Drumbeat: August 18, 2012

Energy leader wants transparency on hydraulic fracturing

Environmental concerns about hydraulic fracturing are legitimate, but banning the technique thwarts efforts to wean the world off dirtier fuels, the head of the International Energy Agency told a Rice University audience Friday.

The agency's executive director, Maria van der Hoeven, called on natural gas producers to improve transparency around hydraulic fracturing and its impact on aquifers and greenhouse gas emissions. Lingering questions about the natural gas production technique sometimes called "fracking" are fueling opposition worldwide and could increase global dependency on coal, she said.

Oil Rises as U.S. Consumer Confidence Improves

Oil rose for a fourth day on reports as U.S. consumer confidence improved, signaling the economy is recovering, and rising tension in the Middle East.

Futures capped a third weekly gain as the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index beat expectations and the Conference Board’s leading economic indicators climbed more than forecast. Prices also gained as Hezbollah threatened to retaliate if Israel attacked Iran and security concern grew in Syria and Lebanon.

Europe-U.S. Gasoline Seen Near 10-Month High in Shipping Survey

The flow of European gasoline to the U.S. is poised to rise to an almost 10-month high, according to a survey of people directly involved in arranging cargoes.

Obama Aide Says Using Petroleum Reserve Is an ‘Option’

“From a political standpoint gasoline prices are up 40 cents a gallon over the last six weeks. Going into an election you would ask yourself what is the government doing about it,” said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates LLC in Houston. “On the other hand the cynics might say if the U.S. and other countries are considering a release of strategic stocks what do they know about a preemptive strike by Israel on Iran that they aren’t telling us.”

China Gains as $17.5 Billion Subsidy Curbs ONGC Buyouts

Oil & Natural Gas Corp., India’s biggest state-run explorer, is lagging behind Chinese peers in the race for overseas assets after subsidies to cap fuel prices drained profit by $17.5 billion over the past decade.

“If it weren’t for the subsidies, all that money would’ve gone into overseas acquisitions,” Chairman Sudhir Vasudeva said in an interview. “We’d definitely have been more aggressive.”

Power cuts to be longer

The AP Transco has announced enhanced duration of power cuts for domestic consumers and others following tripping of three thermal units and closure of a hydel plant, resulting in an abrupt loss of 1,076 MW of installed capacity to the grid which is equivalent to 20 million units per day.

India has not withdrawn from Vietnamese oil block: Minister

India has not withdrawn from oil and gas exploration in a block in the South China Sea where China claims territorial rights over blocks originally allocated by Vietnamese oil company PetroVietnam, the government has said.

Qatar Petroleum JV seeks US LNG permit

Golden Pass Products, a joint venture of Exxon Mobil Corp and Qatar Petroleum, is seeking US authorities' permission to export liquefied natural gas from a terminal near the Texas-Louisiana border, the Wall Street Journal said, quoting an executive.

Air France: Diverted fliers asked for fuel money as 'precaution'

Passengers on an Air France flight got an unexpected stopover in war-torn Syria after their plane had to make an emergency landing in Damascus.

The next surprise: "Passengers on Air France Flight 562 were asked to open their wallets to check if they had enough cash to pay for more fuel," The Associated Press writes.

Arctic Drilling Will Begin This Year, Shell Official Says

HOUSTON — Despite embarrassing delays and trouble with its equipment, Shell remains confident that it will get final approval from regulators and be able to begin drilling for oil in Arctic waters off the Alaskan coast this summer, the oil company’s top Alaska executive said on Friday.

As ATP Oil Files For Bankruptcy, CEO Blames Obama For Company's Collapse

When I get Paul Bulmahn on the phone rumors are swirling that he’s just days from putting his company, ATP Oil & Gas, into Chapter 11. He can’t confirm it yet, but he wants to make one thing perfectly clear: If it does come to bankruptcy (which it did on August 17) it isn’t his fault. The founder and chairman of publicly traded ATP (Nasdaq:ATPG), Bulmahn wants the world to know that the Obama Administration—and its illegal ban on deepwater drilling in the wake of the BP disaster—is to blame for the implosion of his company. Not him.

NEB wants Enbridge's internal report on Michigan spill

VANCOUVER -- The National Energy Board has asked Calgary-based Enbridge to provide documentation of improvements it has made since a massive oil spill in Marshall, Michigan two years ago.

Keystone XL pipeline crosses political boundaries in Nebraska and beyond

When TransCanada said its $7 billion Keystone XL oil pipeline from Alberta to Texas would pass about two miles from this tiny town in central Nebraska — crossing 92 miles of the state’s ecologically sensitive Sand Hills and parts of the vast Ogallala Aquifer — it stirred opposition throughout the state. Political boundaries crumbled as the pipeline proposal united Nebraskans across party lines and divided them within. Ultimately, it became a political litmus test in the presidential race.

Keystone XL rival Enbridge avoids scrutiny of oil pipeline plans

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A major rival to the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline project is vastly boosting its U.S. pipeline system, but it's avoiding the same scrutiny that federal regulators, environmentalists and landowners are giving Keystone owner TransCanada Corp.

Enbridge Inc. is proceeding largely unencumbered with plans to spend $8.8 billion in the U.S. to transport greater volumes of petroleum to the Gulf Coast and other markets than TransCanada would with its Keystone XL pipeline project from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf Coast.

Pipelines, glut of cheap crude raise doubts over oil sands expansion

Strained pipeline systems and a glut of North American crude will force Canadian oil sands companies to cut back on their ambitious expansion plans over the next several years, a major new report warns.

Typhoon-triggered oil spill cleaned up in S China province

NANNING (Xinhua) -- An oil spill triggered by typhoon Kai-Tak in the south China city of Beihai has been cleaned up, according to a local official.

EPA Defeats Challenge to Higher Ethanol Levels in Fuel

A challenge to an Environmental Protection Agency rule allowing higher concentrations of corn-based ethanol in gasoline was thrown out by a U.S. Appeals Court ruling that the groups pressing the case had no right to sue.

America’s Deficit Attention Disorder

According to the World Wildlife Federation’s 2012 Living Planet Report, at the current rate of consumption, “it is taking 1.5 years for the Earth to fully regenerate the renewable resources that people are using in a single year. Instead of living off the interest, we are eating into our natural capital.” This is a path to never-never land. Unlike with financial deficits, simple debt forgiveness is not an option.

When we deplete Earth’s bio-capacity—its capacity to support life in its many varied forms—we are not borrowing from the future; we are stealing from the future. Even though it is the most serious of all human-caused deficits, it rarely receives mention in current political debates.

Protectionism clouds over green sector

Coal will continue to power China's energy sector for a long time. The reason: China's new energy industry faces an unprecedented challenge because of the United States' anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations against Chinese wind power and solar energy products.

So China will need a "green revolution" in its traditional energy sector to reach its energy conservation target and achieve sustainable development.

Electronics Recycling Fire Unnerves a N.Y. Town

After a fire burned through a recycling plant for electrical equipment two weeks ago in Columbia County in New York State, the environmental tests that followed alone were cause for anxiety among residents.

Brazil to Cut Taxes to Fight Greenhouse Gas, O Globo Reports

Brazil’s government will offer cheap financing and cut taxes for aluminum and pulp makers that reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, newspaper O Globo reported, citing Alexandre Comin, a director at the Development, Industry and Commerce Ministry.

Victoria should brace for rising sea levels, more storms: climate change report

VICTORIA — A risk assessment on climate change for the City of Victoria says it needs to start work now to prepare for rising sea levels, more storms, wetter winters and drier summers.

The assessment looks at the projected risks the city will face with changes in climate conditions by 2050.

Australia’s acute water shortages mapped

The 2012 State of the Climate report revealed that 2010 temperatures were the warmest on record, and projected that average temperatures would rise by 1.0 to 5.0°C by 2070 when compared with the climate of recent decades.

Models in the study projected an increase in droughts, and also a rising number of ‘intense’ rainfalls.

Bill McKibben: The Arctic Ice Crisis

"When I took my first course in glaciology," Box says, "conventional thought had the reaction time of the ice sheets to heating on the order of 10,000 years." The ice sheet, scientists believed, was a mostly inert ice cube frozen fast at its bed; if the glaciers melted because of global warming, the process would be, well, glacial.

But in a series of scientific epiphanies beginning in 2002, researchers using GPS have found that melting on the ice's surface can cause large sections of the ice sheet to break free of its moorings in hours, not millennia. In 2006, scientists discovered that ice was suddenly pouring into the ocean at twice the rate previously measured, spurred by a pulse of warm ocean temperatures that undercut the glaciers from below. In two separate instances, Box correctly predicted which sections of a glacier would soon break off – sections, in each case, that were many times larger than the island of Manhattan.

Chinese vessel traverses Arctic Ocean for first time

China has completed its first voyage across the Arctic Ocean to Iceland using an icebreaker. The Arctic's ice melt which experts attribute to climate change is opening new trade routes and exposing mineral resources.

A Chinese vessel has voyaged from the Pacific to the Atlantic via the Arctic Ocean for the first time in the country's history, as melting sea ice from climate change begins to open new trading routes.

US carbon emissions in surprise drop

US emissions of carbon dioxide blamed for climate change fell in 2011 and have slipped to a 20-year low this year as the the world's largest economy uses more natural gas and less coal, data shows.

The surprise drop from the world's second biggest emitter comes despite the lack of legislation on climate change but it was unclear if the change marked a trend or would be enough to meet goals on fighting global warming.

The following Energy Bulletin link has a link to a remarkable video presentation, by Michael Kumhof, with the IMF, in which he presents the work that he and his coauthors did on modeling global production and oil prices. Their working paper was published earlier this year, in April.


The video is 21 minutes long. I recommend that everyone watch at least the first seven minutes of the presentation, and then decide if you want to watch the rest of the video.

Fantastic video Jeff, with some very good information. This is the first time I have seen anyone link the future price of oil and the state of the economy to the future production of oil. Thanks a million for the link.

Ron P.

Thanks Jeff. Very informative.
Rising real oil prices will open opportunities to develop alternative fossil fuel resources such as oil sands, EOR, gas to liquids, coal to liquids etc. These higher prices from higher costs due to lower EROEI.
That will require expanding the model to include "multi-Hubbert" analysis per Tad Patzek etc. Higher costs will also open opportunities for sustainable fuels with higher EROEI and lower costs. See Charles Hall.
Transitions are likely to be constrained by environmental permits, engineering and construction limitations per Robert Hirsch's Impending World Energy Mess. These factors promise an economic roller-coaster ride for which Kumhof has provided very interesting useful parameters!


I don't know why you'd limit alternatives to "fossil fuel resources", or assume that liquid fuels will be the "go to" substitute.

I don't think oil prices will ever stay above $150/bbl for a sustained period - that's a much higher price than the alternatives:

"electric vehicles can markedly lower the costs of a fleet of delivery trucks. That’s the conclusion of a new MIT study showing that electric vehicles are not just environmentally friendly, but also have a potential economic upside for many kinds of businesses.

The study, conducted by researchers at MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics (CTL), finds that electric vehicles can cost 9 to 12 percent less to operate than trucks powered by diesel engines, when used to make deliveries on an everyday basis in big cities.

...there have been “no real surprises from a reliability perspective, but I was surprised by the drivers’ acceptance, to the point where they do not ever want to drive a diesel [truck] again.”


“Nearly 20% of our medium-heavy duty delivery trucks in the state of California are slated to be transitioned to all-electric vehicles. We have seen the accelerated growth and acquisition of this innovative technology because of the support from California. It’s these private and public partnerships that create the momentum that alternative fuel vehicles need to become even more competitive.

...In the U.S., Frito-Lay hopes to reduce its total fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2020, compared to 2007 baseline. "


When I was a kid in the UK in the 1970s milk was delivered to the door in electric powered milk floats. We lived in a very hilly town, 8 miles from the dairy. Milk was on the doorstep, by 7 am, 6 days a week. In glass bottles that were returned, washed and reused many times.

We now have milk delivered by fossil fuel 3 times a week in fossil fuel bottles that are (theoretically) recycled by the council, who collect them once every two weeks in a fossil fueled truck.

My brother drove an electric milk truck in Bristol in the 80s. Fond memories.

We had the same thing in Cape Town. What the dairies did is they divided the suburbs up among themselves, so one dairy would serve one suburb exclusively. With a local monopoly, it could justify investing in a local depot and fleet of milk floats, which have a limited range.

But the monopoly was broken up by the government "to encourage competition". The local dairies were absorbed into mega-dairies, milk deliveries fell away, and we now we have to run down to the convenience store for our milk.

Yair . . . and in 1950's Brisbane we had a devise powering our milk cart that operated automaticaly, knew which houses had deliverys and responded to voice commands.


The milkman's garden grew like nothing else in the area too ;)


Note that I did not "limit alternatives to 'fossil fuel resources'". Rather I said: "Higher costs will also open opportunities for sustainable fuels with higher EROEI and lower costs."

While electric vehicles are a helpful long term strategy, pragmatic constraints of high capital costs with market penetration/turnover rates suggest they will not make a major impact in the near future.

Currently natural gas vehicles are very cost competitive vs gasoline/diesel and electric cars. e.g.
Advantages of natural gas cars lost in buzz for electrics

A Honda Civic Natural Gas is priced about $5,650 more than a gasoline-powered Civic EX. The vehicles are less expensive than electric vehicles. The Ford Focus Electric is priced $22,700 above the gasoline version.

Look at the challenges of A123 Solutions.

Compressed natural gas vehicles appear to have the lowest life cycle costs. See:
Technical Appendix: Figure 7, “Private Costs of Transportation Choices,” and Figure 9, “External Costs of Transportation Use.”

Rather I said: "Higher costs will also open opportunities for sustainable fuels with higher EROEI and lower costs."

My mistake. "fuels" are commonly understood as fossil fuels or liquid fuels - one doesn't easily include renewable electricity in that category.

Despite Charles Hall using it interchangeably for all forms of energy, I'd suggest that's misleading to a general audience.

While electric vehicles are a helpful long term strategy, pragmatic constraints of high capital costs with market penetration/turnover rates suggest they will not make a major impact in the near future.

Nah. Light vehicles less than one year old represent 12% of all personal transportation miles driven, so a 50% reduction of fuel consumption for new vehicles would immediately start reducing personal transportation fuel consumption by 6% per year, and overall oil consumption by 3%.

That's big.

Vehicles with electric drive trains (which include HEV/PHEV/EREV/EVs) are not growing as quickly as would make sense - this is purely due to resistance from social factors, especially the oil industry as represented by Faux news, various Koch brothers' funded think tanks, etc.

Currently natural gas vehicles are very cost competitive

That's great. I think they will work well for fleets. Frito-lay and Fedex are expanding the LPG and CNG fleets almost as quickly as their HEV/EV fleets.

For personal transportation...not so much. Electric plugs are everywhere, CNG fueling stations are rare. PHEV prices will fall.

"By year-end, 123,600 natural gas vehicles will be on U.S. roads, compared with 65,500 plug-in vehicles, Pike Research's Smart Transportation practice estimates."

This is highly misleading. Priuses have full electric drive trains, and there are more than 2M on the road. OTOH, almost all of those NG vehicles are in commercial fleets.

Look at the challenges of A123 Solutions.

That's actually a positive bit of evidence, as it points out how many competing battery chemistries and suppliers are out there. Some will fail, but the most effective and competitive will succeed.

Here's what the article says:

"Government funding of new energy technologies is meant to support those technologies, not the companies that develop them. The failures of Ener1 and International Battery, and the troubles of A123 Systems, are business failures, not technology failures. Companies come and go. Corporate assets get bought, sold and reorganized. None of that should matter to taxpayers. What should matter is whether the technologies that A123 and Ener1 owned at the time they received their grants has been advanced and pushed closer to commercialization. Indications in both cases are that they have been

....Steady progress on increasing energy density, decreasing battery cost and improving battery system management continues to be made. The market we hoped for in 2009 is not here yet and some of the original players in the market may not make it to the finish. But that market is substantially closer than it was three years ago, and by that fact the success or failure of the FOA-26 program should be judged.

Re:""fuels" . . .- one doesn't easily include renewable electricity in that category."
I didn't. By Fuels I mean liquid FUEL from sustainable resources - eg methanol, gasoline and diesel from solar thermochemical hydrogen etc. (Ethanol from grain is not sustainable - it has an EROI ~1 while Charles Hall shows we need at least 3:1 to include distribution etc in society.
By electric vehicles I presume vehicles charged by grid electricity, not "electric drive trains".

Re: "Light vehicles less than one year old represent 12% of all personal transportation miles driven"
Any references for that?
I found EIA table 3.4

In 1994, the newest vehicles (model years 1994 and 1995(2)) were driven 14,300 miles, about 1.7 times as much as were the oldest vehicles (model years earlier than 1980, that is, vehicles at least 14 years old in 1994).

methanol, gasoline and diesel from solar thermochemical hydrogen etc.

It's hard for me to imagine those competing with oil any time soon, price-wise. Have you seen something new?

Ethanol from grain is not sustainable - it has an EROI ~1

Ethanol's primary problem is scale. It's perfectly useful as a niche fuel. Remember, what's important for a liquid fuel replacement is Liquid Fuel Return on Liquid Fuel Invested, and that's about 5:1 for ethanol.

By electric vehicles I presume vehicles charged by grid electricity, not "electric drive trains".

Sure, that's the normal definition. But, that's not useful here, where we're evaluating the near-term feasibility and competitiveness of a new vehicle type. A hybrid has 99% of what's included in an EV - just slap on a plug and expand the battery. So the fact that HEVs are extremely well proven and have achieved economies of scale is extremely important.

Any references for that?

I'll look. In the meantime, remember the 80/20 Pareto rule - an analysis based on averages will be misleading.

Re:"methanol, gasoline and diesel from solar thermochemical hydrogen etc.
It's hard for me to imagine those competing with oil any time soon, price-wise."

Commercial Methanol is already cost effective. See Methanex non-discounted price sheet and multiply by 2 for the difference in energy density.
"Methanex Non-Discounted Reference Price USD 1.32/Gal*
Posted July 26, 2012 USD 439/MT"
i.e. $2.64/gal gasoline equivalent, (not counting the further benefits of higher efficiency in methanol engines.)

For more material see The Methanol Institute http://www.methanol.org
Methanol Policy Forum 2012 - Washington D.C.
e.g. Preconference Materials
China is aggressively expanding its methanol fuel form coal industry and methanol use in fleets.

For the next major advance in gas or coal to methanol see
GigaMethanol and Gas to Gasoline by Janus Methanol AG presented to the Alaska House Resources Committee. Note the remarkable 54.7% LHV conversion of coal to gasoline via Methanol to Gasoline (MTG) on Slide 25.

That makes sense.

I thought you were talking about methanol synthesized from renewable sources, like wind electricity or some form of solar.

Both - the long term goal is to make solar thermochemical methanol the cheapest liquid fuel.

Do we have any further info on that pathway?

A very good presentation for hydrogen is by Alan Weimer.
The Role of High Temperature Solar in Low Carbon Hydrogen See slides

See Methanol Institute - 2012 Transportation Policy on Renewable Methanol.
e.g. Olah - Chemical Recycling of Carbon Dioxide to Methanol and Dimethyl Ether

The potential for natural gas to methanol or ethanol is of the order of $1 to $1.50/gallon gasoline equivalent.

For further economics see Janus 2012 presentation to Alaska.

Shale gas and natural gas are so readily available and becoming so cheap that
making gasoline out of them is dirt cheap compared to oil. It is the equivalent of maybe $40 a barrel and in 10-15 years this will have a huge impact worldwide.

Difference Engine: Competition at the pump

What is not in doubt is that ethanol can be made from fossil fuels—including natural gas, coal and petcoke (the coke residue from cracking oil)—for a good deal less than the cost of producing it from corn. Celanese, a chemical company based in Dallas, has a “game-changing” acetyl technology called TCX that can convert natural gas, coal or petcoke into ethanol for $1.50 a gallon—equivalent, the company says, to making petrol from crude costing no more than $60 a barrel.

Nick see
Legalize Methanol: It would boost the economy, and our national security too.
By Robert Zubrin

. . .ordinary American cars could readily be made to operate on methanol, achieving over 40 percent better fuel economy and much lower emissions than on gasoline. In that test, a 2007 Chevy Cobalt was shown to achieve 24.6 miles per gallon running on 100 percent methanol, with the only required physical alteration being the replacement of a non-methanol-compatible Viton fuel-pump seal with a 41-cent part made of methanol-compatible Buna-n. And methanol is now selling for just $1.32 per gallon, without any subsidy.

What are the current operating and capital costs of Natural Gas to Methanol?

Also from the article of Zubrin

As methanol can be cheaply produced from natural gas, coal, biomass, or trash — all resources the United States holds in great abundance — this test showed that America could readily free itself from oil imports simply by passing the Open Fuel Standard (OFS) law requiring that all new cars sold in the U.S. be methanol-compatible flex-fuel vehicles. By forcing gasoline to compete at the pump with cheap methanol, such a measure would put a permanent constraint on the price of oil, thereby breaking the power of the Islamist-led OPEC cartel and protecting the nation from the economy-wrecking effects of petroleum price spikes

What a statement !

And than this from another article posted by David:

Shale gas and natural gas are so readily available and becoming so cheap that making gasoline out of them is dirt cheap compared to oil. It is the equivalent of maybe $40 a barrel and in 10-15 years this will have a huge impact worldwide.

Choices to be made. Which direction to go, or everything together ? And what happens with the price if demand for shale gas and methanol soars ?

Then you go to ammonia made from wind, air, and water.
Solid State Ammonia Synthesis

Here is an analysis of vehicle miles by age:

For all vehicles eyeballing the graph it drops from around 15,000 mpa to around 10,000 at 10 years old, which is around the average age of the US fleet.
By the time the vehicle is 20 years old the mileage has dropped to 7,000 pa.

The percentage of total miles driven by a vehicle under 1 year old is going to vary by sales that year.
Precise estimates would also include how much of the vehicle fleet is scrapped, since the US fleet is shrinking, not growing.
The economy being in trouble leads to lower sales of new vehicles, but whilst oil prices are high larger numbers of old gas guzzlers are also scrapped.

So, simplifying by assuming constant vehicle production(!)then not only do new cars do 50% more miles than the fleet average, they are also more numerous than the average vehicle.
If it were a straight line function then they would be twice as numerous as vehicles 10 years old, with the total number of vehicles over 10 years old counterbalancing that to give the age average
It ain't, but it is near enough for government work.

I can't be bothered to get into detailed computations, but the 12% figure for vehicles under 1 year old is clearly ball-park right.

I don't think oil prices will ever stay above $150/bbl for a sustained period

If one takes the "Austrian economics" viewpoint - inflation comes from money printing.

Thusly - if one 'prints' more money, the result should be inflation. And like Zimbabwe or Wiemar Germany - if there is excessive printing of $ (where $ means US Dollars) it is possible a barrel of oil will far exceed $150 a barrel.

Now one could compare oil VS watts or oil VS food for a relative valuation. Food will always be needed, and watts are sorrta, kinda the same thing....

A better comparison would be dollars ($) per BTU or per watt-hour, both of which are measures of energy. Barrels of oil are just larger chunks of energy with differing fractions of useful products. The inhabitants of industrial civilization should be thinking in terms of energy, not barrels. Some have suggested that money is just another form of energy and the flow of money thru the economy just directs (controls?) the energy flow in the opposite direction...

E. Swanson

On the one hand, if one includes "velocity" in the money supply, then it looks like the money supply isn't actually expanding much.

On the other hand, I should have said "inflation adjusted".

Rising real oil prices will open opportunities to develop alternative fossil fuel resources such as oil sands, EOR, gas to liquids, coal to liquids etc.

Especially oil sands and CTL won't come close to underpin healthy economic growth that did the cheap stuff of the passed decades.

These factors promise an economic roller-coaster ride for which Kumhof has provided very interesting useful parameters!

A downwards spiraling roller-coaster ?

Great link, Westexas!

It's interesting to hear him admit that his model does not capture 'non-linear' effects, i.e. that after a certain pressure point, the consequences starts to become much more dramatic.

An oil price of $185 per barrel(in real, not nominal prices) would never happen because the economy would crash.

Also, note that his prediction is based on an 0.9 % demand gain each year, far below the historical average of ~1.8 %.

But even 0.9 % may prove to be too high. As the energy into the system starts to stagnate, so does growth, and then factors such as debt, unemployment etc comes into play.

In fact, the federal reserve now believes that the 'natural' unemployment for the U.S. is a stunning 6.7 %, much higher than the usual ~5 % level historically. But this is because of the permanent class of the long-term unemployed.

The Fed estimate: http://www.frbsf.org/publications/economics/letter/2011/el2011-05.html

And I think this is a factor often overlooked, that even if we assume that oil supply will not fall but rather very slowly increase, that increase will not be enough to give enough growth to reduce debt and unemployment, instead we get as slow creep upwards on both accounts.

And an increasingly squeezed population which can see no clear recovery in sight will demand increasingly radical actions from the elected leaders who will be under pressure to oblige, as one-off raids of the SPR won't be enough. And what then? Another oil war? Argentina is going that route already re: the Falklands islands.

Written by Svamp:
An oil price of $185 per barrel(in real, not nominal prices) would never happen because the economy would crash.

If one halves the consumption of fuel by doubling the efficiency, then one can tolerate a doubling of the price. If a country imports a large fraction of its crude oil but then eliminates its imports to use only domestic sources, then a high price does not transfer money out of the country which causes less damage to the economy. A higher price can be tolerated.

Re: Resolution to EIA/RRC Texas crude oil data discrepancy question

I have spent a fair amount of time highlighting the discrepancy between the EIA and the RRC for Texas crude oil production in the following two data bases:





Everyone accepts that the RRC numbers are updated, as production data are finalized. Incidentally, it turns out that the delay is not due so much to late reports, but it is primarily due to production from new wells without ID numbers being put into suspense.

But in any case, the debate was over whether the data revisions would be sufficient to close the gap between the EIA and the RRC, e.g., about 480,000 bpd for January, 2012. I thought that there was no way that late reports would fully close about a 500,000 bpd gap, and there had to be an error somewhere, and I thought it was more likely that the EIA was wrong.

One of the ASPO-USA board members finally got an answer from the RRC, and it was something that I think that we had all considered, and rejected, condensate. It has always been my understanding that condensate is included in the oil production numbers for the RRC, and why would condensate not be in a report titled "Monthly oil and gas production by year?"

In any case, it would appear that there may be around 200,000 bpd of condensate production in January not shown in the above RRC report, and there may be around 250,000 bpd of production reports in suspense, because the wells had not received RRC ID numbers, which goes a long way toward closing the gap--basically about half updated production reports and about half condensate.

I've been wondering about that gap. Thanks for taking the time to track this down!

Excellent. Thank you for this substantive contribution. Maybe we can get EIA and/or RRC to consider adding an explanatory note to their reported data?

So they don't tax condensate?

And why would the gap get bigger recently? Surely their treatment of condensate hasn't changed?


I'm not sure how the RRC collects it's data, but the EIA forms are pretty much non-sensical. The operations supervisor for one of our fields in West Texas just sent me form 'Natural Gas Processing Survey EIA-757 -Baseline Report', filled out to the best of his ability, and the numbers he answered differ by orders of magnitude to what I as the engineer responsible for that plant would have entered.

If this is how they collect all their data then I can see why EIA could be off by so much.

Re: The Arctic Ice Crisis from DB ...

Media Turn A Blind Eye To Record Greenland Ice Melt

... Despite the implications of ... new findings for our changing climate and our communities, not one of the major broadcast (ABC, CBS, NBC), cable (CNN, Fox News, MSNBC) or print (Associated Press, New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal) outlets have covered the report.*

Ted Scambos, Lead Scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, told Media Matters:

I absolutely think the media should cover this more, along with the record-breaking pace of Arctic sea ice loss for the summer. This year is a significant step upward in impacts from climate warming seen in the far North - these are not one-offs, but record events topping two decades of generally increasing effects.


I think the science community 'gets' that the bandwidth of the American (and global) public is pretty packed right now: economy, deficit, and election; and for some the climate discussion must seem old. But these events need to get on people's radar. Our planet is trying to get our attention.

I agree that the media and humans in general, all over the World, should pay attention to these issues more and indeed change our ways to become sustainable over the longer term.

However, I do not agree with anthropomorphizing the Earth in the various attempts to publicize the issue of human's effect on the Earth.


Even when used as a literary device, as I think it may be used in this citation, people could misunderstand it as an expression of the belief that the Earth is a sentient super-organism trying to communicate with humans...a la Gaia, the Greek goddess of the Earth or some other similar supernatural interpretations.

Although I do not reject the ideas of co-evolution and life being able to affect the environment to promote its existence, I stop short of ascribing an over-arching sentience to all the life on Earth as a whole.

It just seems to me that these anthropomorphisms (There is a long-running commercial on AM radio promoting environmental awareness that uses this same conceit..."Earth just slapped us in the face", etc.) lead to charges that environmentalists are just representing some kind of new-age religious belief.

Better, in my opinion, to stick to facts and the scientific method.

Again, I agree with the message, just not the artistic/literary devices used.

H - ... Better, in my opinion, to stick to facts and the scientific method.

I think the salient point of the article was that the message, whether anthropomorphic or not, is NOT reaching public because the MSM is not carrying it.

A Nod Is as Good as a Wink... to a Blind Horse

"...I stop short of ascribing an over-arching sentience to all the life on Earth as a whole."

Since you, like myself, have probably never lived in close contact with nature, we are probably never going to see it as anything other than a dead rock. But I have read many books on first peoples from all parts of the globe and it is striking, given they did not have contact, how they did uniformly ascribe consciousness to everything on earth. It does not appear to have been a belief, more of a knowing based on how they lived.*

Not human consciousness of course, but a consciousness nonetheless. Living in the very bosom of the earth, being happy and open almost wherever they were encountered, being deeply respectful of all forms of life, I tend to take their word for it over someone who has had only a superficial experience of the earth and whose learning is laregely book-learning, and who is not even aware of such modes of thought, let alone advanced in them, not that I am saying that of you, I do not know you.

(Living wild seems to develop a different way of cognizing the world than how we do now. Anyone advanced in meditation will say its possible to think from emptiness, from a place beyond thought. Sure, it is wise to use thinking to think things through, but there may be superior modes of thought akin to direct knowledge and this is how wild living first peoples appear to have thought. In other words, they were highly clairvoyant or highly aware. Given how we are mismanaging this planet today, our only home, I do not think you can ascribe awareness to us.)


Wonderfully written.

My most tanquil, moving times have been when I was alone with nature, meaning miles from the nearest fellow humans.

I think there is a spectrum of possibilities between 'a dead rock' (which 'nature' certainly is not IMO) and a planetary (or cosmic if you will) consciousness.

Although I agree that the message is 'we are changing the climate', I do not think that anthropomorphism of the planet's ecosystem is going to win any hearts and minds from the folks who do not know or do not think that humanity is changing the climate by its activities. In fact, I imagine that ascribing 'nature' as some kind of higher power with enough 'intelligence' to 'send us a message' would be quite off-putting to many folks in the U.S. who believe in the majority-belief religion.

Rather than ascribe 'Mother Nature' with teleological overtones, perhaps it is best to state the assertions of science without the trappings of a 'higher power...be it the god of Christianity, the goddess Gaia, or any other such notion. Such frameworks get in the way of discussing the physics involved, including projections of potential consequences.

The far bigger challenge is human's short timelines, for the most part extending only out to their expected death date....maybe as far as the estimated death dates of their children, but typically no further.

I have to disagree. Talking about things "rationally" or "scientifically", presenting just the facts... doesn't work. If it did, we would not have people screaming that the EPA is fascist, and calling for an end to the EPA. If people believed in nature the way they believe in a free market, we would see much more action to halt environmental destruction.

I don't expect things to change, but we should admit that people do not operate rationally. Emotional appeals like athropomorphism may seem like "cheating", but they sure work better than statistics and scientific arguments. In science publications, in discussions between scientists about science, there is no room for theology. But in appeals to laymen? It's fair.

I agree that using anthropomorphism will 'work' for a subset of folks, and I assert that it will have quite the opposite effect on other folks.

I also assert that it is quite feasible to conduct emotional appeals (real-life imagery, words from a poor child in a poor country describing floods and crops failures, etc) without resorting to mystic anthropomorphism of the planet Earth.

In terms of a "mass appeal" yes you are right, it makes more sense to do it the way you say, since a living world cannot be explained in an appeal, and with such a vast population, appeals are probably all we have. As it so often comes down to on this board, overpopulation really makes any good outcome on this planet all but impossible.

But awareness is the key. Peoples that lived close to nature seem to have had it in abundance. A hardy life seems to be conducive to higher states of consciousness. Those that came from the West to colonise, seemed not to have had it, in some instances they would be classified as criminally insanse, but mostly their reason seemed to have come at least at the cost of their empathy. But of course many will reverse the truth of that statement, and say that a man living in a tipi for example could not possibly have anything to offer the man of architecture and mathematics. He is a luddite surely. Materially, yes he is a luddite. But in terms of his awareness of life? We live beautifully to the point that we have the latter not the former, but most people won't accept that. We cannot go back to the way those peoples lived, but they are the only counterpoint I can find to the thinking of this era. Everyone knows that Einstein quote about solutions not coming from the same place as the problems. But that is what we are trying to do with science and reason. There is another way if only we would suspend our reason momentarily, but our enlarged ego's make that unlikely.

But awareness is the key. Peoples that lived close to nature seem to have had it in abundance. A hardy life seems to be conducive to higher states of consciousness

That's one way of looking at it, but it's also worth noting that such "Peoples" don't stay that way for very long. Tribal societies ultimately get consumed by Agrarian societies and Agrarian societies by Industrial ones and you can't do anything to stop that.

If people believed in nature the way they believe in a free market, we would see much more action to halt environmental destruction.

That's because people think that because they are occasionally able to fool the markets due to being smarter than everyone else, they can also fool nature! Unfortunately they haven't quite figured out, that fooling nature, is a fools errand.

Their quasi religious 'beliefs' in the invisible hand, don't work all that well when confronted with 'reality'...

If people believed in nature the way they believe in a free market, we would see much more action to halt environmental destruction.

Belief in a "free market" is belief in a rationalization of an underlying belief that individuals are right to act in their own self-interest.

The same underlying belief is a cause of environmental destruction.

Merrill – Congrats! That’s one of the most succinct and direct explanation of “free market” I’ve heard in a long time. I think it also allows diverse group to rationalize their positions. Mr. A may say it’s wrong for Mr. B to clear cut his forest for planting because it decreases biodiversity. Mr. B would obviously respond that it was his land and in doing so it serves his self interest. They are both correct in their positions IMHO. But it Mr. B’s land unless Mr. A is willing to buy it from him. In that case they both win: Mr. A saves that small bit of the environment and Mr. B’s self interest is served.

But life isn’t that simple unfortunately. What if Mr. B’s action have a negative effect on someone else’s self interests? Like Mr. B taking the top off of a mountain to access the coal. But unfortunately that pollutes Mr. A’s stream down dip of the operation and hurts his fishing guide business that supports his family. IOW works against his free market self interest. So whose self interest should be prioritized? Can some compromise be reached that satisfies the self interest of all parties to some acceptable degree? Sometimes yes and sometimes no.

I doubt there’s a single TODster that hasn’t benefited, at least indirectly, from someone’s self interest overriding some else’s. Who isn’t living in a home or working at a business where the land wasn’t once virgin. Few of us were probably the first to occupy that space but, none the less, it has been in our self interest for it to have happened. Who amongst us doesn’t think the Macondo oil spill a massive ecological disaster? OTOH how many millions have benefited over the decades from offshore oil production? The only sure way to have never had this spill or any other would have been to never allow offshore drilling. And let’s not forget before Macondo the worst oil induced ecological disasters were from tanker mishaps like the Valdez. Another simple solution: don’t allow oil to be transported across the oceans. So how many Americans would have had/not had their self interest served if we never drilled in our offshore waters and imported a single bbl of oil from across the ocean. Each has to design their own vision of this country under that circumstance. Mine is not a pleasant vision.

As others have said: nothing is easier that making rules for others as long as they don’t have a negative impact on yourself. There some out there, especially on TOD, who would accept the self sacrifice. But they are a small minority IMHO with perhaps even less power than their numbers would suggest.

I recently suggested to a young acquaintance that she might have to curtail an aspect of her lifestyle, given her financial situation. Her retort was, "But that's not who I am"!

It may be technically feasible for mankind to curtail AGW and ameliorate its effects, or to implement alternative sources of energy that are sustainable.

However, I expect the answer is, "But that's not who we are"!

I'm sure it didn't help much that her parents probably grew up with this crap :-0

No, they're not Presbyterians.

Her father grew up in very impoverished circumstances.

"Land Ownership"
owning land

The same underlying belief is a cause of environmental destruction.

Except that a system that externalizes, or worse, completely ignores the costs of environmental destruction, in the mistaken belief that the self interests of a privileged minority supercedes the rights of the majority, is against the long term interests of humanity as a whole and should not, nay, must not, be considered acceptable!

The 'Free Market' in its current incarnation is an abomination and has led in large part to our current global predicament!

But feel free to rationalize away!

Per 'My Big TOE' by author/physicist/consciousness researcher of ~ 40 years, awareness is a spectrum that exists in the species at any and all gradients of said spectrum.

It's deeper than mere cognition.

If interested in those sorts of places, see 'The Virtual Reality Conjecture'. Brian Whitworth has written extensively on this aspect. In addition, Nick Bostrom has made some in-roads on the topic and Ed Fredkin can take you at least to the first step by way of recognition of Other.

We have a persistent illusion of being a consciousness inhabiting our bodies; we cannot feel that consciousness being produced by the organism. We project the feeling that we animate our bodies onto nature, assuming that a consciousness (spirit) animates it, too.

This plays out in mythology as God animating a clay figure, Pygmalion animating a marble statue, demons animating a children's doll ("Chucky"), and Superman's having "powers" that he can lose or have transferred to someone else (rather than having innate abilities as part of his alien make-up). The assumption that our persons and our bodies are separate (and separable) goes deep.

But, as discussed in depth on yesterday's Drum Beat, we are organisms, and are more driven by the physical workings of our so-called minds than we are by conscious thought. Thought comes along behind and tidies up. Sometimes accurately, often with WAGs.

Gaia is an appealing myth -- indeed, left to itself, nature balances changes and developments in a way that seems almost conscious. But humans have changed the balance too drastically --
the new balance looks likely to leave present life forms and relationships far behind.

I think it has nothing to do with consciousness, as Darwinian pointed out it may simply be our fate just like the fate of any other animal. We are just pre-programmed by evolution to consume as much as we can. Any other animal would do the same. It's just that our brains give us power to overcome the natural barrier that would apply to any other animal.
We must wait for evolution to breed the conscious race that you talk of and we might never get there for one. I am reminded of this quote by Stephen Hawking

It is not clear that intelligence has any long-term survival value

IMO the humble cockroach will almost certainly outlive us.

We're just don't learn as fast we would like, that's all.

We're impatient for fast change, we need fast change, but we humans change a little slower than that.

IMO the humble cockroach will almost certainly outlive us.

Cockroaches have been around about 300 million years or so and still going strong...
Homo sapiens about 200,000 years and really not all that impressive in its long term prospects.

Yeah, I'll put my money on the humble cockroach as well!

I don't live in "close contact with nature" but compared to the average westener, I am pretty much a bush hippie. My mother tought me to love the forests, and my father the sea. The only benefit I had from having divorsed parents.
As most of you know I am an evangelical christian, and on a theological level do not belive in those spirits, but it does not prevent me from feeling them. Not so much in an industrial mono-species spruce forest, but anywhere nature have been given time to evolve on its own, that feeling that nature is spirited comes creeping up on me. Everything is alive, and living things are sacred. Holy. It speaks to me. Tearing down an area would be to desecrate a temple. The Creator is my father, but nature is my mother. He made Her. She is a provider. And a teacher. Every time I walk into the woods, I learn something, because I listen to her. When I in very rare occasions have friends with me, they comment on how I am always eating. Off course I am, there are food every where. But I never take anything nature can not regrow. In some few occations I have had to cut down an entire tree. I always begun by laying my hand on the trunk and aplogise for what I am about to do. Then I take the sacrifice I need. Every time I sleep alone in the woods, I feel comfortable. (We have no predators here, but I do admit I slept on edge when I was close to a herd of wild boar once). How could I not? I am in a place that take care of me, if I take care of it, and listen to it. I am not alone, I am among friends. And yes, I do feel the spirit of the woods, of the lakes and of the big old trees.
But I don't actually believe they exist.

Full time forest dwellers must have an interesting relation to the nature.


Thanks Jedi. I agree with H, your post is poignant. I once was an evangelical Christian. But now I'm more New Age/ Buddhist / Pagan. Which I suspect you're in danger of becoming.

And if not, God bless your attempts at understanding the world and communicating it on TOD. Thank you.

I am in no danger of becoming a pagan. But I do understand what you mean. The fact is I enjoy beeing an evangelical christian very much. Much more now than I used to do before, actually. Life is great. But I am aware I have a list of quite uncommon ideas.

And I had to browse the word "poignant". I assume it was a compliment, so thank you both.


Sticking to the facts and scientific method has value but it is also good to understand how language controls our thinking. I would suggest that there might be value in becoming more flexible and fluid with our definition of words such as "sentience".

One of the ways the sub-conscious mind runs amuck is with rigid word definitions. The rigid definition can take the conscious mind out of the loop. We accept what we are taught and simply plug in that little, built in sub-routine to decide how to respond. This becomes a mental shortcut, it improves efficiency at the cost of clarity. It can creates the illusion of an absolute out of something that is really a spectrum.

The rigid definition of "sentient being" as something man alone is allowed to claim is an excellent example and one that has facilitated great ecological harm. It is easy to understand how someone who accepted this illusion as reality would be greatly offended by anyone who would suggest anything to do with anthropomorphizing the Earth. Their reaction is a sub-conscious one and we need to be aware of this if we engage them in conversation about this topic.

"Our planet is trying to get our attention." Nah, it isn't. The planet isn't some neglected child acting out, and it doesn't care. Any changes that our planet undergoes only have the values that we assign to them, and only matter to the lifeforms that rely upon certain conditions to exist. I wish folks would keep that in mind,, though, if assigning mythological living status to "M'am Gaia" helps people connect with the bio-physical world, I'm all for it.

America’s Deficit Attention Disorder, linked above is chock full of inconvenient truths about how societies have divorced themselves from real capital by creating, and elevating the status of, more convenient forms of faux capital.

What We Steal from Future Generations

Real capital assets have productive value in their own right and cannot be created with a computer key stroke.

Any normally intelligent 12-year-old is fully capable of understanding the distinction between a living forest or fishery and a system of financial accounts that exists only as electronic traces on a computer hard drive. Unfortunately, this simple distinction seems to be beyond the comprehension of the economists, pundits, and politicians who frame the public debate on economic policy. By referring to financial assets as “capital” and treating them as if they had some intrinsic worth beyond their value as a token of exchange, they sustain the deception that Wall Street is creating wealth rather than manipulating the financial system to accumulate accounting claims against wealth it had no part in creating.

Real capital assets have productive value in their own right and cannot be created with a computer key stroke. The most essential forms of real capital are social capital (the bonds of trust and caring essential to healthy community function) and biosystem capital (the living systems essential to Earth’s capacity to support life). We are depleting both with reckless abandon.

Since humans have so completely institutionalized and culturalized this divorce from reality, one realizes that undoing the spell will be nigh impossible without some type of painful, all-encompassing reset, hopefully before we degrade the planet's capacity to support higher lifeforms. When all of our illusions evaporate in time, all that will matter will be reduced to a purely physical set of problems. The planet really doesn't care.

The article lays out an accurate (IMO) set of circumstances/changes that must occur if we are to 'get back to the garden' so to speak. It doesn't go so far as to address our extreme overshoot condition. Pity, that.

Unfortunately, Ghung, any thinking person whose mind isn't under the influence of drugs or propaganda has to come to the conclusion that it isn't worth participating in American society in any meaningful sense anymore.

Up until the turn of the century or thereabouts, it was still possible to believe in the future of this country. We were much more balanced, prosperous, and level headed, even if the warning signs were there.

But since then it's been one hit after another, and it's been so fast and all encompassing that people are shell shocked, you can tell. And there's no salvaging this ship, not when it's being drowned by BS, and not when we've had it so good for so long that the only direction is down.

There was a very interesting posting on the Automaticearth several days ago that had a view of this situation that was different as well as "inclusive".


It sort of reads like a pencil sketch of the Mona Lisa.
Very promising but needs to be "filled out"!!



A picture says more than a thousand words:

copied from http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm

The sea ice maxima are not nearly as perturbed as the sea ice minima.

2012 maximum is, in fact higher than the 2000s average.

I wonder at what point in the ever-increasing AGW forcing the maxima substantially decrease?

A future tipping point looming?

I wonder if there is some confounding of extent (area) and volume... the ice covers as much area in winter as before, but is perhaps thinner? So melts faster in summer?

Perhaps...good thinking!

Anyone know the answer?

That sounds correct. Although I haven't found it stated explicityly that way, in a quick google search I found this:

From National Snow & Ice Data Center:

The Arctic cold season usually begins in September and ends in March. Monitoring winter sea ice is important to understanding the state of the sea ice. Scientists have found that Arctic sea ice has been recovering less in the winter, meaning the sea ice is already "weak" when the summer melting season arrives. A possible cause is that the underlying ocean is warmer.

And from Wikipedia - Sea Ice:

First-year ice melts more easily than older ice for two reasons: 1) First-year ice is thinner than older ice, since the process of congelation growth has had less time to operate; and 2) first-year ice is less permeable than older ice, so summer meltwater tends to form deeper ponds on the first-year ice surface than on older ice, and deeper ponds mean lower albedo and thus greater solar energy capture.

Putting that together, if a greater extent of sea ice melts in summer, then it follows that more of the next winter's ice is "first year ice" which melts more easily. Another negative feedback loop.

Do you mean to say a "positive feedback loop"?

I probably should have been more articulate. I meant negative feedback in the sense that it reduces the amount of sea ice each year.


"negative feedback" has a technical definition, which roughly is that it reduces the original problem.

In this case it's "positive feedback", because it makes the problem worse.

Thanks. Words do matter, and I stand corrected on my terminology! I will try to be more carefull next time.

Yes. It's one thing I hammer into my students. Positive and Negative applied to "feedback" are not moral descriptors. They are simple terms of art in cybernetics.

negative = control the effect, often around a setpoint (e.g., thermostat - it gets warm, turn off the heat, it gets cold turn on the heat. Or the Lotka-Volterra predator-prey relationship)

positive = enhance the effect, perhaps to runaway (the less ice, the more heat is absorbed, thus less ice, etc.)

Ironically, in ecology, negative feedbacks are usually "good", and positive feedbacks usually "bad".

I have some background in seismology and oceanography, and I'm accustomed to thinking in terms of "constructive" and "destructive" interference between wave trains. I guess that is a similar concept as "positive" and "negative" feedback.

Interference is a synchronous, simultaneous relationship between waves that don't actually interact.

Feedback, OTOH, is a timeseries: A causes B, which affects A, which then affects B again, etc.

A thermostat can control temperature, or albedo can cause runaway melting.

Negative feedback: The normal way an electric blanket works.

Positive feedback: The way an electric blanket works when the husband and wives controls get swapped.

There are PIOMAS charts that show ice volume for the last 30 years. (Not everyone is convinced of their accuracy) Max volume has fallen from about 30000km3 to 20, minimum from 15 to 5.


That animated gif does a good job of showing how the ice stream in the Arctic ocean flows. Great link.

Aren't most of the graphs actually labeled "extent" or "volume"?

The graph at the top of the thread is labeled "Extent", in square km. Extent is relatively easy to measure from satellite observations. Determining volume is much harder because it requires knowing the thickness as well as extent. Thickness is not so easy to measure from satellites. That's why people question the accuracy of volume charts. There is no doubt that the overall ice pack is thinner, the question is how much thinner?

That is in fact true, although I don't have a reference, I bet Nevin's sea ice blog contains the data.

Last winter there was a extreme warm spell in the NE US Mid March. Just from this I would guess maybe it was a period where the cold air in the arctic was trapped with less than normal air exchange to the south.

The freezing is triggered by the darkness (radiation out, none in) so when it gets dark below a sertain level, freeze kicks in. Global warming does little to change this. I guess even after we see ice free summers, winter maximum will look similar to what it does now.

LAter on, summer heat will have acumulated and freeze will be delayed, but it willhave to get a good deal warmer before we see much less of the winter maximums.

And yes, those fast ices are thin.

For context see: Sea Ice Resources
Note: Antarctic sea ice is above the 1979-2000 average.
Global sea ice has changed little.
2012: The Year Greenland Melted (AKA Alarmists Gone Wild)

“Ice cores from Summit show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average. With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time,” says Lora Koenig, a Goddard glaciologist and a member of the research team analyzing the satellite data.

You have to take climate persistence into account. e.g., compare Hurst Kolmogorov dynamics over the last 500 million year, not just the arctic over the last 33 years. See:
Hurst-Kolmogorov dynamics in paleoclimate reconstructions
See especially slide 10 which shows that Hurst Kolmogorov persistence reveals natural standard deviations are about double that of classical statistics.

Environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg warns: How "Policy By Panic" Can Backfire for Environmentalists

indeed, by one measure, global accumulated cyclone energy has decreased to its lowest levels since the late 1970’s. Exaggerated claims merely fuel public distrust and disengagement. . . .Telling tall tales may benefit those with a stake in the telling, but it leaves us all worse off.

Bjorn Lomborg is an environmentalist?

He's a false-flag actor for the status quo that calls himself and environmentalist. I can't put into words my disgust with his very existence. Really. He's an economic analyist at best, and he works at a business school. Anyone who takes him seriously is either ignorant or actively using him to support their own agenda at the cost of the environment.

He calls himself an environmentalist because that's the best way he can undermine environmentalism.

Well said. He's the sort of commentator which I label a "denialist"...

E. Swanson

per Ghung's suggestion ...

Bill McKibben: The Arctic Ice Crisis
The Arctic Ice Crisis

The original myth, now evolved into propaganda / lies, that scientists have exaggerated the global warming induced climate change reality is laughable.

I did "the google" once on "worse that expected" and similar phrases, and it is orders of magnitude more prevalent than last place holder "exaggerated the effects" and similar phrases.

The piece by McKibben indicates:

Jason Box, a scientist at the Byrd Polar Research Center, has probably spent more time in Greenland than any American of his generation. He began his yearly treks to the island in the 1990s as an undergraduate at the University of Colorado, helping his professor install a series of automated weather stations; last month he was sleeping on a sailboat near the mouth of a huge glacier and traveling onto the ice by helicopter to install yet more sensors. The shift he and his team have measured over the course of the past two decades is startling. "When I took my first course in glaciology," Box says, "conventional thought had the reaction time of the ice sheets to heating on the order of 10,000 years." The ice sheet, scientists believed, was a mostly inert ice cube frozen fast at its bed; if the glaciers melted because of global warming, the process would be, well, glacial.
Box had conservatively predicted that it might take up to a decade before the surface of Greenland's ice sheet melted all at once. That it actually happened in just a few weeks only underscores how consistently cautious ice scientists have been in forecasting the threat posed by global warming. Now, however, that caution is being replaced by well-founded alarm. "Greenland is a sleeping giant that's waking," says Box. "In this new climate, the ice sheet is going to keep shrinking – the only question is how fast."

The new data from Greenland matters for every corner of the planet. Water pouring into the North Atlantic will not only raise sea levels, but is also likely to modify weather patterns. "If the world allows a substantial fraction of the Greenland ice sheet to disintegrate, all hell breaks loose for eastern North America and Europe," says NASA's James Hansen, the world's foremost climatologist.

(The Arctic Ice Crisis). If there was any "environmental exaggeration" is was those who refused to see what was really happening.

A false exaggeration that "nothing is happening here folks, move along" is worse because it blinds people to a reality that will seriously harm them.

This false way, the BAU way, of looking at the reality unfolding will cause harm to millions of people, but since the folks promoting "no exaggeration please" really mean "don't tell us an reality please" are actually psychopaths, they will feel no guilt because clinically they have no conscience:

The psychopath is callous, yet charming. He or she will con and manipulate others with charisma and intimidation and can effectively mimic feelings to present as “normal” to society. The psychopath is organized in their criminal thinking and behavior, and can maintain good emotional and physical control, displaying little to no emotional or autonomic arousal, even under situations that most would find threatening or horrifying. The psychopath is keenly aware that what he or she is doing is wrong, but does not care.

(When You Are Governed By Psychopaths). If the proper warnings had not been resisted, condemned, and buried out of the news cycle these past decades, we would be orders of magnitude better off now.

Please post your comments only once.

Can you delete the one place in the area where another blogger asked for it to be moved? I could not delete it.

I did that, but please don't try to move your posts in the future.

aws.classifieds, adamx & Black_Dog
Rather than descending to false rhetorical and superficial ad hominem attacks, please address the substance of the Copenhagen Consensus' work with detailed documentation by Nobel laureates and associates, including Copenhagen Consensus on Climate and FixTheClimate.com.
See The Copenhagen Consensus 2012.

The US policy of forcing consumers to use grain ethanol is immoral, starving the poor with no greenhouse benefit.

Media Turn A Blind Eye To Record Greenland Ice Melt

All depends on what one calls The Media.

(see? 2 opposing viewpoints - must mean there is nothing happening VS a lower overall icepack. Vineland, here we come again!)

3 injured in W.Va. methane ignition, gas well fire

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - A spark from a natural gas drilling operation in north-central West Virginia ignited methane gas several hundred feet underground early Friday, sending up a fireball and triggering a blaze that officials said burned for about an hour on the floor of the rig.

State Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Tom Aluise said the crew was in the early stages of drilling a Marcellus shale gas well. The drill was about 400 feet deep when they began to withdraw it, creating a spark that ignited the methane.

... In June, another Antero drilling operation triggered several backyard geysers when workers struck an aquifer in the Sardis area and inadvertently re-pressurized a handful of old water wells. Emergency management officials and residents said some were 10- to 12-feet high.

A spark from a natural gas drilling operation in north-central West Virginia ignited methane gas several hundred feet underground early Friday,

I do not believe the gas exploded underground and sent up a fireball. I think the gas where ignited above ground.

As long as the gas have stayed below ground as supposed the spark had not been a problem. It is a rather important difference if a leak or spark is the main problem or would anyone her think a leak would be great if sufficient precautions are made to avoid a spark?

Karl – Good catch. I missed that when I skimmed past it. I’m certain you’re correct. Spark or no spark there wouldn’t be an explosion down hole. Over the years I’ve set of thousands of shaped charges into oil/NG bearing reservoirs and no explosions. As you and most understand an explosion is essentially a very rapid oxidation. And obviously oxidation requires oxygen.

I’ve got a good guess what happened. They drilled through a shallow fresh water aquifer that contained free NG. Normally the mud weight would overbalance this reservoir and prevent it from flowing up the well bore. But while POOH (pulling out of hole) they “swabbed it in”. IOW by POOH too fast they caused a suction effect which reduced the effective bottom hole mud weight. And wooosh…here come the gas. Statistically most blow outs have happened under such circumstances and not when drilling deep high pressure reservoirs. The most dangerous aspect of swabbing in a shallow sand is that there’s no time to react. At best you might have time to jump off the rig floor.

This accident also highlights one of the problems with assigning blame to frac’d wells for contamination of fresh water aquifers. In some areas the fresh water aquifers may also be naturally occurring NG reservoirs. Common in Texas, PA and most other hydrocarbon rich areas. I’ve produced commercial NG from a fresh water sand at 230’ in Texas. We knew there were shallow reserves in the area because local folks have seen NG heading from their water wells for over 150 years.

Here's an interesting twist on Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline:

Canadian wants to build $13 billion refinery

If the tar sands are to be shipped to the Pacific, surely it would be preferable to refine it into products before sending the results out of Canada. Those tar sands need to be refined if they are to be used, not that this project would help the environment, since there would still be emissions of CO2...

E. Swanson


Where my car gas comes from, 12 cents a litre rebate at eoy some years. Specifically designed to used thicker Alberta oil.

Specifically designed to used thicker Alberta oil.

No, Consumers Co-operative uses Saskatchewan heavy oil, which is not quite as thick as Alberta oil sands bitumen. Bitumen is defined as oil which will not flow toward a well under reservoir conditions, and Saskatchewan heavy oil will flow toward a well, albeit with great reluctance. It really helps to use hot steam injection to speed up the process.

It still has to be upgraded for used in a refinery, though, or the refinery has to be modified to process it. It's similar to California Kern River heavy oil (for those people in California who want a local reference point).

Co-Op Oil Refinery and Upgrader

CCRL also operates the NewGrade Energy Inc. Upgrader, which transforms heavy crude from the Lloydminster area into light synthetic crude, a more easily refined product, for use at the refinery. Its capacity is 55,000 barrels a day

Maybe I shouldn't oversimplify things. The Lloydminster heavy oil field sits right underneath the Alberta/Saskatchewan border, so maybe some of the oil does come from the Alberta side. Or not, who knows? Ask Consumer's Co-op.

Thanks for showing the flaws in my fast facile reading of Red River Co-op web site and then grabbing the CCRL site. When I read thick oil, I skipped a step in investigation. My dad in Iowa is amazed I get neearly 40 cents a gallon rebate some years.

The EIA's International Energy Statistics came out late yesterday with the data through May. They had World C+C peaking, so far, in April at 75,809 kb/d but down 532,000 bp/d in May to 75,272 kb/d. Most of that was OPEC, down 408 kb/d and non-OPEC down 125 kb/d.

They had Saudi Arabia down 200 kb/d from 10,040 kb/d to 9,840 kb/d. Iran was down 75 kb/d and Iraq was down 40 kb/d. The North Sea was down 115 kb/d with most of that being the U.K. which was down 88 kb/d. Canada was down 80 kb/d from 3,154 to 3,074 kb/d.

Ron P.

The same EIA which forecasts 1.3 mb/d in production from U.S. tight oil(e.g. Bakken, Eagle Ford and so on) by 2035.

It's already at those levels. Bakken's at 600,000+ by itself, Eagle Ford is at parity and the newer fields are coming online.

We may indeed hit 2 mb/d by 2015, but EIA could still be proven right.

The average oil well becomes a 'stripper'(low production) in just 6 years.
Some Bakken wells lose 90 % in production over 6 years.

The Montana part of the Bakken field has in fact already peaked(although it just represents 10 % of the overall field).

Tight Oil has decline rates above 35 %, and when properly developed, they usually see huge increases once the growth really comes on(as we've seen in the Eagle Ford play) and then tapers out really quickly.

Another thing to remember is that as Sorrel noted in his take-down of the BP-funded Magueri study, if you apply normal, IEA-level, decline rates, oil production goes to 92 mb/d(including all liquid fuels) to 2020, and that includes an ultra-optimistic scenario from Iraq, Saudi, Canada and so on.

I think we may see a burst until 2015, but the fact that the major oil companies are going after fields which show 5-7 times higher decline rates as normal, conventional, onshore giant fields tells us all we need to know. Yes, production may increase, and as more and more shifts to expensive unconventional, the price floor will be lifted by virtue of itself, but the huge decline rates will mean that we won't see decades of a plateau.

Bernstein the other day, at Financial Times, noted that today Bakken has 200 stripper wells. In just 6 years time, that number will be 4000.

Kiss energy independence goodbye.

Sv – Interesting numbers…thanks. The Bakken appears to be a better play than the Eagle Ford Shale but since I have little contact with it I’ll leave it at that. OTOH I deal with the various service companies that handle most of the EFS development. For some months now they’ve been telling of warnings from many operators to expect a slow down. Just got an update yesterday and it appears to be happening. One of the most telling metrics is frac truck availability. A well will be drilled and cased and the drill rig moved on to the next location. And the well just sits there producing nothing until its frac’d. A year and a half ago some operators were waiting up to 6 months for the frac trucks. Today many frac trucks are sitting in the yards collecting dust. Some of the crews have been laid off. Rumors of bigger layoffs abound. So why? I’m not sure what the primary controlling factor may be. Or maybe combination of factors.

Just some WAG’s. Chesapeake may not be typical of the average EFS player but they are the most visible. Their press releases make it clear: they are severely short of capital needed to carry on their planned drilling budget. Part of the problem is the lingering low NG prices that hit back in late ‘08. OTOH they pushed forward to the wet shales like the EFS based on the high price of oil. Oil prices have been sliding up and down but on a yearly running average basis it’s still bouncing around all time highs.

Maybe an income cash flow problem? By CHK’s constant press releases the EFS is very profitable. And those statements should be supported by the production profile of the typical wells. OTOH the high decline rates quickly reduce a well’s cash flow. Partly bad news for future revenue projections. But it also implies the bulk of the “profit” CHK claims must be returning quickly. Based upon that logic (and accepting CHK’s claim of profitability) they should have an adequate to outstanding cash flow coming back in.

But the company recently complained they were still $15+billion short for the budget plan. And just yesterday I saw the latest tally of the capex they raised in the last two years by divesting assets: $19 billion. And they are still strapped for cash? And a significant portion of those asset sales included large sections of their EFS undeveloped acreage. In addition to gaining capex it also reduced the budget requirements. And they are still short of capex? The banks seem to be also voting on CHK profitability with their checkbook: a couple of months ago CGK announced their bankers would be kicking in less than $6 billion. Sounds like the bankers, who have all the details and their own engineers, aren’t allowing CHK much credit.

Another factor I don’t have a handle on is CHK’s debt load and repayment requirements. Perhaps interest payments are taking a very big chunk on revenue. But that would have to be a carryover from their dry shale plays of several years ago since they repeated declare the wet shales have been very profitable. But there’s a problem with that answer: back when NG prices collapsed CHK was applauded for their foresight to hedge a large portion of their dry gas production. At one point they were receiving almost twice the price for their NG as current well head prices.

Again, perhaps there are unique factors that would indicate CHK wouldn’t serve as the poster child for the other EFS players. OTOH many have been speculating that it would be difficult/impossible for the EFS players to sustain the effort to continually show y-o-y reserve increases. Increases Wall Street would reward handsomely if met and punish quickly with lower stock prices as soon as just the perception of failure appeared.

As I’ve stated before I think the EFS play will keep going forward as long as oil prices stay up where they’ve been. But I have my doubts about maintaining the high level of drilling we’ve seen the last few years. And there’s the fundamental problem with some of the more optimistic projection of future oil rates from the EFS (as well as other shale trends): long term production rates will be heavily dependent upon the drilling of new wells. Within 4 or 5 years of their start up EFS wells are producing a nominal amount of oil. The Bakken appears to have a much better long term production profile with the heritage wells providing a better base. Accurately predict EFS (as well as every other shale play) drilling activity over the next 20 years and one might have a fair estimate of production rates. The problem I have with the more optimistic projections is the assumption that drilling activity won’t decrease and, in some extreme cases, will significantly increase. IMHO I don’t think the activity level can be predicted that accurately.

I just ran some EIA data on NG, NGPL and crude production. All three show steady increases each month on a daily basis for 2010 and 2011; however since Jan 2012 they have all three gone flat with some possible decrease thru May. We shall see.

Crude oil production rose 13.6% year on year in July to 6.225 million barrels a day, the highest July level since 1998. Year-to-date output averaged near the July level and was up 11.9% from the same period in 2011.

Source: API August 17

Crude production in 2011 for the U.S. was at 5.7 mb/d.
My guess is that the increase is just about all tight oil.

I still think we'll see about 2 mb/d in production before 2015, then it will level off and then decline quickly since the decline rates are so astronomically higher than for conventional oil fields.

Bakken is starting to level off, although that process can be protracted, Eagle Ford has the capacity to go above 1 mb/d, it's already at parity with Bakken. And then we have Utica in the East Coast area as well as numerous, smaller fields.

One interesting sidenote: the U.S. now operates more oil & gas rigs than the rest of the world combined. So CapEx investments costs are huge and lots of companies are all going into the red during this bonanza. Unless production can keep increasing at this level up to 10 mb/d, which is an impossible fantasy, CapEx replacement costs will not continue as for now, investors are willing to lend money on the basis of (higher) future production.

But as most people know, tight oil is defined as having a strong, initial burst of production once it starts to reach it's prime growth phase which then peters off quite quickly. And what will all these companies with huge debts do? Many of them have CapEx costs running 200-300 % of their cash flows. The only thing that keeps it going is ever-increasing production and right now that is paying off.

But to keep pace, if tight oil now stands at 2 mb/d, it will have to go much higher or we will see bankruptcies or tons of consolidation, probably both.

Nonetheless, GoM production is going to decline by 2015 from the 2010 levels. So tight oil has even more work cut out for it.

Bakken is starting to level off,...,

Level off?

Most recently increasing at 29K bpd per month.

the U.S. now operates more oil & gas rigs than the rest of the world combined.

Are you sure that does not confuse wells with drilling rigs? And surely it is not fare to compare, say, Brazilian offshore rigs with hop and go hydro-frac rigs.

It is fair to compare US deep water GoM rigs with Brazilian deep water rigs - and land based rigs to those land based rigs in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Uganda, Canada, Azerbaijan, Argentina, Algeria, Venezuela, Brunei, Egypt, Russia, Ecuador, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Chad, Mexico, Kuwait, China, Tanzania, India, Iran, Columbia, Indonesia, Romania, Uzbekistan, Libya, the Netherlands, Nigeria, United Arab Emirates, Cameroon, Bangla Desh, et al.


A couple points on Eagle Ford shale & Chesapeake -- roughly half the play is dry gas (southern half), so makes sense overall drilling activity dropped off as players with acreage only on gas side of the play stopped uneconomic drilling (in $3/mcf gas world). In Chesapeake's 2Q report, they mention having dropped already to 28 rigs (were at 35+ I think) and planning to drop further to ~22 rigs for next year in Eagle Ford.

Chesapeake had hedged a bunch of their natural gas, but liquidated / monetized the entire position back when gas fell to $4/mcf back in 2011, as they "knew" it would bounce back up and was uneconomic... (insert snide comment about "hedging" vs. "speculating"...)

Last October, Chesapeake sold the financial contracts that were its insurance, or hedge, against low gas prices. Though the company raised cash in the trade, a Wall Street Journal analysis of Chesapeake's disclosures about the hedging positions found losses between $750 million and $900 million.
The losses came mostly in the last few months of 2011 and first months of 2012. And the removal of the hedges has left the company largely unprotected against low gas prices this year.


Also an interesting map from Texas RRC on currently active well permits (oil vs. gas) for Eagle Ford:

David – Thanks for the details. I knew CHK screwed up their hedge but didn’t know the details.

NanoTritium battery is good for twenty years (or more)

Florida-based City Labs says it has created an adult’s thumb-sized, battery, NanoTritium, that can last 20 years or more in the most extreme conditions, such as extreme temperature and vibrations.

More info: http://www.citylabs.net/content/BetavoltaicHistory.pdf

Self-charging battery both generates and stores energy

Renewable energy technologies generally consist of two distinct processes: energy generation (using sources such as coal, solar, wind, etc.) and energy storage (such as batteries). These two processes are always accomplished through two separate units, with the first process converting the original form of energy to electricity, and the second process converting electricity to chemical energy. Now for the first time, engineers have demonstrated that energy can be generated and stored in a single device that converts mechanical energy directly to chemical energy, bypassing the intermediate step of electricity generation. The device basically acts as a hybrid generator-battery unit, or in other words, a self-charging power cell.

Lithium-ion battery is fast-charged in minutes

A lithium-ion battery that can charge 120 times faster than normal is reportedly the work of scientists from Korea at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) The scientists lay claim to a technology that enables a recharge 30 to 120 times faster than conventional li-ion batteries, according to the Korean news agency, Yonhap.

How offshore wind turbines could be more efficient

... A preliminary study undertaken at IfM suggests that payback ratios for offshore wind farms could be doubled if the industry embraced new construction methods.

“The development of the wind turbine industry, and the way in which it works with the civil engineers who make the heavy supporting towers and foundations, which are not visible out at sea once the turbines are installed, mean that we have ignored something which is almost embarrassingly obvious in our race to meet the targets set for renewable energy production,” said Platts.

“We urgently need to reduce the high levels of energy embedded in offshore wind turbines which make them both ineffective in energy payback and costly in financial terms.

The effectiveness of wind turbines is determined by a key figure: the harvesting ratio. This ratio is a measure of the energy it provides set against the energy embedded in it (energy used in manufacturing it). ... Onshore turbines typically achieve a harvesting ratio of 40:1. ... harvesting ratio of offshore turbines reduces to typically 15:1 – far lower than for onshore turbines.

Here's a photo of a stayed tower. Makes better sense than the photo in the article.


S – I commend Mr. Platts efforts to re-invent the wheel. “…the wind power sector could achieve significantly higher payback ratios if turbine manufacturers used guyed towers (towers held in place by steel cables) made in composite materials rather than free-standing towers made in conventional steel materials.”

But he does make a valid point. We’ve been using guyed towers (we call them caissons) for over 20 years to develop small fields in the GOM in water depths up to 300’. Simple to build and even easier to transport and set: the internal cavity is airtight and simply towed to the installation site. Then pop some valves open and it sinks bottom end first to the seafloor. Then the guy wires are attached to pin pilings already set in the seafloor. Even easier to eventually remove later: snipe the guy wires, cut the base and let it fall to the sea floor. The feds and the state of Texas greatly prefer this method: the caissons quickly become reef sites and they like leaving them in the water. The existing off-the-shelf designs are certified to withstand hurricane force seas, an obvious requirement design for installation in federal waters in the Gulf.

Cheaper composite materials? If they can still meet the fed standards then why not? OTOH several years ago Gov. Perry of Texas signed the first offshore wind leases in the country and I’ve haven’t heard anything about pending development. Given access to oil patch infrastructure we should have the most economic offshore wind potential in the country. But no word yet. Guess time will tell.

Ben – And one of those Tarpon system went into one of my fields. The situation with wind development in Texas state waters seems to be going nowhere fast. The state and locals are all for it unlike many other areas such as New England. We should be able to install the infrastructure cheaper than anywhere else in the US. We’ve got the shipyards, offshore boat support, cable laying ships, etc. But no one has pulled the trigger yet. Demand? Until the Japanese incident there was a $12 billion expansion of the S. Texas Nuclear Plant planned. The plant is 60 miles from the coast. They are just starting the build out of a coal-fired electric plant in the same area. It will burn coal for the next 30 years railed in half way across the country from Illinois.

The point: some folks offer stats to say offshore wind power is economicly viable today. But they aren’t putting the money up. And the folks with the offshore Texas wind leases aren’t writing the check yet. That seems to speak volumes to me as far as current potential in the US.

Onshore is cheaper in TX and not currently resource limited, so the fact that offshore might be cheaper there than elsewhere doesn't come into play. Assuming that market structure allows (either higher power prices, or PTC extension, or some more efficient subsidy*, or dramatically reduced initial cost), Texas will build a lot more onshore wind once they get some more transmission built.

*Government financing would be much less costly to taxpayers and consumers and just as nice for developers and vendors, only the bankers would get clipped.

Texas has two primary wind regimes.

The Great Plains (massive potential) that winter peaks and typically peaks between midnight & 4:30 AM.

South Texas sea breezes. Summer peaking and morning and evening peaking (driven by temperature differential between GoM and land). Almost ideal shoulder power for solar PV.

I talked with former head of Austin Energy, and he was happy to sign up for the last available South Texas wind. Not that much potential on land left and transmission is almost maxed out.

Near offshore Texas should be sea breeze power.


You should be able to pay more for on-peak generation, but how much more may be problematic.

Most TX wind development has been West Texas as opposed to South Texas. I was basically neglecting South Texas wind (5-10%). If the better coincidence factor (allowing a higher price per kwh) you mention for South Texas wind is taken at face value, and we add lower transmission congestion than West Texas, I would guess the two reasons for the dominance of West Texas wind as being higher capacity factor (more kwh's per capital), and greater resource base for development.

A premier South Texas wind site profiled at

I was mistaken, at this site there is no morning peak. And the capacity factors are certainly competitive (see page 7) with West Texas wind, if not a bit better.

Just a limited resource. I see where most of Laguna Madre is just mud flats (from map). Wet lands with an extraordinary wind potential.


Unfortunately, one of Earths most biologically valuable areas.
Do we cling to BAU at any cost?

Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist:


That's a good commentary on "environmentalism". I too long ago learned that there are many folks who think of environmental protection as a problem of solving humanity's impacts on people. I used to call them "Garden Club Environmentalist" but now they might be NIMBY's. Those folks want everything to look nice and the air and water to be clean, but don't want to face the results of their own consumptive lifestyles on the non-human world outside their neighborhoods. They (and to some extent, me) don't/can't face the sort of lifestyle changes which logic tells one must eventually occur if the Earth is to continue to be a place on which humans can live, let alone provide a place for the rest of the species with which we now share this planet.

My conclusion is that population growth can not continue, worse, the math says population must decline if there's to be any hope for the future. That viewpoint is so far from the mainstream that it's seemingly hopeless to expect any meaningful change. Yet, the author doesn't even directly mention population as a problem, let alone, any effort to limit the mass of people he likens to an empire bent on destroying the natural world. It could be that it's already be too late and he sees the futility of attempting to stop "progress", so he is running back to the woods to get away, as that's all his brain can do...

E. Swanson

Population declined by about a third during the Black Death, by about a third in Germany during the Thirty Years War, and perhaps by a half in China at the end of the Song Dynasty.

So a population decline of a significant percentage is certainly a possibility.

Thanks, the avian radar stuff is pretty neat.

It should be noted that this site has the 'highest average annual wind speeds along the entire Gulf Coast' and that the comparison which shows comparable capacity factor is to the average (rather than best) West Texas wind development. The hourly average production profile is definitely a positive...

In addition to the lower yield in that area I recall hearing that O&M costs were multiples (3x? 5x?) onshore operation. I guess it's easier to run a large crane from the ground than trying to do it in a gentle swell.

Yes, O&M and lifetime expectancy are both expected problems for offshore. The only major (future) advantage I see is the possibility of larger turbines with associated economy of scale. Onshore turbines are growing a lot slower than they once did, though there is certainly still growth occurring in the average turbine size. Otherwise, offshore is going to be largely restricted to places without remaining good available onshore resources.

A good land placement will generally get all over an offshore setup in terms of out given equal wind velocity. If I am recalling correctly the airfoil affect from moving a utility scale turbine to the top of a 10M rise rather than nearby flat ground can boost yield by something like 20%.

The case for offshore placement has to do with steady production - you get more active days than you get onshore.

And the size limit (at least with current practices), has to do with transport difficulties for large blades, is significantly relaxed for offshore. Also these areas typically have better -steadier and more frequent winds.

Another vision for offshore

With this being how sea deployments could be cheaper.

And this being an interesting picture:

OECD Total Petroleum Consumption, 12 month average, is down over 4.5 million barrels or 9 percent since peaking in 2005 and 2006. OECD Europe, 12 month average, is down even more, 10.37 percent from its peak in 2006. But I figured one chart is enough to get the idea across. OECD Total Petroleum Consumption

OECD Consumption in kb/d. The last data point is April 2012.

OECD Consumption

That is your recession right there, high oil prices and falling supply.

Ron P.

How does the change in OECD GDP compare?

I have no idea but I checked OECD Stat Extracts. I got nothing but a blank for "OECD Total" But did get this for the European Union (27 nations). In millions of US dollars.

               2006        2007        2008        2009        2010        2011
B1_GA: GDP  14,363,869	15,274,609  15,946,321	15,581,329  15,947,940	16,459,318

Obviously GDP has not fallen with the oil supply if the stats are correct. But if it were adjusted for inflation the data would be a lot flatter. I would not expect the GDP to follow the oil supply in lockstep. And I imagine there is a delay built in also.

Ron P.

The inflation adjusted (constant) PPP GDP ( http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?datasetcode=SNA_TABLE1 )shows:

2006: 37,860,042
2011: 41,905,896

For growth of 10.7%.

Not great, but not very different from Euro historical growth rates, and not bad during a period in which oil consumption was reduced by -10.4%.

I wonder to what degree GDP growth in oil importing OECD countries has been propped up by deficit spending?

The following link shows the ratio of Global Net Exports (GNE) to Chindia's Net Imports of oil (CNI) from 2002 to 2011, versus total global public debt:


The GNE/CNI ratio fell from 8.9 in 2005 to 5.3 in 2011, a decline rate of 8.6%/year. At a 1.0 ratio, the Chindia region alone would theoretically consume 100% of Global Net Exports of oil.

Meanwhile, the Economist Magazine shows that total global public debt increased at 7.8%/year from 2005 to 2011.

to what degree GDP growth in oil importing OECD countries has been propped up by deficit spending?

I'm not sure why that would matter. A biophysical analysis doesn't care about that - the fact is, production increased by more than 10%, while oil consumption fell by more than 10%.

Now, if you're concerned about financing a trade deficit, then we need to analyze the overall OECD trade gap - have you seen stats on that?

I agree - China is consuming more oil imports. It's a good thing the OECD is reducing it's consumption. These trends aren't really such a good thing for China.

total global public debt increased at 7.8%/year from 2005 to 2011.

Yes, we had a global credit crunch. That's what comes from investors pursuing 10% gains in a world where 3% is realistic.

Look at the OECD: roughly 2% annual growth over the last 5 years. How can investors expect to get 10%?? They're bound to create bubbles, over and over again.

My somewhat simplistic analysis of the situation is that oil importing OECD countries have been using debt financed government spending (with the financing coming from a combination of real creditors and central banks) to keep their economies going, despite a doubling in annual Brent crude oil prices, from $55 in 2005 to $111 in 2011.

I've called it the "Thelma & Louise" OECD Race to the Edge of the Cliff:

“Thelma and Louise” is an American movie that ends with the two main characters committing suicide by driving off the edge of a cliff. I’ve often thought that this cinematic moment is an appropriate symbol for the actions of many developed OECD countries that are in effect borrowing money to maintain or increase current consumption. The central problem with this approach is that as my frequent co-author, Samuel Foucher, and I have repeatedly discussed, the supply of global net oil exports has been flat to declining since 2005, with “Chindia” so far consuming an ever greater share of what is (net) exported globally.

At precisely the point in time that developed countries should be taking steps to discourage consumption, many OECD countries, especially the US, are doing the exact opposite, by effectively encouraging consumption. Therefore, the actions by many OECD countries aimed at encouraging consumption in the face of declining available global net oil exports can be seen as the OECD “Thelma & Louise” Race to the Edge of the Cliff.

I suppose that the “winner” could be viewed as the first country that can no longer borrow enough money, at affordable rates, to maintain their current lifestyle. So, based on this metric, Greece would appear to be currently in the lead, with many other countries not far behind them.

My somewhat simplistic analysis

Well, it's good of you to acknowledge that.

Have you looked at the actual data on trade balances between oil exporters and importers??


I think that the data are self evident--so far at least, the trend is that the developed oil importing countries are gradually being priced out of the market for exported oil.

Here's an excerpt from my ELP Plan essay from five years ago. I think that it was a pretty decent prediction of what has transpired in the past five years in many oil importing OECD countries:


In this article I will further expound on my reasoning behind the ELP plan, otherwise known as “Cut thy spending and get thee to the non-discretionary side of the economy.”

. . . In my opinion, the unfortunate new reality is that we are going to see a growing labor surplus–against the backdrop of deflation in the auto/housing/finance sectors and inflation in food and energy prices.

By reducing your expenses now, while you can do it voluntarily, you will at least be better prepared for whatever the future may bring.

I think that many oil importing OECD countries are going massively into further debt, in an attempt to keep their "wants" based economies going, when we will be lucky to keep our "needs" based economies going. The operating premise seems to be that it's only when, not if, that we see large quantities of cheap oil again. So, until the happy times comes back, keep borrowing money to keep the party going, until you end up like Greece . . .

I think that the data are self evident

If only life were that easy! I too think the data are self evident, but I draw different conclusions. I think your intuition is far too pessimistic, so you draw the wrong conclusions.

You assume that European debt problems are primarily related to oil. I think oil certainly has an important impact, but that oil is not the primary problem. The primary problem is dramatic differences in national productivity, economic growth, etc, which are making a single currency very, very difficult to maintain. This is similar to what happened in Europe during the great Depression, when fixed exchange rates caused economic chaos.

As for Greece - it's been having sovereign debt crises and going insolvent about every 25 years for the last 200 years. This is nothing new.


If we want to resolve this impasse, we have to look at actual data and actual evidence rather than arguing abstract ideas (aka a "hand waving argument").

So....do you want to look at actual data on trade deficits, to see if oil imports really are killing OECD economies?

One data point: almost all oil exporters indicate that that they need higher oil prices to balance their budgets. That suggests that they've spent their oil import profits on consumer goods from OECD countries, and want to spend even more...

Its a fallacy to think that invest return -even on average, are limited to the rate of GDP growth. You could have a steady state -or even declining GDP, but still have a positive rate of return on funds invested. The investment isn't in the future growth of the economy, but rather in something that simply sustains some aspect of the economy. Think of farmers buying seeds, and replacing farm equipment. The farms could still generate a profit, even if net production of food isn't increasing.

Yes, the farms could return a profit, and the investments could generate a return.

But, how could that profit increase, and the ROI increase year after year? That would require investors to enjoy an ever growing percentage of the society's overall income, while others' income declined.

That's certainly possible, but it's not sustainable for the long-term. If investors are too ambitious, they'll simply pour their money into investment vehicles that can't really meet their expectations. If they do it in herds, they'll repeatedly blow bubbles.

As we're seeing now.

A positive investment return, and increasing return are different animals.


My question is about the level of return. Dividends are returning what, 1% these days? Economies are growing at 2%? How can investors hope for 10% in the long term? At that rate capital would double every 7 years, while the economy was doubling every 36 years - how could that happen? How long would it take for investors to claim 100% of the income of the economy?

Have you seen a good analysis of this question?

" How can investors hope for 10% in the long term?"

They can't. Google pension fund disaster/crises/shortfall in the state of your choice.

Dividends are doing better than 1%, but only until the returning recession fully impacts the corporate bottom line.

But even in a "normal" investment environment, how can investors expect 10% in the long run?

Very high inheritance, trust & gift taxes every generation ?

Basically start over the accumulation of capital every generation.


Nick, it's all a big lie. The biggest lie ever told.

You can forget 10%, or even 1%, or even 0%. The house of cards is going to collapse, and take the currency down with it at some point.

I think people suffer from a mental block when it comes to this. Like nobody believes that they are ever going to get a divorce or grow old or be diagnosed with cancer. Society is collectively unable to realize that the entire world economy is a Ponzi scheme.

I'm sorry that you're so adamant about the 'Entire world'..

Yes, there are shams and scams all around this modern construct.. but there are babies in the bathwater as well. I think it is only a traumatized overreaction that has people willing to (even just rhetorically) throw it all away.

As far as ROI is concerned, don't limit your boundaries. I think there are solar heating approaches that can get full payback within 10 years.. and I'm willing to bet that you can create even better rates of return by building solar heat collection yourself with recycled materials that then accelerates your rate of return even more.. a very practical retirement investment, I would say. (Plus learning skills, knowing your equipment intimately, getting some exercise.. etc)


(A friend just showed me a boneyard field with some great stacks of Industrial Grade Roofing Metal.. that will improve the Cost Benefit of my Barn/Workshop project a good bit!)


What Recovery? Petroleum Deliveries Lowest Since September 2008; Weakest July Demand Since 1995

A new twist in the ELM model? Ongoing demand destruction in wealthy industrialized oil importer due to worsening economic malaise causes exports of refined products to rise. Hmmm...


"demand destruction".

What an odd phrase. The OECD in general, and the US in particular, are reducing their dependence on oil.

This is a good thing.

...and the US in particular, are reducing their dependence on oil.

And considering building more oil pipelines from Canada to the U.S.

Are you thinking of the pipelines intended to get Canadian oil to the GOM, and then on to other countries?

US imports are falling...

This is a good thing.

Thanks Nick! Nothing like an unsubstantiated, uninformed, knee-jerk rant to validate my world view.


It didn't feel like a rant to me. I'm puzzled.

Okay, you're asking for some more detail to the argument.

So, let me start by asking - if I trade in a gas guzzler for a hybrid with equivalent driving performance but only 40% the fuel consumption, is that demand destruction?

Demand destruction sounds like a bad thing. I'd call moving to a hybrid "efficiency", or "substitution", which to me are good things.

" if I trade in a gas guzzler for a hybrid with equivalent driving performance but only 40% the fuel consumption, is that demand destruction?"

Yes, from the larger view. Same thing applies to low-flow faucets and toilets. Demand down, so usually rates have to increase to maintain the cash flow to maintain the overall system.

Economically, savings and paying off debt come out to same result, which is that consumption is lower than it might be, and banker income is reduced as they either pay interest on deposits or fail to receive interest on loaned money respectively.

If your world view is based on perpetual exponential growth, you end up with some interesting logical conflicts, which are actually not paradoxes for the given base assumption. Compare Euclidian with spherical geometry as an similar example.

Demand down, so usually rates have to increase to maintain the cash flow to maintain the overall system.

Or, that sector of the economy shrinks, and another grows. Agriculture shrinks, so manufacturing grows. Then manufacturing shrinks, and health care grows.

If your world view is based on perpetual exponential growth

I think that's basically a straw man. Eventually demand will be satisfied, and leisure will grow, as it did for a while in France, for instance.

A sharp rise in price would result in less consumption, if other spending remains the same, given that total spending can be assumed to be limited and the technology available to use the oil is relatively fixed at the time of the spike. That is, people won't be able to consume as much as they could previously, therefore their demand has been "destroyed". As you note, given the incentive, the money and enough time, the consumers will respond by changing their systems and consumptive habits in response to the higher prices. Of course, if you as an individual consumer no longer has a job as a result of this process, your demand will be more seriously impacted. Think Greece, Spain and Italy...

E. Swanson

How would you back up the claim that the US is 'Reducing Dependence' on oil? Just that we're using less? In a period when manufacturing continues to deflate, when sales and shipments of consumeer goods continues to falter, taking a lot of jobs offline with it..

It seems much more accurate to say that we are allowing arbitrary parts of our system to starve, and doing so blindly, rather than consciously undertaking a diet plan which will set us onto a healthier path for the apparent changes heading our way.

It is like telling a diabetic cancer patient that their sudden weight loss is a good sign.

You also use less air when you hold your breath.. just hope that there is another breathful waiting when you need to gasp again.. IF the invisible hand lets you. Are you confident that the hand will make responsible choices that lead to a complete, functioning society in the future? Cause I'm not.

Otherwise, what you are calling a 'good thing' is more clearly "Out of the frying pan and into the fire.."

Maybe the phrase you responded to should have been called 'De-manned destruction' .. ?

manufacturing continues to deflate

Actually, US manufacturing output is 50% larger than it was 30 years ago, and staying about the same over the last 10 years. You're thinking of manufacturing employment.

Yes, unemployment is high. And yes, some people are just driving less. But, mostly declining oil consumption is greater efficiency (hybrids, etc), shopping from home, plastic manufacturers using less plastic (have you noticed bottles using less plastic?), etc.

In a period when...when sales and shipments of consumeer goods continues to falter

Gross Domestic Product (goods and services) is still growing. US oil consumption is down more than 10% since 2006, but GDP is about 10% higher.

As I asked above: if I trade in a gas guzzler for a hybrid with equivalent driving performance but only 40% the fuel consumption, is that demand destruction?

Demand destruction sounds like a bad thing. I'd call moving to a hybrid "efficiency", or "substitution", which to me are good things.

"electric vehicles can markedly lower the costs of a fleet of delivery trucks. That’s the conclusion of a new MIT study showing that electric vehicles are not just environmentally friendly, but also have a potential economic upside for many kinds of businesses.

The study, conducted by researchers at MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics (CTL), finds that electric vehicles can cost 9 to 12 percent less to operate than trucks powered by diesel engines, when used to make deliveries on an everyday basis in big cities.

...there have been “no real surprises from a reliability perspective, but I was surprised by the drivers’ acceptance, to the point where they do not ever want to drive a diesel [truck] again.”


“Nearly 20% of our medium-heavy duty delivery trucks in the state of California are slated to be transitioned to all-electric vehicles. We have seen the accelerated growth and acquisition of this innovative technology because of the support from California. It’s these private and public partnerships that create the momentum that alternative fuel vehicles need to become even more competitive.

...In the U.S., Frito-Lay hopes to reduce its total fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2020, compared to 2007 baseline. "


I have spent some time in the past researching demand destruction. The truth is that many people have become poor, too poor to drive. Mass transit and food benefit participation have increased signicantly while gasoline demand has dropped. In my city, mass transit options have decreased while ridership has increased. Last year, I looked at vehicle efficiency numbers and found nothing that would suggest a drop in gasoline demand.

Could you provide your analysis?

Department of Transportation numbers suggest that Vehicle Miles Traveled have dropped only slightly recently, and are higher than 2006, while gasoline demand has dropped by roughly 10%.

What I don't get is how average wages have been declining in real terms since the 1970s, yet consumer spending has kept going up and up, to the point where the American economy has become mostly dependent on it. It seems counter-intuitive.

Chris – I don’t know but I bet the following questions might provide the answer. I also bet we have a resident smarty or two that have them at their finger tips.

Is the increase in consumer spending: a) In absolute volume; b) in inflation adjusted volume; c) in terms of per capita; d) per capita adjusted for inflation.

Obviously if the population increases by 30% during a period and spending increases only 20% then we are going backwards. OTOH if, after adjusting for inflation, we have had an increase in spending per capita then we may be improving.

Answers TODsters?

Although men's average inflation-adjusted per-hour wages fell, the percent of the population in the labor force grew dramatically from the mid 60's until 2000 or so (fewer at-home-moms), and the number of annual hours worked per person also increased thru 2000. It's called the rat race. Much of the purported increase in consumption actually reflects movement of in-home production into the market. Also, growth in improperly accounted benefit expenditures purport that American workers receive more benefits than they used to...
Also, much consumption is occurring higher in the income distribution

Consumer spending is also funded out of non-wage income, transfer payments by the government, and increases in private and public debt.

Intriguing. Thank you. I was thinking the massive increase in consumer debt of all sorts also had something to do with it. So its a combination of multiple factors, but which overall seems to be unsustainable. And to tie it in with peak oil, is it any coincidence that wages started stagnating right after America hit its own production peak?

Sure, We Can Build a Better Toilet. But Will People Use It?

... if history is any guide, good intentions and clever engineering aren’t enough. Would-be designers of post-porcelain thrones won’t just need to account for water use and material costs, but sociology and psychology — the human factors that, as much as any tech spec set, determine whether an innovation takes root.

“You need a good engineering solution, but there’s also this behavioral and social science problem,” said Mushfiq Mobarak, an environmental economist at Yale University. “How do you enact behavior change?”

... “You have new technologies that in the lab prove to be very attractive. In theory, it seems fantastic,” Mobarak said. “But in reality, nobody seems to like them.”

I found this article to be an easy and very thought-provoking read.

One of the commenters thought that an examination of how and why modern porcelain (sometimes nowadays Stainless Steel or plastic) flush toilets came to be accepted in the U.S. may be interesting.

Reminds me of an article I read along time ago about distribution of condoms to folks in a very poor country culminating in not use use for the intended purpose, but some use of melting them down and using them as caulking. The intended users didn't see the problem with increasing population and in fact valued having many children.

I must be missing something about the big toilet contest. There already exists a simple and widely used toilet design that safely treats human waste, called the composting toilet. There are some pretty fancy systems out there, but a perfectly acceptable unit can be built out of a couple 5 gallon buckets, a toilet seat, a couple sticks of ABS pipe, and some lumber.


I've used them myself, and as long as a good cover of sawdust is kept on top there is very little odor. I don't know how the Gates foundation thinks they are going to come up with something simpler, cheaper, and more environmentally friendly. The designs I'm seeing so far look like some pretty fancy hardware that 95% of the world couldn't afford, and couldn't fix anyway.

They were a failure in Mongolia. Among the problems: terrible odors (the smell of ammonia was so strong people couldn't eat in their homes), maggot infestations, and irritation in the genital area caused by the sawdust.

As with the cookstoves, it seems a lot of these things are very short-sighted. There's not enough testing under the conditions in which the design is intended to be used.

Yeah, I'm not sure the composting idea is scalable to a concentrated urban environment (and what happens when there's a shortage of sawdust?). The situation in Mongolia is a good example, though it also seems that the system was poorly deployed, plumbed incorrectly, etc.

World's Biggest Urine Separating, Composting Toilet Scheme Fails

I know folks who are quite happy with their composting systems, though it takes a bit more involvement in the process than most people are comfortable with.

I'm acutely aware of how 'more involvement' is problematic for lots and lots of folks, in my several seasons as an recently entered HVAC tech career, at the age of a senior citizen.

As it has been noted here, many times in many ways, 'Adapt or die'.

I at one time looked after a couple of apartments. I once had to go over to one unit and flip a breaker after the tenant's toaster tripped it. They didn't know what a breaker was.

Yeah, I'm not sure the composting idea is scalable to a concentrated urban environment...

The ancient Chinese made it work for thousands of years by hauling it out to the countryside in carts. But not as out of sight as underground piping, certainly.

(and what happens when there's a shortage of sawdust?).

Dirt works OK too.

The other argument is that unless we maintain the circle of nutrients, that is put our manure back on our crop lands we will eventually go hungry. "The Humanure Handbook" by Jenkins does a fairly good job of explaining the logic behind this.


They were a failure in Mongolia.Among the problems: terrible odors (the smell of ammonia was so strong people couldn't eat in their homes),

Why?! did they not know how to use and maintain them? BTW, same thing happens to some people's cat litter if they never change it. Other people don't seem to have a problem...

Anyway, one failure in Mongolia doesn't negate the basic principle and here's a success story!


In Vancouver, British Columbia, a 30,000 sq. ft. office complex, utilizes composting toilets and urinals for human waste disposal. The new building, which houses The Institute of Asian Research, is not connected to the city's sewer system. As well, a subsurface, greywater recycling system with phragmite (tall grasses) plant varieties, cleanses the greywater which is then used for on-site irrigation.

Yes that highly critical article was in Drumbeat here a couple of weeks ago. But here's another article I found which gives a more balanced view of what went wrong with that Mongolian waterless toilet experiment:


Shortcuts were made in installing them apparently, and the residents weren't always aware of how to maintain them. However an important factor was that some residents seemed to have perceived them as low class compared with flush toilets, and with neighboring developments using flush toilets they were falling behind in status.

From your link:

Many residents used the toilets as receptacles for solid waste, blocking the ventilation system. Those who put bags of food waste into their toilets often saw flies during the summer,...

Typical. I've known people that would put anything that will flush down the toilet, just to avoid taking it to the curb. Some don't even realize they're on a septic system, 'til the backyard erupts..

My parents bought a house with a septic tank or leach field that blew out one winter, and mom said it was hilarious to see this yard full of condoms popping up and down in the snow as the gases bubbled up into them.

'Little Coxes, on the hillside..' one might say.

The house I grew up in was connected to a septic tank. After daily staring at the notice pinned to the back of the toilet door all through my childhood, I can remember it verbatim 50 years later.

"Septic Tank. Please do not put cigarette ends, ash, rubbish, or any kind of disinfectant down the pan as this may cause trouble to the working system."

Apparently my father's second wife couldn't read or didn't understand or failed to cooperate. For whatever reason, it finally blocked after 40 trouble-free years with her sanitary pads. History does not record their subsequent conversation.

EDIT: forgot the cigarette ends.

Why?! did they not know how to use and maintain them?

Perhaps. But that has to be taken into account in any design, anywhere. There has to be a factor of safety built in to allow for users who are not perfect.

To me, it sounds like a mix of things. Some user error, some bad design, some shoddy construction, elements that were poorly conceived from the get-go, and things they just didn't consider (but probably should have).

The simplest problems really are the hardest.
Replacing the three-rock fire
An alternative to squatting in the wild

Complex problems are easy. Real complexity is just a mountain of smaller complexities.
Design a new supercomputer
Land a machine on mars
...there are 27 immediately obvious viable ways to do these things.

I used to fix the old room-filling computers. I fixed most of them with a pink-pearl eraser. You see, without knowing anything, just pulling the logic cards and cleaning the contacts would do the trick. Other than that, there was knowing just where to hit them... like in the first "Star Wars" movie.

The Millennium Falcon Owner's Workshop Manual
at time 0:20

Panic grips India as ethnic tensions rise

Police in Bangalore have been placed on alert following a massive exodus from India's technological hub of workers originating from the country's north-eastern states, sparked by rumours of an imminent attack on their ethnic group.

"Special forces and commandos are being deployed in areas where north-easterners are concentrated," senior Bangalore police official Vincent D'Souza, said on Saturday.

At least 20,000 natives from the north-east, who have faced discrimination and harassment in the past, have now fled India's southern cities of Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Pune.

I was invited to go to Meghalaya (NE India) about 20 years ago as part of a Christian cultural exchange group. Turns out that Meghalaya has one of the highest Christian populations in India (colonialism, tea plantations). An excursion was planned into Assam, to the north. I regret not having been able to go since Meghalaya and Assam are reportedly quite beautiful with rich cultural histories.

I was trying to work out the details with my job, but a classmate, a Bodo Hindu exchange student, suggested it wasn't a good time to go there. A large influx of Bangladeshi refugees had pretty much swamped the infrastructure and carrying capacity there.

I expect that the region will have a tough time reabsorbing these people if the exodus continues. Assam is about 2/3 Hindu, 1/3 Muslim, and they don't seem to be getting along.

There are also concerns about a water war with China over the Brahmaputra River, which is also important to Bangladesh.


Things are getting tight all over...

Yes things are not looking good, recent events just confirm my suspicions that this peace is temporary and built on availability of 24X7 power supply, entertainment and food. India is a demographic disaster in the making, and when I mention this to folks they think it's just a problem of corruption.

I think a lot of westerners view most Indians as being fundamentally non-violent, like the Jains or Buddhists. The reality is that India is about as religiously and ethnically scrambled as any place on Earth. It's hard to understand how you folks have held it together this long. Maybe all of those Gods are on the same page ;-)

Best hopes for continued coexistence...

Which are the common languages? Are there any common native Indian languages or are they just resorting to English whenever they hit a language barrier?

The languages of India belong to several language families, the major ones being the Indo-Aryan languages (a branch of Indo-European) spoken by 74% of Indians and the Dravidian languages spoken by 24% of Indians.[1][2] Other languages spoken in India belong to the Austro-Asiatic, Tibeto-Burman, and a few minor language families and isolates.[3]

The principal official language of the Republic of India is Standard Hindi, while English is the secondary official language.[4] The constitution of India states that "The official language of the Union shall be Hindi in Devanagari script."[5] Neither the Constitution of India nor Indian law specifies a national language, a position supported by a High Court ruling.[6] However, languages listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian constitution are sometimes referred to, without legal standing, as the national languages of India.[7][8]

Individual mother tongues in India number several hundred;[9] the 1961 census recognized 1,652...


In Assam alone:

Forty-five languages are spoken by different communities, including three major language families: Austroasiatic (5), Sino-Tibetan (24) and Indo-European (12). Three of the spoken languages do not fall in these families. There is a high degree of bilingualism.


Seems almost biblical.

Before cultures begun warfare and conquest, it was like this everywhere. Every valley had its own languge wich was not even related to any other language. Then some people discoverd how to ride a horse and make an iron axe, and spread their language over hughe areas. Languages was massacred.

Back in the day when the Tower of Babylon story was in mass circulation, it was so in order to explain why there were so many languages everywhere. For us who live today in a language deprived world (there only are some puny 6000 left) this story makes little sense.

There appear to have been three major episodes of replacement of populations:
- Upper Paleolithic, when people with throwing spears and bows and arrows replaced people with thrusting spears and knives.
- Neolithic, when agriculturalists replaced hunter-gatherers in Europe, Asia and Africa, and
- Age of Discovery, when Europeans replaced hunter-gatherers in North and South America and Australia.

Note that replacements were not complete and that genetic material from the prior populations still survives in the present populations. For example, in northern Europe, there are still people with some DNA from the hunter gatherer populations, so it is a matter population numbers and proportions, and not necessarily massacres.

My genetic material is to more than half of it hunter gatherer material. We are called "blond scandinavians"...

The Native Americans had a limited number of language groups - and the different groups were not THAT different. They apparently all evolved from a common base 12,000 or so years ago. But each tribe, even related tribes, had different languages (see Norway & Sweden + Denmark & Iceland too).

The old joke - a language is a dialect with an army.


The Native Americans had a limited number of language groups - and the different groups were not THAT different.

A few years back a group of young Native Alaskans (Athabaskans from the interior of the state) attended a big gathering of N American Native groups somewhere in the lower 48. The kids were surprised to discover that they could talk to the Navajo in their language.

There was a recent study published that found DNA evidence backed up the theory that there were three waves of migrants.

Some scientists assert that the Americas were peopled in one large migration from Siberia that happened about 15,000 years ago, but the new genetic research shows that this central episode was followed by at least two smaller migrations from Siberia, one by people who became the ancestors of today’s Eskimos and Aleutians and another by people speaking Na-Dene, whose descendants are confined to North America. The research was published online on Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Athabaskans are in the Na-Dene group, which has this odd distribution. Curiously, the DNA and linguistic results don't always match, suggesting the conquest may be the reason for the linguistic distribution.

DNA and language are two completely unrelated things. This is something linguistics has slowly had to learn over time. In the modern world, this is most obvious with the various English-based languages being used across the world, such as Krio and Tok Pisin. But even long ago, when people were conquered they often took the language of the conqueror (though not always - Chinese seems to always end up subverting the outside conquerors). Look at Europe - why are all those people speaking mostly Indo-European languages, which probably originated in Asia? What's with that random group of people speaking Basque? While I'm sure the Basque people are different culturally from others around them, I doubt the DNA is that different.

DNA and language are two completely unrelated things.



Am J Phys Anthropol. 2007 Aug;133(4):1137-46.
Worldwide analysis of multiple microsatellites: language diversity has a detectable influence on DNA diversity.
Belle EM, Barbujani G.

Dipartimento di Biologia ed Evoluzione, Università di Ferrara, Via Borsari, 46, 44100 Ferrara, Italy.

Previous studies of the correlations between the languages spoken by human populations and the genes carried by the members of those populations have been limited by the small amount of genetic markers available and by approximations in the treatment of linguistic data. In this study we analyzed a large collection of polymorphic microsatellite loci (377), distributed on all autosomes, and used Ruhlen's linguistic classification, to investigate the relative roles of geography and language in shaping the distribution of human DNA diversity at a worldwide scale. For this purpose, we performed three different kinds of analysis: (i) we partitioned genetic variances at three hierarchical levels of population subdivision according to language group by means of a molecular analysis of variance (AMOVA); (ii) we quantified by a series of Mantel's tests the correlation between measures of genetic and linguistic differentiation; and (iii) we tested whether linguistic differences are increased across known zones of increased genetic change between populations. Genetic differences appear to more closely reflect geographic than linguistic differentiation. However, our analyses show that language differences also have a detectable effect on DNA diversity at the genomic level, above and beyond the effects of geographic distance.

Reminds me of one of the problems with The Book of Mormon that Romney's progenitors and perhaps Romney himself believes - that Native American are descended from one of the lost Jewish tribes. Those darn DNA tests weren't expected by Joseph Smith, their "prophet."

See: http://www.rickross.com/reference/mormon/mormon34.html

At BYU they also appeared to be intrigued by the "blood of Lehi." Mormon researchers there gathered DNA samples from 100,000 volunteers around the world, which included South America and Israel. They hoped somehow to prove the claims made more than a century ago by Joseph Smith, that there is a connection between ancient Israel and modern Native Americans. Mormons often seem fixated upon genealogy as a religious preoccupation.

But credible scientists, outside of Mormon apologists, say no Israelites ever came to America 2,600 years ago. There is no linguistic or archaeological trace of such a culture. Michael Crawford, a University of Kansas professor of biological anthropology and author of Origins of Native Americans, Cambridge University Press stated emphatically, "I don't think there is one iota of evidence that suggests a lost tribe from Israel made it all the way to the New World. It is a great story, slain by ugly fact,"

It's impossible to travel, let alone travel quickly without modern technology in NE India. It has a terrain that is a mixture of Alps and Equatorial forests of Africa or South America. Partly explains why there are such a bewildering number of tribes and languages.
When insurgency first erupted in the 60's, the Indian Army had a nightmare fighting the insurgents since most of the soldiers come from the plains, they lost something like two brigades before they setup a jungle training school and casualty rates came down.

RE: ATP Oil And Gas Files For Bankruptcy, CEO Blames Obama

ZeroHedge has a good writeup of this that ties the bankruptcy of one overleveraged deepwater driller (with bad timing) to the larger problem of national debt bubbles exploding.

Being a "big picture" kind of guy I especially like this infographic:


Re Air France article above: In the early 1970's my wife was the Florida destination agent for a Canadian charter carrier. The 737 landed but the pilots couldn't show proof to pay for refueling. Carol ended putting the fuel on her personal Amex card --- strange transaction in many ways.... while aviation fuel was far cheaper then but a 737 still sucks a bunch so there was a 'discussion' with the Amex agent to okay the transaction.

A video interview with James Hansen on his recent paper presented by the Economist. (~7 minutes)

James Hansen on Climate Change

Stoneleigh posted a extensive article over at TAE regarding India's grid nightmare:

India Power Outage: The Shape of Things to Come?

It's rich with links and photos, quite comprehensive, and has my vote for a cross post on TOD, (if that's even possible anymore). Anyway, worth the time, IMO. A quote included towards the end of the article caught my attention:

In this, as in so many other areas of public life, we are like the ass starving to death because he is equidistant from two bales of hay and can’t decide which way to go. We either have to spend tons of money propping up the old system, or expend tons of effort and thought coming up with a new one. By refusing to do either, we drift faster and faster toward the precipice over which India has just tipped.

Then we have Egypt...


and I'm sure a bit of googling (if one still has electrical power to google) would turn up more.

Olduvai theory?

Nice little article about how people change their minds, apologies if it was already posted...


NRC Hearing on Fukushima potential lessons learned for the U.S., Aug 7, 2012:


Alaska locavores: Eating local goes viral
Unlikely anyone will ever accuse me of being a Hipster, and I'm a minimal (at best) locavore. However, I found this interesting. Matt Oster, featured in this video, did the energy audit on our home and advised us on the best choice to replace our 30 year old boiler. (This was through the Alaska Home Energy Rebate Program.)

From your first link: "...Alaska spends $2 billion annually on food, but that only 2-3 percent comes from within the state."

That's a bit ominous; a good incentive to promote BAU and more local production. I wonder what the food import/export ratio is for the state.

"That's a bit ominous; a good incentive to promote BAU and more local production. I wonder what the food import/export ratio is for the state."

I don't have the numbers, but I'm sure food imports vastly exceed exports. Probably seafood is the largest export. Even there, much of the fish caught in Alaska waters is by boats out of Seattle, so I'm not sure it would show up as an Alaska export.

For obvious reasons (climate, soil, terrain) Alaska does not have a lot of commercial agriculture. Some dairy up in the Matanuska Valley, some barley out around Delta...I can't think of much else. There have been some attempts to increase agriculture in the state. Back in the '80s the state attemped to expand dairy by promoting a complex scheme of more dairy near Anchorage, winter feed grown in Delta, and some other peice I've since forgot. The whole thing fell apart after a couple of years and a lot of public money spent. I don't recall the details but I think there was some serious mis-management involved.

However, as the video shows, there are some interesting things going on at the individual level. Also, small scale organic farming seems to be growing. In summer, we get much of our produce through a subscription from a local farm, Arctic Organics. Yesterday my wife got a good price at a local market on fresh sockeye salmon, and we spent much of the afternoon fllleting, vacuum packing, and freezing it. I've never had much interest in being a gardner, but the way things are going mabye I'll have to think about it more?

Not much going on commercially, as you say.

The local extension program looks interesting.

In my previous post I couldn't remember the details about Alaska's abortive dairy project from the '80s. Using the magic of Google I was able to refresh my memory. As the old saying goes, the best way to make a small fortune....is to start with a large fortune. That and some serious mis-planning.

Alaska Farm Plan Yields Bitter Harvest

Alaska dairies in jeopardy:
"Alaska before statehood in 1958 had 72 dairy farms, according to the federal Agricultural Statistics Service."

"But improved roads and air service made importing milk from Seattle easier, and the number of farms and cows in Alaska started to dwindle. By 1980, only 12 farms were left in the valley, and total state milk production was nearly half the level of 20 years before."

"Today only eight farms remain statewide, including three in Delta Junction. That wasn't supposed to be the story, especially for Point MacKenzie."

I think smaller scale projects are more appropriate for us here in Alaska. The Alaska Farmers Markets seem to be doing well. We buy quite a lot from the one here in Anchorage.

Lot's of interesting related links at this site.


Props to Mr. Norquist for insisting on at least some small measure of shared sacrifice regarding U.S. Federal budget cuts between the two major categories of budget spending:


Implementing shared sacrifice by forbidding 'sacred cows' from each 'side' may give hope to the objective of achieving a balanced budget in the U.S.

Living within our means, at least at the federal budget level, should provide realistic boundaries to the expectations of perpetual economic growth.

A balanced federal budget should drive U.S. citizens/residents and businesses to live within their means.

An across-the-board 'paygo' mentality should lead to an increase in efficiency, and doing less with less, and therefore should lessen the demand growth, and maybe the overall demand level, for energy.

In sum, I assert that a consistent, 'from here on', balanced Federal Budget would greatly weaken the 'extend and pretend' paradigm and bring people's expectations back in line with reality.

What about the overall deficit? Pay the interest down slowly for quite a long time or declare Worldwide Jubilee...or default with the same effect in the end.

"A balanced federal budget should drive U.S. citizens/residents and businesses to live within their means."

Since our economy is very much built on deficit spending, a balanced budget, defacto austerity, would likely drive US citizens/residents into a depression. It's part-and-parcel of the traps we've set for ourselves, as Rock is wont to point out. While I enjoy hearing Norquist challenge the Republican ticket over defense spending, it's clear that this sector of the political spectrum is devoted to one goal; making sure that all of the remaining chairs are in the executive lounge when the music stops. We aren't invited.

Those in my community calling for cuts, even the elimination of social spending, food stamps, welfare, etc. haven't thought through the fact that much of these monies go directly into the local economy rather than savings accounts and investments. While portions of military spending are spent abroad or go to corporate coffers/investors, much of it is also spent into the domestic economy. I think that structuring a balanced budget is much like the illusion of energy independence. Both are lose/lose near term, especially in the context of ongoing resource depletion.

I'm probably not telling you anything you haven't thought of, considering your source of income. It's rare to find folks who are willing to bite the hand that feeds them for the greater good. Shared sacrifice, indeed. I doubt Norquist, or any of the current presidential hopefuls, expect to share too much in that sacrifice. See: Paul Ryan didn’t build that!

A current search of Defense Department contracts suggests that “Ryan Incorporated Central” has had at least 22 defense contracts with the federal government since 1996 , including one from 1996 worth $5.6 million.

Ryan wants to increase defense spending. Any questions?

Too bad more folks everyday are living beneath their needs, even with public assistance. Any cuts in budgets will mean many being pushed out the back of the bus...

...and too bad we can't convert the Defense Dept. into The Department for Individual and Community Resilience.


Your response is well-said, as usual.

I agree with you that you and I and some others have a greatly different ideas of how to allocate the remaining resources under a balanced budget regime.

I think that structuring a balanced budget is much like the illusion of energy independence. Both are lose/lose near term, especially in the context of ongoing resource depletion.

I don not understand how everyone living under balanced-budget austerity in the U.S. would not decrease resource use.

It would be a shock and miserable for many, but I don't see how austerity would support present resource use, let alone any increase in resource use.

One thing is key to these discussions: Can the U.S. continue to deficit-spend for quite a long time into the future? What may the consequences of that be?

If the answer is that yes we can, and some day we may default...then I guess the reasoning might be that we maximized utility and quality of life for the most people for the longest time until the balloon pops.

I see finance as a proxy for energy and other resource use...the longer the extend and pretend goes on, the further/higher the 'overhang', the deeper the overshoot, and the bigger the eventual shock and fall.

Do we think that a five-year transition to pay-go in the U.S. budget would result in mass starvation and death?

...or would it result in a much lower level of material 'wealth', but perhaps folks would still be able to survive in a simpler way?

I have no answers, only weak speculations.

As far as biting the hand that feeds...


Say MIC budgets were cut X%...perhaps some job cuts would be avoided if MIC workers took dramatically less salaries...I find it fascinating how folks in the MIC are continually willing to make this prescription for auto workers and just about any other non-MIC workers, yet have some impenetrable sense of entitlement about their own present salaries and benefits.

We had a small budget surplus under Bill Clinton (+$300 billion from memory).

Just reverse to that point.

Undo GWB tax cuts.

Undo "No Child Left Behind" (no big loss).

Undo *OR* Pay For Prescription drug benefit for Medicare

Pay for Invasion of Iraq (plus interest) with gas tax (User Pays principle).

Enact carbon tax to pay for Afghanistan, bail-out & stimulus plus interest.

Move medical system towards single payer & EU model. First step - public option to join Medicare and pay 100% of age adjusted cost.

Fix Social Security financing (combine higher taxes, revised CPI, +6 months retirement age would be my choice)

Reduce military spending to the total of all our potential adversaries in the world combined plus 2/3rds of all the military spending by the neutrals in the world combined. US = Russia + China + N. Korea + Iran + Syria + Vz + ???(Pakistan ?) + 2/3x(India + Sweden + Switzerland + Africa + most of Latin America + Vietnam, etc.)

Modest budget deficit with high unemployment, Balance with about 6.3% unemployment, surplus if better times.

Now that was easy !!

Best Hopes for Adult behavior in US Gov't,


Would you consider running for President?

If so, I would enjoy discussing your formula for U.S. military spending over some coffee, or something stronger perhaps...

Also, I don't know if you saw, but I posted an incomplete list of existing USG organizations which can and do publish strategic threat analyses (responding to your observation re: USJFC:


Yes I saw and read/skimmed one from DIA. 100% threats from al Queda and nations states. Nothing on Climate of Energy or less focused "threats" other than drug resistant TB spreading from North Korea.

What are your thoughts on my DoD budget formula :-)


I would be surprised if a thorough search of the panoply of USG organizations does not turn up something you are looking for...although, unfortunately, the best finds may be behind the green door.

DoD budgets...

Ahhh, such a deep question!

I am leery of formulaic approaches, such as 'funds matching' our 'enemies' and to a lesser extent, the 'neutral counties'.

Same goes for calls to fund DoD at some set percentage of GNP, as is currently being shopped around by some factions.

The 'answers' to this question are exquisitely dependent on numerous assumptions, many of which involve utter conjectures, and most of which are subject to nefarious emotional appeals based on poor/convoluted 'logic'...fear mongering, put plainly.

Measures of merit (metrics) are notoriously difficult to determine and validate.

Looking back at the past and trying to correlate events that happened (and as importantly, did not happen), and attempting to correlate that with what was bought (and not bought) and what was done with the extant military capabilities (and what was not done with them) is fraught with more unknown unknowns and assumptions and assertions of various confidence levels, many of them very low. We almost need Hari Seldon and his psycho-history to predict the future (even he didn't foresee the Mule, Gaia, and Danieel Olivjaw [sp -10]).

And that is among the professionals...among the voters the 'blank check' paradigm seems driven almost exclusively by emotion, and very little by facts, such that they are. Most voters are all too easily persuaded by even half-baked propaganda to fork over their emotional bogeyman 'protection money'.

Every day certain folks persistently try to sell the USG capabilities that have no basis in threat analysis. The amount of self-delusion and blatant hustling is jaw-dropping at times.

Don't get me wrong...we must have provision of a Common Defense...there is an important document that says so, and it makes sense even so.

However, I think that we spend significantly too much money, based on a true 'Defense' need, and a goodly portion of the money we spend is mis-allocated.

I could write a book or two...but I do admire your more expansive view of 'threats' than what the typical voter conjures up and is led to believe.

My concept came from old Royal Navy doctrine. His Majesty would have a Navy larger than any possible combination of foes.

The Washington Naval Arms treaty was a break from that (UK exhausted after WW I), the US Navy (seen as a unlikely threat) got parity with the RN and other nations got 60% of RN (Japan, France, Italy from memory).


A lot to like there.

Healthcare is most of our fiscal problem, most people don't realize that government spending (including tax expenditures to incentivize private sector spending but exclusive of private sector spending) on the healthcare system is higher per capita in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world. The problem with the system is cost inefficiency due to misaligned incentives. We don't need to re-invent the wheel, almost everybody in the world is already doing this better than we are. The problem with doing one or a combination of the things those folks are doing is the transition. Opt-in Medicare is one path toward that end, although I would phase-in eligibility to opt in to create a less disruptive transition. Medicare is the one insurance program where selection bias would probably still save us money.

I would note that I don't see the Social Security system as in much need of a fix for some time and raising the retirement age is a definite equity problem for me... I would leave the COLA alone, and add a small surtax for unearned and above FICA cap income at a level equal to that which would raise contributions back to the % of GDP they'd be if the distribution of income were not changing; then in the long term move toward adjusting the contribution rate and initial benefit levels in tandem to keep individual after tax wages and benefits at a fixed ratio while maintaining PAYGO after trust fund exhaustion, in the medium term adjustments prior to that time would be on a glide path that returned most of the trustfund bubble via unreduced benefit and un-increased contribution to those cohorts whose contributions exceeded PAYGO.

While I support fuel and carbon taxes, I would use them to invest in efficiency and renewables, after refunding a portion on a per capita basis to blunt the equity impact. I think the bailout costs would more appropriately be placed on the shoulders of FIRE. The wars should be funded by increased top income taxes, rather than what amounts to a consumption tax, since the PTB put us there.

You and Alan can negotiate who gets the top of the ticket.

I need more choices for politicians than I currently have...

The USA spends a third more (% GDP) than #2 Switzerland. Switzerland is #3 in life expectancy, very good infant mortality, etc. The Swiss get value for money spent (what else is new ?)

The USA just dropped below Cuba in life expectancy.

Transition will be a major problem (think MDs with a third of a million in student debt, etc, etc.) But the journey needs to start ASAP.

Social Security does need to be fixed - the sooner the less pain.

The current COLA overstates (by about +0.25%to +0.3%/year) the actual inflation experienced by people. General agreement by economists on that point. And extra 1% every 3 or 4 years is "nice" but not affordable compounded for 50 years.

An extra 6 months to retire is a modest ding on equity - and it is the most equitable benefit cut IMHO. I would raise the $275 to bury or cremate someone. Fixed for 50+ years.

There is simply not enough money in higher income taxes for, say, $250,000/yr & above incomes to do the job. Repeal GWB tax cuts will hit them some. This is not a strictly D approach I am taking.

Before we do rebates or investments, come close to balancing the budget. The amounts I propose just pay off debt from past mistakes over, say 15 years. Higher gas & carbon taxes can be rebated, invested etc. later.

Best Hopes,


Although the CPI-W on which the COLA is based is generally agreed to overstate consumer inflation, it is by no means generally agreed that it overstates senior inflation, in fact it is more likely that it understates senior inflation, due to the differently weighted basket of goods among seniors as opposed to the other populations.

From 1983 thru 2009, the CPI-U and CPI-W exceeded the experimental CPI for the elderly on only 2 occasions. the compound rate of the CPI-W over the period was 0.3% lower than for the elderly, which roughly offsets the agreed overstatement of inflation in the CPI.

Also, the COLA is only applied to adjust benefits after initial benefits are determined at retirement, so I'm not following the 50 year compounding comment. The initial benefit is indexed using the national average wage index, which I am proposing tweaking to be an 'after-FICA' wage index so that the ratio between after-FICA wages and benefits is maintained (while raising FICA to maintain actuarial balance).

I thought that the same COLA was used to adjust 1980s earnings with today's. I was wrong, but that was the source of by 50+ year remark.

The source of high senior CPI is, I infer, due to medical costs. Bring those under control, and senior inflation drops.

Although you are more current than I on this :-) I last looked closely at SS when Reagan was President :-)


Take a look at differences in life expectancy based on income, note that most of the poor start working sooner than the better-off, and need to work to supplement income after retirement, and tell me you still don't have an equity problem with raising the retirement age. I might be able to go for an adjustment in how early/postponed retirement works which is progressively indexed, such that the decrease/increase in benefit available is not a fixed ratio but varies based on benefit level (to account for lower life expectancy at lower benefit levels).

Throw in the increasing dependence of life expectancy with wealth, and it becomes apparent the raising retirement ages is a major net transfer from the lower classes to the upper. Many of the people proposing such are keenly aware of this, but hoping you won't figure it out. Much of the things being proposed politically have dark secret motivations, but can be made to sound like plain common sense. Kind of like voter ID laws are motivated by by the desire to disproportionately disenfranchise the poor and young. They sound like they are solving a problem (which is nearly non-existent), but the true motivation and effects are the tilting of the political battleground.

OTOH, the calculation of the monthly benefits is STEEPLY progressive. Three rates - 90%, 32% and 15%.

From the SS website

Multiply the first $767 in Step 4 by 90%.

Multiply the amount in Step 4 over $767 and less than or equal to $4,624 by 32%.

Multiply the amount in Step 4 over $4,624 by 15%.

So that resolves many of the issues of equity (and why they wanted individual accounts, stop subsidizing those that make minimum wage.

And we are individuals who belong to a number of groups. For example, SS is massive gender transfer program, men to women. Women live longer, contribute less, and get almost all the spousal benefit. Fine IMO.


Given the 90%, 32% and 15% multiplier used to calculate benefits, the income equity issue has been addressed.

I do think that all quarters worked and paid into since age 17# should be used to calculate benefits instead of just the top 35 years. And do not round down to the nearest dollar, but up to the nearest penny in calculating benefits#. Include them, and to pay for them perhaps split the 32% bracket into 32% & 30% and drop 15% into 14% (SWAG that they balance, vary the 32% - 30% split point). Add even more progressivity in the benefits calculation.

Using 40 years of income instead of 35 years will help the working poor, and those that did not go to college.

# Part of the Reagan reforms that impacted the small SS benefits more than the large ones. Round down from $2,500.98 has less impact than rounding down from $762.98.

And raise retirement age by 6 months as part of the overall deal.


Now, from old memory, any income before age 18 does not count. High earning child actors (yes small group) pay FICA but get no benefit. There should be some exception in their cases.

I think a great deal of programs are pretty brittle when it comes to surviving budget cuts. certainly any program that has signed long term contracts, can't just reneg on them, so the pressure gets put into the few areas with some elasticity. Think of a school system, that has to keep paying off its building bonds, and its utilities, but has no cash leftover for teachers. Or employees with mortgages, for whom a 10% pay cut pushes them over the edge.

Paygo is a lot like the shock doctrine, force a budget crisis (by for instance making raising taxes a political nogo), then you can force huge cuts to stuff like education, research, teachers, medical support for those who can't pay etc. etc. Things can end up working out like in Greece, where austerity decimates the economy leading to calls for yet greater austerity.

Didn't Argentina undergo a great economic shock some years ago?

Does anyone know how the Argentinians are holding up?

Russia experienced a phase change in the early 1990s...yet that may be a poor example due to its oil and NG exports propping things up.

Sometimes I start to wonder if the huge, rickety, houses of cards should fall and be replaced with numerous smaller houses made of something more sturdy.

The need for constraint of the DOD-Homeland Security-corporate rents-complex should be self-evident to any serious observer (and especially to folks who have spent any time near the procurement process). Norquist--stopped clock: except that the clock is about twice-a-day ahead on points.

Unfortunately he asserts the (obvious) need for constraint in the context of preserving the greatly reduced tax levels of the wealthy (his all-consuming priority).

Primary budget balance over time is necessary, after accounting for capital investment and physical depreciation. Short-term budget balance on an annual basis is a distraction from good long-term policy, however. Counter-cyclical deficits are necessary and important (the government is an insurance provider, and also public goods can be purchased most cost-effectively during economic downturns), and should be balanced by counter-cyclical surpluses.

How many more counter-cyclical surpluses will the U.S. enjoy?

And what will their magnitude be?

Or have we seen the last of the yearly surpluses?

As far as the MIC rents: It has become blindingly obvious to me that large portions of increases in MIC spending are absorbed by large increases in MIC inflation...the more we spend, the more the products and services cost...

to be fair, the same case can be made for spending on medical services I imagine...

Most of the economy is stuck in rent-seeking inefficiency: DOD and healthcare are simply large and unusually awful examples.
Norquist is part of the primary obstacle to counter-cyclical primary surpluses. We were on a healthy enough budget path from WWII until 1980. Think: top marginal rate, capital gains, dividends, estate taxes, carried interest, deferred compensation, etc.

more territory disputes in the seas between Japan and China and Japan and Korea, etc.


It would be a major diplomatic achievement to broker an equitable sharing of the oil/gas/etc. resources under the seas surrounding these islands...amongst the neighbors...these reservoirs are the real issue, more so than the rock outcroppings themselves.

Lots of bad blood from times past, notably WWII...hopefully the neighbors can look beyond that and learn to 'cooperate and graduate'.

As populations continue to grow and access to cheap and easy resources continues to diminish, armed conflict appears to be an increasingly foolish waste of remaining resources, time, and effort.

Article in Foreign Affairs about 'cleaning up coal':


Too bad all but the first few teaser paragraphs are behind the paywall.


Last Thursday, the Government's technical team reviewed the proposals for the supply of the gas and this week, the LNG steering committee will meet to discuss the price of the gas before making a recommendation to the Cabinet.

"We have the quotations for the infrastructure, we have the quotations for the price of the LNG ... there are financial security issues ... all these put together will give us a pretty good idea of where we are, then we will meet (and make a decision)," Davis told the Editors' Forum.

"Issues as to whether we are going to abandon that path wholly or partially will be determined. The real question is whether the JPS will find the price that (the LNG) comes out to at a sufficient comfort level ... to give the public a price of electricity that is much lower than they currently pay," added Davis.

LNG delay understandable

The former head of the Government's liquefied natural gas (LNG) steering committee Chris Zacca, is downplaying the impact of the extended delay in the introduction of this product to the country's fuel mix.

Zacca, who now heads the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, told a recent Gleaner Editors' Forum that criticisms about the State's slow movement on this critical matter are unfounded.

"I have made the point consistently that if you had all the LNG in the world today, you would have to burn it in your stoves at home because there is nowhere to burn it, so you have to combine your schedule to their (the Jamaica Public Service Company's) schedule to build a new power plant," said Zacca.

Without that generating plant there is no project, so the delays are not an issue," added Zacca.

For years the price of LNG was a fraction of the price of oil, but with increased demand for natural gas in recent years the price has started to increase, with a recent Morgan Stanley research document showing the price at December 2011 more than double what it was in December 2010.

These guys don't seem to have figured out that, the only way for Jamaica and other countries/regions in a similar position to avoid the inevitable fuel cost escalation in the future, is to go for renewables like there's no tommorrow.

For theose who worship at the altar of growth


The lands of Jamaica's sole female prison, as well as surrounding parcels, were sold to the Port Authority close to a decade ago as part of redevelopment plans for the Port of Kingston.

Transport Minister Dr Omar Davies recently announced that the Port Authority has received a proposal from China Harbour Engineering Company Limited (CHEC) expressing an interest in providing private investment to develop a new container terminal on lands already owned by the authority as well as lands to be created by dredging at Fort Augusta.

According to Davies, the Cabinet has given approval for the Port Authority to proceed with the implementation of a non-binding memorandum of understanding with CHEC for the development of a container terminal at Fort Augusta.

This is expected to use most of the 50 acres (125 hectares which now house the prison and surrounding lands.

Recently an article was published in this same newspaper asking the question "Where would Jamaica be without Michael Manley?", our late self proclaimed democratic socialist former prime minister first elected in 1972. In response to a commenter who blamed Manley for the poor economic perfomance that followed, I dug up some data on Wold Oil Production from 1950 to 2008 and added an annual growth rate and five year average growth rate columns to the table. I have summarised the table below picking just the years for which I calculated the 5 yr. avg. growth rate. The data speaks for itself. Something happened to the world in the mid seventies that was quite profound, the 5 yr. avg. growth rate in oil production changed from above 7 to below 3. If (when) the growth rate falls even more and possibly goes negative I wonder what the chances are that the new container terminal referred to above will see any traffic? Note that the 5 yr. average growth rate since 2005 should be pretty close to zero.

World Oil Production, 1950-2008
Year Oil Production Annual Growth Rate 5yr avg
Million Barrels per Day Percent Percent
1950 10.42
1955 15.41 12.14 7.22
1960 21.03 7.59 7.38
1965 31.81 12.61 7.65
1970 48.06 10.15 9.28
1975 55.83 -4.76 6.14
1980 62.95 -4.70 2.51
1985 57.47 -0.37 -2.64
1990 65.46 2.21 2.13
1995 68.10 1.49 0.94
2000 74.86 3.51 1.52
2005 81.09 1.04 2.12

Edit: To indicate that Manley was a former prime minister (retired from office in 1992) and is the late Michael Manley, having died in 1997.

Alan from the islands

Wildfire whips through E WA windfarm. (see pic)
Also takes out 70 houses,it was one mile from my sister's house.

Cheap Charts for Sale and If Enbridge counted their money the way they don't count our streams, they'd be broke before they started.

Maybe all of Enbridge's statements are loaded with innuendos, needed to be taken with a LARGE grain of salt. For example this straight out approach, via Douglas Channel, from Kitimat to the Pacific Ocean, provided by Enbridge as a reassurance to politicians, in a Video Documentary.

Its an outright lie!!!

You can plainly see that Enbridge removed all of the islands, maybe that's the plan, that Christy Clark has up her sleeve.

Story of Corporate Deceit: How Enbridge erased BC islands

Everyone in BC knows that the Northern Gateway pipeline is proposed to travel from the Albertan oilsands, through our province to Kitimat where the oil would be loaded onto supertankers to travel across the ocean to China. The fear of an oil spill has really galvanized opposition to the pipeline.

So, Enbridge (the pipeline company) hired a PR firm (one that has worked for Big Tobacco and Enron) to roll out a multi-million dollar campaign to convince the public that the pipeline is safe. The problem was that the tanker route was extremely treacherous including the maze of islands that oil tankers as long as the Eiffel Tower would have to precariously weave through.
So, what did they do? They ERASED these BC islands right off their map and pipeline safety videos.

This video makes their deception very clear: Enbridge Northern Gateway flyover Misleads the public (youtube)

In case you were wondering who Enbridge hired to do it's PR...

Enbridge is going with a finely crafted print and television campaign created by Kbs+p Canada, with media relations directed by Hill and Knowlton, a leading communications company that claims to have “invented the concept of public relations.”

Anyone with half a brain knows the Northern Gateway pipeline is a disaster waiting to happen. To be honest, though, I think that either the Trans-Mountain pipeline has to be expanded, or the Northern Gateway will be built. No way will Canada pass up selling its oil to Asia. Especially with a conservative government in charge.

I would much rather they put the oil and gas out at Vancouver, which is already a citified and somewhat degraded environment, than have them put it out at Kitimat. But that's just me, and it's ultimately Canada's problem to solve.

'ere's the nautical chart , you can zoom in,out, N,S,W,etc.
And keep in mind this is one of the stormiest coastlines on earth.
WSW winds 60mph quite common,rain,fog,,arrr
It also has the most diverse and abundant aquatic species on earth and should never ever be subjected to the risks proposed. never.

Video: Canadian oil sands needs $113-a-barrel oil to break even, says report (Globe & Mail)

A new report from Bank of America Merrill Lynch says Canadian oil sands need an average per barrel price of $113 to break even. BNN's Andrew McCreath takes a a closer look at the report.

I'm assuming that's a WTI price?

The TX RRC reports crude oil and condensate as separate products. You also need to look at the differences in the numbers for 2000 to 2008, TXRRC is systematically reporting below 1 million bpd while EIA is reporting consistently over. Keep in mind that TX RRC is both a regulatory agency to manage the environmentally safe development of TX resources but also have a market regulatory function. Wells start out a development wells and a rate tested. They are then assigned to production and given a monthly production allowance. There is also an allowable for drilling a developmental well and an allowable for a new field. I encourage all to keep pushing for clarification, but suspect that the real issue is that the TX RRC system lags EIA estimates by about 2 months. The growth has been exponential in either set of data which makes the discrepancy grow each month.

There are more rigs at work in TX, initial production rates are higher, and large improvements are being made in downspacing and selection of the propant to maximize production. This says to me that TX will be producing 2 million bpd by Nov. ND is also growing production exponentially, but they may take til January to hit 1 million bpd. In any case the "new oil" being produced in both TX and ND is tight oil and the combined total for the two states should reach 2 million barrels per day this year.

oh-heck: Good summery but one little modification: the TRRC allowable/proration laws (the state can tell operators monthly what percentage they can produce of a well oil rate) are still in effect. The proration has been set at 100% for more than 40 years. Essnetially every Texas operator can produce his well at whatever rate he feels is feasable.

A tech question...
What's the ideal battery for solar + outdoor applications where temperature ranges from -10C to 60C. The amperage or capacity required is not too high, the use case is primarily for recharging portable devices such as cellphones, radios and small laptops.

I suspect others will also agree that Absorbed Glass Matt lead acid batts have the best reputation, while temp extremes will be tough on electrical storage regardless.. I would be inclined to have batteries stored in lockers or sheds that can be insulated (but also vented) to help moderate wide temperature swings.

If it's possible, one might make the battery storage into a below-ground box, using the earth's thermal mass to do this work, as long as keeping this storage area dry is also still possible.

(I use small Sealed Lead Acid Batteries for the uses you describe, with good success. These are the little, heavy bricks that go into Uninterruptible power supplies and Emergency Lighting Fixtures, etc. example: http://www.sciplus.com/singleItem.cfm/terms/16077 )


A couple of notes on jokula's AGMs. They seem to be speced down to -20 but you would need to watch they are not discharged too far or they may freeze. Voltages may also rise at those low temperatures. The high end may be more of a problem with higher self discharge and reduced capacity. Specs seem to be to 50C. They higher temperature will shorten their overall life. Some homework with specification sheets would be advised as would a temperature compensating charger.


It's simple science!

Candidate says 'legitimate rape' rarely causes pregnancy

The comment by Akin — who sits on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology:

The Republican nominee for a U.S. Senateseat in Missouri on Sunday advanced the theory that the female reproductive system can shut down during what he described as a "legitimate rape," thus preventing conception in most cases.

"If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something..."

The leadership is not interested in facts or plans based on facts.

Rational, critical thought is for boffins.

""If it's a legitimate rape..." "Legitimate rape"... and what would an illegitimate rape be? Sort of like an illegitimate child? The really scary question is, how do these illegitimate people get into legitimate positions of power? Illegitimate electorates?

I don't even understand what the guy is saying... When is a rape "legitimate"? This would also assume there are illigitimate rapes...???

But I do, unfortunately, know a lot of rape and sexual abuse.
First, we must divide down rapes in cathegories.

The first is next-of-kin rapes, wich in turn is divided into incest rapes and wife rapes. (There are correct english terminologies here, but I don't know them). These are normally re-occuring rapes and abuses.

Then there are drunk-at-the-bar rapes. These always involves drunk people. Sober people stay out of it; they are still smart enough to avoid the situation. This type of rape is very difficult to clear out in court, often the man says she wanted it, and the woman she did not want to, and they are both convinced they tell the truth. There are also the case when the woman get pissed off later, and file a rape complaint falsely.

Finally there are assult rapes. These are the ones most think of when they hear the word "rape".

The assult rape very rarely result in a pregnancy. Often, the man is to stressed up to take the time to reach ejaculation, and even if, the woman may actually be so stressed up to that her body is not ready to recieve the DNA sample. Pregancies do occur, but not as often as people think. For the other two kinds, pregncies are about as common as in other unplanned unprotcted sex, or in that territory anyway.

Ex-engineer and 5 term Congresscritter Akin is so toxic today his own party is trying to push him to resign fast enough the PTB can simply annoint a replacement candidate (they have tomorrow before the deadline). Unfortunately for them, they worked against Todd Akin thruout the Senate primary, and he appears to be holding a grudge. Former prosecutor Claire McCaskill, who ran two million in ads during the primaries trying to get this guy as her opponent, is going to ride this to another term, in what had been ranked the second most probable Republican seat takeover in the Senate this cycle. Here's to Republicans saying what they really think, out loud and on tape.

Ben, send me an eMail (link by clicking my name). Low priority, but perhaps interesting. Maximum renewables in Hawaii.


Does anyone have the oil rig count for Texas over the last 5 years?

I thought this article on robots in the New York Times Sunday was very thought-provoking.
It was about the further automation of manufacturing with highly sophisticated adaptable robots which can replace hundreds of works in manufacturing plants:


Skilled Work, Without the Worker
One robot arm endlessly forms three perfect bends in two connector wires and slips them into holes almost too small for the eye to see. The arms work so fast that they must be enclosed in glass cages to prevent the people supervising them from being injured. And they do it all without a coffee break — three shifts a day, 365 days a year.

All told, the factory here has several dozen workers per shift, about a tenth as many as the plant in the Chinese city of Zhuhai.

This is the future. A new wave of robots, far more adept than those now commonly used by automakers and other heavy manufacturers, are replacing workers around the world in both manufacturing and distribution.

Just like outsourcing, offshoring and all the other ways to reduce labor costs for modern day Capitalism, some implications of this next phase in automation are not being asked. Obviously the author is bringing up the question of jobs - if robots replace humans at the rate of 10 to 1 then what is left for humans to do?
But from the Oildrum perspective, how does roboticization fit into resource constraints and Climate Change? Do these factories consume more resources and generate more greenhouse emissions? It seems very likely that they do. Especially if you compare to the existing
"sunk cost" in human beings who hopefully will continue living, breathing, and eating consuming the world's resources regardless of eliminated jobs.

Is this the last gasp of fossil-fueled industrialized BAU or sustainable in a Green Transition?
Any thoughts TODers ??

When all the labor is done by robots, how do common humans afford food? How are the profits of labor distributed?

Think twice before dismantling the welfare state.