Drumbeat: September 19, 2012

Saudi crude burn hits new records in June, July

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia burned record monthly volumes of oil in June and July, official government figures show, contrary to the top crude producer's plan to temper its summer oil burning spree this year with more gas.

The world's leading oil exporter burned an average of 743,500 barrels per day (bpd) of crude in June and July, up 82,000 bpd from the same months last year, mainly to make electricity to keep the population cool, data issued under the Joint Oil Data Initiative (JODI) showed on Wednesday.

The kingdom had hoped that more supply from Saudi gas fields being made available for power generation would save millions of barrels of valuable crude for export this summer.

Saudi July Crude Output, Exports Inch Down

Oil production in Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude exporter, fell to 9.801 million barrels a day in July, compared with 10.103 million barrels a day the previous month, official data showed Wednesday

The kingdom exported 7.286 million barrels a day of crude oil and condensate in July, down from 7.843 million barrels a day in June, according to figures posted on the Joint Organization Data Initiative, or JODI, website.

UK overseas gas imports to surge to $11 billion by 2015

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's natural gas imports from outside the North Sea will surpass domestic production by 2015 and add more than $11 billion to import costs as domestic supplies dwindle and Norway increasingly struggles to fill the gap, Reuters research shows.

Estimates show that Britain's own gas supplies will fall from around 43 billion cubic metres (bcm) per year today to around 16 bcm in 2030 if they continue their average annual 5 percent decline since peaking in 2000, while demand is set to hold steady between 85 and 95 bcm.

Britain was a net exporter of gas until 2004, but a steady decline in output over the last few years has made it more reliant on imports, which have so far mostly come from Norway and, increasingly, Qatar.

Oil Advances After Japan Expands Stimulus Plan

Oil rebounded from the lowest close in more than two weeks in New York amid speculation that Japan’s expanded program of monetary easing may bolster fuel demand in the world’s third-biggest crude user.

Futures advanced as much as 0.9 percent after the Bank of Japan (8301) said it will increase its asset-purchase fund to 55 trillion yen ($697 billion) from 45 trillion yen. The BOJ joins the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank in taking steps to stimulate the economy. New-home construction in the U.S. probably rose in August to the highest level in almost four years, showing residential real estate is recovering.

Asia Fuel Oil-380-cst cash premium at six-month low

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Asia's fuel oil market extended losses on Wednesday, with the cash differential for 380-centistoke (cst) fuel oil falling to a six-month low on higher inflows.

Oil at $100 No Spur Yet to Release Strategic Stockpiles

Oil at $100 a barrel isn’t a sufficient trigger for the U.S. and other crude-consuming nations to tap emergency reserves.

West Texas Intermediate, the main U.S. oil grade, is too narrow an indicator of global markets to prompt a release, and policy makers will instead look for North Sea Brent to recover to more than $120, Citigroup Inc. and Societe Generale SA said. Gasoline is more likely to spur a decision than WTI, especially as U.S. presidential elections approach, should pump prices rise as high as $4 a gallon, from about $3.86 now, Barclays Plc said.

Greeks searching for cheaper heating solutions

Demand for wood is showing a 100 percent increase compared with last year. Traders estimate there will be a serious shortage this winter while the average price of firewood has risen by some 10 percent from last year.

High demand for wood has led to a massive increase in illegal logging in mountainous regions of the country, where forests and even orchards are being depleted, along with a rise in illegal sales. There has also been a considerable increase in wood imports from Bulgaria, which, according to traders, covers some 90 percent of demand in Macedonia.

Jeff Rubin: The Fed is Pushing on a String

So what’s the harm in the Fed trying? Inflation is the traditional argument against central banks turning on the printing presses. Whether widespread price increases will take hold this time around remains to be seen. There is, however, at least one price that another round of quantitative easing is bound to send higher—the cost of oil.

Kjell Aleklett: Will Saudi Arabia Become An Oil Importer By 2030?

One week ago the news spread that Saudi Arabia would be forced to become an importer of oil by 2030. It was an article in Bloomberg's Businessweek that announced this sensational news and referred to a report titled "Saudi Petrochemicals - The End of the Magic Porridge Pot?" that was released by Citigroup Global Markets Inc. on 4 September. I have now had an opportunity to look at this report that is 152 pages long. First one can assert that the report is mainly an analysis of various companies in Saudi Arabia and the discussion of future oil export possibilities is used as a framework for the company analyses.

Harvard Losing Out to South Dakota in Graduate Pay: Commodities

Harvard University’s graduates are earning less than those from the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology after a decade-long commodity bull market created shortages of workers as well as minerals.

Canada’s Joe Oliver pledges to feed Asia’s growing natural gas needs

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver is offering assurances to Asian customers that Canada will move quickly to build liquefied natural gas plants capacity on the west coast to feed their growing demand.

Peter Tertzakian: Canada must prepare for U.S. oil self-sufficiency

Weaning the U.S. from overseas oil creates other ripples with important global consequences, especially to Canada. Already, pipeline bottlenecks created by the surge in production in both countries have induced significant and persistent price discounts to world markets.

Where does the Canadian oil industry fit into a United States that is now whispering about the possibility of being rid of foreign oil in a tangible time horizon? Extraction technologies and consumption patterns are changing the supply-demand balance quickly, so it’s a question that is going to amplify over the months and years to come.

Saudi Aramco completes Karan gas project

Saudi Aramco has finished commissioning the remaining two gas processing lines of an expanded treatment plant for Karan, the kingdom's first non-associated gas field, two industry sources said.

Saudi Aramco sees 20 bidders to build Jizan refinery-sources

KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - South Korea dominates a 20-strong pack of international engineering firms bidding to build a multi-billion-dollar refinery for state oil giant Saudi Aramco, sources close to the bidding said.

The refinery in Jizan, an underdeveloped province bordering Saudi Arabia's southern neighbour Yemen, is part of the kingdom's plans to boost its oil refining capacity, processing up to 400,000 barrels per day (bpd).

Lowest U.S. Gas Price Since 1999 Attracts GAIL: Corporate India

GAIL India Ltd. (GAIL), the first Asian company to buy liquefied natural gas from the U.S., plans to take advantage of the lowest prices in 13 years to boost imports from America and revive sales growth at home.

India’s biggest natural gas distributor is in talks with U.S. exporters to make up for falling production at domestic fields, P.K. Jain, finance director at GAIL, said in a phone interview yesterday. The company aims to meet demand in Asia’s third-biggest economy through overseas purchases, he said.

Shell To Meet Iraq Oil Field Target

Royal Dutch Shell PLC said Wednesday its Majnoon oil field in Iraq is still likely to meet a key production target by the end of this year, despite a series of setbacks that have hampered its development.

Falkland Gas Find Heralds World’s Most Remote LNG Plant: Energy

Falkland Oil & Gas Ltd.’s discovery of natural gas off the namesake South Atlantic islands shows investors are betting that demand for the fuel will increase enough to develop finds in the remotest corners of the planet.

Shares of the 247 million-pound ($400 million) explorer gained 5.3 percent yesterday even after the company found gas- bearing rock at the Loligo well, rather than its target of crude oil that can be easily exported worldwide. Gas requires pipelines or multibillion-dollar factories to allow exports.

Analysis: Chinese leaders may come to regret anti-Japan protests

(Reuters) - China's decision to open its streets to a wave of anti-Japan protests could end up rebounding on Beijing, which has emerged from days of fervent nationalism with eroded authority at home and fewer options in dealing with Tokyo.

The mass protests, ignited by a renewed territorial dispute, contained some criticism of Beijing as being too soft on its traditional Asian rival, creating pressures that could help push China's incoming new leadership deeper into a diplomatic corner.

BP’s Putin Meeting Signals Exploration Deal With Rosneft

BP Plc talks with President Vladimir Putin indicate that the U.K. oil company may gain access to Russia's Arctic fields as part of a deal to sell half of its TNK-BP venture to OAO Rosneft.

Italy's ENI discovers major gas field in Pakistan

Italian energy major ENI said on Wednesday it had discovered a major reserve of between 300 billion and 400 billion cubic feet of gas some 350 kilometres (218 miles) north of Karachi in Pakistan.

Kyrgyzstan exported 1.2 bln kilowatt-hours of electricity to Kazakhstan

"Export volume depends on water and energy situation. This year we have accumulated 17.5 billion cubic meters of water. That is why we sell less. Electricity demand of neighboring republics is small. They are more interested in water. They are forced to buy it together with energy," 24.kg сшештп Abdylda Israilov.

Keystone pipeline's path cuts across Indian Country and history

"There is no legal obligation to work with the tribes," said Lou Thompson, TransCanada's top liaison with Native Americans. "We do it because we have a policy. We believe it's a good, neighborly thing to do." He said the pipeline "is not passing through any tribal lands."

But many Native Americans in the United States — and their lawyers — insist there are legal obligations under 19th-century treaties that affirmed sovereign status of Native American tribes, which do not pay state or federal taxes and which have their own governing councils and police forces.

Moreover, the more recent National Historic Preservation Act and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 both provide for the protection of Native burial sites and artifacts.

Victoria, Haisla agree to fast-track LNG project

The provincial government and Haisla First Nation struck a deal Friday that they say will fast-track the development of another liquefied natural gas export terminal at Kitimat.

In announcing the deal - a framework agreement that enables the Haisla to either purchase or lease a site on Crown land already identified as ideal for an LNG terminal - Haisla chief councillor Ellis Ross said it opens the door to Haisla involvement in future LNG development. Two major terminals have already been announced at Kitimat.

BP in talks 'to sell Texas City refinery'

British energy giant BP is in talks to sell its Texas City refinery to US-based Marathon Petroleum as part of plans to cover costs for the 2010 oil spill disaster, the FT reported on Wednesday.

BP Norwegian leak small but endangered facility - watchdog

OSLO (Reuters) - BP's oil leak at the Ula field in Norway is considered serious because its location posed a risk to the facility itself but the spill was contained and does not currently pose an environment risk, the Petroleum Safety Authority said.

Explosion, Fire at Mexico Pemex Gas Facility Kills 26

An explosion and fire killed at least 26 people at a Pemex natural gas facility in northern Mexico near the U.S. border on Tuesday, one of the deadliest accidents in the oil and gas industry in recent years.

Television footage showed flames leaping high into the sky during the blaze at a gas compression station near the city of Reynosa, a key entry point for natural gas to Mexico from the United States.

L.A.’s Transit Revolution

How a ballot initiative, a visionary mayor, and a quest for growth are turning Los Angeles into America’s next great mass-transit city.

BMW, Hedging Bets on Electric, Stresses Fuel Efficiency

MAISACH, Germany — Despite all the hoopla at car shows over the last few years, it has become clear that electric cars will not appear on roads fast enough to save the planet. As a result, when the Paris auto show opens next week, the emphasis will be on improved varieties of internal combustion.

A case in point is BMW, one of the most visible champions of battery power, which in recent days has been hedging its bets and trying new ways to get more out of conventional gasoline and diesel motors.

Second Belgian reactor has indications of cracks

(Reuters) - A second nuclear reactor in Belgium has indications of cracks in its core tank, the nuclear regulator said on Thursday, putting further strain on the country's energy supply as it heads into winter.

Preliminary results of tests being carried out at Tihange 2, a reactor operated by GDF Suez unit Electrabel, showed that there were indications of cracks on the core tank, Belgium's nuclear regulator FANC said in a statement.

Uranium Recovery Postponed as Price Drops to 2-Year Low

Uranium’s recovery from the Fukushima nuclear accident may take one or two years longer than analysts estimated as stockpiles in Japan and Germany keep prices low and cause mining companies to defer new development.

Power East Coast via wind? Doable with 144,000 offshore turbines, study says

Placing wind turbines off the East Coast could meet the entire demand for electricity from Florida to Maine, according to engineering experts at Stanford University.

It would require 144,000 offshore turbines standing 270 feet tall — not one of which exists since proposals have stalled due to controversy and costs. But the analysis shows it's doable and where the best locations are, says study co-author Mark Jacobson, a Stanford professor of civil and environmental engineering.

Maine pushes tidal power project

A United States company is harnessing the power of the tides in waters off the coast of Eastport, Me., to generate electricity.

For years, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have debated the virtues and practicality of tidal power. But Ocean Renewable Power in Maine claims it is now the first company in the western hemisphere to use tidal power to generate electricity.

The greening of the football stadium

FORTUNE -- A new kind of NFL rivalry is forming, not on the gridiron but in the boardroom. Many NFL owners have suddenly gotten religion about the environmental impact of football: installing solar panels in their stadiums, recycling plastic cups, and even composting garbage. Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie wants to make his venue an environmental showcase. New York Giants co-owner Don Mara says he wants "to have the greenest stadium in the NFL." Jonathan Kraft, whose family owns the New England Patriots, says: "We hope to lead the way in sustainability."

Forest Fire Research Questions the Wisdom of Prescribed Burns

Recent research, they say, shows that nature often caused far more severe fires than tree ring records show. That means the ecology of Western forests depends on fires of varying degrees of severity, including what we think of as catastrophic fires, not just the kinds of low-intensity blazes that current Forest Service policy favors.

They say that large fires, far from destroying forests, can be a shot of adrenaline that stimulates biodiversity.

U.S. West should expect bigger wildfires more often - report

(Reuters) - A warming trend has contributed to a sharp rise in the number and size of wildfires on forest lands in the U.S. West, where big burns are likely to become the norm, according to a report released on Tuesday by a climate research group.

The average annual number of fires that cover more than 1,000 acres (405 hectares) has nearly quadrupled in Arizona and Idaho and doubled in California, Colorado and six other Western states since 1970, the study by Climate Central showed.

How will climate change affect food production?

Food is one of society's key sensitivities to climate. A year of not enough or too much rainfall, a hot spell or cold snap at the wrong time, or extremes, like flooding and storms, can have a significant effect on local crop yields and livestock production. While modern farming technologies and techniques have helped to reduce this vulnerability and boost production, the impact of recent droughts in the USA, China and Russia on global cereal production highlight a glaring potential future vulnerability.

US Senate looks to pile pressure on EU aviation plans before election break

The US Senate will attempt to push through its anti EU aviation emissions trading bill this week ahead of its election recess that begins on Friday evening.

Australian 'mega mine' plan threatens global emissions target

Plans to open up a new Australian "coal export rush" would turn a single Queensland region into the seventh largest contributor of carbon dioxide emissions on the planet, undermining international efforts to keep global warming below 2C, a new report has warned.

The Social Cost of Carbon: How to Do the Math?

At the heart of this debate is a disagreement about how to apply an economic concept known as the discount rate to the impacts of climate change. Simply put, the rate is based on how much it is worth to us now to prevent that future damage. Given that people are more concerned about having money now, economists posit that we are willing to spend less than a dollar today to prevent a dollar’s worth of damage in a year, or two years, or a generation.

China CO2 Price May Not Reflect Demand, New Energy Says

The first carbon-dioxide price reported in China’s Guangdong province at 60 yuan ($9.50) a metric ton is probably coordinated by government and may not reflect demand and supply, said Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

U.Va. wins key ruling in Prince William global warming-FOIA case involving Michael Mann

The battle over global warming in Prince William County Circuit Court, focused on renowned climate scientist Michael E. Mann, was either an assault on science or a search for the truth, depending on whose briefs you were reading. But after reading all the briefs, a judge ruled Monday that Mann’s e-mail correspondence was exempt from the Virginia Freedom of Information Act and did not have to be provided to the American Tradition Institute, which was trying to delve into the discussions and data behind Mann’s conclusions that humans are causing the Earth to grow hotter.

Race Is On as Ice Melt Reveals Arctic Treasures

NUUK, Greenland — With Arctic ice melting at record pace, the world’s superpowers are increasingly jockeying for political influence and economic position in outposts like this one, previously regarded as barren wastelands.

At stake are the Arctic’s abundant supplies of oil, gas and minerals that are, thanks to climate change, becoming newly accessible along with increasingly navigable polar shipping shortcuts. This year, China has become a far more aggressive player in this frigid field, experts say, provoking alarm among Western powers.

El Salvador in battle against tide of climate change

The forest of towering, dead mangrove trees stretches along the beach as far as the eye can see. As the crashing waves rise and fall, short stumps emerge and vanish beneath the Pacific Ocean. Climate change has come early to the Bajo Lempa region of western El Salvador.

Arctic sea ice thaw may be accelerated by oil, shipping

OSLO (Reuters) - Local pollution in the Arctic from shipping and oil and gas industries, which have expanded in the region due to a thawing of sea ice caused by global warming, could further accelerate that thaw, experts say.

I have added some graphs to the transcript of Richard Heinberg's interview with ABC TV (Ticky Fullerton)

ABC TV Interview with Richard Heinberg on peak oil and the end of growth

Richard Heinberg Speaking to Australian audiences
The End of Growth
Sponsored by Sustainable Population Australia

Heinberg says in that first video; each successive QE has less stimulative effect (than the previous one), but doesn't explain why. I would like to have heard that explantion.

At the conclusion of the interview, he says we need to develop a steady state economy that does not require growth and is in harmony with the environment, to whit she says, "On that sobering comment to most viewers we'll conclude this interview".

To her viewers that are in need of sobering up, I say get over the loss of the of the cheap oil high and belly up to the bar for a no growth economy.

One shouldn't forget that a "no growth economy" is not a "steady state economy" by default at all.
It just means that :
We burn as many barrels as previous year
We build as many cars, computers and houses as previous year
We ship as many goods as previous year
We grow as many corn or wheat as previous year and use the same amount of fertilizer for it
etc ...

An ecological "steady state" economy brings you much further back, if it makes any sense at all, after all for what is known the "biosphere" as never been in a steady state.

Well said. We've gone so far beyond ecological balance that going back would be extremely painful, if only because the population has grown way beyond what can survive without the technologies we have developed using fossil fuels. A future without the availability of those massive quantities of cheap energy looks to be rather grim...

E. Swanson

Those technologies are a stone tied around our necks. They are created to support a food as commodity rape the earth system of biological strip mining. The answer to feeding the world population is going to the land and using nature in intelligent and integrative ways, by working in tandem with our environment.

When there is no more farm equipment then labor will move to the farms. Industrial farming techniques won't work in a post oil economy but high labor high yield organic poly-cultural food forests look great in a post oil economy. You soak up idle labor, rebuild the soil and ecosystem, yield more food/acre, spend vastly less for inputs. Heck, if you spread it out over enough of the earth's surface you stabilize the atmosphere. It is an absolute win for society.

Nature will work with us if we let it.

When there is no more farm equipment then labor will move to the farms. Industrial farming techniques won't work in a post oil economy but high labor high yield organic poly-cultural food forests look great in a post oil economy.

Unless there is utter destruction of all industrial capacity there will be farm eq. Go dig up Lenin's paperwork on farms and the importance of the 40 HP tractor.

The future of chemicals in farming is a tad more murky IMNSHO. You have water delivery AKA Israel and the desert blooming projects, http://www.fractalfield.com/bloomthedesert/ and the "mittleider method" http://www.growfood.com

I had a Mittleider garden but I tore it all out. The people operating that group are some dishonest business people whose main priority is to sell soil amendments at about 100 x markup of what they actually cost.
Joseph Mittleider was a very respected soil scientist but the people leading the charge using his name are selling this approach of slamming tons of chemical fertilizers at every type of soil. They sell a micronutrient mix. They also have installed a lot of really nice gardens which makes it difficult to separate the good from the bad. One of the features of most of their gardens is vertical growing. That doesn't need a box to do it but raised beds in the PNW help a LOT as does being able to cover areas at times to keep them warmer and drier. The most constant feature of Mittleider gardens is the princely sum of money spent installing the t-posts and the like but most of that stuff has a very short life here in the big wet unless it is metal or poisoned. For the kind of money that people put into the Mittleider gardens here I would rather see haygrove tunnels or hoop houses.

It depends on how you measure "no growth": no growth in gross product (GP), no growth in GP per capita, or some other measure. With no growth in GP, the world, for a while yet, would have a decline in GP per capita. With no growth in GP per capita, the world, again for a while yet, would see a rise in GP. In either case, no growth implies manufacturing/construction of cars, houses, and electronic equipment at a replacement level only, or at most to accommodate growth in population without raising GP per capita. Food and fertilizer production and shipping would continue (and grow, as long as the population grew), but the manufacture and shipping of capital goods, and the fossil fuels used, would decline at least some. This, of course, ignores the constraints that we will likely see in the future on continued consumption of resources even with no growth.

Steady state would also require population to be the same as a previous year (or lower which would provide some with an economic advantage). More mouths to feed would require more food, which is expansion.

How would steady state deal with inflation and debt expansion? I'm thinking debt would have to be capped and probably lowered over time (pipe dream...).

Inflation should cause both wages and prices to rise, but if the "market" is relatively free then there will be winners and losers, individual "slices of the pie" would change.

Steady state, to me, would require good implementations of either Communism or Socialism.

Anyway, I like the concept and I realize we are destroying our planet and ourselves, but infinite growth is our current paradigm. Until it isn't...

... I realize we are destroying our planet and ourselves, but infinite growth is our current paradigm.

jturpin, I wonder how many years till the majority of people feel there are too many of us for the planet to sustain.

As many years as there's enough fingers in the dike...

http://www.ftd.de/finanzen/maerkte/rohstoffe/:kampf-gegen-steigende-prei... (in German)

Last week a group of 7 finance ministers asked the KSA to pump more oil. First KSA was reluctant since it presently pumps 9.9 Mb/d but then gave in to pump more oil for the remainder of the year. The KSA oil minister said that the market is well balanced but the crude oil price is too high. He reiterated that KSA would like to see a $100/b for Brent. No one questions whether the Saudis can increase production and hold it.

Obama is not the first US president to ask the KSA to increase production for “personal” benefits, especially in an election year. The European shot themselves in the foot by boycotting Iranian oil and now they are whining about the high oil price.

There's some discussion of this (as well as links to the story in English) in the previous Drumbeat.

The previous comment by Ngass seems to be here.

Another on the same topic?

(Hope I'm not off-base. I don't usually try to follow oil business discussions closely.)

have they ever really increased production at all - or was any increase just a dump from held stocks/reserves ?


There are too many oil refinery fires. Do a search.
Something stinks.
Disruption on supplies are not causing an increase in the price of oil.
The latest
Fire at Mexico Pemex gas facility kills 26
September 18, 2012 • 10:29 PM • last update 10:35 PM

As I understand it, refinery owners are reluctant to make major long term investments. Among other factors, I think that's because they are in possession of the data to know that peak oil is real, and there will be excess refining capacity as oil production declines.

However at the moment there is not enough refining capacity. Which means that equipment is being operated flat out with the absolute minimum of downtime. As we are seeing, that is hazardous.

Last night there was another refinery fire in Venezuela, this time at the los palitos refinery. Supposedly two tanks of "nafta" were on fire, and one is still buirning. One tank was of "nafta catalica" and one tank was of "nafta reformada". They are publicly assuring that there will be no effect on production.

The media is saying that cause of the fire is lightning. While there have been a lot of electrical storms in the area it seems strange to me that there have been two big refinery fires in the months leading to the presidential elections.

news in spanish:


Supposedly two tanks of "nafta" were on fire, and one is still buirning.

In English that is spelled Naphtha.

Naphtha normally refers to a number of flammable liquid mixtures of hydrocarbons, i.e., a component of natural gas condensate or a distillation product from petroleum, coal tar or peat boiling in a certain range and containing certain hydrocarbons. It is a broad term covering among the lightest and most volatile fractions of the liquid hydrocarbons in petroleum. Naphtha is a colorless to reddish-brown volatile aromatic liquid, very similar to gasoline.

Naphtha is commonly used as a dry-cleaning fluid. It is also the stuff you you can buy in cans as Zippo lighter fluid.

Ron P.

I don't know if it's just confirmation bias, but there seem to have been a lot of refinery fires this year.

Anyone want to have a go at a refinery fires graph?

There is a difference between the number of fires and the number of fires REPORTED in a graphic way to the public.

I've seen a bleeding body in a public courthouse with 2 TV camera trucks and no report or mention from the 2 TV stations at the scene. I was told by family members of drunk driving with property damage being buried by the local press.

Que Bono on refinery fires.

Do oil refineries use Siemens brand control systems? Could these refinery fires be stuxnet related? We know that nations are willing to target other nations infrastructure via cyber attack as was demonstrated in Iran.

Reduced maintenance due to squeezed margins?


In the Venezuelan context, it's not so much squeezed margins as third-world politics.

Venezuela Inc., up in smoke

“[The Amuay disaster] is not a random occurrence. It is the consequence of PDVSA’s transformation from an efficient and effective company into a profoundly politicized institution,” says Diego Gonzalez, president of the Caracas-based Centre for Energy Orientation. It is “a reflection of what is happening in the rest of the country.”

A decade ago, PDVSA was considered one of the best-run oil companies in the Americas. Today, inefficiency and incompetence have led to a string of accidents, causing 77 deaths before the Amuay explosion since 2003. The company’s annual report admits a lack of funds has hurt maintenance.

And what happens when the reduced/deferred maintenance is a fission reactor?

The widespread use of nuclear fission reactors by those without a good track record of competence to run them is a concern for me too. On the other hand, I don't see much chance of light water fission reactors run by even Hugo Chavez and company killing 77+42 people.

The OPEC OMR's secondary sources has Saudi producing 9,855,000 bp/d in August. However Saudi reported to the OMR that they only produced 9,753,000 bp/d in August, down 350,000 barrels per day from what they said they produced in June.
OPEC Oil Market Report for September. This data is on page 52 of this PDF.

Saudi Crude Only Production in thousand barrels per day:

                    June  July  August
Secondary Sources:  9,926 9,845 9,855
Self Reported:     10,103 9,801 9,753

Ron P.

First KSA was reluctant since it presently pumps 9.9 Mb/d but then gave in to pump more oil for the remainder of the year.

Are you sure about that? From everything I have been able to find on the net Saudi has not gave in to anything. Just today this was posted:

OPEC Head Says Oil Market Is Well Supplied

“There is no shortage of oil anywhere in the world. And this is expected to continue,” El-Badri said today in a speech at the European Mineral Resources Conference in Leoben, Austria, according to a transcript on OPEC’s website.

And yesterday this:

Majority in OPEC, including Saudis, favor $100/barrel oil

"We think the oil market is balanced. There is no shortage," the source told reporters on the sidelines of an energy conference in Dubai. "The expectation is that for the next few months and next year even, there is more non-OPEC oil coming."

Got that? They are expecting non-OPEC to fill any shortage that might arise in the next few months or next year.

No one questions whether the Saudis can increase production and hold it.

Where did you get that bit of information? Sadad Al Husseini, a former executive at Saudi Aramco, the state oil company said: “Saudi production is flat out". There are many who question Saudi's ability to significantly increase production and even if they do increase production a few hundred thousand barrels per day, there is no way they could hold it for very long.

Ron P.

KSA crude oil production capacity or supplies is a recurring subject and will continue to be so.

The numbers given by various sources are these production or supplies?

One of the things I wonder about is if KSA holds some crude oil in stocks that allows them to temporarily add supplies....gives a new dimension to the word swing producer.

The numbers given are production by the OMR, EIA and JODI are production numbers. However there is no way of really knowing how much they actually produce. Some production is consumed domestically, and some is exported. Some may be put into storage tanks or taken out of storage tanks, there is really no way of knowing if they do either or which if they do. But I doubt that what they either put in or take out would affect their production numbers very much.

Yes they could increase exports if they emptied their storage tanks but I don't think they could do that for very long until they were dry. I doubt that they have enough storage capacity to really affect exports for very long.

Ron P.

OPEC Head Says Oil Market Is Well Supplied

From further down in today's Drumbeat:

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 8.5 million barrels from the previous week. At 367.6 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

What to we expect the Saudis to do? We are stuffed and still demanding more?

Hardhat, you completely fail to understand the role of supply and demand. Of course the world is well supplied with $100+ oil. We have a sever dearth of $80 oil however. The world will always be well supplied with oil as long as the price of oil is high enough.

If the world supply of oil dropped to one half of what it is today, and oil was $300 a barrel, there is no doubt that the world would be very well supplied with oil. $300 oil that is. We would be stuffed with $300 oil and still demanding more, but would prefer oil at a little cheaper price. But if it takes oil at $300 to get demand down to equal supply, then so be it. And OPEC would say: The Oil Market Is Well Supplied!

The world is always well supplied at whatever the current price is. This is because the price always rises, or falls, until demand equals supply.

Ron P.

That dearth of $80 oil means that people are having to pay more to get hold of it.


And the people who can get hold of $80 oil - i.e. those refiners on the oil export pipelines from Canada - are making a fortune turning it into expensive gasoline and diesel fuel.

Analysis: Chinese leaders may come to regret anti-Japan protests

Good article but no answers -- at least I can't see the benefit of opening the streets on this issue -- other than a distraction. It's not typical of them to do this.

This one makes points I would agree with (The guy from the UK conservative Daily Telegraph again. BTW, where's John Bolton these days? Pritchard calls him an imperialist ultra hawk.)

where's John Bolton these days?

Trusted advisor to Mitt Romney:

Daily Kos, July 25th

IMHO, Romney has no original thoughts on foreign policy, and is simply digesting the neocon Cliff Notes. More frightening to me, frankly, than indifference/contempt for climate change and resource depletion issues.

More frightening to me, frankly, than indifference/contempt for climate change and resource depletion issues.

I agree, Romney's ignorance on foreign policy is scary. I also would observe that the Dem indifference to the impact of resource depletion and Co2 levels is disheartening.


As compared to whom? Obama is hardly doing anything outside the imperial playbook. That's no excuse for Romney, but why do smart people continue to imagine that "foreign policy" is anything but set in cement, regardless of who peddles it to the masses?

I think the problem is that few in the public care about it. But those who do, are hawkishly imperialistic, and very loud mouthed. There is nothing to be gained politically by trying to satisfy the former group, and there is high perceived political risk to angering the later group. So we continue along the same trajectory, with a few minor tweaks around the edges.

As compared to whom?

Reagan. When the Green Revolution occurred in Iran with thousands taking to the streets to protest a thuggish regime at risk to the their lives (which many lost) Obama did and said nothing in their support. By contrast when Reagan visited the Soviets during the cold war he demanded a meeting with Soviet dissidents. When the Soviets declined, Reagan stated he would personally take his American limo to visit the persecuted dissidents, meeting with hundreds of them. The Soviets relented.

I am not trying to defend the Democrat's record on this, because I can't. But the Republicans are clearly more to blame on the lack of effort on climate change than the Democrats.

To his credit, Obama has put in place two rounds to fuel efficiency improvements for light duty vehicles (the vehicles need to achieve the equivalence of 54 miles per gallon in 2025), and one round of fuel efficiency improvements for heavy duty vehicles. Additional climate change regulations on mobile stationary sources are expected to come out after the election (assuming that Obama is reelected).

It is a little unfair to accuse the Democrats of not caring about climate change. They will not be able to do anything while the House is controlled by the Republicans.

When they did have the house (2008-2010) they did not have the 60 votes needed in the Senate to accomplish anything, we need more Democrats or a few moderate Republicans that will join the Democrats for anything to happen.

Currently moderate Republicans are a dying breed, so the answer is to elect as many Democrats as possible to have any chance at battling climate change. Independents are fine too if they are electable, I think Angus King from Maine will be an excellent Senator and won't be pressured by the radical Republicans to follow the party line the way Olympia Snowe often was.

I would think Senator Collins, who is generally pretty sensible, would be tempted to switch to independent status when she looks closely at the views of many of her Republican colleagues in the Senate.


I think Dems may care more; it does not show, though, in actions taken during 1st 2 yrs of Obama's administration. It seems that the dramatic public excoriation of Al Gore by the right has made the rest of the Dems gun shy.


Hi Craig,

I agree that little was accomplished. Nothing can happen without 60 votes in the Senate, the Democrats do not have the 60 votes needed.


The majority needs be larger than you think. Don't expect a D senator from a coal state to vote to do anything about AGW. And we do have a few coal states.

Good point. When I said 60 votes, I didn't necessarily mean 60 Democrats, Susan Collins and John McCain might vote for a carbon tax, along with a few independents. I am pretty sure that Wyoming Senators are Republican, I am not sure about W. Virginia and other coal states.

It all comes down to 60 votes for reduced carbon (I don't care that much how it is done, but taxes make the most sense from an economic efficiency perspective, then let the market decide how to accomplish it.)

I agree that not every Democrat sees this issue the same way, many Democrats are as conservative as a conservative Republican from 30 years ago. Nixon, and maybe even Reagan, would be too liberal for the current Republican party.


" [Romney] is simply digesting the neocon Cliff Notes."

I noticed that when I was reading the transcript of the famous "off-record" conversation. His deep fascination with having a war with Iran, and generally bullying the rest of the world was notable.

Otherwise, I found the Left's hysteria out of place. He was playing the crowd, and within that constraint he came across as fairly well reasoned. And his business background shows prominently too, although whether you think that is a good or bad thing will vary with your temperament.

Taking the two together it appears we have a firm believer in Rule of Acquisition #34; War is good for business.

I haven't found anything he said very surprising or unduly harsh. He is just repeating longstanding talking points that have been common in wingnutistan for years. I'm happy, that these views are being exposed to the larger population, and that maybe, the media is getting shamed into challenging lies. If we end up getting some rollback of the "anything that focus-groups like is OK no matter how deceptive culture", some good might come out of this.

RMoney is in an impossible position, trying to prove his wingnutistan BonaFides to one crowd, while letting his more reasonable self come out for those who are uncomfortable with the wingers. Now that everything is recorded on cell phones and shared, those incompatible demands just cannot be satisfied. So he comes across as the ultimate flip flopper seeming to say A and not A, then A again within less than 24hours.

More likely Japanese leaders will come to regret the dispute over the Senkaku islands. Japan would lose more financially from economic sanctions than China. The Chinese protesters are already driving Japanese businesses out of China. The U.S. is acting sheepishly refusing to state a position on who owns the islands and calling for calm. Japan caved in and returned a Chinese fisherman, who rammed Japanese chips near the Senkaku Islands in 2010, to China instead of prosecuting him. I suspect China will eventually begin offshore oil exploration within 12 mines of the islands, and Japan will do nothing.

Meanwhile, the 1,000 Chinese fishing boats that headed toward the islands have decreased to 700 and seem to have began fishing in between the Chinese mainland and the islands while the PRC Navy snoops near the territorial waters of the islands.

Chinese armada reports conflict over fishing boats' position. The Japan Times, September 20. 2012

"More than 700 fishing boats are operating in waters about 230 km from the Diaoyu Islands and 23 in waters 110 km away," China News Service said....

On Wednesday, however, the Japan Coast Guard said Chinese patrol vessels had been spotted navigating in the contiguous zone surrounding Japanese waters around the Senkakus.

hmm, not good choices for Japan, they may have to re-militarize. If Uncle Sam wont back them up and China inflicts a major defeat on Japan then I think that will be inevitable


I had read that report.

My confusion rests with internal PRC policy on the matter though, in terms of the protests.

The western media narrative seems to be painting the demonstrators as being critical of their own "soft" leaders.

Regional media seems to chalk it up to old wounds, politics and nationalist posturing.

I think the nuetral translation of events (if that's even possible) boils down to a vague treaty or it's interpretation.

If PRC is just pushing US buttons to see how tough they'll talk in defense of Japan, this will all be over soon, I predict.

The real diplomacy test is after Korea unifies and China wants to take Tiawann in return for getting out of the way of a new Korea. That's going to be interesting times indeed.

I do not think South Korea wants to "unify" with North Korea.

"damaged goods"

Sentiment is fading as generations change. The two nations have evolved in VERY different ways.

Physically & mentally the N Koreans suffer from malnutrition plus intense indoctrination.

Constructing a functioning society in North Korea will be extremely difficult, especially when the rest of the world is struggling.

Just changing to a less aggressive dictatorship in PRK may be the best reasonable outcome.

Best hopes for Korea,


Rift over Senkakus threatens to divert China from reform, The Japan Times, Kevin Rafferty, September 21, 2012:

Its internal politics have never been easy to fathom, but in the last few weeks China has had too many diverting distractions, such as the mysterious 10-day disappearance of its leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping, demonstrations against Japan over the disputed Senkaku Islands and, greatest of all, the foggy speculation over who will get what in the imminent changing of the top political leadership.

All of these things are preventing the leaders in Beijing from giving full attention to the country's main task of promoting vital economic change.

These arguments coming from Japanese supports seem incredibly weak to me. The bottom line is China has grown economically, vastly increasing its influence and prowess. Its aggressive actions around the Senkaku Islands (PRC Navy entering Japanese waters) signal that China is ready to take what it wants from its neighbors. China will bitch slap Japan and revel in its new found glory diverting their people's attention from their recession while the U.S. looks on like a deer caught in the headlights.

The brewing international picture suggests the U.S. and Israel get Iran, Russia gets some middle eastern country (such as Armenia), China gets the Senkaku islands along with their crude oil and Japan gets the shaft. China and Russia get assets while the U.S. and its allies get a bill. The U.S. is an empire in decline while China is on the rise.

Manthorpe: China tests U.S.-Japan ties in islands dispute, Vancouver Sun, Sept. 20, 2012

The pitch of the growing tensions over the Senkaku Islands, which the Chinese call the Diaoyu Islands, has been carefully orchestrated by Beijing over several months to exert pressure on Tokyo and Washington in order to see what fault lines appear, but without causing events to cascade out of control.

So far, Beijing has played its cards well.

Just reading this list of headlines is sobering.

SA consuming more and more of its own gas and hydrocarbon exports decreasing. Britain's gas and oil fields depleting. Greeks cutting timber illegally to keep warm. Nuclear reactors cracking up. Food production pressures worldwide. Increasing political tension between China and Japan... it goes on and on. None of it is new of course, but to have a list of seemingly unconnected headlines so comprehensively pointing to serious trouble in such close proximity is novel.

And yet the politicos continue to speak of the economic downturn being over by 2014.

Oh dear.

Yeah, and this whole Artic thing is beginning to show how desperate economies are for the stuff of growth. From Race Is On as Ice Melt Reveals Arctic Treasures, above:

At stake are the Arctic’s abundant supplies of oil, gas and minerals that are, thanks to climate change, becoming newly accessible along with increasingly navigable polar shipping shortcuts...

...So far there has been little actual exploitation of Arctic resources. Greenland has only one working mine, though more than 100 new sites are being mapped out. Here, as well as in Alaska, Canada and Norway, oil and gas companies are still largely exploring, although experts estimate that more than 20 percent of the world’s oil and gas reserves are in the Arctic.

So... 'abundant supplies',, that haven't actually been found yet, but just the prospect is sending nations scurrying around trying to find,, something,, anything. Says alot. I have little doubt that we'll they'll do their best to dig it, drill it, pump it, burn it, smelt it,, 'til it's all gone, along with anything else worth preserving.

Yes, I'm thinking of changing my name on here to Depressed A Lot Mk.II.

Yup, might as well start eating seed corn and burning our furniture to heat the house. Makes about as much sense as the global approach to fossil fuels.


Those who venture up to the Arctic to see what is happening have an epiphany evidently:

Having just witnessed climate change in action on an Arctic campaign, Greenpeace International head Kumi Naidoo professed, "I am **** scared." Despite the fact that the Arctic seems far away, Naidoo said, "What happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic."

(Record Low Sea Ice, emphasis added). The age of "wish we hadn't done this" is coming upon all of us.

I agree but also remember that all of us are connected to the web now which makes global information available instantly. This is different even from newspapers and television.

Having said that, access to the web started to become commonplace in the mid 90's or thereabouts, and overall the global situation was much more stable from the mid 90's to 2008 (even including 9/11). So it's not just the web.

It's basically a combination of the web and accelerating global events which makes us feel like everything is out of control.

Turn off the internet now and then, take a walk and decide what's important to your life. I know, easier said than done.

And yet the politicos continue to speak of the economic downturn being over by 2014.

Maybe they figure we will it the bottom by 2014?

"When you reach rock bottom there are two ways to go... straight up or sideways."


3rd way - splat.

Maybe DaLIII at the moment :(

Add to that Monsanto developing Agent Orange resistant corn as Hogweed has developed a resistance to over 24 times the normal dose of Glyphos.


As corn prices rise, meat becomes more expensive, so we compensate by eating more corn directly rather than consuming it in the form of meat.

I wonder if increased consumption of heavily GM-modified corn will have any ill effects.

(Yes, I know that's a double "modified". I'm not sure how else to put it.)

Cancer row over GM foods

Poor rats...

The suggestion is that the "Roundup Ready" GM corn is dangerous because it is sprayed with Roundup weed killer. Eating the corn means eating Roundup's glyphosate.

The French research doesn't seem to have the Monsanto corn grown without Roundup.

A larger body of research has Roundup and BT GMOed into the food as problems.

What would be interesting is Roundup ready corn grown without Roundup - and look for epigenetic effects in the corn grown with Roundup.

As I remember the "hogweed" now 24X resistant produces an edible seed. Would be interesting to look for epigentic effects/rat testing. Guess I have another project if I ever "win" the lottery.

"Super Pigweed", AKA Palmer Amaranth.

Palmer Amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) is a dicot weed in the Amaranthaceae family. In Georgia this weed first evolved resistance to Group G/9 herbicides in 2005 and infests cotton, and soybean. Group G/9 herbicides are known as Glycines (Inhibition of EPSP synthase). Research has shown that these particular biotypes are resistant to glyphosate and they may be cross-resistant to other Group G/9 herbicides.

Local weed scientists estimate that Group G/9 resistant Palmer Amaranth in Georgia infests 10001-100000 sites and the number of sites are increasing. They also estimate that there are 1-2 million acres infested with Group G/9 resistant Palmer Amaranth and the area infested is increasing.

We've been battling this stuff for a few years; it seems to out-compete everything and has strong thorns and roots, making it tough to pull in the garden. Besides that, it's damned ugly. I've actually considered harvesting the seeds as chicken feed.

Pigweed (Amaranthus_palmeri) is nutritious, and was collected and sometimes cultivated by the native peoples of what is now the eastern U.S. Amaranthus_palmeri in Wikipedia Maybe we just need to learn enjoy it as part of our diet.

Pigweed and carp!

(...Maybe if we just changed the names...)


(...Maybe if we just changed the names...)

Yep, it's worked before to the detriment of other species but what the heck, what could possibly go wrong in this case?!

Patagonian toothfish for example...
The name "Chilean sea bass" was invented by a fish wholesaler named Lee Lantz in 1977. He was looking for a name that would make it attractive to the American market.
Source Wikipedia

Here's my stab at Pigweed, 'Bacon Flower'

And Carp, 'Flying Silver Bream'

"'Flying Silver Bream'"

You were born to be in Marketing! ;-)

Doing the math, tha saudis burnt 8.6 barrels of crude per second this july. Must have been hot.

I respect the opinion of Bob Moriarty a lot. He has accurately called the tops and bottoms in precious metals for the last few years. He is not a financial guy. He is a hard scrabble miner who travels a lot, reads a lot, thinks for himself and speaks his mind. Here he talks about energy and peak oil. Pay close attention to what he says unless you want to end up in trouble: http://321energy.com/editorials/energyreport/energyreport091912.html

Thank you.

Basically, don't bother with fiat money, hold tangible assets.

Then I suppose make sure you can defend them.

Defend indeed. Because they sure as hell are defending theirs.....

The Federal Reserve, a Privately Owned Banking Cartel, Has Been Given Police Powers, with Glock 22s and Patrol Cars


Basically, don't bother with fiat money, hold tangible assets.

Not necessarily. He also recommends buying stocks backed by tangible assets (Potash, energy, food, gold, silver, etc).

In May 2012 he accurately called a bottom in gold mining stocks (http://www.321gold.com/editorials/moriarty/moriarty051012.html). In April 2011 he accurately called a top in silver (http://www.321gold.com/editorials/moriarty/moriarty042511.html). In Nov 2009 he accurately called a top in gold & silver (http://www.321gold.com/editorials/moriarty/moriarty113009.html) and a bottom in US $. Of course he is not going to be right all the time, but I take his advice very seriously.

What I like about him is that unlike most gold bugs, he is not a permabull.

I disagree with the agriculture and energy bull thesis. High prices kill demand. You cannot have increases in prices (either in the underlying commodity, or the equity) without affecting demand. High food and energy prices act on the economy in the same way as high interest rates would.

And as the population begins to level out and the economy craters, the relentless demand for commodities should slow.

Only the metals can absorb price increases without affecting the overall economy...like any other rare asset that's bid up by avarice and the peculiarities of cultural value, like diamonds or fine art.

It's the fate of the gold people to be kings in a declining world. A pyrrhic victory, but a victory nonetheless.

Demand for food and energy is inelastic. Eventually you will be right but we are still at least a decade away from that. Witness the huge demand for iPhone5. There is still a lot of prosperity in the world. The economy has not cratered yet for a majority of population.

Demand for food and energy is inelastic.

Not by a long shot. People, in hard times, will simply eat less. As food prices go up they will buy less or buy cheaper food. And they consume less energy as the price of energy goes up. Consumption of petroleum products in the USA, 12 month average, has dropped 2.2 million barrels per day of 10.5 percent since 2005. Between 2007 and 2009 consumption dropped 10 percent or 5 percent per year. That is energy elasticity.

US Petroleum Products Supplied in thousand barrels per day through July 2012.

Petroleum Products Supplied

Ron P.

I agree that oil consumption in US dropped, but it increased in Chindia. Hence the price went up. As Bob Moriarty pointed out, US consumption no longer drives the price of commodities. I understand that Chinese consumption cannot increase forever and if the global economy collapses and does not recover the price of food and energy may collapse as well. However in that situation the banks will shutdown and your money will be no safer in the banks than in potash or gold mining stocks.

My opinion is that the financial crisis in the US will be "resolved" simply by printing as many trillions of dollars as it takes to make the banks whole again. This will prevent an all out collapse but impoverish people who do not own hard assets and rely on savings/fixed income. For example, Bernanke could end the housing crisis tomorrow by announcing that he is ready to buy every home in US for $1 million. This will immediately make every home owner who is underwater today solvent again but really hurt the "cash/no tangible assets" crowd. I believe he has already taken the first step in that direction by announcing that the Fed is going to buy $40 billion in Mortgage Backed Securities every month with no end in sight.

What if food & energy price skyrockets and there are riots? The government will just sell more bonds to the Fed and use that money to increase the value of EBT cards. Essentially, they will "save" the financial system by destroying the value of money.

Have you considered that part of oil consumption is involved with manufacturing and transportation of goods. Since we have outsourced manufacturing, we have also outsourced oil consumption for those purposes (may have added more, since oil is the primary fuel used in ocean shipping).

Is there any source that adds the foreign manufacturing component to US oil use?


But that is not what you said. You said "Demand for food and energy is inelastic." That is simply untrue. Demand for both food and energy is very elastic. It is elastic in the US, in China, or anywhere else in the world.

Because energy consumption increased in China while it decreased in the USA does not make your statement any less false. Energy could consumption could have very well decreased in both. And of course it eventually will.

Ron P.

What I meant was global demand for food and energy is a lot less elastic compared to consumer goods. Anyway, the context here is that Bob Moriarty believes that the price of food, energy and tangible assets will continue to increase for the foreseeable future. I agree with him. I believe investing in cash is going to be a disaster for the next 5 - 10 years.

Hard commodity prices may collapse. Oil - not so much, I would think.



When an economist say demand is inelastic, it does not mean that prices have no effect on demand. It means that if price rises by say 10 %, there is less than a 10 % decrease in the quantity demanded. Let's say gas prices rise in the United States from $1.80 per gallon to $3.60 per gallon in 2012 dollars, would you expect the quantity of gasoline demanded to be cut in half? If not, you agree that the demand for gasoline is inelastic.

If the demand for food and energy were elastic, we would expect a 1 % increase in price to result in a greater than 1 % decrease in the quantity of food or energy demanded. Most estimates in the literature do suggest the price elasticity of demand is inelastic.


No DC, sorry but that is not at all what an economist means when he says demand is inelastic. Demand never follows price in lockstep. No economist would ever suggest such a thing. What an economist means when he says demand is inelastic is that the price has very little affect on demand or at least little unless the price is extremely excessive. An example would be insulin. I can think of a couple of others but you get the idea.

If the price of a product increases by 10 percent and demand decreases by only one percent, that is still elasticity. There are degrees of elasticity. Some products are far more sensitive to price than others. It is like a sliding scale. But the term "inelastic" basically means "consumption is not sensitive to price changes." If an increase of 100% results in a consumption decline of 1% then that product would be highly inelastic to price. But if an increase of 100% results in a decrease of 10% then that product is sensitive to price changes.

Most estimates in the literature do suggest the price elasticity of demand is inelastic.

Huh? Elasticity of what is inelastic? Isn't that some kind of oxymoron? Elasticity is inelastic! Thanks DC, that statement brought on the best belly laugh I have had today. Keep em coming. ;-)

Ron P.

Hi Ron,

You are wrong about the price elasticity of demand. You are confusing inelastic demand(or relatively inelastic demand) with perfectly inelastic demand. See


If you are not interested in a simple lesson in economics it simply boils down to the slope of the demand curve.

A vertical demand curve where the quantity demanded is fixed with other variables (such as income) held fixed is called perfectly inelastic demand.

A horizontal demand curve where the price is fixed is called perfectly elastic demand.

Food and energy have price elasticities of demand which are neither perfectly inelastic nor perfectly elastic.

The question of relative elasticisty is whether the demand curve is very steep(relatively inelastic) or very flat(relatively elastic). The dividing line between elastic and inelastic is a price elasticity of demand of -1.

When someone claims that demand for energy is "very elastic", an economist would envision a very flat demand curve where a 1 % rise in price would ceteris paribus result in a large decrease in quantity demanded say 5 %.

Over the period from Dec 2009 to Aug 2012 gasoline prices rose about 44 % using trailing 12 month averages from $2.29 to $3.58(EIA data). The economist who thinks the price elasticity of demand is elastic would expect the quantity of gasoline demanded to fall by more than 44 %, if income was unchanged over the same period.

In fact GDP grew by 10 % from the 4th quarter of 2009 to the second quarter of 2012(data from http://www.bea.gov/iTable/iTable.cfm?ReqID=9&step=1 ), lets assume this would have increased demand for gasoline by 10 %, if prices had not changed. (I have assumed the income elasticity of demand is one. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_elasticity_of_demand )

On Dec 25, 2009 the trailing 52 week demand for gasoline was 9.06 mb/d, if prices had remained constant, a 10 % increase in GDP would increase this demand to 9.97 mb/d (assuming income elasticity of demand is equal to 1.)
On Aug 31, 2012 the trailing 52 week demand was 8.68 mb/d. That is a 13.8 % decrease in quantity of gasoline demanded.

The price elasticity of demand is the ratio of the % change in quantity demanded over the % change in price or in this case 13.8%/44%=0.31.
This is clearly less than one and shows that the price elasticity of demand over the period from Dec 2009 to aug 2012 is relatively inelastic.

Most of this is just a matter of terminology, Ron seems to understand the basic idea of price elasticity of demand and how it can vary, but the line between when the price elasticity of demand changes from relatively inelastic to relatively elastic is -1.

If ped < -1 it is elastic, if -1 < ped < 0 it is inelastic where ped is price elasticity of demand. Economists are just a barrel of laughs ;).


Let's say gas prices rise in the United States from $1.80 per gallon to $3.60 per gallon in 2012 dollars, would you expect the quantity of gasoline demanded to be cut in half? If not, you agree that the demand for gasoline is inelastic.

dcoyne78, I agree with Darwinian's response. The short-term elasticity factor for gasoline is about 0.02, so a 200% increase in gasoline cost only results in a reduction in usage of 4% (200% x 0.02). This is still elastic, just not very elastic. It would not be called inelastic.

Hi Kindhearted,

See my response to Ron above. There is a difference between perfectly inelastic demand(vertical demand curve) and inelastic (or relatively inelastic) demand which is a steep demand curve. In essence we agree that the demand curve is steep, but you would call anything but a vertical demand curve elastic. That is fine, but on an economics test the vertical curve would be called perfectly inelastic and a demand curve with a steep slope would likely be inelastic. Note that the price elasticity of demand is not the slope of the demand curve. It is % change in quantity demanded divided by % change in price.


... but the line between when the price elasticity of demand changes from relatively inelastic to relatively elastic is -1.

dcoyne78, thanks for the explaination. I will now refer to gasoline as being relatively inelastic to price.

Please note the difference between short term and long-term elasticity; and the non-linearity of elasticity.

When oil rose from $20 to $30 (adjusted to current dollars in the 1960s) it had little effect. When it doubled again, oil disappeared from electrical generation in the US and many other places. So, short is different from long-term, and price changes have a different effect depending on whether they start cheap or are already expensive.

If oil prices stay above $100, in the long-term oil will disappear from most of it's markets. Long-haul trucking will be replaced by rail; ICE personal vehicles will be electrified, etc, etc.


Here's another way to put it:

Supply elasticity and demand elasticity are very different.

Oil, for instance, has pretty low supply elasticity lately, but demand elasticity is higher than many think - depending on sector and location, of course. For instance, plastic containers are getting redesigned very quickly to reduce hydrocarbon content.

And, short term and long term elasticities are very different: if you think that prices rose temporarily you just spend a little more and don't worry about it. OTOH, if you think prices are going to stay high you might replace your SUV with a hybrid sedan/saloon, and overnight reduce your fuel consumption by 70%.

An analysis can use short-term elasticities, but if you're talking about a long-term/secular rising trend, you have to use long-term elasticities. That's the whole point of the distinction between the two.

2nd, you can't use elasticities developed in the low price range of the price curve for the high price range: they will be very different.

In fact, this is strongly non-linear. Above about $80, investment grows in alternatives, especially batteries. As both R&D and manufacturing volumes increase, innovation and economies of scale are creating disruptive competitors whose costs will reasonably soon start to fall well below the old oil-based price norms - at that point oil consumption will continue to fall even if oil prices start falling.

At that point, oil exporters will be in deep trouble, and wish they had saved as many of those T-bills as they could....

I respect the opinion of Bob Moriarty a lot, mainly because I previously contributed to his www.321gold.com - voluntarily for free, by the way. At the time I wrote some articles about silver, basically stating that silver was ready to rise dramatically from about the $4 to $8 per ounce level to unspecified much higher level once the Silver ETF was launched. I was also the first person anywhere to report the SEC had approved such a Silver ETF, which was shortly thereafter put on www321gold. And yes, I did buy the silver ETF back then, and yes, I have been holding shares of the silver ETF since it came out.

I would pay attention to what he says, even if you don't entirely agree.

I am working with one of the original planners of the 103 mile Washington DC Metro system in creating a "Phase II".

Between new Metro, Light Rail and streetcar lines we think we can almost triple ridership (in passenger-miles) and massively expand Transit Orientated Development in the Greater Washington DC area.

Not yet finished, I am working on the goals. And I would welcome any suggestions.

I was tempted to post the full list here, but in the interest of bandwidth, here is the link


Any input would be valued - including the order of goals, missing goals, better stated goals, typos, etc.

DC area residents in particular are urged to look at the particular plans detailed in the blog.

One strategy is to show just what an expanded system could do for a population already familiar with Metro. Hopefully, this will help spark a demand to build it.

Many decision makers live in the Washington DC area and could be influenced by these plans. And carry that influence back home.

Best Hopes for Good Goals.


PS: I hope to serialize these plans in the Greater Greater Washington blog.

PPS: I have a commitment from Los Angeles for a team to create a similar plan for the Los Angeles basin.

Fix the already-existing DC Metro before you add anything. It's shoddy.

I address that issue in the "State of Good Repair" essay.


The issue is that high subsidy buses ($1.12 subsidy per pax/mile) take funding away from maintenance of low subsidy Metro ($0.18 per pax.mile). Immediate social justice issues (run more buses) trumps longer term maintenance issues. My solution is divorce the two and not have them compete for the same pot of money.

And also, just run fewer buses and more rail.

Best Hopes,


just run fewer buses and more rail.

In the meantime, though, we still need the buses, and more of them, because rail takes a long time to get built. As a resident of the Maryland D.C. suburbs, and a regular rail and bus rider, I can assure you that many bus routes are heavily used, frequently crowded and the buses run irregularly. Most of the riders are minorities, who live in outer suburbs due to the high cost of housing in the D.C. area, and don't have cars, so the buses are a lifeline.

We definitely need buses in the Green Transit transition. Instead of cutting buses cuts should be made to road expansion and increases in the gasoline tax to fund Green Transit. There is going to be a need for some sort of buses and shuttles to provide the last mile and interim connections.
I like a Parking Tax! I have thought that would be a good idea for a long time.
But as LightRail gets built and developers make a killing developing around it then there needs to be phased in property taxes which will pay to keep it running. The way it usually works now is the Govt builds it, developers make a killing on it and frequently never pay for maintaining the Green Transit goose that lays their golden egg. Here in New Jersey, Jersey City and Hudson coast are bustling due to the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and developers made a fortune gentrifying former slum areas. But they are still exempt from full taxes as
an "Urban Development Zone" even though these areas now have very, very expensive condos housing well-paid professionals.

A parking tax is included in my funding proposals.

As we go deeper into a post-Peak Oil world, bus fuel consumption is going to have to drop significantly, even as transit demand soars. Think just 25 years out, to 2037.

The only acceptable way out is a massive Urban Rail + TOD expansion.

Bicycles may have to replace buses as feeders in many cases.

We can build it faster than the window of opportunity closes - but we need to start fairly soon.

Best Hopes,


There's an article on BBC news about bicycles/Hungary/Health Care - take a look. Also New Scientist has an article tracking bicycles in London with an interesting take on rail connections, more arriving than departing at one station and more departing than arriving at another. Too crackered to look them up at the moment.


Back in the 1970s I arrived in London as a young tourist and rented a bicycle for a week, thinking it would be the ideal way of getting to know the city.

I returned it after two days, saying I didn't want a refund, I just wanted the bike out of my life. I have never been so terrified as in those two days. Even though London drivers are very considerate compared to South Africans, cycling among them was extremely hazardous.

Maybe motorists are more cycle-conscious these days, but I would prefer to ride wild horses through the traffic rather than bicycles.

I didn't realize that Brits don't bike much until I lived in Wales for a year . . . I thought I'd be using a bike a lot until I found that there are few bike lanes on small roads, and far too many steep hills in Wales as well. A motorized bike might be the ticket, though.

There are plenty of pubs, it is a very nice way of getting to know the city. They are usually located within walking distance of each other so a bike is really not needed.

LOL. Definitely true. I went from a town of 14k people and about 10 venues that served or sold alcohol to a university town of 14k population w / an additional 9k students and likely 50+ venues that served or sold alcohol.

Or you could ride downhill and walk the darn bike back up.

I find bicycling in Mexico much easier than in the UK. Cars etc actually give way to you. There are the exceptions, as always (watch out for fat, ugly women in SUVs, they ain't stopping for nothing), but mostly it is simply a lack of appreciation of space or awareness of anything other than themselves (they can be the same when walking) and a little road awareness on the rider's part can avoid tussles.


Speaking of the Rail/Bike connection: last year there was a race between 3 ways of getting to work in suburban New Jersey, NOT to NY City, - 1)driving a car, 2)riding a bike, 3)riding a bike to the train, taking the train and then riding the bike to the office

The winner hands down was the Rail/Bike connection!

Of course this was during peak hours when there are the most trains. During off-peak hours with an hour or sometimes ridiculously 3 hours between trains this would not work so well. Which illustrates once again the criticality of frequent train service to make Green Transit really work.

Top Gear UK did a (boat vs bike vs car vs public transportation) for London, too, a few yrs back.

Congestion Charge, as with London - pay to take car into city center (parking extra!)

Trials on hydrogen powered buses are starting in Aberdeen, Scotland - hydrogen created eventually from surplus wind (wind power produced when demand light, e.g. overnight).

System in use in a couple of German towns too.

because rail takes a long time to get built.

Not in France.

Paris will be adding 200 km of new Metro from 2013 to 2025. 21 billion euros. 2 million new Metro riders are expected, about 1.5 million being former bus riders.

Tram (Light Rail) typically takes 3 to 4 years from a political decision to build to ribbon cutting. The new tram lines are almost uniformly on heavy bus lines. 1,500 km of new tram lines for 22 billion euros by 2020.

See quite a few examples on my main blog


Can Americans build with the speed, efficiency and determination of French bureaucrats ?

We simply cannot afford, especially in a post-Peak Oil world, to run so many buses. The subsidies and fuel consumption are simply too high. Not politically correct, but true.

It will be rail, bicycles or nothing in the future. Finances will lead to repeated cuts in bus service.

The bus service that can be supported long term are some express buses (higher efficiency due to few stops) and small collector feeder buses that feed urban rail. But the total bus miles in Greater DC are going to shrink in the future - just see the subsidy #s at today's fuel costs.

See the EMU recommendations (including Ft. Meade) and the Olive Metro Line (thru Anacostia and down Indian Head Highway to near Ft. Washington). Southern MD commuter buses would go to the southern terminus to transfer, reducing bus miles.

I have not written up the Light Rail expansion in Maryland yet, but the following are on the recommended list.

- Gaithersburg to White Flint.
- Rockville to Wheaton via Viers Mill Road
- Georgia Avenue to Silver Spring - spur @ Petworth Metro station (Green Line) via New Hampshire Avenue to White Oak. New Red Line station @ New Hampshire
- Silver Spring to Columbia via US 29
- Branch Metro station to a) La Plata and b) to Alexandria via Beltway & Wilson Bridge

We would have included the line to Fredericksburg, but they stupidly chose high operating subsidy BRT.

Any others that are heavy ridership today ?

We are still looking for more viable lines. One tool is a map that shows heavy service bus lines.

Best Hopes for Oil Free Transportation,



Are you sure that fuel costs are the main driver of bus subsidies?

I suspect that labor costs are much higher, as the ratio of passengers to driver is much, much lower for most buses.

In 2010 transit buses used about 800M gallons of fuel, for a cost around $2.5B
There were 180k bus drivers - if total compensation was $75k per driver, that's a cost of about $12.5B

So, about 1/6 of the cost of buses is fuel.

Cost of labor per passenger-mile = $.61

That's more than the overall cost of a passenger car, including all costs (depreciation, fuel, maintenance, etc).


Keyboard problems suddenly :-( some keys lost - must cut & paste missin letters

Oil was cheaper in 2010. Ability of economy to support subsidies declines post-Peak Oil.

Labor will be cheaper - oil more $$$

Bus economics vary widely by route and operations.


Oil was cheaper in 2010.

I used current prices.


This is a basic problem for mass transit. High volume routes, especially for commuting, can compete price-wise with personal transportation (and are much safer, nicer, faster, etc, etc, etc).

But, low volume routes, including most of the feeders that support rail, are much more expensive than personal transportation. Costs are 2-4x as high per passenger-mile, even including all maintenance costs for road surfaces, and that will remain the same no matter how far we get into PO.

A hybrid system (in which rail handles a lot of commuting and less-than-500 mile inter-city travel and mostly-electric personal vehicles handle everything else) is the only thing that makes sense.

Having 30% to 50+% of the population move to TOD (which at least 30% want to do today, and 50+% will want to do "tomorrow") is the better solution. Walk or bike to Metro or Light rail station, or streetcar stop. No EV or PHEV required.

TOD has 1/4th the carbon footprint, is more economically sustainable AND it is what the market wants.

Preserving Suburbia is simply NOT what the market wants today.

Those living in some (not all) Suburban McMansions may not find buyers (many are poorly built & will age badly) when they get old, move to another city or die.

Population shifts as it did 1950 to 1970+, but in reverse. "Normal".
Parking garages in Suburban Virginia & Maryland are costing $20,000 to $30,000/space. That is not a viable strategy long term or on a large scale.

Valuable space near Metro stations should be TOD, not massive (5,000+ space) car parking. ICE or EV, both take parking & road space.

Bicycle parking (8 to 1 car) is viable, even at those costs.

For the Amber Metro Line (built on Virginia I-395 HOV lane) we assume Light Rail & streetcar feeders to several stations, bus to some and massive parking only near Beltway.


BTW - Copy & Paste missin letters is a pain - new keyboard soon.


I like your plans for rail, but you're being mighty unrealistic.

30% to 50+% of the population move to TOD (which at least 30% want to do today, and 50+% will want to do "tomorrow

A larger percentage has said they'd like to buy EVs and PHEVs.

Walk or bike to Metro or Light rail station, or streetcar stop. No EV or PHEV required.

Sure. And probably 35% of commuting could be handled by walking and biking right now. But, that's not what people want to do. Some of those reasons are bad, some are good. But, it's the reality. The fact is that people are willing to pay a premium for ICEs over bikes, and PHEVs won't cost any more than ICEs.

Preserving Suburbia is simply NOT what the market wants today.

That's so unrealistic, it's just silly. Suburban living costs much less than dense urban living, regardless of energy costs. Sure, suburbia got hit with a bubble of overbuilding, and is now suffering for that, but that doesn't change the fundamentals of suburban costs vs urban costs.

I think you don't understand. People "don't want" to commute by walking, biking or public transit only because it's either a)too far or b)unpleasant. Most of this is the fault of our current car-centric development.

The cheaper cost of suburban living is a product of fossil fuels, and will increasingly become eroded by high fuel costs and high electricity costs (which will take longer to appear but will as we deplete or abandon the other fossil fuels). Outer areas will always be cheaper discounting transport costs and livability issues (long commutes, lack of services), and surely existing suburbs will become cheaper and cheaper as they turn into slums. But I don't think we all want to end up living in slums that are far from essential services, which seems more and more likely to be the ultimate end result. We can either plan for this and build accordingly, or we will suffer increasingly as time goes on. It's a party now, but the party won't go on forever.

The easy thing to do is try to keep the party going with coal, natural gas and higher efficiency cars - basically, what we're doing now. The thing is, if we do it that way, the end result will be much, much more unpleasant than if we make and move to livable neighborhoods, and we still end up in the same place - having to abandon the personal car. There is simply no way, with our current world population and development of formerly poor places like China, India, Brazil, and even Africa, that we can keep the suburban dream alive as it is now.

Walking, biking and transit are good for some things, terrible for others. Many people have disabilities which rule out walking and biking any distance. Transit is wonderful for high traffic corridor commuting and intercity travel (<500 miles), but terrible for point to point travel.

Electric (and partly electric) cars are very affordable now, and will get cheaper.

The same is true for renewable electricity.

Today 30% of Americans want to live in TOD. Build the T to OD around - and empty out part of Suburbia. This will create a cascading effect.

Suburbia is more expensive if full costs are applied. End the $101 billion annual tax transfer to keep gas cheap - then tax carbon, cost obesity & traffic injuries - and more.

Suburbia is so cheap we cannot afford it anymore.

bad keyboard - more another time.


Building transit won't empty suburbia. Heck, French suburbs have only expanded due to more transit.

If we make fuel ultra expensive that won't eliminate personal vehicles, it will just electrify them!

Now, costing out injuries is an interesting idea. Doesn't car insurance capture part of that? How would we calculate the cost of that, I wonder?

What about trolley buses people. Same as buses, but electric?

four negatives. 5x the electricity of trams/passenger-km, higher life cycle costs (rail cheaper than roads), no rail preference (+35% more riders) and no TOD effect.



Your oilfreedc blog is interesting, I will have to examine it more closely when I have some time.

The route that I frequently use is the Metrobus "Y" line, which runs along Georgia Avenue, between downtown Silver Spring and Olney, Md. I board it at the Glenmont Metrorail station. It is heavily used through the Silver Spring/Wheaton/Glenmont/Aspen Hill area, and from then on starts to thin out on its way to Olney. I live in the Olney area, and often there are only about a dozen or so riders when I get off. WMATA Metrobus runs the long articulated buses along this route, due to the heavy ridership earlier in the route, but they mostly empty out by the time they get to Olney. Metrobus is apparently conducting a study on improving service through this corridor.

Montgomery County, Md. has its own bus system, called Ride-On. As often as I can, several times a week, I ride the Ride-On route 53, which runs between the Glenmont and Shady Grove Metrorail stations via Olney. There are usually 3-12 riders on each bus -- on the evening commute, I am frequently the only rider on the bus by the time I get off. This is admittedly an inefficient use of buses, but the Olney/Brookeville/Ashton/Sandy Spring area has become quite affluent, and few upper-middle-class residents bother to use the buses.

You seem to know quite a bit about public transit in the D.C. area, so I have gone into some detail about my commuting. DC is probably a good case study on how to deal with public transit nationwide. I agree, extensive bus service in most outer suburbs is not very efficient, their fuel consumption must be signicant, but I am making use of it, because it is there. Montgomery County tried to eliminate a number of bus routes in 2009-2010, but didn't due to various rider petition drives. It sure would be nice to see light rail or streetcars being built out here, but I won't hold my breath waiting for it to happen, our society is too wedded to our "rugged individualist" habit of private autos.

Looking forward to your response,


Ed has a trick or lines with strong & weak sections. Only works under some conditions.

Big bus every 12 minutes, short turns after strong section. Small bus follows 4 minutes later and does full route.

Small bus gains on big bus (8 minutes of pax waiting vs. 4 minutes) shortening trip time for those on long route.

I read a lot @ DC transit studies, but Ed is main resource.

Best opes,



We are looking at "Olney to Wheaton/possibly Silver Spring (Georgia Avenue Y bus lines)"



My main blog is http://oilfreetransport.blogspot.com/

Many french examples there.



I enjoy your "Trams of ..." photo-essays. Suggestion: add a link to YouTube videos, like this one Tramway Bordeaux France.

Trams these days are funky and streamlined; not like the angular clankers of yore. One thing that hasn't changed: the sound of steel wheels on steel rails. I wonder if it will ever be eliminated.

Hi Alan, sounds exciting. Are you familiar with the work of Jarrett Walker and his Network Model.. Here:


We are launching a similar revolution in Auckland, NZ (pop. 1.5mil) over the next few years. It involves three interlinked, interdependent big changes:

-New electric trains to increase capacity and frequency on existing network that forms a 'rapid' spine for;
-Reorganised bus system connecting to RTN network and;
-Integrated ticketing and fares to make connections or transfers painless.

At the heart of this is the total reorganisation of existing bus services (private operators) to make it much more frequent and with more coverage AT NOT ADDITIONAL COST. How?

By changing a 'one seat ride' system to one that depends on transfers. So a route that used to go all the way from the suburban fringe to the CBD once an hour will instead terminate at a rapid transit station and return to it start or continue to another cross town point and therefore be able to do this trip up to four times more frequently than before. With the same human, fuel, and, equipment resources.

The aim is to build an all day 'turn up and go' frequency with no need for timetables. With less CBD focus and more of peak and cross town options. Here:


This is no European city with a medieval centre and a transit habituated population. AK was made from that model into a highly autodependant place in the last 60 years. It is a very North American type of city now. But change is possible, and we are showing that, and without always spending coast amounts.

This is a huge effort in a city that used to have an extensive streetcar system in its old core but that was ripped up in the mid 1950s and nothing but car infrastructure has been built since in a huge effort to follow the Californian dream. A baby LA in South Seas... Things are changing fast now though, with challenges ahead. Here's one outcome of our over investment in autodependantcy:


Keyboard problems - see above.

Sounds interesting ! Transfers reduce ridership by -18% vs. one seat. BUT other advantages can outweigh that problem.

Best hopes,


What's your source for that 18% figure?
Is it from a system where there is no additional cost when connecting and where frequency has quadrupled from previous one seat pattern?

We are expecting a doubling of ridership over a decade as a result of this change. In fact the changes are in order to both meet and stimulate demand. We have figures that show an exponential increase in ridership from a lineal increase in service provision. Coming changes will to the whole network, not just additions to existing routes.

Jarrett Walker's site and book are full of good analyses.

It is from Ed Tennyson, my 90 year old collaborator.

All else being =, transfers lose 18% of ridership.

At a 6 minute cost in time, 50% of riders will stay in their seat - 50% will transfer, if they have a choice.

At 12 minutes, 90% will transfer.

Note: Ed as a unit of measurement named after him (transit density).

He estimated ridership for the 103 mile DC Metro system before it opened the first line. He was off by 3% decades later when completed (some luck involved, but skill to be close enough to be lucky).

Best hopes for Auckland,


Certainly stands to reason if everything stays the same, but you'd never do that. I agree transfers are to be reduced where possible but because of the primacy of traffic engineering values [read: cars] the importance of one seat has been overstated in many transport system designs over the last half century or so. In otherwords, attempts to make transit offer a more car-like service have lead to many rambling and long routes at the cost of frequency and speed. Add to that the curious and frankly offensive idea that transit users' time is less valuable than drivers', but that's another issue, although it does explain how they justify paying little attention to making transit [whole journey] quicker.

Here is the 30 yr old case study from Portland OR: http://www.humantransit.org/2012/08/portland-the-grid-is-30-thank-a-plan...

Grid versus cobweb. The cobweb assumes everyone wants to go into the centre and assumes that 'one seat' is essential. Walker's evidence shows that frequency is king, more important than avoiding having to make a connection. And the 'Grid' connection based system also offers many different routes and destinations than just serving one, the centre, well. Therefore it is less bossy and gives the rider more freedom and choice. As well, of course, as more frequency. Done properly, city wide, ridership will leap. Ed's 18% will have a '+' in front of it. I tells ya!

best for DC and Nawlins [as ROCKMAN would say] And do check out Human Transit.

Ed also has rules for ridership changes due to time savings and headways. It all adds up.

Save 6 minutes trip time = transfer for example.


One point, the streets of DC and the streets of Naw'lins are not laid out on a grid.

There needs to be many transfer points outside the Core, but I do no see the grid as the best way to do this.

Rather loops & lines meeting on either end for example. My proposed Amber Metro Line - down I-395 HOV in Virginia. It connects with the Blue Line @ the Pentagon and the outer terminus. I propose an Amber-Blue Loop service, serving just Virginia stations for both lines (except the mutual terminus station).

The Red, Rose & Plum Metro lines interweave with each other, each on a 5 minute headway at Peak. Rock Creek is dead zone in between East & West in DC.

The map (nothing more yet) for New Orleans streetcars.


Best opes,


Nor is Auckland!, we never had a Jefferson down here, and topography [pretty hilly] and geography [squeezed between two ocean harbours] would make such an imposition tricky anyway.



No the Grid is not literal but organisational. Of course in many US cities it can be both; LA! It is also a recognition of the dispersal effect that 60 years of car infrastructure have done to the city. It is a way of serving the existing urban form of our cities with transit while helping them to adjust a the newer pattern.

Your site makes much of the importance of TODs, and I agree these are the way froward, but both transit and urban form change need to happen together. If your Transit argument relies on an urban from that is largely absent in the Anglophone western cities [and it is] you are merely giving fuel to the road lobby to oppose your plans. By designing a network that increases access, frequency, and reach for the city as it is now will still stimulate an improvement in that form, especially when allied to other planning changes and parking restrictions.

People ain't silly; get 'em on the transit, then watch them want to move to where the transit works even better for them. They'll be your TOD customer base. To wait for the city to change shape is to slow the change down and to be dependent on too many other factors that require too much money and too much top-down planning.

On parking: http://www.humantransit.org/2012/09/the-price-is-right-market-based-park...

Exciting to see the work you're doing, hope for the future leaps a little everytime a new electric transit line is opened somewhere.

And I must say DC transit looks pretty well funded from here! Ernest Rutherford the New Zealander who first split the atom said; 'we don't have the money so we've got to think'

Alan, technically you are using a double negative.. reduce...-18%. It should be either increase by -18%, or reduce by 18%.

Taking off my language police cap now.

Connections important. My old local bus service used to terminate before the main commuter trains arrived, in the evening, hence needed the car to get home which meant I needed to take the car ti the station in the morning negating the ample bus service to the staion in the morning for commuters!!!


Ed can go on & on about the idiocy o transit management - and how minor adjustments can greatly increase ridership.

Ed developed many of his ridership rules by simply observing people. Observe 100 and see what they do. Others from detailed observations of changes in routes - before vs. after.


Put your vacuum cleaner on its strongest setting and slowly run it over the gaps between the keys. That has always solved my keyboard problems.

A Goal I added -

* Enhance National Security by creating an Oil Free Transportation system that will allow the Greater Washington DC area to continue functioning in a severe and prolonged oil supply shortfall.

Appeal to conservatives more,


"A second nuclear reactor in Belgium has indications of cracks in its core tank, the nuclear regulator said on Thursday"
CORE Tank? Is that Finnish for Reactor Pressure Vessel? or is this unit a BWR? Why no info? Cash for Clunkers?


I think there is a 30cm deep crack in the outer containment vessel...


Google Translate:

Shut down for a thorough examination of the reactor vessel, the reactor now has a concrete problem. The containment concrete that protects the tank from external aggressions such as airplane crashes shows signs of crumbling advanced.

The phenomenon, observed there over a year, is clearly more severe than expected. In a degradation of less than 10 centimeters, it has now risen to an erosion which could reach 30 cm.

"The cores drilled on this depth are being analyzed , "said the spokesman of the plant. Several members of the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) went on site Tihange Thursday afternoon to learn more.

Erosion has learned Le Soir, is due to a new phenomenon, "alkali-silica reaction." This could lead to a weakening of the confinement.

Note that the "aggregate-alkali reaction" is well known to civil engineers. Certain aggregates slowly swell as they react with the alkaline cement and lead to a network of fine cracks in the concrete. I'm not sure if this is the same thing or something new. In any case, it looks like it's chemistry-related, not nuclear-related.

Note that sustained neutron bombardment also leads to damage to the concrete, but that is compensated for in the design and doesn't seem to be the cause in this case.

No, the article you cited is about the outer containment vessel.

What longtimber speaks about are very small cracks in the pressure vessel. 2 Reactors here in Belgium have been shut down last month because of this, Doel 3 and Tihange 2.

The cracks are due to production errors by the 'Rotterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij', a dutch firm that delivered 2 pressure cores in Belgium (around 1980), those of doel 3 and Tihange 2.

There has been a lot of hysteria here in Belgium because of this, 2GW lost of 9GW needed means some politicians fear for blackouts if we have a cold winter.

What puzzles me is while 22 such core vessels were built by the same firm, of which 10 were sent to the US, only in Belgium we react by shutting down the reactors. Why not for the other reactors abroad, that probably have the same production errors? Maybe those haven't been inspected yet.


It's considered weak here to do anything that a European has done first.

We're leaders, not followers.

(Or in other words, our industrial mentality took that cute "Stiff Upper Lip" we got from our English forebears and decided to go whole hog, hardening the entire area from the Larynx up .)

Obey your thirst.

"We can’t grow our economies without burning more oil, but the growth we seek will eventually push the price of the fuel out of our economy’s reach. That, in a nutshell, is the quandary central banks are now facing."
Jeff Rubin nails it, Most everywhere you look in the US , energy is wasted away. The near future belongs to the efficient.

As fuel prices rise, the investments necessary for better efficiency will become more attractive and wind and solar will be more attractive as well.

These investments may even boost the economy so that those who want to work can do so. At the current very low rates that the Government can borrow money, it is a shame that more government investment in public transportation is not happening which would again help with unemployment and rising fuel prices.

It would also increase government tax revenue (due to higher overall income from rising employment) and reducing expenditures on unemployment insurance and other public aid as incomes rise.


" it is a shame that more government investment in public transportation is not happening"

With a 3.7 year median approval time for an EIS, those projects submitted in 2009 should be starting to come through the pipeline by now. Assuming they haven't been tripped up by a NIMBY lawsuit.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending September 14, 2012

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.9 million barrels per day during the week ending September 14, 595 thousand barrels per day above the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 88.9 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging 9.1 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging about 4.6 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 9.8 million barrels per day last week, up by 1.3 million barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 9.0 million barrels per day, 227 thousand barrels per day above the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 458 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 159 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 8.5 million barrels from the previous week. At 367.6 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 1.4 million barrels last week and are in the lower half of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories increased while blending components inventories decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 0.3 million barrels last week and are near the lower limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 1.3 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 11.4 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged 18.6 million barrels per day, down by 2.9 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged 8.9 million barrels per day, down 0.9 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged 3.4 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, down by 11.2 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 0.4 percent lower over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.


After the storm: oil imports recover after Hurricane Isaac delays but east coast gasoline supplies still falling

Calmer seas prevailed in the Gulf of Mexico last week, which allowed a backlog of arriving oil tankers to offload their cargo, following disruptions caused by Hurricane Isaac a few weeks ago. Oil imports increased by about 1.3 million bpd last week - or about 9 million barrels for the entire week - more than accounting for the unusual increase of 8.5 million barrels in total commercial oil inventories. Oil imports into the east coast were unusually high, possibly diverted northward by various recent sea storms in the Atlantic & GOM.

Nationwide gasoline supplies extended their long summer decline, dropping another 1.4 million barrels. However this figure obscures the fact the some regional supplies of gasoline are low - particularly along the east and west coasts. Gasoline supplies in the East region fell by 2.3 million barrels, which had the effect recently pushing up eastern wholesale gasoline prices as much as 30 cents a gallon or more relative to most of the rest of the country. A similar situation exists in West region, where wholesale gasoline prices are fluctuating widely on a daily basis as various western refiners struggle with operational problems - including a fire at the important Richmond, CA refinery more than a month ago.

As refiners are now switching over their operations to produce 'winter blends' of gasoline, while the last of the 'summer blends' are used up, there is some expectation that the worst effects of short 'summer' gasoline supplies along both coasts will soon be easing. [Usually ‘summer blend’ gasoline has a lower Reid Vapor Pressure, meaning it creates less vapor than ‘winter blend’ gasoline and is less likely to contribute to smog formation in higher temperatures. It is a more complicated refining process to produce gasoline with lower RVP]. An important northeast refinery has resumed operations, and although some refiners along the Gulf of Mexico had yet to fully recover from Hurricane Isaac, its lingering effects will soon be gone.

Gas prices have been volatile here in the northeast lately. Prices jumped about 30 cents practically overnight after Isaac, but now they've fallen back down to about where they started from.


Perhaps the best thing that could happen is big price fluctuations, lineups, and shortages. At least that way there would be examples of the problem and the bs of US energy independence would be seen for what it is.


Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 1.4 million barrels last week and are in the lower half of the average range.

When was the last time we saw gasoline inventories in the lower half of the average range? I've looked at the Wednesday summary every week for the last 5 years and have never seen the word "lower" in that sentence. But then again maybe I'm just so used to seeing it say "upper" that I've completely forgot...

Since 2005, there have only been a few times when there has been lower gasoline supplies than now. All of those times, at least some parts of the country experienced local gasoline shortages. Previously, a few years back, I stated here on TOD that gasoline shortages will pop up somewhere when total stocks fall below the 192 million barrel level. That is another way to say we have reached the MOL, minimum operating level, where there is not sufficient supply in pipelines and storage tanks to smoothly meet retail demand. Currently inventories are about 196 million barrels.

I've always been curious about the MOL. Is it clearly defined and agreed upon or are we just guessing based on total storage and pipeline capacity?

A 5-minute video by Michio Kaku on Peak Oil and on future Solar and Fusion Energy.

Video: A Solar Revolution?

That guy is nuts. I listen to his radio show on Pacifica sometimes, and the only thing he loves more than black holes is time travel. (I say this with respect.)

Plus he is totally meme captured by string theory.

CERN has not been kind to String Treory.
The biggest news out of CERN, after the Higgs, was the non confirmation of Super Symmetry.

Maybe we will finally abandon all this elegant math, and exit the Box Canyon?

Yes. I think he's figured out what sort of wildly optimistic things get him air time on the various Discovery channel productions, and is just milking it for what its worth. I don't know if he believes the pablum he has been putting out? I don't know which reduce my opinion of him more: finding out he does believe the bs, or finding out he's lying about what he really thinks?

Especially irritating is his statement that solar PV is not competitive because is not "efficient" enough, as if it were somehow wasting precious energy. It seems to me that 15% efficiency of extracting work from an existing entropy flow is way more efficient than extracting work from a finite fuel tank that was filled over millions of years from that same entropy stream at less than 1% efficiency.

Also the idea that solar will naturally take over as the cost of oil rises and the cost of PV falls is disingenuous; it sounds reassuring but both will undoubtedly rise in cost, and individuals *will* be using less energy in the future.

As a physicist he should know better!

Gloom and doom just don't sell very well here in the land of Freedom Fries and "our way of life is non-negotiable". As a physicist he might know better, but as a well compensated television entertainer, he knows on which side his bread is buttered.

Why should PV price go up because oil gets more expensive? Little to no oil goes into it. And PV is still riding down a steep learning curve. I expect it may have another factor of two to go. As volumes go up, PV production efficiency should go up.

The better Sunpower panels are now well above 20%. AltaDevice GaAs thinn film is reportedly just a bit below 30%. We are getting towards some interesting capabilities.

Especially irritating is his statement that solar PV is not competitive because is not "efficient" enough

Hrmmmm. Photons converted into electrical watts directly.

What are the other Photons into electrical watt pathways and what steps are needed to do them?

PV is far more efficient than any of the other options. But hey - perhaps "As a physicist" he can show better.

Especially irritating is his statement that solar PV is not competitive because is not "efficient" enough, as if it were somehow wasting precious energy.

dak664, I thought the same thing. The cost per kW is more important than the efficiency. As you mention there is no harm done in wasting free sunlight.

Especially irritating is his statement that solar PV is not competitive because is not "efficient" enough,

Just amazed at the ignorance of allegedly highly educated people.

A year or two back, the Transactions of the IEEE had an article by some engineer claiming PV was not efficient enough, because it didn't get very hot; whereas concentrating solar thermal->electricity (his pet project) was much more efficient because it did get hot.

Completely clueless as to the photovoltaic effect, and the effective temperature of photons of visible and near infrared light.

Next issue I looked for a letter to the editor about how wrong this was, but wait - no such section in the Transactions.

Before that, in Science, a non-peer reviewed overview article claimed that silicon PV was too inefficient and that covering the roof could not power the average house. I replied with the proof that it easily could, but "we can't use your submission".

So these two (and other) LIES about PV are now in the literature, in usually respectable journals - forever.

Rather than (just) curse the darkness, I'll put up the link for a nice informative site on PV

That is definitely a +1 site and well worth the time for a good read.


Power East Coast via wind? Doable with 144,000 offshore turbines, study says

Last I looked at the issue of east coast wind I quickly found:
1. yes east coast offshore wind resource is very large and much more consistent than onshore.
2. a class 3 hurricane would collapse half the towers in a turbine field using typical offshore tower technology; forget about all the blades.

By way of an answer, Jacobson et al state:
They also favored places with lower hurricane risk, essentially excluding any area south of Virginia.

I.e. roll the dice?

I'm not sure this project got off the ground, but hurricanes seemed to be solvable:

"As Gulf Coast oil companies brace for Hurricane Ike, the developers of new wind farm projects are confident their turbines can withstand the elements.

Hurricane Ike might be an early test for a fledgling offshore wind farm project in the Gulf. Wind Energy Systems Technology is moving forward with plans to build a 62-turbine wind farm off the Gulf Coast south of Houston. With one test tower constructed, company President Herman Schellstede says the towers his company designed can withstand winds of up to 150 miles per hour and 200 mph gusts.

"We've been building offshore oil and gas platforms for 42 years, so we are very acquainted with how to build structures out there to endure hurricanes," says Schellstede. "We don't feel uncomfortable saying [the towers] can withstand 150-mile-an-hour winds."

So far, the test tower has withstood 85 mph winds, and it may see winds of more than 100 miles an hour as the storm passes through Galveston on Saturday."


Sure structures can be and are built to withstand offshore hurricanes. The question for offshore wind turbines is can it be done at even a low multiple of the cost of onshore wind. Note that NPR story on the Galveston wind farm was from 2008. So far not a single full size turbine has been erected. Given the offshore extreme weather engineering expertise in the US oil/gas industry, if it were going to happen I would guess it would happen in the US.

US offshore wind map.

Agreed cost is the issue here. You could build stuff to withstand 400mph winds, but it would be very very pricey. So the question is what price point can be achieved? What happens to that price point as you move to regions with a tougher climate?

Very pricy? Concrete dome homes are an option and not that expensive.

From German data:

Off-shore turbines get 19 cent/kWh FIT, this field of technology is still at the beginning of the developement. Construction is very expensive, new powerlines are expensive, too. OTOH more than 4000 FLH are very attractive of course.

On-shore produces electricity with modern disigns for less than 7 cent/kWh, if the prices and yields are correctly reported on wikipedia, then some of the Enercon turbines at good sites (~2500 FLH) for less than 6 cent/kWh.

I am a sceptic whether off-shore is really the deal.

Off-shore turbines get 19 cent/kWh FIT

More exactly: FIT for off-shore is 15 Cent/kWh for 12 years or 19 Cent/kWh for 8 years. After that it's 3,5 Cent/kWh.
The time for the initial FIT is prolonged for distances to shore >12 nm (by 0.5 month per nm) and for depth >20 m (by 1.7 month per m).
For a lifetime of 20 years, this would average 10-11 Cent/kWh. From 2015 on, a reduction of 5% per year is planned.

Correct, then the only unknown factor is the costs of transmisson lines or better connection to the on-shore grid, IRRC these costs will either be paid by the taxpayer or we will see higher/longer FITS.

My basic issue with off-shore is the fact that with modern turbines we could produce cheaper energy in southern Germany and do not increase transmission capacity problems, the base demand problem is in the south. Off-shore would be in my plan delayed by at least 5 years, so we could benefit from the knowledge gain by UK off-shore wind farms and could sort out the issues with the connection to the on-shore grid in the meantime.

Offshore wind is certainly proceeding extremely slowly, but I don't see any evidence that's related to the cost of engineering for hurricanes.

It seems to be related primary to the extremely good US onshore wind resource, which makes offshore unneeded except for political desires for localization, and secondarily to the sclerotic approval process for new energy projects; fear of the unknown; and utility resistance to innovation.

Offshore wind is certainly proceeding extremely slowly, but I don't see any evidence that's related to the cost of engineering for hurricanes.

It seems to be related primary to the extremely good US onshore wind resource, ...

Maybe but I tend to disagree:
1) Offshore is starting to ramp up in Europe and the costs are coming down.
2) Yes the US has good onshore wind, but mainly in the Midwest and West. The US East onshore resource is lousy in comparison. On the other hand the US east coast offshore wind resource is large, topping all of the US Midwest & TX combined.

I think that suggests E. coast offshore would be in development IF it were possible to use tower designs for the Baltic/North Sea/Irish Sea in the Atlantic with out a 50/50 chance of them being destroyed every five years or so.

I don't think the engineering challenges are the issue. The problem is there are a lot of rich, influential people who live along the east coast, and they don't want their views marred by wind turbines. (See Ted Kennedy and the Cape Cod wind farm.) Also, many of the towns along the coast are dependent on tourism, and are worried that 400 foot tall turbines will be unaesthetic.

I think it's possible to get around these issues. If they actually build that Cape Cod wind farm, that might make turbines sexy. They aren't that ugly, really, and if the rich people on Cape Cod have them, that might make them more attractive to others. Especially if they turn out to be a tourist attraction, as some are hoping.

I don't think the engineering challenges are the issue.

You think engineering is not the issue or not the only issue? If the former, why? A hurricane would destroy many towers built to the standards used in European waters.

Ted Kennedy and Cape Cod is about the most elite example there is on the east coast. Many spots along the coast with barrier islands are sparsely populated w/ very little tourism. In many cases the turbines would be quite small on the horizon or not visible at all from ground level on the shore. Unacceptable for Ted K. but elsewhere?

I think the point of putting wind towers along the east coast is putting them where the users are.

Putting them in the middle of nowhere kind of defeats the point.

Most of the sparsely populated islands and shoreline I refer to are not far from high population areas, 50 miles or closer. Areas like this for instance.
These are the barrier islands and peninsulas that people would live on but for their constant shifting from wind and tide. The point is that in addition to protecting the mainland from the sea, they also remove the problem posed by those who object to having their "views marred" as you say. Of course there are those who are outraged at the disturbance caused by the 12 astronauts to the moon; no help for that viewpoint.

I still say local opposition is a bigger impediment than engineering. Hurricane risk is relatively low in the Chesapeake Bay area (compared to, say, Galveston), but environment concerns are very high. It's the NYC problem - if you have that many people, there's easily a thousand who will organize and object to any given proposal. And the Chesapeake Bay...ye gods and little fishies.

The engineering problems can be solved. Locate them in areas where the risk is lower, beef up the design, and accept that maintenance will be necessary. Sometimes, you're going to have to replace a blade or a tower...or three. You can't just build them and walk away, or you end up with this:

the Chesapeake Bay

Yes nobody will ever be putting turbines on the Bay, so say I. The Bay truly does have people/residences/tourism all over its shoreline, and the wind resource is only fair, not great like it is out in the Atlantic.

Offshore is starting to ramp up in Europe and the costs are coming down

My understanding is that onshore in the Midwest is around $.07/kWh, and that east coast offshore (around, say, Delaware) is at least twice that, and closer to $.20/kWh.

What have you seen?

I go to EWEA, as I'm fairly sure there still is no offshore wind installed in the US, though Cape Wind is still creeping along towards a start. Depending on wind resource EWEA has ~US$0.11/kWh wholesale (using 1.4 US/Eu)

If there are *estimates* of US offshore wind costs I would be very skeptical if they use designs from European waters given the reasons stated above.

There have been several offshore wind projects on the East Coast that have, so far, failed.

My understanding is that the proposed costs were around $.20/kWh.

This may be related to the infancy of the US offshore wind industry, as well as local conditions.

They are writing about the towers withstanding the wind, so I suspect the turbine blades would be history.

Which is worse. The wind. Or the sea state?

I'm eager to see how the floating turbines do.. while I'm also a fan of enough 'overengineering' (or really, 'Sufficient Engineering') so that a piece of equipment could hunker down into a 'storm mode'.. instead of simply thinking you have to overbuild so you can tough everything out.

The supple branch bends, the stiff beam snaps..

Roughly: sea state = wind speed * time * fetch (open distance over which wind blows)

I think it is wind speed to a nontrivially high power, like roughly six.

New from Congressional Research Service ...

Energy Tax Incentives: Measuring Value Across Different Types of Energy Resources (0.4M pdf)

The majority of energy produced in the United States is derived from fossil fuels. In recent years, however, revenue losses associated with tax incentives that benefit renewables have exceeded revenue losses associated with tax incentives benefitting fossil fuels. As Congress evaluates the tax code and various energy tax incentives, there has been interest in understanding how energy tax benefits under the current tax system are distributed across different domestic energy resources.

Projections of the annual cost of energy-related tax provisions through 2015 show that, under current law, tax-related support for renewable fuels will effectively disappear after 2012.

Roughly half of the support for renewable energy in 2010 benefitted biofuels. Since biofuels incentives have generally expired, without extension of expired incentives, there will be limited tax-related support for biofuels beyond 2012. Further, the expiration of the Section 1603 grants in lieu of tax credits program will reduce the share of tax-related support for renewables in future years.

The value of energy-related tax provisions that benefit fossil fuels is projected to remain relatively constant over time, under current law, as most provisions that benefit fossil fuels are permanent Internal Revenue Code (IRC) provisions.

and Carbon Tax: Deficit Reduction and Other Considerations (0.6M pdf)

Policymakers have considered a number of options for raising additional federal revenues, including a carbon tax. A carbon tax could apply directly to carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, or to the inputs (e.g., fossil fuels) that lead to the emissions. Unlike a tax on the energy content of each fuel (e.g., Btu tax [The goals of the 1993 Btu tax proposal were to promote energy conservation and raise revenue]), a carbon tax would vary with a fuel’s carbon content, as there is a direct correlation between a fuel’s carbon content and its CO2 emissions.

If Congress were to establish a carbon tax, policymakers would face several implementation decisions, including the point and rate of taxation. Although the point of taxation does not necessarily reveal who bears the cost of the tax, this decision involves trade-offs, such as comprehensiveness versus administrative complexity.

Several economic approaches could inform the debate over the tax rate. Congress could set a tax rate designed to accrue a specific amount of revenues. Some would recommend setting the tax rate based on estimated benefits associated with avoiding climate change impacts. Alternatively, Congress could set a tax rate based on the carbon prices estimated to meet a specific GHG emissions target.

Lower-income households, in particular, would face a disproportionate impact if revenues were not recycled back to them in some fashion. In addition, specific industries may experience disproportionate impacts

Also from Congressional Research Service ...

Poverty in the United States: 2011 (0.6M pdf)

In 2011, 46.2 million people were counted as poor in the United States, the same number as in 2010 and the largest number of persons counted as poor in the measure’s 53-year recorded history. The poverty rate, or percent of the population considered poor under the official definition, was reported at 15.0% in 2011, statistically unchanged from 2010. The 2011 poverty rate of 15.0% is well above its most recent pre-recession low of 12.3% in 2006, and has reached the highest level seen in the past 18 years (1993). The increase in poverty over the past four years reflects the effects of the economic recession that began in December 2007.

Under the official poverty definition, an average family of four was considered poor in 2011 if its pretax cash income for the year was below $23,021.

Some analysts expect poverty to remain above pre-recessionary levels for as long as a decade, and perhaps longer, given the depth of the recession and slow pace of economic recovery.

... must be talking about the 47%

Poverty is striking the U.K. too ...

Rising prices leave UK students hungry

Poverty and lack of access to luxuries for the poor in Britain is not a new story. But it’s just starting to be recognised that low pay, which has stayed stubbornly low for years now, coupled with inflation across the board, is meaning that people in work, as well as those out of it, are genuinely struggling to provide the most basic things to their families.

Teachers across Britain have offered stories on social networks about how they give the children their own food, or mend their clothes.

... at a nearby foodbank in the town of Oldham (foodbanks are rocketing in Britain at the moment) a volunteer described how he’d seen grown men break down in tears at the shame of having to ask for charitable help in feeding their kids.

... we will probably look back on these years, 10 years from now, as the 'salad days'

Graph of the Day: Mitt Romney’s America

... To fill in the background of this story, I am re-posting an article I wrote in August of 2011 that describes the length and breadth of this fictitious political assault on the middle and working class of America. It illustrates explicitly the themes that Romney articulated to his wealthy supporters

This movement is not some scruffy assemblage of disorganized trust-funders seeking to upgrade their yachts. It is a coordinated campaign that has pulled together high profile proponents from politics and the press. Here is a sampling of the breadth and unity of the movement and the message: ...

Income tax non-payers by state:

Red states:

Another graph of solidly red states:

The Topography of Poverty in the United States

These are longstanding party loyalists.

Pawlenty quits Romney campaign to head bank lobby group

Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty quit his position in the campaign of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Thursday to become a leading Washington lobbyist for Wall Street banks. He said he continued to support Romney.

Pawlenty will be the head of the Financial Services Roundtable, a U.S. lobbying group that represents JP Morgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo & Co, among other financial companies.

As a top lobbyist, Pawlenty will play a major role in the industry's efforts to make the new Dodd-Frank rules, which Congress passed in 2010 in response to the 2007-2009 financial crisis, more favorable for Wall Street as regulators implement the law.

Some of these so-called poor people would do well to give up cell phones for all the family members. I've seen families on food stamps putting every spare cent into a cell phone service plan.

Speaking of which - a good way to quell the Libyan/Egyptian rioters? Cut off the nation's cell phone service and they'll come right around apologizing and begging for it to be turned back on. The US Gov't could even pay for it, it'd be less expensive than deploying the Marines.

There's actually a federal program that pays for cell phones for the poor.

And they did try shutting down cell phone service to quell the Arab Spring uprising. It only made the protests worse.

I believe the same was done with the Occupy protests and some kind of 'subway riot' - the shutting down of the service made more news and had more comments of the WTF nature.

There is someone's mass communication PHD project in researching that.

In London there are an unknown number of CCTV and web cameras watching the streets, maybe as many as a million. A decade ago, many of the trafic monitoring CCTV cameras were available as public website webcams. On the days of the major anti-war marches in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq every one of these web cams went off-line 'for maintenace' on the same day, so the police could claim numbers of 100,000 against the organisers claim of 2,000,000 on the streets.

I was one of them.

I mean after all, they are poor, so they would "do-well" to have other things taken from them. Let's start with airconditioning.

We really need look for other situations where the US could pay off corporations to cut services to nation states too.

After all, diplomacy is expensive. Better yet, so is the military. Let's just let corporate intel run things how they see fit.


Ah, that would be "The Omega Man" option, I think: intentional (or not) biohazard release.

14.9% of the 47% anyway. 6.9 % of everyone.


By the way, another statistic I dug out elsewhere is that 16% of households get a social Security check. So if 10% of those households are also not paying income taxes, then 6% should be getting SS and paying income taxes.

Given that many of that 10% of non-income tax paying households are likely to vote for Romney, his actual total of people not worth trying to convince to vote for him is probably closer to 37%, a far less hopeless situation for him.

R's probably get roughly half of the votes from the 47%. Old people lean R. Red states have more working poor (per capita) than Blue states, and probably contain a lot of 47%ers who vote R. The trick, is that few of these people will self-identify as belonging to the group. R supporters among this group, think it is about racial minorities who drive welfare Cadillacs. So the harm done to his cause is likely much smaller than currently envisaged.

"The trick, is that few of these people will self-identify as belonging to the group. R supporters among this group, think it is about racial minorities who drive welfare Cadillacs."

Exactly. The hypocrisy and congnitive dissonance that exists in these people is astounding. They get much or all of their income from the taxpayer, and yet, somehow they are not part of Romney's "deadbeat" class. THEIR benefits are richly deserved, and must spontaneously spring forth by divine miracle (perhaps Jesus acting through Social Security checks?), while YOURS are an example of what's wrong with this country, you lazy moocher!

Useful idiots, manipulated on a grand scale to the detriment of us all.

From the perspective of the R's, it is the small percentage that switch that will do the greatest harm. Remember, he said he didn't care about the 47%... he needed to go after the 5% to 15% of independent voters, and IMHO, those are precisely the ones he has most offended. They are, after all, independent. They tend to think for themselves, and they will recognize the rank arrogance of Mittens' honest assessment of the Republicans' position on America.

So, while the numbers of that 47% who switch are not large, they are sufficient that they have already impacted many Senate races and House races as well as the race for POTUS.

Personally, though, I think the speach by FLOTUS had already delivered the coup de grace, if one can be said to have come. Or if one was really needed?

Of course, being from Texas, I know my state will fall in line with the Republican money machine. At least this year. My Republican friends, and most of my friends are Republicans, are asking themselves already whether they have not set a bad precedent for the inevitable time when Hispanic voters take over the state and do to them what they did to others.

Also, I believe that the numbers of disaffected voters who last time voted for Obama are more in the camp of, he did not do enough in the Progressive line, than those who think he is too liberal. The election may provide a surprise to the Tea Party and the far right. I am thinking back to Barry Goldwater... an honest Conservative who had the same problem that Joe Biden has today.


Also, I believe that the numbers of disaffected voters who last time voted for Obama are more in the camp of, he did not do enough in the Progressive line, than those who think he is too liberal.

I agree, but according to most the U.S. media, the "left" (aka anyone slightly less conservative than Dick Cheney) does not exist. You do not exist according to U.S. networks, if:
...You believe Obama (and Congressional Ds) should have showed some spine with insurance companies and kept single-payer Medicare-for-all on the table.
...You would like to see 100% publicly funded elections and proportional voting.
...You believe any bailout money should have gone to unemployed people and infrastructure projects (like green energy), not Wall Street firms and mega-banks.
...You do not like extraordinary rendition, suspension of Habeas Corpus, Gitmo's Camp X-ray, or the many anti-Constitutional provisions of the Patriot Act.
...You would like to see the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall, and derivates and hedge funds brought under SEC regulation (and corrupt banksters wearing orange jumpsuits and manacles).

Germany's 'Post-Growth' Movement

Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell, the controversial author Edward Abbey once said.

... Ironically it is in affluent Germany, the only place in Europe that currently seems to have any hope of economic growth, where the consensus on the intrinsic value of growth is most sceptical. A recent survey commissioned by Bertelsmann Stiftung found that eight out of ten Germans crave a new economic order. The number of Germans who see growth as very important was down 14% compared with two years ago. The proportion of Germans who highly value money and possessions also dropped. Nearly two-thirds disagreed with the idea that a higher income could increase their quality of life. Many Germans now value protection of the environment over material prosperity, according to the findings.

... German thinkers are increasingly publishing work, which denounces growth and touts drastic alternative economic policies. One of the more high-profile members of this movement is Niko Paech from the University of Oldenburg, who recently published a controversial new book called Liberation from Affluence, in which he lambasts growth , argues that societies need to shrink their economies, and calls for an embrace of self-sufficiency models and regional exchange. His policies for the ideal society include a 20-hour week, the introduction of regional currencies, and decommissioning large development projects such as motorways and airports.

Reinhard Loske is another member of the so-called "post-growth" movement. In Where Now With the Growth Question? he advocates the formation of innovative transition towns featuring social banking, taxation according to environmental consumption rather than labour, and an enforced basic income. Meanwhile, conservationist Angelika Zahrnt, in her co-edited book on a post-growth economy, rallies for less paid work and more free time for the workforce.

Fair and foul and foul is fair.... according to some comments for that article that some Germans might decide they are satisfied with their current level of economic development is a sign of self-indulgence and moral decay. We can infer that greed is a sign of moral virtue.

And I like the reasoning in some comments too. Germany needs to grow its population to maintain economic growth. Economic growth is needed to maintain full employment for a growing population.

Thelma and Louise on their last ride, pedal to the metal.

City urged to ditch the car and talk transport

How long could you cope without your car? A day? A week? A lifetime? How should a city be built for the transport of the future? Those debates and more will be getting underway in Leeds at the end of this week

So alongside Friday's Europe-wide In Town Without my Car Day, local residents and transport chiefs are getting together for an open discussion about the city's transport needs and wants.

The event is open to anyone with an opinion about the future of transport in the city - or more widely across Yorkshire - and organisers are keen reach out to users of existing public transport and die-hard drivers alike.

It comes at a time when issues and rail franchises and better road designs are barely out of the news. Just last week, the Buses and Economic Growth report, commissioned by Greener Journeys, an alliance that promotes bus travel and conducted by the Institute for Transport Studies at the University of Leeds, found that up to 3.5 million people in the UK took the bus every day, the equivalent of 12% of the working population.

Warming ocean could start big shift of Antarctic ice

Fast-flowing and narrow glaciers have the potential to trigger massive changes in the Antarctic ice sheet and contribute to rapid ice-sheet decay and sea-level rise, a new study has found.

The results showed that while glacier acceleration triggered by ocean warming is relatively localized, the extent of the resultant ice-sheet thinning is far more widespread. This observation is particularly important in light of recently observed dynamic changes at the margins of Antarctica. It also highlighted areas that are more susceptible than others to changes in ocean temperatures.

The glaciers that responded most rapidly to warming oceans were found in the Weddell Sea, the Admundsen Sea, the central Ross Sea and in the Amery Trough.

So they are saying that the ice floes are connected to the oceans they flow into? And that what happen in the oceans affect what happen upstream the ice? Good that they have confirmed this with computer modeling, but the idea is not exacly new...

Just noticed this on the Beeb:

Agent Orange chemical in GM war on resistant weeds

So powerful have these monster weeds become become that even spraying them with 24 times the recommended dose of Roundup fails to kill them.

Wow, that's bad news. But wait, it gets better.

What is causing controversy though is the new trait which makes the crops resistant to a chemical called 2,4-D. Developed by a British team during the war, this powerful weed killer was a component part of Agent Orange, the defoliant used extensively by the US Army during the Vietnam war.

2,4-D is currently utilised as a herbicide in agriculture, though it is used sparingly because it is highly toxic. The change here would expand options for farmers to use 2,4-D.

Brilliant! I'm reminded of an early lesson from my studies in global ecological overshoot, I think it was reading Tainter's Collapse of Complex Societies, that in the long history of failed societies there are no examples of anyone ever deliberately trying to crash and burn their civilization. People take actions in response to urgent problems that to them seem perfectly reasonable, even necessary at the time.

What they couldn't know is that, in hindsight, what they were actually doing is greatly contributing to the root cause of the problems and not actually solving anything. This is due to the fact that any real solutions, such as voluntarily reducing populations or standards of living, are socially and politically impossible. So, all sincere effort goes into blindly accelerating the collapse.

Number one face-slapping, what-were-they-thinking moment endured by destitute future generations:

If you apply a military style "scorched earth" policy to your most productive agricultural lands then you will inevitably end up with..., wait for it..., A SCORCHED EARTH!


Jerry - Exactly. And we're scorching not just the earth ...

France orders probe after rat study links GM corn, cancer (Update)

France's government on Wednesday asked a health watchdog to carry out a probe, possibly leading to EU suspension of a genetically-modified corn, after a study in rats linked the grain to cancer.

"(The measures) could go as far as invoking emergency suspension of imports of NK603 corn to Europe pending a re-examination of this product on the basis of enhanced assessment methods."

Earlier, French scientists led by Gilles-Eric Seralini at the University of Caen in Normandy unveiled a study that said rats fed with NK603 corn or exposed to the weedkiller used with it developed tumours.

NK603 is a corn, also called maize, made by US agribusiness giant Monsanto.

It has been engineered to make it resistant to Monsanto's herbicide Roundup.

and Rice contains 'worrisome' arsenic levels, says Consumer Reports

Corn tortillas. Coincidence? ...

Cancer now the No. 1 killer of Hispanics, report finds

Despite declining death rates, cancer has surpassed heart disease as the leading cause of death among Hispanics in the United States, according to a report from the American Cancer Society.

... Hispanics have higher incidence and mortality rates for cancers of the stomach, liver, uterine cervix and gallbladder, reflecting greater exposure to cancer-causing infectious agents, lower rates of screening for cervical cancer and possibly genetic factors [blame it on the victim].

and GM Crop Database MON-OO6O3-6 (NK603)

... Proposed Use: Production of Z. mays for human consumption (wet mill or dry mill or seed oil), and meal and silage for livestock feed.

also Update: Safety of MON810 and NK603 corn lines

... The study reports a reduction in fertility in the mice fed GM corn relative to those fed conventional corn.

and Monsanto corn headed to Walmart produce aisle

Despite protests, Monsanto’s genetically modified sweet corn has just started arriving in Wal-Mart’s produce aisles in New York and around the nation. The new sweet corn, which has been altered to fight off pests, will not be labeled, leaving consumers uncertain if the corn they choose for their families has been genetically modified.

Thanks for the links Seraph, just when you thought it couldn't get any worse... If I haven't said it before, I always look forward to your contributions to drumbeat. Thanks!


Just when you thought it couldn't get more evil, the world's most evil company (Monsanto) goes and proves us wrong again! Go Big 'M'!

Some perspective is warranted.

Everybody reading this will die from some cause or another...heart disease, cancer, infectious...something will get you eventually.

Modern medicine basically created this idea of "battling it out" between various death causes to see which ones can be eliminated or go to zero.

So the cardiologists and CT surgeons who place stents and do heart surgeries want heart disease deaths to go to zero...which by definition means that other causes must rise. And then the oncologists want cancer deaths to go to zero, which of course means that other causes (pneumonia or urinary tract infection in old age) must rise.

So all this story tells me is that the heart docs are relatively more successful than the cancer docs.

So all this story tells me is that the heart docs are relatively more successful than the cancer docs.

Good thing the researchers spent time doing heart work on 24 month old rats.

Might have to put the brakes on that GM Corn study...

Study linking GM crops and cancer questioned

Tom Philpot at Mother Jones fleshes out the story on why U.S. rice has high arsenic levels.

Waiter, There's Arsenic in My Rice

But as Nature reported in 2005, US rice carries "1.4 to 5 times more arsenic than rice from Europe, India and Bangladesh." What gives? Here in the United States, we've added massive amounts of arsenic to the environment over the decades. How much? Here's Consumer Reports:

The U.S. is the world's leading user of arsenic, and since 1910, about 1.6 million tons have been used for agricultural and industrial purposes, about half of it only since the mid-'60s.

Much of that came in the form of arsenate pesticides, which until they were banned in the 1980s were commonly used on cotton fields—where, according to Consumer Reports, residues of those pesticides linger today. And US cotton and rice price production have significant overlap in the mid-South region. "Quite a lot of land in Mississippi and Arkansas that previously grew cotton is now used for rice cultivation," Nature reports.

--- snip ---

"Arsenic in poultry manure is rapidly converted into an inorganic form that is highly water soluble and capable of moving into surface and ground water," write Keeve E. Nachman and Robert S. Lawrence of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.

And to get rid of the massive amounts of poultry litter generated by concentrated farming, the poultry industry applies as much of it as possible to nearby fields as a fertilizer—where arsenic accumulates in the soil, a 2010 study by USDA researchers found.

And not surprisingly, large-scale rice farmers make use of "chicken litter"—chicken manure, plus bedding and spilled feed—as a fertilizer.

I guess I'll have to think twice about the Lundberg Family Farms organic rice I buy though Tom's article points out that at least Lunbderg is taking the issue seriously.

I have doubts about CR's technical skills in all areas.

None-the-less, the 25 lb bag of brown rice I use comes from south Louisiana were there are no chicken farms (see map) and it is not a good place or cotton.

Arsenic is an element in the Periodic table. Very bad for you, no doubt, but extremely natural.

Rice is a staple, and will continue to be for me.

Best Hopes,


They claim brown rice is worse. But, no absolute numbers were seen by me. I'd just sit tight and wait for the big science boys to come up with recommendations. Perhaps we will be sourcing our rice from different regions than today?

There may not be chicken farms in south Louisiana but the rice fields may have previously been used for cotton that was sprayed with arsenate pesticides which Tom Philpot discusses in his post.

Nearly a century of chemically intensive industrial agriculture has left quite a legacy!



South Louisiana (Iberia Parish) is generally too low & wet to make good cotton farming land.


Twilight Greenaway at Grist fleshes out more of the story as well...

There’s arsenic in your rice — and here’s how it got there

There are still several non-lead-based arsenical pesticides on the market, and although most are in the process of being phased out, Michael Hansen, Consumers Union senior scientist, says there is still one important pesticide, called MSMA, in use on cotton farms. Ironically, Hansen says, “they’re allowing its use because of the increasing problem of Palmer pigweed — created by the overuse of Glyphosate [Roundup] due to [Roundup Ready] GMO seeds.” (Otherwise known as superweeds.) “Palmer pigweed can lead to a 25 percent-or-more loss of revenue in cotton. So federal regulators calculated that it was worth the risk to continue using arsenic herbicides.”

"Rice contains 'worrisome' arsenic levels, says Consumer Reports"

Someday, you would think they would notice that right below the box labeled 'P' on the periodic table, is one labeled 'As'. Yes people, arsenic is a naturally occurring chemical element. Your body is entirely capable of disposing of the usual levels of the stuff found in food.

Back when I worked in mining, we got a note every year warning us not to eat seafood for a couple weeks before the annual heavy-metal screen. Seafood is just loaded with arsenic and would spike the test results high, and then they would have to repeat it.

"The dose makes the poison"

There are lots of 'natural' elements in the periodic table. Naturally uranium is there too.

2,4-D. Developed by a British team during the war, this powerful weed killer was a component part of Agent Orange, the defoliant used extensively by the US Army during the Vietnam war.

That's a red herring. Agent orange was a mixture of 2,4-D (2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) and 2,4,5-T (2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid), the latter being a herbicide that has been phased out due to excessive toxicity.

The problem was that the 2,4,5-T used in agent orange was badly contaminated with 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzodioxin, an extremely toxic dioxin compound which causes cancer. The US military spread 20,000,000 gallons of this toxic mixture on Vietnam to defoliate the forests and remove coverage for the insurgents. They didn't particularly worry about the toxicity to the Vietnamese because they were dropping napalm on them as well. The American soldiers who breathed the stuff were just collateral damage.

The real culprit was not 2,4-D, which is not very toxic to human beings. It was the US military who really didn't care how many innocent people it killed.

I think your reading comprehension is suffering, or perhaps your world view is preventing you from ANY comprehension of what is actually being said. No claim was made that 2,4-D is anything but a component part of Agent Orange, and I see no mention whatsoever of human casualties anywhere in the article.

If you detect the stench of herrings, red or otherwise, it may be arising from your own comment.


Don't be sarcastic, I am perfectly capable of reading the article. I also have a degree in chemistry and am trained in logical thinking, so I am also perfectly capable of picking out the misdirections and informal logical fallacies in the article. Most people don't know much chemistry and have limited logical training, and that is what the authors are counting on.

If they stated directly that 2,4-D killed people, that would be chemically incorrect and a formal logical error, so someone could call BS on them. So they only imply rather than state directly. Most people can't tell the difference, hence the doom and horror expressed in comments above. I'm calling BS on them.

2,4-D is currently utilised as a herbicide in agriculture, though it is used sparingly because it is highly toxic. The change here would expand options for farmers to use 2,4-D.

2,4-D is a broad-leaf weed killer commonly used on suburban lawns to kill dandelions. It is not particularly toxic, although if you drank a whole bottle of the stuff it would probably kill you. (Don't do it if you want to commit suicide, though, because it's a nasty way to die, and is even worse if it doesn't actually kill you).

The reason farmers don't use it is because they have chemicals that are much more effective and toxic - ones that I can't buy and you probably can't either. I often used to think my uncles who were farmers should wear hazmat suits with respirators spraying those chemicals, and the fact they didn't may be the reason many of them died of cancer. But I can't prove that statistically.

The reason they are trying to breed a GM plant resistant to 2,4-D is precisely because it is less toxic than currently used herbicides. It would allow farmers to use smaller amounts of a less toxic herbicide and make farming much safer. The conflation of words like "Agent Orange", "monster weeds", "Vietnam War", and "GM" is just a series of red herrings dragged across the trail to confuse the hounds.

I'm sorry but I just get very annoyed at all the BS emerging from the mainstream media these days. You have to go digging through a pile of technical journals to get down to the true facts, and most people can't read them.

"I often used to think my uncles who were farmers should wear hazmat suits with respirators spraying those chemicals,"

Actually, the guys with orchard across the street do wear all that while spraying.

It is interesting to see how we seem to mainly consider the effects of pesticides (in this case 2-4-D) on humans and tend to ignore substantially the effects of these pesticides on the natural environment. They are a major factor in the loss of biodiversity and thus a healthy ecosystem and environment. Remember: no healthy ecosystem, no healthy humans.


Did a Pacific Ocean meteor trigger the Ice Age?

A team of Australian researchers says that because the Eltanin meteor – which was up to two kilometres across - crashed into deep water, most scientists have not adequately considered either its potential for immediate catastrophic impacts on coastlines around the Pacific rim or its capacity to destabilise the entire planet's climate system.

... "Some modelling suggests that the ensuing mega-tsunami could have been unimaginably large – sweeping across vast areas of the Pacific and engulfing coastlines far inland. But it also would have ejected massive amounts of water vapour, sulphur and dust up into the stratosphere.

"The tsunami alone would have been devastating enough in the short term, but all that material shot so high into the atmosphere could have been enough to dim the sun and dramatically reduce surface temperatures. Earth was already in a gradual cooling phase, so this might have been enough to rapidly accelerate and accentuate the process and kick start the Ice Ages."

... animation looks like Deep Impact. 1000 ft waves?

A coworker sent this interesting link on a "Solar Sphere" which is supposed to
work even in Lunar light:


This certainly seems like an interesting and very artistic looking solar energy capturing device. The article did not provide many technical details.
Could be just more cornucopian thinking but could be a wholly different approach to solar capture. A sphere allows 3D capture and I presume includes some internal reflectivity within it.
Any of the physics gurus here know anything about this, its potential, possible drawbacks?

It is difficult to comment on this PV concentrator without more information on how it works. However, I suspect it would get very hot inside the glass sphere which is bad for crystalline PV cells but less bad for thin-film PV. I am concerned the maximum operating temperature would be exceeded for the PV cell.

Because full moonlight is about 440,000 times dimmer than sunlight (-12.7 magnitude for Moon and -26.8 magnitude for Sun), concentrating moonlight by 10,000 times would be like decreasing the intensity of sunlight from 1000 W/m2 to 23 W/m2. This would be like very dark rainclouds in the daytime. The sphere probably would not generate enough electricity under full moonlight to power the tracking system.

Thermoelectric Material is World's Best at Converting Waste Heat to Electricity

Northwestern University scientists have developed a thermoelectric material that is the best in the world at converting waste heat to electricity. This is very good news once you realize nearly two-thirds of energy input is lost as waste heat.

The material could signify a paradigm shift. The inefficiency of current thermoelectric materials has limited their commercial use. Now, with a very environmentally stable material that is expected to convert 15 to 20 percent of waste heat to useful electricity, thermoelectrics could see more widespread adoption by industry.

The new material, based on the common semiconductor lead telluride, is the most efficient thermoelectric material known. It exhibits a thermoelectric figure of merit (so-called "ZT") of 2.2, the highest reported to date.

I've been reading this sort of thing for a few years now. Now costly is this stuff going to be? If we do get it, it will incrementally improve the efficiency of a lot of things that generate waste heat, but won't be a panacia. So maybe something that now "wastes" 60% of the energy as waste heat, can be re-engineered to only waste 55%.

I think they're targeting large scale sources like a 1.0 GW power plant.

For example: 40% usable energy = 60% waste (I know, it's not all due to heat)

If 40% = 1 GW then 60% = 1.5 GW of waste (heat)

20% of 1.5 GW = 300 MW of 'free power'

... Might be worth the effort

p.s. I'm sure all my units are wrong but the general idea remains the same.

This material requires high temperature, 750 - 1100 F, waste heat so the efficiency isn't any better than currently available technology.

Most likely (if used at all), it will be for uses too small be harvest by other means. Capture some otherwise lost energy from the heat of car exhaust, and improve mileage by several mpg. Maybe small solar-thermal systems for process heat can generate some electricity as well. Ditto for home furnaces and water heaters. But large scale power gen, it has to be compared against the heat engines already being used.

My plan for grabbing waste heat is to get a Heat Pump Water Heater, which will grab the waste heat from my furnace room in winter, and from the Attic Loft in Summer.

I will do a bit more to tighten up the insul. on the forced hot water lines.. but I don't believe this will cause my furnace to work measurably harder, since the basement is not in a heating zone... and in fact less, since it is providing the DHW at this point.

More on Maine Tidal Power (w/Video) ...

Ocean mavericks in Maine turn tide for electrical grid

The turbine, at the bottom of Cobscook Bay, can generate 180 kilowatts of electricity, which is said to be sufficient to power 25 to 30 homes. Two more devices will be installed at ORPC's Cobscook Bay Project site in late 2013.

From NSIDC ...

Arctic sea ice extent settles at record seasonal minimum

On September 16, Arctic sea ice appeared to have reached its minimum extent for the year of 3.41 million square kilometers (1.32 million square miles). This is the lowest seasonal minimum extent in the satellite record since 1979 and reinforces the long-term downward trend in Arctic ice extent. The sea ice extent will now begin its seasonal increase through autumn and winter.

Permaculture by another name ...

Study proposes new way to save Africa's beleaguered soils

A Washington State University researcher and colleagues make a case in the journal Nature for a new type of agriculture that could restore the beleaguered soils of Africa and help the continent feed itself in the coming decades.

Their system, which they call "perenniation," mixes food crops with trees and perennial plants, which live for two years or more. Thousands of farmers are already trying variations of perenniation, which reduces the need for artificial inputs while improving soil and in some cases dramatically increasing yields. One woman quadrupled her corn crop, letting her raise pigs and goats and sell surplus grain for essentials and her grandchildren's school fees.

... these folks should have done a literature search

Greeks brace for fresh austerity

The troika demands a $16bn reduction in public spending, three times the size of cuts which triggered riots in February.

... Greece’s creditors reckon that at least 770,000 people remain on the public payroll. Greece’s active population is only about four and a half million strong, which means that one in four working people is paid out of the taxes of the other three. Now the troika wants at least 150,000 public servants to go.

Deposit flight from Europe banks eroding common currency

... A total of 326 billion euros ($425 billion) was pulled from banks in Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Greece in the 12 months ended July 31, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The plight of Irish and Greek lenders, which were bleeding cash in 2010, spread to Spain and Portugal last year.

The flight of deposits from the four countries coincides with an increase of about 300 billion euros at lenders in seven nations considered the core of the euro zone, including Germany and France, almost matching the outflow. That’s leading to a fragmentation of credit and a two-tiered banking system blocking economic recovery and blunting European Central Bank policy in the third year of a sovereign-debt crisis.

Dear TOD
would it be possible to launch an update/refresh of the Oil Megaprojects database?

The last update was done quite a while ago

I know its quite a crowdsoucing effort

Dear Polytropos

The Oil Megaprojects database was just updated 7 weeks ago today. The update is at the very bottom of the page, copied and pasted in this blockquote:

This page was last modified on 8 August 2012 at 12:54.

The 2010 date at the top of the page is when the script was last updated, not the database. I know that is very confusing and I have suggested that that date be removed, with no success of course.

Ron P.

Japan gets cold feet on total nuclear phase-out

TOKYO — Japan's Cabinet stopped short of a commitment Wednesday to phase out nuclear power by 2040, backtracking from an advisory panel's recommendation in the face of opposition from pro-nuclear businesses and groups.

... The Cabinet said it would only take the policy report "into consideration" and would seek public support for its recommendations. The public, in this case, includes the general population as well as the nuclear industry, other business interests, and communities near nuclear plants that rely on them economically.

"The public, in this case, includes the general population as well as the nuclear industry, other business interests, and communities near nuclear plants that rely on them economically."

Three guesses as to which "public" will win the day here.

Louisiana’s Sinkhole update: ...

Sinkhole grows 400 feet, gas pressure too great for drillers

... "In the video of the sinkhole site, at approximately 00:35, you can see this growth towards and into the pipeline right of way," officials said in a blog post.

... "Meanwhile, back at the sinkhole site, scientists have made another discovery that could keep residents out of their homes for an undetermined amount of time," reports WAFB.

"They got down to 90 feet and experienced gas in the water aquifer and were unable to set water well due to the pressure. We put cement, plug, and got off the site and regrouped to come up with another strategy to set a vent well," explained director for the Assumption Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness John Boudreaux.

Sinkhole emergency accelerates: drillers hit gas, seismic activity

... After additional seismic activity and drillers hitting gas at 50 feet, prompting work to halt at Louisiana’s sinkhole Thursday, Louisiana Commissioner of Conservation James Welsh on Friday ordered all companies operating on Napoleonville Salt Dome to immediately begin assessing natural gas in the ground water aquifer and salt dome cap rock beneath their operations; capture, vent or flare any natural gas encountered; and analyze potential impacts to ground water in the Mississippi River Alluvial Aquifer.

Welsh said he issued the order to dome operators as part of a formal Declaration of Emergency and Directive to ensure public safety following the Office of Conservation’s discovery of two shallow pockets of natural gas in an area between the western edge of the Napoleonville Salt Dome and the Bayou Corne community. A contractor hired by the Office of Conservation drilled monitoring wells to sample for natural gas, and encountered the natural gas pockets at a depth of less than 50 feet from surface on Thursday

The data indicated pockets of natural gas within the Mississippi River Alluvial Aquifer and the cap rock above the salt dome. That data came after DNR ordered Texas Brine to evaluate belowground conditions. Part of Texas Brine’s effort to comply with that order included the drilling of a shallow well to house seismic equipment in addition to the deeper well intended to enter the abandoned salt cavern.

Texas Brine’s shallow seismic well, drilled to about 465 feet, encountered natural gas near the top of the ground water aquifer at about 120 feet deep, and again within the salt dome cap rock at about 420 feet deep.

Emergency Orders have been issued to several oil & gas companies operating in the area including: Occidental, Chevron, Crosstex, Dow, Texas Brine, Pontchartrain, and KDSPromix

There are fifty-one oil and gas-related caverns in the 1-mile by 2-mile salt dome storage facility, the source of the declared state of emergency. There are now 14 sites where gas is bubbling, according to parish officials.

Adding to the potential catastrophe this week is that gas set off a gas detector alarm in a Bayou Corne home on its second floor.

and Texas Brine Likely to Enter Abandoned Brine Cavern Thursday(Sept. 20)

also http://www.examiner.com/article/sinkhole-emergency-accelerates-drillers-...

and http://www.examiner.com/article/sinkhole-unified-command-tells-residents...

What's the worst case outcome for this situation? Anyone know?
Nothing on national "news" as far as I've seen.

Martin – The worse outcome? Terribly painful death and destruction. Unfortunately I’m not joking. The shallow gas discovery brings back bad 37 yo memories. Mobil had completely developed a NG field in S. La and produced it for many years. They knew from that experience there was no shallow NG drilling hazard. Unfortunately bad cement jobs had allowed NG to leak up to the shallower sands. Eventually Mobil decided to drill a deep well in the middle of the field. Since they knew there was no shallow NG the spudded and drilled ahead fast. The well blew out, exploded and 6 hands burned to death.

I assume they were expecting the potential for shallow charging. Situations like this can be handled but I’ve been there a few times and it wears on the nerves badly. The big question is whether the shallow charging was a onetime event or is there NG continuing to migrate upwards. If it’s a onetime event relief wells can be drilled (at significant risk) and produce and flare the NG until it depletes. OTOH if migrating from a large deeper source this process could take years…or forever. There have been areas in coastal Texas and N. La. that have been permanently abandoned due to shallow NG contamination.

In about 3 weeks I’ll be spudding my new well about 5 miles away from the sinkhole. It’s not on the watch list and neither the state nor parish is concerned. And they are almost certainly correct. Regardless I’m going to assume we’ve been charged shallow and will drill accordingly. Normally I’m not on location during this early phase but I will be this time. More than once I’ve issued warnings to the rig and found out later I wasn’t taken seriously. Trust me: I’m very difficult to ignore in person. LOL

Thanks for the explainer.
The word "exciting" doesn't seem to quite do it justice.
I was imagining a massive explosion leaving a mile wide crater, that doesn't seem to be the case but obviously not a good thing to be on the wrong end of. :-}

Trust me: I’m very difficult to ignore in person.

And I know that while I could ignore what you post on TOD - you are one of the (assumed by me to be a) SME (Subject Matter Experts) who I read.

Thus - you are not ignored on TOD also. (at least by me)

A compliment from mr Orwell. Wonders never cease. :)

eric - And not that we would agree on much I always read your posts as I do most on TOD. Except the nuclear threads. Not that it isn't an important issue but just bores the heck out of me.

Martin - yep...no big crater exploding out of the earth. Flash fire is the big concern. I didn't point the real risk of these shallow NG zones: time. When the Macondo blew out the hands might have seen the well coming in 15 or 20 minutes before it blew if they had been watching. But with this very shallow gas it happens in seconds. Once they knew they had shallow gas someone probably stood there with the hand on the BOP controls. The one saving grace is that st such shallow depths the pressure is very low...maybe less than 100 psi.

But they could still end up with big craters...big enough to eat that nearby subdivision. There can be an effect similar to what happened in San Fran when the earthquake hit: liquefaction of the soil. The NG moving thru the shallow sediments can cause the water to flow and the structural integrity fails and it turns into quicksand for lack of a more technical term. Just my WAG but suspect this will be a long running issue out there.

I found this "Bubble Map" quite interesting.


The bubbling is going on in a much larger area than I thought.

Interesting, it just updated while I was looking at it.

Turnbull - very interesting and somewhat alarming. From your bubbler map I estimate over 400 acres at a minimum affected. The worst news is the NG bubbling up at the NW corner of that nice subdivision. Worst case scenario, and not that unlikely, is the subdivision may have to be permanently abandoned even if there's no cratering. It takes very little NG mixed with the right proportion of air to make a lethal explosion. The bubbling gas around the other storage wells is also a major concern. Efforts to get this situation stable could take years. And the cost could easily bankrupt even a large company...and I don't think Texas Brine is that large. Most of this cost may fall on the insurance company (unless they find a way to duck it) and the citizens of La.

Rock, That "nice subdivision" you are referring to is the town of Bayou Corne, which is evacuated.

Turnbull - Yep...a town...barely. It doesn't even get mentioned as one of the towns on the parish web site. About 100+ homes. I recall watching a local talk about the sink hole. In the background the homes looked rather nice and fairly new. A big potential liability for Texas Brine for sure. But I've seen bigger populations at flashing yellow lights alone Texas highways. In fact, difficult to tell on Google, but I don't think they even have a flashing yellow light in B. Corne.

I've got a bad feeling it will be long time before the citizens of B. Corne get to sleep in their own beds. Maybe even never.

Australian 'mega mine' plan threatens global emissions target

It's strange a British newspaper can see the inconsistency between Australia's carbon tax and increasing coal exports while the local press is silent. It seems money overrides principles. Export coal prices have declined recently so it is not clear this new coal province will go ahead as it requires rail and port infrastructure.

Australia's net emissions are about 550 Mt of CO2, a lot for 22m people. The 2020 target is a pathetic 530 Mt. However CO2 from exported coal is about 800 Mt and the article suggests new coal exports will add another 700 Mt, that's 1.5 billion with world emissions currently about 34 billion tonnes of CO2.

It gives me the creeps when Australia says 'we have carbon tax and we will meet our emissions target'. As I've said before it's like a crack dealer teaching Sunday school. The hypocrisy is sickening.

It's known as Afghanistanism - the tendency of the press to ignore local ills and focus on those at distance. That way they avoid ticking off all the local/regional businesses that pay their bills through advertising. It's just one elementary way that economics drives what is news, rather than rationality. Or, as you aptly put it, 'money overrides principles'.

Of course it works in ways other than geographic proximity. It's why the auto-energy-financial industries are not raked over the coals by the media, as Westexas has pointed out with his Iron Triangle thesis.

My take on this is: the management know about AGW and simply DO NOT CARE. If they know the stuff is killing the planet and still want to burn it to make an extra buck, it speaks nothing about their knowledge but volumes about their priorities. They do this on purpose. I am tempted to use the word "evil".

Is the Bakken about to peter out? Oil rig count drops sharply in North Dakota

The number of rigs drilling for oil in North Dakota fell to the lowest in more than a year in September as operators sought to cut costs and increase efficiency, the North Dakota Industrial Commission said on Wednesday...

"The combined effect of several factors has led to a noticeable slowing of activity and production growth,"...

Helms, voicing concerns publicly for the first time over slowing growth in the Bakken shale prospect, cited the lower rig count, rapidly rising costs, and uncertainties over regulations on the "fracking", or hydraulic fracturing, drilling technique.

Ron P.

Yes, definitely blame the regulations.

Ron, here is another article from the Bismark Times on the same subject.


North Dakota Republican Senator John Hoeven, along with Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, said on Tuesday that he will introduce a measure to "put states first in the regulation of hydraulic fracturing".

The measure will "ensure that states retain the right to manage hydraulic fracturing and gives them the ability to respond first to any violation," Hoeven said in a statement.

And who donates to Senator Lisa Murkowski... Campaign Contributors

And to Senator Hoeven... Campaign Contributors

IEA plots path to halving fuel used for road transport in under 40 years

Two reports released on Wednesday by the International Energy Agency (IEA) show how the right policies and technologies could improve the fuel efficiency of road vehicles by 50% by the middle of the century, saving as much as four-fifths of current annual global oil consumption.

The transport sector currently accounts for a fifth of global final energy consumption, and increased demand from this sector is expected to make up all future growth in oil use worldwide.

One report, Technology Roadmap: Fuel Economy for Road Vehicles, describes the technologies needed (such as high-pressure fuel injection systems) to achieve a much more efficient road-vehicle stock by 2030, while the second, Policy Pathway: Improving the Fuel Economy of Road Vehicles, describes the policy packages, made up of fuel economy labeling, standards and fiscal policies, that can help deliver improved fuel economy.

Yair . . . Spectacular but pretty common . . . particularly when burning chained scrub on a cold day. It's just a whirly wind generated by the updraft.


America 2050: population change threatens the dream

The US is at a crossroads. Its future depends on the interwoven fates of two main groups: an ageing population of European extraction and a growing and mostly youthful population of Latin American ancestry. Unless they help each other out, warn leading demographers, the economic success that underpins the American dream may be under threat.

... With most groups in the US population reproducing at less than the rate needed to replace their numbers, higher fertility rates among Hispanics in the US should be sufficient to drive the transition towards a population increasingly characterised by young Hispanics and older, non-Hispanic whites.

If US Hispanics enjoyed similar success to their counterparts of European extraction, there would be little to fear from this shift. But they don't. The US Census Bureau data analyses, run for New Scientist by Richard Fry of the Pew Research Center in Washington DC, reveal stark inequalities

Isn't this kinda like the Austrians in 1913 arguing who their next Hapsburg Ruler is going to be?

You got it.

If you look closely, there is actually a sort of intellectual bankruptcy there. Also, it's patronizing to look at a large group of people, label them "hispanics" then only think of them in terms of workers and numbers and how well social security can be padded. And not think of them in terms of individuals who have families, histories, cultures, aspirations, ideas, etc., which might be quite different than their own.

It's not an easy thing to admit you're being replaced.

Every time I see a news item about "hispanics" I wonder whether the writer has any idea what they are talking about. The definition of "hispanic" is so vague it is almost meaningless. I'll give a couple of examples.

A friend of my daughter, a young woman I've known since she was about two, whose surname is as English as any, who is Protestant and whose family is solidly Republican, married a young man who is almost a younger version of her father in education, attitudes, etc. But his surname is one of the most common Mexican ones. Are they hispanic?

Another example: a young woman I know has an unmistakably Czech surname, and her paternal great-grandfather migrated to Texas from Czechoslovakia more than a century ago. But her maternal grandfather does not speak anything but Spanish, and her mother is bilingual. Is she hispanic? Oh, and she only speaks a few words of Spanish herself: does that make a difference? Does it make a difference that she is adopted?

Ird - yep..somewhat confusing and occasionally misleading. I've dealt with many Hispanic landowners in s. Texas who are 2nd to 4th generation US citizens. More than a few speak no more Spanish then me although that doesn't really mean anything IMHO. And by far most these folks dislike the illegals worse than anyone else. They have to deal with the problems more than folks in the city. Granted these don't tend to be big problems themselves but a good bit of fear/paranoia is about the coyotes/drug smugglers. It' s gotten very dangerous along the Texas/Mexico border.

I think much of the Hispanic support for the illegals comes from activists which I don't think is a bad thing. The illegals are constantly being taken advantage of by just about every part of the system. They need someone on their side. But in the end the illegals are competing with the locals for low end jobs. From what I've seen very little of the work they do in S Texas is ag or cattle. Which I why I suspect they get out of the valley as fast as possible and focus on the bigger cities. Most of the conservative non-Hispanic affluent folks I know in Houston have no problem with the illegals...they're part of the group taking advantage of them. My brother is a construction contractor that used to employee a fair number of family members (including me when the oil patch busted in the 80's). But that ended years ago when he had to go with illegals because he kept losing bids to contractors that used nothing but illegals. And it isn't just the small guys cheating: years ago Conoco was building a huge office complex on the west side of Houston. They ran a bunch of managers out there for a tour. So a bunch of middle age white guys get out of several big white vans and half the construction crew ran from the site.... they thought it was La Migra. Funny and very sad at the same time.

What frustrates me is there's a simple solution IMHO. Not a perfect solution though. Let them have work permits. And then every employer caught using workers without permits gets a prison term. And every worker caught without permit and not paying withholding tax goes to prison for tax evasion. I've never dealt directly with many illegals but folks that have tell me they are generally honest and would play by the rules. Especially if they were paid at least minimum wage. This system might raise some costs for consumers but so what? that's what we call life. But is suspect both the liberal and conservative side of the fence wouldn't like this plan for the obvious though opposite reasons.

BTW I have very dark eyes and used to have very black hair. My mother was a Vierra. Venezuelan and not Mexican but I could still shine up a good "taco tan" as Lee Trevino called it. Had my mother not married an Irish merchant seaman I might be classified as an Hispanic...and looked the part as well. And to make my melting pot a bit more diverse my materal grandfather's (Mr. Vierra who no one in the family spoke of) father was black. Just a Nawlins thing I supo.

"an ageing population of European extraction and a growing and mostly youthful population of Latin American ancestry. Unless they help each other out..."

Judging from the local intermarriage rate, hispanics and anglos are "helping each other out" just fine. By 2050 you won't be able to tell the kids apart anyway.

A Standout Example of Duct Design...Or Lack Thereof

I've seen a lot of bad duct installations, but mostly it's just the usual suspects, the things that I see over and over: the ductopus, the ducts pushed up against the roof deck, the panned joist return... They all result from lack of real design, which is one result of the HVAC industry's massive race to the bottom that so many companies are all too willing to join.

But sometimes, one of those bad installations shows a flair for the dramatic. I discovered this one the other day as I was going through some of my old photos. Behold the duct system that I call, Two Jellyfish Mating:

A great deal of energy is used/wasted pushing air through ducts, so good design is important.

Even better, build houses with low heat loss (or cooling loss), which is to say insulate and seal them well. Low heating demand can be met with mini-splits (like HereinHalifax has). And mini-splits don't need ducts!

Your 'Two Jellyfish Mating' looks like a return system. I did a stint as a HVAC tech and saw some real works of art. Codes were calling for more returns, but didn't require them to be sealed or insulated. Installers just ran a bunch of big hard pipe to a return plenum. Folks with homes built in the '80s and '90s would do well to inspect their return systems; tape joints and insulate.

BTW: Love the water heater exhaust duct in your photo :-/

Not to mention the acrow-prop :0


It looks like The Ducts to Nowhere. Do they perform any function?

Folks with homes built in the '80s and '90s would do well to inspect their return systems

The whole system, in fact. Last year, while having a loft put in our great room, the workers discovered that a duct ended six inches from a vent. It was in a fairly inaccessible nook in the attic, one I never would have reached myself. It may have been pulled loose 3 years ago when we had the house completely replumbed through the attic (40 year old plumbing under the concrete pad was leaking), or it may have been loose much longer, considering that we had been in the house for a year at that point, and didn't notice any difference in how the AC was running before/after the plumbing work.

Question for all HVAC-experts out there:

My house has heat pump for heat with electric resistance backup. I also have a couple propane fireplaces in the house, the one I'm wondering about is in my two-story family room. It puts out quite a bit of heat when I run it, but unfortunately being in a two-story room the heat just goes up to the second story of my house and heats my bedroom...which is great except that I have another fireplace in the bedroom anyway that will heat the room up in like 8 minutes before bed.

So I'd like to capture the heat from the downstairs unit and utilize it to better heat the first story. I've found some fan kits online for my fireplace that you can duct into the return on your air handler, basically sucking the hot air from the airspace around the insert into the return so the HVAC system puts out more heat through the forced air vents. Currently there is a centrifugal blower that blows that warm air into the room outside of the insert.

Anybody have any experience with something like this, or do you think it might be useful? It would be pretty easy for me to DIY.

The problem I've seen in trying to suck hot air from a fireplace air plenum is the "sucking". The fan in most fireplaces is designed to blow positive pressure through the box and the much larger fan in the HVAC system will pull a negative pressure in the fireplace plenum unless balanced somehow. This may be dangerous (CO and all that). Also, gas/propane fireplaces aren't all that efficient, especially if vented.

That said, simply putting an HVAC return near the fireplace warm air discharge will redistribute much of the warm air.

Most of us on TOD know from previous discussions about US & Euro QE's. However, it came as a surprise to me that China is also injecting, easing, currency into their economy in hopes of spurring greater growth.

'China manufacturing shrinks for 11th month'


This is adding more pressure to the labor market and has prompted Beijing to step up easing over the past weeks.

China cut interest rates in June and July and has been injecting cash into money markets to ease credit conditions to support an economy...

China appears on track for a seventh quarter of slowing growth in the third quarter this year, despite a number of measures designed to encourage private investment and infrastructure construction while avoiding a further pile-up in local government debt.

Did you catch that last part about encouraging private investment while avoiding increasing local debt? Are you thinking what I'm thinking? That the US, Europe & China are all printing money to inject (our sick empire's) economies (via Quantitative easing), as a way to spur economic activity (in part to keep unemployement managable), but more importantly, TO AVOID MORE DEBT. In fact it has the opposite effect, as it monetizes the debt, meaning inflation reduces effective debt load.

As oil price has remained historically high (in comparison to price during periods of high growth), growth is dropping in China, flatlining in the US and flatlined or recessionary in parts of Europe. The massive stimulus borrowing that was taking place has now been replaced by QE's. The trouble is it causes inflation.

So the question becomes, how much money can be injected into the world's major faith based currencies (leading to greater rates of inflation), without risking food prices exceeding the majority of the populace being able to afford it, leading to riots?

In other words, major economic contraction is only being staved off by watering down fiat currencies. But it's a last gasp effort to stall for time in hopes of returning to cheap oil. Maybe it will work for a while, but for how long?

meaning inflation reduces effective debt load.

Not a problem if you are not also increasing the debt load.

Not a problem if you are not also increasing the debt load.

Agreed. Shows just how desperate the situation is that injecting new money isn't enough, also requiring truckloads of borrowed money.

Has anybody ever calculated an estimated "maximum debt carrying capacity curve" for consumers and governments indexed to various interest rates? Seems to me that as long as interest rates are falling then both consumers and governments will continuously be able to increase debt loads since financing costs have fallen so much in the past 5 years. In my mind, as long as it continues to become cheaper to service debt, countries and consooomers should be able to increase their debt loads, at least at some slow rate.

I'd think things really wouldn't get too interesting until even at the lower interest rates, consumers and governments can't afford to service the debt. I don't know what the magic combination of interest rate and debt principle is where things might tap out. Obviously personal income is an important variable, but it seems that's sort of flatlined recently. So I figure surely somebody has done some calcs figuring when it's impossible for the consumer to take on more debt even at say 1% - basically assume just the cost of making the principle payments.

Debt really is an evil thing. It's unfortunate that it's so encouraged by government and business.

The Fed wants to slowly but continuously transfer debt load onto their books, in any effort to repair the balance sheets of bloated too big to fail banks, in an effort to get those banks to lend more into the economy. Surely the Fed must know that the debt they take on has to be sold or discharged eventually, so they must hope and pray that they can sell it into a more robust market in the future. If not they risk eventual hyperinflation.

It's basically a debt transferance game, remember that.

I am up in the air about taking on debt in this environment. It might actually be beneficial in some ways, especially if you can get a piece of productive land.

But whatever you do, don't buy debt! Never become a bondholder (creditor). If you do, you are the one with the bag.

But whatever you do, don't buy debt! Never become a bondholder (creditor). If you do, you are the one with the bag.

If we get any extra money it will go for solar panels, but certainly not as a bondholder or mortgage holder. Do not trust the monetary system anywhere near enough for that.

I know someone that made that mistake of taking back the 1st on a property he was selling. The new owners replaced his architectural masterpiece with a basic stick contructed house, failed to pay the contractor and won't pay him the monthly mortgage fees. Lots of attny. fees later and it's still up in the air. Super ouch!

I am up in the air about taking on debt in this environment. It might actually be beneficial in some ways, especially if you can get a piece of productive land.

That is an excellent observation. I don't have a link handy, unfortunately, but a while back I read with some fascination an account of a German officer who made a killing during the hyperinflation of the 1920's.

How? He took on a massive amount of debt by buying a huge farm, potatoes I think, and then laughed all the way to the bank as the inflation not only wiped out the debt, but made his produce worth its weight in gold. Literally.

If it is deflation in our future then just the opposite would be the best strategy, avoid debt and hold on to cash until prices bottom out. Then you can snap up productive assets for pennies on the dollar.

Sadly, I'm not smart enough to know which way it will go, so I hedge my bets and keep a little of both cash and a few hard assets in the form of precious metals. I've always avoided debt, not even a credit card balance, just as a matter of principle.


I've always avoided debt, not even a credit card balance, just as a matter of principle.

Jerry McManus, too bad some others max out their credit cards.

America Indian Radio on Arctic drilling:
Locals say ship ran aground after slipping anchor.
"Arctic Challenger", a scrapper retrofitted as an emergency response vessel, not yet declared seaworthy.

Financial times reports Shell statement:
“We are disappointed that the dome has not yet met our stringent acceptance standards,”

Coast Guard relaxes certification standards for oil spill containment barge

Oil spill from work on Shell’s oil spill containment barge delays drilling

"Last week, Shell was forced to unhook its drilling vessel from anchors holding it over a drill site to escape (a giant piece of floating ice) just a day after it started drilling the first hole in the Chukchi seabed..." No one could have seen it coming... ?

'Planetary emergency' due to Arctic melt, experts warn

Experts warned of a "planetary emergency" due to the unforeseen global consequences of Arctic ice melt, including methane gas released from permafrost regions currently under ice.

... "We are in a planetary emergency," said Hansen, decrying "the gap between what is understood by scientific community and what is known by the public."

... Greenpeace International head Kumi Naidoo says that oil companies have thwarted governments from taking action to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions.

"Why our governments don't take action? Because they have been captured by the same interests of the energy industry," Naidoo said

also Climate change threatens permafrost in soil

In the coming century, permafrost in polar regions and alpine forests in the Northern Hemisphere may thaw rapidly, potentially releasing carbon and nitrogen that could cause additional regional warming. ... They find that forest fires and thawing-related decomposition of different types of Gelisols would take place over the next century, which could potentially release up to 850 billion tons of carbon and up to 44 billion tons of nitrogen into atmosphere-water and high-latitude ecosystems. The authors recommend combining extensive field and model studies, such as theirs, to understand the impact of permafrost thawing on global and regional climate by the middle of this century.

and Saddle collapse behind rapid sea level rise

Researchers from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom have uncovered the mystery behind the rapid sea level rise in the past by using climate and ice sheet models.

... The researchers said the melted ice flowed into the oceans, generating rapid sea level rises of 9 metres in 500 years during the Meltwater pulse 1a event 14,600 years ago and 2.5 metres in the second event, 8,200 years ago.

Rare earth metals: Will we have enough?

... “To provide most of our power through renewables would take hundreds of times the amount of rare earth metals that we are mining today,” said Thomas Graedel, Clifton R. Musser Professor of Industrial Ecology and professor of geology and geophysics at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

Manmade marshes poorer in plant life than natural ones

Artificially created salt marshes are no substitute for natural ones, hosting fewer kinds of plant and often ending up overrun by just a few species, scientists have shown.

That's a problem, because the EU Habitats Directive obliges the UK to replace salt marsh that's lost to coastal development or erosion with new, 'biologically equivalent' habitat elsewhere. Until now we've thought we were complying, but the new study shows that making artificial salt marsh that's an adequate substitute for the real thing is a lot harder than we thought.

Are habitats above tar sands replaced with 'biologically equivalent' habitats after removal?

Are habitats above tar sands replaced with 'biologically equivalent' habitats after removal?

The reclaimation standard is "as good as or better than original condition". In the opinion of the Alberta government, agricultural land is better than peat bogs, so since it is nearly impossible to restore peat bogs to original condition, the companies plan to replace them with grazing land. Then they will bring in bison or cattle to graze on them.

Unbeknownst to most people, most of Alberta is potential agricultural land - if the northern forests were cleared for agriculture. Since Alberta is significantly bigger than France, it could in theory support more people than France. That is not an unreasonable thing to expect to happen in the long run, given the way the world is going now.

Agricultural lands have a totally different ecosystem function than do peat bogs. Replacing a bog with agricultural land is NOT replacing with a 'biologically equivalent' habitat. As far as being 'better', that is a very subjective judgment and it depends on the initial purpose of that land. Agricultural land generally has a lower biodiversity.

If that is the Ab Governments approach, it is, as usual, lipservice only.


dspady - I'm always curious about folks who share your view of land use. I assume that during your lifetime most of the fruit, veggies and grain you've eaten came from ag lands that formerly had not been ag lands at some time. And that those ag lands, as you correctly point out, don't typically have the biodiversity of the original ecosystem. I'm also curious what you envision as "the initial purpose" of bogs might be. So basically are you as in favor of returning current ag lands that feed you and almost every citizen back their "biologically equivalent habitat" as you are in favor of the Albertans to do the same with their reclaimed lands? If not some scoundrel might accuse you of being a tad hypocritical.


I am well aware of the benefits of agricultural land, both as a source of food, as an essential part of our economy and also as a place for community. My family were farmers. They homesteaded here in Alberta at the turn of the last century, and some still farm in Alberta.

Obviously I cannot discount the importance of agricultural land, nor do I necessarily advocate returning what agricultural lands we already use to their natural state. I just don't know enough about the issues to argue in an intelligent manner regarding such advocacy. I DO know that the human footprint is greater than what the earth can support for any length of time; therefore I would push us to not use any more than is absolutely necessary. For most of those who read the oildrum, this means doing with a lot less. I also know that such a task is very difficult for an individual to achieve, but there are some on TOD who seem to be doing so. I am not one of them. I do not consume an excessive amount and am cautious in what I purchase and use, but I am certainly not perfect.

My comment was directed to the issue of reclamation. I take exception to the assumption (or government opinion) that the 'reclaiming' of a bog to agriculutral land was "biologically equivalent" and "as good as or better than original condition." That particular "government opinion" is just an easy out for a government that is not overly concerned with the environment. It is also a very questionable value judgment. I am a physician, not an ecologist, so I cannot give you chapter and verse as to the role of a bog in an ecosystem, and while I am sure there is one, I think even the expert's level of ignorance on this subject is great and the likelihood of our actions resulting in unintended consequences is high.


Don - With your farming heritage you can certainly speak with more authority then me on the subject. "...therefore I would push us to not use any more than is absolutely necessary. For most of those who read the oil drum, this means doing with a lot less.". Couldn't agree more. "I take exception to the assumption (or government opinion) that the reclaiming of a bog to agricultural land was biologically equivalent and as good as or better than original condition". I guess the key question here is: as good and better for whom? For me, you and most every TODster it has no effect on any of us if they return the land to bogs or grazing land. I don't think of the Albertan "opinion" is an opinion at all: for the vast majority of people of Alberta it's better to destroy the bogs to recover the oil. The oil is a valuable asset that can greatly aid their economy. The bogs aren't. The question becomes what's of better value to the citizens of Alberta: reclaiming those lands as bogs (and adding them to the millions of acres of similar land already there) or converting them to grazing land.

Heck...you've got closer connection to the land than this city boy...what's a better asset for those folks: grazing land or bogs? "... I cannot give you chapter and verse as to the role of a bog in an ecosystem, and while I am sure there is one..." Nor can I. And I also can't tell you the value to the ecosystem of the land you and every other TODster now occupies were it converted back to its original state. But does that really matter? Not really an option, is it? "...the likelihood of our actions resulting in unintended consequences is high. " I don't think there are any unintended consequences to speak of. I think the consequences of destroying the bogs to recover the oil and then restoring them to grazing land are very obvious and equally very intentional. I feel critisizing the Albertans for taking actions that nearly every person on the planet supports DOING IN THEIR OWN SPHERE OF ENFLUENCE is unjust. Can you name many municipalities that aren't willing to expand outwards into undeveloped area to accommodate their increasing population? Covering 600 acres of desert in Arizona with solar panels isn't going to do much good for the ecology of that area.

I think I do understand where you're coming from and I'm not completely unsympathetic. OTOH I don't live in Alberta (although I very much enjoy Banff Park) and it has no effect on me. It affects the Albertans. Maybe not everyone agrees with the process going on in the tar sand fields. But apparently the voting majority does otherwise there would be politicians pushing the effort forward. I've teased others before with this so don't take this personally: sacrifice is easy...as long as it's the other person sacrificing. What happens in Alberta isn't any of my business. What happens in Texas is...that's where I live and where my 12 yo daughter drinks well water every day.

Can you name many municipalities that aren't willing to expand outwards into undeveloped area to accommodate their increasing population?

Portland Oregon and most, if not all, French cities have "Urban Growth Boundaries". OTOH, Houston does not even have zoning.

So there are a few examples.


Some Canadian cities have tried to constrain outward growth, Ottawa being one example. None of them have been very successful - developers just jumped the limits and started building suburbs in towns on the far side of the limits.

Vancouver has natural limits on its growth - it is squeezed between the Pacific Ocean, the Coast Mountains, and the US border. As a result it has built up rather than out and is now a very densely developed city with very high housing prices. That's the downside of limits to growth.

Calgary has no natural limits to its growth, although it is densifying its new suburbs and they are much more transit-friendly than previously. Most people don't realize that if they keep it up, automobiles are going to become non-viable as a way to get around, but the light rail system is going to work very well - as it already does.

I tried pointing out to urban planners that, notwithstanding higher densities, if it keeps growing like it has been doing, in 50 years Calgary is going to be banging into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, like Denver does now. Their response was "Hunh? What?" so I guess it will come as a complete surprise to them. It will be a very big city.

In Canmore, the town I live in now, it's much simpler. There are 9,000 foot mountains lining both sides of the valley, there is Banff National Park at one end, and there is a big Indian reservation at the other end. So, all the land that the town has now is all that it will ever have. There is room for 30,000 to 35,000 people, and then it's done, there is no more room. It gives me a feeling of comfort to know my town will never be bigger than that. It's not big enough to support a Walmart so we never will have one.

I like to do these estimates because I like to know what things are going to be like in the future. It's more comforting to be in a town with distinct limits to growth than in one with no limits, like Calgary. The downside is that prices are high and going to be higher, but fortunately I bought in when it was cheap. I feel sorry for the people who didn't. They would like to live here but they can't.


Your statement reflects the classic anthropocentric paradigm, where we seem to think that the principal beneficiary should always be humanity. This is the paradigm that has got us into the unholy mess we have today with climate change (where humans ‘benefitted’ from the excessive use of fossil fuels with the unintended consequence of CO2 sequestration in the atmosphere -- initially we didn’t know that CO2 was so bad and we probably didn’t think that “there (were) any unintended consequences to speak of.” The consequences we were interested in were, as you say, “very obvious and equally very intentional” . Along with the obvious consequences of climate change (heat, sea level rise, storms) are more subtle global changes like dropping sea level pH, loss of biodiversity, and damaged ecological integrity. Some of these changes are due to human expansion, population rise, and industrial development: but all are due largely to fossil fuel use). As clifman (below) says “we have taken much more than our share”. When do we stop. On August 22, 2012, we exhausted the renewable services that the earth was capable of providing for 2012, we are now living off the principal. Very credible scientists have published in credible journals the data that indicate conditions for human life on earth are becoming increasingly tenuous. So, to sum up this bit, humans have to give earth some consideration.
As to whether the vast majority of Albertans agree with getting the oil out of the tar sands, I am not so sure. Majority, maybe; VAST majority, NO. At one time you might have been right, but more and more Albertans are becoming concerned with the environmental costs of oil sands extraction. It is a difficult subject, as I am fully aware that Alberta’s economy depends on these sands.
I am not criticizing Albertans. I don’t like to criticize myself. I do think Albertans should take a long, hard look at what the long term consequences of this extraction will be, and what our responsibility is not just to Albertans today, but Albertans, and people everywhere, in the next decades and centuries.
I do not see your comments as teasing. I have read many of your posts and respect your point of view. Your posts are highly informative with respect to the business of oil and gas extraction and are inquisitive and respectful with respect to some other issues.
What happens in Alberta IS your business, just as what happens in Texas IS my business; just maybe not to the same degree in each locality. We are part of a global system and events happening in one place have far-reaching effects.


Don - I may owe you an apology for making an assumption about your position without realizing it. I assumed you and I were talking about the same ecosystem. The one I'm talking about are the bogs polluted with billions of gallons of very toxic hydrocarbons. That is the natural state of these lands and has been for hundreds of thousands (if not millions...correct me Rocky) of years. So when you're arguing for returning the land to its natural state vs. grasslands you're certainly not talking about reclaiming the land to bogs and then pumping millions of gallons of oil onto it, are you? You have to agree that whether the land is reclaimed as unpolluted bogs or unpolluted grazing land the ecosystem has been radically changed from its original natural state. Your hypothesis of unintended consequences is just as great in either case. And if many $millions are spent to reclaim the land (be it bog or grazing land) why would you want that use of energy/capex be used to add unpolluted bogs to a land that already contains millions of acres of unpolluted bogs already?

A couple of other points. First, if the majority of folks in Alberta felt as you do and voted their convictions the situation would be very different then it exists today because the politicians in office would share the same perspective...otherwise they wouldn't be in office. If the voting majority of Albertans didn't want the tar sands developed they wouldn't be. Likewise if they wanted tar sands developed and wanted the ecosystem turned in bogs, grass lands, a giant concrete parking lot or whatever then that's what would happen. Thus logic says you're wrong about what the majority of Albertans support. Secondly, no...it is none of your business what happens in Texas. You may have an opinion and concerns but you are not affected by any of the positives or negatives that happen here. They do affect me, my family and neighbors so it is our business and no one else's. Likewise I have neither financial gain nor any type of loss regarding anything that happens in Alberta. Obviously, based on our conversation, I have opinions about what's happening there. But I don' live there so it isn't any of my business. Perhaps you and I just consider the phrase "my business" differently.

Needless to say that if you really are talking about reclaiming the land to its former natural state of being one of the most polluted and toxic areas in N. America I would say our chat has definitely reached its conclusion. But you really can't be, can you? So if you are agreeable that any effort to remove the pollution (especially if private industry pays for it while enriching the Albertans) is a good thing then you need to explain why radically changing the ecosystem for a toxic wasteland to unpolluted bogs is better than converting it to unpolluted grazing land.


"I assumed you and I were talking about the same ecosystem. The one I'm talking about are the bogs polluted with billions of gallons of very toxic hydrocarbons. That is the natural state of these lands and has been for hundreds of thousands (if not millions...correct me Rocky) of years?"

I think our positions differ because we see things differently, and that ultimately we may just have to agree to disagree. You argue that we should rid these bogs polluted with ‘very toxic hydrocarbons” by extracting the hydrocarbons and using them. Well, the Oxford English Dictionary defines pollution as the “Undesirable state of the natural environment being contaminated with harmful substances AS A CONSEQUENCE OF HUMAN ACTIVITIES [caps mine]. As well, if these hydrocarbons are ’very toxic’, how is it that the bog has survived for thousands (?millions) of years. I agree that it is ludicrous to return the bog to its original state of being ‘polluted’ with ‘toxic substances’, but it is equally ludicrous to assume that we are doing the bog a service by removing the ‘toxic’ oil. The only benefit from removing the oil -- and today that is very debatable -- accrues to man. That ‘benefit’ is debatable because along with the good stuff that the oil provides, its use also releases CO2. That is NOT a benefit.
You seem to be viewing this land only through the eyes of how it can be exploited, and in a relatively reductionist manner. However, the earth is an integrated system, and we have to learn to think systemically.

"If the voting majority of Albertans didn't want the tar sands developed they wouldn't be."

At one time that might have been a reasonable argument; however, today it doesn’t fly. There is ample evidence in the US that your citizens want an effective, universal, affordable health care system. Why don’t your politicians get of their posteriors and create one. You know as well as I do that there are too many competing corporate interests who will fund politicians to frustrate such an action. And health care is just one example.

"Secondly, no...it is none of your business what happens in Texas."

I disagree. You seem to be viewing this land only through the eyes of how it can be exploited, and in a relatively reductionist manner. However, the earth is an integrated system, and we have to learn to think systemically. A hurricane in Texas can affect the price of gas even in Canada, just as an earthquake and nuclear disaster in Japan can potentially affect the health of my grandchild living in Canada, or major flooding in Thailand affect Canadian and American businesses. MORE IMPORTANTLY, burning fossil fuels anywhere -- regardless of where they come from, including the oil sands -- contributes to climate change. In that light, you could argue that maybe we should just let the stuff stay in the ground, which is the argument, and plea today, of more and more scientists who know what is happening to our world.

I am done with this. I do not think you will agree with my perspective. That is OK. Future events will demonstrate if my perspective is correct, or if your is. Plan and live accordingly.


Yes, we often joke that producing the oil sands is really just cleaning up the world's biggest oil spill and disposing of the toxic oil by burning it in people's automobiles, so environmentalists should thank us for our efforts.

The oil sands are probably 50-100 million years old, and their creation is connected to the rise of the Rocky Mountains several hundred miles to the southwest. It is actually a vast oil field with no cap rock, so the oil is continuously leaking out of it.

What is left is smaller than the amount that has leaked out over the eons, but there's still a mind-boggling amount left, and it is still leaking out at an impressive rate. The first explorers on the Athabasca river complained that they couldn't land their canoes in many places because there was so much oil pouring out of the banks into the river.

It's not as toxic as you said though. Oil seldom is as bad as people think.

It's true that Albertans get the governments they want. The voters don't put governments out of power very often in Alberta, but when they do it is sudden and final. They vote overwhelmingly for one party for decades, and then the party loses touch with the voters and *BANG* it's gone. The incumbents fall in droves and their opponents achieve a crushing majority - and then they stay in power for decades, i.e. until they lose touch with the voters. The reason the politicians are there now is because they do what the people want, and the people want the oil sands developed.

Opposition to developing the oil sands is something of a fringe movement in Alberta - mostly limited to leftists, of which there are darn few here. This is the land of the pickup truck with the bumper sticker that reads, "Oil feeds my family and pays my taxes". A lot of people work for the oil industry, and they are quite comfortable living and working around oil fields, particularly if it involves a big, fat paycheck.

Alberta isn't any of my business. What happens in Texas is...that's where I live and where my 12 yo daughter drinks well water every day.

Yo, ROCK, I think I get where you are coming from. However it's not a huge leap to expand your horizons to incorporate the entirety of this little blue speck of a planet on which all 7 plus billion of us are trying to survive, including your 12 yo daughter and my 18 yo son. It's their planet! And what happens in Alberta and Texas, the Arctic, the Amazon rainforest, the coral reefs and the deep ocean or the tops of the Himalayas is absolutely our business!


“Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot

FM - I think you and I view "none of my business" differently as do Don and I. Can you imagine me not having an opinion about anything? Get real, amigo! LOL. But you don't live in Texas, do you? So you don't have anything to directly gain or lose by anything that happens here. So compared to me and other Texans it isn't any of you business. IOW your opinions should have little or no impact regarding what happens here.

But what opinions you have run them on out. Lots of blood and tears have been shed to allow you to do that. Just don't come down to Texas and try to force your opinions on us. Might have to shed a little more blood. LOL. Sorry...dark mood this morning. Still very p*ssed off. Had to run a hand off last night for playing around with a fork lift on one of my locations and almost hurt another hand. The idiot is 25 yo and has 4 kids, a sickly wife and a father dying of cancer. And he puts me in the position of having to get him fired. I'm just glad I wasn't there because I got so upset I might have tried to whip his ass. Which would have certainly ended badly since, given my physical condition, a 10 yo girl could whip my butt. LOL.

Some accidents are unavoidable. Acting like an idiot around heavy equipment can be avoidable.

My grandparents also homesteaded in Alberta at the turn of the last century, too, and many of my relatives are still farming. But, during the 1930's some of them homesteaded in the Peace River country, which is at about the same latitude as Juneau, the capital of Alaska. In Alberta the farmland goes much further north than that.

Take a look at a map sometime. Calgary, in southern Alberta is at about the same latitude as London, England. Edmonton, the most northerly major city in Canada, is only slightly further north than Berlin, Germany. Fort McMurray, the oil sands center, is only slightly north of Moscow, Russia. The boundary with the Northwest Territories is only slightly further north than Oslo, the capital of Norway. My relatives in Northern Norway are farming much further north, almost at the Arctic circle. It is challenging, but they can do it. I helped them bring in the hay and hang it on fences to dry.

The peat bogs and trackless forests of Europe were cleared for farming during the middle ages. With the increase in global population, the peat bogs and trackless forests of Alberta will probably be cleared and planted to crops during this century. It is just the same thing happening 500 or 1000 years later than in Europe.

You could argue that the peat bogs and dark forests of northern Europe should have been left as they were, but that just didn't happen because the people needed food and living space and the land was there. The same will become true of Northern Alberta. France, with 65 million people, produces a food surplus, Alberta is bigger than France and can feed more people.

Don't say it can't happen, because it inevitably will. By mid century the planet will have to feed 9 billion people, and it can and will happen whether people believe it can be done or not.

It takes more than land to grow food. I really do not think that Alberta can rival France.


It's true that France is warmer than Alberta, so Alberta will never be able to compete in terms of wine production. However its climate is similar to Ukraine, and its land area is somewhat larger. Ukraine has 46 million people and is a significant agricultural exporter.

Alberta could probably match Ukraine in terms of wheat, potato, and cabbage production, and most likely outdo them in cattle production. With modern advances in biotechnology, researchers keep pushing the climatic limits of crops further and further, and farmers are growing crops that I never saw when I was growing up, so you never know what they might do next. If AGW happens in a big way, in the future Alberta could become a major wine producer, too.

I wonder if the soils are comparable ? The Ice Ages were not kind to Canadian soils.


Alan - Don't you agree that whatever wine the Canadians put out it has to be better than Zig's orange wine from Plaquemines Parish? For those who haven't enjoyed this offering think of the worst tasting cough syrup you've every swallowed and then imagine it orange flavored.

I have also had some Texas "wine" that I gagged on.

I do not remember the source, but there was a free "tasting" that had some local "wines".

The French Balance of Trade in wine is not in jeopardy from their former colony.


Actually, Canadian wines have been winning awards at international wine competitions. The skunky grapes of old are gone and replaced with some pretty decent varieties, and the wineries have upped their standards to match.

But that's in British Columbia and Ontario. Alberta is still to cold too grow wine grapes, but there is hope for the future.

The Ice Ages were not kind to Canadian soils.

The glaciers planed most of Eastern Canada down to pre-Cambrian bedrock, the Canadian Shield, which left not a lot of fertile soil in the Eastern half of the country.

OTOH, the vast majority of Canada's farmland is in the West, and most of it is in the Prairie Provinces. Alberta is particularly well covered with fertile soil since there is only one small outlier of the Canadian Shield in the North East corner of the province, and the Rocky Mountains down the South West border. Most of the rest has enough soil to grow potatoes or provide hay for cattle, at least, and the middle third of Alberta has thick, black, highly fertile soil ideal for growing grain - the Parkland Belt.

Rock - Hopefully dspady will give his response, but here's my take. The point is that we 7 billion humans have taken much more than our share of the bioproductivity of the planet. We've pushed out other species, and as Darwinian will I believe attest, we are well past the point where this is anything but a disaster for the biosphere as a whole. I'm no expert, but bogs play roles in maintaining biodiversity, cleansing water as it passes through, storing water, thereby ameliorating the effects of flood/drought cycles, and probably others of which I am as clueless as the average Joe. All ecosystems ("land uses" by nature) play such roles. Ag land does nothing useful, of which I am aware, other than feed us humans. And there are too many of us using too much land for our sustenance already. William Catton wrote eloquently about it 30+ years ago in his brilliant book Overshoot.

ps - pls don't call me 'cliffy'. Call me clifman, or clif, even ifman, or anything else you like. But I take offense at cliffy. Thanks.

You reply beat mine in time and you said it better than me. I agree fully with your comments. Also, I endorse your comments about Catton's book Overshoot. Written 20+ years ago it is as topical as today's news. It is a fantastic book and anybody -- well, most people, you know the old saying about leading a horse to water -- would benefit from reading it.


clifman - You got it...wondered why you put up with my teasing so long. If you notice you're not the only one I do that to.

But as I just explained to Don: do you understand what we're talking about? We're not talking about some pretty little bog as perhaps seen on a Nat Geographic cover. We're talking about one of the largest toxic sites on the planet. "Ag land does nothing useful...". OK then explain to me what's useful about hundreds of thousands of acres of bogs polluted with billions of gallons of toxic hydrocarbons.

I think the conversation got off track and we all started talking past each. I've been talking about converting a nightmare ecosystem into productive grazing land by a process that also greatly enriches the citizens of Alberta. And it's being paid for by private industry...not the public. As I asked Don: what exactly do you have a problem with?

Rockman - I think we just have a very different way of looking at this. In a nutshell, my view is that we are killing the planet - or, more accurately, its ability to support life, human and otherwise. Extracting and burning FF of all types gives us short term pleasure for long term pain. Blow dryers and night baseball in exchange for ecosystem destruction and climate change that will wipe us out. Most folks appear not to see things that way. And that's fine, I guess. Too late to stop it now, IMO. I have no children, but I do care about the future of my dozens of nieces, nephews and their kids. And also can't seem to help caring about the future of humanity as a whole, and all life on the planet. I don't know much about the pre-existing state of those Albertan bogs that overlie the tar sands. I do know that burning the oil extracted from them is contributing to darkening the future for your daughter, and the rest of her generation. And I have read that the downstream effects on the Athabasca river, and the natives that get their livelihood from it, are greatly harmed. I seriously doubt that whatever the bogs get restored to will be of much benefit to anyone, human or otherwise. I just don't trust us to know what the &%^# we're doing. We talked about it all on TOD here already, so I won't rehash it any further.

re: the name. First, thanks. I chose not to bring it up 'till now 'cause I avoided responding when triggered. Here, an opp'ty arose when interjecting in a conversation that didn't yet include me directly, so I could just calmly state my case. Yes, I have noticed you do it to others. I don't know if it's intentional on your part, but adding a "y" or an "ie" sound to another's name can generally be seen as belittling, or infantilizing. In my case, there's that aspect, and also the fact that my handle comes from my father's name, which was Clifton, one "f", and Cliffy would be short for Clifford, which has associations with Cliff Claven, the bar boob from Cheers. Loved the show, don't want to be associated with that character. So it's several layers. One further note - when I was in Australia, where of course they like to end lots of slang terms in "ie", like 'put a shrimp on the barbie", I could never get used to them calling truck drivers 'truckies'. Try that in a an American teamsters meeting sometime...

Clifman - I can't disagree with you about what being done to the planet in general. And I understand how the current conversation allows an intro to that topic. But that wasn't the topic of the thread. Some might accuse you of high jacking the thread but I wouldn't. We were chatting about an environmental issue and I don't see the need to keep the focus too tight if someone's passion pulls them into it.

But the thread did have a main topic. It was a question of how the once formerly oil polluted bogs should be restored: to nice clean bogs or to nice clean grasslands. From what I know of northern Canada they have no lack of nice clean bogs. I can see how the tar sand development can be a conflict for folks like you. OTOH you're not happy about more ff being burned. But altering at least some of the contaminated land to any sort of a less polluted ecosystem should make you happy. But producing more FF isn't the question at hand: the Albertans have been and will continue to exploit the tar sand deposits. The question what to do with the land afterwards. Assuming that there's a demand for more grasslands to raise more cattle to feed more folks what would you rather see: virgin forest lands cut down and converted to grazing pastures or oil polluted bogs turned into grazing land? Remember not creating more grazing land isn't an option if there is a demand for it...it will happen. Just like developing the tar sands. Seems like the choice for you and anyone else is obvious.

As long as "there's a demand for more grasslands to raise more cattle to feed more folks" on this finite sphere, we are doomed. But then you already know that, 'cause it's obvious. And no, I'm not happy about any part of it whatsoever.

And I have read that the downstream effects on the Athabasca river, and the natives that get their livelihood from it, are greatly harmed.

You probably didn't read the followup. A physician, John O'Connor, told the media that he had seen a large number of cancer cases in the native community in Fort Chipewyan. There are certain legal requirements for doctors in Alberta - When elevated levels of a disease occur, a doctor is legally required to report it to the authorities, which Dr. O'Connor did not do.

On hearing the media reports, the Alberta Cancer Board and Alberta Health and Welfare immediately launched an investigation into it. Dr. O'Connor refused to cooperate with them and they could not find the cancer patients he talked about, nor any relevant deaths. Their report therefore found no increase in cancer incidence in Fort Chipewyan

Then Dr. O'Connor again complained to the media about contamination in the area. This brought the federal government in. After investigating his reports, Health Canada filed a complaint of professional misconduct against him with the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons. The College's Investigation Report concluded:

A summary of the findings of the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta is that:

  • Dr. O'Connor failed to inform public health officials and the Alberta Cancer Board of the identities of and clinical circumstances of patients whom he'd diagnosed with various types of cancer in a timely manner.
  • Dr. O'Connor did not respond to multiple requests for information after he had made public his concerns about the incidence of cancer in the community of Fort Chipewyan.
  • Dr. O'Connor made a number of inaccurate or untruthful claims with respect to the number of patients with confirmed cancers and the ages of patients dying from cancer.

In fact, there were not six cases of bile duct cancer as Dr. O'Connor reported, there were two cases - both in people over 60 years of age. Three of the other cases were other types of cancer, and a fourth patient did not have cancer at all.

None of this appeared in the mainstream media, of course, because they don't report boring old facts, they concentrate on exciting rumor and innuendo. It's only boring scientific geeks like me who would actually chase down the investigation report on the case.

You could theorize that the Alberta Cancer Board, Alberta Health and Welfare, Health Canada, and the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons are all part of a big conspiracy with Big Oil against Dr. O'Connor and trying to suppress his findings. Or you could theorize that maybe they think he is a an incompetent doctor and is seeing cases of cancer where they don't exist. They haven't yanked his medical license yet, but reportedly they were thinking very hard about it. All these investigations cost an awful lot of money.


With respect, your heroic defense of the environmental impacts of the tar sands is admirable. That said...

Reclamation illusions in oil sands country
Lack of legislation, financial preparedness, undermine reclamation efforts

A complex of forests and low-lying wetlands has been transformed into a dry, hilly upland with new trails for human use. Syncrude spokesperson Alain Moore's statement about the site, given after the certificate was granted, speaks volumes: "If people aren’t looking closely, it blends into the natural landscape." Is that enough? Or do we expect those who have exploited the land to restore it to its pre-disturbance state?

--- snip ---

In its application for the Horizon project, Canadian Natural Resources made this statement: "Mitigation paired with reclamation assumes a post-project success rate of 100 per cent... Uncertainty with reclamation methods is assumed to be resolved with ongoing reclamation monitoring and research." This faith-based "winging it" approach to reclamation appears to satisfy the government departments responsible for project approvals.

Oil sands reclamation not all it's cracked up to be: Researchers

“Although peat land may at first glance appear very wet because there aren’t big bodies of open water,” says Rooney, “They are in fact very wet habitats so they play a very important role in ground and surface water storage.”

The researchers say the cost of the lost potential of the pea lands positive effect on carbon has not been factored into the land use decisions of the approval process.

“What we really want the public to know is that oil sands mining companies are under no obligation to restore the land they disturb or to compensate for the wetlands that they destroy. And any suggestion that oil sands reclamation will put the land back exactly the way that it is, is nothing but greenwashing.”

Well, with respect I have to point out that the oil sands mines and in-situ well projects are very environmentally sensitively managed compared to similar projects in other countries. The companies do intend to restore the land to better-than-original condition, on the understanding that recreating a peat bog is not easy to do and not something that most governments would want to see done. How many peat bogs that were drained and converted to farm land in the Middle Ages have the governments in Europe restored? They need that land to feed their people.

The main thing that gets people upset is the sheer size of these developments. Companies are developing an oil field the size of Florida. But in terms of environmental impact, it is no different than the conversion of the American Midwest from forest and tall grass prairie to corn farms, or the conversion of the vast, dark forests of Northern Europe full of dangerous animals that frightened the Romans, to the productive farmland and highly cultured cities that it is today. Nobody remembers what it was like back then, so everybody thinks what they see now is natural.

Rocky - Dang...rarely do I have to give you a verbal slap upside of your pumpkin head: " But in terms of environmental impact, it is no different than the conversion of the American Midwest from forest and tall grass prairie to corn farms,...". No different?!?! Were those Midwestern lands fouled with billions of gallons of toxic sludge? I think you are as guilty as the rest of us by getting distracted. This isn't a discussion over the pros and cons of turning nice pristine bogs into pasture lands. It's about turning a very polluted and toxic environment into grazing land and in the process Albertans receiving $billions in royalties from the companies that are paying for whatever surface restoration occurs. So again I'll keep repeating the same question to everyone: what exactly is wrong with this process?

aws - I have to ask you just as I did clifman: are you talking about the same area as RMG and I are talking about? "The researchers say the cost of the lost potential of the peat lands positive effect on carbon has not been factored into the land use decisions of the approval process." The peat lands he and I are talking about are polluted by billions of gallons of toxic hydrocarbons. Exactly what "lost potential" are they talking about? "...to restore the land they disturb or to compensate for the wetlands that they destroy." They are "destroying" some of the most toxic land in Canada and replacing it with much less toxic ecosystem that can used to feed folks. Even if the companies just dumped the much cleaner sand back on the ground and did nothing to else wouldn't that be an improvement over land oozing with toxic sludge? And if that were all the companies did the Albertans would still receive $billions in a process for which they've not spent a penny on.

"And any suggestion that oil sands reclamation will put the land back exactly the way that it is, is nothing but greenwashing.” So it would be better to put the land back exactly as it was: a peat bog with millions of tons of tar oozing out of it? I'm beggining to think some have become completely disconnected from the reality of the situation.

Pipeline leak detection systems miss 19 out of 20 spills

An investigation of pipeline accident reports from the last ten years has revealed that the much touted leak detection systems employed by pipeline companies only catch one out of twenty spills. The InsideClimate New article by Lisa Song illustrates an alarming disconnect between industry rhetoric and reality when it comes to detecting leaks on pipelines. Not only do pipeline leak detection systems miss nineteen out of twenty spills, they miss four out of five spills larger than 42,000 gallons.

Understanding the limits of current leak detection technology has never been more important. As companies like Enbridge and TransCanada propose pipelines moving large volumes of tar sands across sparely populated areas, through rivers and aquifers, it’s critical that the public consider what’s at stake with open eyes. Particularly after learning from Enbridge’s Kalamazoo tar sands pipeline spill how much more damaging tar sands can be

Flash crash or a turning point for oil prices?

LONDON (Reuters) - Monday's sudden dive in oil prices appears more and more unusual with hindsight, and poses questions for traders, regulators and exchanges alike about just who or what caused such a major turnaround in the market.

The CFTC is looking into Monday's oil price drop and is collaborating with Britain's Financial Services Authority (FSA) which regulates the London-based Brent market.

CME Group, which operates one of the two principal oil markets, has described the drop as a "coordinated selloff" not caused by any technical failures.

... From the published data, it remains unclear whether September 17's price drop was an accident, or if someone decided to give the market a good hard shove, putting on a large position in a short space of time with the intention of moving the price.

Whatever the cause, it has triggered a cycle of liquidation that has pushed prices much lower. That will be welcome in the White House, but for hedge funds and other investors who had amassed a big long position on the expectation of further rises it is exceptionally painful.

As usual it oppositely correlates with the strengthening of the U.S. dollar since Monday. When trying to understand price fluctuations in crude oil, always check the currency market to see if that is the principal cause. When the U.S. dollar is strong, crude oil is cheap, and when the U.S. dollar is weak, crude oil is expensive.

Study suggests that a poor sense of smell may be a marker for psychopathic traits

People with psychopathic tendencies have an impaired sense of smell, which points to inefficient processing in the front part of the brain. These findings by Mehmet Mahmut and Richard Stevenson, from Macquarie University in Australia, are published online in Springer's journal Chemosensory Perception.

... The researchers found that those individuals who scored highly on psychopathic traits were more likely to struggle to both identify smells and tell the difference between smells, even though they knew they were smelling something. These results show that brain areas controlling olfactory processes are less efficient in individuals with psychopathic tendencies.

... maybe we should make our elected representative pass the 'sniff test'

4th Admiral Thomas H. Moorer Military Energy Security Forum Energy Security – Threats and Opportunities Conference Report August 2012

The Department of Defense (DOD) faces a wide array of critical energy security and sustainability challenges as it moves forward in the 21st century. Established in 2006, the Admiral Thomas H. Moorer Military Energy Security Forum seeks to address these issues and catalyze strategic discussion among senior DOD leadership, government officials, and other key stakeholders.

(pg 6-7) … The first main concern voiced by the panel was the United States’ dependence on foreign oil coupled with the increasing demands of nations including China, India, and Brazil. While US needs will likely continue to grow in the future, oil demand in developing economies will far outstrip that of the United States, making it more expensive as the US competes for an increasingly finite and in-demand global resource.

This problem is compounded by several factors. First, much of the world’s oil reserves – and nearly all of its spare production capacity – is located in the increasingly unstable Middle East and owned by state enterprises. The US cannot continue to simply expect a stable supply of oil from large producers.

Second, although domestic production of oil and natural gas has increased recently, it is not a long-term solution as overall proven domestic reserves remain a fraction of US consumption.1

Furthermore, increased oil production carries the potential to lull US policymakers and the public into complacency on energy issues as people continue to believe that more drilling alone can solve the foreign oil problem. Moreover, US security depends on the continued energy access of its allies and trading partners, many of whom depend on Asian oil for over 50% of their total consumption.

… Ultimately, in order to ensure stable and secure access to reliable sources of energy, there are difficult decisions that need to be made in the future. Currently, the United States is not adequately preparing itself for those realities which may result in short and long term consequences as global demand for energy continues to rise.

(pg 8) Congressman Roscoe G. Bartlett … Urgent preparation and mitigation steps are needed to ensure adequate supplies of electricity in light of multiple natural and manmade threats to the grid that can cause blackouts of extended duration, potentially continent-wide. Without electricity, the other 17 critical infrastructures will fail as well.

Oil is finite. The problems and vulnerabilities associated with oil today will likely worsen, and soon. Global crude production has remained nearly flat for the last five years – despite the rapid development of unconventional oil resources in the US and Canada. Deutsche Bank and Wood Mackenzie in December 2011 forecast a 20% shortfall in potential capacity compared to increase in demand between 2010 and 2015, just three years from today. China alone accounts for half of total estimated global demand growth. Advanced technologies can be used to extract previously unknown and unattainable oil deposits but this is only a temporary solution. Simply to keep pace with demand at its current pace, the world would need to find several more producers the size of Saudi Arabia – a highly unlikely proposition.

… Solutions to these problems start with a two-pronged approach to education. The first prong involves educating people and policymakers about the facts and vulnerabilities related to oil and the electrical grid. The second prong is a cultural one – working with and encouraging individuals as well as communities and organizations to invest in efficiency, alternative fuels, and to secure a portion of their power and food locally in order to foster community sustainability in the face of grid collapse.

Bills before Congress, such as House Resolution 762, encourage local production of 20% of a community’s power requirements. Providing even that amount is sufficient to keep critical infrastructure running during a crisis and dramatically shortens the amount of time required for full recovery.

Roscoe's bill reference FEMA's ‘National Preparedness Report’ that focuses on a catastrophic planning framework known as ‘Maximums of Maximums’, which centers on collaborative, whole community planning for worst-case scenarios that exceed government capabilities and therefore focus on more local and individual efforts for survival and recovery.

Roscoe's Bill is still in committee

Does it really say that oil will become "increasingly finite"? Seems like an unnecessary qualifier there... I guess that's as close as the military can come to saying "ever declining", or "diminishing" or "shrinking", or ... "past peak".

But in any event, as we've seen before, the various militaries of the world are miles ahead of their public or governments in recognizing PO and its implications. Thx for posting this.

Mississippi River lock near St. Louis reopens after repairs; traffic jam grew to 455 barges

GRANITE CITY, Ill. — Shipping resumed Thursday through one of the Mississippi River’s busiest locks, after crews completed emergency repairs that took days and that stranded hundreds of barges destined for points north or south.

By the time the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reopened Lock 27 at Granite City, just north of St. Louis, about 3:30 a.m. Thursday, the Coast Guard said the traffic jam had grown to 63 vessels and 455 barges — carrying enough cargo to fill 6,100 railcars or 26,400 large tractor-trailers.

Workers closed the lock on Saturday after discovering that a protection cell — a rock-filled steel cylinder against which barges rub to help align them for proper entry into the lock — had split open, spilling enough of the rock into the river to obstruct passage.

That damage was on an unarmored section of the vertical protection cell that the barges don’t typically make contact with because they’re often 15 to 20 feet under water. But that portion has been exposed because the river’s level has been lowered dramatically by the nation’s drought, said Mike Petersen, an Army Corps of Engineers spokesman.


Been a while since we covered the details of the futures market. With almost no exception when the headlines highlight the "price of oil" they aren't talking about the price of oil but the current trading price of an oil futures contract. In short:

A futures contract is a standardized contract between two parties to buy or sell a specified asset of standardized quantity and quality for a price agreed today (the futures price or strike price) with delivery and payment occurring at a specified future date, the delivery date. The contracts are negotiated at a futures exchange, which acts as an intermediary between the two parties. The party agreeing to buy the underlying asset in the future, the "buyer" of the contract, is said to be "long", and the party agreeing to sell the asset in the future, the "seller" of the contract, is said to be "short". The terminology reflects the expectations of the parties—the buyer hopes or expects that the asset price is going to increase, while the seller hopes or expects that it will decrease in near future.

The article above talks about the rapid and significant swings in "oil prices" recently. Again, it wasn't oil prices but the price of futures contracts. For instance: "an extraordinary 10,000 contracts traded in the space of 60 seconds." There are 1,000 bbls of oil in a contract. So the volume discussed here is 10 million bbls of oil represented in the contracts. These are not 10 million bbls of physical oil that changed hands. And later in the article: "On Wednesday, by contrast, prices slid steadily throughout most of the day, with volume never exceeding 5,000 contracts a minute." IOW 5 million bbls of oil represented by the contracts. That's 300 million bbls of oil futures trading in one hour on a normal day. Given the total volume of oil sold in the world daily is less than 90 million bbls then obviously the futures market doesn't represent physical oil. The contracts are no more than bets just like trying to pick the winner of the Super Bowl. For every $ won on a futures contract there's a $ lost. Actually not completely accurate: the brokers collect a sales commission on each contract.

The price movement may have been "triggered...by a single large trade by a hedge fund selling up to 10 million barrels of crude in a single clip". Again, they didn't sell one bbl of oil. What they sold was an option to buy 10 million bbls of oil at some time in the future for a specific price. Last time I saw the stat about 1 BILLION BBLS OF OIL futures were traded daily. And almost no amount of physical oil actually changed hands. The MSM loves posting the oil futures prices. With a couple of mouse clicks they can pull up a number. They have no idea what I just my Texas oil for...I don't tell anyone. They have no idea what every operator in the US sold their oil for...they don't tell anyone.

Feast of Fools: How American Democracy Became the Property of a Commercial Oligarchy

A very interesting read.

All power corrupts but some must govern. -- John le Carré

Had trouble with the link - blocked by firewall. If anyone else has that trouble, also available at

Well worth the read!


"Comedians on the order of Jon Stewart and Bill Maher respond with jokes offered as consolation prizes for the acceptance of things as they are and the loss of hope in things as they might become. As soporifics, not, God forbid, as incitements to revolution or the setting up of guillotines in Yankee Stadium and the Staples Center."

So far, the guillotine reigns as the universally agreed upon solution. I've never heard the word so often in my entire life. A modern battery-powered electric drill does just as good a job, but I guess it does not offer the same degree of spectacle and satisfaction.

Capacitive discharge

From the same state that brought us the 'Show Me Your Papers' law ...

Migrant worker drought worries farmers

WASHINGTON – With harvest season for many crops approaching, farms in Arizona need workers to help bring the crops in. But that help is getting harder to find, farmers say, as patchwork immigration laws and federal visa issues often get in the way.

... “There is no doubt labor-intensive agriculture depends on foreign workers. Always has and always will,” Resnick said. “That production is going to be outsourced to Mexico, Central America, South America, Asia, so we are going to end up importing our food supply to a much greater extent than we already do.”

This sounds like something out of a scene from Children of Men ...

The Other Greek Crisis

One afternoon, in an Athens neighborhood with a large migrant population, I watched Greek police in body armor pull dark-skinned passersby into lines to examine their papers, before loading the undocumented onto waiting buses, for transport to detention camps. ... (It was also a preview of what the streets of Phoenix might look like some day, if Arizona’s most ardent anti-immigrant activists, who have already received partial backing from the United States Supreme Court, have their way.)

... At least eight out of ten illegal migrants to the European Union enter through Greece, often by making a perilous raft crossing on the Evros River from Turkey. Mohammadi followed a trail across Iran and Turkey and into Greece that is now attempted by as many as five hundred desperate people each day. There are more than a hundred thousand Afghans, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Somalis, Sudanese, Nigerians, and other migrants stuck in Greece — where the economy has shrunk for five consecutive years, and where the unemployment rate for citizens is just above twenty-four per cent.

This migrant bottleneck is the result of an E.U. design that now looks almost as flawed as the euro. It is called Dublin II, and it was struck amid the fiscal, monetary, and economic optimism of 2003. It holds that asylum seekers to E.U. countries can only be evaluated and adjudicated in the country where they enter first. The geography-driven effect of this rule has been to allow Germany, France, and other countries that are attractive destinations for undocumented economic migrants to push off on Greece administrative, welfare, and policing burdens that its weak government could not handle even when times were good.

Rice launches sweeping Energy and Environment Initiative

Rice University today announced the Energy and Environment Initiative (E2I), a sweeping plan to support interdisciplinary research that will draw experts from every corner of the university to work with Houston's energy industry to overcome barriers to the sustainable development and use of current and alternative forms of energy.

"This is about building a bridge from today's fossil fuel economy to an all-of-the-above energy future in which all sources of energy are used in concert," he said. "Building this bridge is as much a political, economic and social challenge as a technical one."

... Alvarez said part of E2I's initial focus will include the enhanced discovery and recovery of conventional hydrocarbons as well as the responsible development of shale gas and unconventional hydrocarbons. In all of these areas, innovative technologies that increase the efficiency and performance of both hydrocarbons and water processing are vital—a broad topic termed the "water-energy nexus."

Sounds like.. 'They'll include BOTH perspectives, Country AND Western!'

Of particular interest was this comment..

"E2I is the only energy and environmental initiative in the world that truly takes the skills and input of the humanities and social sciences seriously, and that input is much needed because it helps us answer a number of important questions: What makes one form of energy seem 'dirty' and another 'clean'?

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-09-rice-energy-environment.html#jCp

Sounds like there's a bit of redefining in the works.. what IS a better word for euphemism anyway?

Sorry if I sound a little non-plussed.. but their claim of.. "E2I is visionary because it is the first initiative in energy research that truly leverages all the intellectual resources of a university," sounded like they might not be the very first University to put their minds and resources into energy research. A quick search, however, only showed a mixed result reporting all manner of energy studies available from Universities Large and Small. Wah~

Maybe they're after an Ig Nobel award....?

Ig Nobels honour dead salmon's 'brain activity' in improbable research awards
Why you spill coffee if you walk around with a cup and why leaning to the left makes the Eiffel Tower seem smaller


The IG-nobels reminds me of a passing thought I had this morning..

'Why don't grocery stores nowadays complement their Organic Sections with one clearly labelled INORGANIC for the rest of the food?'

That got me started thinking what you would put in the INORGANIC FOOD section of a grocery store. "Organic" means "of or pertaining to an organism", so the pickings in my pantry were thin. All I found was salt and baking soda. I thought I had found another when I picked up the edible mineral oil, but then I realized that "mineral" was a misnomer. It was actually created millions of years ago by long-dead organisms.

And that reminded me that I once worked for an oil company that grew a fungus product on a petroleum substrate and marketed it as a "NATURAL ORGANIC" health food. I often wondered if it was some kind of inside joke that the research lab cooked up and gave to the marketers to sell. Big laughs all around. Anyhow, the FDA couldn't find any fault with the product or the labeling, so they approved it and we sold it.

The label "ORGANIC" allows a lot of wiggle room in what the store puts on the shelf. Recent scientific analyses have indicated the main difference between food labeled "ORGANIC" and food not so labelled is the price.

The expression is entierly a marketing item. I studied "organic chemestry" in school for a year (at the 3 year science program I attended after fundamental school), and most of it was about how to make plastic. Organic chemestry is simply about molecules with a carbon atom in it.

In Europe we lable the same products as "ecological" or simply just "eco". This has the message "does not harm the eco system [as much as the other products]". Brackets my addition. I have issues with that lable also, but the "organic" lable is entirely idiotic.

Freaked-out climate scientists urge other freaked-out climate scientists to speak up, fight Man

David Roberts, Grist

Can we make the radical changes necessary to meet that challenge? No, say climate scientists Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows in a recent commentary in Nature Climate Change, not “within orthodox political and economic constraints.”

There is no political or economic constraint more orthodox than the primacy of economic growth. No solution to climate change that threatens economic growth can get any traction at all — even the most “alarmist” climate hawks fear to tread there. Which is too bad, Anderson and Bows say, because “climate change commitments are incompatible with short- to medium-term economic growth (in other words, for 10 to 20 years).” What’s worse, “work on adapting to climate change suggests that economic growth cannot be reconciled with the breadth and rate of impacts as the temperature rises towards 4 °C and beyond.” In other words: We either give up economic growth voluntarily for a little while or suffer a climate that will reverse economic growth long-term.

Yikes: Avoiding dangerous climate change is still possible, but just barely

David Roberts, Grist

Remember, climate change is simple. We’re trying to avoid temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, because anything over that risks severe, irreversible, and overwhelmingly negative impacts. Currently we’re around 0.8 degrees above historical levels. If current trends continue, we could hit up to 6 degrees by 2100. That would likely exceed our ability to adapt, which is a polite way of saying it would lead to massive human die-off. That, in a nutshell, is (as I like to say) the brutal logic of climate change.

How much can we feasibly limit temperature rise at this late date? A new paper (flagged by David Atkins) tries to answer that question; it’s from a research consortium involving the U.K. Met Office, the Walker Institute, the Tyndall Centre, and the Grantham Institute. The title is, “Development of emissions pathways meeting a range of long-term temperature targets” [PDF]. Feel the excitement!

Some more light reading for my bed side table.

We either give up economic growth voluntarily

Given the debt as money system along with the Bank bailouts - why would anyone think a 'giving up' is a viable reaction?

temperature rises towards 4 °C and beyond

and again - is there any reason to think the "mythical" PTB would not work to bend a reaction to such news towards their own gain?

(and for the Nukes will save us from 4 deg I present: http://enenews.com/reactor-shutdown-at-three-mile-island-steam-release-s... I'll try to make that a post on the next drumbeat.)

CNN: The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant shut down unexpectedly Thursday when a reactor coolant pump failed, federal regulators said. [... An NRC spokesman] said one of the four reactor coolant pumps appears to have stopped working. Though three others remain, the system shuts down when an anomaly is detected, he said.

WCAU: An NRC inspector is on site and in the plant’s control room, according to officials.

Daily Record: Immediately after the shut down, an inspector with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission responded to the plant’s control room to ensure safety systems were functioning as designed, said Neil Sheehan, an NRC spokesman. “(The inspector) did not identify any immediate concerns with operator or equipment performance,” he said.

York Daily Record: “The steam discharge is a normal part of the shut down process,” [David Tillman, a spokesman for the plant] said. “If there is any trace of radiation in the steam discharge, it is below detectable levels.”

NBC: Plant spokesman Ralph DeSantis told WGAL-TV that there is no health risk and the public is not in danger. DeSantis said radiation levels in the steam were “below detectable levels,” according to WHTM-TV. A spokewoman from the NRC echoed that there is no impact on public health and safety, and said there was no evacuation at the plant. [...] People in the area, which is just outside of Harrisburg in Dauphin County, Pa., reported hearing a loud noise just after 2 p.m. Officials say that was caused from steam being released during the shutdown.

Patriot News: A Middletown woman living about four miles from Three Mile Island said the plant’s steam release Thursday afternoon sounded like a jet engine. She didn’t want to give her name. Her neighbor, Brenda Klockow didn’t hear a thing. [...] Middletown resident Scott Fagan looked out his window facing the plant. “I don’t see any flaming skies or birds dropping or rivers rising up to the heavens. I don’t see any of that.”

OPEC Exports Fall even as Saudi Arabia pledges more exports

Oil tanker, 'Oil Movements', reported today that OPEC exports will fall in the four week period ending on October 6. This continues the slow but steady decline in OPEC exports since about the start of August.

Since the OM report is forward looking, if Saudi Arabia intended to increase exports in the next few weeks, the increase should have been reflected in this report.

OPEC to Curb Exports on Refinery Maintenance, Oil Movements Says

Saudi Arabia Pledges to Provide Extra Oil