Drumbeat: September 15, 2012

Anti-Japan protests erupt in China cities over islands row

BEIJING (Reuters) - Thousands of Chinese besieged the Japanese embassy in Beijing on Saturday, hurling rocks, eggs and bottles as protests broke out in other major cities in China amid growing tension between Asia's two biggest economies over a group of disputed islands.

Paramilitary police with shields and batons barricaded the embassy, holding back and occasionally fighting with slogan-chanting, flag-waving protesters who at times appeared to be trying to storm the building.

"Return our islands! Japanese devils get out!" some shouted. One of them held up a sign reading: "For the respect of the motherland, we must go to war with Japan."

Chidambaram wants direct cash transfer to cut subsidy burden

New Delhi (IANS) Finance Minister P. Chidambaram Saturday called for direct cash transfer of subsidies in food, fertilizers and petroleum by the end of the 12th Five-Year Plan period that began April 1, 2012, to bring down the subsidy burden.

"I would urge that by the end of the 12th Plan, these three major subsidies be rolled out across the country through direct cash transfers to the beneficiaries," Chidambaram said at a meeting of the Planning Commission called to finalise the Plan.

Direct cash transfers would bring down the subsidy burden as the money would go directly to the "genuine" beneficiaries and "plug leakages" in the implementation of these schemes, he said.

Oil Rises to Four-Month High on Fed Stimulus Measures

Oil climbed to the highest level in more than four months as the Federal Reserve’s plan to buy mortgage securities boosted demand for commodities and stocks.

Futures rose above $100 after the Fed said yesterday that it would make additional purchases of debt in a third round of so-called quantitative easing. The move followed a European Central Bank bond-buying announcement on Sept. 6. Crude also gained on concern that protests in the Middle East and North Africa will disrupt shipments.

Storm Effect on Oil Prices Waning as Shale Booms

The power of hurricanes to drive up oil prices is diminishing as the proportion of U.S. crude coming from the Gulf of Mexico falls to a 14-year low because of the increase in onshore shale production.

Oil breaks $100, but don't expect QE3 boost to last

Fresh stimulus action from the Federal Reserve drove commodity prices sharply higher Friday, but experts say don't expect the QE3-fueled boost to last long.

Gas prices hit record high for August

Gas prices in August on average rose to $3.78 per gallon in Ohio and $3.80 in the region, the highest average prices ever recorded for the month, and the first monthly increases since March, according to a Hamilton JournalNews/Middletown Journal analysis.

Enforcing single EU energy market is a priority-draft

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The EU's executive "as a matter of priority" is enforcing its single energy market laws it says in a draft text, seen by Reuters, that states its determination to create a barrier-free market-place, which has angered dominant gas supplier Russia.

Early this month, the European Commission announced it had opened an investigation into suspected anti-competitive market practices by Russia's Gazprom.

Speaking on Friday in Lithuania, which totally depends on Russia for its gas, Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said Russia had to abide by the EU's internal market rules and stop offering widely varying prices.

Anti-U.S. protests over Islam film spread to Australia

SYDNEY (AP) -- Riot police clashed with about 200 protesters at the U.S. Consulate in Sydney on Saturday as demonstrations against an anti-Islam film produced in the United States spread to Australia.

Day of Rage in Arab World Tests New Arab Governments

The day of turmoil across the Arab and Muslim world put new Arab Spring leaders in nations such as Tunisia and Egypt on the defensive as Islamists showed their power to exploit popular discontent. The violence also kept President Barack Obama under pressure over his support for the Arab revolutions and over questions about whether his administration was caught unprepared for the threats to U.S. personnel and property.

Iran says signed private contracts to export oil

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran has signed agreements to sell four million barrels of oil through private companies, an official was quoted as saying on Saturday, in an attempt to avoid Western embargoes.

European Union and U.S. sanctions aimed at stopping Iran's nuclear programme ban all imports of Iranian oil and apply to state-run and private firms, yet Iranian officials say private sellers can sidestep those measures.

S. Korea Halts Crude Imports From Iran After Insurance Lost

South Korea stopped buying crude oil from Iran in August after its refiners lost insurance coverage on ships carrying the fuel from the Persian Gulf nation.

Purchases fell to zero last month, reducing imports from Iran for the first eight months of this year by 34 percent from a year earlier to 5.39 million tons, according to data posted on the Customs Service’s website today. South Korea bought 1.14 million tons of crude oil, or 36,738 tons a day, from Iran in August 2011.

Iran denies jump in Turkish imports of its oil

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran denied on Saturday that Turkey sharply increased its imports last month of Iranian crude in the face of a Western embargo, saying its exports had held constant.

U.A.E.’s FAL Oil Faces Forced Tanker Sale to Repay DVB Loan

FAL Oil Co., a United Arab Emirates-based energy trader that’s under U.S. financial restrictions for links to Iran, faces the forced sale of a fuel tanker held in Singapore to repay $57.6 million to DVB Bank SE.

Iraq sees exports reaching 6 mln bpd by 2017

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq laid out more milestones on its path back to oil producing power, targeting 6 million barrels per day exports by 2017, and confirming it was currently pumping more than neighbour and fellow OPEC member Iran. Iraq's Oil Minister Abdul-Kareem Luaibi said on Saturday he expected oil exports will reach 2.9 million bpd next year before hitting 3.5 million bpd in 2014 and 3.75 million bpd in 2015. Current production is at 3.2 million bpd, the highest level in three decades, and exports are at an average of 2.6 million bpd.

"We expect exports for this month to be more than 2.6 million barrels per day. So far they are at 2.6 million barrels per day, and output is at 3.2 million," the minister told reporters.

China's Africa envoy says South Sudan oil may flow by November

BEIJING (Reuters) - South Sudan may resume pumping oil as soon as November, China's ambassador to Africa said, adding Beijing was optimistic leaders in Juba will soon reach pricing terms with Sudan on piping crude through the country from which it recently split.

Syria envoy meets Assad, says conflict is global threat

DAMASCUS (Reuters) - International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said after talks with President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday that the escalating Syrian conflict posed a global threat.

Activists say more than 27,000 people have been killed in the 18-month-old uprising against Assad, which started as mainly peaceful calls for reform but has become a bloody insurgency which is deepening sectarian tensions in the Middle East.

Alberta backs foreign oil deals

Alberta Premier Alison Redford voiced pointed support for foreign investment during a trade mission in China, just as Ottawa is reviewing the merits of China’s ambitious bid to acquire Canada’s Nexen Inc.

Total to drill eight Uganda wells, spend $650 mln

KAMPALA (Reuters) - Total SA expects to drill eight exploration wells in Uganda by end 2013, and will spend about $650 million on its activities in the same period, a senior company official said on Saturday.

Total entered Uganda's burgeoning petroleum industry early this year after it and China's China's CNOOC took up a third each of British explorer Tullow Oil's exploration assets in the country for a total of $2.9 billion.

At Least 200,000 Tons Of Oil And Gas From Deepwater Horizon Spill Consumed By Gulf Bacteria

Researchers from the University of Rochester and Texas A&M University have found that, over a period of five months following the disastrous 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, naturally-occurring bacteria that exist in the Gulf of Mexico consumed and removed at least 200,000 tons of oil and natural gas that spewed into the deep Gulf from the ruptured well head.

Lights Out: The Case for Fracking in South Africa

By the time 2019 rolls around, citizens in South Africa might not have lights, air conditiong, or television. And you thought that cultures always move forward.

South Africa is in the precarious position of having only one company, state-owned Eksom Holdings, producing all of its electricity. Even worse, the country's demand for electricity is expected to outpace supply by early 2019.

Natural gas, however, is the simple solution to the nation's problem. Natural gas can be used to create electricity to power homes and office buildings. But one thing is stopping oil and gas companies from drilling for natural gas - the endangered black rhinoceros.

Fracking and the road to a clean energy future

My co-producer and Generation Anthropocene creator Mike Osborne sat down with Zoback recently to talk through the science of fracking and the environmental dangers posed by pumping chemically treated water into the ground. Listen closely, and you will never hear Zoback defend the practice. It’s the science that he stands behind, whether industry chooses to live by it or not. Ultimately, Zoback argues that “Switching from coal to natural gas is part of that process [of decarbonizing the energy sector]. It’s not the solution; it’s part of getting us where we need to go.”

A Fracking Good Story

Carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. are at their lowest level in 20 years. It’s not because of wind or solar power.

FBI Clears Halliburton Crew in Loss of Radioactive Tool

Halliburton Co. crew members who lost a radioactive rod used in drilling wells in West Texas weren’t guilty of criminal conduct, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said as a hunt for the tool entered a fourth day.

Nuclear power champions Japan and France turn away

LONDON (Reuters) - Two of nuclear power's greatest champions dealt the industry a heavy blow on Friday, with Japan deciding to phase out its plants and France confirming plans to cut its heavy reliance on the technology following concern over the Fukushima disaster.

Japan Sets Policy to Phase Out Nuclear Power Plants by 2040

TOKYO — Japan said Friday that it would seek to phase out nuclear power by 2040 — a historic shift for a country that has long staked its future on such energy, but one that falls far short of the decisive steps the government had promised in the wake of the world’s second-largest nuclear plant disaster last year.

Energy Policy in France Divides Governing Coalition of Socialists and Greens

PARIS — After just four months in power, the governing coalition of the Socialist Party and the Greens is already marred by deep ideological divisions over energy policy, in particular how quickly and sharply France should move to reduce its heavy dependence on nuclear energy.

Without nuclear, the battle against global warming is as good as lost

A madness is taking hold. In the same week as Arctic ice cover is recorded at its lowest ever extent, two major countries decide to reduce or eliminate their use of the only proven source of low-carbon power that can be deployed at sufficient scale to tackle our climate crisis. Japan plans to phase out nuclear entirely by 2030, its prime minister announced today. The French president has just revealed a plan to dramatically reduce the country's reliance on nuclear, which currently gives France some of the cleanest electricity in the world.

UK windfarms generate record amount of power

Britain's windfarms broke a new record on Friday by providing over four gigawatts of power to the National Grid – enough to light and heat more than 3m British homes.

It beats a previous high of 3.8GW set in May and comes as a further 4GW of wind turbines are being installed, half on land and half offshore.

Bike to the Future

Remember when our car-free future was supposed to be powered by jet packs, transporters, and family-sized flying saucers? That happy postwar vision has long since devolved from Jetsonian utopia to post–peak oil apocalypse, a new Mad Max era of economic collapse and medieval brutishness. But while electric bikes can’t quite match the autonomy and convenience that yesteryear’s imminent dream machines once promised, they do suggest a future marked by technological progress and greater individual freedom.

How Big Coal Keeps America Stupid

My favorite is from 1976. American Electric Power, one of the biggest coal-burning utilities in the country, ran an ad in the New York Times to hype the idea that America has more coal than it knows what to do with. In the ad, there's a big picture of a little boy's face, and he's in tears. Below is the headline: "By the time he's out of 8th grade, America will be out of oil and gas." The ad claims that America has only 12 years of oil and gas left -- but, lucky for us, we have 500 years worth of coal.

From Ancient Deforestation, a Delta Is Born

Humans were tampering with nature long before the Industrial Revolution’s steam and internal combustion engines arrived on the scene. The invention of agriculture around 8,000 years ago, some argue, significantly changed ecosystems as it spread around the globe.

Inflationary effect of drought on food prices to be felt for years

NEW HARMONY, Ind. — The summer's extreme drought is on track of being one of the nation's costliest natural disasters since 1980, according to Chris Hurt, a Purdue University agricultural economist.

Speaking to nearly 100 area farmers during a breakfast presentation Thursday at the Posey County 4-H Fairgrounds, Hurt said this year's drought, could become the second-most expensive weather event ever, ranking behind only Hurricane Katrina.

In addition to direct impact on farm incomes, it will have a residual inflationary effect on grocery prices for years to come, he said.

Ozone layer recovery to take 40 years: Experts

Geneva (IANS) The ozone layer outside the Polar regions will take 40 years to recover to its pre-1980 levels, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said Friday.

France seeks more ambitious EU carbon cuts

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande on Friday called for deeper cuts in European Union carbon dioxide emissions as he sought to put the environment back at the top of the international agenda.

Hollande recommended a 40 percent cut in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2030 and a 60 percent reduction by 2040 at the European Union level, well beyond the 20 percent target set for 2020.

The Public Health Implications of Global Warming

The far reaching implications of global warming are becoming clear, from mass extinctions to underwater islands, monstrous storms and everywhere in between, but what about the increasing effect on public health? It falls under the radar, but in actuality, the siren is getting louder each year. So much so in fact, that epidemiologist George Luber is spearheading the CDC’s public health sphere on global climate change.

“That's because emerging science shows that people respond more favorably to warnings about climate change when it's portrayed as a health issue, rather than an environmental problem.”

Rethinking the New Zone Hardiness Map

The 2012 version shows that planting zones have been shifting northward as winters become more mild. But a researcher contends that this long-awaited map is already outdated.

Arctic sea ice shrinks to smallest extent ever recorded

Sea ice in the Arctic has shrunk to its smallest extent ever recorded, smashing the previous record minimum and prompting warnings of accelerated climate change.

Re: Arctic sea ice shrinks to smallest extent ever recorded

Another article about the record loss of sea-ice this summer. There's a graphic of the recent extent, which shows that both the Northeast and the Northwest passages are wide open. Are the Tea Party R's listening???

E. Swanson

And "weird weather" in many places 'round the world. Somehow the dog days of September doesn't sound quite right . . . 103 F in LA, 106 in San Diego . . . 100 on my shaded patio by noon - topped about 105 in the sun in many places around N. Orange County.

109 degrees in the shade in the Hollywood Hills at around 3:30 PM.

This is a very old, inaccurate thermometer that tops out at 110, and the measurement was taken in the shade near a west-facing wall, which tends to be a heat trap.

I really need to get a better thermometer and try the backyard. There's still a lot of concrete back there, so I'm going to get higher readings than I would in Griffith Park, maybe.

But that's what I walked out into when I step out my front door. I wonder what that will be like 20 years from now when I'm 75.

I'm glad I didn't buy a motorcycle back in '08.

RE Ozone Recovery Article: Ozone Hole measurements are about the only good news this year, though some numbers are better than others. Last year was terrible, almost tied the record; this year is looking a bit better, hopefully the area of the hole will peak out at 20 million square kilometers-- though the curve looks funny this year, I thought it usually peaked just after Labor Day, and was still climbing as of 9/15. Minimum Ozone seems to have peaked at 152 and is climbing again-- sweet. None of this double-digit crap this year.


Good news for the penguins in Tierra del Fuego.

Cooler tomorrow. Only in the 90s, LOL.

Normal for this time of year here:) So said most days seem to be around the record for the day. Just under, equal or a new record. Hummmmmidity doesn't help.


Anyone notice on WeatherUnderground's Record Extremes page. Kahuku 912, HI, and Wheeler, HI have been setting all time lows of 32°F every day for about a month now.


You would think someone would notice that cannot be, and fix it.

We've had issues with the weather station at the airport giving bad data. I have emailed NOAA and their response has been 'too bad'.


It's both drier here than it historically used to be (clothes hung up dry faster, etc.), but it also feels exceptionally humid in the high heat (sweaty, sweaty).

...I wonder what that will be like 20 years from now when I'm 75.

The IPCC projections at least are readily available. Their absolute worst case global scenario (A1Fl) 20 years out: 1 degC, with 0.4 degC (.2/decade) considered most likely. With most of the warming going to the poles according to their model, the warming in Hollywood Hills would be ~0.5 degC worst case, 0.2-.3 degC likely.

Was 108F in the shade, in my backyard of San Gabriel both Friday and Saturday.


There is an earlier piece from the same source that indicates the satellite may be underestimating the amount of melt, that is, overestimating the amount of ice:

Where is the ice? We are now at 83.20N which is very close to the north pole yet still there is no continuous ice cover (head here for more on my journey through the Arctic). We are mostly among small, thin, one- and two-year-old floes, with very little of the older, harder and more resilient "multiyear", or permanent ice that you would expect in these latitudes.

Our ice pilot, Arne Sorensen, went up in the helicopter and found little change even as far north as 83.50 – just 350 miles from the pole. Just finding an ice floe big enough to moor the 50 metre-long Arctic Sunrise for the scientists aboard to conduct their experiments has proven harder than expected – something that many think is almost unheard of at this latitude.

The obvious inference is that the ice has retreated far further this year than before and we will need to check previous years' satellite data to confirm this. But there may actually be far less ice in the Arctic than the satellite figures suggest.

In short, the melting effect makes it much harder to quantify the amount of ice there is and the satellite tends to see more ice than there actually is. That's why monitoring groups such as NSIDC or the university of Bremen try to compensate with weather filters or by calculating the ice extent over a number of days rather than on individual ones.

(Is there even less Arctic sea ice than the satellites show?).


Quick Facts on Arctic Sea Ice

What is sea ice extent, and why do you monitor that particular aspect of sea ice?

Sea ice extent is a measurement of the area of ocean where there is at least some sea ice. Usually, scientists define a threshold of minimum concentration to mark the ice edge; the most common cutoff is at 15 percent. Scientists use the 15 percent cutoff because it provides the most consistent agreement between satellite and ground observations.

They are talking about the "extent" record. Extent is defined at greater than 15% coverage, so naturally you can find lots of water there if you go and look for it. A place with 80% water/20% ice counts as within the extent of the sea ice coverage.

If you are interested in how much area is actually ice, or what the volume of ice is, then you can find those figures too, and they are also at record lows. Indeed, the volume has decreased over the past decade or two much more than the area or extent, so its no great surprise that the extent is now capable of dramatic decreases. When the volume hits zero, and for a few years its been looking like hitting zero in the second half of this decade, the area and extent are going to be zero too.

Take a look at neven1.typepad.com/blog/ if you want to follow up on the different measures of Arctic Ice and how they have been behaving.

I believe the satelites see more ice than there is. NSIDC showed ice in the Riga Bay and the Sea of Åland as late as in july. While my brother reported the water in the Bay of Riga was "ice cold" in july, I am very sure no ice floats around there in the summer. (The Bay of Riga was the second most popular seaside resort in the Soviet Union.)

And http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/NEWIMAGES/arctic.seaice.color.00... still shows ice in The Great Lakes and the Ladoga. I just don't guess there are any.

A record low in 2007 of 4.17m sq km was broken on 27 August 2012; further melting has since amounted to more than 500,000 sq km.

That's a rather broad rounding down to put it at 500k less than 07, when they earlier noted 2012 is already less than 3500k sq. kilometers. It only has to be 3.47 (a very small amount less than 3.5) to be a difference of 700k.

I think we can go the extra mile (or should I say kilometer) in our math to note an additional 200,000 square kilometers less ice extent.

The question then becomes, how big of a difference between 07's record and 2012 in area are we really talking about here? I heard on another website it is the size of Texas!

Put it this way: it is a record record. Records have been broken before,but not this hard. Personally I care little about actuall numbers and much about general trends. And the trends are the one of acceleration. If you come across a graph with the individual curves for all years since 1979 you will see that clearly.

But the numbers are staggering. I live in a swedish province called Skåne. It is a suspiciously square shaped piece of real estate with a side of roughly 100 Km. The people who made the maps of the middle east after WWI would be thrilled. 700 000 Km is, lets see... 70 of my home province. Wow...

Semiletov went on a new expedition 9 days ago (from Murmansk, Northern Sea Route).

"According to the head of the expedition, Igor Semiletov, the focus will again be methane emissions in the Arctic seas, particularly in the Laptev Sea". Here is the first press release Sep 15, 2012 13:34 Moscow Time ...

Methane emissions discovered in Arctic Ocean

Russian scientists have discovered spots in the Arctic Ocean where mass emissions of methane can be observed.

According to the press-service of the expedition aboard The Viktor Buinitsky research vessel, the diameter of some of the ‘methane fields’ found in the northern part of the Laptev Sea exceeds 1 kilometre.The new discoveries will help to understand the mechanism of global warming on Earth, experts believe.

In their opinion, emissions of methane could have catastrophic consequences for the climate of our planet.

Ship Locator: (Viktor Buinitsky - UAJX) http://www.meteo2.shom.fr/cgi-bin/meteo/display_vos_ext.cgi?callchx=UAJX

And one more news:

An international expedition of Russian, Japanese and South Korean scientists on research vessel Academician Lavrentiev went from Vladivostok on August 7 to explore new deposits of gas hydrates.

The expedition discovered gas hydrate deposits on the slope of the Kuril Basin in the southern part of the Okhotsk Sea.

On the same slope they discovered a powerful stream of bubbles of methane. It rises to the surface from a depth of 2.2 thousand meters, the first known stream rising from such a depth.

Large concentrations of gas hydrates were also discovered in the Sea of Japan on the west slope of Sakhalin in the Tatar Strait, with at least 43 plumes of methane bubbles rising from the sea-bed.

Related: http://rd.springer.com/article/10.1134/S0001437011050134

Excellent news! Looks like humanity is right on track to make Soylent Green a reality.

(drooling...) First dibs on a bankster mignon rolled in thin strips of politico!

Might that be a little high on fat content?


Good point! I guess they'll 'get you' either way!

It's fascinating to see the schism growing between what appears to be two camps in the climate science. On one hand there is the growing alarm over methane emissions as represented by the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, and reported by the Arctic News Blog. On the other hand are what I will call the mainstream climatologists as represented by the RealClimate blog.

The mainstream group routinely downplays the implications of the emergency group on a number of points

  • Methane is a small component of radiative forcing, especially compared to CO2 and water vapor
  • The largest source of methane in the world is wetlands, dwarfing arctic emissions
  • Applying an exponential decline to sea ice is a dangerous extrapolation
  • Undersea methane clathrates are stable and not about to collapse, even with significant warming
  • Even a large multi-gigaton methane emission would quickly mix in the atmosphere with little effect

Actual observations, on the other hand, can be troubling

  • Arctic sea ice at record lows, area, volume and extent
  • A much greater rate of warming in the arctic than at lower latitudes
  • The appearance of large methane seeps in open water
  • Greater methane accumulations in the northern hemisphere than that observed in the past
  • The appearance of noctilucent clouds in unusual places, indicating that methane is accumulating in the upper atmosphere
  • Dangerous positive feedbacks that could destabilize both terrestrial permafrost and undersea methane deposits that are measured in hundreds of gigatons

Even if some of the more extreme claims by the emergency group of an extinction level event prove to be alarmist, that does not give much comfort given how dire the alternatives could be. This plus the recent track record of the mainstream group being surprised by the rate and scale of changes in the climate and cryosphere.

How many times in the last few years have we heard "we didn't think that was going to happen for another hundred years"?


Put a numericalvalue to howbad climate change is realygonna be as to 100. Then goback to 1822 the year before the first observations of how the greenhouse gasses were made. They know nothing, so they believed climate change would be of the value 0. Now look at the process of discovering the truth. They did not find out all of it at once, but in small steps. We learn one thing, then another and so on. Our picture of how bad it is gonna be grows from 0 to 1 to 2 to 5 and so on. We will keep hearing "it was worse than we thought" untill we have the full picture.

The big question is if these methane seeps are a new phenomena, or is it something that has been happening for a long time but we didn't notice? To me, that is the critical question to ask.

Remember that in the not very distant past when the arctic was mostly ice covered year around, there were relatively few observations out in the deep water areas. A few long term floating ice stations and an icebreaker voyage now an then were the only science going on. Now, with mostly ice free summers, petroleum exploration, and Law of the Sea efforts, there is a great deal more research going on up there. It could be we are finding more seeps because we are looking more. Likewise, as has been pointed out in previous threads, there is still relatively little monitoring of atmospheric methane levels in the arctic. Is the actual level in the atmosphere increasing? If so, how fast?

Since methane hydrates tend to be concentrated in deep water sediments, one would expect some lag time between atmospheric warming and increased release of methane. First, the deep water has to warm up. Then, that heat has to be transfered into the sediments. Both of those process take some time.

I'm not suggesting that methane release isn't increasing, or isn't a serious threat. However, I do think that there are reasons to be skeptical that it is happening quite so quickly.

I'm not asking just to be snarky, but I am curious as to why is it so important for you to express "skepticism"? More important than the 5 seconds it would take to click on the links I provided?

High September 2012 methane levels

And check out the current temperature anomaly north of Siberia, posted in the comments:

color anomaly for 15 Sept 2012


The question is, is the observed methane rise outside the "normal noise" range? I'm not sure there are enough observations to establish a benchmark.

Extra methane in the air could come from methane bubbles trapped under sea ice and released by the current extreme ice melt, and also from the warmed sea water (warm water holds less gas than cold water). This doesn't mean there is more methane being released from the sea bed.

I think the US should outfit a couple of drones with methane sensors and fly them in a square pattern at sea level over the arctic ocean. Give us some close-quarters hard data.

I have looked at the satellite pics in the links. They are of mixed methane in the air. They don't identify sources.

I'm not replying just be snarky, but there are several reasons to be skeptical. For starters, if I recal correctly, there are only three methane monitoring stations in arctic, one of which is Barrow. Also, as you noted in another post, many mainstream climatologists think that "•The largest source of methane in the world is wetlands, dwarfing arctic emissions". Do we know that the September spike on the graph from Barrow in you link is from deep water hydrates melting? Or is it from wetlands? Or any number of other reasons?

There is also the little matter of the physics involved in releasing methane from deep water sediments. As I noted, first you have to warm the deep water, not just the atmosphere. We know that surface waters are warming. How much of that has made it into the deep water? There is a rather large thermal mass in the deep water Arctic Ocean, and it should take more than a few years to warm up. How long does that take? Do we have any significant body of measurements of deep water temperatures over time? Then the heat has to get into the sediments. Rocks have a rather low thermal conductivity. How long does it take the heat from warmer see bottom water to penetrate into deep sea sediments?

As I said, I am not suggesting that methane release will not increase from atmospheric warming, and that it isn't something to be concerned about. I do have some questions about how fast it is occuring. I express skepticism because there are good reasons to be skeptical.

Edit: fixed a typo for clarity.

The Barrow station could be detecting methane being release from melting permafrost. Permafrost is/was found across northern latitudes, and on the continental shelf off of Alaska and eastern Siberia. Permafrost on land is melting. Permafrost on the continental shelves would not get the reinforcement of sub-zero air temperatures every winter, and any warming of the shallow waters on the continental shelves would melt any permafrost that has survived several thousand years of being under water. Oceanic methane clathrates are found on continental margins where temperature and pressure are favorable (see Clathrates: little known components of the global carbon cycle for more detail). Clathrates at the shallowest depths in the Arctic are going to be the most sensitive to a rising water temperature.

Added note: The page has a chart showing methane clathrates accounting for over half of all organic carbon. It also mentions efforts to exploit clathrates for fuel.

Permafrost in the arctic onshore contains a huge amount of organic material. Melting of onshore permafrost is already known to be releasing methane from the soil as it thaws. I believe this gets lumped in with the "wetlands" mentioned above, and may well be the cause of the spike in the Barrow readings.

It is true that offshore permafrost does "not get the reinforcement of sub-zero air temperatures every winter", but then again it also does not get subjected to warm temperatures in the summer either. I have been on the N Slope when temperatures have been hot enough that we would like to have worn shorts and a T-shirt. However, then the mosquitos would have sucked us dry!

In my opinion, methane release from melting offshore hydrates may be a problem. Methane release from thawing onshore permafrost is without doubt a problem already.

Excellent summary Jerry.

Here's an email I sent to a friend:


Given the magnitude of the event, I recommend keeping on eye on this one. At this point, it's still very much a 'wait-for-more-data-and-see.'

First watch this 9-minute clip from a National Geographic documentary:

And then these 5 articles will pretty much bring you up-to-date on the current situation. Notice the progression of the dates of the discoveries.

  1. The 2008 discovery of 'The Methane Time Bomb'
  2. The 2011 discovery of 'Vast Methane Plumes in Arctic Ocean as Sea Ice Retreats'
  3. The Sept 2012 discovery of '1 KM Plumes of Methane in the Arctic Ocean'
  4. The Sept 2012 discovery of abnormally high methane levels in the Arctic
  5. A Sept 2012 'Call for Help'


"Are the Tea Party R's listening???"

The Tea Party listens to itself only, period.

Rick Santorum: 'Smart People' Will Never Be On Our Side

114,000 hits

Aspiring energy policy makers.

Just a little balance to the story: ” Crude oil prices briefly topped $100 a barrel for the first time since early May Friday morning.” They are, of course, only referring to the WTI futures. The rest of the story:

Heavy Louisiana Sweet - $116.39/bbl
Light Louisiana Sweet - $116.59/bbl
Thunder Horse sour crude - $114.99/bbl
Western Canada Select - $79.39/bbl
Syncrude - $98.24/bbl
Brent - $115.04/bbl

OPEC Basket Price - $113.47/bbl
And according to Bloomberg/Energy
Brent Spot - $117.59/bbl

According to every story I've watched/heard on TV (MSM), any problems with the economy can now be handled by a monthly revolving QE account, to begin at 40 billion. So the printing press is now spinning out new funds for as much and as long as we need it. By that estimation it will not matter what the cost of oil goes up to, because we can now just adjust QE's to the level we need to smooth the economy out. Problem solved (supposedly).

Not one station that I saw perceived any potential downside, like currency devaluation. Surely printing money at will must have a downside, right?

It was for this reason that I gave up on the MSM long ago. I mean, you just aren't going to find any reasoned, balanced reporting or analysis that takes into account the cost/benefits of anything.

It's all positive, all the time. Dow to 30,000, then to 100,000. 1% on Treasuries is an excellent rate and demand will continue to rise. We'll all become millionaires and live forever. Technology and happy thinking will save everyone.

Either that, or manufactured outrage that goes nowhere.

"Baffle them with BS" is modus operandi.

It was for this reason that I gave up on the MSM long ago.

Good choice. I should know better by now than to attentively listen to what's being said in hopes of them snapping into coherance.

The technocrat arguments become increasingly relevant. The writers of the study course (e.g. King Hubbert) obviously thought an understanding of energy was a necessary background to the understanding of the ultimate failure of a credit economy, lessons 16 and 17 of

The point being that as factories shed workers in favor of the far cheaper engines (and nowadays robotics or outsourcing), the market for their products decreases unless the displaced workers can be tricked into buying the product through personal debt. When they see through such a scheme the government starts to generate the debt automatically, hence the Federal Reserve System.

TOD has several discussions of the technocrats, here is one:


So many jobs have been moved out of America because Americans are too expensive apparently. Why are they so expensive? Because they consume so much. But government and business spent decades encouraging them to increase their consumption. Government and business still very much wants Americans to keep consuming like there's no tomorrow, but wages are stagnant and jobs keep getting sent overseas. It seems they've stumbled on consumer debt as the means to keep this paradoxical situation going.

"Government and business still very much wants Americans to keep consuming like there's no tomorrow, "

Of course. Government gets a cut of every act of consumption, whether through sales tax, income tax, excise tax, transfer tax, license fee, Discover tax (it's a Washington State thing) etc.

That is why the government loves booms so much. Money pours into the treasury, so they can spend it on whatever is popular with the voters, thus insuring they stay in power.

Especially the "stay in power" part... that seems to be the entirety of the game.

Awesome, I was just directed to the technocracy movement of the 1930's a few months ago by a commenter. Didn't realize the modern rebirth of it is so close to home, only 50 km away!

I need to spend mote time going through that long technocracy write-up but it's amazing how you'd think it was written today, with only a few hints here and there that it's from the 1930's. The technical issues have not changed, they've just been extended and pretended to even greater proportions by many decades of increased fossil fuel extraction. What is blatantly obvious now was blatantly obvious then:

"13.4 Fallacy of Economists

It is a simple matter to see why in the initial stages organisms and new industries should, under favorable conditions, expand at approximately a compound interest rate of growth. Since, until recently, most of the industrial development of this country has still remained in the compound interest stage, it has come to be naively expected by our business men and their apologists, the economists, that such a rate of growth was somehow inherent in the industrial processes. This naive assumption was embodied in the graphs and charts made by these gentlemen, in which ‘normal’ conditions were taken to be a steady industrial growth at the rate of 5 percent or more per annum. Such conditions being ‘normal,’ it was further assumed, without question, that such normal growth would continue indefinitely. We have already seen that the actual facts warrant no such assumption.

The question remains, however, as to why these growth processes have abandoned the original upward trend and tend to level off or reach a stage of saturation. The simplest case, perhaps, with which to answer this question would be that of the growth of fruit flies inside their bottle universe. Should the fruit flies continue to multiply at their initial compound interest rate, it can be shown by computation that in a relatively few weeks the number would be considerably greater than the capacity of the bottle. This being so, it is a very simple matter to see why there is a definite limit to the number of fruit flies that can live in the bottle. Once this number is reached, the death rate is equal to the birth rate, and population growth ceases.

Very little thought and examination of the facts should suffice to convince one that in the case of the production of coal, pig iron or automobiles, the circumstances are not essentially different."

Well duh. I guess it's a testament to the success of 80 years of the MSM brainwashing machine that the acceptance of this fact by the general populace is probably not significantly greater now than it was back in 1936.

While I confess that I don't know where the truth (if such exists) lies I do know the reply that you will hear from economists and other cornucopians:

"There may be limits to what fruit flies and yeast may do. They are limited to their own physical constraints. However there is no limit to the human imagination, therefore humans can surpass such artificial limitations as they always have in the past."

AS long as the majority of our decision-makers adhere to this story, as they now do, meaningful change will be avoided at all costs.

"..there is no limit to the human imagination, therefore humans can surpass such artificial limitations as they always have in the past."

Good Quote.. in fact, I think it is in itself very revealing of the limits of someone's imagination. It's funny how such a powerful idea as 'imagination' can be both so positive and so devastating, all at once.. funny that it's similar to the equations we discover about access to power.

I guess it comes down in part to whether your imagination is driven by experience and those very natural limitations of the real world, or whether it is driven by your unresolved fears and unmet ambitions.

Imagination may be boundless (which is likely an arguable point in itself), but the ability of invention and innovation to make real an imagined world is definitely limited.

How many here have imagined a more efficient world with rational birth rates and societal mores and incentives matched to a self-constrained yet abundant lifestyle? Such is far less of a technical leap than dilithium crystals and warp drives, and yet it remains as unreachable. Even fusion, a technology that was unleaded half a century ago remains untamed.

Too often, our imagination releases the latch on Pandora's Box, while our intellect and self-control (or simply wisdom) lags far behind.

Don't get me wrong; imagination and intellect can and have accomplished amazing things, but there is no obvious mathematical basis for a limitless viewpoint. I would say technology (our manifestation of imagination) has been on an exponential curve, like energy and population, and like the others it will eventually flatten. The real question is which will flatten first; Kurzweil bets on a technological singularity, while Doomers bet on a resource shortfall. My bet is that human nature is the weak point, and too many resources or too much technology either one will prove to exceed our self-control, and that the only path to success is for our species to first transcend its evolutionary underpinnings and learn caution and control.

Probably the best hope for that is to exist in a resource constrained, technology-limited world long enough to become wise, with cooperation and prudence selected traits. Not much chance of that, it seems.

Probably the best hope for that is to exist in a resource constrained, technology-limited world long enough to become wise, with cooperation and prudence selected traits. Not much chance of that, it seems.

The burgeoning Intentional Communities and Ecovillages are praiseworthy attempts to reach that end. However most seem inevitably dependent on purchasing outside resources with money that is obtained, at best, by providing goods and services to an unsustainable BAU world.

A variety of elements will dissolve in seawater. In fact, just about all elements except gold and the platinum group metals.

Unless oxidized or sulfated or otherwise chemically bound before "disposal". I am unsure of the chemical bonds in fission byproducts.


It makes it awkward, because it means you can't easily predict when the practical limits will be hit. Say we are off in the rate of use at maximum by a factor of 2; at a 2% growth rate that means your forecast timelimit will be 35 years too early. Plenty of time for the cornucopians to scream "those stupid Malthusians are always wrong!".

So while we can come up with hard upper limits (like the amount of mass of the planet), these are so many magnitudes too high to be worthless. But trying to come up with something that represents the limit imposed by the combination of geology/technology and economics leaves large error bars (probably greater than my factor of two example above).

there is no limit to the human imagination

"We'll move down the fruit fly curve until the fruit is used up. Then we'll move down the yeast curve until the grain is used up. Then we'll... er... think of something."

While I confess that I don't know where the truth (if such exists) lies I do know the reply that you will hear from economists and other cornucopians:

"There may be limits to what fruit flies and yeast may do. They are limited to their own physical constraints. However there is no limit to the human imagination, therefore humans can surpass such artificial limitations as they always have in the past."

Wow. I read that quote and I draw the opposite conclusion than they do. Yes, the human imagination certainly can surpass limitations . . . they can surpass any limitations at all. Unfortunately, real human innovation cannot surpass the laws of physics and the laws of thermodynamics. These people the rely upon human imagination are building castles in the sky. They are very very dangerous people because they will go down paths with no clue how to solve certain problems but merely wave their hands and say that 'human imagination will solve them'. Such statements are the product of human imagination.

Real human innovation is constrained and some problems just cannot be solved.

If there is no limit to the human imagination on the up side- then it must follow there is also no limit on the downside- Hitler dreamed big after all. Why celebrate imagination when we really should celebrate goodness.

My standard example: The idea of a skin cream that actually cure wrinkles is old and not mine. The market potential is hughe. Yet there exists no such product on the market. Why? Physical restrictions we have not yet crossed. Anyone who way "when there is a demand, supply will follow" just need to look at this example.

And on a related note, this item above needs a little more balance, too.

Storm Effect on Oil Prices Waning as Shale Booms

The power of hurricanes to drive up oil prices is diminishing as the proportion of U.S. crude coming from the Gulf of Mexico falls to a 14-year low because of the increase in onshore shale production.

They failed to observe that not only is production from North Dakota increasing, but production from the US GOM has been declining for the last few years and is now back to 1998 levels. I don't know exactly what is happening out there, but it might be that GOM production is starting to go into a steep decline such as we have seen in the UK North Sea and Mexico's side of the GOM. These offshore fields don't follow the gentle decline curves that onshore ones do, they decline steeply.

It remains to be seen how long the increases in North Dakota can outpace the declines in the GOM.

Also, we saw a sharp jump in gasoline prices here in Canada - which mystified people because Canada is not short of oil, far from it, we're swimming in the stuff. It was a little confusing, but analysts traced it to the effects of Hurricane Isaac on Louisiana. It looks like Canadian refiners shorted their own customers to move gasoline into markets normally supplied by shut down Gulf Coast refineries - to take advantage of the product shortfall. The consequence was a tight gasoline market in Canada and a sharp spike in Canadian prices. No doubt it is temporary and will go away as those Gulf Coast refineries come back on line and back Canadian gasoline out of the US market.

Rocky – Just an educated guess but I suspect DW GOM fields will show a sharper decline rate compared to the North Sea for a couple of reasons. DW GOM developments costs are much greater. Some folks think the N. Sea is a DW play but actually relatively shallow and more similar to the GOM Shelf. Those high DW costs and longer development time lines push operators to max production rates, often at the expense of URR. I’m not familiar with the smaller N. Sea fields but I’ll guess there's more of them given the lower costs. In the DW GOM smaller fields, unless they are close to established infrastructure, won’t be developed even with high current prices. I don’t track DW GOM discoveries but it seems we haven’t heard much the last few years. The DW GOM trend doesn’t cover as large an area as some folks might think when they looks at a map of the entire GOM. The trend covers a relatively narrow strip just down slope from the shelf. It’s also dominated by very large geologic structures which is both good and bad news: large individual fields but also fewer fields for a given area.

Very interesting to read, ROCKMAN

I am no expert but then looking at this picture http://maps.google.com/?ll=24.327077,-89.560547&spn=15.10142,19.753418&t... I do not expect anything from dark blue in the middle of the gulf. Is the deep water on the slope between the shallow shelf and the dark blue region?

karl - See my answer way down below.

As a case for show, the Maccondo with its 50 million barrels were developed only becuse it was close to an active pipeline. Would never have been developed else.

During the power outage in New Orleans after Isaac, I was 1) enjoying the a/c 2) enjoying a beer 3) enjoying a hamburger 4) recharging my cell phone and 5) enjoying a chat with a PetE at a bar close to the French Quarter.

He works for a small company with significant shallow and "mid-depth" (down to 600' from memory) GoM wells and some South Louisiana on-shore wells. No deepwater. He is responsible for over 700 wells. Private ownership.

Some are in -30% to -40% annual decline rates and the overall trend is sharply down and drilling prospects are thin. Mid-depth drilling rigs are in surplus and being scrapped. Not enough prospects world-wide to drill at those depths.

He is worried that there may not be enough work left in his niche to last till he retires.

Best Hopes for a Trickle,


"He is worried that there may not be enough work left in his niche to last till he retires."

That statement applies to an awful lot of people in many different professions. Including me. :-/

It remains to be seen how long the increases in North Dakota can outpace the declines in the GOM

I would love to see a chart extrapolating this- does it exist? Can someone create one on the fly?

Rockman, why are Lousiania light and heavy grades virtually the same price when not of the same qaulity?

mass – Rocky knows more about refining then me but I’ll take a stab at it. First, “heavy” isn’t necessarily bad in the world of oil. As you know oil is a composite of different hydrocarbon chains as well as other components. Second, how much a particular oil is valued by a particular refiner depends on what they need to produce. Heavy and light oil yield different proportion of products.

Perhaps a refiner can add some flesh to my bony answer.

I don't know much about Gulf Coast refineries (although I do know people who do know a lot more than me about them, which is why they are richer than me). However, I do know that many of them are optimized to run heavy Venezuelan and Mexican oils, and both Venezuelan and Mexican production are declining, so I could speculate that they need more heavy oil to balance the light oil they are getting in order to get the product mix they want. That would push up the price of heavy oil despite the fact it is harder to refine.

The fact they are capable of running very heavy oil is one reason they want to get their hands on Canadian heavy oil, the other reason being that it is much cheaper than what they are getting now.

Could someone (RMG?) please explain the almost $20 difference between WCS and Syncrude?

I've been wondering about that myself. Syncrude is lighter and sweeter than WCS and is good substitute for WTI, but the discount for WCS seems excessive. There is certainly an excess of supply of WCS in the Mid-Continent area, but there must be a relative shortage of syncrude in order to cause that big a price differential. There are many older non-upgraded refineries that can handle syncrude but not WCS, so that may explain it.

In order to level out the difference, WCS needs to be able to get to more refineries that can handle it, and that requires more pipelines to get it to the US Gulf Coast and Asia.

Rocky -" ...and that requires more pipelines to get it to the US Gulf Coast..." Hush your mouth, boy.

$27 spread now? What's the largest spread you can recall? That must be on the order of hundred million plus dollars per day out there offering to close that gap.

Flood Threat To Nuclear Plants Covered Up By Regulators, NRC Whistleblower Claims


Gasoline is under $3.00 a gallon...in Tijuana.
Mexico has always provided a subsidy to certain products to help it's less than middle class survive. The rise in corn(tortilla)prices affect many who live in poverty.
Pemex gasoline is a bargain compared to US prices but I won't drive ten miles to save ten cents on a gallon and won't goto TJ to save a dollar.
But if you own a big RV or are a trucker the savings can be huge. A 100 gallon fill-up of diesel fuel in San Diego? $425.00; in TJ only $284.00.
The story from the San Diego UT:

Gasoline is under $3.00 a gallon...in Tijuana.

Might be time to update the lyrics to 'Henry'

Sunday afternoon, Tijuana is a lovely town
Bullfight brings the tourist in, their money flowing down
Border guards are much too busy there at 5 o'clock
Henry truckin' right on through, he hardly even stopped.

Now he's rolling down the mountain goin' fast, fast, fast
And if he blows it this one's going to be his last
Run to Acapulco to turn the diesel key
Henry keep your brakes on for this corner if you please.

With apologies to The Grateful Dead

New Riders Of the Purple Sage.

But get the drift.


But Jerry played pedal steel on it... ;-)

Gasoline is under $3.00 a gallon...in Tijuana.

And that's one reason why Mexico is likely to become a net oil importer in a few years. They are encouraging consumption of a scarce resource which provides much of their export income and government revenues, so the transition to becoming an importer is going to be difficult for them. The government is going to have to cut subsidies and increase taxes drastically, or face bankruptcy.

Here in Canada, gasoline spiked to about $6.00 USD per US gallon in Montreal yesterday, and even here in Alberta where we produce most of the country's oil, it was around $4.90 USD per US gallon. Taxes account for most of the difference, and subsidies are nonexistent. In contrast to Mexico, Canadian oil consumption is about the same as it was in 1980, but oil production is twice as high and all of the increase is going to export. Also in contrast to Mexico, Canadian government finances are in pretty good shape, certainly better than they were in 1980.

I lived in San Diego during the '73 oil embargo. One of my co-workers told a story about a neighbor of his who borrowed a friend's pickup truck and, with a 55 gallon drum, drove to TJ and filled up the drum with fuel (either gas or diesel). He was stopped at the border and the truck with drum was confiscated by the Mexicans, never to return.

Tortilla prices steady at 14 pesos/kilo around here, negotiation and using a good few kilos/week can get it down to 12.


China's Nuclear Dilemma

An expert assessment of China's nuclear weapons strategy highlights the risk of escalation to nuclear war from a conflict beginning with conventional weapons, due to the unusual structure of the nation's military. The new study, previously only available in Chinese, appears in the latest edition of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, published by SAGE.

... "The basic dilemma for the war planners stems from the deployment of two types of missiles [conventional & nuclear] on the same Second Artillery bases with fundamentally different capabilities and purposes," Lewis and Xue say.

The article notes that Beijing's nuclear missiles exist to deter a nuclear first strike on China, and are only to be used in extremis. At the same time, the conventional weapons on the formerly all-nuclear bases must be ready to strike first and hard. Targeted enemies and their allies will not immediately be able to distinguish whether any missiles fired are conventional or nuclear.

This means that those enemies may justifiably launch on warning and retaliate against all the command-and-control systems and missile assets of the Chinese missile launch base and even the overall command-and-control system of the central Second Artillery headquarters. In the worst case, a self-defensive first strike by Chinese conventional missiles could end in the retaliatory destruction of many Chinese nuclear missiles and their related command-and-control systems.

"That disastrous outcome would force the much smaller surviving and highly vulnerable Chinese nuclear missile units to fire their remaining missiles against the enemy's homeland," Lewis and Xue warn. "Escalation to nuclear war could become accelerated and unavoidable."

... WarGame - 1983

Joshua: Shall we play a game?
David Lightman: [typing] Love to. How about Global Thermonuclear War?

... Joshua: A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.


Thanks lots for that information. Very timely.

New from GAO ...

Spent Nuclear Fuel; Accumulating Quantities at Commercial Reactors Present Storage and Other Challenges

Why GAO Did This Study: Spent nuclear fuel, the used fuel removed from nuclear reactors, is one of the most hazardous substances created by humans. Commercial spent fuel is stored at reactor sites; about 74 percent of it is stored in pools of water, and 26 percent has been transferred to dry storage casks. The United States has no permanent disposal site for the nearly 70,000 metric tons of spent fuel currently stored in 33 states. GAO was asked to examine (1) the amount of spent fuel expected to accumulate before it can be moved from commercial nuclear reactor sites, (2) the key risks posed by stored spent fuel and actions to help mitigate these risks, and (3) key benefits and challenges of moving spent nuclear fuel out of wet storage and ultimately away from commercial nuclear reactors.

The amount of spent fuel stored on-site at commercial nuclear reactors will continue to accumulate—increasing by about 2,000 metric tons per year and likely more than doubling to about 140,000 metric tons—before it can be moved off-site, because storage or disposal facilities may take decades to develop.

In examining centralized storage or permanent disposal options, GAO found that new facilities may take from 15 to 40 years before they are ready to begin accepting spent fuel. Once an off-site facility is available, it will take several more decades to ship spent fuel to that facility.

This situation will be challenging because by about 2040 most currently operating reactors will have ceased operations, and options for managing spent fuel, if needed to meet transportation, storage, or disposal requirements, may be limited.

Studies show that the key risk posed by spent nuclear fuel involves a release of radiation that could harm human health or the environment. The highest consequence event posing such a risk would be a self-sustaining fire in a drained or partially drained spent fuel pool, resulting in a severe widespread release of radiation. ...

According to studies GAO reviewed, the probability of such a fire is difficult to quantify because of the variables affecting whether a fire starts and spreads. Studies show that this low-probability scenario could have high consequences, however, depending on the severity of the radiation release. These consequences include widespread contamination, a significant increase in the probability of fatal cancer in the affected population, and the possibility of early fatalities. ...

Because a decision on a permanent means of disposing of spent fuel may not be made for years, NRC officials and others may need to make interim decisions, which could be informed by past studies on stored spent fuel. In response to GAO requests, however, NRC could not easily identify, locate, or access studies it had conducted or commissioned because it does not have an agencywide mechanism to ensure that it can identify and locate such classified studies. As a result, GAO had to take a number of steps to identify pertinent studies, including interviewing numerous officials.

Report: http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/593745.pdf

Mad Max: So, what's the plan?
Pigkiller: [laughing] PLAN? There ain't no plan!

Jeez... I wonder how much it cost us to finally get these guys to state the obvious. They don't have a clue...

The United States has no permanent disposal site for the nearly 70,000 metric tons of spent fuel currently stored in 33 states.

Largely thanks to the successful NIMBY lobbying effort that shut down Yucca Mountain. That aside though, yes, we should be phasing out obsolete Gen-II & III LWR designs and pushing ahead with a Manhattan Project-scale deployment of renewables. And we should also be building large scale Gen-IV MSR reactors that can consume this highly dangerous waste as fuel, thereby eliminating up to 98% of the stuff, while converting the remainder to elements with a half-life of a century or two (vs. tens of thousands of years). Oh, and MSRs could also generate Gigawatts of electricity to supplement all the renewables we're not currently building.

I am probably wrong, but tell me how:

There are sites under water where tectonic plates meet. One goes under the other. We could just dump the spent nukes there, kilometers below the water level, and let the plate tectonics bring it deep deep under the crust of the earth. It won't come up again until several hundred millions of years. Seems like an air tight solution tome.


It seems the US civilian nuclear power plants already have a solution they are using, nation wide:

They store all spent fuel on site, and say many things, but the spent fuel stays on site.

Anyone aware of any current US civilian nuclear power plants that have had thier spent fuel stored anywhere else?

I feel so safe.

Plate boundary trenches are areas of tremendous stress. Surface sediments tend to be scraped along the subducting plate by the overriding plate. And plates move at speeds of centimeters per year. Can you guarantee that the containers will not crack open and release their contents into the water before they are subducted?

Well no. But... human ingenuity?

The spent fuel is basicly rocks. They wont float away, and any animal trying to manipulate a pelet will imediately die. They also do not leak much either. They are solid. The idea is that we spread them widely enough to not reach critical mass, and then alow time to slowly munch them up and swolow them into the deep earth.

It is not a GOOD place, but I know of none that are.

It doesn't happen because international treaties forbid it, seeWikipedia.

If anyone has time for a back-of-envelope calculation: if all current nuclear waste would be dissolved uniformly in all ocean water, by what factor would the background radiation be increased? I wouldn't be surprised if it would be less than 1. There is a lot of water in the oceans.

Not that it is feasible (or the relevant metric for risk), but I bet that number would be much much smaller than one. I say not relevant because the bioconcentration in the food chain (or not) of specific isotopes can make them orders of magnitude more (or less) dangerous than a naive concentration would imply.

There are two possible reasons.
The used fuel has too much energy left in it to throw it away permanently.
So far no one has been able to raise money for research into the idea.
Funny thing is I have worked for years in the Canadian Nuclear industry and have never heard the scientists directly involved in disposal research mention the idea, only the scientists involved in reactor safety research.

Fed’s Lacker Opposed QE3 as Tantamount to Fiscal Policy

Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker said that he opposed the central bank’s third round of quantitative easing in mortgage-backed securities because allocating credit should be the province of fiscal authorities such as the U.S. Treasury or Congress.

“I strongly opposed purchasing additional agency mortgage- backed securities,” Lacker said in a statement released today by the Richmond Fed. “Such purchases, as compared to purchases of an equivalent amount of U.S. Treasury securities, distort investment allocations and raise interest rates for other borrowers.”

Lacker said that “channeling the flow of credit to particular economic sectors is an inappropriate role for the Federal Reserve.”

and Helicopter Bernanke's economy influx of money will rescue Obama, not you, here's why

From: info_7747729_average-savings-household.html

"The average total savings of a United States household is about $52,993 for standard savings and certificate of deposit (CD) accounts as of 2010. The average is $99,149 when it comes to retirement savings accounts as of 2010."

According to the census folks there were 78 million households in 2010. So simple math: totals savings including retirement accounts = $7.7 trillion. Thinking back to the good ole days when we were getting that huge 5.5% rate on pass book accounts and comparing them to rates under 2.5% these days that 3% difference represents about $230 billion in less earnings PER YEAR. Forget about compounding the interest: 5 years of QE means over $1.1 trillion in less income for our citizens. And many of them very dependent upon this income during their retirement years.

So Mr.’s explanation of why keeping interest rates low: it helps folks maintain the value of their homes. He didn’t explain how this works but I’m guessing he means it allows more buyers in the market. Not sure how that helps someone who’s living on the fixed retirement income who isn’t trying to sell their home. Not sure how that puts more buyers into the market give the tighter credit requirements these days and the fact that the banks seem more content using those very cheap deposits and fed loans for investments other than home mortgages. Of course the banks could make cheaper loans to businesses. But unfortunately the business sector is rather anemic these days and not expanding much even with all that cheap money available.

But I’m probably missing some of those benefits the American people are gaining that more than offsets the $1 trillion of lost income. I guess what folks should do it dump those cd’s and throw the money into the stock market. I’m sure all the Wall Street folks would be glad to help them. More money in the market means more commissions which means more political contributions. This system seems to work well for everyone. Well, almost everyone.

Yes, and notice the use of average rather than median. The average is undoubtedly way above the median, which itself papers over the real story, which is that the majority has bupkis beyond Social Security.

From what I just read, the median would be 0 (zero) for those 65 and older, since only 37% of such have any retirement saving accounts.

Of those with retirements accounts, the median account for those 55-64 is $99,000.

For those with retirement accounts who are between 65-69, the average is $399,000.


For the last several decades interest rates have been held below inflation as a form of taxation, a way to reduce the real-world magnitude of government and institutional debt by taxing savers with inflation. Basically, if you had a chunk of cash that you gave to the bank to earn interest off, you actually lost purchasing power. aka "financial repression".

The exception to this was in the early 1980's with Volcker's sky high interest rates brought in to shock the markets and prevent the runaway slide in the US dollar. This caused deflation and you can witness what happened to the economy as a result. Now the situation is much much worse and any attempt to raise rates would completely destroy the world's financial system. Rates are being kept low right now because the world is oversaturated with debt that can never be repaid.

Initially the QE was "sterilized", or prevented from entering the general markets which would cause massive inflation. Originally QE was meant to shore up the banks' balance sheets and prevent a systemic collapse of the financial system, with the idea being that if a collapse could be staved off, then the economy would recover and growth would pick up as it always historically has, thereby burying previous debt with GDP and allowing that QE money to be reeled back in as the banks improved their fundamentals as a result of the growing economy. Unfortunately, since central bankers and economists understand nothing about energy and limits to growth, the economy hasn't improved because it can't grow anymore, and that money can't be reeled back in without destroying the financial system. And the banks certainly didn't clean up their act; they continued on with their dangerous swindling and now require even further QE to continue to survive.

Now with QE3, the sterilization component is gone, it seems that the Fed is actually trying to create inflation to help the domestic jobs market, to participate in destroying the dollar in the global currency race to the bottom. I predict that they are going to do everything they can to keep oil price in check until after the election, then things will get out of control.

I recommend reading Daniel Amerman's explanation of how this system works. He does not understand resource constraints or Peak Oil, as with all economists and financial types, but he seems to have a good handle on the financial system and the derivatives market since that's where he came from.


Hope I'm not being redundant here, but in his article it states:

ANALYSIS: No Sterilization Means Radically Increased Inflationary Danger
The most important part of the Fed. statement was the word that wasn't mentioned: "sterilization". This means that there was no promise to "contain" the newly created money, as was the case with QE1 and previous mortgage security purchases, but instead it appears that the newly created money will be going directly into the economy - and on a potentially unlimited basis.

Yes, this is a topic I breached further up today's thread. MSM acts like QE3 is a great thing for Wall Street and Main Street, all smiles, bout time, let's go, rah rah. The reality is it smacks of sheer desperation because the Govt. has run out of ideas and ways to stimulate growth, so in a sense the only game left is to move things forward by moving money into the system at the expense of watering down the currency.

However, anyone that has invested in stocks knows to watch for total number of outstanding shares, because if more and more shares are being offered, then value plummets. At some point the company is forced to do a reverse stock split, with something like 20 or 10 shares converting into 1, but the adjusted value on the stock market doesn't last long as the stock price drops fast out of a perception of desperation and potential insolvency. How is this analogy any different than artificially adding to the monetary system?

If oil price does not drop back down and growth does not return, then an opened ended monthly revolving QE account of varying amounts becomes the gateway to inflation, and eventually hyper-inflation, which once it gets started happens very quickly.

What is tragic, is currently most people are encouraged by minor increases in real estate values, a rising stock market, etc., but it's an increasingly fragile situation.

No Sterilization Means Radically Increased Inflationary Danger

From what I've gleaned from reading Krugman, et al, the Keynesian argument is this: debt destruction (consumer and business's defaulting and going bankrupt) is primarily what is "sterilizing" inflation now. Every homedebtor who walks away from an upside-down mortgage or files Ch.7, and every business that sheds debt by going belly up or files Ch.11 is contributing to this. If the scale of money-printing significantly exceeds consumer or corporate debt default, then you start to see very visible signs of runaway inflation.

Of course, even the most dense analyst knows that much of the Fed's ZIRP-induced inflation is being hidden in various ways: manipulating the BLS published "core" inflation rates (which conveniently excludes "volatile" things like food and energy prices), or using financial gimmickry like substitution and OER (owner equivalent rent) vs. actual house prices. And of course, much of the $Trillions in bailout money sloshing around on Wall Street is getting channeled into commodity speculation, derivatives, hedge funds, LBOs, etc. Meanwhile, panicky average Joes are investing in precious metals and hoarding food stuffs and weapons.

Interesting times ahead.

Here in Australia a term deposit or interest-bearing savings account will earn you about 5% interest, which is slightly more than inflation I think. You're saying in America such accounts will only you about 2%? And this is deliberate government policy? So it seems the government wants people to spend all their money or invest it in risky schemes like the stock market for example.

That's just an unfortunate side effect. What they really want is to make it easy to borrow money.

In addition, I think that there are more than a few governments that are addicted to cheap money - if you think the US deficit is bad, think of what it would be if the US government had to pay the kinds of interest rates that we saw, for example, in the 1975-1990 time frame.

I don't know how long it will be possible for this situation to persist. If it does become the new normal, one of the implications is that almost nobody is going to be able to afford to retire. Decent pension plans are becoming extinct (partly because the recent returns on investments make the accounting extremely unappealing to employers) and the average Joe is unlikely to achieve a sufficient savings rate to fund his own retirement (and if he did, consumer demand would collapse and take the rest of the economy down with it).

I think it has to do with both getting people to spend their money to keep the ponzi scheme going, but also to tax away America's remaining wealth. Even though the dollar is falling, the meagre savings out there still represent a chunk of wealth and that can be taken via inflation. Plus, inflation reduces the government's future liabilities for retirement plans etc. that are denominated in dollars. So just inflate the dollar away and voila, problem solved! Sure we'll give you $2000 a month to retire on! (But that will only buy you 20 loaves of bread...)

Null – You make some good points but: “…the meager savings out there still represent a chunk of wealth”. If the numbers I dug up are anywhere close to correct $7+ trillion then it’s not that meager IMHO.

I had not thought of it as some have mentioned but driving folks to move money out of low interest (but no risk) investments into other investments it automatically injects money into the economy. If you buy stocks with your savings the folks you buy from can now buy some product the economy produces: a vehicle, a house, cloths, a trip to Florida, etc. Leave the money in savings and it only allows some more fractional banking. But with the fed inventing money and pumping it into the banking system at such low rates not only do they encourage folks to return their savings back into circulation but also replace those monies at the same time.

Perhaps adds a whole new angle to “wealth distribution”. Macroeconomics isn’t my thing. Did that just make sense?

Fed Tries Again To Recharge Economy


"The idea behind the aggressive purchase of Treasury and mortgage bonds is to force investors out of safe bets and into risk-taking that supports economic activity.

This happens because the Fed's purchases drive the return on investment in bonds so low that investors seek better profits from stocks, corporate bonds, commodities and other investments.

The Fed's move amounted to a shift in emphasis, since prior Fed actions were said to be in support of the economy."

I don't even groan anymore when I see stuff like this. The challenge is that you can't just mercifully turn your eyes away and skip to the logical conclusion. If you don't want to get squished like a bug, you really need to call the major milestones along the way.

I think this one is going to leave a really impressive crater.

Forex Liquidity
"...the market trades 5 trillion dollars per day..."

"Average daily transaction volume is almost $1 trillion dollars per day."

I heard you have problem to find enough good prospects. If there simply is no good obvious investments to make interest should be low. I have been looking on a lot of companies and quite few make a good profit.

I have been thinking about investing in some machines but can not find enough work to make it worth the risc and it is not new machines I search among bankrupt companies for the bargains.

Nice summation, Null!

Another lovely side effect is that Wall Street banksters have access to unlimited borrowing at near-0% interest rate, then lend it back to the government and consumers at... shall we say, significantly higher interest rates. This of course transfers even MORE wealth to the 0.1% and 0.01%, while beggaring the rest of us. That's a "win-win" for Wall Street. Rah-rah, go team...

What would happen if people payed off their homes, and their cars, then passed them on, or shared them with the younger generations?

...I think that might help move the balance of power back to the middle and lower middle classes.

Right now the BAU thinking for most americans seems to be 'buy a house', 'buy a new car' as they become adults, graduate college, and enter the workforce.

But what if that can be changed?

In just one generation, now banks would not have the majority of the power over people, as their car's wouldnt be held by bank auto loans, nor would the banks own majority of people's home note.

...just a thought!

I agree, but wow, what a massive mindset change this would require. You would basically have to convince a sizeable % of the population to completely re-think how they live. And while they are doing it, they would be at an extreme disadvantage to everyone else still following BAU (borrowed money outbidding cash buyers on housing, education, college grads beatign out non-grads when applying for jobs, etc.).

2% would be a dream. My savings account is 0.12%. A 12 month CD is 0.25%. A 3 year CD is 0.5%. A 5 year with a $10,000 minimum is 1.25%.


Yes, we are being screwed to pay off the bankers gambling losses. And Obama and Krugman both approve. Krugman also keeps going on about the "lack of demand" (see today's column) without answering exactly what this demand is supposed to be for. What am I supposed to be deficient in, that I need to go and buy it immediately, preferably borrowing the money to do so?

And on that note, my last attempt to stimulate 'demand' was foiled when I found out the new rifle I wanted is on backorder, probably for months. Bummer. Sounds like a supply problem to me.

PV – I know. I didn’t want to be accused of cooking the books. I actually estimated the loss exceeded $2 trillions. But, hey, what’s a trillion between friends?

I am naive on matters of high finance I admit. This discussion here reminds me that Australia in in the grip of a housing speculation bubble worse than that of America at its peak. When and if it pops (any day now) I expect the government here will also force banks to cut savings interest to the bone to subsidize cheap mortgages. The entire world may be in the last phase of exponential growth from burning through fossil fuel reserves. If so you can expect massive amounts of wealth to be floating around looking for a home in all kinds of crazy get rich quick schemes, like housing bubbles for example.

Lower interest rates have multiple effects. One, as noted is that current net savers earn less on their saving. This borrowing OTOH will pay less (to the savers), so that facilitates some sorts of economic activity. Higher econ activity should mean that on average citizens should be better off, although not all will be winners.

Yes if interest rates are lower, its easier to buy a house. Many (but not all) people sell houses, or sell large houses and buy small ones at retirement, these folks might be winners (because they get a better price). Those with little stake in the economy, but savings will be losers.

That's always the problem with "helicopter money." People who don't get it will resent it.

But people who have savings but no debt are probably a small minority of the US population. They're the ones who are really screwed.

Seems like everyone I know is either buying a house or refinancing their mortgage. They're doing things like applying at two or more banks, then forcing them to compete for their business.

So are you saying that right-wingers are making a concerted effort to downplay or deny the gigantic environmental problems humanity is currently ignoring? I'm shocked, shocked I tell you.


We just saw a story about a zero-net energy 2,700 sq ft test home using state of the art energy saving methods including solar panels and some geothermal application. The price tag was $2.7 million but that included some rather expensive monitoring systems. The cost also included an elaborate computer controlled system to simulate a family of 4. But no mention of what such a home would costs.

But just saw a TV report on the very same home. The construction cost for the home is $800,000. Unfortunately they didn’t say what part of the country that price tag was benchmarked to. Houston has some of the cheapest construction costs in the country with some other areas much higher. Today a modest 2,700 sq ft. home in a nice neighborhood in Houston is well under $400,000. The utilities on my very well insulated all electric 2,400 sq ft home in Houston runs less $2,500 per year.

So to be fair let’s assume the zero-net energy home in Houston costs only $500,000 and not $800,000. Or an extra $100,000 more than a standard build. So saving $3,000 per year for the utilities means it will take over 30 years to recover the extra cost. I doubt this would be very marketable to the vast majority of buyers. Perhaps the boys should cut back on the high-tech bells and whistles and stick with more affordable insulation gains.

Small House Movement

While in developed countries family size has been generally shrinking, in some countries family homes have grown in size, notably in the United States where the average size of new single family homes grew from 1,780 square feet (165 m2) in 1978 to 2,479 square feet (230.3 m2) in 2007. Reasons for this include increased material wealth and prestige.

Advantages of straw-bale construction

...over conventional building systems include the renewable nature of straw, cost, easy availability, naturally fire-retardant and high insulation value.

Cob Construction

In the Pacific Northwest of the US there has been a resurgence of cob building both as an alternative building practice and one desired for its form, function and cost effectiveness. There are more than ten cob houses in the Southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia...
In 2007, Ann and Gord Baird began constructing a two-story cob house in Victoria, British Columbia for an estimated $210,000 CDN. The 2,150 sq. ft. home includes heated floors, solar panels and a southern exposure for passive solar heating.

Two different small house examples. (Yes, you may want to sneer at either or the latter as a cramped 'trailer', but often, this is in part a response to gov't meddling via building codes.)

Yes, but even sleeping under a bridge has a large footprint on the environment. From where comes the water that is used? Where is the potty emptied?

Your potty-product can actually help shrink your footprint and grow something in it for you and other happy creatures at the same time.
And then there's rainwater harvesting.

I suspect dak664 was being snarky with that comment. As in, even when presented with the most environmentally and conservation-friendly examples of architecture possible, someone out there will still find fault with it.

That's ok, because either way, it was leveraged to illustrate important things.
And yes, I've heard of a few controls like attempting to prevent people from growing gardens on front lawns.

There's the hobbit house!

Here's my favourite "hobbit house". You can even see the inside, with its dynamic reciprocal roof. Big enough for us normal-sized!

You are looking at pictures of a house I built for our family in Wales. It was built by myself and my father in law with help from passers by and visiting friends. 4 months after starting we were moved in and cosy. I estimate 1000-1500 man hours and £3000 put in to this point. Not really so much in house buying terms (roughly £60/sq m excluding labour).

Excellent. Just down the road from me (well, about 60 miles away :). Thanks ToP!

Quite welcome. If or when you get to it, feel free to let us know of anything about it you might wish to. Pack a lunch.

Apparently, many young people of other cultures and times have or had basic knowledge and skills with which to, in part, help build houses like these.

On the other hand, the young people of many western cultures of the present know how to press plastic buttons to get artificial characters on flat screens to gruesomely beat and shoot themselves to death. I suppose this is effective training for what 'pre-emptive military interventions', drone strikes and Wikileaks videos have made evident.
Not only is Eisenhower rolling in his grave, but his coffin is being log-rolled for him.

Americans look at small, old English houses and call them 'quaint' and 'lovely'. When it is suggested that they use them themselves...


You could of course buy a standard house, and make a few tweaks for far under $100K. Add some insulation, slap on some PV panels. Maybe build some window overhangs to keep some of the summer sun off of your windows (mine cost $25 per window). You won't be net zero, but you could be well under average (say easily half of the average energy use).

I suppose it (also) depends on who you are, or what you want, and/or what a standard house exactly is. Is it cookie-cutter? Developer shlock? Snout house? How does the house perform to your daily choreography/needs/sense of spririt/soul? What is its orientation to the sun or climatic elements or place on the land or neighborhood? What are its materials? Lead paint? Asbestos? How old is it? What shape is it in? How was the house taken care of? What kind of problems did the previous owners have with it? What's lurking behind the walls, in the basement, under the carpet, under the floorboards, or in the attic? What's the quality of the electrical and plumbing systems? Can its structural elements be dismantled and re-used?

BTW, you might want to see the estimate-cost of the "hobbit" house I mention and link to in this Drumbeat.

I see the hobbits have moved out and are now living in a house that looks more "normal".


The hobbit house might be cute but I'm sure it requires an enormous amount of maintenance. If you abandoned it and came back in ten years it would probably look like a pile of compost. Nature is nice, but Nature is competing with you for the natural materials your house is built of.

Well ... not necessarily so fast.
Lime (or lime/clay/cowdung - where dung is a binder similar to processed straw) can have a long life.
Traditional English houses of wooden wattle panels/lime are known to have persisted over 700 years.
See http://www.buildingconservation.com/articles/wattleanddaub/wattleanddaub...
Similarly oak frames over 500 years old are common enough.
Roofing materials of straw were high maintenance - I have no idea how long a modern butyl membrane would last. We have old corrugated iron that is keeping well enough over 100 years.

I realise USA has more aggressive conditions in places.

Those houses still need maintenance or they fall apart.


Any house needs maintenance or it falls apart.

And, arguably, modern/contemporary, often mass-produced, houses need more maintenance both in their own context and also in their BAU/status-quo/corporate-feudalistic context, and they fall apart faster and/or collapse in the context of a system that is unsustainable/non-resilient/collapsing.

While the maintenance of any house might be bothersome to some, the maintenance of an, often larger, house in the context of a needlessly-overworked wage-slave culture seems even more bothersome.

When a house becomes more of a holistic component to a more holistic/harmonious/resilient life/lifestyle, its maintenance demands might become a little more therapeutic or enjoyable than bothersome.

Lastly, perhaps it is very important that when a house does fall apart in the end-- perhaps by a sudden die-off through disease, war and/or famine, maybe brought on by decline of civilization-- it does so naturally and without leaving behind any industrial manufactured toxins.

..And these houses built off the local land can to a much greater degree also be refitted with local materials.

Wattle and daub neds to be re-painted with limewash at frequent intervals. Any damage needs to be repaired before the elements get in and it falls apart. Thatch needs to be re-coated every so many years depending on the material uased and completely replaced at longer intervals. Now stone and slate, that is another matter entirely.


Might you know what they used to use (traditionally) directly under the thatch? I mean, we have the structural elements, the trusses, but what was between that and the thatch?

I'm thinking that if I had to build something like that-- like a small cabin-- I might be tempted-- at least at this stage of my limited knowledge-- to consider beeswax-soaked (paraffin?) thick (or normal) felted wool "tiles" or "tarpaper" over the boards. (Wonder what they used in place of nails.)

Also, and speaking of stone; with regard to Trulli, might you (or any1 reading this) know how their roofs shed water? Ostensibly, they built them with two nested layers of rock with gravel in-between... perhaps (lime?) mortar was enough? Or could dry-stack also work-- especially given the nested layers?

...What's the 'other matter' with stone and slate? :)

What's the 'other matter' with stone and slate?

From an earthquake safety standpoint, these are terrible choices. Not very forgiving, and when they come down they become deadly gravity driven missiles.

Beeswax/paraffin. Fire my friend, what happens in a fire?

I think thats why architectural change is so difficult, there are a lot of potential gotcha's, that may not be obvious. What happens over time? What about occasional hazards, like earthquakes or fires, or high winds, or ??? Can mold become a problem? Can it survive a leaking pipe? The easy response, is to use the local time-tested solution. Change something, and some failure mode you didn't foresee might bite you.

What's the 'other matter' with stone and slate?

From an earthquake safety standpoint, these are terrible choices. Not very forgiving, and when they come down they become deadly gravity driven missiles.

I mainly want to know what notanoilman meant by it since he wrote it. But your points are taken. Certainly some architecture is made with stone, which seems to work well in some contexts.

Beeswax/paraffin. Fire my friend, what happens in a fire?

I am curious to know what they used under the thatch for waterproofing-- aside from bitumen, perhaps, which may also be flammable.
Many things that are used in architecture are flammable, like wood. Or otherwise dangerous. Like life.
Danger can't be entirely engineered away-- and would you even want to? And new dangers can arise in attempting to do so. For many, danger's fun.

Granite is somewhat radioactive. Living in a castle room of it might be bad.

Here's a pink granite kitchen counter-top:


Comparative gravestones:

Thatching traditionally was tied directly to laths running across rafters. You could see the thatching material from underneath. Water shedding depends on multiple layers of material at a decent slope, not on some kind of underlayment or waterproofing. Wooden shingles (shakes) also used to be nailed to laths, so that you could see the shingles from underneath. The Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thatching covers (at least, superficially) thatching in many climates, and has some photos that might interest you. Thatched roofs do need maintenance. In the US, most houses today have shingle roofs (asbestos cement and asphalt are probably most common, with wood, slate, tile and concrete also used). Shingles have to be replaced every 20 years or so, more often if subject to wind storms. Concrete shingles will last longer, as long as there are no leaks (and they will develop leaks). I have lived in a house with a one-piece poured concrete roof, supposedly good for the life of the house. If the house settles enough though, the roof will crack. I have also lived in houses with flat composition roofs (asphalt over felt paper).

You don't really need much settlement, just a little movement as the concretes dry out. Rebar and concrete columns with blocks/bricks in between? Likely to get some drying out and hardening movement that creates cracks. You are also at risk of shrinkage cracks in the concrete.


Yeah, CBS (South Florida building code). In the 7 years my family lived there, IIRC, the roof did not crack. Other houses in the development (built on fill) settled more, and showed cracks in walls and roof.

You don't need a lot of movement to start a crack and they don't have to be very big to let in water. 0.1% over 3m is 3mm, can put quite a bit of strain on. If you have got away with it so far well done, otherwise there is always Fester ;)


EDIT: Concrete and rebar here, earthquake zone. Maximum distance between steel is 3 or 4 meters, can't remember which off the top of my head, think it's 3.

Thatch, when done correctly, is built up in several layers on top of the wooden structure of the roof. Exact details vary between areas, thatchers and type of material eg reed or straw. In good condition it will keep the weather out, heat in and the house dry, no waterproof layer needed, but it does deteriorate from the outside in. Keep the outer layer well maintained and you will increase the life of the inner layers. There was a roof re-thatched, in my old village, some years ago. The local council specified the material to be used, I can't remember if it was a full job or just the cover. The thatcher took them to task over the material as the lower layers were different, they were specifying the wrong material. The lowest layers may have had material ageing back over a hundred years and maybe even several hundred. A good book on old houses is 'Care of Old Houses' by Pamela Cunnington at Prism Alpha ISBN 0 906670 33 0.

While I agree with EoS over the earthquake hazard we are not too affected by it in the UK. The 'another matter' was that, in a suitable area, stone and slate can be almost maintenance free. Walls and roof can last for hundreds of years with very little work. About the biggest problem would be boring insects getting into the roof timbers, which would affect many other types of roof. Slate or any other cleft rock does not require an interlayer. A good roof will have sheets overlapping over 3 levels.

As an aside, the palm fronds that are used to make roofs over here, palapa, can be made fairly waterproof but the locals try and save material by adding a layer of polythene sheet. Palapa is also HIGHLY flammable. After burning some tree trimmings I instantly swore to NEVER use it near a house.


Interesting! Thanks for the book recommend too, I'll look into it... So what kind of man are you? ...What about linseed oil? ;)

Over here, I've personally never seen anything of the sort anywhere with regard to thatching, but it may be coming.
Nevertheless, we likely have the water reeds for it and there is a lot of water... Here's something:

Annapolis Royal — Visitors to the Historic Gardens have the opportunity to see a rare example of an authentic thatched roof...
"...A properly constructed thatched roof can last anywhere from 50 to 70 years."
The proper name for this particular reed is phragmites, also known as elephant grass in the Annapolis Royal area. The reeds are long and hollow and can grow about three metres high.
The plant is not native to Nova Scotia but there is a plentiful supply growing in the marshland just down the path from the Acadian House.

I would love to know how to do thatching and would get a kick out of doing a small all-natural-construction cabin with it and an earthen floor, for example, as a project.

Benefits [of earthen floor]
- Variety of colors, textures, and materials
- Can be installed over nearly any subflooring
- Integrates well with in-floor radiant heat tubing
- One of the cheapest flooring methods, green or otherwise.

Note that thatch does not form an impermeable membrane. It is a bundle of wires. If you hold a piece of wire at an angle and put a drop of water on it, the drop will run down the wire to the end rather than dripping off. Thatch works the same way.

Cool, thanks. I figured as much, but it begs the question about a minimum roof pitch for thatch... Just checked and according to three sites, it's min 45 degrees.

Yep, needs to be steep. I suggest using Google Maps/Earth to look at some of the small villages in the UK, Bedfordshire/Buckinghamshire/Hertfordshire should prove fruitful, to see examples. Also, I would suggest the South Wales valleys for slate roofing.


EDIT: Forgot to mention, most cover their thatch with wire netting to stop birds tearing it apart for nesting material.

I'm pretty sure they used nothing under the thatch traditionally. If the slope is steep enough it's completely waterproof. And it gives a distinctive smell to the interior which is quite pleasant. Sort of warm and barnyard-y.

Maybe modern building codes require a flame barrier and something to keep the nesting critters out of your hair.

Maybe modern building codes require... something to keep the nesting critters out of your hair.
~ aardvark

Creature comforts ;)

I'm hoping building codes collapse along with centralized government, and that Kunstler is right about highrises.
That building codes somehow uphold the nonsense and disasters that is much contemporary architecture speaks volumes.
I imagine people are smart enough to figure out what's best for them at the local level.

Here in South Africa thatch used to be for poor people who couldn't afford corrugated iron. Now it is a sign of status as only the wealthy can afford to buy and maintain it, and pay the insurance premiums. The poor people make do with second-hand corrugated iron.

Incidentally, when the collapse comes, become a corrugated iron trader. There's always a market for it. When a house is abandoned, the iron roof is the first to go, followed by the door and window frames, followed by the bricks.

So did they leave the hobbit house voluntarily, or did the local police evict them for living in a house without a habitation permit, which they couldn't get because they violated building codes?

And good on them for it, too! Let's get those bureaucrats out of their little boxes and let them stretch their legs a bit, eh!?

But boy, you guys' snarky assumptions are really something!

BTW, it would probably be "Hobbitation Permits" I think.

They don't say why they moved. I gather the hobbit house was built on land provided free and remains the property of the landowner. They are moving to a place where they have ownership rights.

There is little point building up sweat equity if it belongs to someone else.

Unsure, but it may be that they moved to join that ecovillage mentioned. In any case, perhaps the original house is still there and liveable.

As for land ownership, of course it is important to consider that...

To accumulate wealth, power, or land beyond one's needs in a limited world is to be truly immoral, be it as an individual, an institution, or a nation-state."
~ Bill Mollison, 'Permaculture: A Designer's Manual', second ed.

Ecovillage seems to need to be the norm, not the alternative.

I wouldn't be so sure.

First Earth part 1: Uncompromising Ecological Architecture

Our current BAU system is what, as you say, 'requires an enormous amount of maintenance'-- and far worse, because all the enormous amount of maintenance in the world is not going to bring back lost species, a lost planet, or a lost race as we.

I am surprised no one has mentioned the 'Passivehaus' movement/standard which is well established in Germany/Austria and taking off in the UK.

These houses are essentially zero net energy, but I don't think the additional cost to build is anything like what's described.

Here's an introductory link - google for more (can't find a good link on construction costs).


(My son lived in passivhaus standard student accomodation while studying in Vienna)

KSA addresses domestic oil consumption.

This was posted tomorrow (sic):

KSA will never be an importer. They have nothing else to export, unless sand become more popular. If they one year produce 2 barrels a day, they will export one of them. They will shrink domestic consumption to alow some share to be exported. When they finally HAVE to import, there will not be an exporter to supply them.

What about camel poop. Is there a market for camel poop?

They are currently flying jets. When their sons are riding camels, you may have a case.

Their sons will never ride camels because they don't know how. Modern Saudis live like affluent people everywhere else. They have lost the skill that enabled their ancestors to survive in the desert. It will be interesting to see how that country fares after 2030.

Like everywhere, and probably in every age, it's the youngsters who adapt first and best.

There are also more than 600% more people there than before the oil was found. If export dollars dry up there is no good ending for SA.

Regarding FBI Clears Halliburton Crew in Loss of Radioactive Tool above, I'm wondering if Rockman or anyone familiar with these devices can comment on how prevalent they are in the oil patch. Sounds like you wouldn't want to hold one or get too close to it. Do they use special equipment and/or radiation shielding to transport them between the truck and the drill hole? Obviously it's quite a problem when one goes unaccounted for. Supposedly the thing is marked radioactive and do not handle, but on the other hand it's not that big and looks like some kind of tool or probe or machine part. I can imagine some bubba finding it by the side of the road and tossing it into his toolbox to play around with later.

Walt – I haven’t seen the details but it probably was a midlevel gamma ray source:


Very common in the oil patch. Companies like Halliburton and Schlumberger have hundreds of them. Transported in a small safe box. After the logging tool is hung is the derrick a hand will load it into the tool with a protective shield. The hands wear dose badges just like x-ray technicians.

Not very dangerous as long as you don’t carry it around in your front pocket for a day or two. Very odd if they just accidentally dropped it along the way. My first guess would be some idiot thought it would be cool to have it and show it off at the bar Saturday night. Since it isn’t a very strong source it will be difficult to detect just running a detector down the road.

ROCKMAN: Question from one who has edited and written many SOPs for sampling and sample management of hazardous and radioactive materials (in the environment)-- from taking the samples from the source, through lab analysis to recording of analytical results data and security of database of analytical results:

Is there a chain-of-custody requirement for recording who is responsible for the location of these instruments at all times? If not, do you know why not? (never mind on that one)

e - The typical logging crew is 3 or 4 hands. Made up of the huge wire line logging truck, a tool p/u truck and one other vehicle. The density logging tool, and the nuclear source, are usually carried in the p/u truck. That hand driving this truck is responsible for the source. At no time does the operator or drilling contractor have control (and thus responsibility for) of the source.

I would bet someone got run off over the incident.

Understood. Thanks.

Concerning the article up top: Anti-Japan protests erupt in China cities over islands row

Protester Liu Gang, a migrant worker from the southern region of Guangxi, said: "We hate Japan. We've always hated Japan. Japan invaded China and killed a lot of Chinese. We will never forget."

"I don't mean war, but tougher action like sanctions. You can see how much Japan depends on our economy. Then don't sell them any rare earths," he said, referring to elements mined in China which are vital to defense, electronics and renewable-energy technologies.

A resource war over crude oil is simmering....

I wonder if the U.S. has Japan's back like they have Israel's.

Why the Japan-China island dispute is an American problem, Foreign Policy, Joshua Keating, Wednesday, September 12, 2012

According to an unnamed State Department official quoted by Japan's Kyodo news agency in July, the islands "fall within the scope of Article 5," meaning that if China took action to reassert its sovereignty over the islands, the U.S. would be obligated to intervene on Japan's behalf. If it did not take action, that could presumably be seen as a tacit acknowledgement that the islands are not part of Japanese territory.

Yeah, holy smokes . . . this one is starting to get real. Lots of protests & burning buildings in China.

The translations of some of the banners carried at the protests are . . . really "out there".
"We will kill every Japanese person, even if it means deaths for our own; even poverty will not deter us from reclaiming the Diaoyu Islands"
"nuclear extermination of Japanese wild dogs"
"Defend Diaoyu Islands until our deaths"

They are making those Muslim protesters almost look rational.

"I wonder if the U.S. has Japan's back like they have Israel's."
Well . . . there is this:

But do we recognize fully Japan's claim to those rocks? I don't know.

I don't know how much the US will back Japan over those islands, but the US has pressured allies in the past to hand over disputed territories:



Somewhat similar if less extreme stuff coming out of South Korea. This encompasses several nations, but all have decided that now is the crucial time to enforce whatever territorial claims they have. And several are enlisting citizen anger/mobs as part of the pressure tactics. Ugly, and dangerous.

Hello all! What do you think about the L ynas article and nuclear? Back in 05 06 most of the people on here were antis, and would insist that we would run out of uranium, but now I think were all warming up to it, since it is the only thing that will work. The uranium shortage will probably begin in a couple of years, and our leaders will probably figure out what a breeder is decades later. Any one on the west coast want to meet in person to chat?

[..nuclear] ...is the only thing that will work.

and change your mind, please.

I know a couple posters in favor of Nuke have a lot to say, but in the end, I think it's really only a couple posters here.

What makes you think people here are warming to Nuclear? Since Japan, I think it's been slipping the other way.

"What makes you think people here are warming to Nuclear? Since Japan, I think it's been slipping the other way."

Fukushima; wind at parity or better; PV down to less than $1.00 a watt and still dropping; sodium-sulfur batteries in the large economy size; AP1000 already having cost overruns, and the ground is barely cleared. And we can add Crystal River and San Onofre to the problem list for nuclear.

The economics have changed, and nuclear's politics have not improved. If you can get more energy for the cost of AP1000 by using wind/solar, why would you fight through the permitting issues and future fuel supply risk? Or rely on the hope that Obama will stab Harry Reid in the back post-election and restart Yucca Mountain to solve your waste problem?

Sure. All those reasons and a few more.

With such a complex supply system needed for parts, with insecurity around utility rate structures, the need to try to get away from water cooling..

Put a fork in San Onofre. The fuel is being removed from Unit 3 and the California Independent System Operator is making plans for the summer of 2013 without power from the SONGS plant.
The NRC is seeking input from anti-nuke groups!!

Thursday's announcement by the Independent System Operator, which manages most of California's electricity grid, that it's bracing for another summer without the nuclear plant suggests it may be offline for the long term. The announcement also makes official what state regulators have been saying for months.

"The California Independent System Operator Corporation (ISO) is taking steps now to prepare for the summer of 2013 should Southern California remain without the generation from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station," the operator said in a press release.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is asking local activists for input on who should participate in an upcoming roundtable about the problems at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

The request marks the first time the powerful regulatory agency has invited anti-nuclear activists to help shape the discussion about the ailing seaside power plant roughly 17 miles north of Oceanside.

The roundtable will take place at an NRC meeting set to begin at 6 p.m. Oct. 9 at a Dana Point hotel. Previous meetings this year have been raucous and filled to capacity.


Renewables boosters keep reciting best case factoids hoping the uncritical public will swallow it. I use PV, biodiesel, wood heating and microhydro yet I acknowledge the limitations. I suggest dividing the capital cost of solar and nuclear by their respective capacity factors, using 16% and 90% respectively. Thus the capacity adjusted cost is
$1 /.16 = $6.25 per watt for solar and for nuclear say
$4/.9 = $4.44 which works out a lot cheaper.
In Australia I haven't seen an installed solar system below about $2/w unadjusted.

To be useful batteries need to store energy at the gigawatt hour level, for example powering a city at winter night time for 10 hours at 2 GW. As far as I know sodium sulphur batteries are nowhere near that level of performance and probably never will be.

It's a Brave new world O Power! Containers of prime panels < .75 watt, GT Inverters for < .30 watt. Production cost for Crystal Si ~.50 /watt.

Capacity factor: rethink & sharpen pencil. Add arrays east and west, Install PV for 500% of 24hr kWh usage. I just watched multiple cloths dryers in a Lodge run while still exporting kWh's. even on the cloudiest of days. Problem is lack of PV install Monkeys and right to sell even at where IOU's can make $$ also. There's enough roof available. In the south, will structures w/o shaded south roofs even be inhabitable in the future?? If PV production was scaled like Auto engine production, would PV cost less than $.40 watt?? PV is heading towards the point where its economical as primary roof material. KSA's and Japan's 20 GW of PV has to come from somewhere.

Even if nuclear is phased out, the disposal issue still needs to be solved.

Innovative Ideas in Nuclear Waste Management


Ferguson shared his knowledge of Sweden’s waste disposal technologies, which consist of a four-layer method. First, the spent fuel is placed inside a cladding tube, which is then enclosed in a copper canister that has a cast iron insert. This is then enclosed in bentonite clay, which can absorb liquids that may attempt to leak into the waste unit. The clay is put inside crystalline bedrock, which is a third of a mile underground a Swedish power plant and nuclear-friendly community.

UPDATE 2-Iraq sees exports reaching 6 mln bpd by 2017

Export land model in reverse!

I have worked out that Iraq alone over the next few years will make up for the exports declines of all the exporters in decline at the moment.

The 23 exporters in decline have lost 4.7mbd of exports between 2005 and 2011, so

Along with Canada, Angola, Azerbaijan, Qatar, Columbia, Brazil, Kazakhstan exports could well increase over the next 4 to 5 years.

Ok, first off you seem to be confusing the Iraqi Oil Minister's optimistic predictions for reality (anyone recall "Baghdad Bob"?).

Secondly, even if you assume this rosy projection will actually come true, it cannot replace what has actually been lost from the other 23 exporters (assuming your 4.7mbpd figure is accurate -source?).
EXCERPT: "Production in the OPEC country is at 3.2 million bpd [2012], according to SOMO state oil marketing company."

6 - 3.2 = 2.8, not 4.7 mbpd

Thirdly, 2017 is 5 more years out. Meaning exports can (and probably will) fall even further in 5 more years, thanks to ELM.

Lastly, whether or not those other countries can ramp up production fast enough to replace a significant% of what has been lost still remains to be seen.

The data is here


Then look at consumption and minus one from the other.

Perhaps I should have been more clear, I did not mean that Iraq would make up for the declines of all the declining countries since 2005 or indeed since the date they started to decline.

Some of the countries in decline are experiencing a slowdown in decline rates and I was looking forward on that basis over the next 5 or 6 years.

If Iraq does increase exports as stated and there is a reasonable chance it will then Iraq could make up for the decline of most of the declining countries.

When you take into account all the countries that are increasing exports, there is a very good chance global net exports will be higher over the next 3 or 4 years.

After all global net exports were higher in 2011 than 2010 and 2010 higher than 2009.

Tories continue the war on science, environment

Focus is on oil and gas extraction despite proof of global warming

By: Andrew Weaver

The federal Tories are up to more of their tricks, putting fossilfuel interests ahead of pretty much everything else.

During the past week, Arctic sea ice retreated to all-time lows, shattering the previous record set in 2007 by an area roughly the size of (ironically) Alberta. In a bizarre response, cruise ships are now bringing tourists through the inside passage to check things out, and our federal minister of natural resources is in Vancouver trying to convince British Columbians that the proposed Kinder Morgan and Enbridge pipeline projects are a good thing.

Summer sea ice is nearly half of what it used to be just a couple of decades ago. And it is almost certainly committed to melting away in its entirety during the summer as a consequence of existing levels of greenhouse gases. But it gets worse.

---- snip-----

Sure, there will be opportunists in the scientific community who will take advantage of the facility if it's built, just like barnacles will find and latch onto a new ship brought into a harbour. But the real question is: When will the federal government come clean with its agenda?

So as we move into the autumn of the second year under the Harper regime, the war on science and the environment continues. Is there no one left in the Conservative party willing to stand up to this shortsighted and one-dimensional view of the world? Apparently not.

Andrew Weaver is a professor and Canada Research Chair in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria. He is the author of Generation Us: The Challenge of Global Warming

RE: Cruiseships cruising the newly minted passages..

To paraphrase Senator Amidala (Natalie Portman) from Star Wars,
"So this is how Liberty Dies- To thunderous Applause!"

"So this is how the environment dies, to Oohs and Aahs!"


My Mom was up there this summer on an eco-tour to see belugas in the North West passage. I think she thought she was helping to protect wildlife by flying up there, and roughing it in relative luxury. Quite banal, but I have come to realize that the vast majority of people, including my Mom, just don`t realize that we`re past the point where we can blithely continue emitting CO2. The emissions of CO2 that will be needed to help us transition to a Post Carbon society will be enough of an extra burden to our children as it is.


With apologies to TS Elliot:

this is the way the world ends
this is the way the world ends
not with a bang but a "ooh and aah"

Another $5+ billion subsidy for Civilian Nuclear Reactors

$6.5 billion for a new building (#9212) to fabricate nuclear fuel rods.

Some for US Navy submarines and aircraft carriers, but most for civilian reactors.


Let the Users Pay !


PS: Use the saved $5 to $6 billion to renew the wind & solar energy tax credit.

That's only 13 Solyndras. A real Bargain!

(PS, More discussion growing on Portland Maine getting light rail/trolleys, and the Downeaster will be getting linked up through Brunswick this fall. Links to follow at some point.. got to get Dad to church!)

A parable of one-way free trade

... As an admittedly muddy and imperfect example of this sort of situation, which I call "one-way free trade", take the recent case of solar subsidies. Starting in 2009, the Obama administration began dishing out loans and grants for solar power companies, since solar power was predicted to be the industry of the future. But starting in 2010, China unveiled subsidies for solar manufacturers and exporters that dwarfed those offered by the U.S. With their profit margins fattened by the subsidies, Chinese companies cut prices drastically in order to grab market share. The price of solar power plunged, dipping below the 7% "Moore's Law" rate at which it had been steadily declining for three decades.

U.S. solar manufacturers, unable to compete with Chinese prices, went bust in droves. Solyndra, the highest-profile failure, was ridiculed as a boondoggle of industrial policy. Somewhat belatedly, the Obama administration imposed "anti-dumping" tariffs on Chinese manufacturers; it is unclear how many U.S. manufacturers have been saved by the tariffs, which have drawn strong disapproval from most economists.

Meanwhile, what happened to those Chinese manufacturers who got all those government subsidies? Patric Chovanec reports:

So far those tariffs look to be doing us more harm than good. The US actually had a good thing going, US polysilicon exports to China were fueling the cheap panels -most of which went to other countries like Germany. The US actually had a positive trade balance in solar -(including the polysilicon surplus). Now the Chinese are threatening to retaliate against polysilicon. So I would say the rapid decline in panel prices was driven more by the decrease in the cost of polysilicon than my Chinese industrial prowess (and subsidies). Interestingly the trade action was forced by SolarWorld -a failing German PV company with some US production.

"China's attempt to corner the world market for solar power blew up, but it took much of the American (and German) solar industries with it. American and German solar firms whose business models might be perfectly viable in the long run probably never made it to the long run, because of a pointless, suboptimal, foolish suicide attack by the Chinese government."

The point is not completely invalid. But what it misses is that PV cells (not so much modules yet) changed from specialty production to a commodity. And when you can't hype your niche (relevant to the real world or not) then you get under-priced by anyone willing to sell for a nickel a watt less. If you can produce a cell that is 5% more efficient than everyone else you might be able to get a premium on it, but maybe not. A design that saved three lbs/sq ft roof loading turned out to be of no market value after all.

Since your margin has gone poof, now you have to to be the low cost producer (the guys with the nickel a watt advantage over everyone else) , or you have to start bundling. For example Solarworld is doing mostly systems now, as in the complete clear the ground to close the breaker projects. There is still profit to be had there.

What you say is largely true. Although PV isn't totally a commodity. Buyers have some concerns about quality/reliability, esthetics, and the impact on other system costs. So a higher performance module deserves some premium, because it requires less mounting and gathering hardware. But as panel prices drop, the value of the other components of the industry goes up (because following Jevon's demand increases), so the net value of the industry does not have to go down because panels are now a commodity.

Quebec and Ontario working on creating electric vehicle charging stations

MONTREAL - Hydro-Quebec and Plug'nDrive Ontario are teaming up to develop a network of electric vehicle charging stations in both provinces.

The public utility and Ontario non-profit coalition said Friday that a joint working group will select initial locations and find private and public partners.

Canada Next? Oil Money Drives Prices Sky High in Norway

Don't try to tell Norwegians not to worry about Dutch Disease. Pizzas cost $50. Latest in a series.

Dutch Disease is back in the headlines. Last week, Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney dismissed fears that a booming commodity sector was hurting Canadian manufactures, telling a Calgary audience, "The strength of Canada's resource sector is a reflection of success, not a harbinger of failure."

While this message was warmly received in the oil patch, the other 95 per cent of the Canadian economy has reason to worry. The Loonie recently reached a 13-month high and has risen three per cent so far this year, while the Greenback has dropped two per cent relative to other international currencies.

---- snip ----

Beyond the theatrics of Canadian politics, impartial evidence tells a different story. The OECD released a report this year citing Canada's over-reliance on resource extraction and inflated currency as one of the main reasons for our uneven economic performance.

"I don't think you can really deny it," said Peter Jarrett, one of the report's authors. "Anyone who argues it has no effect is clearly not looking at the data."

In contrast to Canada's government, Norway's believes Dutch Disease is a very real threat. As I learned in my recent visit there, the oil-rich European nation for decades has crafted their economic policies to avoid hollowing out the non-oil sectors of their economy.

This article is from a series that Mitchell Anderson has done for The Tyee. Worth reviewing.

Secrets to Norway's Petro-Wealth: Lessons for Canada?

aws – What I gather (mostly from Rocky) is that Canada and Norway couldn’t follow similar paths. The N govt controls the sector in almost absolute terms. The C govt can’t…the provinces have more individual control. The N govt conducts business for the benefit of all citizens while each C province is mandated to consider their citizens first. We can readily see the extreme side of that situation with the separatist movement in Quebec.

The situation in C is more like we have in the US. While the feds pretend that they have significant influence on domestic energy policies they actually have very little IMHO. Consider the frac’ng ban in NY compared to the support the companies are given in Texas. Consider the $trillions citizens of La. have received from ff severance taxes and how my Yankee cousins in PA have been screwed by not getting one penny. Heck…the Texas Rail Road Commission still has the legal right to reduce oil production in the state in order to increase oil prices. Of course if they ever tried to do that, as they did in the 50’s, I’m sure the feds would have something to say about it.

All well and good to say one system is better than another. But as much as the feds (and Ottawa) wish they could exert more control there still that pesky constitution thingy in the way.

p.s. Give your mom a break. She raised your ugly butt and thus made a good contribution to environmental causes IMHO.


I very much love my Mom, which is why I brought her trip up as an example. It's not easy telling someone that you love that a meaningless eco-holiday that requires huge CO2 emmissions is not in the long term best interests of their grandchildren. So yeah, I cowardly point it out here. Not much hope when you can't even be honest with those you love most.

Anyway, I'm just having a hard time with so many people being aware and concerned superficially about climate change but oblivious to the challenge of addressing it.

As for the original post, one of the articles in the series was of an interview with a Norwegian PetE and senior civil servant at the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate. The interview kind of touches on your points. Anyway I need to get outside and do some work around the house.



Rolf Wiborg's Tough Love for Canada

A top petro engineer for wealthy Norway says Canada is 'a fantastic country' that's 'totally mismanaged by design.'

My conversation with one of Norway's top oil engineers and enforcers of the national interest has taken the two of us down a twisting road of comparison between his nation and mine. It's clear he believes Canada has badly misplayed the oil-rich hand we've been dealt. Does Rolf Wiborg believe we've blown our opportunity once and for all? Not necessarily.

"You're in a better strategic position than we were and are. You should be among the winners in the globalized world. You should be where we are. Alberta Heritage Fund should have been the Canadian Heritage Fund. You can still make it. When are Canadians going to grow up and realize that they are a powerhouse with resources the world needs and take that responsibility seriously? Many good politicians in Canada have asked that question. So far they have been failed by their voters and by short-term thinking."

Wiborg leaves me with this sentiment: "I love Canada. I love Canadians. It's a fantastic country. But in my opinion it's totally mismanaged, and mismanaged by design."

aws – “…and mismanaged by design." But that’s the question, isn’t it? Who gets to decide the design? An easy example: whose ff’s are they and thus who gets to design the system? In N it’s their national govt because they own the ff’s. In Canada I believe most of the ff’s belong to the province and some private ownership. In Texas it’s even more straight forward: most of the ff’s are owned by private citizens and some by the state. While one might argue that one imperial body might make better decisions for the masses while reducing individual rights. The difficult question is where do you draw the line.

Does the C govt have the right to tell Albertans how to manage the ff’s they own? Does the US govt have the right to tell a farmer in Texas he can’t lease his minerals today because the country might make better use of them 30 years from now? The fed govt might have a valid point but at what point does one lose control over their assets? I bet a fair number of TODster might lean towards more federal control. But, based on many past posts, many of those same folks don’t care for land being taken away by govts via eminent domain. I imagine many folks in NY cities that burn NG to keep warm in the winter don’t have as much of problem with frac’ng as a farmer, who doesn’t own the ff rights, having a well on his land frac’d. Who gets to design the plan...and for whose benefit?

As always it tends to be more a question whose ox is getting gored. I find most folks can accept sacrifices for the sake of the majority…as long as they aren’t the ones making the sacrifice. I wonder how much that N engineer would like his country's system of it took away his right to manage his assets as he chooses (to develop or not develop). Oh wait... he doesn't have the right to own the ff's under his land and thus doesn't have that freedom anyway.

When Canada was formed by the union of four provinces (Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick), those provinces received the majority of their revenues from natural resources, so they insisted that provincial control of resources be written into the constituion. If they hadn't gotten it, they would have walked away from the union. The other provinces who joined took a similar attitude.

Unlike Norway, which is a classically homogeneous European country with one culture, one language, and one religion, Canada is culturally, linguistically, and religiously quite heterogeneous - there really are no majority groups, and this is reflected in the constitution. Most of the provinces follow English Common Law (as do most US states), but Quebec's legal system is based on French Civil Law (as is Louisiana's), so things like property rights which differ between the two systems are controlled at the provincial level.

Norway is smaller than most Canadian provinces (half the size of Alberta) and has a population that is almost all Norwegian and 80% Lutheran.

Languages of Norway

The most widely spoken language in Norway is Norwegian. It is a North Germanic language, closely related to Swedish and Danish, all linguistic descendants of Old Norse. Norwegian is used by some 95% of the population as a first language.

Languages of Canada

A multitude of languages are used in Canada. According to the 2006 census, English and French are the mother tongues of 58.8% and 23.2% of Canadians respectively.... About 18% of Canadians (roughly 6.1 million people, most of whom are first-generation immigrants) have a language other than English or French as their first language or mother tongue. Nearly 3.5 million Canadians continue to use a non-official language most often, when in home or social settings

Religion in Norway

Nominal religion in Norway is mostly Protestant (Evangelical-Lutheran) with 78.9% of the population belonging to the state Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway.... The Evangelican Lutheran Church is still established and administered through a Government department.

Religion in Canada

Religion in Canada encompasses a wide range of groups. The preamble to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms refers to "God", and the monarch carries the title of "Defender of the Faith". However, Canada has no official religion, and support for religious pluralism (Freedom of religion in Canada) is an important part of Canada's political culture. The 2001 Canadian census reported that 77% of Canadians claim adherence to Christianity.... 72% of the Canadian population list Roman Catholicism or Protestantism as their religion....
Top Religious Denominations in Canada
Roman Catholic 45.2%
No Religion 12.1%
United Church 11.5%
Anglican Church 8.1%
etc. etc.

I'm probably belaboring the point. However, the point is that Norway is a small, homogeneous European country while Canada is a large heterogeneous North American country. You can't run two countries who are very different in the same way, which is why they are run much differently. In fact, if Norway was in North America, it would be a Canadian province or an American state. Canada and the US are run like more tightly controlled versions of the European Union than like small European nation-states.

Rocky - that's a good point I hadn't thoughtt of: scale. Norway is closer in size to Texas. Texas didn' have a sovereign fund but did funnel $trillions to it's citizens. Essentially managed for the benefit of the whole just like Norwayn...the whole of its citizens. Norway didn't manage its resources for the benefit of England, France or any other EU country. Just as Texas and Alberta prioritized for their citizens. So the same complaint could be made about Norway for not operating for the benefit of "the whole"...just themselves. Rather selfish just like Texas and Alberta.

Actually, Norway is a bit more than half the size of Texas - about the size of Montana - and only has about five million people - about the population of Minnesota - so it would fit right into the US. From the Canadian perspective it resembles the western 1/3 of British Columbia with a similar population, landscape, and climate.

No, Norway didn't share its oil wealth with Sweden, Finland, or Denmark, its Scandinavian neighbors. In fact, Norway used to be united with Sweden but broke away in 1905. Privately Norwegians like to gloat about how much richer than the Swedes they are now, so it's not really fair for them to complain about how Canada is structured with its separately managed but united provinces. A European federation structured along similar lines would probably work much better than the current European Union - certainly it would as regards currency and banking issues.

Norway the western 1/3 of British Columbia with a similar population, landscape, and climate

And politics :-)

Norway did offer a share of the North Sea in exchange for a share of a major Swedish industry (Volvo ?). The Swedes turned them down.

The Norwegians have been pretty good neighbors.


Even worse; we had a tiny island in oil-territory, wich we gave away to Norway before we knew there was any oil.

They like to gloat. Beeing the smaller of the two of us, like younger siblings do. It is like a game we play. Lots of jokes beeing kicked around between our two countries. In a friendly way. But more seriously; we had iron mines operating 1000 years ago. A decade ago or so we closed down the Sala silver mine, wich was the oldest operating on the planet at the time. Norway have no mining industry, and we will keep mining long after they are out of oil. They also have no timber industry, and are poorly suitable for agriculture. But they have a better fishing industry and sea trade fleet. We both have excellent hydro power.

Long term, Sweden is better I think.

No Norwegian timber industry ?

Norwegian Exports

Timber and forest related products equate to around twelve percent of Norwegian product exports. It is a very close second to only the fishing industry, but is a lot larger than both the aluminium and the natural gas industries. The timber industry also is more than double the size than Norway’s high tech industry.


And in 50 years, Iceland will begin exporting timber as well.

The trees are planted.


While the feds pretend that they have significant influence on domestic energy policies they actually have very little IMHO.

Ummm..... I don't quite agree. Would you say the Feds have no influence on offshore energy policies? I seem to recall a bit of hand wringing down your way when those mean old Feds shut down deepwater drilling after that little hiccup at Macondo. You might also want to ask the folks out in Utah and Colorado how much influence the Feds have on drilling on BLM and USFS lands. You might even have heard of NPRA and ANWR perhaps?


geo - valid oint but if you notice my post was focused on state, provincal and individual rights and control. But even the feds aren't controling the offshore leases as much as some think. Consider how the feds have given up control over most of the offshore areas, except for Alaska and the GOM, to the states. The minerlas in the fed waters offshore Florida belong to the American peple yet poitical pressure has prevented their easing. The govt has complete ownership and absolute control over those areas and yet development is night and day between La. and FL. Makes the feds seem a tad less in control.

They ceded control of TX and LA deepwater offshore to the states.....except that when they wanted to shut it down....they shut it down.

I would like to point out that when I lived in Florida, the offshore drilling thing would come up every so often. Only the far-right in Florida supported drilling, for the most part it was out-of-state Republicans who were trying to start it up. In Florida itself, tourism is paramount and beaches are well-protected by both parties. Nobody wants to kill the golden goose. So the Federal offshore is at least partly a function of state politics there. I have no doubt that if the state wanted it, they probably could have convinced the feds it was a good idea to lease it all out during the Bush administration. But Florida doesn't want it.

I also have heard that Florida offshore is probably a big zero anyway for geological reasons, but that I don't know. Rock?

Florida above water hasn't been very productive.

State's oil wells drying up

In 2005, production at the state’s 52 wells in 11 oil fields stood at about 2.6-million barrels. That’s a fraction of Florida’s peak of 48-million barrels in 1978. In comparison, Texas pumped 388-million barrels out of the ground last year.

Actually, that's more than I had realized. I can remember as a boy how driving out from Miami to look at a derrick in what is now Everglades National Park was a somewhat popular Sunday afternoon excursion.

adam - they did punch a number of holes in the Destine Dome area (for which the oil patch had bid over $1 billion for fed leases) with no success. Insiders called it "Duster Dome". LOL. Don't know many details but very diferent geoogy than offshore Texas and La.

I've been to the west coast of FL. Don't have a link but I would guess that the sea food and tourist industry in those parts are small compared to coastat Texas and La. But that wasn't the point I was making. The oil and NG, how ever much it may or not be, belongs to the American people, not the residents of FL. Of course politics is the key. But that's the point, isn't it: the assets of the American public aren't being developed in an effort to collect votes in FL. I suspect if FL had the oil patch infrastructure and employement as other coastal states the attitude might be a ta different. Same goes for CA. But again back to the original point of my post: the feds control those areas...not the states.

In Norway they officially book the economy in two blocks, sea side (oil and fish) and land side (everything else). The two blocks are rougly equal,and the fish part is not realy that big. Norways economy is basicly built entirely on oil. Canada is much larger and have different secotrs. There, the oil is a much smaller part of the total economy.

We will always buy oil, so Norway never experience the low part of the economic sector. In Sweden we have a few years of growth, then it stalls for a while, pick up speed again and so on. In Norway, they just have growth all the time. No periods of high unemployemnt. Oslo now have a 10% swedish population cut (foreign work force). When the economy grow, prices and salaries do with it. Even simple jobs like a street sweeper make astonishing pays.

Among us welders there are always discussions about "going to Norway". If I was 20, I would, hands down. I'd pay from my own pocket for some pipe weld licences (they want IW license for everything) and then just go upthere and get a job, piece of cake and all expenses made back with a goodnet profit in a year. Just remember to bring your own food, or your salary would leak out ofyour pocket. Now I am to old and have to much life invested here.

Very similar dynamic to NZ and Australia. Very high pay but isolated and fairly unpleasant mining work in the Australian outback attracts a lot of New Zealand workers [also prostitution is the big downstream 'service' industry in these distant mining burgs].

Now that China's mine [Australia] is slowing down as its client does I suspect we will be getting a number of these people back [Kiwis are ineligible for welfare in Aus].

So it goes on the edge of Empire.

It is interesting to note in passing that the scale of the iron ore and coal mining oops in Aus are such that they are hugely automated and in fact employ only a small number of people in proportion to the value of the product. Extremely profitable and quite distorting for the Aus economy. The source of some real nasty anti-environment politics too of course.


More on the likely direction of coal [and iron ore] prices here; http://www.mpettis.com/2012/09/16/by-2015-hard-commodity-prices-will-hav...

Strong argument that oversupply is around the corner:

"There are four reasons why I expect prices to drop a lot more. First, during the last decade commodity producers were caught by surprise by the surge in demand. Their belated response was to ramp up production dramatically, but since there is a long lead-time between intention and supply, for the next several years we will continue to experience rapid growth in supply. As an aside, in my many talks to different groups of investors and boards of directors it has been my impression that commodity producers have been the slowest at understanding the full implications of a Chinese rebalancing, and I would suggest that in many cases they still have not caught on."

Engineer friend in Sydney thinks Chinese have been playing a clever long game to stimulate added supply to the point of over supply in ket hard commodities. Where it is geologically possible of course, ie not oil.

Shell warns about Alberta’s emission rules

Now, however, the Shell report projects that if the industry continues on its current course, it will run past annual limits on sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide in the area studied. Those substances contribute to acid rain, and the projection suggests Alberta will be forced to confront whether it is willing to act in the name of the environment, or move the yardsticks to preserve its bedrock industry.

Regulators “will need to start turning down projects to stay under the limits, or they’re seriously going to have to ratchet back on the performance of all the existing operators to try to get those pollutants down to levels to enable the industry to grow,” Simon Dyer, policy director at the Pembina Institute, a Calgary-based environmental lobby group.

--- snip ---

Though the impact of the Jackpine expansion itself is relatively small against the broad landscape, Shell says between its mine and other projects, some 9e per cent of wetlands and forests in the region will be lost or altered. Animals will also be affected. The Shell document catalogues an expected habitat decline of 34 per cent for barred owls, 13 per cent for beavers, 11 per cent for black bears, 19 per cent for Canada lynx, 49 per cent for Canada warblers, 18 per cent for wolverines and, most strikingly, the potential clearing of woodland caribou, a threatened species, from the area.

“Woodland caribou populations appear to be declining to extirpation,” the document says.

Those granola munching tree-huggers at Shell Canada. I guess when it's a legal document you've got to say it like it is. How awkward!

Hat Tip: NRDC's Switchboard via Climate Progress

Lunch break over! Back to preparing the ground for some grass seed. Going to try Eco-Lawn out. It's supposed to be drought tolerant, happy in shade and low maintenance! We'll see how it urns out.

A biofuel player claims to be at the demonstration stage.

Joule Unlimited has for some time been pursuing an engineered single cell photosynthetic organism play. They say they finished a pilot, and are to turn on an acre or two demonstration plant (eventually ~20-25 acres) outside of Hobbs, NM. Product is ethanol or diesel secreted from the organism, yield up to 25,000 g/acre-year.*

I'm like to get a better fix on the demo plant location so as to take a peek from satellite photos. Anyone know/read about the location (address)? Their civil engineering contractor for the site says it is "south" of gas fired electric plant outside Hobbs. Here's the gas plant, and there's some construction (or mining?) immediately adjacent to the south from what G. Earth says is March 2012 photo, a bit early I think for the construction, but really I can't tell.


* Or 1/20 the land area of the total US corn crop to replace all imported petroleum.

CAPP takes a blogging Canadian economist for a tour of the tar sands...

My trip to see the oil sands

Stephen Gordon, Worthwhile Canadian Initiative

Here is the first picture I took - not by a professional photographer, nor with a high-quality camera, and from a moving bus - as we drove towards the Syncrude north mine operation:

Desolate, barren plains with towers emitting smoke in the far distance (it's actually almost all steam, but I didn't know that at the time). I felt like we were driving into Mordor.

I felt like we were driving into Mordor.

And this differs from Chicago how?

(Sorry, just suffering from flashbacks.)

The reality is that it's all steam, as the article says. The air in Chicago is much worse, as I can attest from personal experience having been in both places.


Deep Water GOM production

Above Karl asked about water depths in the GOM with respect to the DW plays out there. This link


and Figures 70 A&B do a good of answering Karl’s question. But I think 69A will be of interest to many. Unfortunately it’s only thru 2002 but does a great job of illustrating how rapid the DW GOM fields decline. A good example are fields that came on in late 1999 at 261k bopd that declined to 100k bopd in just 3 years.

Just my guess but I suspect more recent discoveries have been declining as fast or perhaps faster. The tech for making higher rate DW wells have been improving the last 10 years. And companies have always prioritized production rates above all other factors. The maps give some idea how narrow the trend is compared to the entire GOM. This is not a play that will be developing big fields for decades to come IMHO. These fields are very large structural traps which is how companies can justify the high costs. It also indicates that, unlike comparable onshore trends, it will not be economical to develop the smaller fields. The exceptions would be those closer to existing infrastructure facilities.

"Live fast, die young."

Rappers and oil companies both, looking at Fig. 69a.