV.


The gist of it is "These chemicals are everywhere". It is quite the sea of industrial molecules.

Trouble is that it is often necessary to balance on risk off against another. On one hand the risk of rapid serious damage, on the other the risk of long term hazards. Of course, the shift to the prefer-ability of non-use is enhanced by the lower short term risk.


Italy's biggest steel plant may have to halt production

Italy's biggest steel plant may have to halt production after a new court ruling announced Saturday against the operators who must clean up pollution that some blame for high local cancer rates.

Mururoa Atomic Bomb test site in danger of collapsing

The French government, since 2010, has kept secret that Mururoa Atoll, the site of French nuclear testing in the Pacific, is in danger of collapsing, according to Mururoa e Tatou (MET), the Nuclear Association in French Polynesia.

MET President Roland Oldham told ABC’s Radio Australia Pacific Beat program that the issue was detailed in a leaked report from the French Ministry of Defence and should have been made public long ago.

Mr Oldham said if the atoll were to collapse, radioactive material would be released into the Pacific Ocean, and could cause a 15-metre tsunami. “Just in that little area, there is over maybe 12 underground tests in that area, and we have to remember that France have done altogether 193 nuclear test explosions in Mururoa,” he told Pacific Beat.

Fears that atoll collapse could generate tsunami-like wave

French Polynesia is urging France to study the risk posed by a huge wave that could be triggered by the collapse of the former French nuclear weapons testing site on Mururoa.

Fresh water from rivers and rain makes hurricanes, typhoons, tropical cyclones 50 percent more intense

An analysis of a decade's worth of tropical cyclones shows that when hurricanes blow over ocean regions swamped by fresh water, the conditions can unexpectedly intensify the storm. Although the probability that hurricanes will hit such conditions is small, ranging from 10 to 23 percent, the effect is potentially large: Hurricanes can become 50 percent more intense, researchers report in a study appearing this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.

A rough estimate for the destruction wreaked by a hurricane is the cube of its intensity. "A 50 percent increase in intensity can result in a much larger amount of destruction and death," said Balaguru.

Oil spill detected near Exxon operations in Nigeria

An oil spill has been detected along the coast of southern Nigeria near operations for US giant ExxonMobil, the company said Monday, but the cause and size of the leak remained unclear.

Israel tests SMS missile alerts as Iran chatter grows

JERUSALEM — Israel on Sunday began testing an SMS system for warning the public of an imminent missile attack as chatter over a possible strike on Iran dominated the Israeli press headlines.

In recent days, talk of a possible strike on Iran has dominated the headlines, largely coming from unsourced officials quoting intelligence reports, none of which it was possible to verify.

U.S. does not believe Israel has decided on Iran strike

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Tuesday he did not believe that Israel had made a decision on whether to attack Iran over its nuclear program and added he thought there was still time for a deepening sanctions push. Panetta's comments at a Pentagon briefing follow intensifying debate in Israel on the prospects of going to war with Iran, which could easily drag the United States into any conflict.

The Middle East on tenterhooks; Obama on the sidelines

The US would not necessarily join in were Israel to launch a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program, an unnamed source in the Obama Administration told Israel’s Channel 2 News on Monday.

The US feels a profound commitment to the defense of Israel, and so could be relied upon to protect Israel defensively from the consequences of an Israeli attack on Iran, the TV channel quoted the source as saying. But the thrust of the US source’s message to Israel, the TV report said, was “don’t rely on us to finish the job.”

Hidden History: America’s Secret Drone War in Africa

... The details that follow are in part conjecture, albeit informed conjecture. They outline of just one of America’s ongoing shadow wars — and one possible model for the future U.S. way of war. Along with the counterterrorism campaigns in Pakistan, Yemen and the Philippines, the Somalia drone war demonstrates how high-tech U.S. forces can inflict major damage on America’s enemies at relatively low cost … and without most U.S. citizens having any idea it’s even happening.

Here is an amusing historical footnote. While browsing some charts I stumbled on an old prediction of world C+C production from '08. Just for grins I decided to compare it to what is now historical data five years later:

click for larger image.

EIA data overlaid in red, JODI in blue. Many thanks to Ron "Darwinian" Patterson for the production data. I'm not sure whom to attribute the 2008 prediction. As we can see, we are far from the predicted 3%pa decline and have in fact seen peaks #4 and #5 in the five years since, both over 74mbd, but under 76mbd. At least according to the EIA.

Does this debunk peak oil? Are peak oil predictions worthless? Far from it! Compare this to the big picture:

Those five years of 3 or 4 mbd either way are little more than a rounding error on what we well know is an exercise in curve fitting to begin with. I've pointed out before the fallacy of zooming in too far on a production data series that will eventually span well more than a century. Something which in my opinion is lazy at best and deliberately deceptive at worst.

Lies, damned lies, and statistics.


Very interesting Jerry. Mucho thanks. I suspects the charts also highlight one of my perpetual gripes: projecting the production of any commodity without having pricing as a variable is pointless. Just a theoretical (but obvious answer IMHO) question: what would C+C production look like the last 10 years had oil prices stayed in the $20's/bbl as they were in the late 90's? I've got a hard drive full of prospects I'll drill if NG prices go over $6/mcf. And a lot more if it goes over $9/mcf. But until then they just sit there gathering digital dust along with the 6 NG prospects I had on the books to drill this year...before NG prices fell.

Good point, thanks. My take is that the Hubbert analysis is a "best case". All other variables being ideal, including the economics, what is the best possible production profile? Anything less than ideal and obviously the production is going to suffer, just as we have seen since the oil shocks.

That said, it still doesn't explain what I find is a most peculiar obsession in the peak oil blogosphere with precise predictions. Rocket scientists trying to land a rover on Mars need precise predictions. Your average peak oil commentator? Not so much.

Even Hubbert was smart enough to give a range bound estimate for the big daddy of all the variables: URR.


Even Hubbert was smart enough to give a range bound estimate for the big daddy of all the variables: URR.

And isn't it right that a 30% increase in URR shifts the peak only 5 years ?

Exactly right.

Just for grins let's be generous and assume a significant increase in URR, an increase that will come not from major new discoveries but mostly from reserve growth in existing fields where "technically" recoverable reserves are moved to "proved and probable". This will show up as backdated additions to more recent discoveries:

If we further assume a perfectly ideal world for oil production then the resulting best case production peak is indeed pushed out by only a few years:

As you correctly pointed out, Hubbert himself often observed that even hundreds of billions of barrels buys us precious little time.

Unfortunately, our chances for a perfectly ideal world for oil production flew out the window several decades ago. As we can see from the last three decades of production, we now must fit our proverbial oil bonanza to a much flatter production curve:

So, barring any further economic or geopolitical calamities, the best we can possibly hope for is a few more years of the infamous "undulating plateau", and that's only if we generously assume a significant increase in URR above what is currently thought to be realistic. Well, at least by those not living on Fantasy Island.

Much more likely, in my opinion, is that events will soon conspire to correct the global ecological overshoot of industrial civilization, resource depletion being just one of the many converging crises that we face.


I have that first gaph in my graph collection on my computer. I am pretty sure it is Colin Campbells old graph.

That's possible, although IIRC Campbell likes the "stacked" graphs with bands of color (or texture) representing the different oil and gas producers. I have a feeling I've seen that graph in an old TOD key post somewhere, but I wouldn't know where to even start looking.

I guess it's not that important, I'm not trying to single anyone out. I was just curious how current data stacked up against past predictions.

And just for the record, I did soon realize my mistake counting five years of data from 2008 instead of four, but unfortunately you can't edit posts after they have been replied to.


The discovery vs production graph is usually labeled "Growing Gap" and is from Colin Campbell.

I've posted it here myself, as have many others.

Oil boom brings scarcity of workers in small towns

WOODWARD, Okla. (AP) — The local prison is so short on guards that inmates can sometimes just walk away. A gas station barely has enough cashiers to keep up with the trucks filling the parking lot. And "help wanted" signs seem to hang from every restaurant and shop.

Yet almost no one is interested in the jobs.

This is the flip side of the nation's oil and natural gas boom. Although the expansion of drilling has breathed economic life into many small Oklahoma towns, the lucrative opportunities are also drawing people away from traditional service-sector jobs and even once-coveted state positions.

... and when the gas dries up, will those small-town businesses still be there?

Tanzania confirms it reflagged 36 Iranian ships, to deregister them

DAR ES SALAAM, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Tanzania said a shipping agent based in Dubai had reflagged 36 Iranian oil tankers with the Tanzanian flag without the country's knowledge and approval.

Tanzania said it was now in the process of de-registering the vessels after an investigation into the origin of the ships concluded they were originally from Iran.

also Zanzibar to deregister Iranian oil tankers

New system could predict solar flares, give advance warning

Researchers may have discovered a new method to predict solar flares more than a day before they occur, providing advance warning to help protect satellites, power grids and astronauts from potentially dangerous radiation.

Data were recorded during routine weekly calibration of an instrument used for radiological safety at Ohio State's research reactor. Findings showed a clear annual variation in the decay rate of a radioactive isotope called chlorine 36, with the highest rate in January and February and the lowest rate in July and August, over a period from July 2005 to June 2011.

... Jenkins, monitoring a detector in his lab in 2006, discovered that the decay rate of a radioactive sample changed slightly beginning 39 hours before a large solar flare.

"What this is telling us is that the sun does influence radioactive decay," Fischbach said. "Since neutrinos have essentially no mass or charge, the idea that they could be interacting with anything is foreign to physics," Jenkins said. "So, we are saying something that doesn't interact with anything is changing something that can't be changed."

The fact that this is impossible, yet seemingly true, is enormously interesting.

Indeed, if anything can affect radioactive decay probabilities, the implications for physical reality would be mind-bending. Much less neutrinos. This is potentially a huge deal. Just sayin'.

Despite our hubris, I think there is a lot of physics that we're unclear on.

This is an old article from the Guardian: ...

BAe's anti-gravity research braves X-Files ridicule

and Oct 1999 Popular Mechanics Taming Gravity

At the time I read BAe Systems research results and they appeared to surprise BAe as much as they did me. Since 2001, those results seem to be no longer accessible. Curiouser, and curiouser.

Like Hirsh's Peak Oil Study, these subjects seems to vanish into quicksand. Inconvenient truth?

BAe Systems

Clearly the Illuminati are responsible...

... Probably just the DoD ;-)

I could tell you more, but then I'd have to kill you.

I agree with you. I am still at the disbelieving the data stage. It just makes no sense. Particularly the neutrino claim -if it really predicts flares. Neutrinos come from the core of the sun, magnetic activity from the convection zone much closer to the surface. The connection between the two regions on the sun OUGHT to be very slow (like maybe a million years)! So by Occam's razor (for which there is no law that say's its alway's right), there is something amiss with the data.

From Purdue: Radioactive decay rates vary with the sun's rotation: research

Jenkins and Fischbach collaborated with Peter Sturrock, a professor emeritus of applied physics at Stanford University and an expert on the inner workings of the sun, to examine data collected at Brookhaven National Laboratory on the rate of decay of the radioactive isotopes silicon-32 and chlorine-36. The team reported in the journal Astroparticle Physics that the decay rate for both isotopes varies in a 33-day recurring pattern, which they attribute to the rotation rate of the sun's core.

Checking data collected at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island and the Federal Physical and Technical Institute in Germany, they came across something even more surprising: long-term observation of the decay rate of silicon-32 and radium-226 seemed to show a small seasonal variation. The decay rate was ever so slightly faster in winter than in summer.

More information: Power spectrum analyses of nuclear decay rates, M.A. Silver et al., Astroparticle Physics, Volume 34, Issue 3, October 2010, Pages 173-178. doi:10.1016/j.astropartphys.2010.06.011


and http://phys.org/news201795438.html#nRlv

"The decay rate was ever so slightly faster in winter than in summer."

err.... I thought summer and winter were something that occurs on planets that orbit the sun with a tilted axis ( perhaps very elliptical orbits could cause summer and winter as well). But... the sun does not have a summer and winter! If the measurements somehow correlate with the earths summer and winter then I would assume an earthly influence is present in the measurements as well.

The earth's orbit is elliptical. During northern hemisphere summer the earth is further from the sun than during northern hemisphere (where the experiments were done) winter. Perihelion is start of January and aphelion at the start of July. The solar neutrino flux at earth is greater at perihelion.

It has nothing to do with the tilt of earth's axis.

Gravity is stronger at perihelion than aphelion.

My question would be, if there is a seasonal correlation, does it hold in both hemispheres? Remember, one hemisphere's winter is the others summer (Northern vs Southern)...

I don't know if the experiment has been repeated in the southern hemisphere but the original researchers certainly believe the seasonal effect will reverse in the southern hemisphere as they show a correlation with earth distance from the sun.


Evidence for Correlations Between Nuclear Decay Rates and Earth-Sun Distance

Jere H. Jenkins, Ephraim Fischbach, John B. Buncher, John T. Gruenwald, Dennis E. Krause, Joshua J. Mattes
(Submitted on 25 Aug 2008)

Unexplained periodic fluctuations in the decay rates of Si-32 and Ra-226 have been reported by groups at Brookhaven National Laboratory (Si-32), and at the Physikalisch-Technische-Bundesandstalt in Germany (Ra-226). We show from an analysis of the raw data in these experiments that the observed fluctuations are strongly correlated in time, not only with each other, but also with the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

I'm just - by intention - a generalist, and find it counter-productive to get too specialized in any one field, so my comments on physics & stuff should be taken with that disclaimer. So saying...

Maybe this is an indication that some neutrinos are generated closer to the sun's surface by some mechanism of tweaked magnetic fields. Heck, I think it was just a week ago I read about how thunderstorms can generate gamma-ray bursts via antimatter at typical jet-airliner altitudes. But that kinda dodges the question of why there would be correlation at all.

And if it isn't the neutrinos but something that moves LIKE neutrinos, passing through matter as it would have to do to appear with them, then what is it? Tachyons from the future? My head hurts.

But far stranger still is the notion that anything at all can alter the probability of radioactive decay. Quantum uncertainty is supposed to be utterly different from classical uncertainty; not simply a matter of unknown, but unknowable. The notion that quantum decay probabilities might be related to earth's seasons, or to some other body in the solar system, is enough to make me want to sacrifice a chicken at stonehenge or something. The quantum underpinning of reality is weird enough without this. If Einstein called non-locality "spooky action at a distance" I wonder what he'd call this. Of course non-locality is real. The universe doesn't seem to care if it messes with out minds.

Which is cool.

A standard example of how to influence a quantum transition is a laser. An atom is poised in an excited state, ready to emit a photon at some random time as it transitions to a ground state. But a passing photon of the same energy can stimulate the transition. It's still random but just a different random. That's quantum physics, how the probabilities shift, depending on circumstances!

I wasn't talking about emitting photons due to electron orbital transitions, but radioactive decay where a particle is emitted from the nucleus, transmuting the atom. That's not supposed to be something you can affect; it supposedly involves quantum vacuum fluctuations.

And quantum vacuum fluctuations are supposed to be entirely stochastic, not changing with the seasons or storms on the sun. Hence my delighted confusion.

Maybe the neutrinos are triggering the flare.


"And if it isn't the neutrinos but something that moves LIKE neutrinos, "

Dark matter? Neutrinos interact by the weak force, and dark matter is suspected to as well. Also neutrinos do interact with chlorine nuclei. Or at least one flavor does. Not sure about silicon 32.


But, unless the neutrinos are very energetic (100's of millions of EVs), the cross section is exceedingly small. Thats why they need that giant tank, to detect what -a couple per month. It just doesn't seem strong enough, and they can correct for it.

Since neutrinos are faster than light, maybe they get here before they even left. Tiny wormholes are everywhere. Who knows, maybe I'm not even here yet ;-/

I think neutrinos actually do interact with matter, but always in the future,, or the past.. just not in 'real time'.

The red herring is the assumption that it's being caused by neutrinos.

And, yes Ghung, your future self was the one that sent that last comment ;-)

Yeah, he's the one that told me to start prepping, and that we're still just overconfident apes, playing with fires we'll never control.

Yes, the neutrino theory is reflexive.

The results of that experiment proved to be wrong. It was a measurement error due to a loose fibre cable. Neutrinos do not travel faster than the speed of light.

Citations.....always share the good stuff :-0


Instrument error. At least that's what the guys in the black suits said just before the funny red light flashed.

Superluminal neutrinos have now been largely discounted. I still think thats the most likely fate of these very bizarre observations.

Nobel Prize worthy

If confirmed. One can understand the cause & effect link - but the mechanism should keep physicists busy for many decades.'

We may learn some more about the universe.


Perhaps the neutrinos or the sun's magnetic field are affecting the sensitivity of the sensor, not the rate of radioactive decay.

Not that I have read the paper.

Or perhaps they affect the human mind's ability to resolve the universe into a single-valued past for comprehensibility.

It should be easy to prove - just predict the flares ahead of time.

Personally I'm doubting it, but I suppose in theory if some common cause can both set off the flare AND influence decay rates, then it might work. Probably should be noticeable in other decay types, which is where it all breaks down.

Mind, that brings up the old SF story where someone gains control of decay rates, turning subcritical lumps of radioactive material into critical lumps ...

I don't keep up with physics, but it is well established that neutrinos *do* interact with other stuff and *do* trigger nuclear reactions. There are plenty of neutrino detectors around. If neutrinos couldn't interact with anything then you wouldn't be able to detect them!

This is all a long way from solar flares. One classic type of neutrino detector uses Chlorine-37 which can turn into Argon-37 when a neutrino hits it. Chlorine-36 is a different beast, of course. Hmmm, fewer neutrons means actually it should want more to do a reverse beta decay, so naively the same path should work, but a good physicist can surely tell you why not.

Anyway the whole scheme is not so utterly outlandish.

VIDEOS: Another Dust Storm Blankets Phoenix

From the air and the ground, camera phones captured another huge dust storm in Phoenix on Saturday.

As the city's 12News reports, in 2006 there were 15 such storms reported statewide in Arizona. Last year, there were 24. And so far this year, there have been 13. Drought conditions over several years have made already arid conditions even drier. And with temperatures continuing to be sky high, Phoenix residents are going to have to continue to live with haboobs for the foreseeable futures, weather experts tell the station.

Photos: Dust moves into town, hot temps here to stay

Rig shortage means record $4.5 billion blowout binge

The five-story-tall valve that failed to stop the biggest offshore U.S. oil spill is heading toward a $4.5 billion surge in orders as deep-water oil explorers seek to minimize costs on the world’s most expensive drilling rigs.

Cameron International Corp. (CAM) and National Oilwell Varco Inc. (NOV), the two top makers of blow-out preventers, are racing to meet the biggest wave of investment in the 90-year history of the 400-ton fail-safe device that attaches to the well head on the ocean floor. The surge comes as growing demand for deep- water rigs has spurred record rental rates and safety concerns put greater emphasis on time-consuming maintenance.

... Some drillers have begun doubling up on the $45 million machinery to minimize maintenance delays and shorten drilling time for the most modern rigs that can cost more than $600,000 a day.

“If you’re shaving four days off of each well, that may be several hundred thousand dollars a day” in savings, Clay Williams, chief financial officer at Houston-based National Oilwell Varco said in a telephone interview.

A huge demand for the failsafe device that failed... now everyone wants two, hot swappable BOPs on every well head to reduce downtime...

What could possibly go wrong with a little added complexity?!

So much irony and contradiction in this article.

I almost long for the days when I could do a nice dive to do a hydraulic line inspection on a nice simple BOP in a mere 500 ft of sea water, ah, those were the days!

A BOP has never been advertised as a fail safe devise. That is why they are getting more complicated with more and more backup systems, to ensure they do not fail.

A reason for failures in the past has been due to poor/lack of maintenance. The reason for the second BOP on board is to take the maintenance off the critical path and remove the pressure to take short cuts or just to increase the efficiency of the operation. Even rigs with surface stacks are requesting backup BOPs, maybe not two BOPs for every rig but a spare in the field, especially for the 5 year inspections.

The main reason the DWH BOP "failed" to make the situation safe was, it was functioned too late. A BOP is designed to prevent a blow out. On the DWH the BOP was not operated until the gas was at surface and the blowout was in progress.


I actually did operational dives on BOPs in the Campos basin back in the late 70s so I won't dispute what you say.

I was mostly referring to the way the article was written. Let's just say that I would have chosen slightly different words in these sentences for example:

The five-story-tall valve that failed to stop the biggest offshore U.S. oil spill is heading toward a $4.5 billion surge in orders as deep-water oil explorers seek to minimize costs on the world’s most expensive drilling rigs...

...Cameron International Corp. (CAM) and National Oilwell Varco Inc. (NOV), the two top makers of blow-out preventers, are racing to meet the biggest wave of investment in the 90-year history of the 400-ton fail-safe device that attaches to the well head on the ocean floor.

I can find many other examples in that article that I find to be rather ironic or contradictory but perhaps it's just me.

Gas stations run out of high-grade gas

On top of a price increase in gas and diesel Friday morning, a number of gas stations in the Halifax area say they've run out of premium and supreme gas after drivers flocked to the pumps Thursday night.

Some stations have posted signs saying they are also out of mid-grade fuel because it uses high-grade fuel in its mixture.

Imperial oil calls the shortage a "blending problem" at the oil refinery in Dartmouth, where they couldn't turn crude into premium quality gas.

As an oh-by-the-way, gas is back up to $3.86/gallon in eastern Washington state.

$4.09 in Sonoma County, CA

$3.16-$3.34 in ABQ, NM

And the war-drums are beating loudly again.

Demand drives it down. Taking production offline and offering to bomb Iran drives it back up.

$8.02 England
$5.21 if you remove the 65% which is fuel duty and VAT.

You forgot to subtract.

It is $2.81/US gallon before fuel duty and tax using your figures.

Yep, I was going to just do 35% of $8.02 but did 65% instead.

$8.19 Wales

U.S. or Imp?


Cheapest in Davenport, IA: 3.47

Cheapest in Moline, IL: 3.70

Crude oil, natural gas liquids involved in Elk City explosion

... Addington said the explosion was in the business's yard and described the material inside a “frac tank” apparently involved in the incident as “highly explosive.” “Frac tank” is industry slang for a portable steel storage tank, said Jim Gipson, a spokesman for the energy company.

In this case, the tanks were being used to store crude oil and natural gas liquids that caught fire during the explosion.

According to its website, Hodges Trucking is an oil-field and heavy haul transportation company and an affiliate of Chesapeake Energy Corporation.

17-foot-long, 164-pound Burmese python caught in Everglades; snake euthanized and awaits study

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Scientists say they’ve caught the biggest Burmese python ever recorded in Florida.

The python weighed in at 164½ pounds and measured 17 feet, 7 inches long. It was pregnant with 87 eggs.

Hey, look on the bright side! At least they didn't find a live 48 foot long Titanoboa...


Who knows maybe with Climate Change and a little Darwinian evolution the Florida Pythons will eventually evolve into a new version of super giant snake.

Hmm, maybe I just found a way to scare people into taking Climate Change seriously. You don't want 50 ft long snakes slithering down your street do you? Well then stop emitting CO2!

Interesting factoid from the Sinkhole files ...

... Since Saturday, disaster workers are required to wear respirators, although the public within the disaster area is not.

... kinda like Fukushima.


Details on class-action suit in regards to the sinkhole.

Even if those folks are eventually deemed to be owed compensation, I wonder how many will still remain alive - rather than being dead of old age - by the time the court "system", moving at its customary amoeba's pace, finally figures out who owes them how much.

I dunno. It doesn't sound like Texas Brine has as deep a pocket as - say BP - when it comes to litegatin'. And, as part of their contract, they did agree to covering the cost of evacuation. In the end the vampire attorneys from both sides will suck this case dry.

Drought May Increase Suicide Risk

Australian scientists have confirmed a disturbing association — the longer a drought drags on, the higher the risk of suicide.

The researchers, who detail their study online today (Aug. 13) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, are not certain why bone-dry weather would be linked to suicide. However, they suggest several explanations, including the toll drought takes on farmers as well as on the human psyche. The drought-suicide link was found for rural men living in Australia.

The study results come amidst a historical drought hitting the United States, with many areas currently considered disaster zones.

... it sure does in India.

What does it cost to get a driver's license in the US?
I'm considering getting one, but it will set me back $5000 in total (excluding a car).

$28 in Louisiana for a renewal (from memory). Same for new I think.


It varies, depending on which state. About $20.

The states of the US set the requirements for driver's licenses. Here in North Carolina, the cost is $4 a year and you pay for 8 years when you apply for a normal license. HERE are the basic requirements for NC. One must pass a written and driving test and also show proof of insurance to drive if you own a car, which adds to the cost. Notice that, as you have indicated that you are not a US citizen, there are other requirements, such as showing that you are in the US legally...

E. Swanson

I see. My estimate of $5000 is for lessons, car rental for practical exam and theoretical/written exam in Norway. I surmise it has to be a lot lower in the states, and I'm weighing benefits against disadvantages. For one, it's a lot of money and I don't expect I want to keep a car. However, it's a nice asset and might be useful for job applications later. Hmm. I have no intention of going to the US, sorry about the obfuscatory wording.

Are formal lessons a requirement in Norway? In the US, most folks are taught to drive by family or friends, or drivers' education in public school systems. In Florida, it seems you don't even have to learn how to drive to get a license, ;-/

I agree that knowing how to drive is an important skill, just in case, even if one doesn't have a car.

Yeah, some formal lessons are required, such as the skill of overtaking cars (driving past the ones in front of you). You also have a daytrip along with an instructor. After you pass those and a written exam you can show for the practical exam which will result in a $1000 loss should you fail. I'd have loved to have driver's education classes as an elective in school, it's such a pain to get time for the compulsory classes when you're working full-time.

The Norwegian police academy lasts 3 years (a bachelor's degree) by the way. I've watched some episodes of COPS recently, seems like the US equivalent is only a few months and much more militarized? I suppose that's to do with the different environments and cultures and heterogeneity of the population though.

It's only £93 ($146) to sit both the written and actual driving test (40 mins driving with the examiner) in the UK. Then £50 ($78) for the issue of a full European Licence assuming you pass, No extra charge if you fail. No formal lessons are legally required but most people take at least a few (of course many take a full course - some over and over again if they are particularly bad/unlucky) even if most of the instruction was from friends and family.

You can sit the test in a car you bring with you (assuming someone else who can legally drive brought it there and you are actually insured to drive it!) or in a car hired for the period from an instructor.

Here's a question for Europeans. I still have the European license I obtained in Germany in 1966. There isn't an expiration date on the license. Is it possible that no renewal is EVER required? Is my 1966 license still valid?

ps. The picture probably needs to be updated.

My British licence, issued in 1983, expires when I'm 70 in 2030, when it will need renewing every 3 years.
However... It is one of the old paper ones (no photo or chip or anything) and should I need to get a new one on moving, changing my name etc it would be replaced by a photocard. These need renewing every 10 years at a cost of £20 ($30).


If you got your driving license in Germany in 1966 then it is probably a German license and not an European license. I don't think there is a valid European license without an associated national license, only an European style license issued nationally.
There were no European licenses in 1966!


I think a licence issued in Germany in 1966 can be converted into a current European licence. If you wish to convert a German licence to a UK/European document the procedures are at http://www.london.diplo.de/Vertretung/london/en/07/04__A__Z/C__D/Driving...

Similar procedure would likely apply elsewhere in Europe.

"can be converted into a current European licence"

From your link there is no European driving license. It does seem that Britain offers an international driving license ( what ever that is) for 50 pounds.

Here in Germany there are only German driving licenses and the new newer ones are recognized in the EU.

Yeah D'Alot, driving in the US is pretty much considered a right, not a privilege. Most employment applications I've filled out require the applicant to have a valid driver's license, I suppose so they can get to work on time. Crazy. I wish that driver's licenses were far more difficult to get (and easier to lose) in the US; would solve a lot a problems. Maybe folks would remember they are driving a car :-0

As for cops, most police academies in the US require only a highschool diploma or equivalency, and are 6 months, about the same as training soldiers to go to Afghanistan to kill people. Most of the police officers I've known were either a bit "off", or moved on to other professions (and what's with the skinhead haircuts?). That said, our local Sheriff's Department is pretty solid; generally good people skills. I think that small communities usually weed out the weirdos. We know where they live... little anonymity.


maybe you can get an international driver's licence. It should be good for up to a year in a new country.

If I understand European law correctly, an American driver's license is only good for 3 months in Europe. (And really, it should not be good at all. American driver's license regulations are insanely lenient.)

I've contemplated the opposite thing: of making my children spend a summer in Germany and going to a driving school there.

U.S. banks told to make plans for preventing collapse

U.S. regulators directed five of the country's biggest banks, including Bank of America Corp and Goldman Sachs Group Inc, to develop plans for staving off collapse if they faced serious problems, emphasizing that the banks could not count on government help.

The two-year-old program, which has been largely secret until now, is in addition to the "living wills" the banks crafted to help regulators dismantle them if they actually do fail. It shows how hard regulators are working to ensure that banks have plans for worst-case scenarios and can act rationally in times of distress.

They told banks to consider drastic efforts to prevent failure in times of distress, including selling off businesses, finding other funding sources if regular borrowing markets shut them out, and reducing risk. The plans must be feasible to execute within three to six months, and banks were to "make no assumption of extraordinary support from the public sector," according to the documents.

Each plan was to address severe financial stress at the firm, as well as "general financial instability." The plans should be capable of being executed ideally within three months, but no longer than six months, the documents said...

and Are The Government And The Big Banks Quietly Preparing For An Imminent Financial Collapse?

Maybe it's just part of the continuing concern regarding the Euro. If the EU breaks up, it will have a major impact on those 5 largest US banks. Here's a report from the German magazine, Der Spiegel:

Investors Prepare for Euro Collapse

E. Swanson

It is almost as if a "perfect storm" is brewing.

Ya think?. Sometimes I wish I was an ostrich.

Sometimes I wish I was an ostrich.

Hey, if the sky already seems to be falling for chicken little, imagine how bad it would be for an ostrich >;-)
Anyway, methinks we're all already Dodos!

Speaking of impending financial collapse.....

We own our house (with garden, orchard, wood stove, solar intertie etc) free and clear. However, we have some rentals that still have mortgages. My spouse wants to borrow on our house to pay off rentals but I am adamantly against it. He argues that low interest rates and tax deduction make it a no brainer. I argue that the homestead is the basic element of a resiliency plan. If I am wrong, we lose some money from interest payments on the rentals. If he is wrong we could lose our homestead if we can't make payments.

Any arguments out there for or against to help clarify?

Never borrow against your home! That has gotten so many people into trouble that they thought "could never happen"! It's much better to risk losing a rental that you can do without in a pinch than risk losing your paid-off home which is much harder to do without if/when times get tough. Borrowing against your primary home says you are extremely confident that BAU will continue without any problems, which all the evidence is against.

Wow, klee, your husband needs a major reality check. Seems he has no idea what's going down (emphasis on down). Protect your homestead at all costs.

Questions: If When TSHTF, if the rental properties get foreclosed on, is your house protected from seizure (varies by state)?

Are the properties (loans) in both of your names (makes a huge difference in many states)? In many states, if the primary residence is in both names (marital property), debtors can't go after it if the debts aren't also marital property, and it won't be included in any individual bankruptcy filed by one or the other. One person takes the hit while the other doesn't. Best to have no joint liabilities in these uncertain times, only joint (unencumbered) assets.

Are the rental properties protected by incorporation, or personal property?

What income level are the rentals in? How flexible can you be on rental rates and still make the payments? Many rental properties in our area are vacant or have been foreclosed on because folks can't afford the rents.

Just my opinions, but the time to gamble your primary homestead is long gone. Hunker down. How this collapse will play out is the subject of much debate, but no realists that I know of expect any meaningful recovery. The math is overwhelming...

If you happen to be one of the unlucky ones whom the bank forecloses on even if you don't have a mortgage, then you might be SOL barring hiring a good lawyer to get things straightened out.

Don't let him do it klee! Remember you have to sign too for any added mortgage on your home - so just refuse to sign. Kick him in the shin if you have to, but make him understand that under no circumstances are you ever going to allow a mortgage on your paid off home. Way too dangerous in economic times of little or no growth. Once the wheels start coming off in Europe which will ding the US & china economies/stock markets, you'll be real glad you have a home that is paid off. Work from a position of financial security.

Its a good example of people who are aware of all the stressors but whose default position is BAU. My kids think I'm loony as well. At this point we don't really have any problem paying the mortgages on the rentals so I think its primarily theoretical plus that tendency that currently exists that if the interest rates go down you MUST refinance because its free money. I told him that he is just going to have to trust me on this.

Keep in mind the 'free money' idea of the tax deduction is at the whim of the government. remember a few years ago when members of the government were looking at getting id of the deduction for interest on home loans?

You should seek some solid financial advice. There may be a need to protect your asset, the homestead, in case anyone comes after you for debts (real or imaginary) on the renters. And that is without changing your mortgage situation in the first place.


The Financial Decline In Europe Continues

As Industrial Production falls -0.6% in Europe and as the economy shrinks -0.2% there is once again a good reason to pause to consider the ramifications for this going forward.

... the Italian economy is shrinking by about -2.5% while their debt is growing by 5.8% which is the baseline for an unsustainable situation if these trends continue.

If you just stick to the actual data and forget the rhetoric that surrounds it the picture becomes clearer. Each and every projection for Greece, Spain and Italy that has been forecast by the EU and the IMF has been wrong; dead wrong.

“The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. Instead of altering their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views... which can be very uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering.” - Doctor Who

Anyone remember Bush trying to privatize social Security and get us all invested in the stock market just before the crash?

Yes, I do. Funny how seemingly trivial moments can leave a lasting impression. I was in my car listening to NPR and they played an excerpt of a speech he made promoting the concept, and there was some discussion about it. I had never heard of it or thought about it before. I still remember the intersection I was driving through when the realization hit me that that would be a really, really bad idea.

Jamaica on edge for Venezuelan elections

The Jamaican Government is keeping a close watch on the elections in Venezuela as the fate of the country's petroleum sector is tied up in the outcome of the polls which are due in less than two months.

Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell says he is hopeful that President Hugo Chavez retains power as the stability of Jamaica's economy depends heavily on the election results.

This is because Venezuela's opposition leader, Henrique Capriles, who is seeking to unseat President Chavez, has expressed plans to scrap the PetroCaribe agreement.

It is my considered opinion that the Petrocaribe Agreemint is one reason why things are not worse than they are in Jamaica.

Alan from the islands

Dr. Oz agrees with Leanan that skim milk makes you fat:



The question mark blows-away the likinator.

The above link actually looks like this:

Dr. Oz agrees with Leanan that skim milk makes you fat:

We went to Silk pure almond (original). It has no cholesteral, only 2.5 grams of fat per cup with no saturated fat, and has 1.5 times the calcium of milk. I prefer Silk because they don't use carageenan, which I'm allergic to - upsets the gut - all the other brands have it. Their vanilla flavored we avoid due to twice the sugar grams.

I'ts pretty thick stuff, so we use part Silk and part filtered water in cereal. They mix together to make a great milk substitute and by adding water it reduces the fat content.

Article: Steering clear of the iceberg ahead:


I think we should take the medicine...it will taste real bad going down, but we will be better off down the road.

remember, the sequester is a 'peanut-butter spread'...applies to non-defense as well as defense spending. The one not-so-good part is supposedly the law will not allow much flexibility tailoring the cuts /inside/ the non-defense and defense portfolios...if that part is true, it is stupid...the gov needs the flexibility to cull the least worthy programs.

I think we should take the medicine...it will taste real bad going down, but we will be better off down the road.

Absolutely should. It's called budgeting - reducing expenditures to more closely match revenue. Since there is so much more need beyond these cuts to ever get to a balanced budget, better to take this med. now and then be ready to take on more later. The only way down from this era of cheap oil (that included lots of extra dough) to the current expensive oil period (however long it may last before shtf) is to start reducing outlays.

I also like the fact Congress wrote up this bill, so as much as they want to whine now about the very cuts they specified, well tough, politically it's best to let it go through. Obama has shown a weak spine in the past when it comes to facing off with the R's, but I really hope (presuming he gets re-elected) he just let's the auto cuts go through. They will claim that the defense cuts will leave the nation defenseless against a random phantom agressor, but simply ignore that falsehood.

High-tech runs on a few geniuses.
Agribusiness depends on machines and guest-workers.
Everything is made in China.
America IS the defense industry,
the Military Industrial Complex,
and corporate headquarters.
Poverty makes soldiers.

The Fisherman's Wife's Lament

What force leads a man
To a life filled with danger
High on seas or a mile underground?
It's when need is his master
And poverty's no stranger,
And there's no other work to be found.

Traditional/Silly Wizard

K – Very poignant. “And poverty's no stranger…And there's no other work to be found” Easy to recall many oil patch hands I’ve worked with over the years. Especially offshore/overseas.

In my academic youth I had visions of spending years scrambling around the Rockies with not much more than pocket change. But as the 70’s boom began just as I was graduating I had the opportunity to take care of my extended family as no one had ever imagined. No regrets though. I’ve been poor and I’ve been wealthy. IMHO wealth is preferred.

"IMHO wealth is preferred."... paraphrasing Mae West.

It depends where you are poor or where you are wealthy.

What if you are poor in a clean nice place where the drinking water is tasty?
You can walk because the streets are small, the town built before the days of the piggie automobile.
Mountains all around. Green fields, but still a doctor or a dentist if you need one, a modest array of grocery stores. You have a small number of part-time gigs and little jobs.

Or rich, in a huge city or its sphere of influence. Monumental food prices. Cement everywhere. Big roads so you have to take a bus. The water tastes awful, so you buy bottled. A stressful job with other stressed-out people. Sure, you have money, but can we call this a life?????

I choose option 1!!
And I have tried both.

Being poor is waking up in the morning and not knowing if you will make enough money today to buy enough food to make one meal for your children this evening.

Today, more than a billion people are poor. When Malthus predicted global famine 200+ years ago there were less than a billion people on the planet.

Being poor is waking up in the morning and not knowing if you will make enough money today to buy enough food to make one meal for your children this evening

I think a non-monetary definition of "who is poor" is very important. My colleague is the son of a farmer, he says they are poor by all economic standards yet they never had to worry about food or water because their land provided them with plenty. Even on the worst days they had enough to cook a meal for everyone.

Family and community can have the highest value.

It is quite the song. I am happy to be able share it with you.

I think it highly unlikely (actually I do not think there is even a small chance) that those supposedly mandatory budget cuts will ever take place. They are politically impossible to execute. Not to mention the devastating impact they would have on the economy (jobs, jobs, jobs you know).

So Congress will punt as usual. They undoubtedly have all sorts of procedural ammunition to deploy that would make it impossible to ever bring it up for a vote. Thus protecting all the politicians from having to take more than a verbal position.

It is not just the entitlement program supporters who will fight it is the Defense industry (and they can fight like no one else). When the notice of suspension of contracts and layoff notices are sent out this fall (60 day advance notice required in advance of the Jan 13 date) TSWHTF!

Not going to happen at all.


It's actually not up to Congress, but rather falls to the executive branch, the president. Unless he signs some new policy passed by congress and the senate, what is scheduled to occur will happen. If Romney gets elected then I'm sure he will have his own angle.

There's no stomach for tax increases only tax cuts, and since revenue falls far short of commitments, with little or no economic growth due to the high cost of oil, then the only alternative is to reduce payments. We need to start scaling down an empire built on cheap oil profits. Might as well take our medicine now as Heisenberg wrote in his post above.

That is EXACTLY what IS going to happen. Congress is going to change its mind.

If Congress does Nothing then what you said is accurate and stopping it falls to Obama (who would stop it of course).

But all Congress has to do to get rid of it is to amend the Budget Control Act. Not hard to do at all.


Let's not forget that there have been sequesters before that were supposed to occur and Congress got rid of them when they became inconvenient. The sequestration was just political theatre.

It is not going to happen and it does not matter who is elected. The Defense Industry will not put up with it nor will we crush the social programs.

It is not politically feasible. When the economy finally collapses then you will get budget cuts like that but not until then.


I agree. There is absolutely no chance the US government will substantially address the deficit until the bond market forces them to do so. The amounts involved have simply become too large and the economy too dependent on the continuous influx of borrowed money.

50 GW of Wind Installed in the USA


Best Hopes for More,


This one may interest you (and others).

Looks like the Army is going to get $7B of alternative energy installed for bases.

It reads like the private sector will go in and build up the sites, and the government will pay them back buying the energy.


and elsewhere

Unfortunately given the fixed and remote locations of many bases some of this development will drive curtailment of other renewables.

50 GW of Wind Installed in the USA

Best Hopes for More

Or, Peak wind installation. Best places first exploited, after that each year harder and more expensive

I cannot find the link - but there was an analysis of GE wind turbines over recent years. From memory, about a 10% gain in cost efficiency in just the last four years - with the strongest gains at lower wind speeds.

Best Hopes for Still Maturing Technology,


Or, Peak wind installation. Best places first exploited, after that each year harder and more expensive

Han, let us hope that the government can renew the tax credit (with a gradual phase-out over a few years).

There are many windy spots in the Great Plains that have barely been tapped.

Best hopes for Peak Wind many years from now.

There are many windy spots in the Great Plains that have barely been tapped.

But are they near existing high voltage power lines, access roads and towns where workers can reside? The low hanging fruit exists where all four factors intersect.

The wind buildup is coming to a screatching halt as we speak. The expiration of the production tax credit -which a tea party congress will not allow, means new wind turbines will be down more than 90% by next January. Wind companies are moving assets overseas. Due to politics US wind has always been start/stop. And thats why other countries lead the industry and not us.

No. Not close to Peak wind. The wind resource is generally not the limiting factor in which spots are currently 'best.'. The grid is. As wind scales up, the grid expands, changing where the best spots are, and opening up areas with greater wind resources. To the extent transmission costs money you are right to an extent, but a transmission project which opens up a greater wind resource may well result in a lower kwh price IF the scale of wind development is large enough.

The press release includes the info that 10GW of additional wind capacity is currently under construction in the U.S.. My view on this is much like student loans, I like the result, but it doesn't require a boondoggle to get the same result.

Iraq's Rise To No. 2 Oil Producer In OPEC Is Bad News For World

Put all that together, and Iraq will struggle to nudge output towards 4mb/d over the next few years, let alone hitting 5, 6, or 7mb/d over the next decade. As for 12mb/d production targets by 2017 as a the new ‘swing producer’, forget it. Iraq has squeezed out all it can from its older fields; any further gains will be attritional, at best.

That is exactly what I have been saying since Iraq came out with its fantastic 12 million barrel a day plan back in 2009. Another thing that just ain't gonna happen.

This along with the new pessimistic outlook for Brazil makes two of Leonardo Maugeri's "Big Four" that will not pan out. His big four that was supposed to supply the lions share of the coming oil glut were Brazil, Canada, Iraq and the United States. Yet we still see a flood of articles quoting his "expert" opinion. This one came out just today:
Oil isn't running out - expert.

Ron P.

Re: Brazil, Canada, Iraq and the United States

Brazil is a net importer of petroleum liquids (along with the US of course). Counting biofuels, even the EIA shows 2011 production equal to consumption in Brazil.

Iraq's Net Oil Exports (Total Petroleum Liquids, mbpd, BP & EIA Data): 

2004: 1.5
2005:  1.3 

2006: 1.5 

2007: 1.6 

2008: 1.8

2009: 1.8 

2010: 1.7 

2011:  2.0

Combined net exports from the seven major net exporters in the Americas in 2004, inclusive of rising net exports from Canada, fell from 6.1 mbpd in 2004 to 5.1 mbpd in 2011 (BP).

So, combined net exports from Iraq + Seven (2004) Major Net Exporters in the Americas fell from 7.6 mbpd in 2004 to 7.1 mbpd in 2011.

Of course, Maugeri is a resident of Fantasy Island, where oil fields don't deplete. Unfortunately, most OECD countries seem to be operating on "Fantasy Island" Economics, waiting for what most people believe will be the inevitable return of cheap and plentiful crude oil supplies.

My continuing concern is that the debt driven effort to keep the "Wants" based economy going in oil importing OECD countries is damaging our ability to keep the "Needs" based economy going.

Troubled Arctic Challenger cited for small illegal discharges

SEATTLE — The containment vessel designed to capture oil in the event of a spill during exploratory drilling off the coast of Alaska has itself been responsible for four minor illegal fluid discharges during the last three weeks, the Coast Guard confirmed Monday.

“They’re small spills," Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Jamie Frederick said. "I wouldn’t say that a spill in the yard is necessarily uncommon. But I also wouldn’t say that they happen all the time. It’s common that if you spill something the first time, you get a warning, and at some point the warning turns to a fine, and that’s what you saw here.”

Interior chief says Shell equipment behind Arctic drilling delays

... "It's not a matter of ice, it's a matter of whether Shell has the mechanical capability" to comply with the exploration plan that had been approved, Salazar added.

Arctic drilling might wait until 2013, Interior Secretary Salazar says

also Environmentalists warn of risks of Arctic drilling

Environmentalists argue that Artic drilling is a hazard that mankind cannot afford since there are no tried and tested technologies to deal with oil spills in conditions with ice — under ice in particular.

An AP investigation last year found that at least 1 percent of Russia's annual oil production, or 5 million tons, is spilled every year. Crumbling infrastructure and a harsh climate are believed to be the main factors for the spills.

Riot engulfs troubled French district in north

AMIENS, France (AP) — Months of tension between police and young people in a troubled district of northern France exploded on Tuesday, with dozens of youths facing off against riot officers in a night of violence. Sixteen officers were injured, a pre-school and public gym were torched, and at least three passing drivers in Amiens were dragged from their cars.

While the identity of the rioters and the immediate cause is unclear, the economic picture of the area in question is not. Unemployment skews higher in northern France and among the country's youth. Less than two weeks ago, the French government declared Amiens among 15 impoverished zones to receive more money and security.

Think Globally, Act Selfishly: How Utilitarian Environmentalism Can Backfire

... don’t put that Save the Whales t-shirt on eBay just yet. In experiments published August 12 in Nature Climate Change, psychologists found that telling people about carpooling’s money-saving benefits seemingly makes them less likely to recycle.

In short, appeals to self-interest backfired, accidentally encouraging people to behave selfishly in other areas.

In the study, 80 Cardiff University undergraduate students were each asked to read statements on a computer about carpooling. Some learned that it saved money, others that it’s good for the environment. A control group learned neither.

Among those students “primed,” as psychologists say, with a message of carpooling’s self-transcending benefits, 89 percent recycled. Of the group that learned about the cost saving, just 50 percent recycled, as did 49 percent of the control group.

In a second version of the experiment, some students were told that carpooling is environmentally friendly and that it saves money. Their recycling rates were still just 50 percent, while 83 percent of those told only about environmental benefits recycled. Forty percent of a control group and just 15 percent of the cost-savings group recycled.

Seraph, this is not a rant aimed at you.. You're great.

"While the findings are preliminary, involving an artificial situation and demographically unrepresentative participants, they’re also intriguing."

NO, THEY'RE NOT that intriguing.. they're nuts! Gawd, I find the logic in the setup of such tests to be so completely flawed and transparently so.

I think the conclusion is very loose when based on the fact that these participants had simply heard about something from some other aspect of 'Sustainability Issues' like carpooling. The mechanism has far more moving parts than seem to be getting weighed by the researchers.

'How have Welsh folks been looking at recycling in general? Recent past, longer past?'
'What were the 'Unrelated questions' about?'
'How do people view the context of this study-environment, when so instructed to Dispose of unneeded paperwork?'
'When in Rome,.. do people deal with disposal, greenness or global questions like this relative to their expectations of the institution or culture where they are at the moment?'

In college, that was why we always considered social psychology a 'soft' science - though it's head and shoulders above economics.

There is an heuristic, the focus effect, that can explain why an appeal to self-interest can generalize.

That, and info processing channel capacity (our 5 +- 2 channel capacity limit), support the intrigue (i.e., not that many moving parts at any one instant of cognition).

My take on the "soft" notion is that the physical/natural sciences are in a part of the world blessed with high correlations (range of r = 0.80 to 0.99). It's hard, from that perspective, to understand how to infer and interpret in that part of the world where correlations are 0.30 to 0.60.

Just square the r-values to get the variance overlap (in percent) and the problem of making behavioral predictions become clear. So, it is sometimes said that, the "soft" sciences have it harder than the "hard" sciences.

One of the reasons such Soft targets are Harder to hit accurately, is that there is a whole behavioral piece coming from the researchers.

Just the term 'Self-interest' has a very complex web of value judgements, both deserved and undeserved, and with implications sometimes dangerously unstated..

"Put your own mask on first.."

I was accused a bit of 'self-interest' when I pushed the sibs to get my dad moved to a residence in my city, a few blocks from my house. It meant that instead of a 3 hour drive that I couldn't build into my life more than a couple times a year, I can now walk over to see him after walking my daughter to school.

Yes, it serves my self-interests, while I also let Dad have a more frequent family life again and we get to have more time together in his late years, and my daughter gets to know him as well, and I use a little shoe leather instead of a lot of gas, as I get a little exercise and run into neighbors (in a nice way), reducing my fuel use, pollution created.

Sometimes what we want SELFISHLY is to live in a better world, where it all runs smoothly, we're less stressed, and people are better connected. So Petty!

I agree. Two thoughts.

On your first point, I think this issue is handled by attending to the internal validity of the study (i.e., did they measure what they intended). Good research discusses both external and internal validity. Poor research might discuss external validity but usually ignores internal; it succumbs to bias, and creates invalid, unreliable findings. And this is not just a risk of social science; even the physical/natural sciences can fail tests of internal validity.

Second, doesn't it seem a stretch to describe as selfish the desire to live in a better world, that is coherent and in a dynamic steady-state, while surrounded by well-fed neighbors, who are themselves secure and feeling vital. Some would call this enlightened self-interest, which is an improvement but still misses something. I think that there are huge misunderstandings about self-interest that aren't fixed by modifying it with the word "enlightened."

A main one is that it is only about attaining personal happiness; at the extreme to believe that the only thing that matters to us is our own happiness and that, by extension, we can never have concern for another person or thing external to us.

In their thoughtful book, Psychology's Sanction for Selfishness, Wallach and Wallach (1983) clear up this misunderstanding by noting that our individual contentment can depend on what happens to those things about which we care. They state that, "we are satisfied or pleased if we attain what we [really] want; we are made happy if something that we [really] wish for comes to pass."

Thus, while happiness and contentment is experienced personally, it can be derived from attaining an outcome, any outcome, we care about. A personal sense of satisfaction can be derived from such things as enhancing the well being of another person or the sustainability of an ecosystem. Framed in this way, self-interest can be tied to a vast number of concerns, many directly relevant to the promotion of a sane and sustainable community-level response to energy descent .

Close Calls Are Near Disasters, Not Lucky Breaks

... It is the paradox of the close call. Probability wise, near misses aren’t successes. They are indicators of near failure. And if the flaw is systemic, it requires only a small twist of fate for the next incident to result in disaster. Rather than celebrating then ignoring close calls, we should be learning from them and doing our very best to prevent their recurrence. But we often don’t.

Post-Columbia, Robin Dillon-Merrill and Catherine Tinsley, two researchers at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, have been attempting to figure out how our near-miss blind spot really works. In one study, they asked NASA employees and MBA students to rank different versions of a mission scenario. One described a highly successful project; the other project nearly self-destructed but was ultimately saved by a lucky break. Regardless, subjects ranked both missions as equally well done. Why? Most of us grade outcomes in binary terms. Success is good. Failure is bad.

“People don’t learn from a near miss, they just say, ‘It worked, so let’s do it again,’”

“People don’t learn from a near miss, they just say, ‘It worked, so let’s do it again,’”

I would have expected NASA employees to have learned a bit more from their past failures by now...


It appears that there are enormous differences of opinion as to the probability of a failure with loss of vehicle and of human life. The estimates range from roughly 1 in 100 to 1 in 100,000. The higher figures come from the working engineers, and the very low figures from management. What are the causes and consequences of this lack of agreement? Since 1 part in 100,000 would imply that one could put a Shuttle up each day for 300 years expecting to lose only one, we could properly ask "What is the cause of management's fantastic faith in the machinery?"

Richard Feynman's Appendix to the Rogers Commission Report on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident

It was closer to 1 in 50 at the time (2 in 135 now). So even the higher figures were optimistic.

China risking water crisis due to coal: Greenpeace

Environmental campaigners Greenpeace urged China Tuesday to review plans for a huge expansion in coal mines and power plants, warning of a water crisis in the country's already arid north.

Beijing plans to increase coal production by 2.2 billion tons a year by 2015 as it tries to meet the country's growing demand for electricity, and is building 16 new facilities, most of them in the northern provinces of Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi, Shanxi and Ningxia.

But a new Greenpeace report said this would require up to 10 billion cubic metres (350 billion cubic feet) of water annually, creating a "grim future" for a region already suffering severe water shortages.

"The reality is there is simply not enough water," said Li Yan, Greenpeace East Asia climate and energy campaign manager. "It is limited, and there is no miracle to ensure the water resources in those areas could magically increase.

Report: Navy SEALs to Hunt Cartel Kingpin Like Bin Laden

According to anonymous Mexican and U.S. military sources cited by Proceso magazine (translated from Spanish), the plan involves sending Navy SEALs by helicopter after the Sinaloa Cartel kingpin, who is rumored to be hiding in the mountains of the western Mexican states of Sinaloa and Durango. The SEALs would be divided into two teams — one would land and attack, and the other would stay airborne — assisted by three unmanned drones packing missiles.

After locating El Chapo, the SEALs would “eliminate any of Chapo’s security on the spot … as they did with the ‘Bin Laden’ operation,” according to Proceso. If El Chapo is killed, the SEALs would take the kingpin’s body with them. The plan is reported to have been ordered by the Pentagon and Northern Command (NORTHCOM), which oversees military operations in North America. If enacted, U.S. officials would observe from the White House and NORTHCOM headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. The plan is also reported to be U.S.-only, excluding the Mexican military.

... killing El Chapo may not have the same effect as killing Bin Laden. It wouldn’t stop the drugs flowing north, as there would likely be someone ready to take his place

Murder as usual in Honduras

... Ever since the late US President Ronald Reagan officially declared a War on Drugs in 1982, many across the continent have witnessed narco-traffickers gain political power in their government, their country become a battle ground, and their people die: First Bolivia and Peru, then Colombia and Mexico, and now, Honduras and El Salvador

It would also have the effect of killing many Americans, not to mention Canadians and other foreigners who would just get lumped as 'gringos'. Sicarious would be sent out to kill Americans in revenge.


New study finds the US wind power market riding a wave that is likely to crest in 2012

Facing looming policy uncertainty beyond 2012, the U.S. remained one of the fastest-growing wind power markets in the world in 2011—second only to China—according to a new report released by the U.S. Department of Energy and prepared by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).

Roughly 6.8 gigawatts (GW) of new wind power capacity were connected to the U.S. grid in 2011—more than the 5.2 GW built in 2010, but below the 10 GW added in 2009. Driven by the threat of expiring federal incentives, new wind power installations are widely expected to be substantially higher in 2012 than in 2011, and perhaps even in excess of 2009's record build.

More information: The full report ("2011 Wind Technologies Market Report"), a presentation slide deck that summarizes the report, and an Excel workbook that contains much of the data presented in the report, can all be downloaded from: http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/ems/re-pubs.html

Standard Chartered to Pay $340 Million Over Iran Case

Standard Chartered agreed Tuesday to pay New York's banking regulator $340 million to settle allegations that it hid transactions with Iran.

... in an earlier era the newspaper boys would be yelling on the street corner ... Read All About It! ... Banks Get Away With Murder! ... Read All About It!

‘Economic suicides’ shake Europe as financial crisis takes toll on mental health

... So many people have been killing themselves and leaving behind notes citing financial hardship that European media outlets have a special name for them: “economic suicides.” Surveys are also showing increasing signs of mental stress: a jump in the use of anti-depressants and illicit drugs, a rise in depression and anxiety among workers worried about salary cuts or being laid off, and an increase in the use of sick leave due to psychological problems.

Coming to a state near you ...

In some US states, not poor enough for health care

Sandra Pico is poor, but not poor enough. She makes about $15,000 a year, supporting her daughter and unemployed husband. She thought she'd get health insurance after the Supreme Court this year upheld President Barack Obama's health care law.

Then she heard that her state's governor won't agree to the federal plan to extend Medicaid coverage to people like her in two years.

"You fall through the cracks and there's nothing you can do about it," said the 52-year-old. "It makes me feel like garbage, like the American dream, my dream in my homeland, is not being accomplished."

In Florida [R], making $11,000 a year is too much for Medicaid for a family of three. In Mississippi [R], $8,200 a year is too much. In Louisiana [R] and Texas [R], earning more than just $5,000 a year makes you ineligible for Medicaid.

"We don't need the federal government telling us what to do when it comes to meeting the needs of the citizens of our states," Florida Gov. Rick Scott wrote recently in an opinion piece for U.S. News and World Report.

... kinda reminds me of that paternal benevolence of the North Korean Government.

I hadn't realized the American Dream was all about collecting government largesse. Silly me.

What, pray tell, is the American Dream? I've often wondered about that.

A lot of different things, mostly mythological. The US has never had particularly strong social mobility, for instance. But this is the first time I've seen it referenced in regard to collecting handouts from the government.

It was the one thing in the article you commented on. At least one of us didn't miss the gist of the post: Health care reform in the US is largely a myth, much like the American dream...

Well I found it to be the most surprising thing in the article. If people really think the government is going to provide them with the American Dream, they're beyond help.

Handouts from Govt.? You have to be kidding.

I think it is pretty clear what the American dream is these days.

Evidently the dream is to become super wealthy, and anything short of that is simply not respected by those in power (because of a lack of discretionary income to pay 10k a plate at fundraisers). People struggling are seen by conservative politicians as failures, too lazy to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, unamerican because they are asking for a helping hand from an assistance program.

Romney-Ryan who both were born into wealth (and never spent one second of their lives worrying about how to pay a bill) want everyone to fend for themselves without any assistance whatsoever. A wild west frontier rugged individualism type of mad max violent dichotomy between those that have and those that don't. Like a reality tv show, either you're in or you're out!

Perk Earl, do you have a source for Paul Ryan being wealthy? Paul Ryan's father was a lawyer in Janesville, WI, so the family was likely middle-class or upper-middle class. Paul worked at McDonalds (while in high school) and as a waiter and fitness trainer after college.

You may have mischaracterized Paul Ryan in your rant, with respect to being "born into wealth."

I guess it depends on how you define wealth and class. His great-grandfather started the company linked below. His grandfather was the U.S. Attorney for Wisconsin. His family was well-enough off that he saved his Social Security survivor's benefits, instead of needing them to live on. He inherited enough wealth that his household's current income from trusts is greater than the average attorney's income. It is certainly to his credit that he worked for spending money, but that doesn't imply he wasn't born into privilege.



What, pray tell, is the American Dream? I've often wondered about that.

Something sold to those who are fast asleep.

It always isn't about collecting government largess, but about not being reduced to a penniless position while very large corporations enlarge their bottom line at the expense of the people who can least afford it, which BTW destroys any chance at any dreams at that point.

The US because of the system of paying for profit corporations has a much more expensive system which isn't in the top ten systems at actually providing health care to ALL of the citizens who live in the society.

The safety net used to be about keeping people from being permanently at the bottom of the barrel, but since 1980 the right wing has tried to co-op the safety net to prioritize it to a for profit system for those who created the mess of too expensive for most health care system we have now. That is definitely not any American dream except for the extreme right wing view point.

I'm quite confident it doesn't involve medical bankruptcy.

After months of record-breaking heat and drought, rural wells are running dry across Midwest

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — After months of record-breaking heat and drought, many rural Americans who rely on wells for water are getting an unwelcome surprise when they turn on their faucets: The tap has run dry.

The lack of running water can range from a manageable nuisance to an expensive headache. Homeowners and businesses are being forced to buy thousands of gallons from private suppliers, to drill deeper or to dig entirely new wells.

No one tracks the number of wells that go dry, but state and local governments and well diggers and water haulers report many more dead wells than in a typical summer across a wide swath of the Midwest, from Nebraska to Indiana and Wisconsin to Missouri.

It’s not unusual for rural wells to stop producing toward the end of a hot summer. But this year is different. Some of the same wells that are known to run dry in August or September instead ran out in June.

“It’s sort of Darwinism,” ... “The weak wells get shaken out at a time like this.

A short video clip I have posted before, of the late Elmer Kelton reading the prologue to "The time it never rained."


And many a boy would become a man before the land was green again.

Top farm lender worried by drought, politics

"This has a potentially longer term impact because of that 3, 4, 5 percent rise in food prices," Strom told Reuters in an interview, referring to recent food inflation estimates by the U.S. Agriculture Department and Federal Reserve.

"I don't think it's very often that Treasury officials talk inside the halls of the Treasury about agricultural issues every day. But I think they are doing that right now."

Asked about weather risks, he declined to say whether crop insurance should be a required part of collateral. But Strom said an outlook for a third straight year of declining U.S. corn and soybean yields meant the time had come for climate change to be considered more seriously in farmer planning and budgets.

"There's obviously going to be no avoiding the fact that we had the warmest July on record, the hottest summer probably in last three-four months on record," Strom said. "Dialogue is going to unfold and it's going to tie into things like global water supplies."

"The agricultural sector needs to engage in that discussion with a tone that says OK let's not dismiss it as simply the climatologists trying to scare the populace," said Strom.

Well Mr. Strom... here's the thing... this member of the populace is plenty damn scared just using my own lyin' eyes and seeing what's going on all around me.

Then I read what the climatologists have been trying to tell me for decades and I'm downright terrified...

I am many miles past scared, Mr. Strom...

"The agricultural sector needs to engage in that discussion with a tone that says OK let's not dismiss it as simply the climatologists trying to scare the populace," said Strom.

You mean they are trying to do more?! I find it fascinating how serious science work compiling data and comparing it to past records in ice cores, etc. to draw conclusions and (in this case) warnings about our future, is purposefully mis-characterized as trying to scare the populace. Somehow just saying it enough times actually worked - many people bought that bit, never questioning why scholars with so much education would waste their time with such an immature endeavor as frightening people. It has to make one wonder if people are really that lacking of ability to reason or if they just sought an easy excuse to ignore the problem hoping it would go away.

Appeals Court OKs Warrantless, Real-Time Mobile Phone Tracking

A federal appeals court on Wednesday said the authorities do not need a probable-cause warrant to track a suspect’s every move via GPS signals from a suspect’s mobile phone.

The signs are we will burn every last ounce of coal until it becomes uneconomic. Carbon taxes, cap and trade, Kyoto Protocols, EPA regulations you name it merely slow things down for a while. The good news is that high quality easily mined coal must be getting harder to find.

The New South Wales Hunter Valley is renowned for wine and horse breeding. Even those industries now have to make way for coal. One thoroughbred horse farm that has multi-million dollar winners will either be undermined or have a mine next door
As the owners say farming and mining don't really mix. A housing shortage in the region meant miners are living in trailer parks so the plan was to build a new housing subdivision. Now that land is earmarked for coal mining. Coal mining is like an unstoppable cancer but perhaps eventually it will kill itself from its own greed.

One thoroughbred horse farm that has multi-million dollar winners will either be undermined or have a mine next door...

Does that mean they will now be overmined? Oh, never mind, I just couldn't resist >;-)

WaveRider hypersonic jet targets Mach 6

Hypersonic jet WaveRider is to undergo another test flight above the Pacific Ocean aiming to reach Mach 6.

At this speed - more than 4,300mph (6,900km/h) - it could travel from London to New York in about an hour.

The project is funded by the Pentagon and Nasa, and is part of plans to develop faster missiles.

During a test in June 2011, WaveRider travelled at Mach 5, but failed to reach the target speed.

It is one of several projects currently under way to create a hypersonic aircraft.

The research could also be used to build a commercial plane, able to reach much higher speeds than today's jets, after Concorde was decommissioned in 2003.

What's the hurry? Seems like a psychopathic drive to get from A to B, just because. Your tax dollars at work? Someone, anyone, please explain....

Nothing to do with the claims about commercial planes and everything to do with fast missiles that won't get mistaken for ballistic missiles which might trigger a nuclear exchange.


Working link:
Waverider hypersonic jet targets Mach 6

They speak of mach 20: almost escape velocity.

Worked earlier. BBC does that sometimes. New link, for credits:


Non-working waverider.

Control surface borked and it broke up. Glad there were no passengers.


What's the hurry?

Dunno, this is more than fast enough for me... Crusing speed of about Mach 0.015


In a previous Drumbeat, Alan and I were discussing the Philips L-Prize lamp. Well, after a four month wait I finally received mine, and I have to tell you I'm completely blown away by the quality of the light -- it's really amazing.

On the left, we have one of the new 9.7-watt L-Prize lamps, and to its right, it's predecessor, the 12.5-watt EnduraLED: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/LP0.jpg

Two of the L-Prize lamps replace 42-watt Philips Twister CFLs that I had used for flood lighting: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/LP1.jpg

This is the front of our house, post retrofit; with the change-out, this portion of the load drops from 84-watts to 19.4, a net savings of 64.6-watts: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/LP2.jpg

In addition to these two up-lighters, there are seven coach and one post light fitted with 2-watt Philips EnduraLED BA11s: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/LP3.jpg

Our exterior lighting load is now just 35.4-watts –– less than that of a single 40-watt incandescent. To me, this lamp is worth every penny, and more.


I agree !

If one values the better quality light as being worth one penny/day per bulb (and one expects to live another 15+ years), the economics certainly support the L-Prize bulb :-)


North Sea output drop sends key Brent oil to 3-month high

" As a result, supply from the 12 North Sea crude streams tracked by Reuters will average 1.573 million barrels per day (bpd) in September, down from 1.905 million bpd in August, according to Reuters calculations on Monday based on loading programmes. "

Always good to go back and look at predictions from 6-7 years ago. This is what I predicted for the combined decline of UK and Norway North Sea

UK North Sea : http://mobjectivist.blogspot.com/2005/10/uk-north-sea-simulation.html
Norway North Sea: http://mobjectivist.blogspot.com/2006/01/norway-offshore-depletion.html

Both UK and Norway are seeing their North Sea production fluctuating wildly as natural depletion takes effect. There will certainly be new discoveries (especially Norway) but the course is set.

What Voters Don't Know About Energy

Are Canadians and other countries more savvy than U.S.eh? residents?

Interesting survey:

Respondents were asked where they stood on the issue of climate change.

Almost one-third — 32 per cent — said they believe climate change is happening because of human activity, while 54 per cent said they believe it's because of human activity and partially due to natural climate variation. Nine per cent believe climate change is occurring due to natural climate variation.

Two per cent said they don't believe climate change is occurring at all.

(Climate Climate Change Survey).

The difference between the Canadian and American press coverage of Alberta oil development is striking.
Canadian reporters are still doping their jobs, while in the U.S. tens of thousands of experienced newspaper reporters have lost their jobs, and since TV is reliant on print reporters to do the leg work, most American coverage has been reduced to regurgitating press releases.
Such are the ways of information warfare...