Drumbeat: August 29, 2012

G-7 Countries Call for Increased Oil Output to Meet Demand

The Group of Seven nations called on oil-producing countries to increase output and is monitoring the threats to their economies posed by high oil prices, according to a joint statement issued today by the U.S. Treasury Department.

“We remain vigilant of the risks to the global economy,” the G-7 said. “In this context and mindful of the substantial risks posed by elevated oil prices, we are monitoring the situation in oil markets closely.”

The G-7 said it’s prepared to call upon the International Energy Agency, a 28-member group of oil consuming countries, “to take appropriate action to ensure that the market is fully and timely supplied.” The IEA’s countries made available 60 million barrels of crude and oil products in June 2011 after Libyan output was disrupted by an armed uprising against Muammar Qaddafi.

Oil falls below $112 as Isaac misses oil platforms

LONDON (Reuters) - Brent crude oil slipped below $112 per barrel on Wednesday as Hurricane Isaac, which hit land in Louisiana, left U.S. Gulf Coast oil production facilities without significant damage.

U.S. energy companies have shut most facilities in the Gulf of Mexico, cutting the region's oil output by more than 90 percent. Most shutdowns were precautionary.

An unexpected rise in U.S. crude inventories and data showing weakening U.S. consumer confidence added to bearishness, although lingering tensions in the Middle East supported prices.

Isaac leads to 5-cent gas price spike

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Gas prices shot up by nearly 5 cents a gallon nationwide Wednesday -- with one-day surges of as much as 14 cents in some states -- after Hurricane Isaac cut output from refineries along the Gulf Coast.

But experts say the price spike is likely to be short lived, especially since the winds associated with the Category 1 storm are not believed to have caused lasting damage to the refineries in the region.

Strategic Oil Reserve Is for Emergencies, Not Elections

There are few things a U.S. president hates more than gasoline at $4 a gallon, especially with an election little more than two months away.

This might explain why President Barack Obama’s administration is toying with the idea of releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, an underground reservoir that can store 727 million barrels of crude oil in salt caverns in Texas and Louisiana. Gasoline prices have risen to about $3.75, up 40 cents in the past two months, near the electoral trouble zone.

Isaac’s Winds Test Energy Grid Upgrades After Katrina

Hurricane Isaac is providing the biggest test of power grid fortifications made in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to prevent storms from crippling pipelines, refineries and other critical U.S. energy facilities.

Joy Global struggles with slowing demand, low coal output

(Reuters) - U.S. mining equipment maker Joy Global Inc cut its outlook for 2012 for the second time this year as slowing growth in China and Europe and low natural gas prices in the United States continued to hamper coal demand.

A milder winter in the United States reduced demand for electricity, and low natural gas prices prompted power producers to move away from coal. Higher hydro-power generation in China has also reduced coal demand.

Union takes legal action over rig access

The Australian Workers Union (AWU) is taking legal action to get access to a drilling rig off Victoria's south-west coast, where two men were killed.

The 60-year-old from Scotland and the 32-year-old from the Northern Territory died after being hit by a piece of machinery on the Stena Clyde rig, 50 kilometres off Port Campbell, on Monday.

Japan says time to address China relations

Japan's foreign minister Tuesday said it was time to address relations with China which have soured over a territorial dispute as an incident targeting the Japanese ambassador added to tensions.

Monday's incident in which the national flag was ripped off a car carrying the Japanese ambassador in Beijing came amid widespread anti-Japan demonstrations over a disputed East China Sea island chain known in China as Diaoyu and in Japan as Senkaku.

How Iran could get carte blanche in the Middle East — without a nuclear weapon

A cyber attack earlier this month highlighted the vulnerability of the Saudi oil industry, on which so much of the world depends. A recent simulation showed that a full-scale terror attack at Abqaiq, where Saudi Arabia processes six million barrels of oil a day, would hugely bolster Iran and bring economic ruin to parts of the world.

Is Venezuela about to open up to foreign oil investment?

CARACAS, Venezuela — Bosses at Chevron Corp may share in the three-day mourning declared by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez over the country’s recent oil blast at Amuay, which killed at least 48 people. The blast early Saturday morning was one of the world’s worst refinery explosions in 25 years, and the flames were only extinguished Tuesday.

Many critics of Venezuela’s self-styled socialist government have blamed Chavez for a failure to maintain the complex.

Venezuela’s Refinery Explosion: Has Chávez Made Petroleum Too Political?

The Aug. 25 disaster at Paraguaná, the worst refinery accident in Venezuela's history, killed 48 people – and, before a presidential election, revives charges that Hugo Chávez has weakened his oil industry by turning it into a political tool.

Nigeria's Power Minister Barth Nnaji resigns

Nigeria's Power Minister Barth Nnaji has resigned amid reports that he is linked to a company bidding for a lucrative electricity contract.

Russia ‘to cut gas exports’

Russia’s Economy Ministry is reportedly cutting its gas export forecast for this year due to sluggish demand from recession-mired Europe.

The forecast is said to be reduced to 193 billion cubic metres (bcm) from an earlier 212 bcm.

Russia sees shale gas as eventual risk to Gazprom's revenue

MOSCOW--Russia's economy ministry sees "serious" risks posed by shale gas to the revenue of Gazprom beginning in 2014, as higher supply from the nontraditional hydrocarbons may hurt prices and demand for Russia's pipeline gas.

France to Keep Shale Ban Until Fracking Alternative Emerges

France isn’t prepared to tap its shale energy resources until “clean technologies” are invented to replace hydraulic fracturing, Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg said.

The technique known as fracking causes “irreversible pollution” in some cases, the minister was cited as saying in an interview published today in Les Echos newspaper. It will probably be replaced by a different method, he said.

New York Can Allow Fracking After It Gets the Rules Right

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to soon lift the state’s moratorium on natural-gas drilling, in place since 2010, at least for some counties.

That would be welcome news. Extracting gas from the Marcellus shale using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing can create jobs, lower energy prices and lessen the U.S.’s reliance on (dirtier) coal and oil to generate electricity and heat.

Destroying Precious Land for Gas

Natural gas has been sold as clean energy. But when the gas comes from fracturing bedrock with about five million gallons of toxic water per well, the word “clean” takes on a disturbingly Orwellian tone. Don’t be fooled. Fracking for shale gas is in truth dirty energy. It inevitably leaks toxic chemicals into the air and water. Industry studies show that 5 percent of wells can leak immediately, and 60 percent over 30 years. There is no such thing as pipes and concrete that won’t eventually break down. It releases a cocktail of chemicals from a menu of more than 600 toxic substances, climate-changing methane, radium and, of course, uranium.

New York is lucky enough to have some of the best drinking water in the world. The well water on my family’s farm comes from the same watersheds that supply all the reservoirs in New York State. That means if our tap water gets dirty, so does New York City’s.

ONS 2012: Statoil after 60% increase in offshore oil recovery

STAVANGER, Norway – Statoil is looking to increase average oil recovery from its fields offshore Norway to 60%, according to senior figures speaking at ONS today.

Last year the company managed to raise the bar by 1% to 50%, equivalent to an extra 327 MMbbl of oil. For many of the fields, the original target in the plan for development and operation had been 30% recovery, said Oystein Michelsen, executive VP for Development and Production Norway. Eking out a further 10% will take time, he conceded.

Statoil upgrades arctic activities triples arctic research budget

STOCKHOLM--Statoil, the Norwegian oil and gas producer, said tuesday it is stepping up its arctic activities and will drill nine wells during a non stop 2013 barents sea exploration campaign while tripling its arctic technology research budget of the 94 exploration wells drilled in the Norwegian barents sea so far, Statoil has been involved in 89. Nine more statoil operated wells are on their way next year, Statoil said in a statement.

Norway's oil minister intends to drill to the North Pole

A number of oil companies at ONS have discussed the possibility of drilling further and further into Arctic waters. Environmentalists, however, are concerned about the consequences of a possible oil spill.

Ola Borten Moe disagrees this is a problem.

“It seems some think that you have to choose between drilling in the Arctic and the environment. The first well was drilled in this area more than 100 years ago. It is not a new phenomenon. We have an oil company that has a lot of experience and they have a partnership that stretches up to the High North,” he said.

San Onofre Prepares To Remove Fuel From Reactor

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. -- The operator of the San Onofre nuclear power plant is preparing to pull the radioactive fuel from one of its two shuttered reactors, another sign the Southern California plant won't be operating at full capacity anytime soon, if ever.

U.S. Sets Higher Fuel Efficiency Standards

DETROIT — The Obama administration issued on Tuesday the final version of new rules that require automakers to nearly double the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks by 2025.

The standards — which mandate an average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon for the 2025 model year — will increase the pressure on auto manufacturers to step up development of electrified vehicles as well as sharply improve the mileage of their mass-market models through techniques like more efficient engines and lighter car bodies.

Obama Fuel-Economy Rule Gives Sweeteners to Honda, Tesla

Honda Motor Co., which last year complained that a proposed fuel-economy rule was unfair to non- U.S. automakers, got a boost when the final version added extra credits for sellers of natural gas-powered vehicles.

GM: Chevy Volt output break due to Impala retooling

General Motors is shutting down, for a month, the plant that makes its well-known Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric car. But GM says its is for retooling to produce the coming new Impala, and not, as the report indicated, to cut back this year's Volt production.

Sun-charged cars tap into home systems

LIHU‘E — The popularity of cars utilizing sources other than gasoline has skyrocketed, said Pat Iwasaki of Kaua‘i Toyota during the Kaua‘i County Farm Bureau Fair.

Costs of maintaining either a hybrid or an electric vehicle are lower than fueling the car with gasoline and the prices of these cars are rapidly closing the gap between gas powered cars and the hybrids or electric cars.

Designers Set Sail, Turning to Wind to Help Power Cargo Ships

The new vessels, mainly still on drawing boards and in prototype, look nothing like the graceful schooners and galleons of centuries past. Last spring, for example, the University of Tokyo unveiled a model of its UT Wind Challenger at the Sea Japan trade show. It has nine masts, each 164 feet tall, with five rigid sails made of aluminum and fiber-reinforced plastic; the sails are hollow, designed to telescope into one another in rough weather or at anchor.

Coal Greens Love Buoyed by Shale Gas Hydraulic Fracking

The world’s most abundant fossil fuel could be tapped without moving mountains, delivered without trucks or trains and burned without greenhouse-gas emissions.

The technology to make this possible has been around for decades. Underground coal gasification was pioneered by Sir William Siemens in the 1860s to light London’s streets. Vladimir Lenin hailed the method in a 1913 article in Pravda for its potential to rescue Russians from hazards of underground mines.

Minister hints at resignation in Heathrow airport row

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's transport minister said on Tuesday she would probably resign if the government gave in to pressure to expand London's Heathrow airport.

Prime Minister Cameron's government has ruled out building a third runway at Heathrow before the next election, in part to appease the junior coalition partner, the Lib Dems, but the issue has returned to the agenda with the economy still stuck in recession.

UK government urged to tap China's $680 billion low carbon market

London (Platts) - The UK government has been urged by a cross-party committee to take a more focused strategy towards developing low carbon ties with China in order to tap its GBP430 billion ($679.8 billion) low carbon market, but will first need to demonstrate greater low carbon leadership at home.

Gulf emissions in spotlight on eve of climate talks

The average Arabian Gulf citizen uses three times as much energy as his or her German counterpart, says a report to be published today by the environmental advocacy group Carboun.

Consumption in the region is projected to climb even as energy guzzlers such as the United States and China keep their per-capita appetite in check.

Arctic melt will impact climate before policy

LONDON (Reuters) - Dwindling Arctic summer sea ice is unlikely to spur new policies to curb fossil fuels without more evidence of environmental impact, given stalled U.N. climate talks and political attitudes to mineral resources.

4 ways to prevent natural disasters from becoming human tragedies

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently reported that the past 12 months have been the warmest the United States has ever experienced. Another NOAA report confirmed what has become increasingly obvious: Climate change is the likely culprit. This summer’s extreme heat has sparked wildfires in states like Colorado. And the American heartland is parched, suffering the worst drought in 50 years; the loss of crops is predicted to drive food prices up nationally this fall.At the same time, in other parts of the world, climate change is engendering famine and destroying livelihoods. In just the past year, floods devastated Thailand and famine struck East Africa; The current food crisis has put some 18 million people in Africa’s Sahel region at risk of starvation. And extreme weather will likely worsen in the next few years, according to recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.But the catastrophic impact of climate change – especially on the developing world – is not inevitable. Here are four cutting-edge tools to anticipate and minimize the damage from natural disasters.

Education a Key to Hurricane Evacuations, City Finds

“You can’t force people to go,” said Joseph F. Bruno, commissioner of the emergency agency. “People have to make that decision.”

His agency is still working on a report about the city’s response to the storm, but some city officials who oversaw evacuations said many residents refused to believe that a hurricane could hit the city.

“When you start to talk about storms in New York City, people look at you like you have three heads,” said Margarita Lopez, a member of the board of the New York City Housing Authority. “People kept telling us nothing will happen here.”

Fiji: Sea level woes

"It is very important that villagers know about climate change and its effects on the environment like rising sea level which has become quite visible in some villages," he said.

"We are aware of villages being affected by climate change and it is a concern for all — it's equally important for villagers to understand the effects of climate change. There is one village I know in which relocation has started, so we are working with villagers through provincial offices to take heed of signs of climate change."

Carbon efficiency failing to fight warming: study

A surge in carbon emissions from power demand in the developing world is overwhelming progress by nations including China and the United States in improving efficiency, new research shows.

Seeking to cut costs, numerous nations in recent years have scaled back or revamped the dirtiest plants that use coal, which among major forms of energy is the highest emitter of carbon blamed for the planet's rising temperatures.

But a database set up by the Center for Global Development, a Washington think tank, found that the greater efficiency was far offset by emissions from electricity, which grew by 13.6 percent globally from 2004 to 2009.

The Mystery at the Heart of This Year's Record-Setting Arctic Ice Melt

There are two odd things about this sad record of global change.

First, it's only late August, several weeks before the traditional time when the sea ice melting stopped. That could mean that the melt is stopping earlier and could begin to recover earlier. Or we may have several weeks to go of melting, in which case, this year's low could not just break but shatter 2007's record.

Second, if the melt continues for days or weeks more, the melt will end up catastrophically lower than anyone anticipated.

In Destroying Precious Land for Gas, above, we see that

It releases a cocktail of chemicals from a menu of more than 600 toxic substances, climate-changing methane, radium and, of course, uranium.

So... after we're done with the gas, we can use the Uranium in nuclear plants? Sounds like a win-win thingie to me


Seriously, would like a comment from Rockman who, as I recall, frequently notes the safety in properly building (installing? preparing? what word to use?) the concrete linings and caps. This item would seem to debunk that theory in a way that seems somewhat disturbing. And, I admit that I am inadequately informed to make a valid judgment.


zap - In the end I think anyone's position comes down to their specific interests. For instance, how much harm is done to me by spoiling someone's water well in NY or PA with improperly disposed frac fluids? None. How much harm does it do to a NY farmer who can't earn $2 million income by leasing his land for NG development? About $2 million worth of harm. How much harm does it do when oil patch vehicles cause $1 million worth of road damage in a county in PA when that county receives no tax from the NG production? About $1 million. How much harm does it do to someone living in CA whose 100% opposed to frac'ng in NY if the gov approves it? Not a penny.

Nothing is risk free. Despite all the "horror stories" coming out of other states how many such specific stories have you seen from Texas? Few if any and no doubt due to our tougher regs and enforcement. But that doesn't mean there has never been or ever will be some problems with frac'ng here. If the majority of folks in NY don't want frac'ng then vote out any politician that supports it if the issue is that important. OTOH live with the potential of higher NG prices and potential shortages some years down the road. If folks think frac'ng is too tough on the environment then don't allow it. In Texas we think dumping salt water on roads is bad for the environment so we don't allow it. OTOH in PA the state takes oil field salt water and dumps it on their roads to control ice. So it's not harmful for the environment in PA as it is in Texas? Or maybe it's a trade off that makes it worthwhile.

And that brings us full circle. If you live in PA and don't drive on icy roads then dumping salt on the roads is of no benefit to you. If you live in NY and don't use NG, don't own mineral rights you could lease and don't care about the tax revenue or jobs generated then why would you be in favor of frac'ng? For the benefit of those who might gain something from the process? Well, screw them! LOL.

In the end that's what the debate boils down to IMHO: not whether frac'ng is a good thing or not. But what does each person gain, or not, from the process. For me personally, I hope NY, PA, ND and Texas ban frac'ng forever. That would keep NG out of the market and thus allow me to charge more for my NG.


I think you are right... eventually it will depend on whose ox is being gored, and how much stroke that person has with the pols who make the regulatory decisions.

I wish it wasn't so, though, RM. I fear that having to wait for "markets" to signal that it is time to stop burning hydrocarbons (through increased expense from environmental degredation), means that change will come far too late to act as a corrective function. And sometime before it becomes too late, economics will cease to be a consideration as the impact of peak oil brings down the World BAU paradigm.

Meanwhile, I guess the best we can do is to improve the chances of our grandchildren by taking advantage of what is here and now... just like everyone else, and being part of the problem. Especially since there seems to be no solution?

All quite logical, Mr. Spock. Depresssing, though.


The way I see it, when news say Gas or Food prices will go up, I wonder, won't the rich business men and the powers that be think, "Wow, we can make a lot of money with when that happens!". The more the market signals alarm calls, the more the PTB want to stay on and get richer. As RM did, it looks even more easier if you put a $ value to stuff (easy to compensate the victims out of the phenomenal profits thus made)

Totally aside from the issue of fracking fluid, what about 2,500 years from now when geologic faults have shifted, and concrete and steel break down? What would be the impact of 10,000 leaking holes from an aquifer to a spent reservior? Are there any reputable studies about that?

Goodie – If I were you I would be more worried about wells plugged in the last few years than ones 2,500 years from now. Seriously. At least based upon what I’ve seen of the regs and poor enforcement up there. If a well is properly plugged (as per regs in Texas) there's very little chance of future problems. And I specifically said “very little”…not "no chance" it could happen, I know of very few absolutes in life. Multiple cement plugs in a well bore are very stable…often more so then the rocks themselves. More important: the reservoirs being frac’d are pressure depletion drives. IOW the reservoir maybe at 8,000 psi when it begins producing but by the time it’s abandoned the bottom hole pressure may be less than 1,000 psi. If the multiple plugs all failed the pressure differential would actually draw fluid downwards to the frac’d zone…not upwards. And if there's that much faulting in the future I would be more worried about the faults being conduits for polluting fresh water aquifers with salt water and other nasties.

As I’ve pointed out to my Yankee cousins many, many times the real potential risk is from improper disposal of the produced fluids and not directly from the wells themselves. Countless speculation but nearly ever proven account of environmental damage has come from improper fluid disposal. And sometimes by the local municipalities themselves. Both NY and PA had to pass laws to make it illegal for the locals to do so.

And again, no one can ever promise that no frac’d well will ever cause an environmental problem. But no one can promise a school bus will never kill a young child. This, sadly, happens every year. Personally I would be more worried about the environmental impact of the millions of pounds of salt spread on the roads during winter up north. Do such a thing in Texas and you’ll go to jail.

" Multiple cement plugs in a well bore are very stable…often more so then the rocks themselves. More important: the reservoirs being frac’d are pressure depletion drives. IOW the reservoir maybe at 8,000 psi when it begins producing but by the time it’s abandoned the bottom hole pressure may be less than 1,000 psi. If the multiple plugs all failed the pressure differential would actually draw fluid downwards to the frac’d zone…not upwards. And if there's that much faulting in the future I would be more worried about the faults being conduits for polluting fresh water aquifers with salt water and other nasties."

Thanks for the continuing education Rock. That does put my mind a little more at ease for the long term prospects of aquifers in shale country.

I was wondering if you or any of TOD community had any thoughts on the Fayetteville Shale Play. It does not get the press of the Marcellus or of the Texas plays; is it not as viable?. Is there condensate in the Fayetteville play? It seems like where ever I move I just have to have some kind of shale play to keep me worried. It does seem the Western Fayetteville play which I will be moving to does not look like the hot spot. Don't worry about responding if you have not dealt with the Fayetteville play much; I was just curious if you had any opinions on the plays future or had ever drilled in Arkansas.

Thanks again,

Mark - I'll have to dig up some details later but the FS was actually one of the first hot shale plays years ago. Mostly dry gas I think. Didn't get a lot of press because it was dominated by one company...Southwest Energy. They were going to bring me to help geosteer some of thier FS wells but I was lured of to Africa first. LOL. They are also part of the big NG utility of AK. They didn't have a big PR push like CHK nor were locals expressing much concern about frac'ng. Hence no buzz. I have heard that even with the utility leverage that SWE has backed off the play somewhat with the drop in NG prices.

Thanks Rock, don't worry about it to much; I was just wondering what you might know off hand and your comments confirmed the gist of what I had been reading about the play.

Thanks again,


I think we need to fire up the ole "LET EM FREEZE IN THE DARK" bumper stickers. The NIMB YARDERS and anti oil/fracking complaints usually come from those who consume as much fossil fuels as anyone.

There are no reputable studies done over a 2,500 year period that proves such wells will leak. Hence there are no problems. ;)

No doubt your view is objectively correct and therefore acceptable in scientific terms, however I think there's something missing, which is that there really is a right and a wrong position, because human's aren't rocks. We all have a vested interest in the maximum possible health and habitability of the planetary biosphere - which I will call the ultimate right or good - and we all have the most to lose from the outcome of a degraded, corrupted, and polluted world - which I will call the ultimate wrong or bad.

Therefore it isn't just the individual interests that are relevant, although they may be all that matter in real terms. The polluting of land and water is actually the wrong position, and I would go so far as to call it evil.

What I think your analysis is sorely lacking is the proper scope and perspective that real ethics requires, given the best of our collected informational knowledge. In spite of it being a good objective perspective that many are likely to agree with and hold themselves, you are echoing a pseudo-ethics, and a self serving morality. Sadly I think, it is the dominant form of moral sense in our modern secular institution - the oil that greases the cogs and wheels, if you know what I mean.


What is that quote?...something about not being able to eat money?

"When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money."


On one hand I agree that this opinion piece does use unsound evidence; however, I would argue that the main premise is sentimental and the fracking safety does not change the inevitable increase industrial activity and coincidental environmental degradation of the land to which the author has a strong personal connection. He also makes the valid point that NG is not a clean energy, just a cleaner energy - switching to NG from other hydrocarbon sources doesn't cure AGW it only gives us some breathing room to develop truly green technologies.

osc- "...does not change the inevitable increase industrial activity and coincidental environmental degradation of the land to which the author has a strong personal connection." I agree and also offer that the fellow probably doesn't care about much outside his own influenced sphere. But I don't hold that against him. The position of self interest is a prime motivator for all of us IMHO.

And no...NG is not a clean FF energy source. And neither is oil. More importantly coal is even dirtier. And as the world runs short of oil and NG I have no doubt it will look more and more to coal to replace it. So the sooner we stop producing oil/NG the sooner the world will see what a true lack of caring about the environment and AGW really looks like.

It releases a cocktail of chemicals from a menu of more than 600 toxic substances, climate-changing methane, radium and, of course, uranium.

The article is naive. The oil and gas industry has nothing to do with the radioactivity. Numerous places in the world have deposits of low-grade uranium ore in the ground, and New York State has many of them. If your underground water supply happens to run through one of these uranium deposits, you are likely to have radioactive well water.

I was in New York one time when the government had found what they thought was a radioactive waste dump. They started excavating it and hauling it away, and it just never quite. They eventually realized that it was part of a trend of radioactive soil that ran across New York and into Pennsylvania, so they covered it over and pretended it didn't exist. They weren't going to get involved in fixing natural problems.

If you are living on a natural radioactive hot spot, the government is not going to tell you and is not going to fix it for you. Many people have radioactive water and don't know it. You have to test it to be sure.

And then there's all the old oil refineries and petrochemical plants in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. As a former oil man, I've seen them and they scare the wits out of me. I know what they've been doing.

A million years ago I worked in a radon testing lab. Grinnell, Iowa, is one of those hotspots - consistently producing readings an order of magnitude higher than the rest of the state. Remediation is pretty simple - seal up cracks, maybe a small vent fan with an exhaust hose to the outside placed at a low point if you've got some truly sky high readings.

There was a lot of hysteria back then because it was all new - one family got a reading ten times above the limit, and they moved out of their house in a panic. We didn't get impressed until we found a hundred times the limit and the state record was 250x permitted levels.


The 2012 Republican platform states:

The environment is getting cleaner and healthier. The nation’s air and waterways, as a whole, are much healthier than they were just a few decades ago. Efforts to reduce pollution, encourage recycling, educate the public, and avoid ecological degradation have been a success.

(The Right Is Wrong - 3). What planet are they on?

And this all happened by magic and the good will of people, especially big business. Therefore, I am sure, they are calling for the abolition of the EPA. Government, of course, had no role in cleaning up the air and water.

"The environment is getting cleaner and healthier. The nation’s air and waterways, as a whole, are much healthier than they were just a few decades ago. Efforts to reduce pollution, encourage recycling, educate the public, and avoid ecological degradation have been a success."

If you are looking the US, and they did specifically say "the nation's" implying this one, they are right. Feel free to compare the water quality of the Wisconsin River now with that of 1970. Compare the air quality of LA now with 1970.

If you compare China in 1970 with China now, then you may get a different answer.

I don't want the EPA abolished, but someone has to sit on them and make them realize diminishing returns has set in. They do need to keep an eye out for odd stuff like bis-phenol A.

I don't want the EPA abolished, but someone has to sit on them and make them realize diminishing returns has set in.

Like we needed repeal glass-steagall before the financial crisis?

The EPA is working as intended; don't fix what ain't broke.

The Mystery at the Heart of This Year's Record-Setting Arctic Ice Melt

The models did not consider the impact which the severe and surprising methane release discoveries earlier in the year, and late last year, would have.

Perhaps the methane ought to be taken into consideration:

Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane - a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide - have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region. The scale and volume of the methane release has astonished the head of the Russian research team who has been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years. In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Igor Semiletov of the International Arctic Research Centre at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, who led the 8th joint US-Russia cruise of the East Siberian Arctic seas, said that he has never before witnessed the scale and force of the methane being released from beneath the Arctic seabed.
The researchers found significant amounts of methane being released from the ocean into the atmosphere through cracks in the melting sea ice. They said the quantities could be large enough to affect the global climate. Previous observations have pointed to large methane plumes being released from the seabed in the relatively shallow sea off the northern coast of Siberia but the latest findings were made far away from land in the deep, open ocean where the surface is usually capped by ice.

Eric Kort of Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said that he and his colleagues were surprised to see methane levels rise so dramatically each time their research aircraft flew over cracks in the sea ice.

"When we flew over completely solid sea ice, we didn't see anything in terms of methane. But when we flew over areas were the sea ice had melted, or where there were cracks in the ice, we saw the methane levels increase," Dr Kort said. "We were surprised to see these enhanced methane levels at these high latitudes. Our observations really point to the ocean surface as the source, which was not what we had expected," he said.

"Other scientists had seen high concentrations of methane in the sea surface but nobody had expected to see it being released into the atmosphere in this way," he added.

(New Climate Catastrophe Policy: Triage - 5). That graphic description and the surprise of experts who have been studying there for decades is a cause for consideration it would seem.

And this, in case you're not worried enough: http://newsroom.ucr.edu/1849
"Unzippering the methane reservoir could potentially warm the Earth tens of degrees, and the mechanism could be geologically very rapid."

Awesome. The race over which gets us first -- resource depletion or runaway climate change -- is getting more interesting by the day. I'll take this opportunity to trot out the famous quote from Woody Allen:

More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.

Here's a good arctic methane doom site:


No huge blip from arctic methane yet, but certainly a concern.


Dredd - "When we flew over completely solid sea ice, we didn't see anything in terms of methane. But when we flew over areas were the sea ice had melted, or where there were cracks in the ice, we saw the methane levels increase,"

That's very interesting. I've seen the same phenomenon driving across certain areas: virtually no methane reaching the surface then suddenly a small area where millions of cu ft of methane are reaching the surface. We call the gas wells. LOL.

I'm not belittling the potential seriousness of the situation with respect to the release of the methane to the atmosphere. But this is a shock? - methane isn't able to migrate through thick layers of ice but where there's a break in the ice they see high levels? Could it be that the methane is collecting under the ice during the months of frozen winter and then when the thaw comes and the ice cracks it leaks out? Sucks, I've noticed the same thing with the tires on my car: they don't leak any air until I get a hole in one.

But this discovery of the obvious may be pointing to a serious problem that hadn't been observed: warm weather emission of methane. Volumetrically a significant volume of methane may be leaking year round...and possibly for years or even decades. But concentrations during warm periods might not have registered very high. The Arctic is a large region so even a very small concentration per sq mile could represent a huge cumulative amount across the entire region. That would seem to be a much more important parameter than how much methane is slipping through a crack in the ice of limited extent.

Here is a comparison image of methane concentrations over the Arctic from 2008 and 2011:


Dan - Thanks. Juts roughing it from the color bar looks like a 2%+ increase. Whe I have time I'll look a his website. Interesting that onshore canada had a similar increase as offshore Acrtic but onshore Siberia had a significant decreases. Wonder how much variations in wind patterns affect the mapping. Would be neat if he could integrate full 12 month cycles volumetricly.


I will leave it to those experts I quoted, who have been doing science there for ~20 years, to be shocked at what they saw.

I will leave it to you gassers to notice methane when you go across gas wells and LOL.

I will leave it to the sane visionaries to tell the difference.

I will leave it to the census takers to count the remaining (The Peak of Sanity - 5).

The descriptions by Igor Semiletov and Eric Kort are about things that happened in 2011.

How much methane is being released this year?

considering we have a new record low sea ice, the situation probably does not look too good.

I have another idea.

The theory is that as the ice area lower, the water become better at catching the sun rays, warming the watr up. This accelerates the melting. When freeze sets in, there is a lower area covered by ice, and the water is warmer. This slow down ice buildup, especially if measured in volume. Next summer, there is less ice to go, the ice is thinner, and melting can go further, leaving even less ice to start next winters build up etc.
So, when the ice area/volume gets below a certain thershold, the melting process will begin to accelerate, and go into a spiral of death.

This year the weather had no particular properties to benefit heavy melting, yet this is what we see. Can it be so simple as that we last year got below the critical level for ice volume, and we are now in the first year of the death spiral?

Notice that while we already broke the record several weeks ahead, by now melting speed should start to decline, but the graph is still stright as a ruler. No sign of slowing down. This is not natural; something is different.

I don't think there is an actual tipping point, i.e. the ice area should be fairly stable -given an unchanging climate. The folks on realclimate estimated an equilibration time of about three years, so the current ice state shouldn't be too far from its equilibrium state given the current climate. Do note that liquid water loses heat faster than ice, and thicker ice with snow covering is pretty well insulated from the air. So I don't think we will see things surge completely out of control.

More interesting will be what happens this fall/winter. Does the trend of low ice creating wild weather in the coming months hold?

The ice has declining for the last thirty years or so. We will most certainly be ice-free in the summertime by the end of this decade. My guess is we will be perennially ice-free a short-time after that.

"My guess is we will be perennially ice-free a short-time after that."

The lakes in Wisconsin and Minnesota are not perennially ice free. A couple weeks on -20 F will freeze them over without much trouble even if they were 70 in the summer. And it gets a lot colder than that in the arctic.

They'll still freeze over in the winter and melt in the spring.

Those lakes are much smaller, freshwater, and not connected to the pacific and altlanic oceans.

"Nonlinear threshold behavior during the loss of Arctic sea ice" is an interesting paper on perennially ice-free triggering.

Even ice-free in the summer is a stretch. Getting rid of the last million square km at the end of the melt season will be difficult. For me ice free summer implies ice free by or before June. There is as much insolation before June 21st as after, so what happens during the first half of the season is just as important for absorbing sun as after.

The first milestone will be an ice free North Pole. I am quite sure during this decade. From then on, nobody realy knows.

I don't think there will ever be an ice free Arctic Sea winter. The freeze is the result of the sun not shining so when the heat radiates out in the dark, there is no incoming heat to compensate for it. To keep the Pole ice free, we will need lots of warm air an water flowing in, exporting heat to there from the south. Chances are high the golf stream will decline or cut of entirely, and then the Arctic will lose its main heat import source. Even if the world get 5 degree warmer, I guess there will form an ice sheet there in the winter, at least for a few weeks or months.

Yes open water loses heat faster than ice covered water. But it also absorbs heat faster. Wich is probably the reason it melts so fast this year; much heat in the water. I am convinced there will be lot of ice surface at the spring maximum. Just like it was this last year. But it will be thin ice, wich is why it will likely melt fast next year to. And if so, there will be a low ice coverage that year also. If/when we get a year with weather that benefits fast ice loss, the ice will be nearly disintegrated. I don't use to monitor the ice growth at fall more than casually, but this year I will with interest.

Whatever comes out of this, I am 100% sure the experts will learn something new this year. This is uncharted territory.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending August 24, 2012

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 15.4 million barrels per day during the week ending August 24, 58 thousand barrels per day below the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 91.2 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging 9.2 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging about 4.7 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 9.5 million barrels per day last week, up by 1.3 million barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged nearly 8.8 million barrels per day, 438 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 690 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 134 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 3.8 million barrels from the previous week. At 364.5 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 1.5 million barrels last week and are in the lower half of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 0.9 million barrels last week and are below the lower limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 0.7 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 4.7 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged 19.2 million barrels per day, down by 2.1 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged about 9.1 million barrels per day, down by 1.0 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged 3.6 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, down by 6.2 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 3.8 percent lower over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

Days of Thunder: US gasoline supplies may be racked for months after refinery explosions and hurricane

You can’t out run the thunder - advertisement for “Days of Thunder” movie, 1990

Yesterday, Hurricane Isaac came thundering to the shores of the Gulf of Mexico to batter Louisiana coast and region, and soon afterwards, reflecting a perception of imminent fuel shortages in that state, the first EPA gasoline waiver of 2012 was issued.

Typically a gasoline waiver is granted when gasoline supplies are limited in a part of a state or the whole state. The waiver allows a blend of gasoline with a RVP (Reid Vapor Pressure) other than that normally used in that season. Most parts of the US would now be using a ‘summer blend’ of gasoline.

Usually ‘summer blend’ gasoline has a lower Reid Vapor Pressure, meaning it creates less vapor than ‘winter blend’ gasoline and is less likely to contribute to smog formation in higher temperatures. It is a more complicated refining process to produce gasoline with lower RVP. If faced with a shortage of low vapor pressure gasoline, individual states can and usually do request exemptions from the Environmental Protection Agency to use what gasoline is available - which will probably be a leftover 'winter blend'.

Circumstantial evidence indicates that GOM oil importers worked over-time to get oil tankers into port and unloaded before the storm, as oil imports into the Gulf of Mexico region increased by about 1 million bpd. However distribution of oil imports was adversely affected by the hurricane since Saturday, and the only seaport that can handle very large oil tankers, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, has been closed since Monday morning.

Even before the arrival of Isaac a few days earlier, a huge and deadly blast at the Amuay refinery in Venezuela was already also destined to have an effect on US gasoline supplies. This blast followed by just a few weeks the large Richmond, CA refinery explosion and fire. As early as Monday, Venezuela was making deals to import additional supplies of gasoline and diesel from the US – although it is not clear what if any exports can be shipped until the refinery row in southern Louisiana recovers from Hurricane Isaac.

The impact of hurricane and the twin refinery disasters will ripple worldwide through the oil product supply chain for weeks, if not months – especially for gasoline.

Meanwhile, to make up for lost product supplies caused by the Richmond fire, California fuel suppliers are going to great lengths to obtain substitute oil products, and have only succeeded by paying up for product supplies far removed from US shores.

Elsewhere total refinery utilization stayed the same last week as the week before, maintained at a high level even before recent weather operational disruptions by gasoline demand (products supplied in the EIA report) at about a high for the year. There may be just enough utilization and existing gasoline supplies to get the US through the end of the summer driving season, around Labor Day in early September, to avoid gasoline shortages that extend beyond just one state. But maybe not.


The largest US oil product pipeline, the Colonial Pipeline system, was reported by Reuters as so far operating normally today.

The Colonial Pipeline will be shifting the RVP level of gasoline transported on September 6 to a higher level. Therefore on September 6 the state of Louisiana, being where the Colonial system originates, will no longer need an EPA waiver for gasoline with a 9 RVP (summer grade.

See article below for further details:

Using fuel with the same RVP will make it easier to help ease the shortages caused by evacuations ahead of Hurricane Isaac, the EPA said.

The seasonal switch from lower to higher RVP gasoline is just beginning as refiners switch their blending to make gasoline for colder weather.

The Colonial Pipeline, which carries refined products from Gulf Coast refineries including several in Louisiana to the New York Harbor, will shift its RVP specification from 9.0 RVP to 11.5 RVP by September 6.

Higher RVP gasoline is cheaper for refiners to make and butane can be blended in place of an oxygenate like ethanol.


In regards to potential increased demand from Venezuela for US oil products, shipping sources indicate that tanker rates for shipments from the US to Venezuela starting on or after September 1 rose sharply today. However it was not clear just how many barrels of oil products (like gasoline and diesel) will actually be shipped to Venezuela.

USGC clean freight rates bid higher since Isaac, Amuay fire: sources

I found some interesting vids on youtube
Virtue and Vice in a Malthusian World http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGjKKwrQbK8&feature=relmfu
Part 1 probably won't be new to people here, but starting with part 2 it's quite interesting and insightful

Also, I found:
'Emergence of Modern Man' which I believe is the continuation of the above
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOM_NRNw4uw&feature=relmfu ( part 1 )

I'm watching part 2 now and it's quite interesting.

Code Monkey, I watched parts of several of the Youtube Videos. He was talking about why nothing much happened up until the Industrial Revolution, then everything took off and most everyone got a lot richer. Why was what the videos were all about. And he wrote a book explaining exactly why. Finally I found one that gave me the name of that book he kept talking about. It was:
A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World (Princeton Economic History of the Western World)

He found a genetic reason for it all! Good Grief Charlie Brown. I am a true Darwinian and I can tell you nothing genetically happened to bring about the Industrial Revolution. It was cheap fossil energy that was responsible for the sudden increase in the wealth of nations, not genes. Anyway this is one reviewer that I very much agreed with.

This review is from: A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World (Hardcover)
The book begins and ends with an expression of bemused confusion. Despite added sophistication,Economics fails to explain the increase in wealth since 1800 or the distribution of wealth during the same period. The word "oil" is not in the index. "Coal" gets cursory treatment. The parallel between population wealth and fossil fuels is hardly recognized.Thus the single critical factor, energy input and is almost totally neglected.

Ron P.

I have not read that book, though I may pick it up. Thanks. I've heard him so far hint that genetics ('self domestication') *may* be *a* contributing factor, but I have not heard him lay out a solid case that it must be so, or that it is the most important factor. ( I am not saying he doesn't do so elsewhere. ) That explanation doesn't smell true to me, and I wouldn't buy it without a lot of convincing.

I find that the malthusian model he presents explains the effects of technological advancement ( including the technology dependent on fossil fuels ) quite nicely: It moves the output curve up, increasing population but not living standards in the long term. When the fossil fuels run out, it must move back down. Other technological advancement ( eg effective alt energy schemes ) would be needed to keep the curve constant or move it up. But I like that moving the curve around seems to be independent of long term living standards. That to me rings true. We've been seeing the output curve moving up and up, but ended up with no long term gains in living standards. The down side of peak ff is that curve moving down and down. If I understand right, this shouldn't affect living standards, only population.

Also I like the way he explores violence/death/disease as being a 'virtue' as far as living standards are concerned.

Would you rather live long and miserably, or live well until you are clubbed on the head? I'm not picking one over the other, but there is a trade off here.

I am more inclined towards the idiocracy since agriculture hypothesis than a self domestication one, but this was also interesting to me and would probably not be new to a Darwinian: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOZ3Xt6ZMBA&feature=plcp

CodeMonkey, thanks for the link. I watched the video and must add that there was something missing concerning social behavior described by David Sloan Wilson. I feel he would agree but simply left it out but what he left out is very important.

That is social behavior is genetic. The chickens that were mean and selfish behaved the way they did because of their genetic makeup. The chickens that were kind, social and did not peck each other behaved that way because of their genetic characteristics.

Social behavior is largely in the genes. Of course social behavior can be taught as well. But how successful a teacher is in changing the social behavior of a student, or whomever, is dependent to a large degree, in the genetic characteristics of the student.

It is like this, some people have an inborn talent for music. Some people are totally tone deaf. People with an innate tendency to learn music can let that talent languish or they can develop it. The ability is in the genes, the development of that ability is in the environment.

Ron P.

"That is social behavior is genetic." ... at least in chickens.

Chickens are not a good example for human beings. It doesn't require a lot of brains to be a chicken, as in the example of Mike the Headless Chicken

With a sharp ax in hand, Mr. Olsen firmly held Mike, preparing to make the bird ready for his wife Clara's cooking pot. Mr. Olsen swung the implement, thereby lopping off poor Mike's head. Mike shook off the event, then continued trying to peck for food.

Mike's will to live remains an inspiration. It is a great comfort to know you can live a normal life, even after you have lost your mind.

Mike lived for 18 months after having his head chopped off, and appeared to be a happy chicken, although they did have to feed him with an eyedropper. He finally choked to death one night when his owner couldn't find the eyedropper to clear his throat.

In the 18 MONTHS that Mike lived as "The Headless Wonder Chicken" he grew from a mere 2 1/2 lbs. to nearly 8 lbs. In a Gayle Meyer interview Olsen said Mike was a "robust chicken - a fine specimen of a chicken except for not having a head."

This is not a good example for human beings, because they usually have to rely on their brains for survival, rather than just pure instinct.

Ok. I doubt chickens have much in the way of culture, but imagine tribes competing with each other each with different cultures. You can easily imagine that cultures could evolve to be successful, with the unsuccessful ones dying away.

I wasn't talking about chicken social behavior I was talking about human social behavior. Read the last two paragraphs of my post. It should be obvious that I was referring to human social behavior.

Humans as well as other animals have instincts and instinctive behavior.

However the story of the headless chicken was interesting. Thanks for posting it.

Ron P.

I was thinking in terms of human evolution. The reference to chickens appealed to me because I've chopped the heads off lots of chickens. They run around in circles until they drop dead of blood loss, but Mike the Headless Chicken apparently didn't lose enough blood to die. Human beings and other mammals are completely different.

From the Darwinian perspective (the other Darwin), consider human beings. They achieved their modern form about 100,000 years ago, but about 50,000 years ago they started doing things completely different from their predecessors. Previous species of human beings made spear tips the same way for 1 million years at a time, but "behaviorally modern" human beings (as distinct from "anatomically modern" human beings) started changing the spear tip design every few generations, just for the heck of it. Everybody had to have their own design of spear tip, plus matching tattoos and jewelry. And then they wiped out all the other species of human beings, but that's a different topic (maybe).

Anthropologists had assumed that human beings stopped evolving when human anatomy stopped changing, but recent genetic studies indicate that human beings are now evolving faster than they ever have. What are they evolving into? I don't know but since the invention of IQ tests, human IQ's worldwide have been rising about 3 points per decade (the Flynn Effect). In 100 years that is 30 points. If you gave an average American 100 years ago an IQ test, he'd score lower than Forrest Gump. I mean, Forest Gump did okay in the movie, and so did the average American 100 years ago, but I think something is going on.

Just total speculation. I thought I'd toss it out there rather than talk about headless chickens.

Anthropologists had assumed that human beings stopped evolving when human anatomy stopped changing, but recent genetic studies indicate that human beings are now evolving faster than they ever have.

I am gonna need a reference for that RMG. I call myself a "keeper upper" on evolutionary studies and I have just never heard that one before. Of course I have heard people make that claim, people that were not actually evolutionist. To put it as nicely as I possibly can, I simply don't believe it.

The reason I don't believe it is not only have I never heard that from any scientific journal but also because it makes no sense. Natural selection is a process, evolution is history. Natural selection is what drives evolution. In times of plenty, especially like today, there is almost no natural selection because almost everyone survives. There is some natural selection of course, a tiny amount but not nearly as much as there is when times are tough and only the very fit survived.

Anyway I await your citation for the claim that human beings are evolving faster than they ever have.

Ron P.

Genetic diversity is increasing, mainly because the size of the population is increasing. The more people there are, the more opportunity there is for DNA to be miscopied or damaged and incorrectly repaired. With an increase in population there is also more chance that genetic variant will propagate.

However, evolution consists of both variation and selection. Selection is less rigorous than in the past when population numbers were static, so it is not clear whether we are now "evolving faster".

Merrill, there is always variation. There is not always selection. If there are ten puppies in a litter there will be variation in every one of them. And if the breeder selects for any characteristic, like straight ears or whatever, and breeds only that puppy, then there is selection. But if he sells them all to a puppy farm then there is no selection.

The same thing happens in nature. There is always variation and if times are tough then only those with a variation that is beneficial will survive, or at least they will have the best chance of survival. Those with detrimental or harmful variation will have the least chance of survival. That is evolution.

In times of plenty almost everyone survives therefore there is little to no selection. Variation does not mean evolution. Natural selection of the fittest is evolution. Only if you can show that one trait adds to the survival and/or reproductive rate can you make the claim that we, as humans, are still evolving.

In other words what is changing and why?

Ron P.

Coincidentally, last night, I viewed this documentary about the dire wolf. It became extinct.
It is interesting how nature can change the rules of the game, whereby what was once an advantage becomes a disadvantage and vice-versa.
I suspect that this is what may play out with us if we don't evolve fast enough and/or in certain ways. At the same time, it is suspected that for nature to terminate our survival, it's going to really have to shift the rules of the game (and perhaps some of us see that coming).

The dire wolf's Le Brea tar pits fossils could be used to illustrate a bit of a dire metaphor for humans.

Hey, long time reader, and I love everyone's comments! I just wanted to point out a bit of a misconception about evolution. Natural selection is one of the drivers of evolution, but it is not the only one. The others are drift, migration, and of course mutation. Drift occurs when alleles (gene variations) get lost due to random assortment out of the gene pool, and migration reintroduces alleles back into the gene pool (as does mutation). So humans are evolving still (in the sense that our genes are changing over the course of generations).

Again, I love reading this site and I think everyone's comments are great!

Thanks for the post Pafadiea but I think your statement is not exactly correct. Natural selection is the only driver of evolution. Mutation, and to a far lesser extent genetic drift, is what creates changes in the species. Darwin simply referred to these changes as "variation". It is this variation that gives natural selection something to select for. Without variation there would nothing to select for and there could be no evolution.

Ron P.

I think we have differing concepts of evolution (and there really is no consensus on the issue). For geneticists such as myself, evolution is simply the change in genes in a species over time. As those genes diverge, new species develop. I assume (?) that you're working from the classical view of evolution as the "adaptation" of animals to environmental change. I think that's somewhat of an incomplete view of evolution.

I think we have differing concepts of evolution (and there really is no consensus on the issue).

There is every consensus on the issue. There is general agreement on how natural selection works in almost every book that was ever written on the subject. I have no idea what you are talking about when you say the "classical view". Anyway I would love to debate the subject but now it is way past my bedtime and I am going to bed.

Ron P.

Alright. But it seems that the consensus favours my definition.

"Evolution is the change in the inherited characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins."


Enjoy your evening.

I think what Paladiea is saying, is that things have turned out to be a lot more complicated than the simple Mendellian/Darwinian picture we grew up with. Partly you are arguing semantics. I think P's definition is more exact. Even in the absence of any selection pressure, the genome can drift, and that constitutes a sort of evolution in its own right.

I probably should give an example of what I'm talking about. Take two populations of a species; A and B. These populations are small and isolated. due to drift, the allele for blond hair gets removed for population A, and the allele for brown hair gets lost for population B. No selection has occurred, but the genotypes (and phenotypes) of each of the populations has changed.

In humans, this happened when we were distinct populations. In modern times, due to migration we are able to reintroduce lost alleles to populations. However, as more dominant alleles become ever more popular, other alleles are crowded out or lost altogether from humanity. So selection does not have to occur for radical changes in human genotypes to occur. Selection only comes in when fitness is radically impacted by a change in genotype, or if the selection pressure is very strong (wolves love blond haired people for example). If a new beneficial allele comes into play, it must overcome drift first to become established in the population. Once it hits a certain threshold, it will spread due to selection favouring that allele.

You said yourself that nowadays, selection isn't so much a factor for most humans. But that does not halt evolution, drift will remove alleles just as effectively as selection.

Paladiea, is it possible to be very different-- physically and personality-wise-- from both of one's parents?
I seem to have heard that particular physical or genetic qualities come, or can come, in "packages" (genotypes or phenotypes?) and was wondering if, if one, say, inherited (physically) unexpressed (recessive?) gene or allele "packages" or "groups", or whatever they're called, from both parents, if they would appear, and in a sense be, significantly different than either parent?

BTW, have you ever heard of the Genographic Project? If so, what do you think about it? Apparently, it's still running.

It is possible but rare, heredity is having a kind of revolution of sorts with the discovery of epigenetics (Lamarck was right... kind of in a very incidental way). However I think what you're talking about is linked traits. Sometimes genes can get dragged alongside favourable ones due to them being close to that locus (section of DNA), so then whoever inherits those genes gets the tag-along genes as well. However, I don't know of that causing any major discrepancies from parental phenotype. The only thing that might do the trick is co-dominance, that is genes that share dominance and thus produce a different phenotype.

The genographic project is interesting. I was actually looking at the genetic markers for different populations of humans. Did you know that diversity is greater within human populations than between them? Fascinating stuff.

Very interesting and thank you. I will look up Lamark and some of those terms.

The genographic project is interesting. I was actually looking at the genetic markers for different populations of humans. Did you know that diversity is greater within human populations than between them? Fascinating stuff.

Indeed it is. I might participate.

You'd be better served looking up epigenetics. Lamarck was more wrong than right! :)

Will do, thanks!

Tribe, Lamarck believed that learned characteristics could be inherited and that was how animals evolved. That's all you need to know about him. That's enough.

Ron P.

I think acquired rather than learned characteristics would better ascribe what Lamarck postulated.

It does happen to some extent, methylation pattern changes and histone modifications acquired since birth can be passed to an offspring and can affect how genes are expressed in the offspring.

(Lamarck was right... kind of in a very incidental way)

I never argue with a person who states that Lamarck was right. I would rather with an advocate of abiotic oil, or a creationist. They both make about as much sense.

Ron P.

Ron, you are out of line.

You are also proving that you have not kept up with evolutionary biology as you claim. He's referring to epigenetics, which is not at all in the same category as abiotic oil or creationism. No one's won a Nobel prize for their work in abiotic oil or creationism, for instance.

No, no, no Leanan, I am not out of line here. Epigenetics is very similar to Lamarckism. Here is Richard Dawkins' take:

Is “epigenetics” a revolution in evolution? - Comments

I now groan audibly when a journalist (usually from continental Europe where they spend too much time learning philosophy rather than science) asks me the now inevitable ‘what about epigenetics?’ question. It is a real disease among science journalists, this unseemly eagerness to find something that enables them to say “Darwin was wrong” (New Scientist under Roger Highfield is a lamentable example). I am heartily sick of the ‘epigenetics’ bandwagon and almost look forward to the next one, whatever it turns out to be.


He was referring to this article which is required reading for anyone who believes epigenetics is really science.

Epigenetics is no more science than Lamarckism is science, they are both junk science. All the biological world is laughing at epigenetics and with good reason. Only the far fringe advocates epigenetics. I am a "keeper upper" and have kept up with the silly so called science of epigenetics.

I understand your point Leanan, but junk science comes along every once in awhile in every field. I guess it is evolutionary biologists time for their junk science.

I have followed epigenetics since Lynn Margulis first advocated it about a decade ago. She tried to overthrow Darwin and hoped to be the new Darwin. (She died last year.) But no biologists worth his salt paid any attention to her. (With one exception, the late Stephen Jay Gould. He also hoped to overthrow Darwin, to some extent, by reviving Richard Goldschmidt's "Hopeful Monster" theory and used Marqulis' work to do so. Without any success of course.)

Ron P.

You are confusing epigenesis with epigenetics.

The link you posted purportedly claiming epigenetics is not science actually says nothing of the sort. It says epigenetics is not a Darwin-destroyer, and I think that's the consensus view. Epigenetics is science, not pseudoscience, but its existence does not mean we throw Darwin on the scrap heap, any more than quantum physics and relativity means we throw Newton on the scrap heap.

A lot of studies which were once considered quackery are now established branches of science. Dogma is not something unique to non-science people. There have been a lot of studies done in epigenetics and a lot of research papers have been published. This one for instance.

The science is not yet established but it's not the same as abiotic oil. (How can you compare the two is beyond me) These people after all are still following the scientific method AFAIK. You are simply pronouncing premature judgments. Skepticism not outright denial is the hallmark of science. You seem to have missed that part. As far as overturning Darwin goes that's upto the reader, the science makes no such pronouncements. It's like holding trashing medical science for quacks who write self help books.

I think I may have caused come confusion with mention of Lamarck. I was trying to make an allusion that people were familiar with. I'm sorry if it caused people to think that I'm a creationist or pseudo-scientist.

Epigenetics is a real science, and it doesn't discredit evolution. On the contrary, it adds a whole new layer of information transfer between generations. It's really very interesting to know that the picture is actually far more varied and complex than we originally thought.

Welcome, and thanks for lending your expertise.

Did you know that diversity is greater within human populations than between them?

I had heard that. This is sometimes brought up by those arguing that race is a social construct. Asians and Caucasians are more closely related to some Africans than different groups of Africans are to each other.

Thank you! I feel sort of intimidated by everyone, so take it easy on the newbie. :)

Well race is tricky, skin colour is not really a difference in genes so much as a difference in gene expression, particularly melanin. Most of the structural differences between races is due to drift within isolated populations.

The interesting thing though is that the human African population (being the founder population) has maintained a lot of its diversity and you can find alleles from all other populations in them. It's really very interesting! It also points out that the migration populations have gone through bottlenecks, which would increase drift and accentuate differences.

Genetics is really an exciting field these days. "The End of Science" (as Horgan put it) may be looming for many disciplines, but I think we're just getting started with genetics. Did you see that study that made headlines today, about the DNA analysis of the Denosovan girl? One of the weird things that came out of it is that Native Americans and East Asians have more Neanderthal DNA than Europeans, despite the fact that Europe is where Neanderthals lived.

This kind of DNA analysis would have been considered science fiction not that long ago.

Yeah I thought that was really exciting! One theory is that the Denosovans mated with Neanderthals, and gene transfer went to modern humans through us mating with Neanderthals. Pretty cool eh?

Your contribution is much appreciated. I have long thought that Darwinian took 'survival of the fittest' a little too far, but I lack both the expertise and the courage to call him out on it. I find evolution/genetics fascinating and look forward to your future posts.


Thanks! :D

Once it hits a certain threshold, it will spread due to selection favouring that allele.

So are you saying that if say red hair is a novelty, it will be culturally selected against? But if redheads become common, every one wants to marry one and have lots of kids? Or are you thinking about recessive genes, which at very low occurrence won't have any selection pressure, and drift/mutation will gradually erode these genes away. So you need enough of them before (positive) selection pressure can overcome the decay. due to drift.

No, I'm talking about allele frequency. A beneficial mutation only occurs in an individual, which is an extremely small portion of the population. That allele could easily be lost through drift, or simply the individual not getting to pass those genes on. Once the allele frequency reaches a certain percentage, then enough people have it for it to spread through the rest of the population through breeding. In essence, it take awhile for a beneficial allele to "catch" in a population. Also, it's very rare for a beneficial mutation to have so large a benefit that the individual who has it immediately shows a large increase in fitness. Usually fitness is averaged out over many individuals.

You were getting the right idea though. :)

Statistics does not work on small groups. I once asked 3 people what gouv party they voted for, and added my own vote. One party had 50% of all the votes, two other parties had 25% each. Surprisingly, that was not what we got when all five million votes were counted.

In a very small group, is it not so that pure chance can play a role in the gene pool? Only the strongest men are sent out to the war, they did not come back, and the weaker men had to father the next generation, etc. In a small population, entirely random one-time events can eliminate individuals with property X even if that is a good allele long term.

Only the strongest men are sent out to the war, they did not come back, and the weaker men had to father the next generation, etc

Do you read War Nerd ? That guy says the same thing. I can't quote verbatim but goes something like "In a war the bravest/hotheads die first" so any society which engages in mass concentrated warfare for a long time tends to become docile after some time.

In a very small group, is it not so that pure chance can play a role in the gene pool?

Yes, which is what drift is, loss through random assortment. In a small population drift is very large because a lot of genes can be lost through this random assortment, sometimes it leads to fixation (one allele representing 100% of the population).

Well I have no idea as to whether or not humans are evolving at faster rates than in the past but there is no doubt that humans are continuing to evolve.


Lactose Tolerance in East Africa Points to Recent Evolution

Published: December 11, 2006

A surprisingly recent instance of human evolution has been detected among the peoples of East Africa. It is the ability to digest milk in adulthood, conferred by genetic changes that occurred as recently as 3,000 years ago, a team of geneticists has found.

And Ron, I very highly doubt this:

In times of plenty, especially like today, there is almost no natural selection because almost everyone survives.

Fred, lactose tolerance evolved in most humans several thousand years ago. Making the claim that lactose tolerance evolved as recently as 3,000 years ago in absolutely no way validates the claim that "we are still evolving." Of course we were still evolving 3,000 years ago. 3,000 years ago is not today. Back then far less than 50 percent of humans survived to reproduce. Natural selection was in full force 3,000 years ago.

And Ron, I very highly doubt this:

In times of plenty, especially like today, there is almost no natural selection because almost everyone survives.

Fred, it is not enough to say that you doubt something. You must explain why you doubt it. I explained exactly why there is no natural selection in that one sentence. You offered no reason for your doubts whatsoever.

Let me explain if I may. Natural selection happens when beneficial traits survive and harmfut traits do not survive. Eigsight for example. Eagles with the best eyesight have an advantage over eagles with poor eyesight. Over time the eyesight of eagles will get better and better because of this advantage. Likewise humans that are hunter gatherers, the best hunters will have an advantage over poor hunters. They will have more offspring.

But in times of plenty, when almost everyone survives, there cannot possibly be any natural selection. Think about it man, it is just so obvious. Natural selection is not hard to understand at all. So why do you highly doubt my statent that there is almost no natural selection when almost everyone survives?

I am sorry Fred but this should be so very obvious that I am at a loss to understand why you doubt it. Natural selection is all about life and death, life for those who evolve the characteristics for survival, death for those who do not. Without life and death selection in times of plenty there is no natural selection, no evolutionary changes.

. During the minute it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive; others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear; others are being slowly devoured from within by rasping parasites; thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst and disease. It must be so. If there is ever a time of plenty this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored.
- Richard Dawkins: River Out of Eden, page131-132.

During starvation and misery only the fittest survive. Such times are when natural selection has the very greatest effect. And in times of plenty there is almost no natural selection. How can there possibly be when almost every animal survives? To understand evolution you must understand this oh so very simple principle.

Ron P.

Ron, lactose tolerance seems to have evolved independently at various times in different groups of humans. The example and study I cited is one of the more recent cases for which evidence is Incontrovertible. 3000 years is but a blink of an eye for most human evolutionary processes.

Fred, it is not enough to say that you doubt something. You must explain why you doubt it. I explained exactly why there is no natural selection in that one sentence. You offered no reason for your doubts whatsoever.

Here is a good article supporting continuing human evolution in the present.
Are humans still evolving?

In recent years, scientists have accumulated intriguing evidence that humans continue to evolve despite cultural and behavioural buffers against environmental stress. However, predicting the future course of human evolution is futile because we cannot accurately predict the environmental stresses that we will face. On the basis of the current state of our species, we can at least answer several questions. Will humans continue to evolve? The answer depends on whether the two mechanisms outlined at the beginning of this paper still apply to our species. Is there inheritable variation? Yes, variations between individuals are inherited genetically, and humans and the populations in which they live are still variable. Are there differences in reproduction or survivorship between individuals? Yes, and they depend on access to resources.

Fred, my statement that there is almost no natural selection in times of plenty is a principle that has been supported by almost every evolutionary biologist. Dawkins has made this point many times but I am away from my library which is still in Pensacola and I am in Huntsville, Alabama and cannot give you the reference. But all you have to do is think about it for a minute and it becomes oh so obvious.

Your article is a good one, and a very long one. But it offers no proof whatsoever and only suggest that we might still be evolving. But only evolving in our immune defenses. From your link:

There are, however, examples of human evolution that occurred subsequent to the invention of agriculture, and that involve the co-evolution of cultural and genetic systems with changes in subsistence strategies. The example that is most often cited is the natural selection of heterozygous carriers of the sickle-cell gene to maintain sickle-cell anaemia in populations that are exposed to malaria. This natural selection is particularly visible in regions of central Africa where tropical forests have been cleared for agriculture, which, in turn, has caused the proliferation of mosquitoes that transfer the malaria-causing Plasmodium parasite.

Give me a break Fred. I disputed the claim that "recent genetic studies indicate that human beings are now evolving faster than they ever have." And that is sheer nonsense. We are evolving in some sense but nothing like we were back when only two or three survived out of a family of ten.

Fred, I clearly explained why evolution slows to a crawl during times of plenty. It is just so obvious if you think about it for a minute.

Thanks for your time.

Ron P.

We are evolving in some sense but nothing like we were back when only two or three survived out of a family of ten.

But in many parts of the world, those are still the conditions. Life expectancy is less than 40 years in countries like Swaziland and Mozambique. I think the case could be made that we are suffering more evolutionary pressure than ever. In some parts of the world, the old Malthusian forces still hold sway. While in western, industrialized countries, the death rate is lower but the birth rate is as well, creating a different kind of natural selection.

This is not something there's consensus on, if you're talking about, say, since 1900. Even evolutionary biologists disagree on this point. Some argue that we are evolving faster than ever, simply because the population is larger than ever. Can't have evolution without diversity, and there's now more diversity than ever, because they're more people than ever. The punctuated equilibrium types disagree, and so far, there's no consensus on which side is correct.

But in many parts of the world, those are still the conditions. Life expectancy is less than 40 years in countries like Swaziland and Mozambique. I think the case could be made that we are suffering more evolutionary pressure than ever.

They are suffering a lot of evolutionary pressures but not more than they did for the past several hundred years. We are not however.

Even evolutionary biologists disagree on this point. Some argue that we are evolving faster than ever, simply because the population is larger than ever.

Well, as I said earlier, I call myself a "keeper upper" as far as evolutionary biology goes, and I have never heard of any evolutionary biologist arguing any such thing. The size of the population would have nothing to do with it.

Natural selection can be "explained". I have attempted to do it numerous times. But there have been hundreds of books explaining it, none better than "On the Origin of Species" by Charles Darwin. There is nothing in the nature of large populations that would speed up natural selection and I have never heard of any evolutionary biologist making such a claim. In fact the opposite is the case. Natural selection is the strongest when a population is under great stress. Every evolutionist has stressed this fact, including Darwin. When a population is under stress any characteristic that enhances survival or reproduction is amplified.

I am going to bed.

Ron P.

I am going to bed. ~ Darwinian


Bring the laptop, we'll meet you there. ;D

Also if there has been a substantial change in the selection pressures (natural or cultural it doesn't matter), then the existing population is far from (quasi) equilibrium with the selection environment, and the species will begin evolving toward a new equilibrium state. Clearly the human environment has been changing very rapidly of late.

Natural selection is the strongest when a population is under great stress. Every evolutionist has stressed this fact

This is true but it does not follow from this that evolution is most rapid at those times!

Please, Ron, you really are completely mistaken here, and I think I see where you get confused. Paladiea (evidently a practicing professional in a closely related field) tried to nudge you in the right direction.

The point is, selection pressure does not equal evolution.

Imagine, as evolutionary biologists do, an adaptive landscape as a sort of a mountain range where elevation represents "fitness", that is, adaptation (what is colloquially called "evolution") is represented as "climbing" higher.

Natural selection punishes genotypes/phenotypes that are relatively low in this landscape; this tends to make the population cluster at and around the peaks. Drift and mutation makes it spread out.

The stronger the selection pressure (the "strength" of natural selection), that is, the harsher the punishment for "lowness", the more difficult it is for individuals to traverse the valleys, and the more the population tends to cluster tightly around the peak.

Now, while climbing down into a valley could be seen as maladaptation or "de-evolution", it does open up the possibility of getting into the foothills of a much bigger mountain than the one they left!

The morale is, when selection pressure is high, evolution is slow, and vice versa.

IIRC Richard Dawkins explains this in some detail in The Extended Phenotype.

Again, do NOT equate evolution with natural selection! They are entirely different concepts.

I have read "The Extended Phenotype" and you are totally confused. You state:

The morale is, when selection pressure is high, evolution is slow, and vice versa.

This is absolute nonsense. Obviously you do not understand evolution at all. Without selection pressure there would be no evolution.

Again, do NOT equate evolution with natural selection! They are entirely different concepts.

Natural selection is a process, evolution is history! I have made that statement at least a dozen times on this list. I don't remember where I read it but I am most sure it is a quote from Dawkins.

Think about a dog breeder, or the example Darwin used was a pigeon breeder. The breeder selects the best characteristics and propagates them. He however does not breed the undesirable characteristics, these die out. Darwin called this "selection by domestication" and compared it to "selection by nature" Selection by nature results is evolution. It is every bit as simple as that. Simple, simple, simple. Evolution is the result of natural selection.

Epigenetics is junk science. Richard Dawkins and every evolutionary biologists has stated so. Only the late Stephen Jay Gould gave it any credence at all.

Ron Patterson

Evolution is the result of natural selection.

But that's not always the case. Aside from drift, mutation, and migration also acting to drive evolution, selection can also keep allele frequency stable in certain situations.

There are four different kinds of selection, directional, balancing, stabilizing (through purifying selection), and disruptive selection. And there are also sub-types (sexual selection for instance).

You're arguing that evolution can only happen when purifying selection nudges allele frequency a certain way, but as I mentioned there are scenarios where selection works to keep things as they are. Take for example sickle-celled anemia. This deadly mutation kills people who inherit both dominant copies of the allele. On the other hand, people who don't have any copies of the allele are more susceptible to malaria. Therefore the heterozygotes have the selective advantage, and thus selection would favour keeping both alleles in the gene pool (balancing selection).

Therefore a high selection pressure doesn't necessarily mean faster evolution.

I myself have thalassemia beta, which has the same relationship. (I am a heterozygote though and thus fine).

The morale is, when selection pressure is high, evolution is slow, and vice versa.

This is absolute nonsense.

I will admit it was an imprecise formulation. The point I was trying to get across is that a strong selection pressure gets populations stuck at local maxima in the adaptive landscape, so in a sense, when the selection pressure is too strong there is NO evolution at all. Evolution being, as Paladiea quoted from Wikipedia, "[T]he change in the inherited characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins." Of course, if a population is at the base of a hill in the adaptive landscape, it will climb it faster if the selection pressure is stronger.

Without selection pressure there would be no evolution.

Without selection pressure there would not be any Darwinian adaptation.

There would, however, still be change in the inherited characteristics of the population (aka evolution, see above) due to mutation and drift.


Ron, you can't define the words to mean whatever you like, not if you want to have a meaningful discussion.

Please do not insult me (and yourself) by saying I "obviously do not understand evolution at all".

I will admit it was an imprecise formulation. The point I was trying to get across is that a strong selection pressure gets populations stuck at local maxima in the adaptive landscape, so in a sense, when the selection pressure is too strong there is NO evolution at all.

KODE, or in other words; stabilizing selection.


They are suffering a lot of evolutionary pressures but not more than they did for the past several hundred years. We are not however.

For me, "we" means Homo sapiens, not middle class Americans. At least if you're talking about evolution.

Well, as I said earlier, I call myself a "keeper upper" as far as evolutionary biology goes, and I have never heard of any evolutionary biologist arguing any such thing. The size of the population would have nothing to do with it.


The researchers propose that there are two factors causing human evolution to speed up.

"One of them is there are a lot more people - the more people you have the more opportunities there are for an advantageous mutation to show up," said Professor Harpending.

A large population has more genetic variation and allows for more positive selection than a small one.

You don't need a bottleneck, simply differential reproduction. Lets say a certain gene when expressed in the male makes one much more likely to become a rock star. And rock stars sleep with a half dozen groupies every night, and some of them keep any babies thus conceived. Then we have a very strong selection factor in favor of that gene. So far we haven't needed to invoke serious pressure on survival. I think culturally mediated selection can be a very powerful force.

To the second point, 'Almost everyone survives' .. I would agree. Of course, there is only the requirement to survive until producing offspring, and of course there are selective developments (surely) that relate simply to the ability to HAVE offspring. (And of course there are many places, even in the industrialized world where there is no particular access to the goodies that give others all sorts of lucky ways of cheating death for a while longer..

I do wonder how many adjustments to the gene pool are simply waiting in the wings while we rich societies still have the energy and the tools to keep some folks alive and functional into their childbearing years who otherwise would not have been.. and even then, what traits have gotten a foothold that might persevere and become useful or essential during such an abberation?

Only the Shadow Knows!

From your first link:

"Most of the acceleration is in the last 10,000 years, basically corresponding to population growth after agriculture is invented," Hawks said in a telephone interview.

Yes of course, in the last 10,000 years. and as I said there is always some natural selection. If there is a tendency for some cultures to have very large families and others to have very small families then those who have large families will multiply the fastest and their genes will expand in the population while others decline.

And remember the competitive exclusion principle: if fertility varies in a population that is offered options in fertility, then as the generations succeed one another, the pronatalist elements in the population will, in time, displace the ones who conscientiously limit their fertility. You will have failed to internalize population control. (And unfortunately, some of the more competitive individuals may start thinking about violent alternatives. That means that you will get genocide secondarily.)
- Garrett Hardin, The Ostrich Factor

That is the kind of evolution we are getting today. And from your second link:

For instance, past research has suggested the human brain has been shrinking over the past 5,000 years. Another study of an island population in Quebec found a genetic push toward a younger age at first reproduction and larger families.

Over the last 5,000 years? But of course. And the larger families thing is the same thing Hardin was talking about. Is that what you would call evolution today? 10,000 years ago, 5,000 years ago and the 3,000 years ago when lactose tolerance was still evolving is not today. Of course today there is, in some societies, the tendency to larger families. But I don't think I would call that rapid evolution.

Ron P.

Those were just side references. The main study in the second link was of people since the 18th century or so.

Leanan, your second link posits some very obvious things:

"Characteristics increasing the mating success of men are likely to evolve faster than those increasing the mating success of women," Courtiol said. "This is because mating with more partners was shown to increase reproductive success more in men than in women." In this case, men were more likely to remarry than women.

And the title of the article is misleading. The last paragraph sums up the entire article:

"Extending our research toward modern days would be particularly interesting to understand how the current environment continues to shape humans," Courtiol said. "This could be potentially of importance from a medical point of view, to understand, for instance, how quickly our immunity can respond to new major epidemics. One major obstacle is that we need reliable data at the level of individuals — number of offspring, number of partners, birth and death date — across the lifetime of all born individuals, and such datasets are rare because even many famous longitudinal studies are biased towards certain types of people or do not cover all necessary life events."

The article does not even try to prove that we are still evolving in any manner that we would notice, but as they say they are still doing research.

Ron P.

What it's saying is that there's more to natural selection than the death rate.

Particularly interesting was that the wealthy were as subject to natural selection as the poor. Many would not have expected that.

What it's saying is that there's more to natural selection than the death rate.

No evolutionist would dispute that, and I don't know one that ever has. And I have read a lot of them. Reproductive rate is just as important as the survival rate. Any species must survive and reproduce in order to have his/her genes passed on.

Ron P.

Of course, there is sexual selection that always operates, just ask any peacock. But there is also natural selection operating even now, HIV in Africa or stress tolerance with modern life. Nature is always selecting for something.

For humans cultural selection exceeds natural selection. Several types of things have been strongly selected for/against during only the past couple of thousand years, including the ability to digest certain types of food, and probably certain intellectual abilities. It is believed that Askenazi(sp?) Jews were selected for higher intelligence within the past few hundred years, as a result of being forced into only certain professions. Now we may have reduced or eliminated selection pressure against certain deleterious mutations for which medical allows carriers survival and reproduction. The cycle cell anemia gene was probably pretty quickly selected for in malaria infected regions of Africa as well.

None of this implies anything like an intelligent direction for these changes. But, any sort of differential selection implies the genome will not remain stationary.

There is ALWAYS natural selection. Right now for example, people who can be fat and not move a lot and still manage to make kids have a benefit over those who have problems with that.
We also have the phenomena of smart people getting fewer kids, so there may be an actual dummyfication of the western population going on. There is always an evolutionay pressure. Just that it does not always work by killing people.

On the other hand, I have also heard many times we evolve faster now, but have never seen the source study about it. Everyone claims it exists, but I have never seen it.

I am gonna need a reference for that RMG.

Humans Evolving More Rapidly Than Ever, Say Scientists

December 10, 2007

Look out, future, because here we come: scientists say the speed of human evolution increased rapidly during the last 40,000 years — and it’s only going to get faster.

The findings, published today by a team of U.S. anthropologists in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, overturn the theory that modern life’s relative ease has slowed or even stopped human adaptation. Selective pressures are still at work; they just happen to be different than those faced by our distant ancestors.

"We’re more different from people 5,000 years ago than they were from Neanderthals," said study co-author and University of Utah anthropologist Henry Harpending.

Recent acceleration of human adaptive evolution
Proceedings of the National Academy of Science,
PNAS December 26, 2007 vol. 104 no. 52 20753-20758

Genomic surveys in humans identify a large amount of recent positive selection. Using the 3.9-million HapMap SNP dataset, we found that selection has accelerated greatly during the last 40,000 years.

Larger populations generate more new selected mutations, and we show the consistency of the observed data with the historical pattern of human population growth. We consider human demographic growth to be linked with past changes in human cultures and ecologies. Both processes have contributed to the extraordinarily rapid recent genetic evolution of our species.

You can have selection such as sexual selection where everyone survives.

This isn't totally related, but here's a crash course on population genetics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhFKPaRnTdQ

In particular, there's a way mentioned at 4:50 for detecting natural selection in progress now.


These people ( the ones with the we're evolving faster now than ever before study ) must have measured the 'rate of evolution in the past' somehow. Probably by looking at dna changes over time from dead bodies? I don't know. They probably did the same thing to measure 'current evolution'.

I must admit I find the whole hypothesis faintly ridiculous ... and a pretty wasteful use of scarce scientific resources, to my mind. In other words, look for the politics and ideology behind it.

It seems to me it is virtually impossible (or at least extremely hard) for there to be significant (if any) genetic change in human beings as a species, for three reasons:

(1) with seven plus billion individuals, the allele-gene pool is so enormous and stable that it is virtually impossible for beneficial (or simply benign) mutations that arise in an individual to prosper and lead to drift, even if the number of mutations is higher,
(2) we have distanced ourselves hugely from "nature" in the past 10,000 years, so natural selection barely affects us in ways that would lead to pressure for genetic change across generations (except in catastrophes, such as a major radiation leak), and
(3) almost all of our behaviour is culturally and socially derived, as a result of the dominance of our brain - so again, natural selection has little opportunity to function in a "natural" way.

And as a footnote, I think socio-biology has a lot to answer for in these types of discussions ... trying to derive a basis for human behaviour (a social and cultural artefact) through genetic make-up - and I believe this is both a long stretch and very simplistic. But socio-biology has been discredited, which is a good thing.

So I disagree strongly with Darwinian's dogmatic bulldog stance ... as I have previously. And he is wrong on his total dismissal of Lamarck as well ... acquired genetic changes can certainly be passed on to subsequent generations - not a scar on your cheek or bigger muscles through exercise, but at the genetic level - it's certainly true. Just ask the disabled children of Vietnam Vets who were exposed to Agent Orange ... for one tiny example.

The problem for the previous theory that human evolution had come to an end is that modern genetic testing has established it wasn't true. The gene testing turns the acceleration of human evolution into an observed fact. The theories have to be modified to fit the facts, rather than vice-versa, so we need new theories.

(1) with seven plus billion individuals, the allele-gene pool is so enormous and stable that it is virtually impossible for beneficial (or simply benign) mutations that arise in an individual to prosper and lead to drift, even if the number of mutations is higher,

We only have 7 billion people because they stopped dying like flies, and that only happened in the last century. Prior to that time, half of children died in childhood, before they could reproduce. If a mutation appears that cuts that to 40%, and 60% of people with the mutation survive, over a period in evolutionary time it will come to dominate the gene pool.

That is what seems to have happened with the lactose tolerance mutation that the vast majority of northern Europeans have, but few other people on Earth have. Once you have cows, if you can drink milk when everyone else is starving, you have a huge survival advantage and will go on to produce the next generation, who can also drink milk. After a few dozen famines, everyone in your village is lactose tolerant.

Similarly, the European white skin mutation prevents vitamin D deficiencies and rickets, and must have given a huge advantage to people who had it because after it appeared, it spread across northern Europe like wildfire. Today 98% of northern Europeans have it. Some researchers claim it must have spread so fast that some people would have noticed people in their village becoming whiter doing their own lifetimes.

(2) we have distanced ourselves hugely from "nature" in the past 10,000 years, so natural selection barely affects us in ways that would lead to pressure for genetic change

That's another thing scientists have been looking at. Moving away from "nature" might have put huge selective pressure on people to adapt to a "civilized" way of life. It became a case of be civilized, or die or be killed by your neighbors. People had to adapt to living in large groups because large groups usually triumphed over small groups.

Until recent centuries, cities couldn't maintain their population because so many people died in them. They had to rely on immigration from the countryside to keep their population up, and of course more people did come in. This creates a selective filter in which people who could tolerate civilization lived, and those who couldn't died or were killed. Eventually, most people could tolerate civilization, unlike their less civilized cousins who died. Some researchers refer to this as "self-domestication", something like the process that separated the dogs from the wolves.

(3) almost all of our behaviour is culturally and socially derived, as a result of the dominance of our brain - so again, natural selection has little opportunity to function in a "natural" way.

It is theorized that a lot of the changes were in the brain and are thus not detectable in the bones. E.g. instead of running around in skins and sticking spears in animals, people started herding sheep and weaving clothes. The survival rate again wasn't very good back then, but there were too many people to survive on a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. The selective pressure was on people to develop herding and weaving skills rather than hunting skills. Again, this pressure did't have to be overwhelming. If you are a good herder and 60% of your children survive, whereas only 50% of your less adaptable neighbor's children survive, over the long term your descendants will overwhelm theirs by sheer force of numbers.

These are all just hypotheses, and work is ongoing to determine what really happened.

Thank you for these links.

Here's the guy's home page, the link to the book has a few chapters, the reviews, and some replies.

As far as oil not being mentioned,
in the first video at 40:15, he talks of the fundamental limitation of early societies being land:
for energy (crops, heat), building materials, etc., with the implied limitation of photosynthesis
(though he is not explicit about that), or as he says "a self sustaining society".
He then points out that (rough quote):
"one of the things about the Industrial Revolution is we move from a self-sustaining society to one sustained by mining the fossil wealth of the earth,
and we'll have to eventually move back to a self-sustaining model."

As far as genetics, in his response to critics,
he points out that animal breeds can be changed radially in just a few years,
then goes on to do the calculations that show effects in humans would be significant over the few thousand years of society before the start of the Industrial Revolution.
(pages 13 - 25).

So far I've only seen the first 12 mins. But in it he emphasizes the point that pre-1870 women had avg of 5 children, and post 1920 women had avg. of 2. He then says this allowed economic growth to be channelled into per capita betterment, rather than population growth. Umm, err... the population grew much more rapidly after 1870 than before. It's not how many children are born that matters, it's how many live to themselves reproduce. Clearly, everything is interrelated - science/technology improvements led to better hygiene, less deaths, pop pressure, which was allowed to grow because food production kept pace thanks to tech innovation and, yes, critically, fossil fuels. I'll keep watching, but I think he's missing some key elements...

The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) has been off-line for seven months and ratepayers are still being charged Sixty Million Dollars per month for O&M and other costs. The primary owner, Southern California Edison recently slashed 750 jobs at the plant. Here's part of the nonsense statement released to the press:
"Employee workloads will be quantified and peer comparisons made to better understand what specific changes are necessary to transition to top performer status. A decision regarding the new organizational structure is anticipated in late October". Are we clear? Crystal clear?
The California Public Utilities Commission Division of Ratepayer Advocates wants the charges to end.

"The bottleneck seems to be PUC Chairman Michael Peevey, a former Edison president whose chummy relationship with the company and the energy industry has drawn objections from consumer advocates for years."

The SONGS plant provided up to 2200 megawatts before being shut-down due to leaky steam tubes that failed only two years after a major overhaul. In addition to providing electricity, the plant was also a massive voltage regulator that helped control critical imported power. A nearby NG plant that had been decommissioned was fired up to provide power after having it's boilers torched open and gas lines severed. That plant's permits expire this fall. The picture of the plant on the beach is stunning.
Please see:




Bird's eye view

One wonders how high that seawall is...

It's a popular surfing spot. Maybe it has something todo with the term rad!
"a unit of absorbed dose of ionizing radiation equal to an energy of 100 ergs per gram of irradiated material "

I imagine it's the offshore geology that makes the surfers so happy. One wonders how a nice tsunami would react.

Well, at least it's California, so there's no chance of any ripping disruptions in the lithosphere......

Nothing to see here....
Click "Start"

" Southern California Edison recently slashed 750 jobs at the plant. Here's part of the nonsense statement released to the press:"

"Employee workloads will be quantified and peer comparisons made to better understand what specific changes are necessary to transition to top performer status. A decision regarding the new organizational structure is anticipated in late October". Are we clear? Crystal clear?"

That implies to me that they don't intend to restart it. So they are transitioning to a decommissioning team.

Or they are engaged in a full scale purge of the engineering department that screwed this whole thing up.

Or both. Those options are not mutually exclusive.

They ran it out of spec is what I recall from a previous article - damage to the cooling infrastructure is so severe that it's uneconomical to repair it.

"Last month the NRC blamed a botched computer analysis for creating excessive vibration inside the generators that damaged tubes, with agency officials saying last month it's not known how the generators can be fixed."


Poor in India Starve as Politicians Steal $14.5 Billion of Food

Kishen has had nothing from the village shop for 15 months. Yet 20 minutes’ drive from Satnapur, past bone-dry fields and tiny hamlets where children with distended bellies play, a government storage facility five football fields long bulges with wheat and rice. By law, those 57,000 tons of food are meant for Kishen and the 105 other households in Satnapur with ration books. They’re meant for some of the 350 million families living below India’s poverty line of 50 cents a day.

Instead, as much as $14.5 billion in food was looted by corrupt politicians and their criminal syndicates over the past decade in Kishen’s home state of Uttar Pradesh alone, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The theft blunted the country’s only weapon against widespread starvation -- a five-decade-old public distribution system that has failed to deliver record harvests to the plates of India’s hungriest.

“This is the most mean-spirited, ruthlessly executed corruption because it hits the poorest and most vulnerable in society,” said Naresh Saxena, who, as a commissioner to the nation’s Supreme Court, monitors hunger-based programs across the country. “What I find even more shocking is the lack of willingness in trying to stop it.”

Just a reminder that averages don't mean much, and that the effects of deprivation can vary widely by ethnic and economic variables over small geographic distances and among collocated communities.

The chaos will not be orderly.

As bad as the 1 % are in the West, especially the States, it's in many ways even worse in India and China.

I read somewhere that the combined net worth of the richest, 10 individuals inside the Chinese ruling elite is more than the net worth of the entire U.S. Congress.

Of course, then you have the extensive family networks since the State is so involved in all the major companies. Bo Xilai's(of the recent British murder scandal) family network's net worth is thought of to be higher than $100 million dollars.

This is huge in any country but onsidering the per-capita income in China is still below $8,000 it should give pause to think about just how staggering income inequality and how corrupted their elites are.

I read that Bo had a nominal income of around $100,000 or so per year.
It's one thing to have a dictatorship but what really gets people going is not only a lack of a freedom, but also an entire class of thieves who pledge to 'combat corruption'. It's ironic that Bo himself built his image around this aura of a 'no holds barrel' sheriff going after the powerful, yet he was himself corrupted to the core.

And I don't doubt that most people around him at the top are as bad or even worse, just that they didn't lose the power games. And I suspect most Chinese think the same, they're not stupid. They can see what is going on.

These social factors will compoud social unrest as growth falls and remain subdued.

It's the default state here, esp. in the region that is mentioned in the article, hence the statement

The chaos will not be orderly.

doesn't make much sense to me, I mean I get it but it's not like things are breaking down 'now'. Just to clarify, it's always been like this. I remember hearing about famines and corrupt rulers as far back as the folk tales go.

What I meant to imply was that models of a fossil fuel free future that predict impacts based on average statistics globally or nationally are invalid. The actual impacts will depend on much finer social structures, and that these structures support much greater inequality than is usually envisioned. India and Latin America are models of societies that support a wide range of socioeconomic strata, from billionaires to starving in the streets. They will become the norm, and as average GDP/capita declines it will be reflected in only few less billionaires but a great many more starving in the streets. The main effect will be to move the boundary between the "developed" and "undeveloped" communities within societies, rather than some uniform downward trend.

India and China are also interesting contrasts. My impression of India is that after independence the elites formerly coopted by the British went back into business as the elites of India, despite a lot of socialist rhetoric. On the other hand, in China, the elites were truly decapitated or went to Taiwan, and the result of the revolution was a more thoroughly homogenized population, at least in theory, if not in practice. The theory attempted to thwart evolving practices during the Cultural Revolution.

Since then, China has evolved back to a more normal state, with accession to power on both heditary and meritocratic bases, not too unlike the previous dynasties. Birth, intelligence, cunning and some luck are required for great success. With this evolution comes more heirarchical and unequal social structures.

Globally, communities will "firewall" off other communities in order to save themselves, either intra- or internationally. "Firewall" has become much used with respect to Greece and other Eurozone debtor nations. The Eurozone will amputate Greece and possibly other limbs in order to escape from the debt trap.

"Instead, as much as $14.5 billion in food was looted by corrupt politicians and their criminal syndicates"

This is a wonderful example of "the failure of the agent-client relationship". Wealth that is supposed to be distributed to a people or the people is diverted to other accounts. The contractual arrangements with America's native peoples to move them off of their rich and valuable lands were serviced in this way. All of the "-ism"'s have failed upon this point. Corruption turns these beautiful promises into another "learning experience".

It seems the concentration of power always goes this way, no matter what the ism. Therefore the only way to prevent corruption on this scale is to prevent the concentration of power on this scale.

I personally believe the upside of preventing the consolidation of power through heavily progressive taxation outweighs the negatives of so called "stealing from the wealth creators", more accurately known as extractors and plunderers.

A distinction should be drawn between the application of capital to improve production, and financial manipulation.
Adam Smith was well aware of this, and wrote about the folly of imagining, for instance, that pumping money into housing is a productive use.
Minsky also pointed to the ever increasing issuance of debt, until the system breaks down.

Central banks have allowed the other banks to issue credit, effectively money, so that in the US, UK etc the static level of income was disguised by ever increasing debt for the great majority of people, whilst the top 1% accumulated assets through this inflation.

The financial services industry is now several times the size it was in 1980, and takes most of the money, whilst contributing very little and not carrying out it's basic function of putting savings to productive use.

This money has been used to buy political influence, as extensively documented by, for instance, Simon Johnson ex of the IMF.

This influence enabled and is enabling the burden of poor investment to be passed on to the public purse, as was a derogation from the workings of capitalism, as the losses to the wealthy as well as pensions etc would have been massive if bad debts from mortgages, sovereign loans etc had been written off as should occur in capitalism.

That is why the impossible program of paying off duff loans through ever greater doses of austerity continues to be implemented in Europe, when it's real effect is to contract the economy far faster, and for debts as a proportion of GDP to rise.

The great increase in US standards of living occurred after the war, when personal taxation was very high and income inequality much smaller.

The present position with free transfer of capital, so that almost all taxation can be avoided by the wealthy is inherently destabilising, as the rich have a very high propensity to save, whilst poorer people much spend their income.

This leads to asset price inflation, making productive investment more difficult, whilst demand collapses and ever deepening recession is produced.

Solutions to this are obvious, but would hit the rich and powerful hard, and so are mightily resisted.

Debt issuance should be by the central banks, as the notion that banks assume the risk from their issuance has proved entirely false and the state is in any case the guarantor as the consequences of collapse are held to be too severe.

Debt write-offs and capital controls to tackle the $10-20 trillion in capital extracted from places like the US and Europe and plonked into tax havens like the Cayman islands together with heavy taxation to restrict the excessive concentration of wealth and hence political influence are the other parts of sensible reform, and a return to something resembling capitalism from oligopolistic allocation of capital into speculative bubbles.

It can and has been done before.

Therefore the only way to prevent corruption on this scale is to prevent the concentration of power on this scale.

This seems to be an important point. I note that greed is an increasing function of how much one has, so the more we allow large concentrations, the more the owners of such wealth will (on average) try to loot from everyone else.

Taxation as slavery

...is the belief that taxation results in an unfree society in which individuals are forced to work to enrich the government and the recipients of largesse, rather than for their own benefit.

Historically, the earliest and most widespread form of taxation was the corvée, which can be traced back to the beginning of civilization. The corvée was state-imposed forced labour on peasants too poor to pay other forms of taxation (labour in ancient Egyptian is a synonym for taxes).

Gail Buckley also notes, "In British eyes, the American colonies existed only for the benefit of the mother country, but Americans saw any form of taxation as slavery." Anarchists are some of the foremost proponents of the argument that taxation is equivalent to slavery. The International Society for Individual Liberty has made this claim, as has Bureaucrash, which refers to Social Security as "social slavery."

Maybe taxation got started as a means to create important infrastructure for the society. I'm specifically thinking about stuff like irrigation systems, as well as mutual protection (having a warrior class supported by the non warriors).

Currently, rich people who want to pay as little as possible, are pushing the idea that all taxation is theft (i.e. immoral). Forgotten is the fact that the most successful countries had mixed systems, whereby some aspects of the economy belonged to the public sector, and some to the private. Think of services such as education, roads, water systems, versus growing food. I think seeking balance is just too boring a concept for modern man. Instead we have to have a battle of extremes.

To tax... is to impose a financial charge or other levy upon a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity) by a state or the functional equivalent of a state such that failure to pay is punishable by law.
~ Wikipedia

- This to one with a moniker like yours. ;)

Coercion strikes me as, as you might suggest, 'extreme', among other things of course.

I might be ok with a case-by-case non-coercive form of, say, automatic deduction (subject to retraction/cancellation at any time), for some things.

At the same time, some (coercive-tax-related or other) expenses ostensibly are extreme and/or have questionable uses and/or longetivities, like highways or nuclear power.

If Money is a claim on energy, then the plutocracies of the world are perfectly complying with the Maximum Power Principle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximum_power_principle

Isn't it?

OT -

A few DBs ago I mentioned in passing a newsletter I send out in response to another post. I'm really not seeking more people. In fact, I considered not even posting this. However, I did screw up my email addy. If you tried to sign up and got your email returned, the correct one is detz2 at willitsonline dot com


The Real Reason Behind Oil Price Rises - An Interview with James Hamilton (Econbrowser)

Oilprice.com: Drilling technology advances, new oil finds and now all the hoopla over shale oil – one would assume we are swimming in the black stuff, yet we have seen no material increase in global annual crude oil production for six straight years. Have we reached a period of peak oil? Or is Daniel Yergin correct in saying that we have decades of further growth in production before flattening out into a plateau?

James Hamilton: I do not think the expression “peak oil” is the most helpful way to frame the question.  Too many people have a knee-jerk reaction as soon as they hear the phrase.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people assume that it means that we’re “running out of oil”, which straw man they then try to debunk.  I would instead call attention to the basic fact that the annual production flow from any given field shows an initial period of increase followed by subsequent decline.  Anyone who tries to deny that has a serious lack of grip on reality.  Production from the original Oil Creek District in Pennsylvania peaked in 1873, and from the state of Pennsylvania as a whole in 1891.  There’s a long, long list of areas that have exhibited declining production rates for a long, long time.   Global production nonetheless continued to increase for a century and a half, not so much because we got more out of the old fields, old states, old countries, but because we turned to new ones.  But that game is obviously not one we can continue to play forever.

Yes, Yergin today is optimistic about the future.  But I remember that Yergin was also very optimistic in 2005, and the last 7 years have not looked at all like he was predicting they would.  We’ve increased production only a little bit since 2005, despite tremendous incentives to do more.  I think many people are making a mistake if they assume that world oil production is always going to increase, year after year . . . 


Oilprice.com: How would you see energy production changing in the U.S. under a Romney Administration?

James Hamilton: Romney wants to be more aggressive in approving oil exploration and development, and that should make a difference.  But it’s easy for the politicians to overstate how much they can change.  The U.S. is moving ahead with tight oil production, and is going to do so no matter who is the president, because the economic incentives are just too powerful for anybody to stop it.  On the other hand, it’s a big world out there, and anyone who thinks that U.S. production alone is going to make up for declines from mature fields and burgeoning consumption of emerging economies is in my opinion way too optimistic.  The world faces a huge challenge, and I think we need to take that challenge very seriously.

The world faces a huge challenge, and I think we need to take that challenge very seriously.

I think this shows the misperception under which people labor. The idea of meeting a challenge implies that it can be overcome. The fact is that this is not a challenge, but a condition to which we must adapt. It is humanity that must change, not Earth. Until this position is accepted, we will continue to flail at imaginary windmills, and ultimately we will face real perils that today we refuse to acknowledge.


The fact is that this is not a challenge, but a condition to which we must adapt.

Craig, how true. The ever-increasing population makes the adaptation that much more difficult.

The Drumbeat from 8/27 had an extended discussion about that ever-increasing population, and the extent to which it must fall to sustainability, if that could be considered adaptation.

The complexity is subtle; peak oil/gas/energy, limitations to water supplies (briefly noted in today's DB as conflict between oil and agriculture in Kansas), political polarization, and economic distortions, debt limitations, and bifurcation of society into ever more disparate groups of rich and poor are all subtopics of the converging crises seen looming on our horizons.

I think the adaptation will have to take place either after the crash, or after each step of the gradual decline seen by J.M. Greer, depending on how lucky we are. And it will be luck, not planning, if things continue as they have.


HIH vs Zaphod42 .That is a challenge.
HIH vs Muhammad Ali(in prime)???What is that?I have to be dumb ;-)

It's not a matter of you being dumb if you are stuck in the ring and have no way out.

Peak Cheap Oil is an oncontrovertible fact

Barclays Capital expects a “monster” effect this quarter as the crude market tightens by 2.4m barrels a day (bpd), with little extra supply in sight.

Read the whole thing here

I believe the article itself has been up here before, but that's not what I am trying to highlight.

What I am interested in was this quote above of that Barclays report surronding the 'moster effect' as they called it, whereby the crude market is to tighten 2.4 mb/d just this coming quarter alone.

I've looked quite extensively around the internet in order to read the entire report(or at least snippets of it) online, so that I could verify that quote. It's most likely a report only available to paying clients, but sometimes the big banks release reports for free or the critical aspects leak out online.
But no such luck so far.

I'm not a believer in the 'instant Saudi spare capacity theory'. They've failed in 2008 to meet demand, they failed after Libya. Ostensibly they're supposed to be able to get to 12 or 12.5 mb/d within a few years according to some skeptics, but I wonder if even that is possible.

One other thing.

If the statement above is true, it's hard to see how long Iran's oil can be allowed to be off the markets by a 1 mb/d or even 1.5 mb/d - even if there is a high uncertainty just how much they have lowered their production/failed to export.

The article also mentioned some other co-related indicators, which, taken together are pretty convincing:

The CPB World Trade Monitor in the Netherlands show that global trade volumes have been shrinking for the last five months. Container shipping volumes from Asia to Europe fell 9pc in June. Iron prices have fallen by 30pc since April to $103 a tonne.

One thing I watch is the Baltic Dry Index, one good indicator of the state of global commerce; interesting to look at different time spans and compare to other indices (oil price?).

The Baltic Dry Index (BDI) is a number issued daily by the London-based Baltic Exchange. Not restricted to Baltic Sea countries, the index provides "an assessment of the price of moving the major raw materials by sea. Taking in 23 shipping routes measured on a timecharter basis, the index covers Handysize, Supramax, Panamax, and Capesize dry bulk carriers carrying a range of commodities including coal, iron ore and grain."[1]


Great article Svamp. Always check your links in the "preview" mode before posting. Yours don't work. Here is a good link: Peak cheap oil is an incontrovertible fact

Here is what I found important in the article:

Much has been made of “Oil: The Next Revolution” by Harvard’s Leonardo Maugeri, who forecasts an era of bountiful supply and cheap oil as global output capacity rises by almost 18m bpd to 110m bpd by 2020.

Sadad al-Huseini, former vice-president of Saudi Aramco, has a written a testy rebuttal, arguing that Dr Maugeri assumes a global decline rate of 2pc a year from oil fields compared to the IEA’s estimate of 6.7pc. There alone lies the gap between crunch and glut.

“Much as all the stakeholders in the energy industry would like to be optimistic, it isn’t an oil glut by 2020 that is keeping oil prices as high as they are. It is the reality that the oil sector has been pushed to the limit of its capabilities and that this difficult challenge will dominate energy markets for the rest of the decade,” he said.

There was a TOD special thread on that Sadat al-Husseini article: Don't Count on Revolution in Oil Supply

And from a totally different article, Sadad Al Husseini says Saudi is producing flat out.

“This is strictly, totally business,” said Sadad Al Husseini, a former executive at Saudi Aramco, the state oil company.
“Saudi production is flat out. Where you send it is a matter of where you make the best profit.”

Ron P.

Yeah, I saw that before.

Aleklett and his group, not exactly cornucopians, looked at Saudi and said that they believe that if Saudi invests record amounts of capital, they could be able to get up to 12.5 mb/d and keep it at that level until about 2025 or thereabout.

This is also what the man you quoted, Al-Husseini, has stated numerous times. That Saudi can in theory get up to 12.5 mb/d(but according to him they won't get to that capacity until mid-decade, so we're still 2-3 years off) and keep it there.

Nonetheless, if Al-Husseini is right(and I see no reason why he wouldn't be), Saudi is still years away from that level(if it can even reach those levels to begin with), and then what? Who will fill up the void in the near-term, if the Barclays report is right?

Oil inventories around the world have seen very strong declines, a strong sign that demand is outpacing supply(again).
That being said, the inventories can probably be raided some further before a possible SPR release is due.

Since Iran continues to be depressed and SPR does not have much material effect, I think we'll see very strong demand destruction coming this year if the report is right.

It would be great if someone could find a third-party source verifying the Barclays report.

Ambrose Evans Pritchard has considerable readership in The Daily Telegraph, which is widely read by right-of-centre 'traditional conservative' British middle class, business & professional people, perhaps particularly in prosperous areas of London and surroundings. DT is a politically influential paper in the Conservative party, who are currently governing as the senior party of a coalition government.

On a slightly more satirical note this was sent to me via email yesterday though the average person reading it without the following disclaimer might think it is in dead earnest and miss the satire in it...


Peak Oil Isn't Real
Pay No Attention to the Reality Behind the Curtain

August 29th, 2012 - By Nick Hodge

Editor Nick Hodge takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to clarifying some common sense Peak Oil missteps. ..

direct link to article (it scrolled off the list on the main page):

a great encapsulation of the issues/evidence for peak oil...

China has been on my mind quite a bit with respect to oil prices. As we all know, China (even more than India) has been responsible for much of the increase in demand for petroleum. I was reading a blog post by Prof Michael Pettis on the current state of the Chinese economy: http://www.mpettis.com/2012/08/27/how-do-we-measure-debt/

So, for example, will commodity prices drop? I think they will, perhaps by as much as 50% over the next three years, and to the extent that there is still a lot of outstanding debt in China collateralized by copper and other metals (and there is), our debt count should include estimates for uncollateralized debt in the event of a sharp fall in metal prices .

My thinking is that demand for petroleum products from China may also decrease substantially in the next few years. This may give us in the west a reprieve but this is likely to be short lived at best.

I'm not sure I would put oil in the same camp as industrial metals.

On "G-7 Countries Call for Increased Oil Output to Meet Demand", will be interesting to hear the responses from OPEC countries if any, are there been any yet ?

...will be interesting to hear the responses from OPEC countries...


The market is well supplied (with money flowing to us in OPEC).

When It Rains, It Pours Global Warming and the Increase in Extreme Precipitation from 1948 to 2011

An analysis of more than 80 million daily precipitation records from across the contiguous United States reveals that intense rainstorms and snowstorms have already become more frequent and more severe. Extreme downpours are now happening 30 percent more often nationwide than in 1948. In other words, large rain or snowstorms that happened once every 12 months, on average, in the middle of the 20th century now happen every nine months. Moreover, the largest annual storms now produce 10 percent more precipitation, on average.

An increase in extreme downpours has costly ramifications for the United States, with the potential to cause more flooding that jeopardizes property and lives. With scientists predicting even greater increases in extreme precipitation in the years ahead, the United States and the world must take action to reduce pollution that contributes to global warming.

Download Report (PDF)

This seems to be bearing out worldwide.Record rains in a day or a week, and then prolonged dry periods .Just got off with family in Delhi,record downpours since Monday and today broke the record for the largest rain in a day, in history.But there is no AGW ;-)

Of course it is only anecdotal "evidence" but I've been commenting about this for several years now - to anyone who will listen :)

As someone who pays alot of attention to precip for work (hydrogeology), play (mtn biking, hiking etc.), and driving myself insane (gardening) I keep saying that it just never rains "normally" anymore - it is either an absolute gully washer or there's a potential storm that goes *poof* at the last minute and nothing happens or a few sprinkles at best...

A gentle, prolonged soaking rain really catches my attention nowdays - torrential downpours, not so much...


This is correct. What you say is confirmedy people who make daily observations and take notes. When you write it down every day, it is no longer opinions or memories, but actuall data.

The way the monsoons spread in India has changed quite substantially in my observation. The rains have been deficient at the onset of the monsoon season but later on toward the nominal end, the rains seem to really pickup. I have heard exactly this observation from many people all over India.

This report defines extreme events as follows:

We chose to examine the frequency of 24-hour precipitation events with total precipitation magnitude with a 1-year recurrence interval or larger.


Table A2: State-Level Increase in Extreme Precipitation Frequency, 1948-2011

Four states (Delaware, Florida, Maryland and South Carolina) do not reach the "statistically significant" threshold at the 95% confidence level. Oregon shows a negative relationship at the 95% confidence level.

Furthermore, four states (Arizona, California, Florida and Rhode Island) do not have statistically significant changes in their respective "largest annual rainstorm or snowstorm." See

Table A-4: State-Level Increase in 24-Hour Total Precipitation Produced by the Largest Annual Rainstorm or Snowstorm at Each Weather Station, 1948-2011

However, Nevada and South Carolina are statistically significant at the 95% confidence level; importantly, 0 (zero) percent increase is the lower value for their confidence intervals. Oregon (consistently) shows a decrease in its "largest annual rainstorm or snowstorm" trend.

(The methodology for this report is based on a technique from the Illinois State Water Survey, which I respect. The original paper is behind a paywall.)

Does anyone have any thoughts concerning the variability of the significant results? Also, why is Oregon the only state trending in the direction opposite the remaining contiguous states?

I could conjecture a guess for Oregon. Perhaps its precip events have different storm types. Most likely orographic precipitation, moist air being pushed over high ground. What has been growing more frequent/stronger are convectively driven precip events, which get their energy from the condensation of water vapor. The more water vapor (we now 4-5% more due to AGW), the stronger the storms ability to draw in more (moist) air from farther afield. So these sorts of high end water vapor powered events, can grow in intensity faster than the rate of increase of (absolute) humidity.

Only time and studies will be able to verify if this is indeed the case.

QUT Engineer Develops Electricity-Free Home Cooling System

A Queensland University of Technology researcher is developing a solar cooling and heating system for the home that will run independently of the electricity grid and generate domestic hot water as a by-product.

He said the system is based on the use of an absorption chiller which is a well-proven, efficient technology.

"An absorption chiller uses a chemical process to reject heat and, when using waste heat or heat generated by renewable energy, is more effective than the more common mechanical process of vapour compression at deflecting heat," he said.

"The design is revolutionary because it incorporates also a desiccant wheel to remove moisture from the air and it uses the rejected heat from the absorption chiller to regenerate itself and to produce hot water for the house."



Those units appear to be the size of a bus and don't look cheap. What power source do they use when the sun sets and the temperature lingers on? The thinking seems to be we're all gonna die when wet-bulb temperatures consistently exceed 35C

A long-term view of critical materials: from coal to ytterbium

... at Berkeley Lab scientists believe that taking a long-term view is vital for addressing both the current shortage as well as avoiding future shortages of materials that are crucial to U.S. industry. "It's important to remember that a critical material today wasn't a critical material 20 or 30 years ago," said Houle, Director of Strategic Initiatives in the Chemical Sciences Division. "Things that are now 'earth abundant' were in short supply in the 1980s due to problems in Africa. Who knows what the next crisis is going to be in 30 years. To be more resilient to shortages should be the main goal."

The problem is compounded now as the Earth’s population grows and living standards rise around the world, putting pressure on the supply of natural resources. “These criticality events could become more common if solutions are not developed,” Shuh said.

... During the Industrial Revolution, England was in control of much of the supply and price of coal. Worried about supplies eventually running out, French scientists began tinkering with solar energy. Auguste Mouchout designed a motor powered by solar energy, impressing Napoleon III enough to receive funding from the monarch and be sent to Algeria to develop a solar-powered steam engine. However, after many years of work, France's relations with England improved and the price of coal dropped; that put an end to financial assistance to Mouchout and he was forced to abandon his project.

A solar-powered steam engine? ROFL.

Why doesn't the author draw us a sketch of such a thing? I'm picturing the Pyramide du Louvre perched atop a golf cart...

Why doesn't the author draw us a sketch of such a thing?

Why don't you click the link provided and read up a bit on Augustin Mouchot?

Here is a direct link to a drawing of the solar powered steam engine.


Returning to metropolitan France in 1878, Mouchot and his assistant Abel Pifre displayed Mouchot's engine at the Universal Exhibition in Paris, and won a Gold Medal in Class 54 for his works, most notably the production of ice using concentrated solar heat. However, the continuing economic benefits of the Cobden-Chevalier Treaty, combined with a more efficient internal transportation for coal delivery, meant that coal became increasingly cheaper in France, reducing the necessity for research into alternative energy. The French government assessed in a report that solar energy was uneconomical, deeming Mouchot's research no longer important and ending his funding.

Too bad we had to develop fossil fuels and miss our opportunity to develop solar energy to it's fullest potential. Imagine where we could be today if we had concentrated all our efforts on other sources of energy!

"Eventually industry will no longer find in Europe the resources to satisfy its prodigious expansion... Coal will undoubtedly be used up. What will industry do then?"

— Augustin Bernard Mouchot, after demonstrating an early industrial application of solar thermal energy (1880).

I'm not in any way laughing at solar power's proper uses. I'm laughing at "solar steam engine," which that drawing confirms to be a massively silly idea.

What's so funny about it? It might not be as sexy as PV panels, but it's simple and it works.

What do you think CSP is? Solar powered Steam Turbines, no?

Worth a read ...

The Beautiful Possibility

... Solar energy 150 years ago

Remote Alaska to stockpile food, just in case

... The state plans two food stockpiles in or near Fairbanks and Anchorage, two cities that also have military bases. Construction on the two storage facilities will begin this fall, and the first food deliveries are targeted for December. The goal is to have enough food to feed 40,000 people for up to a week, including three days of ready-to-eat meals and four days of bulk food that can be prepared and cooked for large groups. To put that number into perspective, Alaska's largest city, Anchorage, has about 295,000 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and Juneau, its third largest, about 31,000.

I think it's amazing that "a week's worth" constitutes a newsworthy stockpile. Yow.

We (everyone on the back roads) used to have 2 weeks supply of food and alternative fuel and lighting right through the winter round here in case of snow-blocked access and power outages. And this was NE England (GB) farming country well below 600 feet! Not much snow these recent two decades and helicopters can bring repair crews and emergency stuff if needed, though some families had to evacuate after a rare ice-storm a few years back. Some habits die hard for some of us though. I like to have a big bag of oats and some beans, and a couple of bags of dry dog food in the cupboard just in case, and fuel in the shed.

Definitely not going to cover 'seven lean years'.

If I have to store something for seven years it's going to be white rice. Stored properly it's like a magical food source. Some claim that it can be stored for centuries but I don't think it's possible.

Honey if properly sealed can be stored for milennia. I think it holdsthe record in the game.

I've been trying to store white rice and have failed. Stocks do not last more than 1 year (quality degrades drastically after 1 year). I don't refrigerate or whatever and I just store it up in the attic.

Now it seems better to store paddy and grind as and when required to make white rice. Have 2+ year old stock right now. That specific stock will be used up completely by Jan 2013... but if the monsoons don't wreck it this year we'll have some more to go until 2014 Jan :)

Try taping silica gel to the insides of the container in which you store. Also the rice must be absolutely polished and shining white, I guess you'd know about that already.

We just finished using up a bag of white rice we bought and stored in 1998. Stored in a sealed container with no special treatment. Tasted fine. If you keep the bugs and humidity out it seems to last a long time. If one stored it in CO2 or something it would probably be even better; no oxygen, no humidity, no bugs.

I sometimes add some white rice to stored salt as a minor dessicant to prevent clumping, as well.

Drop a bit of dry ice in the container, dump the rice on top of it, tighten the lid when its done gassing off.

Yeah, it seems like pretty ordinary disaster planning stuff to me. I'm sure that hurricane prone areas, for example, stockpile supplies. Not sure why it got picked up as a news item?

A week's more than they had before but did they have any?


I recall hearing somewhere that there is already some stored around somewhere, how much I don't know. I presume that in a post-Katrina world FEMA and some of the other state agencies down in the lower 48 have at least some disaster supplies stashed away? I think the idea is that this is to supplement what people already on hand for emergencies. The Alaska emergency management folks recommend that everyone keep a minimum of 3 days food stashed away, which I think is similar to what FEMA recommends.

I still don't see what the big deal is about this? Why this even became a news story, and why TOD folks find it worthy of comment? Of course we do have a few different features up here. For example, the pamphlet of suggestions for a home emergency kit is avalailable in a version translated into Yupik.

The Alaska emergency management folks recommend that everyone keep a minimum of 3 days food stashed away, which I think is similar to what FEMA recommends.

Who does NOT have 3 days of food in their home? I prefer not having to go to the grocery every time I want to eat. I would have to do that if I didn'thave 3 days worth of food at home.

No kidding Jedi!

I don't know how long we (just two of us here) could survive on what we have kicking around here, but it would certainly be at least a couple of weeks. This with no particular efforts for emergency planning. We just have lots of rice and beans and stuff in the pantry, and for now, the garden.

Mind you, the menu might get a bit tedious after a while, but you know what they say...

Hunger makes the best sauce!

But tonight, I'm making salmon with mustard/dill sauce, rice, and fresh green beans... :-)

Hey dude, I didn't say that is what I have on hand. I was merely reporting the official recommendation. Nor did I say that I agree with that recommendation.

I was not aiming at you. I was aiming at the recommendation. It is silly. They could as well recommend people to sleep when they are tiered. I realy mean it. This is the most ridiculous advice I ever seen. Most people eat some dry stuff for breakfast. Cereals or something like that. And they store weeks worth of it at home. Most people have pasta or rice or potato for at least one week. Most people have a loaf of bread at home. With that, you could easily feed your self for a week, be it very boring food. Just add water.

There is a subculture in the USA, not sure how big it is. When visiting my texas brother I wanted a baked potato, so bought a 5-lb bag of them, planning to leave the extras for them. My brother cautioned that his wife wouldn't let them in the door, but I thought he was kidding. They asked me to throw away anything I wouldn't eat that day, because only poor people store food. They go to the grocery store at least 3x/day in an air-conditioned car. I finally had to hide the potatoes in my luggage and take them to Indiana where family members helped eat them.

The loud thud was my jaw hitting the floor!!!!!!!!!!!!


Evolution, come. Come now and cleanse us from our vile gene pool.
-From "The prayers of the last times", year 2056, as reported by the Future History Time Traveler Project.

I just don't know how to comment on this. I think I have to process this for a while. We have had our discussions about different cultures on both sides of the Atlantic. I just never cease to be amazed.

Well as far as evolution goes, he reproduced and I didn't.

It may be tough for such folks when the various collapses start, though. Of course I engaged them on the potato issue and suggested they have a little stored food on general principles. My brother's wife said simply "we'd rather die". It was definitely a conversation-ender.

On the other hand, my Indiana brother's girlfriend wouldn't let him bring home high-glycemic-index foods, so when he saw I had a suitcase full of potatoes he immediately started cooking and eating them before his girlfriend found out he had them.

Family visits... ain't they great.

They asked me to throw away anything I wouldn't eat that day, because only poor people store food.

I once saw a former Prime Minister of Canada squeezing the tomatoes in my local Safeway store. I once saw a former Premier of Alberta (and grandson of the richest man in Calgary) pushing a shopping cart full of food across the parking lot. Downtown, I used to eat at the lunch counter of Pay-and-Save Drugs with all the oil millionaires. They couldn't waste time on a long lunch because they had to get back to making more money.

My brother, who was a VP of an oil company, once negotiated a drug store down to 17 cents on a package of gum for his kid. His wife was horrified, but he was quite proud of himself. He didn't like paying full price for anything.

Rich people don't buy potatoes in 5 pound bags, they buy them in 50 pound sacks and put them in their cold room. When they buy beef, they buy half a cow at a time and put it in their walk-in freezer. Usually they manage to get a discount off the regular price, too. It's only silly fools who don't store food.

I think the subculture is big and it includes poor (U.S. "poor") people. I know people who subsist totally on Social Security (a program I am glad to support and thankful for) who run their AC at 67 degrees in the summer so they can sleep with a blanket.

I know some very nice, very intelligent, very accomplished folks in Scarsdale, NY who eat a turkey every Thanksgiving and Christmas. They gave me a blank stare when I asked them about boiling the carcass for soup. They just carve the meat off and throw the rest away.

I know another Social Security beneficiary who won't eat a vegetable if she finds dirt or an insect on it. I explained to her that dirt often means fresh and local and if bugs won't eat it (think Twinkies) you probably shouldn't either.

If you guessed that I'm a bit of a doomer, you're correct. Not all human beings mind you, just Dick Cheney's "non-negotiable" way of life.

or Alaska is building warehouses to hold enough food to feed the populations of Fairbanks and Anchorage for less than a day.

population of Fairbanks in 2011: 32,036

Russia announces enormous finds of radioactive waste and nuclear reactors in Arctic seas

Enormous quantities of decommissioned Russian nuclear reactors and radioactive waste were dumped into the Kara Sea in the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia over a course of decades, according to documents given to Norwegian officials by Russian authorities and published in Norwegian media.

The catalogue of waste dumped at sea by the Soviets, according to documents seen by Bellona, and which were today released by the Norwegian daily Aftenposten, includes some 17,000 containers of radioactive waste, 19 ships containing radioactive waste, 14 nuclear reactors, including five that still contain spent nuclear fuel; 735 other pieces of radiactively contaminated heavy machinery, and the K-27 nuclear submarine with its two reactors loaded with nuclear fuel.

... wonder what they did with K-19 'The Widowmaker'

The article, which has been cross-posted a lot, contains at least one obvious error (which is being widely propagated):

Kudrik said that one of the most critical pieces of information missing from the report released to the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority was the presence of the K-27 nuclear submarine, which was scuttled in 50 kilometers of water with its two reactors filled with spent nuclear fuel in in Stepovogo Bay in the Kara Sea in 1981.

Since most of us know that it can't be in 50 kilometers of water, one inquiring mind wanted to know: How deep is it? You wiki link says just 33 meters.

Project 645 November-ZhMT

Two VT-1 type liquid metal (lead-bismuth) cooled reactors with a capacity of 146 MWt and shaft power of 35 000 hp. A test reactor of the same type as that used on board K-27 was in use at Obninsk as early as 1955. A new steam-boiler was developed especially for this submarine that required considerably less electrical power in the start phase and during cooling. Subsequently the capacity of the batteries was only 75% of those on board the November class submarines...

The Project 645 ZhMT was built in Severodvinsk. factory no. 601. The only one built of this class. Laid down on June 15, 1958. Launched on April 1, 1962 and commissioned to the Northern Fleet on October 30, 1963. Based at Zapadnaya Litsa. There was a serious accident involving the reactor and 9 people died of radiation injuries. Attempts to repair the reactor were futile; hence the entire submarine was scuttled at a depth of 50 meters in Stepovogo Bay at Novaya Zemlya in 1981, see picture below.[248]

50 whole meters? 33? Yikes! But wait, there's more from the original link:

Information that the reactors about the K-27 could reachieve criticality and explode was released at the Bellona-Rosatom seminar in February.

“This danger had previously been unknown, and is very important information. When they search and map these reactors, they must be the first priority,” said Kudrik.

...and now that they want to explore for oil in the area....

50KM versus 50M, whats a kilo among friends?

Japan estimates monster quake could kill 320,000

Japan's government on Wednesday unveiled a worst case disaster scenario that warned a monster earthquake in the Pacific Ocean could kill over 320,000 people, dwarfing last year's quake-tsunami disaster.

The Cabinet Office's hypothetical disaster would see the quake strike at nighttime during the winter with strong winds helping unleash waves that reach 34-metre (110 feet), sweeping many victims away as they slept.

Many of the estimated 323,000 victims would be drowned by the tsunami, crushed under falling objects or in fires sparked by the disaster, it said.

... no mention of exploding nuclear power plants

Large earthquakes in the Kanto (Tokyo/Yokohama/Chiba) region are actually fairly common... So at some point something will occur. Luckily, absolute "worst case" scenarios are rare, though "pretty horrible" cases are not so rare. The nuclear thing - the two closest nuke plants to Tokyo are both not very close. At least they were smart enough to keep them out of the city, in fact building them in rural places like the Japan Sea coast. That said, they could be unlucky next time and have the wind blow nasties all over Tokyo - and frankly, messing up the rural areas is stupid too for a country with so little arable land. I understand why they built nuclear, even though I think it was stupid.

Hey, we all ultimately live at the mercy of fate. Though it's not wise to tempt said fate.

Some good news

Govt approves Rs. 14,000 crore to promote hybrid, electric vehicles

New Delhi: To reduce dependence on fossil fuels, India will spend at least Rs. 22,500 crore in the next eight years to promote electric and hybrid vehicles, of which the government will provide some Rs. 13,000-14,000 crore.

Auto makers and the government plan to put six million electric vehicles on road by 2020, according to a new policy approved on Wednesday.

1 crore is 10 million, so that's about 2.5 billion dollars direct investment from the government.

But doesn't India have a really bad shortage of electricity?

Yup, but now solar is as cheap as most energy sources. The premium is gone. The only thing that's left is political will and that's another story.

Pay politicians a subsidy for every solar installation. Things would happen fast.


I think we should be happy that at least some efforts are being made to change the mindset. I am happy because we will have much smaller and lighter cars on the road, less fatalities within the city limits.

Happy ? For what?This is just an announcement.I think you seem to forget that the elections are only a year and a half away . Do you think the current govt can implement this with its coalgate and other scams on the table ? By the way as Tom Cruise says "SHOW ME THE MONEY" .

Tom Cruise didn't say that; Cuba Gooding did in "Jerry McGuire" :-)

They both say it, but Jerry says it more (and he loves black people too ;-)

Miners Say They Were Forced To Attend Romney Campaign Event Without Pay: ‘We Knew What Would Happen’

When Mitt Romney campaigned at an Ohio coal mine earlier this month, he might not have realized that the miners were forced to be there — without pay — by the owner, Murray Energy.

... “Just for the record, if we did not go, we knew what would happen,” wrote one miner.

In an interview with a talk radio show host, Murray Energy CFO Rob Moore denied allegations that workers were “forced,” choosing instead to use the word “mandatory.”

Our managers communicated to our workforce that the attendance at the Romney event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend,” Moore said. He confirmed that pay was docked for all the workers.

This is just awful. Their attendance was mandatory but their pay was docked for the time they took off to attend. I'll bet most of those miners will be voting for Obama.

Ron P.

... If they're allowed 'time off' to vote ...

According to figures from the Center for Responsive Politics, Murray Energy has donated more than $900,000 to politicians in the last year — all of them Republicans.

And now the company has donated more than money. It’s donated workers

Ron - As I've said before if the far right would stop trying to help then conservatives might come out better. So stupid: how much money did he save by docking them vs. the cost of the bad PR?

No one was getting paid anyway. The mine had to be closed for security reasons while Romney was there.

But it does sound like they were forced to use what would otherwise have been free time attending the rally.

Then Romney should pay'em. It's all for his campaign, and I doubt the miners invited him. Oh,, would that be bribing voters?

He probably should. And Obama should pay for all the lost business at the Iowa state fair when they had to shut down the tents while he visited.

I hate it when politicians visit my area. Whole highways shut down, just so Clinton can drive through town, or Cheney can go pheasant-hunting.

Yeah, I was picking up some computer parts when Clinton flew into Dobbins AFB once and they closed I-75 for his "rolling roadblock" down to Atlanta. Turns out, about then 3 guys decided to rob a bank nearby, just a block from the interstate, not realizing that every cop in a 50 mile radius was converging on the area. The picture of these guys in an intersection, surrounded by 50 cop cars, was priceless.

Four more beers! Obama buys Budweiser for Iowa State Fair voters

Got stuck in Heathrow for 4 hours, waiting for my plane, due to Reagan leaving on AF1. Still, it did have a bright side, I was travelling business class and was in the lounge... which had a looong table full of free drinks. Didn't really need the plane to fly to my destination.


No, they didn't have to shut the mine down, they chose to shut the mine down "for security reasons". That's a joke. Someone was going to blow up the mine while Romney was in town?

Romney's coal mine speech is questioned

But Chris Maloney, a Romney campaign spokesman, said in an email, “It was Murray Energy’s decision to close the Century Mine, not the campaign’s or the Secret Service.”

Obviously the entire event was staged at great cost to the miners, who were all docked a day's pay just because Murray Energy wanted to show its support for Romney.

Ron P.

It may be illegal to pay people to attend a political rally; at least that's one excuse I've heard.

Coal miners lost pay when Mitt Romney visited their mine to promote coal jobs The Plain Dealer

A group of employees who feared they'd be fired if they didn't attend the campaign rally in Beallsville, Ohio, complained about it to WWVA radio station talk show host David Blomquist. Blomquist discussed their beefs on the air Monday with Murray Energy Chief Financial Officer Rob Moore.

Moore told Blomquist that managers "communicated to our workforce that the attendance at the Romney event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend." He said the company did not penalize no-shows.

Because the company's mine had to be shut down for "safety and security" reasons during Romney's visit, Moore confirmed workers were not paid that day. He said miners also lose pay when weather or power outages shut down the mine, and noted that federal election law doesn't let companies pay workers to attend political events.

The mine was shut down for a Romney campaign photo-op, not "weather or power outages"!

And the campaign rally did not need to be held at the mine, so it did not need to 'be shut down for "safety and security" reasons', as it certainly could have been held somewhere else.

"attendance at the Romney event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend."

I guess the 1% have a different definition for "manadatory"?

"attendance at the Romney event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend."

File under "Catch 22's for the ages".

He said miners also lose pay when weather or power outages shut down the mine,

From my scandinavian perspective, this is logical in a country that did not outlaw slavery untill the 19th century. Other than that, how primitive a system.

Miners are allowed to vote now? There is hope for the US after all.... (sorry couldn't resist)

Leanan - Thanks. Good to know it was only a half stupid idea than a full blown one.

This being an energy site, I will just comment that this shows how energy policy is fundamentally linked to government policy and party politics. There is a meme out that the government shouldn't "pick winners and losers", but realistically, in energy policy where utilities form natural monopolies and are deeply tied to the state, government decides which energy sources get used. This just makes it painfully clear that the Republicans are the party of fossil fuels, no matter how dirty - as if it wasn't obvious before with "drill, baby, drill". Coal is nasty stuff, and we should be trying not to burn it!

This is also part of why renewables are so difficult to get going, and why wind is ahead of solar. Solar lends itself best to distributed production (rooftop solar, for example) rather than centralized production (which requires a lot of land). Wind also takes a large area to work, and it only seems to be taking off now because some companies of have taken to making agreements with land owners (similar arrangements are popping up for solar). In discussions of renewable power, it is often assumed that the tenant or homeowner should produce their own electricity by buying solar panels and managing it themself, which runs contrary to the way energy production is and has been run since the beginning of electification. In the context of the American corporate and government system, this means companies that own power plants have a major advantange in money and political power, and if they are invested in using fossil fuels they will be unlikely to move away themselves, and can very easily keep competitors out (even appealing to government to help them).

In any case, government policy is a major driver (if not the major driver) of what is used to produce electricity.

Also, companies forcing their employees to contribute to a particular party? LOL, capitalism is just feudalism with capital instead of land. CEO is just the new term for "lord".

adam - "...the Republicans are the party of fossil fuels...government policy is a major driver (if not the major driver) of what is used to produce electricity."

So given the fact that last year President Obama issued the final Clean Air permit so they could began building a coal-fired electric plant (White Stallion, Matagorda County, Texas) just 12 miles from the S. Texas Nuclear Power Plant that would seem to imply two things by your logic. First the govt, under the current administration, is picking coal as the winner over nuclear and NG (since they are building the plant on top of NG field I'm currently developing). Second, that in reality President Obama is a Republican wearing one heck of a disguise. BTW: the White Stallion Plant has a 30 year contract to buy coal from Illinois and ship it by rail half way across the country. Those dang Chicago Republicans done did it to us again!

Also, just to update you on the efforts of our stealth Republican president: in the 12 months after the president refused to sign the Keystone p/l permit for that short section that would cross the US-Canadian border, oil sands imports to the US have increased almost 5% compared to the 12 months prior. Seems while the president blasted the idea of a new pipeline built to the current improved specs he was content to see imports increase through the existing system of aged pipelines as well as truck and rail transport. BTW: the construction of the other segments of the KPL has never stopped. In fact, one leg of the system from Cushing to the Texas coast has been reversed and 150,000 bbls of the tar sands oil is making it to our refineries down here. And in two years two more lines (which do not need fed approval) will increase that rate to 600,000 bopd. That sneaky R done did it to us again!

Rockman, perhaps I've come across as a democrat, or naive. I am well aware that Obama's policies have been very supportive of the current status quo and supportive of fossil fuels. And actually he's been very supportive of coal as well - mountaintop removal mining was a big deal at the time, and it was hoped (or at least I hoped) with Obama's election that it would be made illegal... No dice. As for the Keystone thing, I never particular opposed it, just the route through the Sand Hills, which they have changed. Obama's symbolic gesture on the Keystone pipeline was a perfect example of throwing a bone to environmentalists while continuing with the usual game.

With the utilities, the situation is complicated by state and local government also being involved... In any case, government has the ability to allow or deny the building and operation of those plants. Perhaps you should lobby the state government? I've read one article about Texas and coal plants, and frankly it baffles me why they don't use NG. I know wind is getting big there, but I've heard it's mostly in the Panhandle and not South Texas. In any case, why do plants like that come up? Because the state and local governments allow them. There are other forces at work - economic forces, the need for more power in general meaning something has gotta happen, etc. - but government ultimately has probably the greatest power in determining what gets built.

But perhaps I should state this in broader terms; both parties are tied in with fossil fuels and the status quo. The difference is one of degree, rather than kind. That said, is it really wise to vote for a party that constantly preaches that we can keep up the fossil fuel game forever, and that there is nothing wrong with pollution? For all of the mistakes of Obama, there is at least a token effort toward more renewables. Token is better than nothing.

We are where we are because of the policies we have. Denmark has a strong renewable policy, despite being an oil producer... Norway gets 98% of its power through hydro. In the US, not even Washington state, which has massive hydroelectric generation, has managed to get to 98% renewables like Norway has. This is because of policy and politics. Simple as that.

Adam – I wasn’t particularly going for your throat. LOL. Just using you as a sounding board to mouth off. “I've read one article about Texas and coal plants, and frankly it baffles me why they don't use NG.” You and every person in Texas. Except for the folks who sold their land and those hoping to get a job at the plant. I can appreciate their motivation. Right now utilities are shutting down coal-fired and ramping up NG-fired. We’re shipping a little bit LNG from Texas to England and importing coal from Illinois. I think mac below missed my point: it wasn't about the grade of coal but that is was COAL. And on top of that the plant will use water from the Lower Colorado River Authority. Same folks our farmers look for water.

And while we’re defining ourselves I’m a conservative and not I R. I register as an R when I live in Texas and a D when I lived it La for the same reason. In both states it’s all about the primaries. I always chuckle a bit when the left rants about the R’s and the right rants about the D’s as though there’s a significant difference. Perhaps some difference on some individual issues but in the grand scheme they are all the same IMHO: politicians trying to support BAU in hopes of getting re-elected.

BTW: the White Stallion Plant has a 30 year contract to buy coal from Illinois and ship it by rail half way across the country.

It is my understanding that one of the differences between eastern and western coal is not just the total amount of sulfur, but the chemical compounds in which the sulfur is bound. And that the two require different scrubbing approaches to remove the sulfur. New coal-fired plants have to meet the latest emission rules, which require scrubbers even if you burn low-sulfur western coal. So when you build a new plant today, you also have to make hard choices about where your fuel is going to come from. For various reasons, I doubt a new Texas coal-burner could get 30-year guarantees on Powder River Basin coal. Perhaps the biggest of those being that so much of the coal is produced from federal lands, and those areas operate (or don't operate) at the pleasure of the federal government. Start from Matagorda County and try to find big deposits of reasonable-quality coal on private land where long-term contracts are possible, and Illinois is the prime candidate.

The Scherer plant in Georgia makes Illinois-to-Texas look quite reasonable -- Scherer is fueled exclusively with 10-11 million tons of Powder River Basin coal per year. Rail cars for that coal are dedicated and shuttled back and forth, 2,100 miles each way.

Would that gas field be able to supply enough gas over the life of that power station?


LOL, capitalism is just feudalism with capital instead of land. CEO is just the new term for "lord".

Ah... adamx = someone who 'gets it'! 10+ my friend.


zap - Even a hard core conservative like me can sign on to that. Not much different for a serf to be kicked off the owner's land than an auto worker meeting a locked up plant one morning. In both cases neither has an income. OTOH if the fields were never planted or the plant never built in the first place neither would have had an income to begin with. Just to double check I went back and looked at my birth certificate. Didn't see anything saying that anyone was responsible for creating a job for me. And that's despite the fact I was actually born in Detroit.

It's easy to understand why the 99% would be jealous/resentful of the 1% even though they pay 40% of the taxes. More importantly, though, the 1% is responsible for the majority of the paychecks the 99% get. Seems like getting rid of the 1%, as some appear to support, might not be the best plan for most of the 99%.

One hears that all the time about the 1% vs. the 99% but I don't really think that it's a valid argument. The fact is most of the 1% are born into a system created and defined by the 1% that preceded them and are already given the advantage of having the table set for them as far as opportunity. For the 99% this is largely not true - multiple studies indicate social / financial mobility in the US is largely a work of fiction - a popular myth not supported by much evidence. Unfortunately the entire capitalist / consumerist society has been set up to maximize the number of people and stress on resources to the point that a person can't really even choose to opt out of the system that the deck is clearly very stacked in favor of - because any other alternative not involving living under a bridge is under CONTROL of the 1%. There is no such thing as homesteading anymore unless one has some kind of capital to get started because real estate is a large component of the 1% control. Even some of the founding fathers struggled with this and weren't convinced that private property was such a great idea because they saw this coming (probably not to the extent that it has materialized).

If there were viable alternatives that were within the realm of the possible (and increasingly it is more and more difficult and you hear this all the time from young people who would love to find some way out of this paradigm - increasingly difficult even globally in a globalized economy) I bet a HUGE number of people would opt for a lower standard of living combined with autonomy vs. being at the mercy of the 1%. The fact is the 1% are perfectly happy destroying any viable option (i.e. working for some small business not of the 1%). Kind of like the argument regarding Wal-Mart - how laughable it is that they are put forth as the poster child for capitalism and "competition / free market" when their goal is to do the exact opposite - they want to be the US version of the state department store - the only one in existence.

In my opinion this is also part of the HUGE uproar over national health care - with that comes a certain easing of the pressure to constantly toe the line as simply a wage slave - maybe people start to wake up, have a chance to think about things, not constantly be at the mercy of an employer who might yank the coverage at any point anyways. The 1% define the system in which everything else plays out - as a member of the 99% that's why I'm resentful - not because of something as shallow as $$ - I'm resentful that their scorched earth policy - to make everything and everyone a commodity - has left very few options to not be defined as such...

Yes I've realized this, but with ever increasing population, the commodification of labor was never in doubt.

The only way "out" is to go on welfare, which I'm sure many people are starting to realize.

Cat – “The fact is most of the 1% are born into a system created and defined by the 1% that preceded them and are already given the advantage of having the table set for them as far as opportunity.” I can only assume you and I grew up and live in two different worlds. I work with and know quite a few of the 1%. And that includes me. I hate to go all Horatio Alger on you but you give me little choice. I was the first person in my family to graduate high school let alone college. I slept on my grandmother’s couch during my first 3 years of college while working for ½ minimum wage because it was all I could get.

And as I said I know many more like me than the model you wish to stick on all those successful people. And then there’s the billionaire owner of my company who grew up the poor son of a fisherman from Terrebonne Parish. After a career as a college professor started dozens of companies. Employed many thousands of workers. Made $billions. Paid hundreds of $millions in taxes. Contributed many tens of $million to mostly medical research with particular emphasis on children’s cancer and stem cell research. And this is man you’re willing to paint with that broad brush? And that incudes the current POTUS who, though not growing up rich whiie being raised by a single mother and his grandmother (BTW just like me) and is now up near the top of the 1%.

Now in the circles I run in from time to time I’ve met a few of those trust fund babies. Some succeeded but many were losers. Some even disinherited and left penniless to fend for their own miserable lives.

But, as I said earlier, you must be personally acquainted with a very different set of the 1% than me.

Rockman - When you grew up, (50s/60s?) The U.S.A. had much lower levels of inequality than today and much higher levels of social mobility than today. I believe I have also heard from an ex-military American that the career track of military -> college was a lot easier in your day than it is today. What 'liberals' want is for everyone to have about as good a chance in their first 18 years of life as anyone else and let talent and luck and hard work etc make up the difference as adults. Many of the wealthy of course don't want a level playing field, they want to ensure their children have the best opportunity even if it is at the expense of other peoples kids. This is part of what many of the 0.1-0.01% pay for when they buy their politicians.

Exactly put.

S - OK let's see how this fits your model: my 12 yo adopted daughter goes to a small public school out in the country where my ex lives. The school gets no extra support from politicians bought by the wealthy because there ain't any out there. She's got no expensive tutors. No expensive finishing school on the horizon for her. She lives in a house trailer (but a very nice one). She gets up early every morning before school and has to help her aunt tend the stock...part of the deal for her owning a horse. When she turns 16 she'll get my then 6 year old SUV for her first car. So maybe this is one of those uneven playing fields you're alluding to. She's a straight A honor student. Hasn't missed one day of school in 4 years. Won an award from the county extension service for a little soil conservation project she did. She plans to go to vet school at Texas A&M. Hopefully (for daddy's sake) on an academic and/or athletic (great baseball player) scholarship.

So in her case you're correct: she isn't competing on a level playing field. IMHO she's on a much more elevated position than many kids. And none of that is due to my income. She's doing it on her own because that's how her mom and told her it had to be. A couple of years ago I had one of those serious parent/child conversations with her. Asked her who was going to be primarily responsible for her future happiness. She naturally said it would be mom and dad. She did have a bit of a shocked look on her face when I told her it wasn't going to be us but her. We would help some but at the end of the day she was growing up and she was going to begin making more of her own choices. She got it then and understands it even more today.

Needless to say daddy is very proud. Of all the contributions my ex and I thought about bringing to her life wealth was way down on the list. Thus today I've very pleased that my little "redneck chink", as daddy teases her, is playing on her uneven field instead of lying in a small unmarked grave next to a Chinese orphanage. Again, it may sound cold hearted and elitist but most of those I see today not succeeding are doing so due to lack of effort on their part and not anyone standing in their way. As I said in my other post perhaps I live in a very different wotrld than most ehre.



In the U.S.A what your daddy and mommy earns does have a large bearing on what you will earn. In Norway what your parents earn has less of an impact. Look at the U.S.A vs Canada, do you think there is a significant difference in breeding that makes for more consistant 'stock' in Canada?

By the way when most people talk about the 0.1% of the population they are actually usually referring to people in finance as the majority of the people in that category are either exectutives or in the financial industry. The people you rub shoulders with are the people most people don't begrudge of their wealth.

Noone says that hard work with talent never achieves anything, however as a society the U.S.A. has been working harder and yet the majority of people are still where they are. The statistics don't account for outliers like your daughter and you should be very proud of her. What the statistics tell us is that social mobility as a whole has been dropping, it is easier to say that a whole generation has become lazy than it is to deal with the fact that there aren't the same opportunities to work hard for in the first place.


I started in the oil patch in 1978 so I am a close contemporary of Rock. What has not really been discussed is what a huge difference it makes to be in the right place at the right time. Hard work is important, but it sure isn't the whole story.

Firstly, when I got home from Vietnam I was able to attend college on the GI Bill. It was still quite possible in those days to get through college without taking on huge loans, using some combination of scholarships, summer and part time jobs, GI Bill, etc. That is not nearly so easy today.

The second thing is that when I graduated, just about anyone with a degree in geology and a pulse could get a job with an oilco. Both my BS and MS were from distinctly non-oily schools, yet I had my choice of 5 job offers. That certainly hasn't always been the case.

Yes, we have "worked our asses off", but we were also lucky enough to come of age at the right time and place. I think it is much harder today than it was for us.

Interestingly I started looking for jobs at the same time after dropping out of grad school in geophysics. The oil co's didn't want to hire me (Denver area), and I had to make a career in computing instead. Occasionally I have a dream where I'm driving around the southern plains interviewing for oil jobs. In any case, they didn't hire everyone. But perhaps those with more ordinary education trajectories had no problem.

The attitude needed to be successful, is usually copied from the parents (or caregivers), and is correlated with parental wealth. Also knowing how to give a kid a headstart in school, is highly correlated with parents education. For instance, I had all my kids reading at at least 2nd grade level by the time they started kindergarden. Even those poor parents who want to do so, -if they don't have the specific knowledge end up using ineffective techniques. So some of it comes from haing the attitudes and skills that got the parents success (usually). And part stems from being able to afford better stuff (schools, afterschool programs, better nutrition etc. etc.).

A system cannot reasonably be described by looking at outliers.
The data is in, and social mobility in the US between generations is very low, far lower than in places like Finland, which is entirely unsurprising when one looks at the much larger share of resources which the poor have there, including access to education:

'Children from low-income families have only a 1 percent chance of reaching the top 5 percent of the income distribution, versus children of the rich who have about a 22 percent chance.'

You will always get the odd person who beats the odds.
A couple of Roman Emperors stated out at the bottom of society.
That does not mean that Roman society was anything other than massively inequitable, or that most of the slaves and peasantry had any reasonable prospect of prosperity.

American as a land of opportunity for the poor is almost entirely mythical, in fact:
'By international standards, the United States has an unusually low level of intergenerational mobility: our parents’ income is highly predictive of our incomes as adults. Intergenerational mobility in the United States is lower than in France, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Norway and Denmark. Among high-income countries for which comparable estimates are available, only the United Kingdom had a lower rate of mobility than the United States.'

In the words of Richard II:
'Serfs ye are, and serfs ye shall remain.'

I suspect that mobility was near world best levels a hundred years ago, and attitudes and myths got created. These myths die hard, even when they no longer reflect current reality.

People born 1885 to 1920 had better prospects for mobility since many of their competitors died in wars and epidemics; economic and social elites were liquidated by revolutions, depressions and by taxes levied to pay for wars; and colonial empires were disolved.

Hi Rockman,

You mentioned above that the 1 % pay 40 % of taxes, this is only true if we limit the conversation to Federal Income taxes as compared to all federal taxes, if one considers that number (all federal taxes, including payroll taxes) it is around 28 % in 2007 (by CBO estimates) and 23 % in 2010 (by Tax policy estmates).



Also note that the share of income has shifted from poor to rich and that is the primary reason why their share of total taxes paid has increased.

Nobody suggests we should get rid of the 1 %, just that they should pay higher taxes. It doesn't have to be the 80 % marginal rates of the 1950's. The Clinton era rates would be fine. It could even be a flat tax on all income over 25k, with no deductions or special treatment of capital gains and dividends (tax it as ordinary income). I doubt such a plan would ever pass, but it would be better than multi-millionaires like Romney paying 15 %.


dc - I agree with you about the details of the tax system. But bottom line a very small portion of the population pays for the benefits of many who pay little or nothing into the system. Which, it may surprise you, I don't think is wrong. This how an equitable system should work. What I truly detest are efforts to vilify the successful folks in the country just because they are successful. I'll repeat it again: the fast majority of folks I know who are financially successful didn't inherit their wealth. I probably know more than 100+ people who are in the 10% or better group and I can't think of more than 4 or 5 who inherited what they have. I do know a few millionaires who have only a high school degree...and a couple without one. I don't know a single financially successful person who snatched what they have out of the hands of some unfortunate soul. But I do know more than a few who have provided livelihoods for many other souls. I know it's a worn out question but still valid IMHO: how many paychecks have you gotten that were written by a poor man? Me? None.

OTOH I know quite a few folks who had exactly the same or better opportunities than me who are much closer to the bottom 10% than the top 10%. Some I know very well since they are my relations. I'm sorry if it sounds cold hearted but the majority of folks I know on the bottom end are there because they lacked the self discipline to take advantage of what was available to them even if it wasn't the best of opportunities. Again I may sound like an ass but I've got little sympathy for folks who blame the system. When I started high school I wasn't able to recite the entire alphabet all the way through thanks to a crappy school system in New Orleans and being raised in a family that didn't think education was very important. After all I didn't need to be smart because I was raised to be military. LOL.

Again, maybe other TODsters have lived in a very different world than me and know other groups. All I have is my personal experiences and the people I know to judge the current situation. The vast majority of successful folks in my world earned it on their own by working their asses off. And I'm still fairly well connected with some folks at the bottom of the sh*t pile. I periodically work with folks in the 30's and older learning to read, write and do simple math. Typically they are much more motivated now then when in high school. Particularly now that they've discovered the world isn't going to just give them everything they want just because they are drawing a breath. And yes: more than a few of them think they don't have anything because someone got to their gravy before them. And no...I don't make a point of refuting those feelings. They already have enough self esteem problems without my pointing out the errors of their ways. And these are the folks I talk about when worrying about the PO future. Their lives are barely functional during better times. What happens to them when our economy finally has to start seriously conserving and half+ of the minimum wage jobs are eliminated? I don't have a good answer.

Hi Rockman.
What strikes the observer as strange in your arguments, or at least those who are familiar with your penetrating analysis of matters relating to the oil industry, is the very different and anecdotal nature of your discussion of income inequalities.

You would not dream of accepting the arguments of those opposed to the idea of peak oil that oil is plentiful as they know someone who drilled a well and hit oil, as indeed much of their argument does - we have hit oil offshore in Brazil, so there is no problem, and so on, without regard to the magnitude of the finds and the supply needed worldwide.

In the same way anecdotes of someone who has beaten the odds in no way addresses the issue that income differentials in the US and UK are ever-widening.
The growth of the financial industry which mirrors this is not due to bankers working several times harder and smarter than in the 80's, in fact the reality is the converse.
They have discovered that it is far easier to rig the financial system than it is to invest in productivity, and the increase in the wealth of the wealthy is not due to their being so smart, but to the system being so rigged.

It is a simple fact that income differentials are ever widening.

That can't be refuted by any number of anecdotes, any more than a random discovery of a new oil field can reverse the end of cheap oil.

The rich aren't getting richer because they are working harder, or investing smarter in new productive capacity.
They are doing so because the asset price inflation and selective libralisation of imports to the detriment of the working population means that their unproductive investment is paying handsomely, instead of vanishing as it would under capitalism.

In the modern world, wealth can only ever be "pyrrhic" in the sense that it means separation from a wider society which is unraveling. I've definitely noticed this.

The costs are never actually born by the "entrepeneurs," they are socialized. If they weren't, the rich would be bankrupt.

I do not consider myself a socialist, like you I'm more of a libertarian capitalist.

And unlike Rockman my experience with the American upper crust, though limited (I swim mostly in the middle/upper middle class), has been thoroughly negative. I find most "self made" people to be horribly smug, greedy, crass, and deluded.

Dave - Again, we're looking at two different worlds. You're free to give your anecdotes about bankers, of course. But:"The rich aren't getting richer because they are working harder, or investing smarter in new productive capacity." All the folks I know who are improving their lot financially are working their collective asses off. And many of the other folks I come into contact with who are, unfortunately, at the bottom of the food chain, are there because they lack the basic skills to improve their lives no matter how hard they might try. They are where they are regardless of how much maney any banker has made. One more anecdote: my owner is $240 million richer because he put his money behind some old oil patch farts that have worked their asses off night and day for the last 3 years. In addition to he and us making money, the states of La. and Texas, along with their citizen mineral owners, have made many ten's of $millions. And the service companies that I've used have made over $180 million with much of that money going to their workers in the form of salaries. Except for that portion of the 4180 million they paid in taxes, of course.

I'm sorry if this doesn't fit everyone's picture of their world. But it's the world I live in 24/7. if folks don't want to hear about this world...fine. Just stop implying it doesn't exist and I'll never bring it up again. I guess if I hung out with wealthy bankers like Dave does I would have a different perspective. LOL.

The problem is that you're conflating your world for the world. Many industries are highly productive, with commodities industries as the most easily quantified. It is a very simple task to look at the production of oil, corn, or metal, and see how productive an industry is. The same thing can be said for manufactured goods, or even parts of the medical industry by looking at life expectancy and some other basic quantifiable factors.

The problem is that not all industries are easily quantified in terms of their impact. Paul Volcker has been very vocal about his belief that the financial industry hasn't done anything productive for the economy since the invention of the ATM, even as it continues to suck up massive amounts of wealth. High frequency trading, along with the employment of hundreds of PhDs in physics and mathematics, may be a zero sum game - the banks make money while the rest of us lose it. If high frequency trading isn't contributing to economic growth greater than the money it extracts, it is detrimental to the economy and thus to the average citizen. The same can be said about many other activities on Wall Street.

On top of that, social mobility is declining. You're right that many people don't have the ability to improve their lot, because the struggle to survive has become more difficult. Stagnant wages with dramatic inflation, especially in the cost of education, means it's extremely difficult to improve one's lot in life without a decent starting point.

Finally, the wealthiest among us are becoming more wealthy without working or contributing. Extreme wealth does that. While you know the venture capitalists who put their money at risk to improve the economy (and make money in the process), there are other wealthy individuals who make money through less productive means. Some of the highlighted Bain capital deals are emblematic of that approach - use leverage to buy a company, use that company to pay yourself a lot of money, sell the company or take it through bankruptcy and leave the government footing the bill for workers pensions, etc. I'm not saying that every Bain deal did that, but there were several hundred million dollar deals of that nature.

The wealthy are not a homogeneous class. It is not contradictory to point out both the detrimental and beneficial aspects of concentrated wealth.

And lots of things can derail one's plan. I remember one ex roommate of mine, was a promising grad student in cell biology. Fell head of heels for a woman, and when she got pregnant quit school and took an industrial job to support the new family. He died in an industrial accident a few year later. Lots and lots of otherwise talented people, get knocked off the straight and narrow path, and don't manage to climb back on.

Those that make great fortunes by questionable means just aren't in the circles Rock is in. So its easy to generalize, all rich people deserves their wealth. But in fact, at the very top its often ruthlessness, rather than the provision of something valuable to society that makes the difference.

My guess is that your life experience is self selecting with regard to the people you are hanging out with. Were you a trust fund baby to start with my guess is that you would find that most of the people you hang out with are also trust fund babies. You made it and without being consciously aware of it you would probably gravitate towards others who also made it. I would also add that even if somebody is numerically in the 1% they may find that large amount of the space occupied by the 1% is out of bounds for them. Take somebody like Rajat Gupta- who even though he was on sorts of corporate boards and very wealthy still felt the need to break the law and engage in insider trading. For all his wealth he still felt excluded and needed more.

The issue is not whether a person from humble means can make it to the top- that is indisputable and is not unique to the US but has been witnessed from recorded history in all societies. That kind of success has a lot to do with genetics and luck. We often underestimate the role luck plays and no successful person will want to admit to it.(read Fooled by Randomness).I didn't know this but I understand that the founders of Google were prepared to sell out for about $1billion dollars and didn't do so because the buyer backed away. A good example of how luck not genius made them astronomically wealthy rather than just wealthy.

The bigger issue is whether large numbers of people from the one category can move up - not to the very top but rather to the category above them? That to me is the more appropriate measure of mobility.

One of the things a lot of people miss about government benefits is that they aren't limited to direct handouts. Most of the wealthy receive a disproportionate benefit from government at all levels. When a majority of the wealthy work to reduce opportunity for others, avoid regulation of their enterprises, and avoid paying taxes out of their surplus, it is no wonder that those whose necks they are stepping on and those they are fleecing are inclined to denigrate their vaunted productivity.

Rockman et al:

An interesting and enjoyable discussion! Miles Corak, an economist at the University of Ottawa, writes a great deal about inequality and opportunity on his blog. The blockquote below is an excerpt from one of his posts.


Social mobility is about twice as great in Australia and Canada than in the United Kingdom and the United States

Social mobility is about twice as great in Australia and Canada than in the United Kingdom and the United States.

This is the first of three facts upon which my presentation to The Sutton Trust and The Carnegie Corporation workshop on social mobility called: “Social Mobility and Education in the Four Major Anglophone Countries” on May 21st. This summit of academics, politicians, and public policy advocates coincided with the one year anniversary since the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Nick Clegg, released the government’s social mobility strategy.

I made the opening presentation offering an overview, and here it is as a pdf: Social Mobility and Social Institutions.

My analysis is based upon three facts that lead to three broad conclusions.

First, the degree of social mobility—as measured by the extent to which a son’s earnings are related to his father’s earnings—varies a good deal across the rich countries, and this variation should be a public policy concern. Citizens of more mobile countries are more likely to report a high level of life satisfaction because high mobility is associated with equality of opportunity. The tie between father and son earnings is almost twice as strong in the United Kingdom and the United States than it is in Canada and Australia, two countries to which they can reasonably be compared.

Second, this variation occurs in a particular way: mobility is higher where inequality is lower. This relationship between social mobility and inequality may be seductive for policy makers: tax-transfers might be seen as solving two problems at once, lowering inequality in the here and now, and lowering the degree to which it is transmitted across the generations. But inequality is not the sole cause. It is also a signal of a whole set of forces associated with how families, markets, and government policy interact to determine the life chances of children.

Third, this said, in an era of growing inequality, the more unequal societies—like the United Kingdom and the United States—will likely not experience more mobility without concerted and effective public policy addressed not just to inequality but also to how families function, how the education system develops the human capital of relatively disadvantaged children, and how families interact with a labour market that is increasingly more polarized.

Social mobility is about twice as great in Australia and Canada than in the United Kingdom and the United States.

That's true. Earlier this year, I read a study comparing the social mobility rates and income differentials in Canada versus the US, and I was just astounded at the difference. The "one percent" had captured about twice as much of the national income in the US as they had in Canada.

Also, it was far more difficult for an American high school student to qualify for a good university. The Canadian system rolls out HS graduates at about the same educational level regardless of wealth or ethnic origin - and that level is significantly higher than the majority of schools in the US. Australia is similar to Canada, at least regarding the high average level of education.

Low social mobility and vast income differentials have been present in the United Kingdom since about the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066, but it is startling to see how big the gaps have become in the US compared to Canada and Australia.

Its actually a lot fuzzier than 1% versus 99%. I'm in the 10% group, we have some of the advantages of the 1% (but not so much), and some of the disadvantages of the other 90%. So its hard for people in this group to know where they stand.

Well, when I briefly worked in real estate I got a chance to see some of the 10%... My experience tells me that many of them are more invested in the status quo than the 1%. Bill Gates and George Soros are all for higher taxes on wealth, but ask a 10% type and they are likely to defend their income or stock earnings with their lives. Perhaps for good reason, it's much easier to fall off the ladder than if you are truly rich - all it takes is bankruptcy, foreclosure, stock market crash, etc. A Trump can go bankrupt and smile, someone with $100k or even $500k worries about their credit rating.

That said, there are certainly the 1% that are actively pulling the rungs off the ladder as they climb. Romney, the Koch brothers, Paul Ryan... I think it would be a stretch to say that their ideas would increase opportunity for most people.

Personally, I think the issue is distribution. It's not about "collectivism", it's about being paid according to your contribution and caring for those who have very little. Right now the management and ownership classes hoard almost all the wealth. Ideally, corporations would distribute ownership to their employees on an even basis. Or we could go really crazy/sane and implement a basic income system... But in some sense all of this depends on their being wealth to spread around. Which is the crux of the issue for those of us here; we pretty much universally believe that BAU is going to end, probably messily. Which means everyone will have to live differently, and from a pure materialist perspective more "poorly". Can lower expectation of pure material wealth jibe with an ideal of social justice that most people should have 'more'? What does this "justice" look like - more money? Time? Opportunity? Purely a smaller gap between rich and poor? I can easily imagine a place where nobody is poor, but everyone has to work 80 hour weeks...

I think this is what people complained about with occupy wall street not "having ideas" - they couldn't articulate what living well meant. Our current society is very good at articulating a vision of living well, which means getting filthy rich, rolling in an Escalade with fat rims, and never having to care about anything or anyone. Happiness?

adam - "Ideally, corporations would distribute ownership to their employees on an even basis". So I must assume that you're also in favor of the employees investing their own savings in the company. That way if the company goes under they share the loss. After all that is the basic concept of "ownership" isn't it: you get to reap the benefits as well as the loses. And I assume when you say "distribute ownership" you mean after the employees compensate the company's founders for what they've invested to start the company.

Rock is correct, that its hard to do employee ownership well. At its worst, it is a requirement that employees buy/own stock as a condition of employment. Other programs with a bit less downside include profit sharing, and stock options beyond the management class. They all tend to force workers into lower financial diversification than is healthy. Already their job/career is heavily correlated to the company. If the company is a large part of the local economy, the value of their house is as well. Then if you put a lot of savings and retirement savings into the corp as well, serious bad fortune for the company can be catastrophic for the employees. [Hey, but at least they are motivated!]

eos - Reading my post to adam it came off a tad more harsh then I actually felt. Sorry adam. I've know geologists who were forced to take a small working interest in every well they recommended. Some did OK...some not. But I never met one who liked the idea but they accepted it to get the job. In my current position I was offered the choice of no salary and a potentially bigger piece of the pie (if, in fact, there was any pie at the end of the day) or half salary and a smaller bite. Got too many folks to take care of these days so I went for the partial salary. Of course, I might have used those stock options I was required to go with in some former positions to support my self but I had already used them all up as toilet paper substitutes. LOL.

You don't need to worry about offending me, and those sorts of issues are exactly what need to be worked out! I've got lots of ideas that lots of people won't like... fixed ratios of highest paid to lowest paid workers in a corporation, so the CEO can only make, say 15x what the cashier or janitor does. Stuff like that. But every solution has it's own problems. I just think that the current system is immoral at a certain level, and needs to be fixed. Government basic income guarantees are one way (and that would help the unemployed as well), though it would be "welfare", but I think the structure of the corporation must be reformed to reflect the value of the workers. Now that sounds like communism, but I don't neccessarily think the founders shouldn't make more than some new hire - just that they shouldn't be making 200x or 400x more. That's just medieval.

I would have taken the half-salary, too - it is way too dangerous to have all the eggs in one basket. But the current system leaves a lot of people with no eggs at all.

But the current system leaves a lot of people with no eggs at all.

And a lot more with egg all over their face.

adam - You are a commie apparently. LOL. But that's not an entirely bad thing. I fully agree with you about overpaid CEO's etc. And not just for their high salaries but the incompetence of some of them. Some I've worked with didn't deserve the salary of the lowest paid roustabout on one of my rigs. I've seen guys drawing $million+/yr benefits drive companies into bankruptcy. But these were all public companies. As you can imagine philosophies varies greatly when it's your money and not the shareholders. Some folks might think I'm overpaid, especially when I'm cruising TOD during the work day. OTOH my owner is paying me out of his family's bank account. So if he's OK with it...shhhh. LOL.

And from my years in the oil patch that's where the main fault is found: lack of shareholder control. I don't like the idea of govt getting involved with the free market anymore than absolutely necessary. But in the case of shareholders exerting some meaningful control on decisions made by management something should be done to change the rules. Unfortunately I have no more faith in the govt doing that properly than management correcting the situation. I'm one of those folks who feels the govt shares a big portion of the blame for the subprime mortgage meltdown thanks to its effort to "grow the economy" with increased home ownership.

I agree with you that some portions of the system are badly broken. But fixing them without making some aspects worse? That eludes me also.

Romney Party Yacht Flies Cayman Islands Flag

Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign toasted its top donors Wednesday aboard a 150-foot yacht flying the flag of the Cayman Islands.

The floating party, hosted by a Florida developer on his yacht "Cracker Bay," was one of a dozen exclusive events meant to nurture those who have raised more than $1 million for Romney's bid.

"I think it's ironic they do this aboard a yacht that doesn't even pay its taxes," said a woman who lives aboard a much smaller boat moored at the St. Petersburg Municipal Marina.

Your link don't work. This one does.
Romney Party Yacht Flies Cayman Islands Flag

The video at this link is just great.

Ron P.

You don't become rich unless you are an expert at it.

An Immune Disorder at the Root of Autism

Interesting piece laying out the case for autism being an autoimmune disorder, like allergies, asthma, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. In which case the reason for its increased prevalence is "the hygiene hypothesis" - the lack of exposure to parasites and microbes in modern life.

Related article:

Does the use of antibiotics in early childhood increase the risk of asthma and allergic disease?

CONCLUSION: Early childhood use of antibiotics is associated with an increased risk of developing asthma and allergic disorders in children who are predisposed to atopic immune responses. These findings support recent immunological understanding of the maturation of the immune system.

NPR had a program a year or so ago about a man, with severe asthma, who set out to deliberately infect himself with hookworms, he succeeded, and his asthma symptoms vanished.

Exploring 'The Wild Life Of Our Bodies' [NPR]

I've always noticed that OC clean freaks seem to be sick more. The only thing I'm a bit compulsive about is washing my hands with regular soap after contact with other folks, especially during cold/flu season. I hate going to parties where there's a lot of finger food and hand shaking. Beyond that, humans weren't particularly 'hygienic' prior to the industrial age.

BTW: They treat Crohn's Disease with worms. Not sure about asthma.

From the Amazon review of the book:

The truth, though, according to biologist Rob Dunn, is that while "clean living" has benefited us in some ways, it has also made us sicker in others. We are trapped in bodies that evolved to deal with the dependable presence of hundreds of other species. As Dunn reveals, our modern disconnect from the web of life has resulted in unprecedented effects that immunologists, evolutionary biologists, psychologists, and other scientists are only beginning to understand. Diabetes, autism, allergies, many anxiety disorders, autoimmune diseases, and even tooth, jaw, and vision problems are increasingly plaguing bodies that have been removed from the ecological context in which they existed for millennia.

I fully believe it is the lack of exposure to pathogens that leads to asthma and allergies. I grew up on a mixed farm, grain and livestock, and very few of the farm kids had asthma or allergies - if they did it was considered very unusual. It was just our cousins in the cities that had allergies. We thought they were a sickly bunch of weaklings.

We came down with just about every known childhood disease - which has the advantage that when you're an adult you are immune to all of them, and many are much more dangerous to adults. As babies, we ate dirt from the farmyard. As kids we were always covered in dirt and had manure on our shoes. We picked up fleas and worms from the livestock, so our father would deworm the livestock and then deworm the kids. We ate vegetables from the garden with dirt still on them and drank warm milk straight from the cow. If we dropped a steak in the cow manure, we just threw it on the BBQ and cooked it anyway.

At the end of it, nobody was allergic to anything, nobody was asthmatic, and nobody was autistic. This is, of course, anecdotal evidence, which is the worst kind, but it does leave me ready to believe in the hygiene hypothesis.

I bet its the extremes that are damaging. Kids are healthier when kept reasonably free of parasites (ticks, amoebas etc) but exposed to dirt, animals etc. Its good to have running water and soap in bathrooms, automatic hands-free dispensers of antibacterial super-soap are a waste of time.

Today I was scolded by the insurance provider for having my athletes run barefoot around the soccer-field, which is funny because it is part of a cutting edge conditioning program... they call it pre-plyometric preparatory conditioning and it involves having people run and play around barefoot. We also are including hopscotch and monkey-bar like activities, the hope is by early 2013 we will be ready for jump-rope.

Would it be such a surprise to find out that massive amounts of antibiotics pumped into a young child's GI tract could subtly affect the way the brain develops though influencing nutrient and/or toxin absorption?

I begun walking bare foot this summer. Still do, I'll have to see how long into the year I can avoid shoes. I must testify that I have never felt so good in my feet as I do now. Yes I look like a hippie when I walk bare foot in the grocery store or downtowp, but I have never cared much for that. The uncomng cold at the death of the summer is no problem; the body distributes heat down to the foot and keep it warm. I fear when I will have to put shoes in later when it start geting cold for real. I guess I will sweat a lot.

Shoes are overrated.

Its amazing that our species survived for over a hundred thousand years without shoes, not few would venture into so tame a spot as a paved parking lot without them. We've become tenderfeet.

Around here you can't go barefoot into a grocery store -might step on broken glass from a dropped jar, and then sue the store.

Was barefoot around town the other day - in calf deep rain water, hoping I wouldn't find any glass. Didn't but did find a "£^%$^%$ piece of hard plastic in the farmacia. Making a habit of carrying my sandals for those days when I get swamped and park the bike up, must get some chanklas.


One of the girls in my youth group picked up walking bare foot in early may. I was thinking about doing so myself at the time, and soon joined her. There was a discussion about the topic a while ago, and she said something about wondering if she could walk barefoot in the snow.
To me this is an experiment. I realy enjoy the barefoot experience, and now I am gonna see how long into the year I can do this. I am after all in Sweden. Will repeat this next year too.

I am barefoot most of the time around the house, concrete floors not carpeted. I often walk to the tienda barefoot but the stones can be a bit painful though the sandy areas aren't too bad. No idea about walking in snow though;) The only thing that does make me a bit cautious though are scorpions and bare feet.


I go barefoot as much as I can - have for years (I'm 57). One's feet get quite used to it. It does feel wonderful, and when I have to wear footcovers, which one does a lot of the time, it feels strange. There are ways of walking that minimize chances for injury. I enjoy prowling around in the woods barefoot - it makes you very "present".

But don't get too cold! Though I must say it really is amusing to see your bare footprints in the snow if you just have to dash out for something. As though a Yeti walked by or something :-)

I don't know what woods you're walking in, but if I wear anything other than knee high rubber boots I get covered with chigger bites and ticks. No thanks. As for walking around in bare feet in public...I don't think so. I used to take a shower at the gym in my bare feet and ended up with three warts on the soles of my feet. Not fun, never again. Flip flops from here on out. I do like minimalist shoes for casual wear. I can't imagine going barefoot in an airport.

Got no chiggers up here in New Hampshire, but boy did I get a load of 'em dowm im Panama when I was working down there in tne wood. You do NOT go barefoot in Panama.

Nor do you go barefoot in the airpot or a lot of other places - no one is suggesting that you do.

I was an often barefoot farm kid, but that was thirty years ago. I recently got a pair of the running weight Five Finger ... foot covers? They're light, flexible, just a layer of protection between the bottom of your foot and whatever is out there.

It's been about three months and I think nothing of the three mile round trip walk to the grocery store. I do tend to get on the grass as much as possible - much more comfortable than sidewalk. I catch a ride to the office in the mornings and often walk the 5.5 miles home. This is in open Keene's - I take shoes off while I'm at work and with the Five Fingers, well, they start to smell about 48 hours after they're washed.

Next chance I get I am getting some of the heavier hiking/rock climbing Five Fingers. The runners are just not enough for twigs and stones in the forest.

Barefoot running,

...also called "natural running", is the act of running without footwear. Throughout human history, running barefoot was the natural way to run, and cultures such as the Tarahumara people in Mexico still practice it today. Barefoot running became popular in the latter half of the 20th century, as several notable Olympic runners participated barefoot, including Abebe Bikila, Bruce Tulloh, and Zola Budd...

Home-made post-collapse summer footwear:

Got any more detail on these? I can't quite make out the lacing and what are the soles made from?


They are via the 'barefoot running' link. Likewise about the sole and I'd be curious to learn how they lace up like that. You could probably use simple leather for the soles (recycled bike tire rubber?) and something natural for the laces. These soles look like some kind of rubber or plastic.

Found them


A bit different to the huraches around here that are proper sandals, there are really nice ones too.


Good digging too... A car mat-- of course! :)

I like the last ones there, nice digging KD.


Would be a definite fashion-statement around here.

Naahhhh!! Cute childrens shoes. Nice pic to put in a cute-kitten image gllery.

If or when collapse or decline or whatever really digs in, we may yet again find ourselves getting down-and-dirty.

Tribe Of Pangaea- First Member,
(cool name, by the way)

"If or when collapse or decline or whatever really digs in..."

Speaking of having to recite the pieties, why not start using: "IOWCODOWRDI" to save on typing? ;)

---Just Askin

Just Askin
Member for
6 hours 22 min

Did you register just to tell me that? ;)

(Welcome and thanks, by the way.)

George Carlin on the human body : We have what is called an immune system . I only wash my hands when I s*** on them and that is 2-3 times a week . Let us make it 3-4 times a week .We need to bathe only after a severe sweat out or if we have fallen in s***hole .All these soaps and chemicals are destroying us .What a guy? R.I.P

I seem to recall viewing that clip on YouTube. Can't find it, but ;)

In Europe, there is a statistically confirmed lower degree of alergies and astma in the east than in the west. We also see auto-imune disorders climbing here in parallell with rising hygyenic standards.

Personally I have two hypothesis about the trend; increased hygien leaves the imune system unempleyed, and more exposure to new chemicals in our houses, clothes, food etc.

"increased hygiene leaves the imune system unemployed"

I've wondered about that too. Leaving a high-performance killing machine with nothing to do seems unwise on some level.

Think of it as a football[*] team that don't get any practice. They become bad and begun to score in the wrong net.

*I refuse to say "soccer". You use your foot to kick on a ball, hence foot-ball.

there was a story recently about a bacteria that used to reside in most peoples stomach- I forget the exact name. It was the primary cause of stomach cancer and ulcers. With the decline of that particular bacteria the incidence of stomach cancer and ulcers has gone down. However, it also appears that that particular bacteria also reduced the incidence of asthma which maybe part of the reason why we are seeing such a big increase in asthma. Researchers are now contemplating the idea of re introducing it into children and then killing it off later before it has had a chance to cause cancer or ulcers. The latest frontier in medical research appears to be the study of intestinal flora.

You are right and you are wrong. Asthma has been on the increase for a much longer time than that bacterium (H. pylori) has been targeted and treated as a cause of ulcers and cancer. You are RIGHT however in saying that intestinal bacteria influence our health. There is increasing interest and productive research regarding this particular area.

Don (MD)

Helicobacter pylori

It's a nasty: stomach ulcers, MALT lymphoma, stomach cancer and pernicious anemia. It can do alot of damage, damn fool thing to play around with in my opinion.

I've had it and it's not pleasant. I also have asthma and grew up without running running and indoor sanitation and played in raw sewage growing up (I really don't advise any of this in a highly populated area). So I don't know about that theory...Water treatment and sewage plants are awesome things in my opinion.

I don't buy it. In terms of physical morphology of the brain, autism shows up in how neurons are oriented vis a vis each other. It does not show up in the form of inflammation the way autoimmune diseases do.

Now, autism is linked to late parental age. WHich is also when a lot of autoimmune diseases kick in.

According to the article...it's an autoimmune disease of the mother more than of the kid. It's inflammation in utero that causes the neuron abnormalities.

The latest is that it is related to the age of the father, but not of the mother. Its been shown that sperm have three times as many mutations as eggs, so it makes sense that the fathers age might be more important (if its related to genes, rather than pre-natal conditions).

Eat lots of kraut and kimchi, eat stuff that's been laying around on the ground and don't wash it off.

Something else possibly of some relevance may be the method of childbirth. A fetus gets smeared in microbes going thru the birth canal, those born by caesarean section don't get that initial inoculation.

Antarctic may Host Methane Stores

Large volumes of methane - a potent greenhouse gas - could be locked beneath the ice-covered regions of Antarctica, according to a new study.

Study leader Jemima Wadham, from Bristol University, said: "This is an immense amount of organic carbon, more than ten times the size of carbon stocks in northern permafrost regions.

They estimate that there could be hundreds of billions of tonnes of carbon stored in methane reservoirs under the ice sheet.

The authors say that the predicted shallow depth of these methane reserves means that they could be destabilised by climate change, and might act as a positive feedback on global warming.

and Large methane reservoirs suggested beneath Antarctic ice sheet

... The science team estimated that 50 percent of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (1 million square kilometers) and 25 percent of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (2.5 million square kilometers) overlies pre-glacial sedimentary basins containing about 21,000 billion metric tons of organic carbon.

Nature article: Potential methane reservoirs beneath Antarctica

also Activation of old carbon by erosion of coastal and subsea permafrost in Arctic Siberia

The team found that the tens-of-thousands year old Yedoma carbon is rapidly converted to CO2 and that ten times more Yedoma carbon is released to the Arctic Ocean than previously estimated. Thermal collapse of the carbon-rich, permafrost-covered coasts may accelerate with warming of the Arctic climate.

Detailed chemical characterization of thaw-eroding Yedoma slopes of a disappearing island in SE Laptev Sea suggested rapid conversion of the old soils to carbon dioxide even before being washed into the sea. The compositional fingerprint of old organic carbon ( 7,000 to 10,000 years) found in marine bottom sediments revealed that erosional input from ancient coastal Yedoma was the dominant source of carbon, overwhelming input from marine sources and river-carried debris from inland vegetation and soils, on this, the World's largest coastal shelf sea.


Ohio drivers zapped at the pump by Isaac

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Bill Moore was as surprised as his customers when a gallon of gas at his Steubenville, Ohio, station shot up 16 cents Tuesday. But he wasn't surprised by the reaction.

A gallon of regular climbed to $3.95 a gallon from $3.79 at Moore's station.

AAA's state-by-state estimate of gas prices Wednesday showed the state had the biggest one-day jump in the nation -- a 13.9 cent increase to $3.878 a gallon. Neighboring Great Lakes states suffered similar spikes -- a 13.2 cent rise in Indiana and a 12 cent rise in Michigan. By comparison, Gulf states' gas prices were up about 4 or 5 cents, while the national average gas price rose 4.8 cents.

... "The moment I walked up to the register to give [the cashier] my money, he said I got there in the nick of time, as they were just about to change the price," she said. The price at that station jumped to $4.09 from $3.79.

Why the big jump in the Midwest (and not elsewhere)?

I'd guess it's because they get their gasoline from the Gulf coast refineries that are shut down due to Isaac.

California is pretty much disconnected from the rest of the country and so not affected by Gulf hurricanes. The northeast gets some gasoline from the Gulf coast, but they also have their own ports and refineries. When the Colonial pipeline doesn't have enough gasoline for them, they just import more from Europe.

The southeast used to be very vulnerable, but after that huge mess after Gustav and Ike, I think they've created storage points along the way, so they have some reserves in case of supply disruption.

We did have a $.02 bump in a few days ago, that I presume is related to Issac. Since a bigger bump after the Richmond refinery fire, our prices hadn't moved a penny in a month.

S - Just a guess but I suspect because they are at the end of the supply chain, more or less: "Fred Rozel...said market conditions in the Midwest traditionally make it one of the more volatile regions of the country for gas prices...right now, gas is in short supply -- and prices high -- in the Midwest. Habib Shah..representing independent station operators, said some of his members can't even get the gas they need and have had to shut temporarily. Others are paying 20 cents more per gallon."

UPDATE 2-Gazprom calls time on Shtokman on costs overrun (Reuters)

STAVANGER, Norway, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Development of
Russia's huge Shtokman gas field in the Barents Sea is on hold
indefinitely, top shareholder Gazprom said on Wednesday

Good time to ask the Commander in Chief why he's been sitting on the 'Peak Oil' story & when is he going to tell the people ...

Obama answers questions on Reddit AMA - read his full answers

(CBS News) If you've ever wanted to ask the President of the United States of America a question, now's your chance. President Obama is now answering questions on a Reddit AMA - or "Ask me anything."

"Hey, everyone: I'll be taking your questions online today. ... Reddit is a link-sharing community that has a sub-section called "IAmA," which allows anyone to post a thread for people to ask unfiltered questions. Within 15-minutes the thread, titled "I am Barack Obama, President of the United States -- AMA," had already received 1,333 comments.

... or not

During the pre-inauguartion period they solicited advice. Of course there were overwhelming numbers of comments, and they seem to have been sorted by subject popularity. So dumb requests like "de-classify alien technology hidden i Area 51", would end up on the top of the list, and clean energy infrastructure stuff way way down the list. Don't be surprised if it gets completely overwhelmed with BS.

I assume that's why I keep getting emails from bigtime Demo politicians trying to convince me to go to the convention.

Heatwaves to move toward coasts, study finds

Climate researchers Alexander Gershunov and Kristen Guirguis detected a trend toward more humid heatwaves that are expressed very strongly in elevated nighttime temperatures, a trend consistent with climate change projections. Moreover, relative to local warming, the mid-summer heatwaves are getting stronger in generally cooler coastal areas. This carries implications for the millions of Californians living near the ocean whose everyday lives are acclimated to moderate temperatures.

The authors point out that the trend could precipitate a variety of changes in California's coastal communities, where stronger heat will lead to the installation of air conditioners in homes traditionally not in need of cooling. This lifestyle trend would in turn affect energy demand in coastal areas, its magnitude and timing. ...

Law Enforcement Agencies Obtaining Record Amount of Surplus Military Equipment

Law enforcement agencies around the U.S. are obtaining record amounts of surplus military equipment through the Department of Defense’s Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO). Nearly half-a-billion dollars of equipment has already been provided to law enforcement agencies in the first three quarters of 2012, making this year’s transfer of property set to be the largest in the history of the LESO program.

Since the first program was activated in the early 1990s, more than $2.6 billion worth of equipment has been provided to all 50 states, 4 U.S. territories, the District of Columbia, and hundreds of federal and tribal law enforcement agencies.

graph: http://publicintelligence.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/leso-12.png

Lundin Says Pipeline Needed to Make Barents Sea Gas Profitable

Lundin Petroleum AB (LUPE), which has interests in eight licenses in the Barents Sea off northern Norway, said gas discoveries in the area may stay undeveloped until a south-bound export pipeline is built.

Discoveries that aren’t profitable to develop because of lacking infrastructure could be left in the ground, Chief Executive Officer Ashley Heppenstall said yesterday in an interview in Stavanger, on Norway’s western cost. “I’d be lying if I said we didn’t wish for a pipeline to be built.”

Petroleum Pipeline Spill Closes Route 83 in Palos Park

A ruptured jet fuel line has closed down Route 83 and part of the Calumet Sag Channel for a couple days while crews clean up the mess.

The petroleum pipeline burst Monday around 2:40 a.m. and spilled 42,000 gallons of jet fuel, according to a Chicago Sun-Times report. It could take crews until Wednesday or Thursday to clean everything up, the report said.

Isaac Damage report:

UPDATE 3-U.S. oil industry waits out Isaac, no damage reported

The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) suffered a power outage due to a damaged transmission line. The line serving LOOP's facilities is located in a marsh, which could make its repair more difficult, utility Entergy said.

LOOP's offshore terminal normally receives crude imports but has been shut down during Isaac. It will again take cargoes once it reopens since it relies on diesel generators.

The power outage may affect LOOP's onshore terminal operations, including a storage facility, and curtail some crude shipments on pipelines, LOOP spokeswoman Barb Hestermann said, without offering further details.

LOOP's pipelines connect to refineries that account for around half of U.S. refining capacity.

Update: LOOP may be able to resume limited operations on backup power:

LOOP believes has adequate power for restart, demand

HOUSTON, Aug 29 (Reuters) - The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, which handles 13 percent of foreign crude oil coming into the United States, said on Wednesday it believes it has adequate backup power generation to restart deliveries and meet anticipated demand from refiners after Hurricane Isaac.


Enbridge's Kalamazoo Disaster: Straight from the Files
US investigators gathered 376 documents on the pipeline rupture nightmare. Direct from those pages, here's the story


Ten days before the Marshall spill, on July 15, 2010, Enbridge's VP of U.S. operations Richard Adams testified:

"Our response time from our control center can be almost instantaneous, and our large leaks are typically detected by our control center personnel."

-- Congressional Hearing before the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Sept. 15, 2010, p. 76.


This is part of a telephone conversation between two ECC employees. Investigators subsequently determined the identities of the two speakers, both of them console operators at ECC. This conversation began at 7:54 a.m. EDT on Monday, July 26, 2010 (a few minutes after the second startup and 14 hours after the rupture):

CONTROL CENTER: This is great, eh?

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Yeah. Well, I've never seen this problem. That's kind of interesting, to be honest.

CONTROL CENTER: Yeah, this is nice. I like this.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Have you ever done this?

CONTROL CENTER: No not like this.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Well, neither have I. And to me like it looks like a leak.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: And I'm like holy cow that's amazing. Like I've never ever heard of that where you can't get enough --

CONTROL CENTER: I can pump as hard as I want and I -- I'd never over pressure the line?

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Yeah. But doesn't it seem messed up? Like eventually the oil has to go somewhere.



CONTROL CENTER: (indiscernible)

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I don't know. Something about this feels wrong.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Whatever. We're going home. We're off for a few days.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Let's not worry about it anymore.

CONTROL CENTER: I'm done. Exactly. We're not going to try this again. Not on our shift.


-- from Enbridge Edmonton Control Center Phone Transcripts, Vol. 2, pgs. 662-663.

I don't want to hear that these two people lost their jobs, what I'd like to know is that they have been sentenced to be in prison for a long long time!

I want to hear that the bosses who hired them and expected to only need monkeys with a script, that THEY got fired, and the bosses who replaced them are in turn only hiring people who understand the meaning of "a liquid is an incompressible fluid."

I would place the responsibility a little higher up. Like hiring qualified people, and training them, and having a procedure for escalating issues to someone competent -and authorized to deal with it. Of course this costs more, so it probably comes down to trying to save expenses.

Well, according to this long-awaited study, caloric restriction doesn't work. Monkeys on "normal" diets lived just as long as those on caloric restriction. The lean monkeys were healthier, but did not actually live any longer. (This might answer the question someone raised here awhile back, about why lifespan was not decreasing despite the increase in diabetes, etc.)

Moreover, an analysis of the previous study that showed caloric restriction did work suggests that the results they published were questionable. They excluded deaths they deemed not caused by aging; when those were added back in, there was no difference between the fat and skinny monkeys.

This article suggests the really interesting thing is comparing the two studies, because the monkeys in both the experimental and control groups lives much longer in the recent experiment.

It didn’t take him long to realize that the animals’ food was more important than anyone had thought. The NIA monkeys were fed a natural-ingredient diet, made from ground wheat, ground corn, and other whole foods; the Wisconsin animals ate a “purified” diet, a heavily refined type of food that allowed the researchers to control the nutritional content more precisely. Because the NIA monkeys were eating more natural ingredients, de Cabo realized, they were taking in more polyphenols, micronutrients, flavonoids, and other compounds that may have health-promoting effects.

Furthermore, the NIA diet consisted of 4 percent sucrose—while in the Wisconsin diet, sucrose accounted for some 28 percent of the total calories. High sugar consumption is thought to be a primary driver of obesity, diabetes, and possibly some cancers. “In physics, a calorie is a calorie,” says de Cabo. “In nutrition and animal physiology, there is more and more data coming out that says that the state of the animal is going to depend more on where the calories are coming from.”

Interesting point, but not definitive. As the Times article points out, there were several other differences between the two studies.

How do you access the study paper ? I hate to read newspaper extracts of them as they always tend to be biased. No mention of what caused the mortality in both the groups ? If starved monkeys were healthier then what caused death at old age, something must have spiked in the calorie restricted group that was not present in the control group.

"High sugar consumption is thought to be a primary driver of obesity, diabetes, and possibly some cancers."

See the point way up above about honey keeping for thousands of years. Sugar is a preservative. Treat it like one. Even the dreaded clostridium botulinum bacteria shrivels up and dies in a concentrated sugar syrup.

Shortage of Auto Mechanics Looms

... While high school graduates can land basic maintenance jobs such as changing engine oil, the real need will be for more highly trained technicians.

It's those at the top of the profession that the industry is most concerned about losing, the master mechanics who don't just read troubleshooting data off a computer screen, but rather put their education and experience to use to interpret clues and pinpoint a problem.

Faced with complexities of today's cars, master mechanics are being asked to deal with issues that would have required an engineering degree in the past. That problem is being compounded by the multiple new powertrain technologies hitting the market, including hybrids, electrics and advanced clean-diesel engines.

Of course, the more deep-seated problem that many of today's kids also are not versed in math and science hurts recruitment, since those skills can be vital now in fixing vehicles.

It doesn't help, as well, that more high school districts have whacked budgets for auto repair programs, a key source of recruits.

Electric utility industry challenged by skilled worker shortage

While Florida’s unemployed struggle to find jobs, the electric utility industry is challenged by a severe shortage of skilled workers.

The limited pool of available experienced workers has led to an industry-wide practice of “poaching” talent from similar companies, said Kathleen Slattery, Florida Power & Light Co’s senior director of executive services and compensation.

Shortage of educated workers boosts U.S. unemployment, study shows

Mismatches in supply and demand for educated workers boost U.S. unemployment and add as much as 2 percentage points to the jobless rates for some cities, according to the Brookings Institution.

"It's harder for employers to fill open positions if they're in metro areas with a low-educated workforce," Rothwell said. "There are very few job openings available for workers with less education. We need to create more openings for middle-to-lower educated workers."

Sex recruiters may prowl B.C. universities, Minister warns

The adult entertainment industry may be sneaking into fall job fairs, B.C.’s Advanced Education Minister has warned postsecondary schools across the province.

Her letter came after reports that two Windsor, Ont., strip clubs are attempting to attract postsecondary students to work as dancers by offering education programs with partial tuition payments.

... Max: I've got skills, I could trade them.
... The Collector: Sorry, the brothel's full.

Well, I could care less about auto techs in particular, but I also see a shortage of people with hands-on technical skills. I don't know what the source of the problem is, perhaps it's growing up in a virtual world doing virtual things, or the fact that so much of our design and manufacturing left some time ago, or perhaps a cultural emphasis on careers that offer greater returns than can be had by doing productive things (i.e.playing with money or managing).

Looked at another way, perhaps it's a natural evolution - the industrial project is ending (slowly), so we'll need less people immersed in those kinds of skills. If the people who never learned how to fix state-of-the-art automobiles or keep the grid working were instead skilled in small scale organic farming, this might be very good news. Alas, that's not the case.

It will be interesting if the lack of skilled labor brings down the infrastructure before the lack of or cost of energy resources does.

Fixing, repairing, and working with your hands can be learned from books. But most of it is culturally transmitted by fathers and sons working together. But in America, fathers and sons don't live together very much anymore, so the knowledge only comes through in dribs and drabs. In 2 generations of broken homes, that knowledge evaporates.

Much of the hands-on work factory work left America for the Third world. A strong back and thick hands don't make a living in the West and have lost their cultural power. The media image of men is now a lean bodybuilder, not a thick laborer.

Sometime in the early-to-mid-90s, the Quality Revolution initiated by the Japanese really started paying off. Things that broke repeatedly and needed constant repairs now simply worked. My father grew up repairing cars, and I still remember it in the 80s as a boy. By the mid-90s, car quality made my repairs really infrequent. My 2006 Honda has ~95,000 miles and has never been repaired. Not once. Similarly, TVs now last over a decade. My alarm clock is 25 years old, works great.

About the only unreliable things I had were computers, so I know how to mess with operating systems, fool with software, take apart a PC, etc.

My father had a ninth grade education and we lived in the country. You had to do a little of everything. I have poured concrete, shingled a roof, plumbed and wired, and I learned to cut glass for replacement windows, a skill the was curiously acquired the same year I got a pellet gun.

I am a marginal midwife for every species from house cat to Hampshire hog and I have turned more chickens into future dinners than I care to recall.

My son must have been about ten when we came across a 300 pound calf on the wrong side of a fence on a rural road. I stopped, got out, and after a short bovine debate that actually escalated to a couple of tossed stones, I had him back where he belonged. A few twists of wire later he was secure and my son was quite bemused - I am an official cow boy :-)

He doesn't get that now - always with mom, in the city, and nothing breaks.

...learned from books
...fathers and sons working together

Worked with dad early on, but he died when I was 9.
Learned a lot from books, but not practical details.
Learned practical details from taking apart advanced military and aerospace surplus.

Technical bookstores are largely gone.
Most industrial surplus stores are gone.
Much of the industry that supported them is gone.
It is a positive-feedback mechanism that evaporates the knowledge base, the source of the very foundation of constructive efforts. Instead, we have financialization, the encouragement of theft. Have you heard of the Gerber Grow-Up Plan?

Some friends of mine visited Venezuela. On a hook at a magazine stand they found an installment of a serialized "build a little robot" kit: the knowledge, instructions, and the parts to add a feature to a little robot that kids were building at home. You would never see that here: we've de-industrialized.

It's not black and white, a lot of knowledge has moved online, in a way it's good. Though what I find frustrating about the internet is that there are a lot of amateurs but very few experts and the amateurs keep giving the wrong tips, there's a lot of confusion out there.

Is this attitude elitism ? I don't know. On one hand you can easily find the know-how on how to wire up an arduino and make a half-decent robot, on the other hand all the spoon feeding destroys long term dedication which distinguishes experts from dabblers.

It's true, it's true... I'm sure my view is through my eyes: I pick up things from my environment and work with them. If I found myself in a bookstore as a kid in-tow on the family rounds, I could zip over to the technical section and quickly leaf through the offerings to find a resonance. The online version is much slower and does not present itself in your path.

Perhaps I'm just old. Ever see the image of little lights traveling on the pathways at night in Japanese historic culture? Little lanterns... At night, up and down the alley behind the museum I'm staying at, little lights wander... it's kids on their cell phones and iPads.

The surplus stores and yards were a wonder. Convair, Hughes, TRW,... panoramic analyzers, explosive-bolt stage separator rings... live, not inert... entire small rocket engines, microwave plumbing gnarls, zoos of antennas, satellite communication modules. Wandering the yards, I learned at 13 that to achieve space-grade reliability, all the diodes and transistors were JANTX-S (JANS) and each one on every circuit board had a little serial number label affixed to it and that number went back to a file with the complete history and performance testing of that individual part. The parts, the boards, and the files were all there. ( http://www.irf.com/product-info/hi-rel/screen&test.html ) That kind of information doesn't throw itself at you unless you're immersed in the physical reality of it all.

Another problem with learning technology comes from the technology itself. When a kid takes their electronic stuff apart, there's nothing to see anymore.... just little black squares with far too many wires going in and out of them. Even if you know what it is, the actual action is probably a function written-down and sent into the little black square that then becomes that written thing: The hardware that they can't see into just supports code they'll never see either: two layers of opacity. When I took apart a TV, I could see each and every part and hope to make other things from them. We are now at the 28nm level: the features, the parts, are now 28 nanometers in size. Light is 400-700 nanometers in wavelength. You can't see these parts... even using the very best oil-immersion light microscope. You can't see a virus with one, either. A T4 bacteriophage is 150nm long. The parts are five times smaller and shrinking as we speak. A yard full of old and new things allows a continuum to be perceived... a history... the foundations revealed... the prior-art there for the taking.

I learned some from my dad. But he says you can't work on cars like you used to when he was a kid. It's all microprocessors now.

What used to be mechanical linkages are now synthesized among computers, kind of like what happened to the typewriter. When you press a key, a link throws a letter shape against the page. The typewriter was a basket of keys and links and lever-arms. Now, all that... that that you could fix with a pair of tiny pliers, is gone. Instead, a computer reads the keyboard, another remembers the page, a third moves a carriage along the paper, and a fourth talks the ink-cartridge into spitting out little blips of paint. All the easy-to-see moving parts are gone. The computers that replaced them can't be fixed. It is a completely different skill-set and tool-kit.

How Computers work in Automobiles
(all the photos have rotted)

pages 16 and 17

Over 100 microprocessors in some cars.

Dam nears collapse due to Isaac; thousands reportedly evacuating

Up to 50,000 people in Louisiana's Tangipahoa Parish were ordered to evacuate Thursday morning when water from Tropical Storm Isaac threatened to overwhelm a dam across the state line in Mississippi.

Residents were given just 90 minutes to leave, parish spokesman Jeff McKneely told NBC affiliate WDSU-TV.

The parish said "imminent failure" of the dam was expected.

The dam at Lake Tangipahoa, better known as Percy Quin State Park, has been damaged by the torrential rains from Hurricane Isaac. As of about 20 minutes ago, a National Guard helicopter was maintaining position over the dam to monitor its integrity.

Asked where the evacuees would be transported, Burgess told WWL, “We don’t know yet. I just got to get them out away from the river.”

Burgess says residents - between 50,000 and 60,000 of them - have a little less than an hour to clear out. The evacuation order is aimed at residents along the Tangipahoa River, from Kentwood to Robert, Louisiana.

Mississippi Dam to Undergo Controlled Breach

Officials are executing a controlled breach of a dam in Mississippi this afternoon to prevent it from failing, and local authorities in Louisiana have ordered the mandatory evacuation of as many as 60,000 people downriver as a precaution against potential flooding.

Still no check-in from Alan Drake yet I see but I note most of NOLA still without power and almost half of the whole of Louisiana out as of last report.

Keeping an eye on that dam. Lots of destruction in some areas.

I just sent him a text message. No response yet. His phone may be switched off to conserve power.

According to local news, cellphone coverage is now patchy across much of the region as many cell transmitter towers have run out of battery backup power.

Power has been restored to parts of the Central Business District of New Orleans but that's about it apart from a few other lucky customers.

Alan just replied. No power yet in his area.

And he is unfortunately not alone but they seem to be hopeful of making a lot of progress tomorrow on power restoration. Fingers crossed. That's about 40 hours since he lost power now.

Many thousands have now been rescued in emergency operations and millions still have no power thanks to Isaac.

Alan checked in around 0300 - no power, but otherwise fine.

Talked to him a few minutes ago. Still no power. Entergy seems to be making limited restoration progress in New Orleans, compared to their other jurisdictions.

South Sudan: Full oil production could take 1 year

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — South Sudan says could take will up to a year to restart oil production in some of its oil fields due to damage done by Sudanese forces during military clashes in April.

Upper Nile’s field could take four to six months to resume full production, while the Unity field could take between 10 and 12 months, he said.

South Sudan estimates that around 80 percent of its oil production comes from Upper Nile State. The oil blend produced in Unity State is lighter and easier to refine and fetches higher prices in international markets.

South Sudan: Damage from clashes with Sudan could delay full oil production to 1 year

Africa Gas Rush Imperils $100 Billion in Australian LNG

The discovery along Africa’s east coast of the world’s biggest gas finds in a decade threatens to undo investment plans on the other side of the Indian Ocean.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA), BG Group Plc (BG/) of the U.K. and France’s Total SA (FP) may scale back projects to build liquefied natural gas export plants in Australia and switch to Tanzania and Mozambique, where the new prospects lie and will cost about half as much, according to Jefferies International Ltd

Explorers in Tanzania and Mozambique may build at least two trains in each country with combined costs of about $32 billion and ship the first LNG as soon as 2018, according to Jefferies. The cost per unit of capacity will be about 44 percent lower in Tanzania than at Pluto LNG in Australia, the most expensive plant built, the bank said. Mozambique, ranked 213 of 227 countries for per capita income, may be even cheaper.

Workers willing to give up a lot for flextime

People are more willing than ever to give up money for time.

I still think a shorter work week is the least painful way to deal with a shrinking economy. Which isn't to say it would be painless - far from it.

I couldn't find the specifics on the survey, though it appears they primarily surveyed professionals. BLS stats showed a dramatic increase in those who were working part-time involuntarily, 2006-2008, and that number seems to be rising. Pain, indeed, for those who need to get back to near full time status and benefits.

My last full time salaried job had great flextime policies, mainly because we were averaging 55+ hour weeks over the year. Comp time, etc., was a must to keep good people (and keep them sane).

Shell gets OK to start preliminary drilling in Alaska's Chukchi Sea

Salazar told reporters in a news briefing that the newly approved work will involve drilling 1,400 feet or more into the sea floor but that the hole will not reach any oil-bearing zones. So the chance of a spill is virtually nonexistent at this stage, he said.
Under Thursday's decision, Shell will be allowed to excavate a mud cellar 40 feet deep, then drill a hole 1,400 to 1,500 feet deep. This work will allow Shell to install a critical piece of safety equipment, a blowout preventer, Salazar said.
Shell's quest to drill in the Alaska Arctic this year has been rife with problems. The major hurdle relates to the oil spill containment barge, the Arctic Challenger, still being worked on and inspected in a Bellingham, Wash., shipyard.

Until that vessel is complete and on site, Shell will not be allowed to drill into any oil-bearing zones, Salazar said.

Shell also has asked to extend its drilling season, which under previous approvals must end Sept. 24 in the Chukchi Sea. Salazar said no decision will be made on that request until the Challenger is ready.

Note that there have been previous wells drilled in the near vicinity of both the Chukchi and Beaufort prospects that Shell wants to drill. Thus the geology of the first 1500 ft is quite well known.

So there's no abandoned soviet era nuclear vessels at the drill site?  :  )

Not unless they've abandoned one since Shell did their geo-hazards surveys. ;-)

Paraphrasing Mitt Romney:

Since President Roosevelt, every president (at the end of their first term) has been able to say to Americans that they are better off than four years earlier, except for Jimmy Carter (elected in 1976) and Barack Obama (elected in 2008).

If true, there is not much mystery as to why:

Imagine, if you will, that the Seventies never ended.

I suspect that we may be seeing "Revolving Door" politics, as voters turn against the power in party on two year and four year cycles, as politicians (and voters) continue to refuse to recognize the reality of resource limits.

I agree. It's like a manager motioning for a reliever with the idea he'll do better than the one being replaced, with no guarantee that will be the case. Paricularly in this situation as all we need do is look to the top article to know the impact oil price is having on the world economy. Other than that rare article, MSM provides the public with vague reasons for paltry growth numbers.

Growth would return with cheap oil, but all the cheap stuff is gone. Meanwhile people will keep motioning to the bullpen in hopes of a magic guy to reignite growth. This guy had his chance, now let's try this other guy.

I find it fascinating the extended period of time required for the correct information to hit home with the masses. Still hasn't gotten there yet, but very interested to see if and when it might.