Drumbeat: September 22, 2012

Thresholds in the economic effects of oil prices

As U.S. retail gasoline prices once again near $4.00 a gallon, does this pose a threat to the economy and President Obama's prospects for re-election? My answer is no.

The graph below plots average U.S. gasoline prices, adjusted for inflation, over the last decade. This is now the fourth time we've been near the $4 threshold. It first happened in June 2008, again in May 2011, and again in April of this year. In fact, on each of those previous 3 occasions the average U.S. retail price of gasoline was higher than it is today.

Oil Rises on Central Bank Stimulus Optimism

Oil advanced as optimism that central bank stimulus will revive the global economy pared crude’s biggest weekly decline in more than three months.

Futures rose 0.5 percent and stocks gained as a report said European officials will unveil a bailout plan for Spain. Crude climbed to an intraday high of $100.42 a barrel Sept. 14 on measures by the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank to bolster economic growth.

Origin: demand for gas to treble

DUMPED on its recent forecast of ''only'' 10 per cent to 15 per cent earnings growth in the year ahead, Origin Energy has forecast a trebling in gas demand over the next five years as a string of export gas projects are brought on-stream in Queensland.

As a result, it anticipates rising domestic gas prices, which will flow through to higher earnings, given the linkage between gas and oil prices.

Iran oil production to remain steady in 2012: minister

(Reuters) - Iran's crude oil production will remain steady this year compared to last year, the country's oil minister was quoted as saying.

Rostam Qasemi's remarks, made to an Iranian news agency on Friday, countered a forecast by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) of a fall in Iranian production this year.

Statoil seeking shale oil opportunities in China and Australia

Norway’s largest oil and gas producer Statoil, is searching for a second shale partner in Australia following a deal with Canada’s PetroFrontier Corp. (PFC) and is also considering acquisitions of explorers, according to Bloomberg.

Naresh Agarwal demands white paper from PM over diesel hike

New Delhi/ Patna (ANI): A day after Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh defended the economic reforms undertaken by the Centre, regional leader and lawmaker from Samajwadi Party (SP), Naresh Agarwal, has urged him to present a white paper over hike in diesel price.

LPG import plan ‘rejected’

ISLAMABAD - The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Friday rejected government’s plan to import 15 thousand tonnes of LPG monthly during winter.The import of 75 thousand tonnes of LPG from November to March is aimed at personal welfare while masses will have to pay the bill, the PEW said.

Queues for petrol ease at filling stations in Abuja

Queues for petrol by motorists and other users have reduced at filling stations in Abuja with many stations now selling the product, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.

Qatar backs investment in major Egypt refinery

DOHA, Qatar (AP) -- Qatar says it will make critical investments in a $3.7 billion oil refinery project in Egypt that's among the biggest economic initiatives since the 2011 fall of Hosni Mubarak.

Iranian MP: Explosion occures at Fordo uranium enrichment center

The head of National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of Iranian Parliament accused International Atomic Energy Agency and German Siemens company of sabotage of Iran's Fordo uranium enrichment center, Iran's Parliament official website, www.icana.ir reported.

Alaeddin Boroujerdi said, IAEA cooperated with 'terrorists' and Siemens company put explosive materials inside Iran's centrifuges, which led to explosion and damaged Fordo.

U.S. braces for anti-Islam film protests, warns Americans over French cartoon

(CNN) -- The United States braced Saturday for more protests over an independently produced anti-Islam film that has ignited anger in the Muslim world, temporarily closing some of its diplomatic missions and warning American citizens in some countries to be vigilant.

The latest warnings follow protests Friday that turned violent in Pakistan, with at least 27 people killed and more than 100 injured in protests ostensibly over the film that saw mobs ransack banks, theaters, government offices and a church in clashes with security forces.

KFC shuts all Pakistan restaurants amid protests

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Yum! Brands is shuttering all of its KFC franchises in Pakistan in the wake of anti-American protests there, after a KFC restaurant was attacked in Lebanon last week, the company said Friday.

Libya: 2 killed in Benghazi protester-militia clashes

BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) -- Two Libyan protesters were killed and dozens wounded early Saturday as hundreds of demonstrators attacked militia compounds in a surge of anger at armed groups in Benghazi whose unchecked powers led to last week's killing of the U.S. ambassador.

China tightening customs inspections from Japan: firms

TOKYO - China is ramping up customs inspections for Japanese products at its ports, firms said on Friday, as a diplomatic row over disputed islands appeared to spill over into multi-billion dollar trade ties.The move comes after Chinese state media threatened economic retribution over Tokyo's nationalisation of the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands, which Beijing calls Diaoyu.

The Peak Oil Crisis: A New Malaise

While looking across the global landscape, it is easy to conclude that the situation in 1979 was only a shadow of what we face today. The world's economy is stuck in a slump which shows every sign of continuing indefinitely or getting worse; our climate is spinning out of control and some are seriously talking about the end of life on earth; public debts are skyrocketing and governments around the world have turned on their printing presses to "stimulate" (read inflate) their way out of current economic troubles; the internet has spread so much information to so many that much of the world is inflamed over real or imagined slights; mobs are running through the streets and bombs are going off faster than can be counted.

Spiking oil

The peak-oil hypothesis states that fossil fuel resources are finite and will reach a point where they begin a period of steady decline until they are depleted. This isn’t a political philosophy, but a scientifically based belief.

It has been commonly believed that domestic oil production peaked in 1972 under Richard Nixon. Production continued to drop, or was flat, under Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush. And then came Obama – the perceived "enemy" of the oil industry and domestic oil production. One would expect an extreme drop in domestic production since the beginning of 2009. But domestic oil production is up. Way up.

Mixed Reactions on N.Y. Fracking Decision

Reaction to Thursday’s announcement by the Cuomo administration that New York State must review potential public health effects before deciding whether to allow fracking is split along fairly predictable lines.

Shell and Greenpeace in legal fight over Arctic

The environmental campaigners Greenpeace hit out at Royal Dutch Shell yesterday after the oil giant went to court in the Netherlands to keep protesters away from its sites with the threat of huge fines.

US electric vehicle policies to cost taxpayers $7.5 bil through 2019: CBO

Washington (Platts) - Federal policies that promote electric vehicles, such as tax credits or incentives for carmakers, will cost US taxpayers about $7.5 billion through 2019, and may not result in lower gasoline consumption or greenhouse gas emissions, the Congressional Budget Office said in a new report.

Fuel use in new cars could halve by 2030: IEA

(Reuters) - Fuel consumption in new vehicles could be slashed by half in the next 20 years, helping the world curb its dependency on oil, provided governments set up bold policies to boost the use of available technologies, the International Energy Agency said on Wednesday.

The transport sector, which consumes around one fifth of global primary energy, will account for nearly all the future growth in oil use, said the Paris-based agency, which advises industrial nations on energy policy.

Has vehicle efficiency really curbed U.S. oil demand?

Improving vehicle efficiency is often cited as a major reason for declining U.S. oil consumption since 2005. But is there any evidence for that claim?

GM offers big discounts to boost Volt sales

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors rolled out the Chevrolet Volt two years ago with lofty sales goals and the promise of a new technology that someday would help end America's dependence on oil.

So it seemed like a good thing in August when sales of the $40,000 car set a monthly record of 2,800. But a closer look shows that things aren't what they seem for the cutting-edge car.

Sales rose mostly because of discounts of almost $10,000, or 25 percent of the Volt's sticker price, according to figures from TrueCar.com, an auto pricing website. Other pricing services gave similar numbers, and dealers confirmed that steeply discounted Volts are selling better than a few months ago.

The Etiquette of Electric Car Ownership

What to do when your electric car needs a charge and all the available plugs are taken?

Power plants are big energy hogs: Report

It’s often forgotten when talking about energy production that environmental impacts stretch far beyond air pollution and emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

Less discussed, particularly in the context of electricity generation, is the dependence and impact on fresh water resources that are vital to other industries and ecosystems. If more frequent and intense droughts are to become the new normal in this era of human-induced climate change, it’s an issue that shouldn’t be overlooked by policy makers.

Don Roberts, who leads the renewable energy and clean technology investment team at CIBC, once put it this way: “If energy is scarce, water is scarcer.”

Malaysia palm oil prices may fall at least 7 pct in Q4-analyst

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Malaysian crude palm oil (CPO) prices may fall nearly 7 percent to 2,575 ringgit per tonne in the last quarter of 2012 from current levels if Brent crude oil prices come down to $95 per barrel, a top analyst said on Saturday.

Bargain-seeking bidders score big at grocery auctions

Allen, who has been in the auction business for almost 20 years, says she rarely does antique or collectible auctions any more and focuses on grocery auctions.

A big draw for attendees to these auctions - food prices.

How ‘Silent Spring’ Ignited the Environmental Movement

“Silent Spring,” which has sold more than two million copies, made a powerful case for the idea that if humankind poisoned nature, nature would in turn poison humankind. “Our heedless and destructive acts enter into the vast cycles of the earth and in time return to bring hazard to ourselves,” she told the subcommittee. We still see the effects of unfettered human intervention through Carson’s eyes: she popularized modern ecology.

Single gas pipeline and terminal proposed for North would add 3M tonnes of CO2 to atmosphere: report

A report released Friday on potential greenhouse gas emissions from northern energy projects shows that one liquefied natural gas pipeline and terminal alone would add over three million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year into the atmosphere.

Five LNG terminals are under consideration, three at Kitimat and two at Prince Rupert. The entire province of B.C. emits 62 million tonnes according to provincial government figures.

BASIC group calls for adoption of "Kyoto 2" in Doha

BRASILIA/SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Ministers from Brazil, India, China and South Africa called for an extension of the Kyoto Protocol, the world's only treaty that forces countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions, which expires at the end of the year.

Arctic Sea Ice: What, Why, and What Next

What s happening in the Arctic? Why is it happening? And does it matter for the bulk of us who live thousands of miles away from it?

Greenland’s ‘Ice Quakes’ May Set a Record

One of the more amazing facts about the ongoing destruction of the Greenland ice sheet is that it is producing earthquakes that can be detected worldwide. Now, fresh evidence is at hand to show that these “ice quakes” are spreading to previously quiescent parts of Greenland. We’re only in September, but it seems increasingly likely that 2012 will set a record for such quakes.

Four-degree rise demands 90-degree rethink

Global energy, food and water security are also poised on a knife edge. These changes are occurring at the 0.8 degrees increase, relative to pre-industrial conditions already experienced, let alone the extra 1.2 degrees that probably will result from our historic emissions.

The "official" target of limiting temperature increase to no more than 2 degrees is way too high. Current policies, such as our Clean Energy Future package, are far worse and would result in a 4 degrees-plus temperature rise. Official panaceas, such as carbon capture and storage, are not working.

Expert highlights survival concerns for Pakistan

Islamabad: Increasing threats due to negative impacts of climate change are the cause of major survival concerns for Pakistan, particularly in terms of its water security, food security and energy security considerations.

A new post apocalypse TV series Revolution debuted this past Monday night on NBC. I missed the first episode but will record the next to see if it is any good. But actually it don't look too promising. From Wiki: Revolution (TV series)

Revolution takes place in a post-apocalyptic future. Fifteen years earlier, an unknown phenomenon disabled all technology dependant on electricity on the planet, ranging from computers and electronics to car engines, jet engines, and batteries. People were forced to adapt to a world without technology. Due to the collapse of public order, many areas are ruled by warlords and militias. The series focuses on the Matheson family, who possess a special device (resembling a flash drive) that is the key to not only finding out what happened fifteen years ago, but also a possible way to reverse its effects. However, they must elude various enemy groups who want to possess that power for themselves.

I think that for a post apocalypse scenario they could have done a lot better than that. That sounds just silly. Anyway one critic panned it: NBC’s ‘Revolution’ Doesn’t Live Up to the Hype

Technology is the “it” being discussed in this vague statement that simultaneously establishes the show’s gratuitously theatrical tone and sets up the central conflict—lights, computers, cars, planes, iPhones (!), and all of the other essential, electronic thingamajigs that we take for granted, abruptly, stop functioning. The premise is provocative enough (albeit in an ordinary “What If?” game sort of way) but Revolution’s series opener is tepid—made up of recycled bits and pieces from other overblown post-apocalyptic dramas—and, at times, unintentionally hilarious.

Ron P.

Hi Ron,
You can watch the series' pilot online at the NBC website to catch up if you want.

That TV show has come up a couple of times in the past few months. Like here. I'd guess the book is better than the TV series.

The character's perfectly clean hair and clothing was maddening.

One redeeming feature of the first episode - crops growing in suburban front yards.

S.M. Stirling’s book “Dies the Fire” (2004) is far better thought out on what would happen if technology would stop working. Mass die offs from starvation, cannibalism, and a complete break-down of society are features of the book. The later books in the series get a little too much into mysticism, but I must confess they are a guilty pleasure (just finished the last of the series)


A better use of precious time might be to watch "Survivorman" via netflix ; )

I sorta watched the first episode. I don't intend to watch the second. I found it too hard to suspend my disbelief.

No engines work.

Really? No Engines?

Hrmmm. Back in the 1900's a gent named Rudolf Diesel made an engine that used compression to make fire.

http://listerengine.com/smf/ need no fancy electronics at all and will run off of veggie oil.

So where the Listers?

And if 'electricity' no longer 'works' - the world has bigger issues if the electromagnetic force is so broken that passing a wire through a magnetic field no longer works.

"Dies the Fire" postulated that all "high energy density" technology no longer worked. Including guns. They kept guns for the TV show, but really, it's all just Alien Space Bats.

I got to watch the first 8 minutes of it before my AT&T connection fizzed out, and the NBC ad-servers got so confused that they could not recover and stream the rest of the video.

I was not all that impressed. As an engineer, the science seemed so bad as to make me think I was watching some sort of TV Batman series. No science at all as I could see. I was at least expecting some sort of explanation down the lines of a supernova explosion in our galaxy emitting a huge EMP pulse that would last over several decades - anything conductive will intercept the EMP, rendering anything requiring controlled electronic flow inoperable. ( Even then I figure a good engineer would devise ways of getting industrial systems to run; even I know enough about three-phase power transmission I feel I could get a hydro plant and motor running even if I never saw another transistor ).

Right before my connection failed, there was the scene ten years after the incident where they are eating ice cream. Geez, a freezer had to run. And here they are with perfect garments? Where is the mill which made them? The transports that delivered them? Way too unbelievable. They still were using all sorts of manufactured goods. A car used as a planter? Come on, now! It would have been far more valuable stripped and used as a wagon.

I tried to restart the video, watch all the commercials again, only to have the connection, whose viability is disavowed by BusinessTalk lingo of "up to" language, fail to keep up, and have the NBC streamer lock up trying to make sure I get the ads. I'll wait till someone converts this to a MP4 that is a bit more robust to transfer in an environment where sustained communication speed is not so critical. If I never see another minute of it, no big deal.

For me, TV has gotten so frustrating to watch that I don't care that much anymore if my display screens have a tuner in them or not. I only have one TV remaining in the house, and I feel I am keeping that one only as a dropback in case of some disaster. As far as I am concerned, the ad-men have made TV watching such a futile experience that its not worth the time, nor the energy, to receive their transmissions. It wasn't until I read the parent post I was even aware of the new show, and my internet experience only rekindled my disgust with all-too-frequent ad breaks with mandatory repeated and highly boring ads.

The ice-cream was being eaten because the freezer was no longer running - the couple were having their kid eat it up and be sure to remember what ice cream tastes like. I'll keep watching until I get tired of it. I couldn't "get" the Lost series, but did like The Event. I also liked Kings, but that didn't last long.

They used to make ice cream before electric freezers. In winter, ice was cut from rivers and lakes and stored in ice houses to be sold in the summer. The "ice man" would take a huge block around in a horse-drawn cart every day and sell pieces to housewives to use in their "ice boxes."

Ice cream was made by putting the ingredients in a container inside a tub of ice, and hand-cranking it until it turned into ice cream. (Kids make useful labor for this.) Dolley Madison supposedly served ice cream at her husband's inaugural ball, long before freezers and electric ice cream makers.

Yes, it is perfectly feasible to make ice cream without refrigerators. All they needed was snow or ice, and they had hand-cranked ice-cream making devices to do it. Since companies used to store ice blocks in the winter and sell them in summer, they could make ice cream year-round.

I've made ice cream in high Alpine huts with no electricity but convenient glaciers for the ice. It's a great treat after you've spent a week out of reach of radio communication with civilization!

I watched an ad for it a while back and didn't think much of the style. Might check out that premiere episode but certainly won't follow it after that.

It's a J.J. Abrams production so will probably be melodrama "sci-fi" crap like 'Lost'. I only watched the first episode of that as well (in full anyway), and heard from many coworkers about the unanswered questions...

Just watched it. The ice cream eating was in a flashback to the day of the shutdown.
And yea, the clothes, nice shiny hair, makeup... guns work but they're reloading them musket style? Heh?
- Jon Favreau is another producer and directed that premiere ep.
As far as ads, I didn't see any, get AdBlock and maybe noscript (I'm in Firefox).

I'm quite a critic (and a games and film CGI guy), and have never liked JJAbrams stuff so I'm biased, but my review would be a complete pan. Annoyed the crap out of me. Lame drama. Horrible writing! Will not watch it again. - But I'll just stop now before I go off on it any more.

Too bad though, the very basic premise could have been interesting.

In case folks were still wondering how much influence the energy companies are having on US energy policy, consider this:

Post Live: Brought to you by Big Oil?

For reference here are links to the convention discussions at Tampa and at Charlotte. I haven't looked at the video (and don't intend to) but my guess is that Peak Oil is never discussed...

E. Swanson

This is a Democratic Party talking point, designed to dupe that party's own naive activists into thinking that party has some principles on the topic of energy and ecology. It does not.

Big Oil is hardly the problem. The problem is cars-first transportation, in which Big Oil is but one part. Until we discuss moving away from that reality, Big Oil is going nowhere.

The real story here is the usual one: how thoroughly whored-out both politics and journalism are in this market-totalitarian nation.

Although I am a Democrat and support Obama versus the horrible alternative, I am getting a bit tired hearing about how O saved the auto industry. I have mixed feelings to say the least and would like to see the auto industry replaced by the footwear industry, the bicycle industry , the light rail industry, the train industry, and whatever other industry or arrangement which would doom the auto industry to an early grave. Their convention made it clear that they aren't really going to get around to seriously addressing global heating any time soon. By all accounts, it is accelerating at some unknown, but probably scary rate.

" I am getting a bit tired hearing about how O saved the auto industry."

I hope you are not surprised. Since the auto worker's unions are big and consistent supporters of all things Democratic, that party will support autos to the bitter end, regardless of whatever particular bitter end that may be.

Labor unions are no longer politically relevant in America. If they were, what had happened in Wisconsin would never have happened at all. Neither party represents the interests of labor, organized or otherwise.

I say this as a proud dues-paying member of the Sheet Metal Workers' I.A. We're all just "consumers" here.

I wonder how the power of the international oil corporations is going to be affected by the Trans Pacific Pact? TPP is a transition to corporate rule. The terms of the contract are not to be released until four years after it is put into place... so it is hard to evaluate this question. Even the US congress can not get disclosure.

Both presidential candidates are in support of their and the pact's sponsors. I wanted to share a site that covers the TPP: http://www.citizen.org/tradewatch , available via tradewatch.org ... but the site is a great example of why the left fails: It is a collection of a thousand little boxes inside of other boxes having breathless little rants as preamble... a tedious treasure hunt... perhaps the worst attempt at the communication of an idea to a general audience that I have ever seen.

Googling TPP will yield something, but not much.

Link up top: Has vehicle efficiency really curbed U.S. oil demand?

Looking at this chart they appear to be talking about the EIA's Crude Oil, NGPL, and Other Liquids which was just a tad over 9 mb/d in 2011. They have them doubling by 2020 to 18 mb/d. I don't believe it. But the chart shows the US being self sufficient in petroleum by 2020. I don't believe that either.

The big thing is C+C, the stuff we make gasoline and diesel from. I don't know where that will be in 2020. A little higher than today but not a lot. And if our economy is still intact in 2020 we will still be importing a whole lot of it.

Ron P.

Their production estimates are wildly overoptimistic. They are looking at a minor uptick in the last few years and extrapolating it far into the future. Look at the BIG picture:

And then look at what they are extrapolating into an exponential growth curve.

The fundamental difficulty is that the US is a mature producing area which has been thoroughly explored. There have been millions of wells drilled and all the big oil fields found. The reason for the increase in production is that some of the very expensive deposits which were uneconomic in the past are now economic to develop at current prices. These deposits, which geologists have known about for generations, will soon be fully developed, and the US will be back on the decline curve again. Like rust, oil field depletion never sleeps.

The demand curve is realistic, though, because Americans can get by on a lot less oil than they do now if they have to. Other developed countries manage to get by on far less. If the price goes sufficiently high, Americans will really have to reduce their consumption whether they like to or not because they won't be able to afford to drive.

Americans will really have to reduce their consumption whether they like to or not because they won't be able to afford to drive.

Good point. I was just thinking that it will be extremely difficult for average Americans to stop driving. We have spent the last 100 years building out a massive amount of infrastructure that is expressly designed for the exclusive use of people in cars. This has had the perverse effect of making a majority of the population completely dependent on their cars for every aspect of their lives.

Given that reality then what is the most likely response to higher gas prices and the necessity of using a lot less of the stuff? Consider the following chart:

I would argue that given the current state of affairs most if not all of the people currently driving cars do not have the option of using mass transit. Some may relocate to denser urban environments that are well served by transit, but I think the majority will look for an alternative, so we can remove buses, trains, helicopters, etc.

Some may have the economic means to buy a hybrid or electric, but I would also argue that the majority will not run out and put big bucks down on a prius or tesla. They will be looking to save money, a lot of money, so any realistic alternative needs to be very economical to purchase.

This leaves bicycles, scooters, and motorcycles, all of which are radical departures from the comfort and convenience of a car, especially for highway driving. Notice the gap between these alternatives and driving a car:

A potentially huge market for small, slow and cheap vehicles that are two, three, or four times as efficient as an average American car. Maybe something like this:

Highway speed limits would need to be reduced to accommodate such vehicles, but if a segment of the passenger vehicle fleet moves in this direction it could have a big impact on oil consumption.


I kinda like the Trimuter:

I don't understand the 150 miles per gallon for motorcycles.
That is nowhere near average for standard street bikes, touring bikes, and cruisers.
The average is probably close to 35 mpg, with several models up in the 50-60 mph range.

Motorcycle mileage varies greatly depending on the size of the engine.

A Honda Metropolitan 49cc, claims 117mpg.

Their 1312cc cruiser claims 46mpg.

The Goldwing, 1832cc, claims 35.

Yamaha Zuma 132mpg.

My '98 Triumph 885cc T509 Speed Triple (bought new) gets about 30-35mpg. Not real good, true, but it's just my fun "Cafe Racer" - I ride the bike only for the thrill - it will accelerate to 100mph faster than you can say jumping-jiminey-cricket-that-was-fast. Most of the time it just sits in the garage, like the Red Barchetta in Rush's famous song of the same name.

A note on the Speed Triple - it's a Daytona race-bike with the fairing removed, a slightly longer wheelbase, and a Lotus engineered head designed to serve torque on par with a Harley. It is otherwise a true Superbike, a high-end crotch-rocket in disguise. That's important, as the Speed Triple is insurable (comprehensive) as a Street bike instead of a Race bike - or $150 per YEAR instead of $150 per MONTH as is common with the fairing-equipped "race" bikes. You know those kids ripping around on their crotch-rockets probably bought their bike outright to avoid having to pay for for comprehensive insurance; either that or they're paying for two bikes and getting one! It's a fact I love. (Many states do not require motorcyclist to even carry insurance)

For those of you who ride motorcycles, I recommend upping your uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage. It brings my insurance up quite a bit to about $300 per year - but believe me you want to be taken care of when something goes wrong.

"I don't understand the 150 miles per gallon for motorcycles."

Nor do I. My 750 gets 51 mpg. If I carried a passenger it would be 102 passenger miles per gallon. But if I put 4 people in my aveo it would be 128 passenger miles per gallon.

And presumably, if you carried a passenger, your bike would get less than 51 mpg...

Looking at the Prius bar at 80 passenger miles per gallon and knowing that my Prius gets about 45 to 50 mpg, it is obvious they are taking into consideration that the Prius is driven with a passenger. I carpool and my wife and I go out together occasionally. There are very few times when I am driving solo but it is for short errand runs. Therefore, I think the 80 passenger mile per gallon is realistic.

But, since when does a bicycle use fossil fuel? Tires?? For its 650 passenger mile per "gallon" bar, what constitutes "the fuel" in their gallon? If a human burns the equivalent of 100 Watts, how would that translate into 650 miles per gallon since bikes are essentially solo machines? If a bike travels at 10 miles per hour, that's 65 hours of riding or 6500 watt_hours or 6.5 kwhr. For an electric vehicle, this using of 6.5 kwhr is equivalent to burning a gallon of gasoline to go 26 miles. This would might that the fuel is food. Does that analogy make sense?

I thought maybe that was referring to motorized bicycles (66 or 80 cc engines), but I see claims of 150 to 175 MPG for those, and one report that mileage is actually less than 120 MPG.

Mileage also depends on amount of traffic (to dodge), condition of the road, engine power (Honda cruiser gets better mileage than Ducati Superbike). It also depends on the driver. A hot-rodder will burn a 5 gallon tank of fuel in an hour, the same tank of fuel will last ten hours for a slow, careful driver.

People will improvise. When fuel is rationed or unavailable, people will double-triple-quadruple up, unconventional living arrangements will emerge, then congeal. After all, shortages will be permanent, so will adjustments.

Half a super-highway will become a tram route, the other half will have houses built upon it.

I was just thinking that it will be extremely difficult for average Americans to stop driving.

About a third of driving is for commuting, some of which can be reduced by carpooling or taking public transit.

About a third of driving is for personal business, medical, necessary shopping, etc. This may be reduced some by taking less frequent trips.

About a third is discretionary, such as kids driving to school instead of taking the bus or walking, recreational shopping, visiting friends and relatives, attending religious services and sporting events, going to yoga class/ballet lessons/soccer practice/the gym, etc. Most of this can be eliminated.

"About a third of driving is for commuting, "

Your mileage clearly differs from mine, as about 3/4 of my driving is commuting. I do include the occasional errand while on the way home in that total. Work ends at 4, so I have time for an errand or two before the sidewalks roll up.

Commuting mileage is about 12,000 miles per year out of a total of about 16,000. Exact mileage driven is uncertain, as the odometer/speedometer in the truck has been broken for years.

See for example SUMMARY OF TRAVEL TRENDS - 2009 National Household Travel Survey from the Federal Highway Administration.

Tables 5 and 6 break down passenger miles traveled and vehicle miles traveled by purpose.

There is a huge amount of non-essential travel being done.

Jerry you are right. Especially as EVs really only work out well at below half a ton. Its all about wieght with battery power. Electric scooters are already an available and mature technology. However most urban form is currently not suitable for bike and either EV or ICE two wheelers. This will change. In fact there will be a combination of an expansion of transit systems, a reorientation of the suburbs into becoming local centres connected by transit to the larger centres, and a slowing of roads back to being streets. It will take a generation but it will happen. Just as the postwar suburbanisation of our cities took decades to occur.

We will take our light vehicles to transit hubs and local centres, work more locally and with the Internet. We are entering a new age with a great deal to look forward to:

-Electricity will be the dominant energy source that we experience directly, however it is generated
-Streets will come back to life, the local will be reborn, disorders of isolation and inactivity will reduce.
-Sea and rail freight and even canal barges will revive further. Air travel will go back to being a little more exclusive as it was before the age of the ten buck barrel. All modes will focus on efficiency.

So we can conclude that places that get ahead of this curve and invest in urban transit and provide for and encourage two wheelers as well as adjust their planning regulations away from the primacy of the car (No minimum parking requirements for example) will succeed better than others.

Places that keep trying to live in the 20th century will, probably quite suddenly, find themselves lagging behind.
That Texas higher speed limit will go....


Remember the only constant is change... This will happen even as the powers that be fight it. And transition is always messy and fitful. But we know from history that there will be winners and losers. Where will this decade's Detroit be? Will the sunbelt's sprawly cities struggle, contract, or reinvent themselves? Will we see be big migrations, or gradual transformations... I'm excited, I'm loving watching it even if at times it feel too slow,because it is happening.....

Nothing too lose, except a pretty poor lifestyle really.

Nothing too lose, except a pretty poor lifestyle really

Maybe you are right, we can hope so. Personally I am more of the opinion that the converging economic, ecological and energy crises will result in the impoverishment of a great many currently well off people in wealthy industrialized countries.

I look to the slums of the so-called third world for a look at our likely near future. They use a lot less stuff than we do, especially energy, and they drive a lot fewer cars.


That is a possibility but why not also look at the cities of Japan and Europe where energy use is way lower than the North American average and the culture is closer....? And in many cases the quality of life is better, unless, of course, you consider living in a place which supports no other option than driving a truck to the air conditioned mall as 'non-negotiable'.

Both kinds of direction are likely in my view, and already evident. And this is what I mean by winners and losers. Remember the last big change was a total disaster for some urban areas and this one will be the same for some disconnected autodependant suburbs and ex-urbs.

Will parts of Phoenix return to desert? probably.

In my view the end of cheap oil will led to better quality of life for most in the west, especially as the evidence increasingly suggests that this plateau will stretch into the next decade giving us more time to adjust. Humans are highly adaptable once we give up on denial.

But of course that does make Climate Change really the one to worry about...... If I am no doomer about peak oil it is much harder not to be about AGW....

We need not just end to cheap oil but end to cheap fossil fuel energy in general. Speaking personally, I have seriously ramped up my non fossil fueled transportation and I am healthier than ever as I approach 66 years old. My fossil fueled transportation usage will go down even further as I am moving next month to a pedestrian/bicycling friendly location.

Good on you tstreet; be the change you want to see. But also this is transition; individuals taking rational action for their own benefit multiplied by enough people equals a significant change.

Not sure where the number for the bicycle comes from. 650 miles per gallon works out to 50 watt-hours per mile, around 500 watts at 10 mph. Since the bicycle transportation energy needed is more like 10 watt-hours per mile this is consistent with a reasonable human muscle efficiency of 20%, but seems to assume the bicyclist is consuming straight gasoline.

The USA ratio of fossil fuel calorie input to food calorie output is more like 10:1, so I'd argue 65 miles per gallon for the pedalist. Hence, the electric bicycle can do much better, ~1500 mpg with efficient hub motors and battery storage. Divide that by three if the electricity comes from (or displaces) fossil fuel production.

It may be however only a little better after a lifecycle analysis:


Agree with question. Can Jerry or someone provide link or justification for 650 MPG for biking and 235 MPG for walking. Is this based on some kind of food energy content converted to gallons of gas equivalent? If so, I think we need to be very cautions about such "apples & oranges" comparisons.

No. Ignoring the most blatant absurdities in the paper you cited, such as this one: "However the electric motor, controller, and charger, are all maintenance-free with an indefinite life-span, so beyond their initial manufacture there is little associated environmental cost," the logic here furthermore discounts the actual calorie consumption by the person riding the electric bicycle- which does NOT go down just because they are sedentary. Calorie use may, but calorie consumption does not. It is a fallacy to believe that riding a bicycle implies increased food consumption over that of the sedentary motor vehicle passenger. It is just not the case in the real world.

It is also a mistake to ignore the increased medical expense borne by a society incapable of fathoming even moderate muscle activity for basic locomotion- i.e., actually using the calories it consumes.

Furthermore, from the paper you cited: "The conclusion [that electric bicycles are more efficient] is largely due to the considerable amount of transportation and processing energy that is associated with our western food system." In other words, the reasoning for the promotion of the electric bicycle over the human-powered bicycle would- if it were valid- address a symptom of a problem, not the problem itself.

I agree with the critique, while I really hope we don't go too far pitting Bikes and Ebikes against oneanother, as two of the most useful ways to invest energy and technology in moving people. (..and neither of which would of course preclude a healthy investment in Electric Mass Transit tools as well.)

There's another couple problems with weighing the food values of energy consumed, since it's entirely possible to live on a diet of foods that are entirely or massively disconnected from the industrial food system, or as much the very opposite of that, and finally, that some level of our food calories is not fair to charge onto transportation, but is simply part of the essentials of being alive in the first place.

It is possible to get too wide a boundary in some of these metrics..

"However the electric motor, controller, and charger, are all maintenance-free with an indefinite life-span, so beyond their initial manufacture there is little associated environmental cost,"

Does it have electrolytic caps? If so - it has a lifespan.

The hybrid car of the future, circa 1979: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgLmwuizf2U


Consider the following chart:

Thanks. What's the source data there? Are those US figures? I ask as the US DoT suggests a transit bus does ~20% worse than the typically loaded car, measured by BTUs used per passenger mile.
http://www.honolulutraffic.com/Pages14-18_Ed_30_Ch_2.pdf Table 2.12, pg2-14
supposedly because US bus service is heavy on routes w/ low ridership, the empty returns to the bus barn, the many stops, etc.

RMG, US crude production was 6.2 mbpd in June and crude is now only 56% of US all liquids production: 1.2 mbpd other liquids (e.g. ethanol), 1.1 mbpd refinery gains, 2.3 mbpd NGL. Handicap the non-crude sources a bit w/ a lower BTU per volume if you like, but the increase is still significant.

I don't believe it either. If US oil production by any definition reaches 15mbd by 2020 I will eat my hat... and my shoes, socks, pants, shirts... And if it doesn't... well, then I may have to eat my hat and shoes just to survive. (Don't know how much nutrition might be in my socks, pants and shirts).

And while it's a rare thing, I agree completely with what RMG says in response as well.

Leaving aside the supply fantasy, Chris Nelder got a bit bogged down in the detail when looking at demand. A back-of-the-envelope estimate might go like this:

* Population is increasing at 1% per year.

* Fuel demand has an income elasticity of about 60%. If wages go up 10%, fuel use will go up 6% from its current figure. But the median real wage is declining. So we should expect per capita fuel use to decline, too.

* Miles traveled per vehicle per year (VMT) is decreasing at a bit over 1% per year. VMT peaked in 2004, well before the GFC and recession, so it's likely that the decline will continue even when/if the US economy recovers (provided that wages don't rise faster than inflation).

* High fuel prices starting in 2006/7 accelerated the decline in VMT. If the price stays high, then taking into account population growth, we can expect a net decline of 1% per year from direct income/price effects and from demographic and behavioral changes.

* Efficiency: New vehicle tested fuel consumption is declining by about 2.3% per year. If this is maintained steadily then the the on-road fleet's consumption will soon be declining at the same rate.

Putting that together, after 8 years of high prices gasoline consumption will be 0.99^8 * 0.977^8 = approx. 75% of todays' consumption.

So far the decline in consumption has been mainly due to the recession, but if prices stay high, then efficiency will have an effect.

If there is a significant shift to other fuels, say electric bikes, then the figure could go lower.

In the unlikely events that the oil price slumps without there being a massive recession, or that the median wage rises faster than gasoline prices, consumption could be higher.

Conclusion: gasoline consumption should fall 25% by 2020, unless a miracle happens.

Falling wages (relative to fuel costs) should get most of the credit - they are what is driving both efficiency gains and falling miles travelled. I.e., demand is the whole story, not just a part of it.

But don't expect to see that in the media. It will be a story of America's technological prowess.

VMT peaked in 2004

Looks like 2007 just prior to the recession to me.

Looking at this chart they appear to be talking about the EIA's Crude Oil, NGPL, and Other Liquids which was just a tad over 9 mb/d in 2011.

And is at 10.9 mbpd as of June., or slightly ahead the pace of Raymond James' chart.

Crews extinguish fire at Venezuela's El Palito refinery

Firefighters extinguished a blaze in a fuel storage tank at Venezuela's El Palito refinery, state oil company PDVSA said on Saturday.

The fire was started by a lightning bolt during a storm Wednesday night, but the 146,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) El Palito facility continued operating. Two tanks were initially set alight, but the fire in one was put out within hours. In a statement, PDVSA said the blaze in the second storage tank was completely extinguished late on Friday.

on Friday afternoon at about 2:00 the bus I was on drove by there... moderate sized clouds of black smoke were blowing out to sea. a quick question for those who know about refineries...aren't the storage tanks usually lightening proof?

Wall Street Journal today has a piece on water demand in the power industry (see also "Power plants are big energy hogs: Report" above): Power Plants Aim to Curb Their Thirst

The drought that parched more than 30 states this summer is forcing the power industry to rethink its heavy use of water and adopt technology to use less of it.

It may come up behind a paywall, but you can google the headline.

Just an observation from the upper Midwest. While on a bike ride with the kids yesterday, I was passed by a pizza delivery driver (a younger girl) in a Ford Expedition...If I remember correctly, a truck like that might get 10mpg in the city...and this person is delivering pizzas using this pig of a truck. Gasoline stands at $3.92/gallon locally. I could see if this person was hauling 5 cords of fire wood and 8 people...but 1 person and a greasy pizza? How it even makes economical sense is beyond me...

She's probably a kid driving daddy's car.

yep... her parents probably bought her the car and pay for the gas, but have her work a nominal "job" for an illusion of independence & responsibility.

All in all, pretty analogous to the entire USA economy. Delivering pizza's to one another in SUV's, works great... for awhile...

Could be, but I'd guess she's just borrowing the family car.

That's how it was when I was a teen. Drove my dad's car (my mom's was the "nice" car, and usually off-limits to me). My parents paid for gas, insurance, etc. I confess, I did not even learn how to operate a gas pump until I graduated from college (since I lived car-free as a student).

Near as I can tell, this is still pretty common. Sure, there are parents who buy their kids cars, but even then, it's usually something smaller and/or sportier than an Expedition.

We bought our own cars and insurance when we were finally able, things like VWs and little Datsuns (that dates me). Until then, borrowed mom and dad's (rarely), begged rides, walked, or used mass transit.

"her parents probably bought her the car and pay for the gas, but have her work a nominal "job" for an illusion of independence & responsibility."

Letting the kid work a job even if it's a net money loser is still part of the educational process. If she can hold on to this one then she can probably keep a better one in the future that has a positive cash flow. And it would be a good investment unless you want the kid to move back home (or never leave) after school.

And it's probably the parent's car. Especially if it's a giant SUV; they let her drive the big one to be 'safe'. Yes, I know; you can insert all the eye-rolling you want and I won't argue.

I agree with the parenting strategy of having a kid get a job. I can also understand the "safety" argument of having her in a 3-ton vehicle.

I have seen a lot of kids getting gifted with used SUV's in the last decade, but perhaps the people I interact with aren't typical. The first car a kid buys for his/herself is often fairly cheap to run, while parents like the idea of a giant steel box around their child.

None of the logic is bad, it just exists in a bizarre paradigm in which gasoline is as cheap as bottled water and consequences fall on others in the future. So we make all sorts of little logical optimizing decisions, and the net effect is that the earth is rendered unable to support humans in a future which is unreal to our senses.

Most "jobs", even those of "adults", serve little actual purpose aside from channeling fossil-fueled wealth. Evolution works with what exists, so it took the cultural tradition of jobs and trades and made that into a distribution mechanism, the same way a lobe-finned fish's pectoral fin could develop into a stump for pulling it across the mud.

My dad worked hard all his life to raise his kids and keep a roof over their heads. He was in advertising. His job gave him bleeding ulcers. Yet he was the first to note that it was an insane function for a society to tolerate, much less reward. Rather than creating something of value, a "job" has become more about putting in the required amount of deprivation/discomfort to deserve pay. (Is there anything about the human condition which isn't illuminated by capuchin monkeys competing for cucumber slices and grapes?)

I guess my indirect point was that the "job" is just incongruous as the method it's being done. A society which delivers single pizzas to itself with SUV's while the planet burns, and values "job creation" in a logical vacuum.

"So we make all sorts of little logical optimizing decisions, and the net effect is that the earth is rendered unable to support humans in a future which is unreal to our senses. "

The story of humanity in a nutshell.

Very good post.

When I was a kid I read Bertrand Russell's In Praise of Idleness. Of course he could not live up to his ideals or his commonsense (neither could I). But it left me with a "Greenish" conclusion about the fuel/techno base for our buzybusiness (and with something of Nate Hagen's take on ambition and the "mine is bigger than yours" syndrome). Could never take successful guys or institutions too seriously after that. Most of the important people I have met didn't either. I have great respect though for the hard labor of women with family and my ancestors coping with the sweat of Adam. Some of the maths guys seem terrific as well, but I guess they could not help it.

Logically optimizing if one assumes that one's personal behavior has no significance with respect to the future of those who might be in the unfortunate position of inhabiting the planet in the future. Evolution appears to be approaching a dead end based upon our so called logical optimization. We are apparently not wired to ensure long term survival but on the other hand, a minority of us appears to be wire differently. If we could figure out why then maybe we could make some head way in ensuring a semi decent future. But we do what we "must" which isn't necessarily the same thing as what we should.

Said it before but will say it again. There are some definite advantages to have arrived at the age of a senior citizen.

A big part of it is education.We are apparently not wired to ensure long term survival but on the other hand, a minority of us appears to be wire differently. If we could figure out why then maybe we could make some head way in ensuring a semi decent future.

A big part of it is simply education/attitude. We need to teach critical thinking. But the forces of irrationality are producing pushback, they fear that critical thinking is a scheme to program against the world they would favor (especially religion). So it looks like implementing a change via education isn't going to be easy to accomplish.

Unfortunately cultures are as prone to evolutionary forces as individuals and species. There are plenty of cultures that have evolved to be to a greater or lesser extent in balance within an environmental niche on this planet, the most obvious and longest lived being the African hunter gatherers, who actively suppress accumulation of wealth by requiring successful hunters to share their larger kills with the tribe. This has morphed into the 'Big Man' culture in Africa today, which unfortunately is anything but sustainable.

Bhuddist cultures are generally more in balance with their resource base, but even Bhuddism went though a militarist phase a thousand years ago, and some of the most brutal military regimes in Asia control passive Bhuddist populations - showing that only extreme violence can suppress the truly peaceful!

Cultures are populated by individuals, and individuals will always develop a spectrum of personality traits. The more passive a culture (eg. Jains) the more agressively a dynamic subset of it's population will strive to break free from the culture of resource constraint.

Rather than creating something of value, a "job" has become more about putting in the required amount of deprivation/discomfort to deserve pay.

(Disclaimer: just because I think this is the way things are doesn't mean I approve or think it's a good use of resources.)

I had a discussion on the streetcar yesterday with a 22 year old immigrant from Malawi. He was going back, he said, because he thought he was overtaxed and that houses in Toronto cost too much. In Malawi, he said. he could buy land for a house for $300, and the materials for the house for another $300 (I didn't go into the issues of living in a corrugated metal shed without air conditioning.) "What am I paying for? What do I get for my money?"

I told him I had an answer for that.

"My dad is 86.
My father-in-law is 92.
My mom is 87.
My mother-in-law is 86.
How many people in Malawi are that old?"


"That's what you get for your money. You live 30 years longer."

He then went off on a tangent about people dying from Legionaire's disease in Vancouver. I didn't feel the need to go farther with my points.

I think we forget sometimes that the main reason we put up with the inconveniences of civilization is because it's given us (well, me and RMG and RickS and Paulo and the other Canadians here) universal healthcare and freedom from a huge number of diseases (you USAmericans only get freedom from disease, at least until Obamacare is fully implemented.) We frequently die because we wear out, not because the microbes get us, or the militias get us, or our mothers can't afford to feed us, or someone meaning to knock us unconscious with a club unwittingly kills us instead (a common death by misadventure in primitive societies.)

Now, the fact that we live so long and use so many resources in the process is the reason we have global warming and are running out of fossil fuels. I think we forget just how big a carrot those extra 30 years are, however. I'm 54, and I have bad eyesight and poor co-ordination. If I had been born Malawian, the odds are that I would have died 20 years ago, probably after spending the last 10 years of my life with Malaria.

It kind of puts the rat race into perspective. Both my dad and my father-in-law are Engineers; most of my career, however, has been in or around advertising, so I'm more sympathetic to your father than most. They are all part of the system, and even if we don't share equally with the elites, what we receive is of considerable value.

When we ask people to use less, we are, at root, asking them to institute some combination of living shorter lives and having fewer children. Even those who are willing to forgo kids aren't big on the dying sooner part.

It is a zero-sum game. We are all (at least those of us under 70) probably going to end up living shorter lives anyway. But how much shorter? I think people will shoot each other to live an extra year or two. I don't think we'll ever reach a political solution.


He then went off on a tangent about people dying from Legionaire's disease in Vancouver.

I just got through rereading the Science of Fear. The availability (to our brain) of imagining the bad consequence (as well of how horrific the consequence feels to us), is what matters for the perception of danger. Probability never enters the picture, except when scientists and engineers are in analysis mode. He probably picked that up by watching TV.

Even such seemingly useless occupations such as advertising (or HR), or accounting are actually essential cogs in the machinery of civilization as currently constituted. Assuming your industry builds widgets -(lets say yours happen to be the best). Your enterprise would fail if no one bought them. And to buy them they must know they exist, and think they would be a good fit for their needs. Without the bean counter, the corp might run off the rails, as the employees and projects get hopelessly sidetracked from contributing to the primary mission and building widgets.

I used to see things in sort of sci-fi terms, we are advancing our civilization towards some sort of grand future status -presumably as a spacefaring race (doesn't seem very likely now does it), and our lives to more or less degree, enhance or reduce the odds of getting there. I guess those seriously are into religion, would think it is all about making god happy with us humans. Some may think they are creating a great cultural legacy of for instance music, or literature, or science. But how many people a thousand years from now will know about or care about what we did?

But also he can probably earn that $600 relatively easily in Toronto driving you around that will give him the relative wealth to jump ahead of others on the property ladder in Malawi, but then he will have to be earning in the local economy.... unless he does regular stints back in a more expensive economy and is able to save when there. Or is the $600 home enough of a wedge to give him an advantage to stay there?

"Or is the $600 home enough of a wedge to give him an advantage to stay there?"

Good question. That whole micro-loan notion proved a small bit of capital can leverage up a lot in a third-world situation.

Let's say the average delivery is 5 miles from the restaurant. (I tried briefly to find numbers but came up empty, so I'm making them up.) It's probably actually less than that. Let's assume the average driver delivers 5 pizzas on a run. That makes ten miles out and back, and I'm going to just say another ten miles between delivery points (seems reasonable and keeps the math easy) So our driver is going 20 miles (typical delivery runs are probably less than this). That's two gallons in your pretty much worst case vehicle - just under $8. Wiki "suggests $1–2 for short distances, $2–3 for longer distances, and $5 or more for large orders". Let's assume an average $3 tip. So that's $15 bucks for a trip that takes probably an hour...? Less gas plus whatever the restaurant pays. I don't know how that works, but unless they're working for tips only, even with such a horribly inefficient vehicle the gig pays better than min. wage. Such is the huge energy slave subsidy we all receive unknowingly each day...

Oh, and daddyLL, you make the mistake of assuming that 'economic sense' is not an oxymoron...
Just kidding (well, not really). As Kunstler says, we'll keep doing what we're doing until we can't and then we won't.

Good job clifman, its absurd how cheap gasoline still is for the amount of work you get out of it.

Thing is her parents probably wouldn't allow her to drive a more reasonably sized vehicle. A lot of vehicle guides say teenagers should only be allowed to drive SUVs, greater mass = greater safety, etc. It actually makes sense in a perverse way, but only so long as fuel is cheap.

Safer for the teenager, more dangerous for the other drivers.

Other drivers are of a secondary concern to most parents. The other guy could buy a larger car too.

Tragedy of the Commons redux.

It's not even safer for the teenager.

Slow-Moving Vehicle (book review)

This basic truth — feeling safe kills — lies beneath many of the book’s insights. ...For similar reasons, S.U.V.’s are more dangerous than cars. Not just because they’re slower to stop and harder to maneuver, but because — by conferring a sense of safety — they invite careless behavior. “The safer cars get,” Vanderbilt says, “the more risks drivers choose to take.” (S.U.V. drivers are more likely to not bother with their seat belts, to talk on cellphones, and to not wear seat belts while talking on cellphones.)

Vanderbilt hammers this theme over and over in his book. The things we think make roads or driving safer, actually lull us into a false sense of security and lead to more and more serious accidents. I highly recommend it to anyone who is curious about the psychology of driving.

Replace driver air-bag with Claymore Mine, watch driver induced accidents plummet.


"Replace driver air-bag with Claymore Mine, watch driver induced accidents plummet."

We did that. The first generation of airbags killed 284 people due to their excessive power.


And that is official government statistics. Since the government ordered them installed, and ordered the power of the propellant charge they used, the incentive of the government to downplay the magnitude of their screwup is obvious.

I'll bet they saved more lives then the cost. Realistic simulation of air bags -especially of the unfolding process, has been slow in coming, so its not a surprise that early bags were not so great.

Also, insert end of tailpipe inside vehicle. Would result in a serious cutback in fossil fueled vehicle usage.

The efforts to make vehicles safer, have however paid off. The safety gains are decreased significantly by those overconfidence factors, but they aren't completely negated, as fatalities/injuries per vehicle mile have been dropping.

Sadly, the victims of those who are driving "safer" vehicles are those who are trying to be responsible by driving smaller, more efficient vehicles. Sadly, there are so few who sacrifice for the greater good that the greater good will not arrive.

This explains why I survived my 20's.

My '69 Volkswagon transporter had brakes that were more a polite request than a command. It handled like a lake freighter, but without all that neck-straining acceleration.

There was no feeling safe when you had one toaster's thickness of metal between you and oncoming traffic.

Yes, the old VW transporters did lack essential safety features. In addition to the fact that there was only a thin sheet of tinfoil between you and oncoming traffic, the aerodynamics and rearward weight balance of the thing meant it automatically changed lanes in wind gusts whether you wanted to or not. The main compensating features were that it couldn't go fast enough to get in serious trouble, and everybody behind knew that honking would have no effect on your speed.

My wife's VW EuroVan camper with transverse front-wheel drive is much better in terms of stability ad collision protection, and the weird 5-cylinder engine is a small step up in terms of power. She does get unhappy on steep hills, but I just tell her to get in line behind the big trucks and put on the four-way flashers like they do. Other drivers know the VW van is not going to pass the trucks, and honking will have no effect, so they just have to deal with it.

Modern mini-vans are among the safest vehicles on the roads due to the transverse engines, front-wheel drive, low center of gravity, and notable lack of speed. They seldom roll over like SUVs do.

There was a book (2004, IIRC) "High and Mighty" that was written about SUVs. I heard the author speaking on a radio program, and I still recall what he said. He spoke of the top-heaviness, the false sense of safety (encouraging drivers to speed), the high proportion of head injuries in accidents ... the list goes on. What was especially sobering, was that back then only the (statistically) safest drivers were driving SUVs. The author was concerned about the future when 3rd/4th hand SUVs were in the hands of the worst drivers: teens and habitual drunk drivers. I guess we'll see if he was right.

There might be something missing in your calculations.
Fuel isn't the only vehicle expense. Maintenance, vehicle depreciation, and insurance all add up. When I hire a contractor, vehicle mileage expenses are part of the cost.
Depending on how shiny and new that SUV may be, operations costs might be 50 cents a mile plus gas.
So $15 tips - $8 gas - $10 running costs = -$3.00/hour
That job may indeed pay less than minimum wage.
Mom and Dad must be footing the bills for the ride or she would be driving a rusted out hatchback.

I once dared a friend to push his car for 1 mile. Of course he only managed a hundrerd feet or so before giving up. Then I asked him if gas was cheap. I think some wheels turned in his brain. And we no longer stay in touch.

I'm sure you made your point. Could've asked him to push his car at 30 or 40mph and saved him the trouble of even trying- but this would likely not have been as memorable.

An expedition will hold about 1 cord in its 130 cubic foot cargo space with the 3rd row folded flat and the second row removed. But that only leaves one passenger seat. 1 cord = 128 cubic feet.


Great capture today ... I mean a very interesting list of links!

The following article appeared in last week's Portland Press Herald but for those who may have missed it...

Mainers gain on oil-free objective
Efforts to weatherize homes and switch to other fuels loosen oil's historic grip faster than expected.

The total amount of heating oil burned in Maine households was cut by more than half from 2004 to 2010, to about 189 million gallons.

In fact, oil consumption in Maine homes has declined to levels not seen since at least 1984, federal figures show.


It also reflects broader efforts in Maine business and industry to reduce oil use. Overall, Maine burned 838 million gallons of oil in 2003, apparently an all-time high. In 2010, consumption was down to 501 million gallons, on par with the amount burned in 1991, according to figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration that were analyzed by the Portland Press Herald.

See: http://www.pressherald.com/news/mainers-gain-on-oil-free-objective-_2012...

Good work, Maine !


I've been warning people in the US North East to cut their heating oil consumption and switch to other energy sources for quite a few years since they are fully exposed to world oil prices, and oil heating was going to become prohibitively expensive for them. Now we are seeing a major decline in heating oil consumption. Better late than never.

Heating oil is probably going to become even more expensive for them in future, so those people still using it should switch ASAP, too.

Backstory re: Iranian MP: Explosion occures at Fordo uranium enrichment center in DB ...

Press TV's Interview with US Spies

On May 21st, 2011, Iran broke up a spy network, it says, was linked to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Iranian Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi says 30 people have been arrested inside Iran on espionage charges while another 42 CIA operatives linked to the spy ring have been identified in various countries.

... In an article in The New Yorker in 2008, journalist Seymour Hersh said the Bush administration launched a "significant escalation" of covert operations in Iran, sending US commandos to spy on the country's nuclear facilities and undermine the Islamic republic's government.

But apparently that's not all the US has been up to. Tehran says the now dismantled network also spied on Iran's telecommunication grids, airports and banks among other places. Iran believes the spy ring was planning to use any collected information for future sabotage operations. And according to Tehran University Professsor Foad Izadi, these operations are aimed at the country's infrastructure.

... guess they didn't get them all

... In 2006, the then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, went to Congress and asked for funding to basically overthrew the Iranian government. It was the sort of public funding, we are not sure about the undisclosed amounts, which was 75 million dollars. And 3 million out of this 75 million dollars was aimed at recruiting Iranian students who are basically going abroad for study.

Iran's intelligence ministry says these spies intended to stage sabotage operations in nuclear and communication facilities, air and defense installations, oil and gas networks as well as civilian targets such as banks and airports.

One of the fields which the CIA has heavily invested on is infiltrating Iran's oil and gas sector. This senior government expert was one of the people who was contacted for access to detailed information on Iran's most important source of foreign income.

also http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2064286/CIA-spies-captured-Iran-...

Hydrogen fuel cell for phone charging set for 2013

(Phys.org)—A three-way collaboration between Japan-based Rohm, Aquafairy, and Kyoto University has resulted in the development of a smartphone-charging fuel cell—a compact, high output, portable hydrogen powered fuel cell that can generate electricity by producing hydrogen. This is achieved through a chemical reaction between calcium hydride sheets and water.

The fuel cell can generate five watt hours of electricity, to charge an average smartphone within two hours. The fuel cell will be promoted for a variety of uses, from charging a smartphone to serving as a 200-watt portable generator delivering backup power.

If the sheets are laminated and sealed, they last for twenty years, claimed a spokesman. Lithium ion batteries lose their charging ability in four to five years.

Global protests planned over gas drilling process

More than 100 protests against the natural gas drilling process known as fracking are scheduled to take place around the world on Saturday, building on public concerns but also using an overly simplified message to spur outrage.

Climate change severely impacting food prices – ‘The U.S. is taking a wrecking ball to the climate convention’

... “The United States government is opposed to a top-down structure under the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period,” said Meena Raman, legal adviser to the TWN. “The US wants a voluntary pledging system to cut emissions that is not based on science nor based on equity.”

She added: “The United States and its allies want the UN to ‘be silent’ on issues where they haven’t yet reached agreement. To be clear that means they want the UN to be silent on solving climate change. The US is taking a wrecking ball to the climate convention and any hope of stopping run away climate catastrophe.”

... The same day the meetings in Thailand ended, Oxfam issued a report titled Extreme Weather, Extreme Prices [0.2M pdf],[... definitely read pg 6], managed by German economist Dirk Willenbockel (Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK). The study forecasts that “food price spikes will get worse as extreme weather caused by climate change devastates food production.” By using a global dynamic multi-region computable general equilibrium model of the world economy, the paper goes beyond the gradual impact of climate change patterns and shows “how extreme weather events in a single year could bring about price spikes of comparable magnitude to two decades of long-run price rises,” and “signals the urgent need for a full stress-testing of the global food system in a warming world.”

also Extreme Weather Events and Crop Price Spikes in a Changing Climate (0.5M pdf)

This is one reason (among many) why Greer's 'Long Collapse' thesis will not come to pass.

And this doesn't help ... CFTC: Citi to pay penalty for wheat futures position limits violation

Seraph, it actually does help, IMHO. Not that Citi violated position limits, but that they were caught and held to account.

If only all recent (2008 etc) financial instruments had been traded on CFTC regulated exchanges and hence marked to market every trading day, with clear limits on margin (leverage). Instead, "self-regulation" by the financial industry has brought the tax-payers to their knees...

The US is taking a wrecking ball to the climate convention and any hope of stopping run away climate catastrophe.”

Anyone want to remind me again why Obama is better than Bush was/RMoney would be? Why the dems are so much better/diff't than the repubs? We have a one party system, folks. Call it an oligarchy, or - my preferred term - a corporatocracy. The US gov't will do nothing under either party that goes against the interests of corporate profit. It will do nothing meaningful whatsoever to ameliorate climate change, or to prepare for energy descent. It is not in the genes of the kleptocrats, psychopaths and misanthrops that ascend to political power under our system of government of the world, by the corporations, for profit only.

(my hopelessly futile protest vote will go to Green Party candidate Jill Stein)

D's will at least admit that AGW exists. Do you believe that we would be in the same position today, if Shrub had lost FL in 2000? Gore's been campaigning for action on climate change for 20+ years. I say if you are in one of the 10 states that are still in play (CO, NV, OH, WI, FL, VA, NC, IA, MI, NH) don't waste your vote. If your state is solid one way or another, go ahead and cast that protest for Stein.

Our political system is completely rigged against third parties. Because of that, I feel forced to side with D's or forgo participating in the electoral process at all. If you really want to support the Green or Libertarian parties, work on getting their candidates elected at the local level first. School boards, city councils, county commissions, etc. A viable third-party will have to be grown and it will take decades. I've seen no evidence to convince me that there will ever be a viable third-party in the US.

I'm less than thrilled with having to support Dem's , but like the Rolling Stones famously said, "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need."

phreeph- First of all, cool name. Yeah, I had my stakes on Gore, but then the SCOTUS told us that we can't count the votes. That was the beginning of my utter disillusionment with the system. Before that (it took a decade for it to fully sink in, and led me to the doc, "When Orwell Rolls in His Grave", which led me indirectly to PO and TOD...) I thought much as you do. But I have zero faith in our political system anymore. I do agree with what you say about the local level, state even, being more important. But at the federal level, to paraphrase you, our political system is completely rigged against the people.

I live in VA, and I will vote for Stein. If Obama loses, and VA is the swing state, and he lost it by 1 vote, I will feel bad. But only a little. Barring that, I will feel better about my wasted vote than I have about any vote since I was able to vote for Bernie Sanders for Congress, and I don't feel nearly as good about that one as I used to... The system is a sham. We are bought, sold and packaged up the river by the uberwealthy, and by the corporate system they have created.

The system is a sham. We are bought, sold and packaged up the river by the uberwealthy, and by the corporate system they have created.

No argument from me on that, just grudging acknowledgement. The problem is that much of that control is through the media, by which most of the people are misinformed. I don't see how the local area is any more immune on average than at the national level. Although you may find yourself in an island of sanity.

Thanks. I lived in VA in 2000. I voted for Nader because I was so disillusioned with the D's, and VA was definitely not in play. In retrospect, Nader was a spoiler that gave Shrub the opportunity to win. No Nader, and Gore wins easily IMHO. Yes my vote did not make a specific difference, but after Shrub's first term, I still felt sickened by supporting Nader.

I understand where you're coming from, but you know that's the point? The intent is to make you feel sick and guilty for not playing the game.

Honestly, without some form of proportional representation, third parties get squeezed out and you end up with a solid oligarchy. Proportional representation presents its own problems, like the rise of the Golden Dawn (neo-fascists) in Greece. Still, at least there is real choice.

Maybe you should listen back to the Debates and Campaign and see why Gore wasn't able to win your vote, when Nader was. It's not YOUR fault ..

Nader also argues (cogently, as usual) that he took more votes from Bush than he took from Gore.
Don't be mad at yourself or at Ralph Nader. You're both thoughtful people who'd done what you thought was right.

Remember who has really been doing the harm here.

Cogently or not I do not believe Nader. Pat Buchanan may have taken more votes from Bush - Nader no. His irrational egomania gave us Bush.

'Irrational Egomania.'

That was one of the choicest slurs he was crowned with by the MSM and the other parties.. and this was in comparison to exactly what from the other candidates?

He might be a perfectionist and very demanding on the people in his teams and coalitions, but I don't see where it ever has earned him the title of Irrational. I could hear a real person in there when he spoke, and it was always thought out and steady. Beyond that, I think a strong ego is probably just essential for that game.. using it on any of them is like the Right Wing sneering about some Liberal who has made a lot of money. Egads!

I'll ask it again. WHAT was it that the Democratic Party refused to bring into the discussions that forced so many of us to take that chance and simply REFUSE to give them our votes? This wasn't some little slap on the wrist at them.. 'tut, tut' .. this was a hard punch in the face from many of us to the DNC, for them to have become so ineffectual and regularly offensive to us in the face of the madness growing on the other side, the offenses against science, hiding behind the Church and Cheap Patriotism in order to keep the profit margins heady and supreme.

Go ahead, blame one of the messengers who pointed right at the heart of the problems. It's a lame argument, RW.

He was irrational (or dishonest?) to the extent that he fantasized or claimed that he had the potential to win or to do anything more than spoil the election.

Well you belong in a two-party world then, Robert.

The system is already spoiled enough.. we need the challenge of these other influences to push themes that are too unpalatable for the King(s) of the hill to broach.

Black and White is not rational. It's simplistic, and ultimately disastrous.

I could go for Kunstler's Reality Party. However I question whether or not Nader is a member.


I do really appreciate JHK's rebellious spirit, but when he puts forward a conceptual party that somehow claims to have THE grasp on Reality, then I'm afraid your previous mention of Irrational Egoism springs forcefully to mind.

His frustration is as understandable as any of ours, but Kunstler as usual puts his energies into colorful invective and juicy, adolescent metaphors.

Here is Nader this summer on Democracy Now! He's saying much the same as he did in both campaigns, with particular emphasis on debates that include the third party voices.

What do you find irrational in this, compared to that petulant tirade by JHK that you linked me to?


The anger against him has been catalyzed and amplified precisely to discredit and quell the reasoning he is speaking about.. open and full debates of the issues.


I was sort of thinking about voting for Nader in 2000, but my choice to do so was cemented by seeing video of him being frog-marched out of a Presidential debate by law enforcement. Not only was he not allowed to participate - he was not allowed to be in the f-ing audience! This was by agreement of the Dems and Reps on the debates committee.

After seeing that, I voted for Nader without any hesitation whatsoever. That was actually a sort of radicalizing moment for me.

When it's come to this, why shouldn't he, or anyone else for that matter, be a "spoiler"? Pray tell, what is he "spoiling"? A cozy good cop bad cop scam? Democracy my a**

The arrogance of the guy, thinking he had a right to be at a Presidential Debate, when he's just a candidate for President!?

Like I said, it was a real eye-opener for me. He had the petitions, he was on the ballots, he was a legitimate candidate. Just a visceral shock - I really couldn't believe what I was seeing in my country. So sad.

I do really appreciate JHK's rebellious spirit

Might want to listen to http://c-realm.com/podcasts/crealm/323-absent-a-common-culture/ for comments along with http://c-realm.com/podcasts/crealm/313-peak-oil-the-white-we/

.. and maybe more to the point, IF you went with the REALITY party, would your vote 'help Romney win', and be some kind of unforgivable betrayal to Obama.. to weigh in that third party as if JHK was your Nader? And would that change your choice?

Really, the issue Nader pursues is that the Third Parties need open access to the process, so that they can bring 'outside' ideas into the national discussion well before the election, and alter the conversation with the candidates and with the public.. and he is right in showing that this is already completely impossible as things are now.

Still Irrational and (Dishonest?)

" Nader was a spoiler that gave Shrub the opportunity to win"

And Buchanan took a number of votes from Shrub and gave Gore a chance to win. That year was a messy election.

By the way, the news media did their own recount after the inauguration and came to the reluctant conclusion that Bush really had won.

And Gore's case went rapidly downhill when some idiot in the Florida campaign HQ moved to have the military absentee ballots stricken. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Since Seattle is in love with Obama, I shall feel free to cast my protest vote for the Greens as well. The Libertarian candidate is just another banker apologist.

Vote Green or Peace and Freedom.

The rest is Pepsi, or Pepsi Lite.

And Buchanan took a number of votes from Shrub and gave Gore a chance to win.

Buchanan got less than half a million votes. Nader got almost 3 million. In FL, where the race was decided by less than 600 votes, Buchanan took around 18,000 votes, presumably mostly people who would vote for Bush. Nader garnered almost 98,000.

Bush won--
The total was 5-4.

.. And this argument is part of the dead-end mentality that will assure that we keep losing focus on bringing new ideas into the system and ever allowing a third or fourth party to help challenge the somewhat silent complicity of the two lead power-structures.

Accuse voters of some kind of betrayal and lack of allegiance by voting as they see fit. More American Forced-Compliance.

Conscience is Naive and Uncool man!

Life is High School.

Maybe we are ripe for it, then.

Olly-olly oxen-free.. Ready or not, here I come!

Just so people know, these links aren't from posts on TOD or another forum or blog but rather from my weekly Update newsletter.


My arrest at Occupy Wall Street

We just walked. Some were on the street, most like me cautiously stayed on the sidewalk. We shouted the shopworn protest chants that feel so meaningful when you're chanting them.

At one corner, I saw a cop grabbing the arm of a woman in front of me and pulling her into the street. It was the same gesture you might use to escort an old lady, and, when the next officer did this to me, that is what I thought it was. But then, halfway across the street, he cuffed my hands behind my back.

There was no warning. No Miranda rights like in the movies. At first, I was incredulous. It was not until I got my desk ticket that night for blocking traffic. that I had any idea what the officer was accusing me of doing.

I was a head shorter than the officer. I said to him, "You know I was on the sidewalk." He wouldn't meet my eyes.

Get it?

I loved Schwann9's comment about making it mandatory for everyone to read Ayn Rand. Sounds like he really took the libertarian ideals to heart, eh?

("Get the goverment away from my medicare!")

And this is why you need a pod of techno-buddies/a shiver of Lawyers at a protest.

A crew of a couple to record streaming WiFi audio/video from the arrestee who can somehow be beyond the range of the protest/be able to place the SD card with the evidence in a swallowable capsule/secret away in their clothes or possessions. A modified iPod with WiFi might also work as the storage box and could be right next to the protestor.

The arrestee asks if the gun is loaded, if they intend to use it, what they are being charged with - all the other questions one needs to set up the Cop for charges of:

Definition for outlawry:
Web definitions:
lawlessness: illegality as a consequence of unlawful acts; defiance of the law.

How about kidnapping? A felony with the gun and a threat of force no?

Again, with the proper shiver of Lawyers at your disposal you should be able to have a good old time.

Because The State has the power to drop the case. If you have your shiver of Lawyers make a good counter claim you could keep 'em busy for some time. Have a large group do this at every protest and oh the fun. For values of FU and N of course.

PV – “…came to the reluctant conclusion that Bush really had won.” I’ve been reluctant to bring it for fear of irritating folks but since you have. I have vivid memories of the DNC commissioning an independent auditor to go over the FL votes and guaranteed to release the results no matter what the outcome. The result: President Bush won by more votes than the official count and did defeat Senator Gore. And, keeping their pledge, the DNC did have that press release. And then it was gone. Till this day I haven’t been able to find it again.

But as someone asked above: would out situation be much different today? No way to prove it but I would guess no. And not just because of corporate influence IMHO. As much as all the politicians luv those contributions they also luv votes. So, again IMHO, many of the govt policies in place today that have made the energy situation worse were created to pander to the public. So many examples but let’s just go with a recent one: the president hinting about an SPR release. And why: votes IMHO. He same reason a R president would do the exact same thing. So his message from the mighty bully pulpit of the POTUS to the American people: don’t worry about conserving energy…the govt is here and ready to help make it cheaper so we can continuing consuming as we have been. Both parties would push the same agenda just as hard if they felt it would win any election for them.

There is no lack of folks to point a finger at IMHO.

The original memo to election supervisors reminding them, per Florida law, to not count absentee ballots that had not been properly postmarked, or postmarked after the election date, was sent out by Kathleen Harris, the Republican Florida Secretary of State. It was only after it was realized that many ballots from military personnel were being disqualified because of the postmarks, or lack thereof, that it became an issue. As a result, many absentee ballots that had not been executed in compliance with the law were counted anyway.

"The system is a sham. We are bought, sold and packaged up the river by the uberwealthy, and by the corporate system they have created." (and the 'comforts' that keep most of us lulled and not unseating this system)

Keep your eyes on the prize.

Obama is different, but he's in the same system. If we had gotten McCain, there would never have BEEN a healthcare reform, a green jobs czar or numerous other stabs at productive policy for the Right Wing to spend the last four years undermining with all their might.

I don't defend the Status Quo banking actions and all the rest.. but the major cultural movement has to happen on the ground, not, I'm afraid, in the oval office.

We're overdue, but still unripe for it, it seems.

Yes, thanks for adding that comforts part. That's a piece I usually include when I rant in person, but left off...

As for the rest of it, yes, I hear you, except IMO, 'healthcare reform' that forces me to give money to insurance corporations is yet one more example of which I spake...

then the SCOTUS told us that we can't count the votes.

In this case I have to agree with that decision.

Conducting elections is both an art and a science, learned over thousands of years. One thing known is NOT to do endless recounts. The election officials did the one recount and the SCOTUS backed them up.

Better to take a chance on putting the wrong man in office than corrupting the election process.

"...than corrupting the election process."

You're kidding right? Our 'election process' could hardly be more corrupt.

'Endless Recounts' ??

Boy, that makes it sound extreme, huh? No, these weren't endless, and they wouldn't have had to be.

Florida was a perfect example of a corrupt election process.. to the degree that the group that monitors elections in developing countries isn't able to monitor the US elections, since we don't make even the basic minimum standards in a good year.

Instant Runoff would be a good start.

Investigating Diebold would be another.

Hard, Paper Recordkeeping. It works with ATMs..

"When Orwell Rolls in His Grave", which led me indirectly to PO and TOD

I hear he's not dead yet.

our political system is completely rigged against the people. .... my hopelessly futile protest vote will go to Green Party candidate Jill Stein

If the game is rigged than what you do doesn't matter. And if enough votes go to Jill then the various political parties that are on top will focus group why Jill got those votes and grab those planks from their platform, put 'em in theirs and call 'em their own.

Its how the 'communist', 'labor', 'partying with tea' and 'abortion' planks are parts of other platforms - they were rising in popularity and threatened to upend the 2 party system. So the system absorbed 'em.

R's are totally lap dogs of the oil an coal companies. D's will at least do some of the right things, higher fuel economy standards, support for renewables, possibly enforcing current pollution standards, versus gutting them. At least we won't be taking a giant step backwards if D's get power.
Admittedly, unless public attitudes change a lot, they won't go for full fledged anti AGW program, and conservation. But at least we won't be moving at full speed away from those directions.

Now, if we actually had a green electorate, we could make real progress.

Melting Himalayas may magnify water scarcity

Many politically unstable areas of South Asia are "water-stressed," meaning the areas are facing water scarcity due to poor infrastructure or simply lacking enough water to meet demand.

The potential impacts of climate change on water scarcity could further inflame political tensions, finds a new report, Himalayan Glaciers: Climate Change, Water Resources, and Water Security, released today (Sept. 12) by the National Research Council (NRC). Funding was provided by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Thanks for your relentless coverage of the news.
This excerpt was really in reply to your link above to the Oxfam report on food-shocks resulting from extreme weather events. It comes from the Sussex University Report highlighted by Oxfam. (I did not want to get lost in US politics; above.)

Longer term trends matter because they increase the impacts from 'weather shocks'. Dramatic shocks cannot be absorbed by those on the edge and heavily exposed to world commodity prices (e.g. food and fertlizer). Regions/countries vary markedly in their exposure.

According to Baffes and Haniotis (2010), the price transmission links between crude oil and agricultural markets have considerably strengthened in recent years.

To weather shocks add 'oil shocks'. The observed link between oil and fertilizer cost is profound. Fertilizer cost sees an exaggerated response to oil price, either up or down.

Dollar no longer primary oil currency as China begins to sell oil using Yuan

... Ironically, since Sept. 6, the U.S. dollar has fallen from 81.467 on the index to today’s price of 79.73. While analysts will focus on actions taking place in the Eurozone, and expected easing signals from the Federal Reserve on Thursday regarding the fall of the dollar, it is not coincidence that the dollar began to lose strength on the very day of China’s announcement.

... “On Friday, Sept. 7, Russia announced, that as of today, we will supply China with all of the crude oil that they need, no matter how much they want… there is no limit. And Russia will not sell or trade this crude oil to China using the American dollar.” ...

and China in closed door negotiations to purchase Mexican crude oil without using US dollars

Mexican crude oil to be sold to China without using the US dollar as its trading currency

If these reports are correct, aren't these stories quite momentous in their implications for the US$?
I can't find any other original source for them as yet, however, and I'm a bit puzzled as to why a pastor is making the "announcement"?

RE:Dollar no longer primary oil currency as China begins to sell oil using Yuan

I've been googling around looking for the original story that this posting might be based on. I've found a couple of links that reference the same story, but I can find no stories that that have any kind of specific information. It seems like even if the US and European MSM totally ignored this story it would still be widely reported by RT or Aljazeera or even the chinese press. Does anyone have any links about this, or is this just goldbug hype?

I've been googling around looking for the original story that this posting might be based on.

Matters not - look at the claim:

as China begins to sell oil using Yuan

If its a typo and is buy - its more of a who cares, yet another chip away at the petrodollar monopoly.

China having enough oil to be able to SELL EXCESS? That would have been TOD front page news.

"we will supply China with all of the crude oil that they need, no matter how much they want… there is no limit."

Now there is wishful thinking.

Monetarily, China can only go so far in trade without also giving up their currency peg. And that means an important part of their economy will be out of their direct control, and that scares them. If they are serious about being a world power they will have to get there eventually, and they know it. They are trying to manage a gradual transition. I'm not sure they will succeed, but it is their call.

A reality check for the promise of the oil sands


But the oil sands’ next chapter is suddenly in the midst of a major rewrite. Joslyn itself has become a symbol of both the eager ambition the world’s oil companies have brought to northeastern Alberta, and the question marks surrounding how those ambitions will be realized. The economics of Joslyn, along with two other projects that are pillars of oil sands growth, have been placed under review by partner Suncor Energy Inc. The company has abandoned lofty growth targets in favour of a rigid focus on costs, and has even said it could abandon some projects.

--- snip ---

In part, that’s because larger factors, including concerns about oil prices, have had a real impact on the viability of future oil sands projects. “What may have looked like a fairly low-risk proposition may all of a sudden be the subject of a lot more discussion,” said Leo de Bever, chief executive officer at Alberta Investment Management Corp., or AIMCo, which manages some $70-billion in provincial funds.

Plus, there is the concern that some of the best oil sands lands have been developed. For Gwyn Morgan, the former head of Encana Corp., poorer resources combined with tight labour markets spell trouble: “Because of some reduction in average quality combined with escalating cost, new projects must be justified by a higher price forecast than most previous ones,” he said.

Only part way through the article but plenty to think about already. Time to recalibrate the mental models of price and supply that we've constructed?


He isn’t alone. AIMCo’s Mr. de Bever points to the continued inefficiencies in producing oil sands crude, where the average in situ operation, which uses underground steam injections rather than an open-pit mine to produce bitumen, burns a barrel’s worth of energy for every five barrels produced. Mines are just a bit more than twice as efficient. But bitumen still requires substantial energy to transform into a transportation fuel – further widening the gap with the sellers of conventional crude, who use a barrel of energy to produce upwards of 100 barrels of oil.

further widening the gap with the sellers of conventional crude, who use a barrel of energy to produce upwards of 100 barrels of oil.

However, we're talking about Saudi Arabia here, and they are burning increasing amounts of oil to power their air conditioners. If they keep it up, they will have no surplus oil at all to export in a few years - But they will be very cool.

What the heck is a "barrel of energy"?

I assume they mean barrel of oil, but it really doesn't matter. It's the ratio that matters.

They mean a barrel of oil equivalent (BOE) on an energy basis. The energy content of 1 barrel of oil is the same as about 6 thousand cubic feet (Mcf) of gas, but the energy of both oil and gas vary significantly depending on chemical analysis.

Natural gas is sold in gigajoules (GJ) in Canada - the joule being the international system unit of energy. 1 thousand cf of gas contains about 1 GJ of energy and 1 barrel of oil contains about 6 GJ. Companies just divide the gas consumption in GJ or Mcf by 6 to get the oil equivalent in BOE.

At this point in time natural gas is trading for about $2.25/GJ in Alberta, and syncrude is trading for $100/bbl. It actually takes about 1 GJ of natural gas to produce one barrel of syncrude, or $2.25 worth of gas to produce $100 worth of oil, so it really works well from an oil company financial perspective. The cost of fuel gas is the least of their worries - and most of them produce their own gas, which works even better.

I'd give 'em a little more credit. Just above 'barrel of energy', in the bolded part of the excerpt, they use the term 'a barrel's worth of energy'. Seems clearly a reference to BOE - barrels of oil equivalent, commonly used. (X would blow steam out his ears - 'you can't compare different things!' - but happily he's no longer around.) And to be clear, I agree, it's the ratio that matters... greatly.

One issue that might be mentioned is that oil sand production is not taxed - at all - by the Canadian government.
And their base cost, as the article notes, is increasing.

Yet another thing to ponder is that oil development costs for tight oil in Canada has begun to skyrocket, dashing hopes for those who thought it would complement the tar sands and their conventional production.

It is not true that the Canadian government does not tax oil sands production. They levy a 5% GST (Goods and Services Tax - a value added tax) on every barrel produced that produces billion$ per year. They also levy 5% GST on all those huge loads of equipment purchased for the oil sands, and on the services of all the contractors and professionals building the plants.

They also levy corporate income tax on oil company profits - and Canadian oil companies don't get nearly the tax breaks they do in the US - so the tax take there is also into the billion$. Then they levy personal income tax on the rather high wages of the workers, which brings in billion$ more. And then they levy GST and income tax on all the restaurants, waitresses, hair cutters, gas stations, house builders, and everything else supplying oil sands companies and workers, wives, and families, and the total gets bigger and bigger.

As US congressman Everett Dirksen once said (about US government spending, unfortunately), "A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you're talking real money!" Don't think the federal government finance department hasn't already added up the numbers, and allocated it to government spending, so don't expect them to block oil sands development any time soon.

And, that in a nutshell, is a major reason why the Canadian government budget deficit is so much lower than that of the US.

Cyberspying effort drops 'Mirage' on Energy Firms

Researchers have uncovered a new cyberespionage campaign being waged on a large Philippine oil company, a Taiwanese military organization and a Canadian energy firm, as well as targets in Brazil, Israel, Egypt and Nigeria.

The malware being used is called "Mirage" and it leaves a backdoor on the computer that waits for instructions from the attacker, said Silas Cutler, a security researcher at Dell SecureWorks' Counter Threat Unit (CTU).

Researchers couldn't say what data the attackers were aiming for, but it's not difficult to speculate given that countries are vying for oil and gas exploration rights in the South China Sea.

The researchers believe that whoever is responsible also played a part an espionage campaign earlier in the year that targeted Vietnamese oil companies and government ministries, an embassy, a nuclear safety agency and others in various countries.

What if Israel bombed Iran? The view from Washington.

A purely hypothetical, but very frightening scenario about how it might go down in Washington. I find the prospect very scary that Israel might do something really stupid.

I don't know if its all that hypothetical. They bombed Iraq's nuclear program into oblivion some years ago, and they could do the same to Iran if they wanted to.

When the Canadian government broke diplomatic relations with Iran and closed its embassy here, I began to wonder if they knew something I didn't. I still wonder.

Iraq was smaller, with a less military capacity (particularly defensive capacity) and its nuclear program was small, vulnerable and not located in hardened underground locations. Not just apples and oranges - more like apples and basketballs.

As Anthony Cordesman pointed out in a recent detailed study (http://csis.org/files/publication/120906_Iran_US_Preventive_Strikes.pdf)
Israel lacks the ability to do this on their own and would need the assistance of the US. Moreover that assistance would need to be substantial.

The Cordesman study looks interesting, thanks for the link. I haven't had time to read the whole thing, but a quick skim shows a couple of points (bolding mine)>

From the executive summary:
"Israel does not have the capability to carry out preventive strikes that could do more than delay Iran’s efforts for a year or two."

From page 82:
"It is possible that Israel will carry out a strike against Iranian Nuclear Facilities, if the U.S. does not, with the objective of either destroying the program or delaying it for some years. The success of the Strike Mission will be measured by how much of the Enrichment program has it destroyed, or the number of years it has delayed Iranian acquisition of enough Uranium or Plutonium from the Arak reactor to build a nuclear bomb."

"The U.S. would certainly be perceived as being a part of the conspiracy and having assisted and given Israel the green light, whether it did or had no part in it whatsoever. This would undermine the U.S. objectives in increasing stability in the region and bringing about a peaceful solution to the Arab‐Israeli conflict. It will also harm for a very long period of time relations between the U.S. and its close regional allies."

"A strike by Israel on Iran will give rise to regional instability and conflict as well as terrorism. The regional security consequences will be catastrophic."

From page 87:
"Iranian retaliation will have a devastating regional consequences. U.S. expects Israel to be responsible and not to carry out such a strike."

Let's hope our expectation that Israel will be "reponsible" is well founded.

Iraq and Syria each only had a single vulnerable installation guarded by one or two air defense systems. Neither country was apparently expecting an attack from Israel. Iran has multiple hardened installations dispersed at extreme range from Israel. Its air defense network isn't very good but is extensive. Iran is fully expecting an attack from Israel and probably has multiple contingency plans in place. Plus if an attack does go through Iran may not even mind all that much since it would buy the Iranian government considerable internal and external sympathy.

Don't discount that for Iraq/Syria, the facilities were remote enough that they could be taken out without civilian casualties. That is not even close to being true for Iran. Massive civilian casualties in an unprovoked attack would be a huge scandal. Syria was the easiest case that way, the Syrians didn't want to admit whatever it was they were trying to do, so they remained silent. No one screaming about their sovereignty being violated, translates effectively into no incident.

"unprovoked" is a stretch. From an Israeli perspective, hearing they are a cancer which must not persist is probably rather provocative, especially when coming from somebody actively pursuing nukes.

It is likely in the Israeli calculus whether to fight before Iran has nukes or after. I imagine they'll choose "before", but as the very last resort. And it will go badly for all.

And of course the success of the Iraqi and Syrian operations was due in large part to their total surprise. These were small sorties of around ten aircraft. The Israelis managed to carefully neutralize the radar system protecting each installation. Compare with Iran which will require at least 100 aircraft hitting at least a half dozen targets. The individual strikes would have to be carefully timed to arrive at the same time. Multiple radar systems will have to be neutralized. Israel cannot guarantee total surprise and without total surprise they can't guarantee success. This operation would vastly more complicated than anything the Israeli airforce has attempted before.

if they knew something I didn't. I still wonder.

Flake? Dis-info? Actual truth? I don't know.

He was at the Wailing Wall 2 days ago and there were hundreds of IDF soldiers there. As he was leaving he passed at least 20 military buses full of soldiers in route to the wall

I am rather sure that is verifiable by locals who are there day in, day out. I just don't have the ability to ask. And perhaps it is best not to know.

A completely ridiculous article. It doesn't talk about how Iran and Hezbollah might retaliate.

Use your imagination.

I did :-) But the article feels incomplete because the story doesn't end after Israel bombs Iran.

Personally I don't think Bibi will do it unless the US participates in the attack. Israel doesn't have the capability to destroy Iran unless they use nukes and I don't think Obama wants to start another war. So Bibi will huff and puff, yell & scream and do nothing.

I sure hope you are right.

It seems likely that the general reaction across the Muslim world would be a couple orders of magnitude greater than the reaction to the YouTube film trailer insulting the Prophet. An Israeli attack on Iran would likely light up countries from Morrocco to Indonesia and result on widespread attacks on US interests.

It will also result in Hezbollah unleashing 100,000 missiles on Israel. They now have longer range and more accurate missiles. Iran will fight back by attacking Abqaiq, Ras Tanurah and other oil installations in GCC Sunni monarchies. They might also attack power plants and desalination plants. Imagine Dubai without power, air conditioning, water and a functioning airport. People will start dying within 48 hours. The Mullahs have seen what happened to Saddam and Gaddhafi and they will fight to the death and use everything they got (just like Assad is now doing in Syria). They will not care about civilian casualties, international opinion, etc.

I hope there is no war.

Popcorn in stand-by status..

And plenty of bicycle spares..

An alternative is that the Iranians, as well as Hezbollah, simply absorb the attack and go about reconstructing their nuclear infrastructure. After all, the Shiites annually whip their backs to a bloody mess during Ashura. Martyrdom is greatly valued. The Shiite sense of victimhood is probably only second to the Jews.

They would get a lot of sympathy and support from important quarters. This may include assistance in the reconstruction as well as S-400 missile systems, etc. in order to defend the reconstructed sites.

Meanwhile, the Islamic radicals of all stripes would certainly sieze the occasion to wreak havoc on US and Israeli assets wherever they can reach them. This requires no organized military attack, although some covert encouragement might be useful. The climate in important countries such as Egypt and Pakistan would become even more hostile to the US, and even Turkey would be affected politically. The price of oil will go through the roof and greviously harm the US economy even without national military action on Iran's part.

This results in Israel becoming the pariah nation while Iran is rehabilitated for a large section of the global community. It's a big win for Iran.

I don't think the Mullahs will simply absorb the attack. The moment the first bomb falls they will conclude that this is an all out war whose intent is regime change. They will fight back with everything they got because they will conclude that they have nothing to lose. They will kick IAEA inspectors out of the country, close the Strait of Hormuz and rain missiles on Israel and GCC countries.

There is no way an Israeli attack on Iran will go unanswered.

It will depend on the scale of the attack, whether the US is involved, whether the attack is very successful, and whether some aircraft are shot down and pilots captured. If the attack is small and the US is not involved, there is a reasonable chance that Iran will not attack Israel and the GCC countries. Neither Syria nor Iraq responded to the attacks on their reactors by attacking Israel.

They do not have to close the Strait of Hormuz. They can just threaten to do so and no tanker will have maritime insurance. Thus the oil flow can be stopped without actual military action.

In order to determine the scale of the attack and whether US is involved, they will have to wait for a few hours. I don't think they can afford to wait for a few hours. If they wait, they risk losing a significant fraction of their military assets and capabilities. It is a use it or lose it scenario. I think they will use it. There will also be tremendous pressure from the revolutionary guard to respond.

When Syria and Iraq were attacked, it was different. The US was friends with Iraq 30 years ago and no one was threatening to topple the Assad regime when its suspected nuclear site was attacked by Israel. The Mullahs in Iran are edgy because they are surrounded and the US has repeatedly threatened to do a regime change.

Good point.

In that scenario the best US response is to down every Israeli aircraft - then say nothing. Israel then has to weigh up publicly pointing up that the US attacked them (and therefore they aren't as protected as thought) with also keeping quiet and trying to repair relations.

Unless it's a joint Israeli/US raid, it won't succeed, so its better it doesn't happen at all. If there is a raid, it has to be not only nuclear sites, but the entire C4ISTAR setup + key units - and even then it doesn't preclude unconventional responses.

In short, what they are doing in the way of covert attacks is probably the best/only approach that will work.

Being that no US politician dares to substantially go against the Israel lobby -Obama does a little bit, but he knows there are limits, that is pretty unimaginable. It would be horribly politically risky, and hence would not happen.

Where the alternative is the morass that Iran and the ME would turn into ... I'm not so sure israel could hold the american jewish lobby as enough of a threat.

If nothing else, Obama would have a pretty good case for 'traitor' charges.

Anyway, the point was to say nothing, spiking israel on horns of a dilemma and making their best option to say nothing themselves.

And yet the administration crows about the successful secret attacks, like Stuxnet. That would have been a good time for everybody to keep their mouths shut.

Now is likely not the time to refuse to see the Israelis. They are not playing for the election year, but for long-term survival. There should be routine discussion with the Israelis and the Iranians. How else can you hope to change a course that leads to war?

It’s IAEA job to dispel fears post-Fukushima: AEC chief

... “The IAEA should take the lead and coordinate with other appropriate international organisations to consolidate and review all relevant updated scientific findings to help address the prevalent fear of low-dose radiation effects in the public mind,” Sinha said.

Such an initiative on the part of IAEA would come in handy in removing “a potential major impediment” in enhancing the role of nuclear energy to serve mankind, he said.

Mitt Romney, Iran And Dirty Bombs -- So Very, Very Wrong

These last two weeks have been heartbreaking for many reasons. ... But one of the weirdest moments was Mitt Romney linking Iran to a dirty bomb threat.

This is wrong on so many levels. Iran is not a dirty bomb threat in the least. Dirty bombs have nothing to do with nuclear bombs, nothing to do with fissile material like enriched uranium or even plutonium, and nothing to do with having a weapons program.

U and Pu are the least effective materials to use in a dirty bomb, emitting the wrong kind of radiation, occurring in the wrong form to disperse, are well-tracked and extremely expensive, and are much more valuable in a real nuke. Even the stupid terrorists know this.

But more troubling for a Presidential candidate is that Romney doesn’t seem know which of the two routes Iran has chosen to make their nuclear weapon: 1) enriching uranium, which doesn’t require a nuclear reactor, or 2) extracting plutonium which does require a nuclear reactor, specifically a weapons reactor. Iran has chosen the first whereas DPRK (North Korea) has chosen the second.

Romney's Backers, Romney's Brain: The Money, the Thinking, the Plan

... To know the man you must know his money. That means a new report listing his chief campaign contributors can also give us insight into Romney's mind, and those of his powerful backers.

When the Republican nominee is being chewed up by Forbes he doesn't have many friends left in the media. Last night on Washington Week they were virtually laughing at him.

It is rather amusing (or a really bad sign depending on your point of view) when a nominee for President Of The United States (POTUS) acquires the nickname "Mitt the Twit". I would love to see that on a tee-shirt or poster right in front of a nightly news camera.


We already have "Obummer" tee-shirts around. But you will not see them on the nightly news.

When it went off, Fukushima was felt all around the world. It remains "tedious" to describe it as a dirty bomb or a terrorist act since it was officially sponsored and maintained... just like cigarettes, gun sales, allowing monkeys to drive, and medical incompetence... some of the leading causes of modern daily death. Yet, five people disrespecting the spirits in the sky is allowed the world's full attention.

There was a local radio show featuring Jim Fowler from Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom this week, where he bemoaned people's great fear of wild animals, while citing the number of deaths and mutilations caused just by Robot Lawn Mowers. (I don't have any validation for his claim, tho here is one mention..


Fear of wild animals is instinctive, going back to paleolithic times when people were as often the hunted as hunters. They have to unlearn this fear to be comfortable around them. Some people (e.g. our current house guest) are terrified of little house cats for no good reason, and can't shake the fear, so we have to have neighbors look after it while she is visiting. OTOH, other people fearlessly jump into tigers dens because they want to be "close to the tigers".

Fear of machines has to be learned by modern people, and some people just can't learn to be careful around them. OTOH, other people have become afraid of them for no good reason, hence the fixation on being killed by robots.

To all:

If you haven't read: "Arctic Sea Ice: What, Why, and What Next" from above, you really should do yourself this favor. It is a little long but brings up many, many issues left out in other articles- really top notch (for Yahoo, which tends to run overly edited stories).

Some highlights:
1. 70% ice volume loss in the last 15 years
2. Why an ice free June is far worse than an ice free Sept (and when this will happen)
3. How increased water vapor will increase snow- but when we need it the least
4. polar influences on currents and what will and won't happen

there are more goodies- but I'll let you find them yourselves. I will guarantee that you will know stuff you never knew before after reading this

Yes, it is a good article.

Thanks C8, and also donalb for the update. I had thought it was my infernal ubuntu oddity that was preventing me seeing the graphics...

I first began following the sea ice in '05, and pretty quickly grokked that by failing to take thickness and therefore volume into account, the models were grossly conservative. I saw an ice free summer by 2028. Having now 7 more years of data, I'd say we're looking at 2018, +/- 3 yrs. And having now read this article, the implications thereof are even scarier than I'd ever thought. The heat imbalance info elucidated within was one of those 'of course' data inputs that I'd never bothered to look at closely. We will be cooking the planet from the top down when the Arctic is ice free in June by 2026 or so.

I've been thinking about all that energy that will be absorbed by an Arctic Ocean that is ice-free through the summer. The author basically dismisses any effect on sea level rise due to the Arctic sea ice melting, but there will be an effect after the ice has melted. About half of the sea level rise in the past century is attributed to expansion of sea water as it warms. Extra warming in the Arctic will increase the rate of that part of SLR. In itself, that will not be our biggest problem; we should be able to evacuate areas that cannot be protected from flooding by sea walls. I wonder, though, how much will the rising sea water temperature coming from an ice-free Arctic accelerate the loss of ice shelves in West Antarctica? That could lead to a collapse of the West Antarctic ice cap.

While I'm certain that SLR will happen 'more quickly than expected' for reasons you note, I think we'll be reeling from the weather weirding events long before SLR has any notable impact beyond low-lying Pacific islands and places like Bangladesh. The weakening and increased amplitude of the jet stream, already happening, leads to Arctic air pouring down over the continents in winter, and to blocking patterns setting up. This will lead to more things like the Russian heat wave of '11, the summer in March and US heat/drought of '12. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers seems to be the expert on this.

Generally ok, but it has some pabulum in it, especially concerning methane.

The article America's Miasma of Misinformation on Climate Change exposes the U.S. media's inherent failure on this most important of subjects.

An ice free June in the Arctic is probably not very likely. Regardless of the loss of multi-year ice and thinning ice, seasonal ice still covers the Arctic ocean. However, it could become ice free for part of July, all of August and early September. That seems like a more reasonable possibility and would drastically warm those waters, increasing the likelihood of much higher methane releases. With some 10 trillion tons of methane caltrates in the Arctic seabed, and with methane having 25 times the greenhouse effect of CO2, that would mean the few people able to survive would endure incredibly harsh conditions.

As we know the human genome has helped point to a previous period in our history when only a few hundred people passed through a bottleneck. Wouldn't it be interesting if in say 1/2 million years from now humankind built another civilization, reaching a similar point in knowledge gained to peer into the human genome, to find we had passed through two bottlenecks.

Smiley face

I'd say 15 years or so will have you and everyone thinking differently. The Arctic is the harbinger on our path to global Abrupt Climate Change.

This is a great chart- just eyeballing it, it would seem that a 1/3rd decline has occurred in just the last decade. I did not realize it was this bad

I'd say 15 years or so will have you and everyone thinking differently. The Arctic is the harbinger on our path to global Abrupt Climate Change.

An ice free June and abrupt climate change are not necessarily inclusive, meaning the latter can happen without the former, therefore you made an argument against a position I never took.

Also, just because June ice volume is decreasing doesn't necessarily mean it will descend to zero. It could flatten out at some point. The seasonal ice has to have some time period to melt. If not June, when?

Unfortunately for your fictional future, there would be tons of geological evidence that humans had become numerous and industrial before the great dieoff.

Unfortunately for your fictional future, there would be tons of geological evidence that humans had become numerous and industrial before the great dieoff.

First off it isn't fictional, but rather a hypothetical future. For a second, knowing there had been a previous industrial period does not necessarily mean they know humankind passed through a bottleneck. A lot of people having died is one thing to ascertain but it doesn't necessarily mean they know they passed through a bottleneck of extremely low numbers. Remember, it's 1/2 a million years later, and therefore knowledge of how many people made it through that collapse may not have been passed down. The only way then to know for sure would be for another ascencion in knowledge to reach the point of being able to decode DNA.

The change in the magnitude of anthropological markers in the geology would be a dead giveaway long before science/technology had reached the point of determining the bottleneck from genetics. For instance human caused changes in erosion and deposition patterns -and in what stuff is deposited would be incorporated into new geological strata.

Here's a link explaining how DNA is used in this regard: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_bottleneck

Population bottlenecks increase genetic drift, as the rate of drift is inversely proportional to the population size. The reduction in a population's dispersal leads, over time, to increased genetic homogeneity. If severe, population bottlenecks can also markedly increase inbreeding due to the reduced pool of possible mates (see small population size).

This way instead of just saying there was a bottleneck, much greater precision in the numbers that made it through a bottleneck could be ascertained. DNA is amazing stuff, don't you think?

And plenty of archeological evidence from homo vastarus

Root: vastare - to lay waste, to make a wasteland


An ice free June is already locked in and will follow pretty fast (maybe 5-10 years later) on an ice-free day in September (probably still two records away, but it might be the next year that melts more than this one). Its merely a question of whether all that extra heat that will be soaked up in summer will be enough to stop any seasonal ice forming at all.

There will still be icebergs falling off Greenland, but that could be all the ice there is in the Arctic in Feb 2030.

I disagree. Remember that there's no sunlight reaching the North Pole between the September Equinox and the March Equinox. As a result, there's always going to be a considerable cooling of the atmosphere above and the area involved will spread to the Arctic Circle by the Solstice in December. In fact, the formation of sea-ice actually reduces the heat loss from the water below and the thicker the ice becomes, the greater the insulating effect. Thin ice can form very quickly on water, once the air temperature drops below about 10F or so. Even here at 37 degrees latitude, the local river can freeze given a few days of such cold. In the Arctic, there's going to be several months of extreme cold air temperatures during the Winter months.

The other problem is that the supposed albedo difference between sea-ice and open water isn't really as large as claimed. Even today, the formation of melt ponds on top of sea-ice reduces the albedo of that ice to nearly that of open water as the melt season progresses. First year sea-ice is rather flat which tends to produce more melt ponds compared to multi-year ice. There's not going to be much more change possible in the energy balance. Now also consider the fact that open water is a source of atmospheric moisture, which results in cloud formation and this reduces the amount of sunlight which can reach the surface...

E. Swanson

I disagree. Remember that there's no sunlight reaching the North Pole between the September Equinox and the March Equinox.

Exactly. Since we just had a record melt, some people are extrapolating trends to events that will not occur, like an ice free Arctic June. Because of the planet's tilt there will always be seasonal ice, at least until the Sun expands into a red giant in approx. a billion years.

In fact there was a special guest article here on TOD not that long ago about the tendency to extrapolate trends to points that never occur. However, there does not need to be an ice free June to have abrupt climate change. IMHO there needs to be caution in moving the goalposts like that, because it provides ammunition to the denialists that will simply say, and correctly so, that an Arctic ice free June will not happen. Then we have to back off and start anew in trying to convince them of GW.

Depends - what's the cloud cover like?

The no-fly experiment in Sept of 2001 shows airplanes help make clouds and the effects of cloudless nights on the planet.

Video: Prominent Canadians lend voice to anti-Northern Gateway campaign Add to ...

World Wildlife Fund has organized a campaign with high-profile Canadians against the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, including former NHLer Scott Niedermayer, author Joseph Boyden and economist Jeff Rubin. BNN speaks to Rubin.

Video: Former NHL star speaks out against Northern Gateway pipeline

Retired NHL star Scott Niedermayer has joined the World Wildlife Fund to raise awareness of the potential impact of the Northern Gateway pipeline on the Great Bear Rain Forest along British Columbia’s Pacific coast

Portfolio about fuel smugling from Nigeria to Togo and other countries :
(some more pics on leMonde but behind paywall)

More on this :
Truly characteristic of our time ...

"Hybrid" Urban Rail System

This is the first time I have looked closely at the Paris RER system. Basically connect two suburban commuter rail lines (some with several branches) with a subway under Paris. All electric (some 1.5 kV DC third rail, others 25 kV AC overhead - all trains but one can operate on either).

Mind blowing is Line A - 55,000 passengers/hour in the Peak direction, 262 million/year.

A good summary at

Speed is a powerful attractor for longer urban distances.

I immediately think of connecting North station with South station in Boston, but also converting I-395 in DC to urban rail.

I thought I would share this find for those interested.

Best Hopes :-)


PS: See my "Bethesda to Tyson's Corner in 12 minutes" Purple Line Extended essay.

Honda pledges to double global sales in five years

"We have now reached the stage of going on the offensive," Honda President Takanobu Ito told reporters..."

He, of course, does not comprehend the utter madness of his war-footing statement, nor his goal.

I could see an auto maker with "the right products" doubling sales in a global market that is down 1/3rd.

ATM, my money for sales increases in a shrinking market are 1) Toyota 2) Renault-Nissan and 3) Honda ... 98) GM 99) Ford.

Best Hopes for Better - and Fewer - Cars & Light Trucks,


More magic from the "free" market of the energy industry...

"We built that !"

Apologies if already linked to here on TOD.


Power, Pollution and the Internet

A yearlong examination by The New York Times has revealed that this foundation of the information industry is sharply at odds with its image of sleek efficiency and environmental friendliness.

.............Online companies typically run their facilities at maximum capacity around the clock, whatever the demand. As a result, data centers can waste 90 percent or more of the electricity they pull off the grid, The Times found.

To guard against a power failure, they further rely on banks of generators that emit diesel exhaust. The pollution from data centers has increasingly been cited by the authorities for violating clean air regulations, documents show. In Silicon Valley, many data centers appear on the state government’s Toxic Air Contaminant Inventory, a roster of the area’s top stationary diesel polluters.

Worldwide, the digital warehouses use about 30 billion watts of electricity, roughly equivalent to the output of 30 nuclear power plants, according to estimates industry experts compiled for The Times. Data centers in the United States account for one-quarter to one-third of that load, the estimates show.


Energy efficiency varies widely from company to company. But at the request of The Times, the consulting firm McKinsey & Company analyzed energy use by data centers and found that, on average, they were using only 6 percent to 12 percent of the electricity powering their servers to perform computations. The rest was essentially used to keep servers idling and ready in case of a surge in activity that could slow or crash their operations.

Not surprising. I've been very skeptical about the "cloud" promises of efficiency. The main thing I see coming from the virtualisation effort is convenience and reduction of management & upgrade costs.

Previously you had X physical machines and when you started hitting the ceiling (memory, CPU, whatever ...) you upgraded. Once your upgrades hit MAX or weren't economical you bought a new machine. So in a growing environment the upgrade involved a series of small steps. Every 3-5 years you did a large refresh and that was the MO. Now you buy stuff in bigger chunks. You get a big server that you split into several virtual ones and every upgrade is large (especially for data centers) so the rate of upgrades has slowed down (less man-hours) but then it takes longer for the hardware to get to it's full potential.

OTOH there are large improvements in gear efficiency every year so with good management you _could_ run an efficient data center. The problem is that larger installations are huge investments so the cost of the wasted power is probably less than the cost of re-engineering your shop every few years.
This field is changing so rapidly that I wouldn't want to predict anything more than 12 months out but you can be sure that if power prices go up significantly things will change in an eyeblink.

The article is somewhat overwrought. Backup diesel testing is done only for short periods. There has been discussion of using data center backup generation as a means of peak load generation. Essentially the utility cuts off the feed to the data center as a way of coping with the peak and this forces the data center UPS and backup generators to handle the peak. But I don't believe this is widespread or frequent.

Large companies are vigorously consolidating data centers and consolidating servers. Small companies are going to one of the various hosted models and cutting back their own data centers. The old days of one application running on one operating system instance on one hardware instance are over. New servers scale better, support numerous operating system instances, and applications scale better.

While the large, power hungry data centers are very noticible and easy to sensationalize, the removal of local server rooms from small and branch offices is less noticible and less attractive to write a story about.

Dumped! Government to throw out LNG project

The Sunday Gleaner has now confirmed that the Portia Simpson Miller-led administration will announce plans to abandon its long-stated intention to introduce liquefied natural gas (LNG).

After years of planning and millions of dollars in expenditure, the Simpson Miller administration has decided that it just cannot afford the cost of setting up the infrastructure and other requirements for the introduction of LNG.

Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell is scheduled to make that announcement early next month, but government sources say a new plan could be announced at that time as Paulwell continues his desperate push to reduce electricity bills.

"I can say that the numbers are not adding up," a government source told The Sunday Gleaner late last week.

This was the front page headline in the older of the two daily rags in my neck of the woods. So Jamaica continues to consume imported fuel oil with no decision having been made about how to reduce the fuel import bill. The government insists that it should decide whether coal or NG should be the fuel of choice and this particular newspaper seems to be pushing coal as the fuel of choice.

In the meantime tepid attempts at providing incentives for renewables have failed to produce much in the way of increased projects in that area. Arrangements for making interconnections with the grid were recently put on place which is a useful step but, the fact that Jamaica is one of a handful of countries in the world that use 110V/220V at 50Hz means that it is a challenge to find grid tie inverters designed specifically for Jamaican conditions.

US spec inverters are out of the question and only some euro spec inverters will work at all. Apparently there are a few micro-inverters in use but, there are none that have been designed specifically to facilitate use in Jamaica. The closest fit would be grid tie inverters designed for the Japanese market and with the recent increase in focus on solar PV in the Japanese market it is my hope that more grid tied products that can work in the Jamaican environment will emerge.

I have visited two trade shows in the US over the past three months with a view to trying to make some of the major inverter manufacturers aware of this issue and over the next few months, as new products are announced for the Japanese market, we will see if anything comes of it. Preliminary conversations suggest that a product that may work well, could soon be coming from SMA as a result of the Japanese situation.

Hopefully somewhere along the line TPTB will realize that Jamaica ought to be making a massive push for renewables. At least it looks like the current minister of energy might be leaning that way. In the meantime, the chatter continues.

Alan from the islands

Bike riding up 26% in Metro Vancouver

Bicycle use is up 26 per cent over the last three years in Metro Vancouver while bus trips are up 17 per cent, according to figures released by TransLink.

The figures, which were included in the 2013 Base Plan are good news, according to Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs, who notes car use only increased by four per cent over the same period – far less that the population increase of six per cent.

How a broker spent $520m in a drunken stupor and moved the global oil price


"...Mr Perkins poses an extreme risk to the market when drunk"