Drumbeat: October 1, 2012

So Far Unfruitful, Fusion Project Faces a Frugal Congress

For more than 50 years, physicists have been eager to achieve controlled fusion, an elusive goal that could potentially offer a boundless and inexpensive source of energy.

To do so, American scientists have built a giant laser, now the size of a football stadium, that takes target practice on specks of fuel smaller than peppercorns. The device, operating since 1993, has so far cost taxpayers more than $5 billion, making it one of the most expensive federally financed science projects ever. But so far, it has not worked.

Oil Declines From One-Week High as China Manufacturing Weakens

Crude slipped from the highest close in a week in New York as manufacturing contracted unexpectedly in China, raising speculation that fuel demand may decline in the world’s second-biggest crude consumer.

Futures slid as much as 1 percent after capping the biggest quarterly gain since December on Sept. 28. China’s Purchasing Managers’ Index was 49.8 in September, the government said today. That compares with the median forecast of 50.1 in a Bloomberg survey. An index from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics showed an 11th contraction. Data released later today will probably show U.S. output shrank a fourth month.

Norway may send more gas to UK, Europe take more Russian

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain may receive more Norwegian gas in the 2012/2013 gas year as continental European customers take more Russian supplies, which became more competitive following contract negotiations during the past months, analysts said on Monday.

European gas buyers and sellers adjust supply volumes on Oct. 1, starting the new gas year, as the winter heating season starts in Europe.

U.S. Natural Gas Gains a Fifth Day After Supply Forecasts

Natural gas futures rose in New York for a fifth consecutive day, their longest streak of gains in more than three months, as concern ebbed that stockpiles will reach storage limits before colder weather increases demand.

EU gas demand expected stable/softer in 2012 vs 2011

(Platts) - European gas demand is expected to remain "relatively stable" in 2012 overall compared with 2011, gas industry association Eurogas said in a statement Monday.

It said 2012 gas demand could correspond to about 5,090 TWh (470 billion cubic meters) across the EU27 and Switzerland.

Serbia Seeks 10% Russian Gas Price Cut Next Year

BELGRADE (RIA Novosti) – Serbia expects Russian energy giant Gazprom to cut the price of natural gas supplies next year by a further 10 percent, Srbijagas CEO Dusan Bajatovic said on Monday.

Under a contract signed between Srbijagas and YugoRosGaz, a Gazprom subsidiary in Serbia, the Balkan republic currently pays $470 per 1,000 cubic meters for Russian gas supplies, or 12 percent less than last year.

Bull Wagers Tumble Most in 16 Weeks as Prices Slump

Speculators cut wagers by the most in 16 weeks as commodities capped the first monthly loss since May on mounting concern that central bank stimulus measures won’t be enough to halt slowing economic growth.

Gazprom, India's GAIL agree 20-yr LNG sales deal

(Reuters) - Russia's Gazprom Marketing and Trading has signed a legally binding agreement to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) to India's GAIL for 20 years, the companies said on Monday.

Under the terms of the agreement, GAIL will receive 2.5 million tonnes of LNG sourced from Gazprom's own production facilities and global trading portfolio, they said in a statement.

High oil price: fuel for Russian manufacturing, decelerator for Europe

Russia’s manufacturing output kept growing in September, largely reflecting higher oil prices. More expensive commodities have been the main drag on European economies.

Operating conditions for Russian manufacturing kept on improving in September, as its Purchasing Manager Index (PMI) – an indicator of business activity in the sector – rose to 52.4 from the August figure of 51.0. The latest reading was also slightly above its historic average of 52.1 and a far better performance than Eurozone economies, where the PMI slipped to a 3 year low of 46.1.

Shell hopeful on Arctic drilling despite setback

Royal Dutch Shell PLC has spent $4.5 billion on Arctic offshore drilling, moving ahead in fits and spurts to overcome delays from court challenges and the added scrutiny that followed BP's Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.

Odum said glitches were expected and the payoff from significant resources in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas will make the trouble worthwhile.

"If they prove up the way we hope they will, and the way the U.S. government thinks they may, then this will be very much worth all our time and effort," he said. "There is still great enthusiasm for that."

Kuwait's KOTC deploys armed security on board its oil tankers: report

Kuwait City (Platts) - State-owned Kuwait Oil Tanker Co has deployed armed security squads on board its oil and product tanker fleet, KOTC chairman Bader al-Khashti told the official news agency KUNA Monday.

Effective Monday, the security teams will be on the tankers especially when passing through pirate-infested regions. KOTC implemented the security move after assessing "the risks and recurrence of piracy in several regions around the world," al-Khashti said.

Iran to build an oil exporting pipeline to Afghanistan

Azerbaijan, Baku /Trend S.Isayev, T. Jafarov/ Iran will be building a pipeline to export oil to Afghanistan, Head of the Office of the Campaign against Smuggling Goods and Foreign Currency, Fada Hossein Maleki said, Shana reported.

Maleki noted that upon the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers, the pipeline to Afghanistan will be built from Iran's Dogharoon city (Masshad province) to Afghan city of Eslam Qaleh (Herat province).

Thousands displaced as Syrian authorities demolish Hama neighborhood

(CNN) -- Syrian forces are uprooting thousands of people and then demolishing their homes in part of a flashpoint city that has been the center of an anti-government rebellion, according to residents there.

Tanks and bulldozers have been tearing down houses in the Mesha Alarbeen district of the city of Hama, the site of intense fighting during an uprising against the Syrian government.

Officials: Suicide attacker kills 3 NATO forces, 4 Afghan police

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- A suicide attack in eastern Afghanistan Monday killed 14 people, including three NATO service members and four Afghan police, and wounded 57 others, a spokesman for the Afghan interior ministry said.

The bomber targeted a joint patrol of ISAF forces and Afghan police, using an explosives-packed motorcycle, according to Sediq Seddiqi, a spokesman for the ministry, which condemned the attack.

Venezuelans might well ask, 'Where has the money gone?'

It is said Venezuela does not have good or bad presidents, just presidents who serve at times of high or low oil prices.

Venezuelans vote on Sunday to decide whether Hugo Chávez, who has enjoyed unprecedented benefits from the oil effect, deserves a fourth term.

Angola New Oil Law Taking Force May Boost Liquidity

An oil law in Angola, Africa’s second-biggest crude producer, that enters into force today may increase domestic banks’ liquidity and strengthen the currency, the Economist Intelligence Unit said.

The legislation, which requires foreign oil companies to pay suppliers from accounts with local banks, may funnel $10 billion a year through Angola’s economy and support the value of the kwanza while risking higher prices if lending increases, according to the London-based EIU. It may also delay projects.

Miners owe East Timor millions in unpaid taxes

Potentially billions of dollars of tax is being withheld from the government of East Timor by some of the world's richest oil and gas companies operating in the Timor Sea, Four Corners has revealed.

The amount owing to East Timor, or Timor Leste as it is known in the country, could be as much as US$3 billion, once interest and penalties are added to the unpaid taxes.

Iraq to Pay Kurdish-Area Oil Companies Today, Hawrami Says

Iraq will pay money today that it owes to international oil companies pumping crude in the country’s northern Kurdish region, an official with the semi- autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government said.

Ashti Hawrami, the Kurdish natural resources minister, told reporters in Baghdad the central government informed him of the decision to resume payments. He spoke today before meeting Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul Kareem al-Luaibi for talks about drafting a national energy law.

IDB eyes investment in Kazakh, Central Asia energy, farming

ASTANA (Reuters) - The Islamic Development Bank is looking to resource-rich Kazakhstan and Central Asia as a fertile ground for investment, with the launch of a $50 million renewable energy fund on Monday and plans to finance agricultural projects, an official said.

Europe refiner majority-owned by Libya rises from ashes

Oilinvest, a European refiner majority-owned by Libya's National Oil Corporation, has fought a battle on two fronts.

Refineries have struggled in recent years to stay afloat on falling margins, particularly in Europe. Add to that a political revolution at home that led to a near shutdown of the industry supplying most of Oilinvest's feedstock and raised the threat of sanctions.

Transocean Ban on Renting Rigs to Petrobras in Brazil Eased

Transocean Ltd., the world’s biggest offshore driller, can keep renting equipment to Petroleo Brasileiro SA after Brazil’s top court partially lifted a ban on operations related to an oil spill.

The Superior Court of Justice allowed Transocean to continue operating its rigs in Brazil, except for the Frade project that is operated by Chevron Corp., Transocean said in a statement distributed by Marketwire yesterday. Eight of Transocean’s nine other rigs in Brazil are under contract with Petrobras, as the state-controlled producer is known.

Pipeline fire in southeast Nigeria kills 20

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — A government spokesman says 20 people in southeast Nigeria died when a broken gasoline pipeline caught fire, burning alive those gathering the fuel.

The fire happened in a remote village in Abia state, near Nigeria's oil-rich southern delta. Abia state government spokesman Ugochukwu Emezue said Monday that the fire happened Sept. 23, but it took days for the information to reach officials.

Romney Shifted Right on Energy as Presidential Politics Beckoned

Today in Massachusetts, environmentalists credit Mr. Romney with helping to promote smart growth and reducing air pollution by putting in place tough regulations curbing certain toxic emissions from power plants. They also praise him for signing into law a bill embracing oil spill prevention measures. But many feel betrayed by his surprise reversal on the climate change pact.

“He was ahead of his time and very progressive,” said Jack Clarke, who was appointed to an ocean management task force by Mr. Romney and now directs public policy at Mass Audubon, a conservation group. “But by the end of his administration, he seemed to have gotten Potomac fever. The conservation agenda he had didn’t seem to be a core conviction.”

Shift by Cuomo on Gas Drilling Prompts Both Anger and Praise

ALBANY — A few months after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was poised to approve hydraulic fracturing in several struggling New York counties, his administration is reversing course and starting the regulatory process over, garnering praise from environmental groups and stirring anger among industry executives and upstate landowners.

Want a job? Look to the energy field

In 2009, Andrea Conaway was an X-ray technician whose career plan was showing a few fractures.

Hospitals were consolidating around Pittsburgh, so she went searching for oil, in a sense. She went back to school, got an associate's degree in computer electronics, and in August, began a job as an associate systems analyst at EQT, a Pittsburgh-based natural gas driller.

"I figured this industry was the future," says Conaway, who says she boosted her income to almost $50,000 a year from $38,000. "It's growing like crazy around here. My friends were getting raises and great benefits, and I knew I wouldn't be.''

Tanks, a lot: Thieves drill holes in gas tanks at N.H. auto dealer, siphon gas

The trouble was first spotted when a customer was interested in one of the trucks. But when workers brought it over, the truck suddenly ran out of gas, CBS Boston reported.

Upon closer examination, police determined the gas tanks to the vehicles had been drilled out, and the gas was drained.

Downward sales spiral plagues Europe's automakers

The European Automobile Manufacturers Association, or ACEA using its French initials, expects 2012 to bring the market’s worst sales in 17 years. Industrywide, car registrations dipped 8.5 percent for August. And only Volkswagen, among major manufacturers, posted a sales gain — largely by including Porsche results in its corporate numbers.

Sales have been plunging in the southern European markets hardest hit by the Continent’s economic slump, notably Italy and Spain. But even the economic powerhouse is sliding downward, with ACEA reporting that German registrations dropped 4.7 percent last month.

Hybrid delivery vans show nearly 20 percent higher fuel economy, study says

(Phys.org)—The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE)'s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently completed a performance evaluation report that showed significant fuel economy benefits of hybrid electric delivery vans compared to similar conventional vans.

"During the on-road portion of our study, the hybrid vans demonstrated a 13 to 20 percent higher fuel economy than the conventional vans," said NREL Project Engineer Michael Lammert. "During dynamometer testing, three standard drive cycles were chosen to represent the range of delivery routes. The hybrids showed a 13 to 36 percent improvement in fuel economy and up to a 45 percent improvement in ton-miles-per-gallon. This wide range in fuel economy is largely dependent on drive cycle."

Lightening the Load for Manufacturers

SHIPPING pallets, those slatted platforms that fill warehouses, are intended to move heavy loads, not people.

But innovations in their design and manufacture may play an important role in creating a fleet of more environmentally sustainable cars and trucks.

To Encourage Biking, Cities Lose the Helmets

In the United States the notion that bike helmets promote health and safety by preventing head injuries is taken as pretty near God’s truth. Un-helmeted cyclists are regarded as irresponsible, like people who smoke. Cities are aggressive in helmet promotion.

But many European health experts have taken a very different view: Yes, there are studies that show that if you fall off a bicycle at a certain speed and hit your head, a helmet can reduce your risk of serious head injury. But such falls off bikes are rare — exceedingly so in mature urban cycling systems.

On the other hand, many researchers say, if you force or pressure people to wear helmets, you discourage them from riding bicycles. That means more obesity, heart disease and diabetes. And — Catch-22 — a result is fewer ordinary cyclists on the road, which makes it harder to develop a safe bicycling network. The safest biking cities are places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, where middle-aged commuters are mainstay riders and the fraction of adults in helmets is minuscule.

Danes set the pace on green energy vision

By 2050, the Danes hope to power their country entirely by alternative sources. Even cars are to be fuelled by renewable energy. They believe this revolution will be made possible by an abundance of wind, which is already blowing fossil fuels out of the energy mix.

Nuclear plant in Abu Dhabi set to be operational in five years

Abu Dhabi's nuclear power plant is "on track" to go online by 2017.

Thousands of workers have been deployed at Baraka, a remote site on the emirate's coast, to build the US$20 billion (Dh73.46bn) power station in partnership with Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, the Abu Dhabi Government company overseeing the programme.

Sumitomo Sees ‘Solar Bubble’ as Japan Rejects Nuclear

As Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and billionaire Masayoshi Son lead a swarm of investors exploiting Japan’s solar power subsidies, the world’s biggest, Sumitomo Corp. (8053) is betting on wind.

The trading house, Japan’s second-largest investor in power generation outside utilities, will add wind farms and at least two biomass plants to take advantage of the above-market rates for electricity from renewable sources the government introduced in July. Sumitomo’s local utility, Summit Energy Corp., expects profits from wind power to triple in as many years, said the unit’s president, Shinichi Kitamura.

Suzlon Sues Edison Unit Over Payment for Turbines to Big Sky

Suzlon Energy Ltd., the Indian wind-turbine maker seeking an extension on debt repayments, has filed a lawsuit against a unit of Edison International (EIX) claiming its improperly refusing to make a pre-payment for turbines supplied to a U.S. wind farm.

Big Sky, a unit of Edison Mission Group, claims defects in some components don’t require it to make the payment, according to Suzlon’s complaint, filed Sept. 14 in New York Supreme Court. Suzlon, based in the western Indian city of Pune, is the second- biggest wind-turbine maker in the world by sales.

Obama Bars Chinese-Owned Company From Building Wind-Farm

President Barack Obama barred a Chinese-owned company from building wind farms near a U.S. Navy base in Oregon, the first time in 22 years a president has blocked a transaction as a national security risk.

Obama ordered Delaware-based Ralls Corp. to remove all property and installations from its sites within two weeks and divest all of its interests in the wind-farm project within 90 days. In the area around the sites, the Navy conducts training for bombing, electronic combat maneuvers and develops drones, according to the base’s website.

Sany Vows Legal Battle as Obama Blocks Wind Farms, Xinhua Says

Sany Group Co., China’s biggest machinery maker, will use all legal efforts to win compensation after U.S. President Barack Obama barred the building of wind farms near a navy base in Oregon, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

The farms pose no threat to U.S. national security and Obama’s move was probably made to serve his election campaign, Xinhua reported Sept. 29, citing Zhou Qing, a legal official with Sany. Zhou said his company will seek a “fair and square result,” according to the news agency.

How the mafia is destroying the rainforests

It's not as glamorous as cocaine or diamonds, but the illegal logging industry has become very attractive to criminal organisations over the past decade. A new report finds that up to 90 per cent of tropical deforestation can be attributed to organised crime, which controls up to 30 per cent of the global timber trade.

One Proposal to Cool a Warming Planet: An Umbrella Made of Asteroids

The idea, from researchers at the University of Strathclyde's Advanced Space Concepts Laboratory, goes like this: We locate a suitably sized asteroid. We hardness it into a position near Earth. And then we blast its surface to create a cloud of dust, which the asteroid's own gravitational pull would suspend around it, encompassing Earth at the same time.

Hofmeister seems to be hedging his bets. And he seems to be reading Robert Rapier's blog on a regurlar basis as he is now using terms Robert often uses. In fact he acknowledges that fact in this article. I think we will be seeing a lot more former deniers of peak oil coming around very soon.

Hofmeister: A Difficult Decade Ahead For Oil Prices and Supplies

In a nutshell, we all know that peak oil is a phenomenon in which global oil production begins an irreversible decline, and the shortages that ensue drive global oil prices very high and cause widespread hardship. However, as I began to see spare global oil production capacity erode away over the past decade, I began to ask myself how that situation was really distinct from peak oil? Technically the difference is that production can continue to grow in that scenario, but if demand growth is higher than production growth, for practical purposes you have a situation that mimics peak oil. I referred to this situation as peak lite.

Ron P.

Ron – “I referred to this situation as peak lite.” Setting the seriousness aside for the moment it is really funny. Peak lite…a little pregnant…minor case of cancer…barely dead…etc.

It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead...

Or as Miracle Max would say: Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there's usually only one thing you can do.

Go through his pockets and look for loose change :-)

"Peak Lite" is, IIRC, the term that R^2 coined to describe when it was geologically and technically possible to increase production, but there were "above the ground" factors (war, political turmoil, etc.) which prevented the production increases. So it's not a strict geological peak causing the supply constraint, but is essentially unrecognizable from one....Peak Lite.

I don't remember where I saw it, but there was a presentation where something like this was explained. If you graph out exponential production growth over time, you get an upward bending curve. You get a similar upward bending curve for exponential demand. This demand can come from either pure population growth, or some group of the population becoming more "demanding" (Chinese buying their first car). But, even if the production is still rising, the shape of the exponential (upward curve) can brake over (inflection point) to a downward curve. At this point, if the demand curve is still positive (upward curve), then you start to get a split in the two lines. This is the difference that must be made up by price rise, and over time, less babies.

And this still says nothing about the local pain inflicted by the ELM situation. I think of this as an amplifier.

A distinction without a difference

Talking to a South African friend who told me that Africaans is a very expressive language around violence (now there's a surprise) including lots of different words for being dead: Mostly dead, very dead, etc

Dead from the neck up?....I know a lot of those type of folk.

"Dik, dom, en difficult" we call them. "Thick, stupid, and difficult".

"Dead/stone dead" = "dood/morsdood". Interestingly, Afrikaans has different words for humans and animals performing the same action. Thus, "humans die, animals die" becomes "mense sterf, diere vrek", so you can use animal words for human actions to make the meaning cruder and more brutal.

"I'm going to beat you up." could be any of, "Ek gaan jou moer/donder/bliksem/opfok/'n pak slae gee/wys maak/in die hel in slaan/opfoeter/... etc"

Hi all,

I wrote a post on the sociopolitical side of global warming and would be very interested in comments - here or on my blog: http://powerparadigms.blogspot.de/2012/09/global-warming-no-home-for-me....

It has nothing to do about any of the articles above, except for maybe the one about the astroids...

It's long (also the article I'm commenting on), but please don't give up too quickly.


Pretty good article PeakPlus but you appear to be a bit wishey-washey.

Of course, for me, if weather researchers were to show that carbon dioxide (CO2 ) does not have the effect on surface temperatures that we have taken as established the past 25 years, then I wouldn't have much of a problem believing them either. I have no horse in the race regarding global warming and am not playing politics with the issue - at least not in the assumed way.

Weather researchers are called "meteorologists". They try to predict the weather, not the climate. You should have used the term "climatologists". That CO2 increases the greenhouse effect is a well established scientific fact. There is no chance whatsoever that climatologists will find that it is not. You should have left that paragraph out entirely.

The chart in your article that goes from "Alarmed to Dismissive" is backward. It should go from left to right, "Dismissive to Alarmed", or in my opinion anyway. I am just not accustomed to reading a chart from right to left.

I did find the article you linked to in your article, Climate Science as Culture War, very interesting, especially this graph:

Ron P.

Thanks Ron,
- good point: "climatologist" terminology changed (also my point changed - has to do with the *degree* of how much effect CO2 has)
- I chose "left" to "right" to reflect the corresponding political positions.
- Yes, I thought there was plenty of good in the original article, especially seeing that the politics are splitting more and more

Cheers, Dominic

The difference seen in that graph between D's and R's view of climate change is in my opinion for the most part a reflection of TV sources. Predominantly, D's watch MSNBC and R's watch Fox.

Well when it comes to news or network news talk shows, D's also watch NBC, CBS, ABC and CNN. And ever R's watch these networks on rare occasions but they mostly watch Fox News around the clock. ;-)

That's why Fox News usually has higher ratings then MSNBC. Democrats are watching several channels but Republicans clustered on one channel, Fox News.

Ron P.

Its also become a "litmus" issue for R's (similar to abortion or taxes). If you don't express the "correct" view, you are considered to be a RINO at best. (RINO = Republican In Name Only). So if one identifies with the party there is strong incentive to tow the line.

This litmus test of denialism is quite disturbing. I'd understand if they said "Yeah, it is happening but I don't think it is worth doing anything about." But instead, the thought seems to be "No, it is not happening . . . this is just a hoax created by scientists that want grants and bleeding-hearts that want to redistribute wealth."

And then there's the kooks like me and probably others on TOD who do NOT watch any of the
TV News! I have found it inane and trivializing for years. I do listen to NPR and DemocracyNow, this site and other progressive sites which I find far more enlightening,
informed and stimulative of longer-term thinking. TV News will cover 1 gory murder in depth and report nothing on actual crime rates or the statistics and possible causes.

Which brings to mind that besides the Corporatist Presidential Debate between Tweedledee Democrat Obama and Tweedledum Republican Romney DemocracyNow will be having a debate between
Green Party Jill Stein and Justice Party Rocky Anderson after the Corporatists miasma. I would imagine they probably invited Libertarian Gary Johnson but perhaps he could not attend.


Orbit, I think such cynicism is not called for. No two candidates are ever the same. It always makes a difference. Of course there is no way of knowing what would be the case if Gore were president instead of George W. Bush but if that had been the case it is extremely doubtful that there ever would have been a Iraqi war.

Of course TV news coverage is not perfect but it is often very informative. And the best critics of anything never resort to cynicism. Cynicism always comes across as sour grapes because the world is not the way the cynic thinks it should be.

Ron P.

During the 2000 campaign, Gore ran with a more militaristic tone than Bush and specifically called for the overthrow of Saddam. He gave a speech in Sept. 2002 which said that leaving Saddam in power was a mistake, bragged about voting for the Iraq War, and reiterated his support for the horrible bombing runs of the late 90s. Google "al gore iraq war" and see what he had to say instead of reciting liberal pieties.

Gore would have gone about it differently, but there's little doubt the outcome would be substantially the same: a brutal civil/religious war, Iran strengthened, trillions flushed down the hole, lots of dead people. Gore dodged a bullet by losing the 2000 race.

Jersey, Gore was referring to Bush 1 leaving Saddam in power at the very moment he had him on the run. There were reports that Saddam was making plans to leave Iraq when Bush suddenly stopped his pursuit of the Iraqi army. And the war Gore voted for was when Iraq invaded Kuwait. He was a private citizen when congress voted on the George W. Bush war with Iraq.

And I don't believe for one minute that Gore would have invaded Iraq just because of 9/11 as Bush did. There is absolutely no case to be made that Gore would have invaded Iraq because he thought they had weapons of mass destruction. Bush did it, largely because he wanted to correct a mistake his daddy made.

I am not reciting liberal pieties, though I am an unabashed liberal. However you are reciting right wing nonsense.

Ron P.

"However you are reciting right wing nonsense."

Especially the part about Gore "losing" the 2000 election :-/

@Jersey Patriot...
Al clearly spoke out against the war. As you suggested I performed a quick search, copied and pasted "al gore iraq war" and got a great speech Gore delivered about a year after the September 11th attacks and six months before the 2003 invasion: http://www.gwu.edu/~action/2004/gore/gore092302sp.html

By shifting from his early focus after September 11th on war against terrorism to war against Iraq, the President has manifestly disposed of the sympathy, good will and solidarity compiled by America and transformed it into a sense of deep misgiving and even hostility. In just one year, the President has somehow squandered the international outpouring of sympathy, goodwill and solidarity that followed the attacks of September 11th and converted it into anger and apprehension aimed much more at the United States than at the terrorist network – much as we manage to squander in one year’s time the largest budget surpluses in history and convert them into massive fiscal deficits. He has compounded this by asserting a new doctrine – of preemption.

(The above was 3rd form the top after 1. a link to ebay and 2. a link to Amazon.com)

My fading memory perhaps had let me write him off but after reading the speech I have newfound respect for Al.

I've gone to only watching the international news on MHz (AJE, France 24 NHK etc.). Much better to see your country as others do.

I see you're living up to your logon name ;-)

And proudly so.

I would add to that "Russian Times" (RT) - surprisingly complete news coverage.

The couple of times I watched RT, it was inflammatory coverage of former Nazis in the Baltic states. I decided not to watch RT anymore. I don't trust them.

Check out Current TV. Also, MSNBC does not cover murders, etc. You must be referring to local news or maybe CNN and fox. NPR seems too wishy washy for my tastes.

And wouldn't the apparent fact that TV can so profoundly affect one's opinions lead one to throw throw the F&*#ing thing out the window??

Why do people willingly allow themselves to be exposed to such crap? Regardless of which channel happens to be on?

Why do people willingly allow themselves to be exposed to such crap? Regardless of which channel happens to be on?

It's emotionally sophisticated stuff, it pushes the viewers emotional buttons, and many people enjoy it. It also programs our emotional brains, which may be a hidden agenda of the sponsors.

The red line is an apt illustration of the concept, "dumb and dumber". Too bad. So sad.

RE: Shell hopeful on Arctic drilling despite setback

The obliviousness that their killer oil helped destroy the Arctic up to now does not register in their thinking:

"If they prove up the way we hope they will, and the way the U.S. government thinks they may, then this will be very much worth all our time and effort," he said. "There is still great enthusiasm for that."

(ibid). They have zero enthusiasum for practices that will not bring greater destruction to the Earth, to civilization.

They are psychopaths by definition.

"They" is we, I believe.
If "we" don't stop using so much hydrocarbon, "they" won't stop producing it from wherever "they" can find it.
"They" might be psychopaths, but "we" are delusional.

Yep! Pogo got it in one:

"we have met the enemy and he is us."

Not only is this a pretty good description of how we got into our current predicament, it is also quite insightful as to how difficult it will be to deal with said predicament.

One of my all time favorite quotes - and all too true.

In the federal courts:


582 F.3d 309 (2d Cir. 2009), hereinafter Connecticut v American Electric, the United States Court of Appeals For The Second Circuit, reviewed a lawsuit against power companies and energy companies for public nuisance.

A public nuisance is:

The Restatement (Second) of Torts § 821B(1) (1979) defines a public nuisance as "an unreasonable interference with a right common to the general public."

(ibid). Clearly the public is not being sued for using fossil fuels, rather, fossil fuel and energy providers who use it are being sued because the CO2 green house gas factor is a public nuisance.

The court pointed out:

In 2004, two groups of Plaintiffs, one consisting of eight States and New York City, and the other consisting of three land trusts (collectively "Plaintiffs"), separately sued the same six electric power corporations that own and operate fossil-fuel-fired power plants in twenty states (collectively "Defendants"), seeking abatement of Defendants' ongoing contributions to the public nuisance of global warming. Plaintiffs claim that global warming, to which Defendants contribute as the "five largest emitters of carbon dioxide in the United States and ... among the largest in the world,"

(ibid). The court reversed the district court that said the case could not be litigated. The case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The public citizens will never be held liable for a public nuisance, because that is a ridiculous non-sequiter, and is not even an issue. The enemy is not the public.

The full issues before the Supreme Court are discussed here.

The Supreme Court remanded to the Second Circuit, holding that the previous case held that the EPA can make regulations requiring what the plaintiffs asked for. If the EPA does not do that properly, then a case can be brought in federal courts.

NO ONE blamed the public for CO2 ... it is energy companies who will be regulated and/or sued, not the public. Supreme Court Decision

NeverLNG & Mikel,

That is blame the victim ideology.

With authority comes responsibility ... blaming the laity for the sins of the evangelists of oil is a psychologically impaired notion.

The citizenry is not responsible for the crimes of the fossil fuel industry.

Would you blame the victims for the BP oil spill? ("They would not have been there if you didn't want it ... you were asking for it").

Society is addicted to oil, which by definiton is something that the dependent can't quit.

Those who addicted society to it, or facilitated it, when society was trusting them RE: "this isn't addictive", are wholly at fault IMO.

Yup, the masses are blameless, they'd much prefer to give up their SUVs and big trucks. They don't really want that stuff, they'd rather walk or ride a bike, or take a train if they must, but big oil won't let them. /sarc

We can argue till we're blue in the face about why the rail systems was torn up in favor of the automobile, but the people were willing participants all along and if you think that at this point gasoline and the automobile are being forced upon them you need to get out more. Even here on TOD where the issues of finite resource and scarcity scarcity and the damage we're doing are routinely discussed, the automobile is sacred for many.

I see this logical fallacy all the time - that it must be either the oil companies OR the people that are to blame, that if there is corruption then that must be the sole cause. In fact it is the crisis that makes the opportunity for corruption and manipulation. It is the iron-clad DEMAND for motor fuel that provides the opportunities for the oil companies (and there has never been a more appropriate use of the term DEMAND than in regard to fuel for cars).


See the case I cited upthread.

Sorry, but I fail to see how court cases relate to reality. There is no doubt that we are trapped now, and that everyone who can take advantage of that will do so. But the vast majority of people were willing participants in creating that trap, and they still believe will all of their hearts in the value and worth of the things that trapped them, and few even recognize that they're in a trap. It's a society wide problem, and if you just look at the (ever present) crooks and say "they're the problem", you'll miss the bigger part of the reality.

So go have at 'em, with my blessing, but when you're done you'll have to deal with the anger of all the people you "helped". Because they don't want your help, they want their cars and their oil, and they're willing to kill to get it.


"Sorry, but I fail to see how court cases relate to reality."

Your failure does not end the matter.

The public is not liable for the problem, the fossil fuel / power industry is.

The enemy is not the public.

The attitudes of the public can (and is) a big part of the problem. This is similar to racism, the "government" can have the best laws, but if a lot of people don't follow them -or follow them to the letter only but violate them in spirit, it is still a problem. I think you are rhetorically arguing that, since democracy is irreproachable, the public cannot be in the wrong. Well, they can be wrong. Now it is often the case, that elites of various sorts have invested in promoting those wrong attitudes, and they are clearly far more guilty per capita.

enemy of State,

I recollect that a substantial number of people in the House of Representatives declare publicly that global warming inducted climate change is a hoax.

A smaller number in the Senate hold those views.

If leaders are not held to account for their errors as they mislead the public, why should the public be held accountable?

The History of Oil and the History of Global Warming Science show that big oil is the deceiver, manipulator, and the one who sells pollution via fossil fuels.

The merchant is the one responsible for defective, poisonous merchandise.

Ever heard a sane court hold that the victim is to blame for buying the defective or poisonous food?

Sane law contemplates that is illegal to put poison in food then sell it ... those who buy it are not considered at fault in American Jurisprudence.

It is all about who is best able to avoid the problem at its source.

That one is a no-brainer.

Can you imagine oil companies counter suing a litigant for buying a product that is destroying the Earth, especially after that oil company has spent billions of dollars in propaganda campaigns to deceive that customer?

The victim is to blame for buying fattening food. Is oil fattening or poisonous?


You said: "The victim is to blame ..."

The definition of "victim" is:

vic·tim ... noun

1. a person who suffers from a destructive or injurious action or agency: a victim of an automobile accident.

2. a person who is deceived or cheated, as by his or her own emotions or ignorance, by the dishonesty of others, or by some impersonal agency: a victim of misplaced confidence; the victim of a swindler; a victim of an optical illusion.

3. a person or animal sacrificed or regarded as sacrificed: war victims.

4. a living creature sacrificed in religious rites.

(Dictionary). By definition a victim is any individual who is wronged by another because at the time the victim did not have the wherewithal to avoid it.

Definition 2 is applicable: Fat people are victims of a medical fallacy (fat in the diet is bad) compounded by industrial food producers (give the public what they want, i.e. low-fat substances that taste good, never mind if it's good for them or not, as long as we can't be sued).

I am, as you can see, an adherent of the paleo diet.


You misread and misinterpreted #2.

It applies to people who are taken advantage of in a wrong way because they lack some form of understanding, and therefore are described as victims.

Their lack is not what makes them victims, it is the perpetrator who misuses them because of their lack that makes them a victim.

You are advocating as if animated by the Stockholm Syndrome, which victims sometimes do, but it does not exonerate the person taking advantage of and creating the victimization.

For example, a bank robber is not exonerated because his victim suffers from Stockholm Syndrome via stress shock.

Likewise, the dirty oil industry, the dirty oil drug dealers, are not exonerated from polluting the planet because their victims suffer from ignorance or Stockholm Syndrome.

Likewise, the dirty oil industry, the dirty oil drug dealers, are not exonerated from polluting the planet because their victims suffer from ignorance or Stockholm Syndrome.

Okay. But most people aren't in the dark about the evils of burning oil anymore. And yet they continue to choose the convenience of burning oil over, say, riding their bikes to work. They continue to travel by plane and otherwise continue to indulge in the fruits of petroleum, by their own free choice when they could easily refrain.

To me your posts sound like a guilty conscience lashing out. Anybody who understands the issues as you do, yet continues to burn oil, shares some of the blame. There is no escaping it.

The oil companies lie and do evil deeds. Left to their own devices they will destroy the water supply and cook the planet in a quest for quarterly profits. That doesn't mean that the whole ordeal is their fault.

The public is a huge problem. Scientists are telling the public that there is a problem but the public goes into denial about it.

Businesses will exploit anything and everything until they are forced to do otherwise. That is what they do. Business used slavery until it was forced to stop. They used child labor until forced to stop. They provided dangerous work conditions until they were forced to stop. As long as there is a profit, paying customers, and no laws against it then businesses will do ANYTHING.

It is the public through democracy that changes these things. The public causes laws to be written, passed, and enforced. As long as the public stands idle, nothing will change.


You wrote "It is the public through democracy that changes these things."

Can you cite me to one current debate in public during the current campaign where global warming induced climate change was debated or even brought up?

Tomorrow's Presidential debate needs to deal with the issue.

Would you blame the public in those countries where such things are not decided by elections, such as the U.S.eh?

Our concept of justice contemplates that the one closest, the proximate cause, is to be held liable.

Our Universities teach the history of global warming induced climate change (The Exceptional American Denial), as well as revealing who is at fault for a massive propaganda onslaught.

The same institutions who propagandized tobbacco and asbestos were hired by the oil companies to propagandize dirty oil.

No one has been sued in the courts for being a smoker, yet the tobacco companies were finally outed by lawsuis and they paid the price for their psychopathogical lying.

Conflating individual choice that impacts one individual with industrial integrity that impacts millions is not clear thinking.

"One death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic." - Joseph Stalin

At the end of the day, people make choices. The mystery to me is why so few of us make conscious choices that have a relatively small negative impact on the atmosphere. Part of it , I guess, is what one was exposed to at a relatively young age. The readings I was assigned in college economics classes in the early 70s had a big impact. And love for the natural world has always been a big issue since early childhood. And then there is the fact that we have evolved in a way that is hostile to long term survival but fitted to short term survival. Humanity is a freaking mystery.

Twilight wrote:

We can argue till we're blue in the face about why the rail systems was torn up in favor of the automobile, but the people were willing participants all along

James Kunstler's "Too Much Magic" does provide an interesting explanation of the flight
to the suburbs from grimy US industrial cities and ghettos unlike the historic cities of Europe. But no other choice was presented, indeed it was systematically destroyed.

The people like my mother who grew up riding the Trolleys all over DC from the age of 12
did NOT choose to destroy our Green Transit. That was done and there were 3 successful lawsuits proving it, by General Motors, Firestone,Chevron and others.

When people have a more Green viable Transit choice they will take it- as proven all over
Europe, Japan, Taiwan and in New York City where very few people own a car and the monthly cost of a Metropass to travel the distance to Chicago across all 5 boroughs only costs $104 per month.

Regardless it is pretty clear that Teabag Koch-brother funded Republicans are doing all they can to destroy Green Transit in Gov Rick Scott's Florida, Gov Christie's New Jersey, Wisconsin, Ohio against the wishes of their own citizens.

It may be that companies like General Motors bought up trolley lines so they could be replaced with buses. The real damage though was due to the tremendous growth in the number of privately owned automobiles after WW2. Most people, given a choice, preferred to drive their own car than use the trolley lines. It didn't help that the trolley lines in many cities, certainly here in Ottawa, Canada, had been starved of investment funds through the depression years and war years. Thus, in addition to having a reduced number of passengers, the trolley companies were also at the point that significant investments would have had to be made to keep the trolley lines viable. I'm not really surprised that many trolley lines were abandoned and replaced with bus service. Of course, we're now at the point where more people are looking for public transit, either because they can no longer afford a car or the roads they would need to drive on are too congested. You are quite correct in pointing out that many politicians have not yet figured out that it would now be more productive to invest in public transit than into expanding the road system.

I find it disconcerting that Ottawa, Canada's national capital developed an obsession with diesel buses, whereas Cagary and Edmonton, the country's two main oil cities reintroduced streetcars in the form of modern electric light rail transit systems.

I always felt that it indicated the oil men knew something the politicians didn't.

Ottawa chose to build a bus transitway at roughly the same time Calgary started building its light rail system. While the transitway was a good solution at the time, light rail would have been a better solution in the long run. The existence of the bus transitway is one reason why our politicians have been slow to get moving on light rail.

Back in the day when Sweden produced 1/3 of global iron production, we exported loads of it (often in the form of cannons, Captain Blackbeard had swedish cannons) but used as little of it as possible to maximize exports. At the mining sites they often built the buildings they used in 100% wood, no nails. All for the export.

It's true that the Alberta cities probably do want to free up more oil for export. Canada currently exports more oil than it consumes itself, and while exports are increasing, domestic consumption is falling. It is a very lucrative trade.

Eastern Canadian cities probably assumed that diesel fuel prices would always stay low, but that was a silly, silly assumption.


It is not remotely a blame-the-victim response to assert that we as consumers are part of the problem. To be sure, those with power--political leaders and industrialists (like fossil fuel execs)--bear huge responsibility for the programs and policies they pursue and avoid. And yes, grass-roots conservationism is difficult to begin with, and seemingly impossible when life in the modern word requires consumption of energy in so many ways (even mobilizing support--as people love to point out about Al Gore--requires energy).

However, all of us humans share the same basic psychology. We have the same basic needs for security--shelter, food, warmth, companionship. Where modern society has made many of these things fairly easy to achieve, we don't want to relinquish them. Is this evil or sociopathic in us?

As for the higher-ups, so to speak, those who are in positions of power--does it not occur to you that many, many more have aspired to the same positions? That for every John D. Rockefeller there might have been 1,000 or 10,000 or 100,000 more who wanted to become rich and powerful by means of oil, or by some other means?

The "enemy is us" thought is not a trite assignment of blame. It's a recognition that the thoughts and crimes (and, in more generous cases, aspirations and nobility) of others have their answering needs and desires in each of us. We are all too happy to live in ways that aid and abet the actions of others when our own desires benefit. If you've ever tried to make your way through Finegans Wake, this very dynamic is at work when the panel of four Judges condemns HCE--they share the same illicit impulses that they condemn him for, so their condemnation is all the more implacable.

It seems to me that "we" are caught in a conundrum. We are living the nightmare, in a sense. Our entire infrastructure is created to force use of automobiles; long distances to work, to store, etc. When I was growing up, there were small, "Mom & Pop" stores within a block or two. In every direction! And neighborhood groceries and taverns in walking distance. Plus the bus stop was never more than a few blocks. Not long before, my street had a street rail that was torn up at the behest of GM to allow those handy buses. "Downtown" was replete with family owned businesses; the buses all ran there on a regular and timely basis. There were two large groceries down town, and all the banks. Today it is all at Wal-Mart or other big boxes, all located 5+ miles from where I live, which is also 5+ miles from the nearest bus stop. Imagine riding your bicycle to the store in 100+ weather, especially if you are old, disabled, etc.

There is really no way for most people to avoid the automobile; at least not today, and likely not until gas is $15 per gallon. Then, the outcry will be great, and the probability of effectively dealing with the predicament low.

Sorry for being part of the problem, though. I have expressed my thoughts at city meetings, and neighborhood meetings. Also at political events. So far you can see the results of that.

So, to one and all, best hopes for not being the enemy.


This is precisely the point I have been trying to convey for some time now. Not only are most Americans completely car dependent right now, we are also not likely to undo 70+ years of auto-centric development and infrastructure (mal)investments in a generation or two, especially once energy becomes very expensive.

Our best hopes as a society are to coax our neighbors into focusing on retrofitting their homes for conservation/efficiency/food production (large gains to be made there), making marginally better choices for personal transport (EVs & HEVs over ICE), and then considering transit as an alternative, once suburbs and exurbs gradually begin to "densify in place" (assuming of course, there is enough cheap energy, other resources and functioning government left to do so).

You are correct that we cannot undo the 300 years of the industrial project that brought us to where we are, but it does not follow that doing just a little bit more of it in a way that has slightly less of an impact (at great investment) will be beneficial. Well, you have to define the reference for beneficial - to who? The things that might be beneficial to us and our comforts may be very bad for our grandchildren.

We are going to collapse, and for the most part we can make some choices on a personal level that influence how we do that. Other options that appear to sidestep the collapse thingy are illusions.

"We are going to collapse, and for the most part we can make some choices on a personal level that influence how we do that."

Yeah, Twi, and that's when you realize how nearly impossible it is to not contribute to the mess we've made. Even if one lives on a solar budget and grows most of one's own food, reuses things and lives a frugal lifestyle, virtually everything else has fossil fuel embedded in it. Anything bought in a store, the things one uses to earn a living, the lifesyles of those who support one's income, etc., all have deep connections to fossil fuels.

That said, when an industry takes steps to quash the development of viable alternatives by spending vast sums of money lobbying, on manufacturing consent from the public, buying patents and shelving them, etc., at what point should they be held accountable? One example is the tobacco industry. How are fossil fuel producers different in this respect? At what point does the provider become the perpetrator? Are the big pharma companies and the doctors who prescribe their products accountable for widespread abuse of, and addiction to, their products, even though those products provide some benefits to the public on some level??

It's those, both in the industries and the public, who have the capacity for awareness, that I hold responsible. I, personally, am examining and testing every option I can, and sharing any viable alternatives I can. The 'system' makes it tough, puts up roadblocks,, and there have been social costs as well as economic ones. It's even harder when so many choose to embrace the path of least resistance, work so very hard to follow that path, and go to such great lengths to justify and rationalize their participation in what I consider madness. Just sayin'.

I think we'll load the dogs in the car this weekend and drive three hours to a dog show. Maybe I'll feel more normal after that...

I have no problem going after the crooks and con men. Some are causing problems far, far outside of what the average citizen contributes. I'm just trying to counter this binary distortion that one small group is to blame and everyone else is blameless, and that if justice is served it will fix things. It won't - the real problem is the contributions of the masses, and there is a near infinite supply of psychopaths to take their places.

Which is just another way of saying, it's systemic.

It can be indispensably useful to focus the blame onto a small majority. After all you have to sell the majority on your proposed cure to them, and being held up as guilty inhibits one's ability to do that. So while I agree that it is stretching the truth to limit the scope of the blame, it is an essential property of any successful intervention. Consider the successful US/allied occupation/reformation of Germany and Japan after WWII. Blame was heaped onto a limited number of war criminals, and the people were allowed to draw their own conclusions. Compare that to the disastrous transformation of the state that followed the "blame the entire country and make it pay" treatment of Germany following WWI.

Besides "blame/guilt" is really a human contrivance, and not an intrinsic property of nature. If one follows the nature plus nurture argument to its logical conclusion, then no one is responsible for who/what they are, we are all a product of genes plus environment. Obviously taking it to that extreme would have serious consequences, as everyone then gets a freepass to do whatever they want without guilt. But, we should at least remain cognizant of the freewill debate so that we don't allow ourselves to become overly judgmental.

That's an interesting comment and one I will have to give some thought to. My first reaction is that one must understand the nature of the problem and the forces that are driving it, but that this is distinct from the tools one uses to influence people and drive change. If the purpose to placing the blame on the con men and profiteers is to influence the masses then it may be useful. If the purpose is to fix the problem by addressing the few bad apples, then not so much.

Americans only think they are completely car dependent. It's part of the disease. In reality, many of these hopelessly car-dependent people (roughly half I'd guess) could start riding a bike as primary transportation immediately. And much of our infrastructure is built for cars but is also surprisingly bike-friendly when you actually get out there. With a little thought you'll likely find several pleasant routes that aren't available to drivers.

I'm sick of listening to people make excuses. If this is an issue you care enough about to write paragraphs on the internet, make the change. Ride a bike. It will be the best move you ever made. Of course, it's probably too damn late to save the planet, but you might save yourself.


Perhaps you should take the tact of the plaintiffs in the case I cited upthread.

The law of nuisance is the subject matter.

So far, the courts are saying that global warming is a public nuisance.

If it becomes inconvenient, the CCA will be overruled by SCOTUS. Depend on it! The fix is in. BAU rules.


While I completely "get" that we do not live in a truly "free marketplace" of ideas, where reality and truth have at least an equal chance of competing with corporate bull$hit and right-wing propaganda, I still don't buy that ordinary people have NO responsibility to educate themselves, be skeptical of authority, or to use their own brains from time to time.

Most Americans have bought BAU/endless growth/trickle-down economics hook, line and sinker. While the MSM has been feeding us all a steady diet of consumerism and a pseudo-"choice" of neo-liberal or neo-conservative pro-empire policies (basically indistiguishable from one another), we could be rejecting it and seeking out alternative sources of information. But we're not. As long as BAU keeps most Americans fat and happy (obese in fact, and paid just enough to service the interest on our growing consumer/national debt), there is very little desire to upset the apple cart, however rotten it may be. As Kunstler might say, Americans lie comatose in a brain fog of Mondya Night Football, cheap beer, porn and Cheez Doodles. Until the Satellite/cable TV gets disconnected, or someone tries to raise the price of beer or junk food, there is very little chance of any major popular "awakening" or voter revolt. And when (and if) the end to our BAU growth economy finally comes, it will probably not be in the form of an OWS-style "people's revolt", it will more likely be a modern replay of the Confederacy, which is not likely to bode well for minorities, women, scientists, non Christian Dominionists, or intellectuals and artists of all stripes.

Collectively, we all bear some responsibility to inform ourselves, recognize when we are being lied to, and to challenge authority when that authority is misused. Americans as a whole are failing on all counts right now. Individually, even the best informed among us can only do so much, and our choices and actions will always be constrained by the majority. One does what one can, but... we also have to live in a world of interconnecting systems that were largely designed by past generations (some of them long dead) that offers us very few real choices. We can try to influence policies or debate economics, but the truth is, most of the really big decisions are made by a few powerful key individuals without our input or consent, or are simply made by default, by millions of invisible tiny decisions made by the unthinking masses just reacting to stimuli.

Collectively, we all bear some responsibility to inform ourselves, recognize when we are being lied to, and to challenge authority when that authority is misused. Americans as a whole are failing on all counts right now.

I fully agree with that. I don't however remember being taught that as part of my education. We had a bit of history, but civics was mainly about the structure of government, like congress versus senate, and details like that, but responsibilty to be well informed, and how to guard against misinformation was never covered. So, it is not surprising, that few have absorbed that ethic, and even fewer developed the skills to be resistant to the various forces trying to program our collective brains.

"Gentlemen, you are now about to embark on a course of studies which will occupy you for two years. Together, they form a noble adventure. But I would like to remind you of an important point. Nothing that you will learn in the course of your studies will be of the slightest possible use to you in after life, save only this, that if you work hard and intelligently you should be able to detect when a man is talking rot, and that, in my view, is the main, if not the sole, purpose of education."

-John Alexander Smith (Speech to Oxford University students, 1914)

That sentiment should be chiseled in granite at the entrance of every place of learning.


I like Professor Chomsky on this subject:

One of the most important comments on deceit, I think, was made by Adam Smith. He pointed out that a major goal of business is to deceive and oppress the public.

And one of the striking features of the modern period is the institutionalization of that process, so that we now have huge industries deceiving the public
—and they're very conscious about it, the public relations industry. Interestingly, this developed in the freest countries—in Britain and the US—roughly around time of WWI, when it was recognized that enough freedom had been won that people could no longer be controlled by force. So modes of deception and manipulation had to be developed in order to keep them under control.

And by now these are huge industries. They not only dominate marketing of commodities, but they also control the political system. As anyone who watches a US election knows, it's marketing. It's the same techniques that are used to market toothpaste.

And, of course, there are power systems in place to facilitate this. Throughout history it's been mostly the property holders or the educated classes who've tended to support power systems. And that's a large part of what I think education is—it's a form of indoctrination. You have to reconstruct a picture of the world in order to be conducive to the interests and concerns of the educated classes, and this involves a lot of self-deceit.

(Noam Chomsky & Robert Trivers, emphasis added). "Throughout history" is a sufficient amount of time for folks to pick up on this, however, the institutionalization and privitatizing of propaganda has created MOMCOM, the nanny state tailor made for the 1%:

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.

Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet.

They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons — a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty [now 320] million — who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world ... It is the purpose of this book to explain the structure of the mechanism which controls the public mind, and to tell how it is manipulated by the special pleader who seeks to create public acceptance for a particular idea or commodity. It will attempt at the same time to find the due place in the modern democratic scheme for this new propaganda and to suggest its gradually evolving code of ethics and practice.

(The Ways of Bernays, quoting from "Propaganda", a book by the American "Father of Spin"). I am reminded of the Billy Joel song "It's a Matter of Trust".

The history of America since the Civil War is, in large part, a history of conquest by commercial advertising.

-- Mark Crispin Miller, 2007, Introduction, from Vance Packard, The Hidden Persuaders (1957, reissued 2007)

This is a good post HARM and let me add my take.

The benefits of American Empire for most people continue to outweigh the costs, and it will continue to be this way for some time.

I mean, at the end of the day, many, many people would rather be in a suburb of Miami or Phoenix, taking the occasional trip to Wal-Mart, and enjoying large houses and cheap food and sunshine year round. Do you think they are going to pack up, move to Toronto or Calgary, live in a small apartment, line up in the freezing cold to take a bus or train and pay 50% more taxes? There is no way they are going to do that.

There are always reasons for human behavior. In the end, change will come but it will be forced on us, and when it does it will finally be revealed that we are just a bunch of rubes with a tacky, infantile culture and lots of guns.

Nobody knows when that time is coming, and like I said, it could be awhile.

I have some news for you - Calgary has big houses and cheap food, too. Maybe not as big or as cheap as Phoenix, but close. It also has sprawling suburbs, the main difference being that you CAN take a train to work from them if you want to (you don't have to).

The taxes aren't 50% higher, either - I'm not sure they are higher at all, and you do get free health for your money. However the biggest difference is that Calgary's economy hasn't collapsed like Phoenix's, so the banks aren't foreclosing on houses and there are lots of high-paying jobs available.

Calgary may get cold in winter, but it doesn't get nearly as hot as Phoenix in summer, and when it gets cold, everybody goes skiing.

I don't buy that at all.
To be sure, we are born into an economy based on oil, and if we are to survive, we have to use the resources available to us. Namely, oil.

But we aren't "victims" in any sense.
We know perfectly well we don't have to use even a fraction of the energy we do -- we just choose to do it.

There has been, and will always be an "economy". And the economists are right -- as resources dwindle, they will be replaced by something else. Just not by oil.

The delusion is that the "economy" will go on as it has the last 150 years.

And the folks who promote this are not really "psychopaths" -- more like sociopaths.

"They" might be psychopaths, but "we" are delusional

Boy Howdy! You sure got that right.

Sao Paulo: A city with 180km traffic jams

10 monster traffic jams from around the world

China "Stimulates" Economy By Suspending Road Tolls For Golden Week - Millions End Up Stuck In Traffic Jams

And the number one priceless quote from a suicidal civilization:

Bangkok's traffic problem has been getting worse since the government introduced a policy to refund tax for first-time car buyers.

Coupled with the Thai aspiration to own a car and get some status, this policy has resulted in five million vehicles in a city which can only cope with less than two million cars.


Wow, that last pic really drives home the delusion.

I recall a science fiction story in which a traffic jam could not be unravelled. In the end the authorities dropped suicide pills to the travellers then poured a new layer of concrete over the top. That last picture reminded me of that.


It doesn't detract in the slightest from the point of Jerry's comment but I have examined a blow up of that last pict and I'm pretty sure it is photoshopped. BTW I'm originally from Sao Paulo and have been there recently and can attest to the insanity of their traffic jams!

It's usually titled "Traffic jam China 2010", but apparently it *is* photoshopped. All I can say is, someone went to a LOT of trouble.

The photo on the right is always circulated as a traffic jam in some country like #China #Turkey or #Egypt . Its actually in #LA and faked using Adobe #Photoshop . Please dont circulate what you're not sure of. #safetytips


It's many years since I've been there but I'd agree with the insanity. What I find more insane is the auto manufacturers and oil companies who dream of roads like these and urge us to buy more and more vehicles that will require roads like those.


You mean the 20 LANE HIGHWAY with an additional floor below with even more cars? Nah, they are probably running on renewables. No worries mate.

I am impressed by the photoshopper. But still, this mega road is crazy.

I would cut through that jam in my bike like a hot knife through butter. :)

Jerry McManus,

Your photos have proven that people drive cars, on roads, and have traffic jams sometimes.

That hardly proves what fuels they would choose if they had a fair choice.

And it certainly does not prove that a victim is at fault.

Look up the definition of victim.

The wheat in Wheaties is the fault of those who eat Wheaties.

It has a "perfect, chronic poison in it" that is an addictive opiate (CBS News).

It is not the fault of those who developed it, got it through government regulators, and got the public hooked on it.

It is the fault of the public even though they did not know.

Yeah, that's the ticket.

Good luck in court with that one.

The jury will eat them Wheaties stories right up and find against the "victims".

Yeah, that's the ticket, "the billionaires are the victims" (Ayn Rand: Patron Saint of the Plutocracy).

"Go John Galt, Go John Galt!"


There are ridiculous levels of government subsidies for sugary foods, corn, wheat, GMOs, etc., but there is still no law that requires you eat addictive crap that malnourishes and slowly poisons you. We still have a responsibility to inform ourselves, and if the official line on "nutrition" doesn't add up, to do something about it. Many have rejected the standard U.S. diet of sugary, processed, genetically manipulated, chemical and hormone polluted junk in favor of organic, locally sourced whole foods. Even the major supermarkets where I live (NCAL) are starting to carry locally sourced, organic produce and hormone free meats, so consumer choice does in fact still have some influence on supply --despite all the price distorting subsidies.

Perhaps more Americans could start informing themselves and demanding better choices --like their European counterparts.

The main problems are that Americans:
1. eat too many calories,
2. get too high a percentage of calories from monosaccharide and disaccharide sugars (cane sugar, HFCS, etc.),
3. get too high a percentage of calories from proteins as adults.
So eat mostly complex carbs, fats, and modest amounts of proteins.

In fourth place, I'd put avoiding trans-fatty acids or avoiding excessive amounts of alcohol.

The other concerns about GMO, chemicals, hormones, etc. are mostly second order effects, and focusing on them distracts from the more important factors in unhealthy diets.

3. get too high a percentage of calories from proteins as adults.

Not so sure about this one, but I'm 100% on board with 1,2, and adding trans-fat as #4. As someone who has lost a tremendous amount of weight (and successfully shed other health problems) on the Atkins diet and now maintain under a paleo-style diet, I don't think protein is really the scourge of the U.S. diet, and often unfairly gets lumped in with sugar, carbs and other items Americans consume too much of. Obviously, there are serious ecological consequences for 300+ million people consuming massive quantities of red meat as a dietary staple, but that's really part of the larger population vs. resources issue, not an individual dietary issue. It also comes down to --as you say-- too many calories. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

The body needs protein for growth and repair of tissue. So children and young people, adults doing hard labor, pregnant women, etc., need larger amounts of protein. However, older adults, sedentary adults, etc. need less.

If you take in more protein than is needed for growth and repair, it is metabolized in the liver and becomes a source of extra energy that is either expended or stored as fat through fairly complex metabolic processes. Therefore, taking in more protein than you need is less advantageous than getting the extra calories from plant foods that would provide phytochemicals as well as a simpler to metabolize source of energy.

After reading "The China Study", I came to the conclusion that too much protein is a bad thing. On the other hand, I wouldn't go so far as to recommend vegetarianism. Vegetarians tend to eat a lot of grain, which I'm somewhat suspicious of. If you are on a paleo-style diet, you probably know how health deteriorated after the domestication of grains.

I have close relative who is very involved with nutrition and diets and they appear to follow Stugeon's Law. "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants" sums up the part that is not crap.

If you check the analysis in the pet food aisle, you will find that puppy chow is higher in protein than the formula for senior dogs.

After reading "The China Study", ...

For an excellent set of critiques of The China Study go to:

Denise Minger does the best job I've ever seen at critical thinking.

An excellent blog. Thanks for the link.

While reading The China Study, I became a little skeptical of the last chapters, which seemed to go beyond what was substantiated by the study results described in the first chapters. There was also the matter of his son becoming a vegetarian before he did, which sounds suspiciously like some non-scientific motivations creeping into consideration. Finally, he's a professor emeritus. Professors emeritii often become engaged in controversial subjects. Sometimes this is because they now feel free to say what they really thing. Sometimes they just become somewhat extremist. So their writings should be taken with a small crystal of NaCl.

Like Lovelock recently claiming that Peak Oil is a myth because of the "centuries" of natural gas being discovered, as if that changes the situation at all. In addition to becoming more free and extreme, they may also just become plain senile.

The most notable example being perhaps William Shockley.

Just as an aside, I once did the calculations, and a single crystal of table salt on top of a basketball is a pretty good representation of the 8 mile cube of oil on the Earth.

That's a mind-blower - I'll have to remember that one...


" ... there is still no law that requires you eat addictive crap that malnourishes and slowly poisons you ..."

You might find the law I cited in the case upthread, concerning liability for global warming, interesting.

It is authoritive, not speculative.


1. The Second Circuit's exercise of jurisdiction is affirmed by an equally divided Court. P. 6.

2. The Clean Air Act and the EPA action the Act authorizes displace any federal common-law right to seek abatement of carbon-dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel fired power plants. Pp. 6-16.

I'm no laywer, but it sounded like SCOTUS's ruling basically says that federal law (in this case represented by the CAA & EPA) supercedes state law whenever there is a conflict, which sounds like a pretty standard ruling. If you wanted to bring a lawsuit in your state against a corn syrup manufacturer as a "public health nuisance", I can see a parallel, but otherwise not too much. We're still not forced to eat this stuff, though we are all basically being forced to *subsidize* it, which gives sugary processed junk food a very substantial price advantage over healthy food.

Of course, a possible solution here --IMO-- would be the same as with most of the other vexing problems with our government: a self informed, engaged public that demands publicly funded elections and proportional representation. Which would inevitably lead to better policies, politicians and outcomes in every aspect of law and government.


You wrote:

"I'm no laywer, but it sounded like SCOTUS's ruling basically says that federal law (in this case represented by the CAA & EPA) supercedes state law whenever there is a conflict, which sounds like a pretty standard ruling."

The 2nd Circuit case had been brought a year before the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA must regulate green house gases, including CO2.

Up until that time the propagandist deniers had sued EPA saying they had no congressional mandate to regulate green house gases that cause global warming induced climate change.

The Supreme Court said that energy entities cannot be sued in federal or state courts for the federal common law tort of nuisance, once the congress has given that authority to the EPA.

The EPA has now formulated such regulations.

Now, any such plaintiffs can only sue if the EPA does not regulate green house gases properly. It remains to be seen how this will play out.

You also wrote:

If you wanted to bring a lawsuit in your state against a corn syrup manufacturer as a "public health nuisance"

The proper subject matter link is the tobacco industry which used the same propaganda organs that the oil barons have used for a few decades now, once the tobacco companies finally were held accountable in the federal courts (corn syrup is not poisonous, nor toxic to the point of killing millions and destroying the ecosystem).

A university lecture on the science of global warming induced climate change as well as the oil baron financed propaganda that engendered denialism is available in video format (The Exceptional American Denial).

Re: One Proposal to Cool a Warming Planet: An Umbrella Made of Asteroids

The article claims that the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth could be reduced by 6.58% with this wild idea. While it's possible that this would offset the warming from mankind's greenhouse gas emissions, there's no mention of the other side of the equation. With less sunlight, plants won't produce as much biomass, which would translate into less food from agriculture. I think this is probably not a good idea...

E. Swanson

Trying to counteract one effect by producing another, different effect that somewhat overlaps is bound to result in an endless cycle of unintended consequences. Because the two are not truly opposites then each one produces something new that is unbalanced and must be addressed. That this is not obvious is sad.

Say that you accidently run a command that turns all e into a in a long text. Running another command that turns all a into e solves the problem, but creates another one. Pretty much analogous.

And yes, it has happened.

First, we need the sunlight!! Even if we don't need the heat.

Second, in the original article (http://www.livescience.com/23553-asteroid-dust-geoenineering-global-warm...) there is a completely different number:
"For instance, projects that reduced the amount of solar radiation Earth receives by 1.7 percent could offset the effects of a global increase in temperature of 3.6 degrees F (2 degrees C)."

I looked it up because I couldn't believe the number. Blocking 6% of sunlight would plunge us out of our present interglacial (into a full blown ice age) in no time! Yes, 6,58% is a *very* wild idea..

Cheers, Dominic

Yes. 6+% really is a lot. Although maybe if we are trying to counter 6C or more! I presume that at any given time the "shadow" might not cover the entire disk of the planet. Also this dust may not be monochromatic, i.e. it probably lets through more red and infrared than blue, just like real atmospheric dust. Maybe its 6% of blue, and 1% of IR?

Well, triggering a new ice age would be one way of "solving" the overpopulation/consumption problem.



It is a diversion from the real issue: psychopaths in government and fossil fuel industry (very close to one and the same IMO).

It is ignorant also to the extent it ignores other deadly affects of the burning of deadly fossil fuels, including the disruption and/or destruction of fundamental cycles in the ecosystem.

Ironically, we are currently benefiting (as far as the climate not warming further) from Global Dimming. As far as I recall estimated to be as much as 1.8 F.
Double irony is if we clean up the atmosphere by polluting it less, the more we heat up. Damned if we do, damned.........


CO2 is pollution. The Earth works just fine without pollution.

CO2 out of it's historically beneficial balance to current lifeforms is a pollutant.
The Earth doesn't care.
We (all living things that depend on the current stable state) care, or we will when we, (the collective we), finally realise how FUBAR things really are.
The environment will find a new balance, it will just be one one we don't like or even find survivable.
New life will rise up to fill new niches, that's always been the way. With or without our sorry asses.

A pollution is a resourse in the wrong place. Think of an oil spill for example. Anything is toxic in the right ammounts.

Yes, a few tens of millions of years from now all our pollution has been cleaned up and biodiversity is back up to pre-holocene levels. How does that relate to the next dozens generations that have to deal with the ugly legacy left by just the current three/four generations?

It doesn't.
My point was purely that Nature has no soft spot for any living thing.
Injustice is a human concept not a law of physics or chemistry.

Agreed, on these large timescales our actions are merely a moral question.

CO2 is life! The increased CO2 will help plants grow better, thus offsetting the trivial 6% dimming of blowing up asteroids in earth orbit.

At 1,000,000 miles away how much debris is required to produce a perceptible shadow? And moving the rock there? Sounds like it would be easier to change our ways, unless we just get someone else to solve the problem.



Water is life too. Try staying under that life for 10 minutes, or breathing that life. Same with CO2.

Sorry, my /sarc> html code got hidden.

That happened to me a while back too ...

Basically, anything put inside pointy brackets will not be visible. It's assumed to be HMTL tags, which should not be visible.

Use the preview function!

Uh, it's HTML. HyperText Markup Language.

Those floating polar bears are just sleeping. /sarc

There are existing proposals to bring asteroids into Earth orbit to use for mining and/or as a space station.

The Plan to Bring an Asteroid to Earth

Technologies for Asteroid Capture into Earth Orbit

A Plan To Place An Asteroid In Earth Orbit

As the last article says at the end, "What could possibly go wrong?"

Like Bryan said upthread "Sounds like it would be easier to change our ways..."

Without carbon dioxide, Earth would plunge to an average temperature of well below zero degrees Celsius. The greenhouse effect is essential for most life as we now know it. Concentrations of CO2 have varied widely in geological history--according to some estimates, higher than 1500 ppm during the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous (during which time most of the now-midwestern US was under water, known as the Western Interior Seaway). Ironically enough it's the biota from that period which became much of fuel we burn now.

Classifying CO2 as a pollutant is simply a political expedient for us humans to begin addressing climatic effects on our own too-fragile society. We a not now witnessing a geologically unprecedented concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We are witnessing an unprecedentedly rapid increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, with immediate effects on our own civilization.

Naturally occurring compounds are not pollutants, thus CO2 that is found naturally in the atmosphere at a more or less stable concentration is not pollution. CO2 that has been generated through the burning of fossil fuels by humans, and the atmospheric concentration of which is rising, IS a pollutant. At least that is how I see it, even if there are (were) some marginal benefits to a slight rise in CO2.


Things get awkward because we tend towards binary thinking. Either something is a poison/pollutant, and even a single molecule is totally unacceptable, or it isn't and a gazillion tons is not an issue. The reality, is that concentrations matter. And for many things keeping the concentration within some range is the important thing to do. So depending on where something is wrt. that range determines whether adding more is considered to be good/bad or of so little consequence to be ignorable.

Ask any farmer. Corn is a weed when it's in a soybean field.

Yeah, sorry Don, but I disagree.

The CO2 in your bloodstream is a pollutant, is toxic and is deadly when you are unable to exhale enough of it and replace it with oxygenated air.

Naturalness is not the test to be met. A Healthy Systemic balance is.

The CO2 in my blood is essential to help maintain body pH within very tight limits. Too much and, yes, there is a problem, too little, another problem. If it is present in too great amounts it is toxic, but I do not see it as a pollutant -- which, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is due to anthropogenic action. My body can screw up and gives me too much CO2 in many different ways, but usually through some variant of natural action. No, it is not a pollutant.

Don (MD)

Well sorry, but I think that's exactly the point.

NaCl is naturally occuring and essential as well, but toxic levels of it will make your fields fail.

Sugar in your gas tank is just more Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen, but it will kill the engine.

The presence of disruptive and extreme levels of otherwise normal and natural compounds or elements is a deal-killer. I don't know if their reading glasses got all smudgy from the coal soot when the founders of Oxford set up their precedents, but I see it as 'colloquially appropriate' to define toxic and abnormal levels of gases like CO2 as "Pollution".. challenging it this way is simply quibbling.

I guess we just have to agree to disagree. Just because something can/may be toxic does not automatically mean it is a pollutant..


Too much water can kill you too. The proponents of the "eight glasses of water per day" myth usually don't know that. They are prone to overhydrating themselves, and that can kill a person if they throw their electrochemical balance off too much. It does happen to people from time to time.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO)

Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO) is a colorless and odorless chemical compound, also referred to by some as Dihydrogen Oxide, Hydrogen Hydroxide, Hydronium Hydroxide, or simply Hydric acid. Its basis is the highly reactive hydroxyl radical, a species shown to mutate DNA, denature proteins, disrupt cell membranes, and chemically alter critical neurotransmitters. The atomic components of DHMO are found in a number of caustic, explosive and poisonous compounds such as Sulfuric Acid, Nitroglycerine and Ethyl Alcohol.

Should I be concerned about Dihydrogen Monoxide?

Yes, you should be concerned about DHMO! Although the U.S. Government and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) do not classify Dihydrogen Monoxide as a toxic or carcinogenic substance (as it does with better known chemicals such as hydrochloric acid and benzene), DHMO is a constituent of many known toxic substances, diseases and disease-causing agents, environmental hazards and can even be lethal to humans in quantities as small as a thimbleful.

Poor little water molecule.

Not to mention that it keeps you breathing and too little of it might keep you from breathing for long enough for lack of oxygen to cause problems. A hazard when underwater.


Well, CO2 provides the signal to breathe out. But the vast bulk of this CO2 comes from the bodies internal combustion of carbon, changes of circa a hundred ppm in the ambient air have little effect. In my old mountain climbing days, I would consciously breathe out before the automatic response -because at altitude by the time there is enough CO2 to trigger the next breath, the O2 concentration in your lungs has gotten rather low.

Good point. Another example:

Arsenic is naturally occurring. Arsenic can be a pollutant near a) old industrial sites where Arsenic was used but not stored properly, allowing it to escape into the groundwater, and b) old, unlined landfills that allow highly reducing groundwater to escape into the surrounding formations, where it dissolves naturally-occurring, solid-phase Arsenic into the groundwater.

Anthropogenic CO2 is a indeed a pollutant. It's not natural, and it is dangerous.

Raise CO2 levels marginally from pre-industrial levels and there might indeed be some benefits for some types of plants, but we appear already long past that small beneficial increase. Remember that most plants and animals evolved in an atmosphere that never saw more than +/- 600 ppm and that we're very rapidly going to overshoot that level at a pace much too high for many species to adapt through evolution. This is very different compared to the geologic past where plants and animals were sometimes able to adapt because changes in atmospheric composition took hundreds of thousands or even millions of years instead of only two-hundred. Even despite the slow changes, high CO2 levels have been consistently linked to (marine) extinction events.

See here for some research literature on the topic of the "CO2 is plant food" crock.

"The significant problems we face can not be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them." - Albert Einstein


"The chief cause of problems is solutions." - Eric Sevareid

Ironically, we'd be better off thinking like cavemen than like Homo Technicalis.

That's interesting, because the Vostok cores indicate the opposite effect: dust seems to precipitate WARMING from the depths of the ice age. Although, of course, this is Earth dust not space dust.

A quick Google doesn't give the dust origin.

- Extra-strong weather patterns driving tornadoes picking up dust from regions denuded of plant cover by the cold climate?

- Regular passage through a meteor shower?

- And does the dust really help the Earth to heat up, or is it just a coincidence?


You gotta use pixy dust! Sorry, someone had to say it.

Just out of interest, the Vostok ice core gives information down to a depth of 3310 m or 414,000 years. This works out to 8 mm (0.3") of ice a year.

For some reason I always thought the annual slivers were much thinner, and wondered how they could extract information from them. But 8 mm is something you can work with quite easily.

Of course, the atmosphere trapped in the ice will have diffused to neighbouring slivers over the years, meaning you don't get single-year granularity. Maybe WebbHubbleTelescope can comment.

The estimated uncertainty of ice is +/-200 years around 10,000 years BP and +/-2000 years around 41,000 years BP. Older ice has a lower data resolution. Some sites provide better resolution, some sites like Vostok lower resolution, due to geographic circumstances.

See e.g.
Monnin, E., Indermuhle, A., Dallenback, A., Fluckiger, J., Stauffer, B., Stocker, T., et al. Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations Over the Last Glacial Termination. Science 2001; 291(5501): 112-114.

Indermuhle, A. Stocker, T.F., Joos, F., Fischer, H., Smith, H.J., Wahlen, M. Deck, B., Mastroianni, D., Tschumi, J., Blunier, T., Meyer, R., Stauffer, B. Holocene Carbon-cycle Dynamics Based on CO2 Trapped in Cce at Taylor Dome, Antarctica. Nature 1999; 398: 121-126.

Not a good idea? Insanity is more like it.

The foreseeable adverse consequences are huge. Imagine the unintended consequences?

How about the lose control of the astroid as they are towing it in... and it impacts the earth...

Then, when CO2 emmissions drop as FFs decline, there is that cloud of debris we have to clean up. Any suggestions? As I recall, Lone Star transformed into a huge Hoover!


Such a cloud would dissipate over time. Small dust particles don't just follow gravitational orbits but are affected by photon pressure (light was momentum), and electrostatic charges. This dust cloud would get spread around the sun, then eventually most would spiral into the sun. This is how the solar system cleans out its dust, otherwise there would be so much we probably couldn't see the sun.

Some questions for the members

I have been reading TOD for several years. I have included some of the work in my research on how energy will impact the mining industry. I believe when we do have a decline in global liquid production, we will have peak metal production as well.

The new trend now is LNG. Where I live, UPS has been running 36 trucks on LNG. As you all know, it takes 1.7 gallons of LNG to equal the same energy as a gallon of diesel. They call it DEG... diesel equivalent gallons.

Currently, the price of a DEG of LNG is $2.65 and the price of diesel is $4.25 here.

Here are my three questions:

1) once the price of NatGas gets back up to $6-7 mmbtu, won't the price of a DEG of LNG double?

2) Does anyone know what the price of a DEG of LNG is in Asia or Europe?

3) I see that there are plans to add a lot of LNG filling stations for trucking industry on several highway interstates. If it is true, that the shale gas reserves have been severaly overstated, won't this kill the notion that cheap and abundant natural gas can run the commercial trucking industry?

I appreciate any input from the members...

Are you referring to LPG (autogas in the US) instead of LNG? I am not aware of vehicles using LNG directly in the UK yet. Representative UK prices for LPG (Liquefied petroleum gas) are available at sites like these:
http://www.petrolprices.com/ Current prices are about 75 pence/litre for LPG, but the price differential between it and petrol/diesel is greatly affected by higher government taxes on the latter two.

Out where I live there was a project to import LNG from somewhere (not specified) and transport the regassified LNG to California by pipeline.
When that didn't pan out, they changed their minds (originally having denied any possibility of the switch) to LNG manufacture from "abundant" shale gas, and then export of the LNG to somewhere (also not specified.)

I'm no oil guy, I'm a family doctor, and not very smart about petroleum. But this project has gone nowhere in 7 years, and so far as I can tell, is an elaborate Ponzi scheme to bilk investors.

I think you are referring to CNG(compressed NG). I happen to know a guy that manages a very large wood chip facility near South Houston. They recently installed a CNG retail facility for Garbage trucks. They had a NG pipeline traverse their property and are adjacent to a land fill. The facility is located on route to the land fill entrance. They are now running a few Co. vehicals on CNG also.

Of course there is a new ost on main page for TOD today (10/2)... might want to go there and repost?


The only link I have which might help gives price of LNG around the world, rather than DEG prices:

Great new article from the Oil and Gas Journal on Shale potential and Shale well decline rates:
US SHALE OIL-GAS PRODUCTION POTENTIAL—3 (Conclusion): US shale oil output likely to offset decline from conventional fields

It is behind a pay wall but the full article can be found her: Google News Shale Article

There are some really great decline rate charts here but I will leave it to others to comment on them if they desire.

Ron P.

Could gas shortage pop WD's helium drive plans?

Computerworld - Western Digital's HGST subsidiary may not have picked the best time to have a breakthrough in hard-disk drive innovation.

After a decade of trying, HGST recently perfected a method to seal helium gas inside drives. The company is preparing to launch a line of hard drives filled with the gas, which it says will drastically reduce internal friction and thus lower power consumption by 23% while increasing capacity by 40%.

Currently, however, helium reserves in the U.S., which supplies 75% of world's annual demand for 6.2 billion cubic feet, are at an all-time low. Under current conditions, the largest U.S. reserve will only last another five to six years unless additional supplies are brought on line.

What's going to happen to all our MRI machines without helium-cooled superconducting magnets?

Until a final resolution is reached, the shortage is proving particularly difficult for those who work with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners – which are cooled by the liquid form of the gas. In a nutshell, sans a constant supply of helium, new MRI machines cannot be produced and current machines would eventually cease to function.


Newer machines operate at "zero loss", but that's only when everything works right.

“There is just no helium available to do cool downs,” says David Baldwin, vice president of Cool Pair Plus. “We have probably turned away at least ten cool downs in the last two months, just because there is no helium available.

They will go offline. I am looking forward to finding Newt Gingrich;s grave when he dies and relieving myself on it, specifically because he sold off the helium reserve.

There are nitrogen cooled superconductors, but they are too sensitive to changing magnetic fields, like the ones created by, oh, an NMR imaging sequence. The first physicist to get over that obstacle has a double Nobel prize waiting for him. One physics medal for overcoming quenching issues, and one physiology medal for enabling post-helium MRI technology.

Finding any articles about Newt's sale of U.S. strategic helium reserves was hard enough, but finding any that were NOT sympathetic to Newt's position (fully privatizing the helium market) was basically impossible. Take a gander at this gem, and the comments that accompany it.


A real window into how most Americans think about practically any finite, non-renewable resource.

What will happen? There will never be any more tragic/comic accidents like these. An oxygen tank, a gurney, full-sized floor buffers, chairs and carts will never again be pulled into the machine.
From Simply Physics.

What I don't understand is why there is no safety cage. If that was a piece of industrial equipment then there would be some serious safety precautions to stop objects getting near.

I'll bet they don't waste helium like that any more. The one on purpose, not the accidental one.

The video is from 2008, some of the newer comments mention the shortage and waste.

When NMR magnets are moved you lose the helium, most spectrometers are not connected to a compressor to recover some of the helium. And of course you need much more when the magnet is cooled down again, sorry. It would be interesting to get good data on Helium consumption in different fields, like medicine (MRI), chemistry (NMR) and solid state physics.

Good point.

Your staff is the "safety cage". My job had many hazards; chemical(liquid chlorine), electrical, confined space(suffocation) and more. Training, lot's of training.
You can't fix stupid.

NAOM replied to a post on the new record extent of drought in the U.S. in the last drumbeat. I had posted the image of the U.S. drought monitor map.

There is a load of adjustment to that which arrived just after that, via us down here. Got pretty wet here. Don't know how much of a difference it made there.

The post from Climate Central that I originally highlighted also had the following chart.

The recent heavy rain in the south has to help in that part of the country, but it's a pretty deep precipitation hole that the U.S. corn belt is in.

I have never seen such dry weather here in the Pacific Northwest. My mom's place on Vancouver Island hasn't seen a drop of rain in over 2 months, maybe getting close to 3 now. In Vancouver we had one rainstorm a month ago. And the forecast calls for nothing but sun...

Same in Seattle. I don't remember any rain in July and August. In September we had a couple of sprinkles (.3 mm altogether).

I think we are seeing the effect of climate change. Seattle/Vancouver will become like Northern California - a dry season lasting at least 3 months in the summer and a wet season instead of the winter.
What is surprising to me is how shy the climatologists are for this area. Their estimates for 2050 is "a bit drier in the summer, a bit wetter in the winter". I think we will see a big temperature jump plus a lot of drought. Of course I have no reputation/grants to protect so I can say it :)

Yes it has been a very dry summer in Seattle, seems much drier than what is typical, and all the TV weather people were saying that 50 days without precip. would have been a new record...then we got that .3-.4" and nothing since then. Why does that map not show Seattle in a drought zone?

Because it is long-term, look at the short-term.

Short-term drought map

I've been wondering if it might have something to do with the accelerated warming and record sea-ice melt in the arctic. I've seen speculation that one possible consequence of a reduced temperature gradient between equator and poles is a slower jet stream. This could result in weather patterns that persist for much longer than they might otherwise, just as we seem to be seeing in the PNW this fall.


No need to speculate anymore, Jerry. Here's a You Tube of Dr. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers explaining the phenomenon.

I watched that video of Jennifer Francis a while back and I think she is off base. For example, she had nothing to say about ocean circulation, which moves a considerable quantity of heat energy toward the north in the Atlantic, without which, the weather would be different. And, there's a Russian study which claims that the newly open water in the Barents Sea is responsible in part for the blocking which resulted in the colder weather over the British Isles and Scandinavia. She appears to take the model results at face value, when we know the models have not shown the rapid decline in sea-ice, such as that seen this past Summer. I've been thinking about writing her to complain...

E. Swanson

BD - While I don't doubt that you know more about this than I do, I just want to point out that just because she doesn't get into other aspects, like ocean circulation and an open Barents Sea, doesn't necessarily mean she is 'off base'. Does she have the whole picture? Of course not, no one does, uncharted territory and all that. But the weakening of the circumpolar jet, allowing cold air to pour across NA and Eurasia, and the weakening, slowing and deepening amplitude of the mid-latitude jet allowing for persistent weather patterns - leading to heat waves, drought, cold spells, floods and heavy snows - does appear to be manifesting.

Here's a link to a Radio EcoShock Program featuring Francis as well as Mark Serreze, Director of the Snow and Ice Data Center, and U of Washington polar scientist Cecelia Bitz.

Yes, your description of the processes is what I disagree with. Our media weather personalities tend to focus on weather events, which most often occur along frontal boundaries. In the short term, these frontal boundaries are associated with the higher level jet streams, but both move across the Earth on a regular basis. Blocking events do occur, perhaps the result of the distribution of ocean temperatures and the ENSO.

In the Winter half of the year, what is actually happening is that warm air masses move from the tropics to the poles to transport thermal energy, then cold air returns toward the tropics to complete the loop. This circulation loop is the result of the fact that the tropics have a surplus of energy flow and the polar regions have a deficit. Looking at Rossby waves and jet streams obscures the fact that the cold air masses must flow back to complete the loop and your "outbreaks" of cold conditions are a necessary result. I think that as Global Warming heats the tropics, (which represents a large fraction of the total surface area), greater flows of warm and cold air will result. I think that this increase in circulation will result in stronger outbreaks of cold in some regions, while other areas enjoy warmer conditions. You can say that this will result in higher amplitude Rossby waves, or what ever, but I think it's not proper to blame those outbreaks on the jet streams...

E. Swanson

And the results of these stuck circulation patterns, may not show up in seasonal averages, but rather the month to month and year to year variations. So at the risk of extreme simplification if your locale used to alternate between wet and dry years, with say 120% then 80% of average rainfall, the new norm might be the same oscillation but between 150% and 50%. The average would be unchanged, but the experience on any given year will be more harsh.

Muchos thanks for the update, still going to need lots more up there. Here total wetness doesn't seem much different from normal but the local weather station's rain gauge seems to be borked so there are no figures available. Temperature, OTOH, seems to be between average and a new record high nearly every day, above average is the new average.


So does any body else appreciate the irony of the juxtaposition of these two articles?

"The (fusion) device, operating since 1993, has so far cost taxpayers more than $5 billion, making it one of the most expensive federally financed science projects ever. But so far, it has not worked."

"Royal Dutch Shell PLC has spent $4.5 billion on Arctic offshore drilling . . . this will be very much worth all our time and effort,"

There seems to be a slant to these two articles (and most of society at large) that says $5G is too much for a technology that could provide clean, unlimited electricity, but $4.5G is just a reasonable initial cost of ecocidal BAU.
Yes I understand there are other social limitations, and the probability of success is trivial, but at least fusion would give us the possibility of changing our ways.
I'm sure it will all sort itself out...


It is an interesting juxtaposition. However, nuclear fusion wouldn't restock the seas with fish, nor remove the massive floating islands of plastic refuse that is slowly creeping up what's left of the food chain. It wouldn't replenish freshwater aquifers, turn sand into soil, or bring back the 27,000 species we've been losing annually to deforestation. It wouldn't lead to less roads and parking lots, but more. If anything, fusion would be be one more way for our species to continue ecocidal BAU. Sure, we could perhaps lay off the fossil fuels with a fusion miracle, but we would still draw down everything else. Unfortunately clean energy as a goal, while nobler than Arctic drilling, is not the sufficient; it would mean nothing unless accompanied by restraint and contraction.

If anything, fusion would be be one more way for our species to continue ecocidal BAU.

Excellent point! I've thought of this before too, that with centuries of cheap energy (fusion) economic growth would be insured, and away we would go building like mad and in the process sqeezing out many if not most of the remaining species. The best hope for a future with abundant life is drastically lowering EROEI.

One of the Limits to Growth scenarios included unlimited energy.
It still led to a crash...

If nothing else increased energy means increased heat...

We used to think CO2 was "clean" and nonpolluting....

The just deceased Barry Commoner was SO ahead of his time!


Without energy then we'll see at least 75% of the world's species go extinct when humanity harvests every available twig in sight to stay alive during the Malthusian Collapse.

The only solution to prevent a mass extinction event (seems certain now regardless) is to replace fossil fuels with another "renewable" energy source -- nuclear, wind and solar -- and then try to bring global birth rates to replacement level, which does depend on NOT living in energy poverty.

Poopooh nuclear if you will, but without something to replace fossil fuels we're all going to die.

Edit: I'm referring to nuclear fission here, not fusion which is a fantasy.

The only solution to prevent a mass extinction event (seems certain now regardless) is to replace fossil fuels with another "renewable" energy source

You actually think humankind can reign in their population in the event of a new, cheap energy source? I strongly disagree. The nature of humans is to be as greedy as possible, so it would be like when there was abundant cheap oil - huge population increases. We would hit 15 billion and keep on running...and that would inevitably kill off most other species larger than a beetle.

I think a post peak collapse once it gets rolling will actually happen quite fast and that will insure other species abide.

I have to agree with you. We're already harvesting so much that it is a disaster and will lead to mass extinction. But what enables this harvest is fossil fuels. Factory trawlers run on diesel, not sail power. Logging is done with chainsaws, not hand saws. Not that we can't do a lot of damage with basic tools (heck, see the near extinction of the bison or the deforestation before fossil fuels - some very through), but most people in industrial society are not equipped to live without the support it brings.

I expect an attempt to kill everything that moves (and things that don't, too) if we have a collapse, but I expect death and warfare will be faster and more powerful. This is also one reason nuclear is a terrible idea.

In any case, we might as well get out the popcorn. The efforts taken now are on far too small a scale to do anything meaningful to prevent disaster.

Fishing wild fish and logging old growth forests is not "harvesting" - it is taking, or mining.

Harvesting implies some sort of inputs and investment to the process. You plow, you plant, you cultivate. etc. At the end of the season, you harvest.

Logging and fishing is taking. I do really object to calling it "harvesting". Words matter, language matters.

I think we'll have enough energy to finish R&Ping the planet before we completely run out.

In my neck of the woods guys were falling 15 foot diameter douglas firs by hand 100 years ago. Every terrestrial ecosystem will be stripped bare, or blown up in a nuclear war if that happens first.

Conceivably the oceans would be partially spared because we wouldn't be able to drag the bottom with nets anymore, but as long as there is still a whale left in the sea, there will be some oil for the taking.

No we definitely need energy, and lots of it, otherwise we are certainly doomed. There is no alternative. I don't have much hope that we'll be able to pull that off though, but there may be a glimmer of hope, what else are you going to hope for?

"You actually think humankind can reign in their population in the event of a new, cheap energy source? I strongly disagree"

I disagree with the disagreement. The demographic transition in the developed countries was well underway before energy prices went up after 2004. Clearly, educated women see a future for themselves other than baby-machine. Therefore, I do not believe that cheap energy will create an increase in the birth rate.

For the demographic transition to work over the entire world it would have to raise the world standard of living to the current Western standard of living. And we all know how much fossil fuel that would take, many times more than we are burning now.

The demographic transition is possible only as far as we have enough fossil fuel and enough commodities to supply the world with a Western standard of living. Quite obviously that is impossible.

Ron P.

Check out Kerala.
Fertility is below replacement there, at a fraction of Western income.
China also transitioned at a much lower income level than the West, and urban areas throughout the world have low or rapidly falling birth rates in poor countries too.

Birth rates correlate with income, but the correspondence is not 1:1, and other factors such as urbanisation also correlate.
By far the strongest correlation is between birth rates and female education.

For the demographic transition to work over the entire world it would have to raise the world standard of living to the current Western standard of living.

I'm not sure that every aspect of western life is needs to be present to lower birth rate. What if home entertainment, contraception, education, and participation in society's decision making could be delivered to people without the big cars, big houses, meat three times a day and big piles of stuff?

I don't know enough about economics to express this idea well, but here's a try: If one of the major forces driving large family size in some parts of the world is the economic benefit for the parents while in areas of low population growth there is some force that promotes high rates of consumerism, is it possible to create an economic/social system that benefits individuals who consume little and reproduce seldom?

It would probably be a situation where getting in a temp worker to help out the family business was easy. And probably social status would need to be connected to non-material stuff like prowess at singing or how many (library) books read

I think it's pretty clear that you do not need all, or even most, of the aspects of western life.

Even in places like the slums of South America, the West Bank, poverty-stricken areas of Africa...birth rates are falling.

Urbanization seems to be a big driver. Children are necessary free labor on a farm. Even in China, rural families are exempt from the one-child policy. But in a small city apartment, children are an economic burden.

All you say is very true, but that is not demographic transition. The take from your post is that much of the world's population can remain very, very poor and still lower the birth rate.

Ron P.

All you say is very true, but that is not demographic transition.

I think it is. It incorporates many of the elements of the classic demographic transition: urbanization, the shift from subsistence agriculture, education of women, better access to food, sanitation, and health care, including contraception. Basically, it's stage 3 of the demographic transition.

Well perhaps you are right but I do not think most of Sub-Sahara Africa is moving to an industrial economy by any stretch of the imagination. And that is the first principle of a demographic transition.

As I said, a demographic transition is definitely not happening in Sub-Sahara Africa. Go here: COUNTRY COMPARISON :: TOTAL FERTILITY RATE. Fertility rate is the highest in Niger, 7.16 and you go through most Sub-Saharan countries and a few Asian countries before you get down to number 42, Kenya, before you get down to a fertility rate below 4. (Kenya 3.98)

But the population in most of these countries is not growing very much because the death rate is so high.

Ron P.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the exception, though.

You might say it's the exception that proves the rule.

In Nigeria, policymakers are studying how to foster the transition, and its attendant financial benefits, here. In the ramshackle towns of the Oriade area near Ile-Ife, where streets are lined with stalls selling prepaid cellphone cards and food like pounded yam, Dr. Ogunjuyigbe’s team goes door to door studying attitudes toward family size and how it affects health and wealth. Many young adults, particularly educated women, now want two to four children. But the preferences of men, particularly older men, have been slower to change — crucial in a patriarchal culture where polygamy is widespread.

Interestingly, some believe that cause and effect goes the other way - it's not that wealth leads to smaller families, it's that smaller families lead to wealth.

Well there are a few Asian countries on that list:

Afghanistan 5.64 fertility rate
Gaza Strip  4.57 fertility rate
Yemen       4.45 fertility rate.

At any rate Sub-Sahara cannot be an exception that proves the rule because you are misusing that idiom. From Wiki:

"The exception [that] proves the rule" is a frequently misused English idiom. The original meaning of this idiom is that the presence of an exception applying to a specific case establishes that a general rule exists. For example, a sign that says "parking prohibited on Sundays" (the exception) "proves" that parking is allowed on the other six days of the week (the rule).

The fact that Sub-Sahara Africa has not industrialized proves nothing about the rest of the world. Also there are many reasons the fertility rate can drop that have nothing to do with industrialization, i.e. demographic transition. Poor nutrition of the mother, late marriage, infanticide of girls, etc. etc.

Ron P.

The fact that Sub-Sahara Africa has not industrialized proves nothing about the rest of the world.

I think it does. In (many parts of) Sub-Saharan Africa, the conditions for demographic transition do not exist. So it's entirely expected that they would still be in stage 2.

'But the population in most of these countries is not growing very much because the death rate is so high.'

This is entirely incorrect.
Here is the world population data sheet for 2012

' The data sheet clearly illustrates a continuing rapid expansion in world population. Even though declines in birth rates have been virtually universal across countries, some countries have shown little if any decline, such as Mali and Niger.'

Taking those births against deaths:

Both have birth rates of 40 per thousand and deaths of 11, ie they have some of the fastest growing populations in the world.

About the closest high death rates come in the underdeveloped world is in Guinea-Bissau, with 38 live births per thousand and 17 deaths.

It is utterly impossible to arrive at correct conclusions on the basis of wildly inaccurate information.

Since your position is apparently that population growth is out of control, and likely to lead to collapse, it would seem particularly important to really get to grips with the actual facts of the case.

The population in those countries is clearly growing but not growing nearly as fast as they would if their death rate was not so high. The death rate in Sub-Sahara Africa, as well as in a few other places like Afghanistan, is from two to two and one half times what it is in most Western nations. Therefore my statement is entirely correct. List of sovereign states and dependent territories by death rate

Since your position is apparently that population growth is out of control, and likely to lead to collapse, it would seem particularly important to really get to grips with the actual facts of the case.

Well at least you had the courtesy to put "apparently" in there. Population growth was way out of control and has been way out of control for over 100 years. Now it is way, way too late. We are deep into overshoot and there is no cure for overshoot. And it would do you good to come to grips with the actual facts of the case. You could start here, it will take you about 20 minutes to read this essay:

Energy and Human Evolution

Even if world population could be held constant, in balance with "renewable" resources, the creative impulse that has been responsible for human achievements during the period of growth would come to an end. And the spiraling collapse that is far more likely will leave, at best, a handfull of survivors. These people might get by, for a while, by picking through the wreckage of civilization, but soon they would have to lead simpler lives, like the hunters and subsistence farmers of the past. They would not have the resources to build great public works or carry forward scientific inquiry. They could not let individuals remain unproductive as they wrote novels or composed symphonies. After a few generations, they might come to believe that the rubble amid which they live is the remains of cities built by gods.

Ron P.

None of which has much to do with your original wildly erroneously statement that I was refuting by showing the facts:

'But the population in most of these countries is not growing very much because the death rate is so high.'

Yes they are 'growing very much' and since they are the countries at the very earliest stage of the demographic transition their growth rates will increase and the death rate decline rather than decrease in the immediate future.

Since you have not apparently got to grips with the basic facts of demographics, your ability to accurately make the sweeping forecasts of where we are going, and which you seem so fond of making, may seem doubtful to many.

At the moment you are pretty confused as to where we are now, let alone where we are going.


I can't understand your logic.
If birth rates fall below replacement and stay low, that is a demographic transition by definition, regardless of the level of wealth, although higher incomes are desirable for other reasons.

Well no it is not demographic transition by definition at all. Demographic Transition

Definition: Demographic transition is a model used to represent the transition from high birth and death rates to low birth and death rates as a country develops from a pre-industrial to an industrialized economic system.

If there is no development to an industrialized economic system then it is not a demographic transition regardless of what happens to the birth rates.

Ron P.

You are confusing 'demographic transition models' which may posit industrialisation with the demographic transition itself:
'The demographic transition is the change in the human condition from high mortality and high fertility to low mortality and low fertility.'


In any case your argument was basically that birth rates cannot drop and the population stabilise without attaining western levels of income, which it clearly incorrect as a lot of poorer places have already done so.

Whether that stabilisation is called 'demographic transition', as you somewhat eccentrically seek to argue against, is irrelevant to that stabilisation, and to many of it's benefits, even in comparatively poor places.

At the least it is a very different world to the exponentially expanding population meme of Ehrlich.

In any case your argument was basically that birth rates cannot drop and the population stabilise without attaining western levels of income, which it clearly incorrect as a lot of poorer places have already done so.

NO! Please, please do not put words in my mouth that I never uttered. I made no such argument whatsoever. I was simply saying that the entire world cannot undergo a demographic transition because we do not have the natural resources to make that happen. Birth rates can drop for a number of reasons which have nothing to do with a demographic transition. And of course, death rates can rise, slowing or stopping population growth. And that is exactly what is happening in Sub-Sahara Africa.

And your definition of a demographic transition is incomplete. You gave only half of it. That is what is called "quoting out of context".

Definition: Demographic transition is a model used to represent the transition from high birth and death rates to low birth and death rates as a country develops from a pre-industrial to an industrialized economic system.

If you don't convert to a pre-industrial civilization to an industrialized one then you do not have a demographic transition.

Whether that stabilisation is called 'demographic transition', as you somewhat eccentrically seek to argue against, is irrelevant to that stabilisation, and to many of it's benefits, even in comparatively poor places.

Total nonsense. I am saying that the total world cannot become industrialized (demographic transition) because we do not have the natural resources, primarily oil, to make that happen.

The average fertility rate of the highest 40 countries in the world is almost 5, actually 4.95. (Link in my reply to Leanan above.)

Ron P.

In that case your reasoning is almost entirely circular and does not demonstrate anything of importance, like whether the population can be stabilised without reaching a Western standard of living, since part of your definition of demographic transition is reaching that standard.

You can call it whatever you like, but the plain fact is that the population can reach below replacement fertility levels without needing to hit western standards of living, as that has already happened in several places.

Your assertion that we are going to run out of everything needed for a decent standard of living is a largely separate one, although of course one can take comfort from the fact that it is clearly perfectly possible to reach a stable population without massive levels of GDP growth.

Some of us will continue to call that 'demographic transition' regardless of your chosen definition.

You can call it whatever you like, but the plain fact is that the population can reach below replacement fertility levels without needing to hit western standards of living, as that has already happened in several places.

Of course it can, and it will, it will happen all over the world. If people are starving then the fertility rate drops dramatically. From a history book about conditions in France before the industrial revolution, before the population explosion got completely out of control:

"Population and resources are more-or-less in balance because of the poor health of the residents: they tended to be stunted, bent over, and of a yellowish complexion. By the time children were ten or twelve, they assumed the generally unpleasant appearance of their elders: they moved slowly, had poor teeth, and distended bellies. Girls reached the age of 18 before first ministration.

"Malnutrition was the norm. One third of the babies died in the first year and only one third reached adulthood. Most couples had only one or two children before their marriage was broken by the death of one parent. 'Yet, for all that, Sennely was not badly off when compared to other villages.'"
George Huppert, “After the Black Death” [p. 3]

You wrote:

Your assertion that we are going to run out of everything needed for a decent standard of living is a largely separate one, although of course one can take comfort from the fact that it is clearly perfectly possible to reach a stable population without massive levels of GDP growth.

You have a real nasty habit of saying I made assertions that I never made at all. Nowhere, and at no time in history did I ever even suggest that we would run out of everything needed for a decent standard of living. That is total nonsense and you know it.

Have you ever heard of Libig's Law of the Minimum? You only need to run out of one critical thing to have society collapse.

Ron P.

'Society collapsing' sounds pretty much like running our of everything, at least from the point of view of the individuals in that society who are presumably starving, regardless of what the actual triggering shortage originally was.

Since you choose to carry on debating, without acknowledging clear and egregious errors you have made in the facts of fertility and death rates, I conclude that your comments are not in any case significantly based on facts, as when they are shown to be in error you simply pass over that.

I am only interested in fact based discussion, which would seem to be impossible here.

I would have thought that the least you could do would be find out some basics about demography, before indulging in grandiosity on the fate of the world due to supposedly inevitable overpopulation and collapse, but it seems that I set the bar too high.

Society collapsing' sounds pretty much like running our of everything...

Good gravy, now I have heard everything. I am talking about only oil. You turned that into "everything" then tried to justify your mistake with a play on words. Of course a decline in oil supplies will lead to a decline in food supplies around the world. Are you implying that there will be no collapse?

I clearly posted the link that showed the very dramatic high death rates in Sub-Sahara Africa and very correctly stated that without these high death rates the population growth rate would be two to two and one half times what it currently is. It is a hard and fast fact that the population growth there is much slower because of the high death rate. That is what I said and that is the truth. Your twisting of words into a pretzel will not make that statement a falsehood.

Which of the below facts do you disagree with?
Fact: There is no demographic transition in Sub-Sahara Africa.
Fact: The population in Sub-Sahara Africa is growing much slower than indicated by the fertility rate because of the abnormally high death rates there.
Fact: We are not running out of anything but we are suffering because of a restrained oil supply. And it will get worse, a lot worse.
Fact: We are deep into population overshoot and there is no cure for overshoot.
Fact: The earth cannot long support even 7 billion people and a collapse is inevitable.

Ron P.

Fact: The earth cannot long support even 7 billion people

Ron, probably half (3.5 billion souls) are not even aware of that fact.

Here is an article in CNBC: Ten Billion People on Earth: Nightmare or Non-Event?

Ron, it will definitely be a nightmare....

Somehow, discussions about needing to hit western standards of living runs into a problem, just about here:


I submit that 40 million new jobs per year is not something remotely possible, even on a worldwide basis. And that destabilization is a likely consequence, regardless of the nation on which you focus your attention.

And that is just with present energy production levels, never mind reaching peak.

Sadly, we see no one pushing an agenda to create a new societal paradigm, though I suppose such a thing is more evolutionary than planned. Even so, whenever it appears that some new awareness has crept upon the scene, another round of madness intervenes, oft sponsered by those most benefitting from the present schema.


I don't know. Fertility rates are dropping almost everywhere. I think, more than a Western std of living, you need education and some empowerment (hate that word) for women, and an understanding that more kids = worse economic situation for the family.

Check out this animated graph. It shows Children/woman dropped sharply in the US from the 1870s, in India and China from the 1970s, and in Africa from the 1990s.

Gapminder World animated graph

Aarvark, that is cool.

Without energy then we'll see at least 75% of the world's species go extinct when humanity harvests every available twig in sight to stay alive during the Malthusian Collapse.

The only solution to prevent a mass extinction event (seems certain now regardless) is to replace fossil fuels with another "renewable" energy source -- nuclear, wind and solar -- and then try to bring global birth rates to replacement level, which does depend on NOT living in energy poverty.

Poopooh nuclear if you will, but without something to replace fossil fuels we're all going to die.

Edit: I'm referring to nuclear fission here, not fusion which is a fantasy.

Nobody said anything about going without energy altogether, and certainly not all at once.

A mass extinction event is already occurring, and will continue for quite a while. The only mitigating response to this is restraint and contraction- certainly coupled with the adoption of renewable energy infrastructure- but again, 'clean' energy without restraint and contraction is not sufficient. Mass extinction cannot be stopped at this point; the best we can hope for is to make it somewhat less catastrophic than it could be for future generations and other species, slim as that hope may be.

Also, fantasy or not, we were talking about an article in the above Drumbeat on nuclear fusion research. We are not talking about nuclear fission, which, while not fantasy, is also not a "renewable" or "clean" energy resource by any stretch (not that fusion, in whatever manifestation it took, would be either necessarily).

Nuclear fusion might be able to prevent ocean acidification, runaway global warming, and a host of other problems.


Ha ha, or rather yee haw. The future will be "slim pickens" indeed.

Well, the conventional wisdom for the past 50 years has been that practical fusion is 30 years away. Even if that somehow comes true this time, I think that will be a bit late to prevent those problems.

The best comment I heard from someone working on fusion was that we were about 80 billion dollars away from commercially generated fusion electricity.

Fusion is easy -- the Farnsworth fusor was patented in the 1960s. What the fusor doesn't do is create more energy than it takes to operate, it just produces a weak fusion plasma but it makes a good source of benchtop neutrons for other scientific investigations. Producing dense stable highly energetic fusion plasmas is more difficult but that was achieved thirty years ago. Sadly the best fusion output achieved to date (16 MW for about a second and a half in JET in 1997) produced less energy than the 22MW input required to heat the plasma and keep it stable. The next big step and the target of ITER is to create plasmas that are significantly energy-positive (10:1 or better), sustainable for more than a few seconds (the target is 400 seconds) and to develop equipment to harvest that surplus energy and turn it into electricity at reasonable cost.

All this takes time and money. If the money stops then it will never happen, obviously. It is also possible that the scaling-up of ITER will reveal hard limits or failure modes that would make large-scale fusion impossible or too costly to implement due to materials limitations or other factors. That's what the 80 billion dollars is for (and it's probably an underestimate). By comparison Germany has spent about 100 billion Euros over the past ten years or so implementing renewable energy in the form of solar panels and wind turbines and needs to spend a similar amount again over the next fifteen years or so to replace much of that renewable equipment as it reaches end-of-life to maintain its existing contribution to Germany's electrical generating grid.

Now that German PV has an expected life longer than 15years. And the stuff is growing quite a bit cheaper, that 100billion would replace it several times over.

The best comment I heard from someone working on fusion was that we were about 80 billion dollars away from commercially generated fusion electricity.

This surprises me.

Fusion power is a way to boil water, to make steam, to drive a steam turbine, to produce electricity. Essentially a fusion reactor replaces the coal furnace in a conventional coal-fired power station. (Apart from destructive uses, fusion reactions can't be economically used any other way on the surface of the earth.) Steam turbines are most efficient at the gigawatt scale, so fusion reactors have to be sized accordingly.

A fusion powered power station would have very much higher capital costs, and only somewhat lower running costs, than a coal-fired one. The reactor would cost multiples of a fluidized bed coal furnace together with its material handling and pollution control equipment. The reactor would likely have to be staffed with tens of Ph.D. level physicists and engineers, people who could be doing more interesting things than generating a gigawatt of electricity. (If it ever gets to the point of being 'commercial', fusion power will be a solved problem: not something a Ph.D. wants to work on.)

We have already seen how coal plants are being replaced with combined cycle gas turbines because of their lower capital costs, and plans for nuclear fission plants are being abandoned because of their high capital costs (even before Fukushima).

Very high capital cost, and difficulty attracting and retaining suitable staff, are going make investors chary of fusion power. It seems unlikely that terrestrial fusion generated electricity will ever be sold at a profit.

Well, the conventional wisdom for the past 50 years has been that practical fusion is 30 years away. Even if that somehow comes true this time, I think that will be a bit late to prevent those problems.

The image seems now displayed as a link, perhaps for reasons of editorial propriety, which relieved it of any sight-gag effectiveness and changed the apparent meaning of the text. My comment referred to an exchange of fusion bombs. It's a measure of just how messed-up our situation is that a pretty credible case could probably be made for a medium-sized nuclear war being better for the planet AND for humans long-term than another grinding century of BAU.

it could be that bringing up this sort of perspective is considered poor form these days. But it's hard to properly frame the level of seriousness of the human predicament without recourse to jarring concepts.

Sorry, but especially so early in the thread, I'd prefer that kind of image not be hot-linked. A lot can go wrong when hot linking images, which is why many blogs don't allow images in the comments. We do, because of our love of charts and graphs, but I ask that people exercise some self-restraint.

The problem lies less with the science than the politics. If the politicos didn't spend 10 years deciding what, then where, the next step will be then things would be moving ahead a good deal faster.


Bryan, I see no irony here whatsoever. One article is talking about government grant money and the other is talking about corporate investment strategy. As different as apples and oranges.

Not that I approve of drilling in the Arctic but if you were an oil company 4.5 billion, I think, would be very well worth the risk for the potential reward they might receive. That is, it is a "risk-reward ration" that they think is worth taking.

As for fusion however it is not, or is not in my opinion and also in the opinion of many others. You have heard toe old cliche, "Fusion is the energy of the future... and always will be". Most say fusion energy is today from 20 to 50 years in the future. And it was that far in the future well over 50 years ago.

Ron P.

I've always assumed the entire purpose of this facility is to provide for the maintenance of our nuclear stockpile.
The facility directer himself states that Russia, France, and China are building similar facilities.
Of course they are, they, after the US, are the world's most powerful nuclear armed states. They need to maintain their stockpiles also.
I would be extremely surprised if the facility closed its doors.

Seagatherer, I think you are out way off base here. The device is a giant lazer, supposed to generate electrical power from fusion. It has nothing to do with fissionable material that may be stockpiled somewhere. Nor does planned "devices" in Russia, France or China have anything to do with maintaining any kind of nuclear stockpiles.

This is all about fusion not fission, it has nothing whatsoever to do with fissionable nuclear isotopes.

Ron P.

Laser Fusion: Ignition Facility Misses Goal, Ponders New Course

The National Ignition Facility (NIF), a $3.5 billion laser fusion lab in California, looks certain to miss its deadline at the end of this month for achieving ignition, a self-sustaining fusion reaction that yields more energy than was put in to make it happen. This milestone is considered key for NIF's twin goals: demonstrating the feasibility of fusion energy, and ensuring the reliability of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile. By law, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), part of the U.S. Department of Energy, has until 60 days after the deadline to produce a report explaining what barriers to ignition remain, how they can be overcome, and what implications there are for the stockpile.

Whatever happens, the pace of progress toward ignition is likely to slow as weapons scientists are clamoring to get more time on the machine. Having made do with 20% so far, they will be getting more than 50% of the shots starting in January 2013.

I've always suspected that fusion power was always a politically convenient excuse for funding a program that was primarily oriented towards fusion bomb science. If fusion energy could be made economic, it would be a hugely disruptive technology to the United States fossil fuel and former fission power industries, and it would present the United States with the mother of all innovator's dilemmas. This also accounts for how the United States' participation in the ITER project has been more dilutive than constructive.

we can always dream

Ok, let’s step even more firmly outside the realm of plausibility.

The most powerful laser on Earth is the confinement beam at the National Ignition Facility, a fusion research laboratory. It’s an ultraviolet laser with an output of 500 terawatts. However, it only fires in single pulses lasting a few nanoseconds, so the total energy delivered is about equivalent to a quarter-cup of gasoline.

Not true. The weapons scientists still have incomplete knowledge about the extreme states of matter that go on in an N-bomb. Laser fusion is a way to create such conditions on a managable scale and refine the data they have. At one point it was classified for that very purpose. There was an infamous event in the early days; a Russian scientist gave a talk about laser fusion to an American audience. The security types locked the doors and forced the scientists to sign non disclosure forms because the subject of the Russian's talk was classified in the US! So laser fusion is not completely (or even primarily) motivated by the desire for energy.

Enemy, what is not true? Nothing in your post disputes anything I said. Seagatherer said: "I've always assumed the entire purpose of this facility is to provide for the maintenance of our nuclear stockpile." Not even remotely so and I explained why. But are you claiming that there are nuclear stockpiles there, or that it really is a facility to provide for the maintenance of our nuclear stockpiles.

I said: "This is all about fusion not fission, it has nothing whatsoever to do with fissionable nuclear isotopes." And that is true. So exactly what are you saying is "Not True".

I repeat, there are no fissionable isotope stockpiles located at this site. Why on earth would there be? The site is a fusion research center and has nothing to do with fission. Everything I said in my post is true. The very least you could do is quote the sentence that you think is "not true" so that I could know how to respond.

Ron P.

I was reading quickly (at work), so maybe I missed some of the context. I had read in my mind "has nothing to do with nukes", whereas I responded that the capability has long been desired by the weapons designer community.

Okay, but given that lasers are used in nuclear research, that is not the case at this site. This site is trying to find a way to fuse isotopes of hydrogen together and create enough heat to boil water and generate electricity. It has nothing to do with nukes.

Ron P.

Laser fusion, -or any rapid inertially confined fusion is essentially a nanosized fusion bomb. As such there are scientific and technical things that can be learned from the process that could be useful for the designers of its bigger cousin the thermonuclear bomb. The connection is strictly through information, not physical.

Diemos, what's your point? This thread is about fusion, it has nothing to do with nukes or stockpiling of nukes.

Ron P.


It's ok ron, you can just admit you didn't know what you were talking about, learn something, and move on.

Diemos, your smartalec reply was uncalled for. This original thread was all about fusion and the shutting down of the fusion laser experiment. It was about comparing government grant money to corporate investment strategy. That makes no sense because they are not related. It had nothing to do with fission or the stockpiling of fissionable isotopes. There was no fissionable bombs or isotopes stockpiled at that site.

No one is talking about shutting down the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, that is not going to happen. Or not very likely anyway. But this fusion energy experiment will very likely be shut down.

Fusion is the energy source of the future, and always will be.

Ron P.

You might want to try actually reading the links. You might learn something. I'll give you a sample.

"The goal of the Stockpile Stewardship Program is to bring advanced experimental and computational tools to bear on the evaluation and assessment of the weapons in the nuclear stockpile. NIF experiments are an essential component of the nation's stockpile assessment and certification strategy."

The same simulation codes (and tables of stuff like equation of state) would be used to simulate the NIF experiment and design N weapons. Code verification and tuning of parameters that describe how the physics works would be facilitated by the extra data points available from an NIF program.
[I'm typing this a mere two miles from where this work is being done]

Ironic in the sense that the two lead news items today on CBC radio were

1) the NHL strike, they can't agree on how to share their $3.2 Billion
2) BC has the lowest teacher/student ratio due to lack of funding.

The current economy/society/leaders have no problem spending the money on the guaranteed disaster but not on the unlikely solution. A bunch of men chasing a rubber puck around are more economically valuable than teaching another generation of humans.

I agree that everything else that is screwed will not be undone by the infinitesimal chance of success of practical fusion and the unlikelyhood of the decades long implementation. But I can see no universe where burning the rest of the crude + condensate / 'all liquids' is a better option.

I'm putting my bets on a bit of farmland in a friendly northern community and the fuel I burn is calculated to make my next 40 years more 'sustainable' There is no chance all 6 billion of us can do this.


We have seven NHL teams in Canada so there would only be a couple of hundred highly paid professional hockey players in this country. The amount of money being spent on professional hockey is really quite insignificant in comparison to how much is spent on education. In Ontario, education is the second largest expenditure (health care is number one) and I'm sure it is the same situation in every other province.

I would say that the idea that everyone should be receiving a greater amount of education is part of BAU and is therefore unsustainable. It is highly questionable that we will need all the university educated people, especially those with Masters or PhD degrees, that are coming out of the university system now. The idea that more money spent on education and research will solve all our problems is a cornucopian viewpoint. As our GDP drops we are suddenly going to find that things can get done without having so many highly educated people sitting in nice, clean offices.

Currently, higher education is a form of indirect welfare. The money is in "loans" but it won't be paid back in many cases. It is a way for the government to keep people fed and housed rather than on the streets. It also supports the people working in education, so double bonus!

Everything about our current system is unsustainable.

Except, they made it really hard to not have to pay back the loans. Essentially the system was set up to make the government into the enforcement arm of educational loan sharks.

I just don't see how the big laser zapper can be be transformed into a useful fusion reactor. Yeah, we can fire a massive laser at a teeny dot and have it fuse. So what? There is no way to capture the energy. There is not continuing reaction. It all just seems to be an academic exercise with no viable path to a workable reactor. Am I wrong about that? Is there something I'm not understanding?

My favorite fusion fantasy is Acoustic Inertial Confinement Fusion- compressing and heating fusion fuel in a cavitating bubble. There is a company in Grass Valley California working on such a thing: Impulse Devices
http://www.impulsedevices.com/ They have respected researchers and present findings at Acoustical Society of America conferences. Alas, they have not reported any excess neutrons from their efforts yet.

No Speculawyer, I think you are exactly right about that. Nuclear fission generates heat which is used to boil water to generate steam. The steam is then put through a turbine which turns a generator and generates electricity. How are you going to do that with a giant laser that fuses tiny bits of deuterium-tritium together? How much water can you boil with that device?

Ron P.

You would probably generate more heat by burning 5 billion of dollar bills.

And I have a fully functioning continuous fusion reactor visible just to my south. Unfortunately my tokamak containment panels are still in a stack and the electricity just went out, so I've only got battery power.

Our entire solar system has a billions year old reliable fusion power plant producing more energy than we can harvest.

We just need to continue to install systems that capture some of that energy and then make use of it to our benefit. PV, Wind, CSP to just name a few

; )

Fusion is the energy source of the future----
and always will be.

5B dollar bills x 1/1000 kg x 13.5 MJ/kg = 67.5 TJ, about the same heat as 2,700 tons of coal.

Fusion guys, you have a lot of catching up to do.

Really? 12 pounds of firewood going up would look a lot like this:
Assuming the same <1% yield.


Well at least it's one way to make Helium.

Changing Trend in Energy and Food Expenditures Trends Signify Future Realities

It is hard for anyone running for an election to admit that they might be powerless to affect some energy and economic realities. In this post, I discuss the trend in the figure below: US monthly personal consumption expenditures (PCE) for food and energy goods and services as a percentage of total household expenditures. I think it is completely possible that the stop in the declining trend of PCE for food and energy that stopped in the early 2000s is indicative of the new reality facing the United States energy and overall economic (and debt) situation.

It doesn’t take a PhD in statistics (or engineering, or anything else) to notice the major change in the trends of the time series in the figure. In 1999, the 4-decade trend of decreasing PCE for energy stopped declining and started increasing. In 2007, the (at least) 45-year trend of decade trend of decreasing PCE for food stopped decreasing - just before the beginning of the Great Recession that began in late 2007. Adding the PCE for “food + energy” shows a minimum PCE percentage of 11.7% in the first two months of 2002. It is a good question of whether or not this will be the minimum percentage PCE for “food + energy” for the US … for all time.

Truth is always the first casualty ...

CNN Exposed! Caught Producing "State Sponsored News" in Bahrain

Former CNN Journalist Amber Lyon: I started getting employees at CNN, longtime employees, approaching me saying, “You should investigate this. This is very suspicious. Something’s going on here.”

And we found out that, which was really, I felt defrauded as a journalist, we found out that at the same time I was being detained and risking my life to expose the Bahrain regime, CNN International is taking money from them in exchange for producing content that it airs on CNN International. Content disguised as news.

And as an employee at CNN, I was never told that this was going on. Also viewers are not being told that CNN is being paid by state regimes ...

also here and here

... if CNNi can be bought by Bahrain (or the U.S.), they can be bought by anybody. If CNN can be bought, the rest of MSM can be bought.

if CNNi can be bought by Bahrain (or the U.S.), they can be bought by anybody. If CNN can be bought, the rest of MSM can be bought.

Umm, it's not really a question of if, they do this for money. You don't really buy them, you just kind of rent them to say whatever you want them to....

Yup. They are on sale in 30 Second lots. Buy enough clean coal ads, and the assignment desk sill find something other than clean coal to feature in a story.

Caught George Gilder on C-SPAN2's BOOKTV pushing a new edition of his 1980 book "Wealth and Poverty: A New Edition for the Twenty-First Century".

Lost interest after he said things like:

* Obama's EPA declaring CO2 as a pollutant to be controlled is a
* There is an energy renaissance with fracking which has a small
surface footprint for huge extraction area underground. This
is vs. a huge footprint for green energy e.g. solar voltaic and
windmills wasting arable soils (~18 min. from the start)
* Obama is like Carter with a malaise economy caused by regulation.
We need another supply side president like Reagan

The 31:52 min. interview from FreedomFest, a libertarian conference held in Las Vegas is on BOOKTV's website:


Experts Believe Russia Is Bankrolling A Plan To End Shale Gas

James Diemer, an executive vice president for Pace Global, an international consulting company based in Virginia, believes that shale gas costs more to extract than the current market price. Pace, which recently released a report called "Shale Gas: The Numbers vs. The Hype," has been studying shale gas for Gazprom and other clients.

"The capital will stop flowing" to U.S. shale gas, and the price will go up, Diemer predicted. He would not divulge the kind of work Pace is doing for Gazprom. Pace is owned by Siemens, a German company.

Pace's work for Gazprom has raised some eyebrows in Washington, and Hill noted that industry watchers in Europe already believe Russia is bankrolling environmental groups that are loudly opposing plans for fracking in Europe, which could cut down on Russia's natural gas market.

"I've heard a lot of rumors that the Russians were funding this. I have no proof whatsoever," she said, noting that many critics give the rumors credence because Gazprom owns media companies throughout Russia and Europe that have run stories examining the environmental risks of fracking.

My initial impression of the Russian funding of US anti-fracking groups is similar to that of US groups funding BC's anti-pipeline group: they seem to exist in the minds of the status quo but seem to be very difficult to track down. I would be more than happy to take a pile of cash from someone to complain about a pipeline planned in my backyard (And yes, I know it has to go somewhere; hard for me to burn 400l yesterday without a steady supply). Oddly It just never seems to happen.

Two random apple/orange statistics:
Exxon sales $498.36 Billion
Greenpeace budget €202.5 million

With only 2000 times the money the oil industry must be terrified!


The story cited allegations that Gazprom was funding anti-fracking groups in Europe. There would be no point in their funding anti-fracking groups in the US. As the story makes clear, their only objective would be to keep European gas off the market to keep the prices up.

Exxon and Greenpeace are in different industries. There is no useful way to employ $498 billion a year in the media and public relations industry. Even presidential campaigns can't spend more than a billion or so each.

Exactly - and if I make $20,000 I can give $20 to a panhandler without affecting my annual budget. When my income is $10 annually I'm not likely to give away $20.

I know their entire budget doesn't go to lobbying and campaigning - only an infinitesimal proportion is needed in order to defeat a grassroots budget.

UAE is doing it ...

Hollywood environmentalists, Persian Gulf oil barons have common foe: fracking

... "Promised Land" is a new film starring and written by Matt Damon and John Krasinski, based on a story by San Francisco-based writer Dave Eggers. In the film, Damon and actress Frances McDormand play a team that shows a rural town hard hit by economic decline, offering to pay big money for drilling rights.

Krasinski plays a local activist who leads the town into rebellion against the drillers, arguing that their plans would damage the local environment. To anyone who is familiar with the debates about fracking in, say, upstate New York, this will be a familiar story.

The more interesting twist here isn’t in the movie — it’s in the movie’s creation. The film was produced “in association with” Image Media Abu Dhabi, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media ... Very obviously, the UAE has an interest in slowing down the expansion of hydraulic fracking that has created an energy boom in the United States. A popular film — there’s even talk of it being an Oscar candidate — might give a boost to the opponents of fracking.

Electric vehicle progress in France

The Zoe has been released on 27th September.

They intend to build to full production by March, and to use batteries built in France.

They expect a real world range of 150km, 93 miles, and say that the better range than other electric vehicles on a 22kwh battery is due to:
Improved regenerative braking.
The use of a heat pump instead of resistive heating.
New low rolling resistance tires.

France has upped the subsidy to 7,000 Euros, so that the base price is 13,700 Euros plus battery hire.
In Alsace there is another 5,000 Euro subsidy available, bringing the price down to 8,700 Euros!
At £1.28/Euro those prices are $17,536 and $11,136

The Twizy is selling well, in France and even in Germany, at a rate of 2-3,000 a month, and is even finding uses in things like emergency response vehicles as it can get through the traffic well.

The Renault Kangoo ZE van is benefiting from an order for 10,000 from La Poste.

Overall, Renault expects electric vehicle sales of 20,000 in France in 2012.
Adjusted for population size that is around 100,000 for the US.

NB The links I give here are French language.



And the Renault Zoe forum:

Leafers in warm climates are seeing big problems with premature battery loss. I'm in a cool climate so crossing my fingers. The lack of active thermal management was a mistake.

I've been involved in extensive discussions on that issue.

Liquid battery cooling would help, as when you are charging or running the car the temperature would be kept within some limits, from memory around 104F on the Volt, which is still far hotter than is ideal.
If a car is left parked all day in the heat though, especially with the heat reflected off the tarmac, then even the 300kgs or so of the battery mass is going to heat up anyway eventually.
The Volt as well as having liquid cooling also has a very conservative policy on the amount of charge it allows to be used, which helps longevity.

No batteries like the heat, and in some areas of Arizona a starter battery which would last 5 years in a cooler climate needs replacing after 2.

Having said that though, some battery chemistries, cooling aside, as much more vulnerable than others, with the manganese spinel as used in the Leaf and Renaults especially vulnerable.
In contrast the lithium titanate batteries from Toshiba as used in the Fit have excellent resistance to heat, as have lithium iron phosphate as used in the Coda.

This problem is compounded because the cycle life of manganese spinel is amongst the lowest of the chemistries used, so further drop off in capacity hits hard.

Some variants of NMC which Nissan may be using in their next generation battery also have far better life than the present ones.

So better thermal management may be part of the solution, but in my view which chemistry is used is more important.

In your particular circumstances I haven't seen anything to make me doubt that in cooler climates the ~20% drop in battery capacity they estimate after 5 years, which appears to be at average mileage, ie around 12,000 miles a year or 60,000 miles according to the manual, not the 100,000 miles that was bruited about, is not achievable.

I was shocked when I found that out, and do not regard that as a viable level of deterioration.
It does not matter on the Renault's, as the battery is leased.
The problem is likely to be reduced in the future, both with different chemistries and simply with bigger battery packs, so that for a given mileage it cycles less.
This is a major clanger by Nissan though, IMO, the level of deterioration in all climates being unacceptable, not just where it is hot.

I would suggest minimising loss of capacity by charging to 80% not 100% whenever possible, as the manual suggests.
In the heat I would also use a reflective cover when parked for long periods.
If your car is leased I would not buy at the end of the lease.

Good luck and I hope it works our for you.

BTW when the Smart EV gets to the US, it should not have such problems as the Li-Tec battery is rated for around 250,000 miles.

If it was a mistake to forego thermal management it was a planned mistake, as the impact of extreme temperature on batteries is nothing new: temporary loss of capacity in the cold, permanent loss of cycles in the hot.

Leafers in warm climates are seeing big problems with premature battery loss.

Hope yours does better in cool climes. This goes to what I was saying when EV's were first coming out, and that is I'll take a wait and see approach. Too many unknowns particularly with the batteries. How long will they hold a full charge? What is the cost if they have to be replaced every 5 years? Still a works in progress.

It's kind of funny that it's hot climates that are proving problematic. Most people were more worried about the cold than the heat.

"It's kind of funny that it's hot climates that are proving problematic."

Agreed. I would not have expected a battery to act like a diesel; if you do manage to get it going on a cold day, it will heat it self up and run fine.

(Dad had a nice diesel farm tractor he traded in for a gas one, as there were too many months in Wisconsin when the diesel was unstartable.)

Cold hits range on that day.
The heat permanently reduces battery capacity.

For cold weather the details of the chemistry and engineering are also important.
The NiMH batteries Toyota has used in the Prius is susceptible to the cold, but excellent engineering protects it to the degree that I can't recall it ever being mentioned as a problem in use.

Lithium titanate chemistry is fine down to -30C, and the lithium iron phosphate used in the new A123 battery down to -18C without fancy temperature regulation.

Indeed. We are all dependent on the early adopters to take something of a risk.
Hotter climates will always reduce battery performance, however the unacceptable levels seen in the Leaf are a product of their chemistry and to a degree their lack of active thermal management.

Here is the temperature performance of A123's Lithium iron phosphate technology:

' A123 said that battery chemistry would allow for 20-30% higher power at lower temperatures than their existing Nanophosphate batteries, while also giving “superior power retention.“ Under normal conditions, early testing had shown a 90% retention of initial capacity after 2,000 full charge cycles. Even at 45C (113F), it took almost 800 full cycle discharges for the pack to lose 5%, 1,600 cycles for 90%.

However, the internal temperatures that is currently crippling LEAF batteries in Arizona, and some parts of Texas and California, is even higher than that.

Thankfully, A123 has not only done more tests at even more extreme conditions on their Nanophosphate EXT batteries, they have also lent out cells to Ohio State University (OSU) to independently verify their results. And to say the results are encouraging is an understatement, they are ‘throw away your thermal battery management system’ good.

“In high-temperature testing, A123’s Nanophosphate EXT cells are exhibiting a rate of aging that is about three to four times lower than cells from a competing manufacturer of commercially available lithium ion technology. Specifically, in testing conducted at 75 degrees Celsius (167 Fahrenheit), A123’s Nanophosphate EXT cells are showing more than twice the life compared with the competition after about 700 full DOD cycles (at an aggressive 4C discharge rage). “

Just to repeat, that is 167 degrees Fahrenheit they are testing these pack ats; hotter than any recorded temperature on Earth. And under these extreme condition, after 700 full cycles, the pack is still retaining 90% of life.

In “LEAF miles” that would be 90% retention after 50,400 clicks, in 167 degree weather.

The competition, which is clearly the LMO (lithium manganese oxide) cells found in the Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF, faired much worse, losing over a third of their capacity. It should also be noted that drop off on the curve for ‘the competitor’ is extreme even at 65% left.

And low temperatures? A123 has got that covered too:

“In low-temperature testing, a battery built with A123’s Nanophosphate EXT cells is delivering up to as many as 1,200A at minus 18 degrees Celsius. This effectively eliminates the only performance advantage of absorbent glass mat (AGM) lead acid batteries (which deliver approximately 800A at minus 18 degrees Celsius) for micro hybrid vehicles and improves the total cost of ownership (TCO) of A123’s 12V Engine Start battery versus AGM. “


Nor is this the only chemistry to have excellent performance at extreme temperatures.
Here is the spec sheet for Toshiba's lithium titanate battery.
Note that the version for cars is the 20Ah one referred to in the box at the bottom right, which has higher specific energy but otherwise similar characteristics to the ones referenced in the main charts:

So the unacceptable deterioration is not general to electric car batteries per se, but to the specific chemistry and thermal management in the Leaf.

Toshiba specifically rates their battery at 20 years, or the life of the car, not 5 years.

The A123 battery might not be quite as long lived to the same degree of capacity depletion, but will still have several times the life of that in the Leaf.

A dark colored car hood in direct sunlight can get much hotter than 167F. Add internal thermal dissipation from the charging process, and your battery pack could get quite toasty. While driving you have air flow through the engine compartment to take away heat, but during charging the car isn't moving and the fan belt is stationary.

You are surely not seriously presenting that as a critique?

The hood of a car is not the battery mass, and in warm climates would probably be light coloured anyway.

So your assumption is that the dark coloured car is parked up out of the shade whilst your battery is charged, and all the heat transfers into the battery.

In any case, the battery is not going to instantly stop working due to a one off use at higher temperatures.
If there were a real problem then during charging liquid cooling, or even air cooling as the Mitsubishi in some variants can do when charging, would solve it.

It seems that you feel that the present lead acid starter batteries must be often reduced to a puddle of molten lead, if you happen to have a dark car and leave it out in the heat.

Sure, very high ambient temperatures are testing for any battery, just as altitude is for petrol cars due to lack of oxygen.
That does not mean that petrol cars can't be used at altitude, and the temperature performance of either lithium titanate or lithium iron phosphate is perfectly adequate for use.

These were supposedly frequent users, lets assume Nissan made the assumption that charging would be at night 90% of the time. Most people don't choose car color based on thermal performance, so they buy black. Then these frequent users probably do a noonhour recharge (possibly they found some sort of rapid-charge solution as well), and if the charge station is in the sun they have no choice in the matter. The battery was probably already hot from the discharge cycle, i.e. a quick transition from driving to charging may not be ideal. Adding a thermostat driven fan might be all thats required. But I'd bet the assumptions of the engineers as to how the vehicle would be used were just wrong.

And I'd bet that Ghosn over-ruled the engineers, because he has said that he did, although not specifically about thermal management.
These concerns were raised outside of Nissan years ago:

'When I was at the New York Auto show this year, I grilled the Nissan representatives about this—so much so they really just wanted me to leave. Although they were steadfast in saying, "We are confident the LEAF will perform well in all ambient temperatures," I did get one person to concede that they are working on an active thermal management system and could possibly be an option for the Generation 2 LEAF for regions that are particularly hot or cold. Ah, so they are a little worried.'


Note also that whatever may be the case for the hood when the day is sunny, the battery pack seems to stay at a much lower level:
'I have recorded battery temperatures as high as 119 degrees on my MINI-E and performance really suffers when the temperature gets above 105. In fact, the car refused to charge a few weeks ago because the batteries were too hot.'

That is well below the temperature the A123 battery will start suffering severely at, and presumably black hood or no if the batteries in the Leaf reached anything like those you suggest the A 123 might have to put up with it would simply stop working.

My criticism of the Leaf battery is not just at high temperatures.
I feel its cycle life is in any case too low to be really competitive.

and performance really suffers when the temperature gets above 105. In fact, the car refused to charge a few weeks ago because the batteries were too hot.'

That is the inexpensive way to do thermal management, just don't let the user chrage it if the conditions are such that that would harm the battery.
Of course if you need to charge it so you can drive it away from an approaching wildfire, you could care less about minor battery abuse!

We have had a Nissan Leaf for over a year, and a Chevy Volt for 5 months, in Austin, Texas, where it does get nice and hot.

No problems with either car; we still like both of them.

Just got a yearly battery check on the Leaf; they said it is doing great.

So, let me repeat: these are great cars! Get one! When the Israelis and Iranians start fighting and there is a gas shortage, there will be a 5-year waiting list.

"These are great cars,get one"
The majority of the population is so broke they can't even afford to pay attention,let alone buy a new volt or leaf or,,anything.
There was no recovery after the crash of '08 and most of us out here are just trying to survive after already going over the cliff,into the abyss. fubar. roadkill. kaput.tshtf.terminal velocity. I'll just go back under my rock now.

The majority of people have never been able to afford a new car, but have relied on second hand.
Any downturn, and still more one tied in with shortages of mainstay energy resources, in this case oil, requiring an energy transition is going to result in hardship which will fall disproportionately on people who are less wealthy.
If we have in fact got ample energy resources and the technology to enable a transport transition, that is however a very different case to that posited by many on this forum, of the economy going into total breakdown, severe energy shortages and mass die-offs.

Having to ride a motorbike or electric bike to work instead of a car, or even having to room closer to work, is inconvenient but not the end of the world.

None of this is to dismiss or belittle the very real levels of suffering many are going through, but it is to critique the extremist views of collapse many on this forum espouse.

Here in Europe Renault is leasing the batteries
The cost of the car after subsidy is around the same as the diesel version, and the cost of the battery hire and electricity is less than the petrol.

The fact that many can't afford a new car, electric or petrol, is not directly pertinent to electric cars.

So all these people rioting in the streets of Europe are actually SO happy about Renault leasing EV batteries that they just can't control themselves ?
And here I thought it was because POD crashed their economy..
I can just hear the chants "Renault is leasing batteries,,,we're saved !!! YAYYY !!
The majority of the population can't afford anything,they are in debt. Worse than broke.They are struggling for survival, not shopping for EVs or solar panels.
I'll bet ya a buck more people DIED of starvation TODAY than even thought about leasing a Renault EV battery.
/rant off/

No need for China to bail out Europe anymore,Renault is leasing EV batteries and everything is fine,,

Sure. Good Rant. Glad you're done.

Better batteries IS a big deal, and research and development should continue, and it's too bad that some of you guys are so hell bent on damning it. It's not about 'saving us all' and just doing the beer run to keep the party fired up. It's about have responsible tools available to replace the irresponsible ones we've gotten ourselves into this mess with.

Yes, the SCALE we've used those old tools has also been a critical problem.. but frankly that part will have to change in different ways. There are those who WILL try to perpetuate BAU, and I think they will simply find that dream has been priced off of the production line.. but we'll still need transportation tools of all sorts.

I'm sorry about the rants I just blurted out, it just hit a nerve because I would like to see solar panels and wind turbines on every house and commercial bldgs and the majority of vehicles switched to electric or NG power, it's just not happening.
It's so frustrating to watch the economy crash around me and beyond when it doesn't have to be like this.
The monies the banksters have printed and stolen over the last four years could have rebuilt the economy, but instead we transition into chaos.
I will try to avoid further rants and not be disruptive.
Best hope for better batts tech and a transition to the electric future.

Didn't mean to harsh you too much.. I rant back at rants a bit.. generally think it fits into 'lively discussion'. I know we're here for almost entirely the same reasons.

...And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas


Leafs and Volts are wonderments of technology, but I've only seen 2 Leafs and zero Volts on the road.
And Teslas,, OMFG,IMHO the finest car ever designed. I've also seen 2 of those on the road.
I would like to see solar panels and VAWTs on every bldg and more non petrol burning vehicles but I don't, and it's frustrating.
At times, the frustration gets to me, but I'm OK,, the 12 step program helps with that. http://www.straight.com/article-144591/12-steps-peak-oil cheers

We had a Gazelle citybike, and a IdWorx Easy Rohler for 5 years, in Amsterdam, Europe, where it does get windy and wet.

Some problems with the Gazelle (crank broke, rear light susceptible to moisture, bolts rust quickly), the Easy Rohler is simply awesome.

Just checked them, only needed a few new tires after 2500km, they are doing great.

So, let me repeat: these are great bikes! Get One! When the Israelis and Iranians start fighting and there is a gas shortage, you will be cycling happily along the empty motorways, just like '73.

Love it! I would buy one, only my car is significantly bigger, costs about as much to buy , the monthly diesel costs for the miles I drive are about the same as the monthly battery rental charge for the Zoe (and electricity is pricey in the UK) and my car under ideal conditions will run 930 miles between top-ups, which take less than five minutes.

Of course when diesel becomes unavailable the Zoe will win hands down. Not yet.

To charge an electric car you would use a meter at home allowing off peak charging, which is around £0.08 kwh, or 12 US cents.

If one is comparing costs it is important to make that life-cycle costs, and the maintenance requirements of pure electric vehicles are extraordinarily low, as you simply don't have many of the parts that can fail on a combustion engine vehicle.

For business city battery cars are likely to have a big part to play in the near future, as for instance in the Smart EV with it's long life batteries costs after purchase should be very low indeed.
Clearly for many that, and the Zoe etc, will not provide all their private or business needs.
If you need more range then they can't do the job, and won't be able to for a while.
Personally the size of the Zoe would do me fine, but I would need a real world range of around 150 miles.
Others will have different requirements.
That does not mean that they can't make a real and significant contribution to transport needs.

I don't believe in batteries as a universal solution for transport, but clearly notions that oil running low mean the end of personal transport capabilities, or the end of industrial society, which are frequently raised on this forum are overblown.

For light city cars it is pretty clear that batteries can do the job, and I see no reason to differ significantly from the assessment common to the DOE and most major car companies, that for larger vehicles hybrids, then plug in hybrids are the short term way to go, with the hydrogen economy and fuel cells likely to provide the longer term solution for longer range transport and bigger vehicles.

Perhaps I should add that your 12 US cents/kwh buys you about 3 miles of range, including running the heater and so on.

4 cents/mile is not too bad, and compares favourably with petrol/diesel.
I have already said that I don't think the present battery degradation on the Leaf of around 20% after 60,000 miles is viable.
Other chemistries and the next generation of batteries should do much better.

The main expense on a car is depreciation though, and if one is offsetting battery depreciation against fuel costs then the remaining depreciation of an electric vehicle should be considerably lower than for a combustion engine vehicle.

IOW at least whilst subsidies are kept, and without equalised taxation electric cars should soon be economically viable.

Electric cars put a definite upper limit on petrol prices though.

At something like £2 litre in the UK with equalised taxation on fuel then electric cars become very competitive.

For the US lower taxation puts the tipping point at something like $4.50-5.

Electric cars put a definite upper limit on petrol prices though.

If there was enough time for the system to equilibrate. But designing and manufacturing an EV fleet (and retiring the ICE fleet) takes decades, and oil prices can fluctuate much faster than that. So at least for timespans shorter than a decade, I don't think EVs can have much of an effect on fuel price.

Prices are always determined at the margins.
The possibility of electrification will not cause oil prices to collapse, it is useful anyeay for a lot of other things than cars, but it would mean that in addition to the usual effect of a large price range of the poor simply being priced out of the market, production would be under pressure to switch to electric at a faster rate.
In extremis conversions are also possible, although hardly elegant.

"...4 cents per mile is not too bad, and compares favourably with petrol/diesel."

That 4 cents per mile (here in middel of US electric cost is more like $0.10/kw-hr for off peak) is 1/4 the cost of diesel for my vehicle, a 2.8 liter diesel Jeep Liberty that gets 25 mpg average city/highway. At current diesel price of $4.00 per gallon that equals 16 cents energy cost per mile. Most Jeep Liberty (small SUV) were built with 3.8 liter gas engine that gets 18 mpg average city/highway, though gas is $3.70 per gallon here meaning 20.5 cents per mile energy cost. Electric is far cheaper than gas(petrol) or diesel here in US. Maybe low electricity cost is due to low nat. gas price in US ($3.25/mmBTU).

Higher natural gas prices would certainly impact electricity costs in the US.
The price of 4 cents/mile I gave are however based on UK off-peak rates, and NG is around 3 times as expensive here, although part of the low cot is due to heavy off peak discounts.
For comparison a rate which does not allow for off peak discount is around £0.14 kwh, or perhaps 20 cents/kwh, which would give a rate per mile of around 7 cents.

In the US the biggest supplier to the grid is still coal, and a lot of that capacity has been laid off due to cheap NG.

A rise in NG rates which I expect due to present prices being around half sustainable production costs would lead to something of a resurgence in coal, which would be more expensive than some of the rates paid for NG, but not massively so.

Legislative measures aside mandating very expensive renewables, it seems likely that past trends of broadly stable electricity prices, perhaps with an upward trend, will continue in most areas of the US, with more realistic prices for NG bumping them upwards but not massively so.

Certainly electricity prices are less volatile and have risen less than oil prices in the past, and that trend seems likely to continue.

Research Reports Climate Change Could Cripple Southwestern Forests

... The study points out that very large and severe wildfires, bark-beetle outbreaks and a doubling of the proportion of dead trees in response to early 21st-century warmth and drought conditions are evidence that a transition of southwestern forest landscapes toward more open and drought-tolerant ecosystems may already be underway.

Using climate-model projections, the team projected that megadrought-type forest drought-stress conditions will be exceeded regularly by the 2050s. If climate-model projections are correct, forest drought-stress levels during even the wettest and coolest years of the late 21st century will be more severe than the driest, warmest years of the previous megadroughts.

The study forecasts that during the second half of this century, about 80 percent of years will exceed megadrought levels. ... the impacts on the forests will not be restricted to one species or one site at low elevation, but in fact will take place at forests across the landscape."

The team concluded forest drought stress during more than 30 percent of the past 13 years, including 2011 and 2012, matched or exceeded the megadrought-type levels of the 1200s and 1500s. The only other 13-year periods when megadrought-type conditions were reached with such frequencies in the past 1,000 years were during the megadroughts themselves.

Nearly all EU nuclear plants need upgrades

"On the basis of the stress test results practically all nuclear power plants need to undergo safety improvements," reads the document, which is a draft version of the final report by the EU executive body on the safety checks--the stress tests--the bloc decided to undertake after the accident to the Fukushima power plant in Japan last year.

According to the paper, which is expected to be published later this month, the cost of the safety upgrade could range between 30 million euros ($38.6 million) and EUR 200 million per reactor, making the overall price tag between EUR10 billion and EUR 25 billion.

Germany will now abandon nuclear power sooner than planned, Sweden, Finland and France will probably have to shut down several reactors and upgrade several others.

The EU test did not even include risks such as terrorist attacks.

Also Europe nuke plants need 'up to 25 bn euros' upgrade

... In the report obtained by AFP, the European Commission estimates the cost of improving safety at 134 reactors "in the order of 10-25 billion euros" ($13-$32 billion) and wants the upgrades monitored and finalised by 2015. But it demands no plant closures.

With 111 European reactors located in built-up areas of more than 100,000 people living within 30 kilometres, "the EU must learn the lessons of Fukushima to further reduce the risk of nuclear incidents in Europe," the report says.

... It also said only four countries currently operate a back-up emergency centre in case the main control room becomes inhabitable in a severe accident.

Republican Strength In Congress Aids Super-Rich, President's Affiliation Has No Effect

According to the study, "The Rise of the Super-Rich: Power Resources, Taxes, Financial Markets, and the Dynamics of the Top 1 Percent, 1949 to 2008," following years of relative stability post World War II, the income share of the top 1 percent grew rapidly after 1980—from 10 percent in 1981 to 23.5 percent in 2007, a 135 percent increase. The income share of the super-rich dropped to about 21 percent in 2008, likely as a result of the financial crisis that had begun, Volscho said. By way of comparison, the income share of the top 1 percent was 11.7 percent in 1949.

"We found evidence that congressional shifts to the Republican Party, diminishing union membership, lower top tax rates, and financial asset bubbles in stock and real estate markets played a strong role in the rise of the 1 percent," said Volscho

... From 1949 through 2008, the impact of a one percentage point increase in the share of seats (just over five seats) held by Republicans in Congress raised the top income share by about .08 percentage points, according to the study.

"At first glance, this might seem negligible, but that's really not the case," said Volscho. "Given that the estimated national income in 2008 was more than $7.8 trillion, an increase of only 1 percent in Republican seat share would raise the income of the top 1 percent by nearly $6.6 billion. That equates to about $6,600 per family in the top 1 percent."

In terms of labor unions, over the course of the study period, Volscho and Kelly found that a one percentage point decrease in union membership among private sector workers was associated with more than a .40 percentage point increase in the income share of the super-rich. According to Volscho, private sector union membership was 34.9 percent in 1949, but had dropped to 7.6 percent by 2008.

Based on the estimated 2008 national income, the effect of a one percentage point drop in private sector union membership would transfer $33.4 billion to the top 1 percent, Volscho said. ...

Study: The Rise of the Super-Rich: Power Resources, Taxes, Financial Markets, and the Dynamics of the Top 1 Percent, 1949 to 2008.

... incredible ROR. Best government money can buy!

Oil-Tanker Forecasts Cut by DNB as U.S. Shale Boom Curbs Imports

... Very large crude carriers will earn $21,000 a day on average in 2013 and $22,000 in the following year, 24 percent below its prior estimate, the Oslo-based bank said in a report dated Sept. 27. Smaller Suezmax vessels will bring in $18,000 daily next year, a 25 percent reduction.

“U.S. seaborne imports of crude oil are set to be dramatically reduced in the coming years, mainly due to the large expected increase in domestic crude production,” analysts including Nicolay Dyvik said. “All else equal, this will be negative for the crude oil tanker market.”

Annual imports into the U.S., the world’s biggest oil consumer, are set to fall by 550,000 barrels a day, DNB estimated.

Re:Sumitomo Sees ‘Solar Bubble’ as Japan Rejects Nuclear

It looks like Japan has a lot of money to spend. According to the article, they pay 42¥ = 0.42€ per kWh. To compare, German FIT is between 0.1836€ (roof mounted <10kW) and 0.1271€ (>1000kW or free space). No wonder Goldman-Sachs and other benefactors of mankind are rushing to get a piece of it.

Uh-Oh. Global Diaper Shortage Possible After Plant Explosion

An explosion at a Japanese chemical plant this weekend has the spectre of a global diaper shortage.

The plant in the coastal city of Himeji, operated by Nippon Shokubai Co., is one of the world’s largest producers of acrylic acid, a primary ingredient used in disposable diapers.

Acrylic acid is a key component of superabsorbent polymers or SAP, which absorb large amounts of liquid. Nippon Shokubai makes roughly 20 percent of the world’s SAP and maintains a 10 percent global market share of acrylic acid. The plant had been ramping up production to meet increasing global demand, especially from China, according to Japanese media reports.

Ask Angie: Heat and drought can challenge geothermal units

Unfortunately, some homeowners with geothermal systems are experiencing problems with the units not sufficiently cooling their homes. The dry ground and high temperatures definitely are affecting how well some units perform.

Ground-source geothermal units use an underground loop system to bring heat from the earth into the home during the winter and pull heat from the home back into the earth during summer. Loops can be buried vertically or horizontally, depending on the type of soil, the size of the yard and other factors. Systems with horizontal loops seem to be affected more by the dry conditions because they're not buried as deep as vertical systems. The ground needs to be moist and cool for the system to operate as it should.

Obviously, that's been a major problem in parts of the United States this summer with the lack of rain and the unusually high temperatures at night, when the ground is normally able to cool off.

Maybe the whole home should move underground like the outback opal miners

I have a separate cellar/cool room/bunker 3 metres underground which will never get over 20C even in heat waves. However I conclude humans need windows to get feedback on the outside world.

Spectacular Gasoline Price Superspike Continues, with California market smashing records

Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse after the spectacular futures price superspike on Friday, well, they have. Prices for delivery of wholesale gasoline in the next few days within the New York harbor region advanced again today, although the gain was relatively small by Friday's standards. The region including New York City, regional supplies were the lowest ever recorded since the EIA started keeping regional records in 1990. NY area gasoline suppliers have greatly increased shipping arrangements in an attempt to import what gasoline may be available from Europe, but those shipments may not arrive until late in the month.

Meanwhile a new refinery problem in California has launched a west coast gasoline prices into record territory.

California Gasoline at Record High on Exxon Upset, Pipeline Shut

Spot gasoline in California advanced to a record high against futures after Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM)’s Torrance refinery lost power and Chevron Corp. (CVX) shut an oil pipeline that delivers crude to Bay Area refiners.


Harbor gasoline stronger on tight supply

I'm in Silicon Valley and the gas station closest to me (which tends to be pretty high price) has $4.50 for the cheapest grade gas. Ouch! That has got to hurt people who are living on the margins.

I'm happily filling up with electrons now but I feel bad for all the people that don't have that option. Public transport has certainly become much more popular.

We live a few hours north in Napa county. Seems like 4+ dollars a gallon in CA now has a not so good feeling of permanence. Do you also get that impression? Guess it was bound to happen sooner or later.

Any guesses as to when it will go north of 5? Mine is they will give us time to get use to 4+, introducing us to 5+ in late 2013 after a few more refinery 'mishaps'. Whether they are intentional or not is hard to say, but they are frequent. Maybe it's a triple benefit for the refineries, by 1) collecting on insurance claims, 2) higher fuel prices, 3) using the down time to make repairs and for maintenance.

In Pasadena, CA I paid $4.59/gallon for 91 octane. Ten bucks only put 2+ gallons in the tank.

I think you are right and that most US drivers grudgingly accept $4 gasoline as the new normal. I would not want to make a specific guess as when prices reach $5 (maybe in a year or two), except that at this point - assuming we do not have any new political problems across the swath from the west coast of Africa all the way to Iran - the odds slightly favor prices for the remainder of the year heading down, after the latest price bubble (described above) shows up at the retail level.

However in a war with Iran, for example, we will probably be more concerned with our personal gasoline quota than price.

While refineries in general seem at first to get some benefit from refinery problems elsewhere, that may not always be the case. Some refiners and distributors still need to purchase wholesale gasoline locally to fully meet contract commitments. Also for most energy companies, if they lose a refiner in California for example, they won't have another refinery in that area and won't benefit from the rise in prices. In anything, they will likely incur additional expenses trying to meet their deliveries.

I would not want to make a specific guess as when prices reach $5 (maybe in a year or two)...

Charles Mackay, when we sitting in the summer of 2008 it seemed right around the corner when gasoline would be $5/gallon. What do other people think?

The San Diego area prices are $3.95 - $4.60 for regular. The City of El Cajon still has many independent stations that always offer some of the lower prices in the area so competition works. The choices in my town are Shell, Chevron, ARCO, USA (Tesoro), and Valero. All of these are at the high side on prices.

Sorry, but the news today is not any better, and California prices may climb further for a few more days or so.

California Gasoline Jumps a Second Day to Record on Exxon Flare
By Lynn Doan on October 02, 2012

Spot gasoline in California advanced for a second day to a record against futures after Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) said the Torrance oil refinery may flare gases for a week after losing power yesterday.


Core Cuts Third Quarter View on Lower Oil, Gas Production

Core said a decreasing oil and gas rig count in the U.S. and Canada will impact its production enhancement business, which is geared toward North America. Since the end of the second quarter, a Baker Hughes land rig count in the U.S. is down by 112, or 6%, while the Canadian rig count is down 30% year-over-year, Core said.

The rig count is down by 112, or 6 percent, and down by 30 percent in Canada, that's a lot. Why is the rig count falling like that? Could it have anything to do with the price of natural gas?

Ron P.

Ron – As of 28 Sept 2012

U.S. Natural Gas Drilling Rig Statistics:

Current natural gas drilling rigs: 435
Change from last week:-19

Active rig count one year ago:923
Change from last year:-488

Rig Peak (hit on 9/12/08):1,606
Percentage decline from peak: -70%

U.S. Oil Drilling Rig Statistics:

Current oil drilling rigs:1,410
Change from last week:+8

Active rig count one year ago:1,060
Change from last year:+350

Given NG is selling for about 75% less than when the NG rig count peaked that's seems to answer one question.


Re: To Encourage Biking, Cities Lose the Helmets from above

The author looks to Europe's lack of helmet laws and suggests that overall US health will improve if helmet laws are relaxed because the weight loss due to exercise will provide more benefit than the harm from a few serious crashes w/o helmets. Requiring helmets discourages too many people from biking (just paraphrasing here). The comments section is almost entirely against the author- readers cite serious crashes and that US roads are more dangerous due to bad drivers, lack of bike awareness, lack of biking infrastructure, etc.

[begin rant] As a biker I can say a big part of the problem is that US bikers simply go too fast- speed x mass = impact. I have often been nearly injured by some guy in spandex going 14 mph coming around from a corner. US bikers seem to make biking some kind of mad race. Many of the bikers who commented on the NY Times article were probably injured by going such insane speeds on a vehicle with absolutely no bodily protection. I was on a bike trail at a park going down a hill (and braking) when a man zoomed past me at over 16 mph due to the steepness of the hill. I wondered, what would happen if a squirrel skitted out in front of him at the last minute? He had no helmet and I didn't want to be around if it happened.

I regularly bike at 8-10 mph and have no problem avoiding opening car doors, pedestrians, turning cars, etc. I started doing this lower speed because 1. I saw how much even a minor increase in speed leads to a much worse accident and 2. you can't get anywhere very fast on a bike anyway, so why race? Biking in the US just doesn't mix well with the American need for speed- we probably need helmets. [end rant]

I will not go out on my bike without my helmet. I had two concussions as a child (about 10 and about 15 years old), back before helmets, both times from going over handlebars, in neither case going very fast. What is too fast? When I commuted 7 or 8 miles one way by bike, I didn't want to spend an hour on the commute. Now I like to cruise at 12 to 14 mph on my recumbent trike, and wish I had better gearing to get a little more speed. Yes, the streets are dangerous. I avoid busy streets that do not have decent bike lanes or at least sidewalks. I don't run red lights or stop signs on my bike. I've stopped using left turn lanes, and make left turns at busy intersections using crosswalks. Nevertheless, I am perfectly comfortable riding at up to 20 mph (I do notice 'chatter' in the steering when I get up to 25 going downhill).

You can go 25 mph downhill on a recumbent bike? Aren't your feet nearly spinning off?

In top gear on my trike, I can't peddle more than about 15 mph on the level. Going downhill, I quit peddling when I get over that speed.

Now I'm pretty much on the timid side, I limit it to 25-30mph on the downhill (I regularly do a ride with a 1000foot climb/descent), and am often passed at these speeds. I consider cars to be a far greater source of danger than bike speed -but I agree that in crowded situations -like being in a swing zone or whatever, dictates lower speeds than on the open road.

Riding in or next to traffic requires constant awareness. I sit very low on my recumbent trike (I can see the underside of semi-trailers that pass me), and I do worry about drivers seeing me. I'm willing to put up with that for the benefits of riding. I would like to see more dedicated bike paths, or at least bike lanes wide enough for my trike (a little over 30 inches wide), but I can get just about anywhere I want to in town using some combination of bike paths, bike lanes, sidewalks, and very light traffic streets.

There are several people where I work who commute by bike, and I would like to (about 5 miles, for me), but the trike is too big to take inside, and I'm not comfortable locking up a $1,600 piece of equipment outside in the area where I work.

Foldable electric bike designs would seem to have something to contribute to security:

In some, perhaps many, workplaces it might be possible to store it inside.

What can we say? That's how we roll.

I started using a helmet recently as I began noticing that there were not very many nice landing areas where I might end up if one of the passing vehicles bumped me plus a few drivers pulling out (one of them had her headlight kicked out in the process). I ain't no speed freak but it only takes one loose cobble stone to throw you in an unexpected direction.


In America I think adult cycling is mainly regarded as a serious sport rather than a form of commuting. Thus the spandex and the emphasis on going very fast all the time. Although if you were commuting long distances you'd have to go very fast. But then again before car-based society most people didn't have long daily commutes.

But I think helmet laws are a good idea. It is not a huge impediment to get a cheap helmet. And as some people have mentioned even falling off at low speeds can cause serious head injuries so its always a good idea to wear a helmet.

' In a radical departure for the car-mad country, home to legendary marques such as Fiat, Ferrari and Lamborghini, 1,750,000 bikes were bought in 2011 compared to 1,748,000 motor vehicles.

As austerity cuts deepen and petrol prices hit a new high, the purchase of new cars has dropped to levels not seen since the 1970s.'


The idea that people won't ride bikes if they "have" to wear a helmet is dumb. I'm sure the odd moron will cry their little eyes out because it infringes their liberties or will make people careless. So what. The average driver is careless already... and you have already lost huge swathes of "civil liberties" for safety reasons.

We had this same whiny nonsense with seatbelts and airbags. I bet that none of these people have ever been dumped onto their head thanks to some idiot in a car. From that perspective the helmet debate looks a lot more cut and dry I can assure you.

Right, who are these whiny people crying their little eyes out about mandatory burkas helmets! They should know that the average driver is a careless maniac, and that's just the way it is, and evermore shall be; there's nothing we can do about it! < /sarc>

But why bloviate hypothesize? There are plenty of glaring real-world examples and studies of the impacts of bicycle helmet legislation on cycling.

Your sarcasm and my ranting aside, it would be nice if these studies explained why the thought of putting on a helmet causes between 20% and 40% of people to suddenly not want to ride bikes. Or whether this can be countered with pro helmet advertising (for example).

It also won't actually matter soon if a law is put in place. If you can't afford a car, you will ride the bike and wear the helmet. You won't have the luxury of choice. Under those circumstances, the negative effects of a helmet law will not be relevant.

Your sarcasm and my ranting aside, it would be nice if these studies explained why the thought of putting on a helmet causes between 20% and 40% of people to suddenly not want to ride bikes. Or whether this can be countered with pro helmet advertising (for example).

The article explains the reason: requiring helmets makes biking seem dangerous, so everyone except 20-year-old males in spandex avoids it. This a big reason biking is dangerous in the US, because 20-year-old males bike like maniacs.

It may be that traffic here in the US is so different that the numbers from Australia or Europe do not apply. But according to the article, adult cyclists are not likely to get into the kind of crash helmets protect you from. If the benefits of not requiring helmets outweigh the risks by 20 to 1, as the article claims, I'd say it's worth it.

It also won't actually matter soon if a law is put in place. If you can't afford a car, you will ride the bike and wear the helmet. You won't have the luxury of choice. Under those circumstances, the negative effects of a helmet law will not be relevant.

Isn't it possible the opposite will happen? That we'll have more important things to worry about than helmets, and so the laws will be dropped or not enforced?

In NYC, Bloomberg vetoed the idea of a helmet law, arguing that it would kill the planned bikeshare program.

I read somewhere that drivers tend to perceive cyclists with helmets as more safe and secure than cyclists without helmets. As a result, they become more careless. The same phenomenon occurs with bike lanes. When cyclist share the lane, drivers tend to be more careful. When there are bike lanes, they tend to drive more recklessly.

And it goes other way, too. Cyclists are more likely to ride recklessly if they think they're "safe." Several studies have found bike-only lanes that are physically separated from car traffic are actually less safe, apparently because the cyclists are less careful.

Are you sugesting pedestrians should have helmets in case they are run over by bicyclists?

Anyway, there is a point in the article. Last time I "fell" with a bike was when many years ago I run into another biker around a street corner. Both of us at high velosity. The last time before that was when as a child I biked up the hill where the church is, biked down, and made a hard 90 degree turn into the road towards moms house. I fell, and thought it was so funny I biked up the hill several times just to run down the hill and repeat the fall over and over.

On principle I am against mandated helmets (and seat belts), personal safety shouldn't be mandated, it's my life after all. You could also argue that all the mandated safety stuff makes drivers reckless. Other than that it's hard to disagree with what the article conveys, helmets do make cycling cumbersome, so does all the other bling. As far as speeding cyclists are concerned, a speed limit is the answer. But first motorized transport should be brought under it.

At least in the USA -and I think much more so in countries with government supplied healthcare there exists an externality to not wearing a helmet, care for people with brain injuries is quite expensive for society. Now interestingly the care issue has been shown to affect driver behavior, a study showed drivers give larger safety zones to bicyclist not wearing helmets!

Besides the fact that I am alive thanks to a safety belt, there is the other fact that if you crash in high velosity without a belt, your corpse will be tossed around in a manner that is a safety concern for others. There simply is a line where your fredom ends, and my rights begin. Wear that belt.

On principle I am against mandated helmets (and seat belts), personal safety shouldn't be mandated, it's my life after all.

My spouse is an RN and worked for a while in a head trauma unit. She described the care necessary for vegetative humans who had sustained head injuries while bicycling without a helmet. This care costs the rest of us. I wear a helmet when bicycling.

Yep, a lot of people who get away with not wearing a helmet write a lot about why there is no need. Few of those who did not get away with it write about it, I wonder why? Perhaps the families and carers should take a more active part in the debate.


I ride a bike as well as a motorcycle, the helmet has saved my life on two occasions, and once it saved my face from mutilation. I always wear it. I also happen to be a hiker, let's say that I have had my brush with death. I am also an amateur mountaineer. The fatality rate for some of the peaks is in excess of 20% but we don't force people to not do it do we?

We however do charge people for the rescue and treatment. I think that's a better approach. People riding without helmets should be billed afterwards for head trauma.

Yes, maybe insurance for those situations is a must but is it available? How about a quick worldwide survey from our readers? I also agree with your living will suggestion, the sort of situation has come up recently here (sorry, won't give details).


I think people should have a choice where the life of others is not involved. A "Leave me to die if I turn into a vegetable" option would be a good idea. I'd sign up for it in a heartbeat.

I suspect that will become more common as resources get tighter.

But what about less extreme outcomes? What if you're not a vegetable, but suffer a less serious disability?

Currently, the taxpayers foot a good deal of the bill. As long as that is true, I'd say the government has a stake is whether safety gear like helmets and seatbelts are used.

What if you're not a vegetable, but suffer a less serious disability?

What else. You bear it. You made a personal choice, live with it. Here we don't have the luxury of a social safety net. It's you, your family and friends. That's it. I guess it's a problem in countries where universal health care is there, a lot of investigation would be needed to find out the circumstances of the accident. On the plus side no manpower required to impose personal safety regulations.

Yes, that's the difference. I heard described this way: Israeli cities are much like US cities, in that you have homeless people living under bridges and out of shopping carts. In the West Bank, which is much poorer, there are no homeless. Their families simply do not allow it. It would be an embarrassment to let a family member live under a bridge.

In developed countries, families are no longer the safety net. We have smaller families, so that's part of it. We are mobile, and often lose touch with family. Costs are higher, so families often cannot afford care, even if you do have family and they are close enough to care for you.

I suspect we will eventually be moving to the developing nations model, but for now, the taxpayers are the ones that pay, and there's no way to opt out.

"On principle I am against mandated helmets (and seat belts), personal safety shouldn't be mandated, it's my life after all."

That's fine - just sign this waiver that you will not be eligible for medical insurance in the event of an accident, and do whatever you want.

It's already there. Insurance companies won't reimburse you if you willfully avoid safety gear.

BTW you can take this logic to absurd levels. People who drink raw milk shouldn't be insured against gastro and parasitic diseases as well.

The Dutch cycling association is against mandatory helmets, because research shows helmets don't reduce the risk of serious head injury. The helmets are designed for collisions of 14mph and lower, and dangerous collisions occur at higher speed.

They cite a lot of research, unfortunately most is paywalled. See here (mostly dutch). For instance, in Australia, bicycle usage dropped more than head injuries, so the risk increased...

I stopped bicycling to work. Too dangerous.

Once my cycling routes have rights-of-way and lanes for cyclists that do not require us to ride next to vehicle traffic, perhaps I will begin again.

I am in favor of just having the city have street car parking such that there is a 1 to 1.5 meter gap between the parked cars and the curb, as that would make a safe 'lane' for me to ride in, and be away from the moving vehicles.

Am not holding my breath it will happen any time soon, or ever.


L.A. drivers have high rate of fatal pedestrian, cyclist crashes

Here in the other Portland (OR), I typically wear a helmet. I'm so used to it, that it feels 'funny' when I don't wear it. Besides the primary safety factor of head protection, there are other safety features: A place for a headlamp and small tail light, and a rear view mirror. I ride every day, all year. Oh - a rain cover on the helmet provides great protection from rain and snow as well.

I personally don't care if people want to wear helmets when riding a bicycle, just don't make it a law. Motor vehicles, and motor vehicle violence, eclipse other causes of head injury in frequency- if we want to make laws, restrict the use of motor vehicles.

Things like forcing drivers to wear helmets (whether they have 'airbags' or not), limiting the top speed and acceleration acheivable by new automobiles (and decomissioning/recycling potentially grandfathered models), discouraging driving by limiting automobile infrastructure and re-orienting existing roads toward walking, bicycling, and public transport, eliminating free parking, ending oil subsidies, increasing taxes for automobile ownership- there are all kinds of better laws society could put in place to address the problem of head injury, not to mention any other life-threatening trauma, plus heart disease, obesity, cancer, oil wars, ocean habitat destruction, ecosystem fragmentation, and catastrophic global warming/species extinction.

Car usage is on a downwards slope in most of the western world, and I think very little can change this. I expect the roads to get safer all the time starting in just a very few years.

The BBC reports that bicycles are outselling cars in Italy.


A September Trip Through Nebraska in Drought Year 2012 Kay at BPA

I can’t drive by Columbus, Nebraska without turning in to see what’s going on at the second largest ethanol facility in the U.S. This wet and dry mill ADM ethanol plant was built a few years ago as a coal-fired co-generation plant which burns high and low sulfur coals, tire derived fuel, and biomass such as trees to produce steam and electric energy. Last year when I visited, I saw through clouds of dust, trucks filled with corn lined up more than twenty deep to deliver Ogallala Aquifer irrigated corn for distillation into ethanol at this plant. This year, there were only a couple of trucks delivering corn and the main activity seemed to be the DDGS production pictured in the above photograph.

Burning coal to make ethanol from corn that was irrigated with slowly recharging Ogallala Aquifer water is madness! Sure there is some efficiency because it's a co-gen plant but the negatives, and crappy EROI, far outweigh the positives.

Liquid air 'offers energy storage hope'

Turning air into liquid may offer a solution to one of the great challenges in engineering - how to store energy.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers says liquid air can compete with batteries and hydrogen to store excess energy generated from renewables.

IMechE says "wrong-time" electricity generated by wind farms at night can be used to chill air to a cryogenic state at a distant location.

When demand increases, the air can be warmed to drive a turbine...

With the energy needed to cool the air to liquid, then warm the air to gas (has to be far above liquid temp) this seems like a low EROEI process. Besides, turbines work because of a large pressure/temp. differential where hot high pressure gas passes through an expansion chamber that has vanes connected to a shaft. A low temp gas does not have a very high state of energy to start with. Sounds like a plan to spend someone elses money.

Better to compress the air and store it, then run the high pressure gas through a turbine.

I have seen some data on such a project of the Terchnical University of Graz (Austria), they come to 15% overall efficiency at the moment (electricity->liquid N2->electricity); useful by-product is a large amount of liquid oxygen, which cand be sold and there is the possibility to combine it with another liquifcation process, i.e. to save compression steps because the gas is still quite cold after the turbine. To my best of knowledge they are actually planning a storage (for wind energy) in a central Asian country.

The beauty of the approach is that you work with established technology and you can store liquid nitrogen without any problem in huge amounts at normal pressure; I hope this gives a new option for peak production.

At 15% efficiency I don't see "beauty" so much as "desperation". I suppose I should stop being surprised that a civilization addicted to technology would do anything less than scramble for ever more complex and expensive technological boondoggles to get that desperately needed energy high.


The other liquid air energy storage scheme I read about, was as much about separating and selling the Oxygen, as it was about storing energy. If you have a strong need for the O2 (perhaps to feed more efficient combustion), a hybrid scheme might make sense.

We use large air separation units to get liquid nitrogen for process and pipeline gas injection. We also get LOx out of the process but just vent that since it's not used for anything (I wish we could bottle it up and have our own oxygen bar but alas...). It's really hard to just shut down and start up an air separation unit. They are cryogenic and in our case if they're shut down for more than a few hours you have to go through a cooldown process to restart which takes several hours and never goes smoothly. Trying to do something along these lines once a day would be an operational nightmare. Perhaps they could be designed for start/stop duty if spec'd that way from the beginning. They're also power hogs when running.

IRRC our small compressor was used around three days per week and did not make much trouble. The TUG guys claimed, that with good compressors a discontinuous operation is no problem, not my field sorry.

The economic value of oxygen depends of course on the ability to use it locally, here my scenario would be liquid nitogen production on the site of a chemical plant or power plant.

Our MACs are around 7500HP each, several trains on a common header. That could be large or small depending on your standards. We typically leave several of ours on 24/7 until PMs or mechanical problems force an outage. In theory you can stop and start them at will. In practice, not so much. Well you can always stop them at will, starting them can be another story.

You might be able to power your 7500 HP machines by using the O2 in a combustion system, such as a turbine, to provide the power. Burning natural gas with O2 would produce CO2 and water. The CO2 could be usefully recovered in some situations, such as enhanced oil recovery. To keep the combustion temperatures under control, some of the exhaust gases would need to be cooled and returned to the input side of the device. Such systems have been available in various forms in submarines, and there is now a turbine system available, though I can't remember who makes it...

E. Swanson


'Spain's September jobless rises by 1.7 percent m/m to 4.7 million'

...the unemployment rate, which hit a record high of 24.6 percent in the second quarter, is an official survey and considered a more reliable gauge of the jobs market.

24.6%?! There must be reasonably good unemployment benefits or welfare in various forms for their society as a whole to be viable under those circumstances. Otherwise it would seem as though all hell should be breaking loose.

They rely on family.
Where that is not possible, they are in deep trouble.

Yeah, even benefits are being curtailed:

Spain: Girona padlocks dumpsters as hungry scrounge for food

Girona - The Catholic charity, Caritas, said in a report this year that it had fed nearly one million hungry Spaniards in 2010, over twice as many as in 2007. In 2011, the number fed by the charity had increased by 65,000.
Excessive government spending and a shrinking economy bedeviled by a 25 percent unemployment rate has many Spaniards who used to enjoy steady incomes looking for food wherever they can find it, including dumpsters, according to a New York Times report...

...More people are resorting to extreme measures to feed themselves and their families, like “dumpster diving.”
“It’s against the dignity of these people to have to look for food in this manner,” said Eduardo Berloso, an official in Girona, a city that padlocked its supermarket trash bins.
Mr. Berloso proposed the padlock measure last month after hearing from social workers and seeing for himself one evening “the humiliating gesture of a mother with children looking around before digging into the bins.”
Persons were posted at the locked dumpsters to refer the hungry to emergency food shelters.

Russia's Sept oil output at new high of 10.41 mln bpd


"...The country is set to increase oil production this year to 514-515 million tonnes from 511 million tonnes in 2011."

For all: a hypothetical question (for a book project). By using chemical analysis, is it possible to tell from where crude oil is coming from? How precisely? Fields differ in their oil quality up to the point that not all refineries can use all oil, but how precise can the identification of origin be? What about the situation after refinement? Also, I'm aware that the oil coming from a single well is different at different times. But as a thought experiment, given enough laboratory resources and assuming that we have samples for comparison from the wells we are interested in, would it be possible to pinpoint the origin of barrel, or of a gasoline-tank?

my gut feeling as chemist:

1) Before refinement you can observe different composition of the crude, this should give some hints.

2) After refinement you have very similar fractions from different starting materials (one goal of refinement :-)), very likely more difficult to determine origin of fractions.

3) Isotope ratio, especially H/D, is quite specific for origin of natural or agricultural products (olive oils, wines, sugars...). I have not checked yet, whether people have quantified the same effect in crude products. You need of course reference data for many fields.

Thanks! -- Confirms my expectations.

2) maybe there still could be enough traces of impurities?

3) yes, reference data is assumed, this is a thought experiment :)

In case of H/D you work with pure compounds, no traces of impurities are necessary :-)

You determine the percentage of deuterium incorporation in molecules, here site specific data are very good. In case of wine this is done with deuterium NMR. Another technique is of course mass spectroscopy.
The local climate determines the deuterium content of water and the incorporation of this iostope into biogenic material, as you expect a relatively strong isotopic effect in case of deuterium, the site specific differences could be quite large.

Another approach for crude or mixtures (compound + impurities) is a more or less statistical one usually used in metabolics, here you would use HPLC coupled with MS or (stand alone) proton NMR.

Crude oil has "biomarkers" than act like chemcal fingerprints. They are sometimes thought of as chemical fossils. These are often used in exploration to match oil with particular source rock formations.

If spilled crude is sampled while still relatively fresh, it can often be typed. If spilled for some time, it gets degraded and is harder to type. A few years ago there was a tanker spill in Puget Sound, and the oil was matched to samples from a particular ship.

Thanks Ulenspiegel & Alaska_geo! I knew I could trust oildrummers.

Russian oil output seen flat to 2020-EconMin

Russia's oil production is likely to remain roughly unchanged through to the end of this decade, Economy Minister Andrei Belousov said on Tuesday, adding that exports would be squeezed by rising domestic demand.

Belousov told an investor conference that he expected oil production to total 510 million tonnes in 2020, or 10.24 million barrels per day, slightly down on September's record output of 10.41 million bpd.

So according Russian insiders, Russian crude oil production has peaked but exports will decline due to rising domestic demand. But we need to remember government insiders are usually highly optimistic, especially those of an economic variety.

But the important thing is that exports have peaked and will now decline... likely for as long as Russia exports oil. Declining world net oil exports are what is now driving the world into recession. When will government recognize and acknowledge this point.

Ron P.

Surprise! Surprise! Well, not to Ghung and others...

Study: US farmers using more pesticides on 'superweeds'

U.S. farmers are using more hazardous pesticides to fight weeds and insects due largely to heavy adoption of genetically modified crop technologies that are sparking a rise of "superweeds" and hard-to-kill insects, according to a newly released study.
Benbrook's paper -- published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Sciences Europe over the weekend and announced on Monday -- undermines the value of both herbicide-tolerant crops and insect-protected crops, which were aimed at making it easier for farmers to kill weeds in their fields and protect crops from harmful pests, said Benbrook.

Ahhh... The problems we create for ourselves!

Yes, not a surprise. I have gotten to the point of trying not to follow it because I get quite angry reading the apologists for GM crops and industrial agriculture. The GM crop apologists like to claim that we'll get super-perfect crops that yield more and are more nutritious... But as far as I can tell, GM crops are used to sell pesticides and lead to the evolution of resistant animals and plants, in other words, make things worse. Yet those of us who are anti-GM are painted as trying to starve the hungry.

We humans try to engineer our way out of nature's rules. It doesn't work that way.

Time to qoute "Life will find a way" again?

The good news ... Genetically engineered cow yields hypoallergenic, high-protein milk ... the bad news ...

We now want to breed from Daisy and determine the milk composition and yield from a natural lactation. We also want to investigate the origin of Daisy's taillessness, a rare congenital disease in cows."

... must have been that Eeyore gene

Barry Commoner the visionary Biologist and Ecologist who advocated for many of the things proposed here way back in 1980 just died. While most Environmentalists were solely concerned about pollution and not the whole nexus of Industrial production, waste and ecological destruction Barry Commoner wrote "The Closing Circle" about the urgent need to
change to sustainable renewable ways of life and production.


In The Closing Circle (1971), Commoner argued that our economy -- including corporations, government, and consumers -- needs to be in sync with what he called the "four laws of ecology":

Everything is connected to everything else.
Everything must go somewhere.
Nature knows best.
There is no such thing as a free lunch

The Closing Circle helped introduce the idea of sustainability, a notion that is now widely accepted but was controversial at the time. As Commoner pointed out, there is only one ecosphere for all living things. What affects one, affects all. He also noted that in nature there is no waste. We can't throw things away. Therefore, we need to design and manufacture products that do not upset the delicate balance between humans and nature. We need to utilize alternative forms of energy, such as wind, solar, and geothermal power. And we need to change our consumption habits accordingly -- to use fewer products with plastics (which are based on oil), aerosol cans (which harm the atmosphere), and industrial-grown food (which is produced with harmful chemicals).

Not to be forgotten, Barry Commoner ran for President as the candidate of the Citizens Party in 1980. That effort showed how difficult it is for a third party candidate to appear on the ballot in most states and efforts to change the rules made it possible for Ross Perot's to become a viable candidate later. His book, The Poverty of Power (1976), addressed many of the problems with energy supply which we still discuss here on TOD. After the 1980 election, the Citizens Party was eventually taken over by a group which I would call radical feminist, with the result that in 1984, few people voted for their candidates...

E. Swanson

It's interesting that my copy of The Closing Circle (hardcover) is just to the left of my desk and an arm's length away. When I looked I also noticed that I have a copy of Science and Survival (1966 paperback) too.

It's hard for me to believe I've been interested in this stuff for close to fifty years.


Everything is connected to everything else.
Everything must go somewhere.
Nature knows best.
There is no such thing as a free lunch

In my years of studying the predicament of global ecological overshoot I have come to much the same conclusions, except for item #3. Not on empirical grounds, obviously billions of years of trial and error has produced an extremely complex but highly functional biosphere in which each constituent part, at every scale, is exquisitely adapted to its niche.

No, what I have learned to be wary of is the implication that it is a "man vs. nature" dichotomy. We ARE nature. As "un-natural" as our technological monstrosities and depredations on the Earth may seem, there is no escaping the fact that we are simply another species of mammal, albeit a very clever species that has been extraordinarily successful at maximizing available energy and resources to greatly increase our numbers.

Yes, this has come at a great cost to other species, and will eventually cost us dearly as our once-in-a-million, party-like-there's-no-tomorrow, shoot-for-the-moon fossil fuel extravaganza comes to an end and several billion people find themselves with no visible means of support.

Nothing new about that, really. Numerous examples can be found of species that experience massive population irruptions when blessed with an accumulation of resources, only to see their numbers crash to a level that can be supported long term after the party is over.

After all, it's only natural.

Even if we blindly stumble into an extinction level dead-end it won't be the end of the world, the Earth might get a million year hang-over, but life will go on without us.


Well put Jerry. All species are in competition with all other species for territory and resources and that was the way it was for hundreds of millions of years. Then there evolved a species which then evolved a very special adaptation that gave it a huge advantage over all other species. That adaptation was intelligence. When, with out intelligence, we were able to use extrasomatic energy, the fate of so many other species was sealed.

Our advantage over all other species became so great that we began wiping them out in huge numbers. And we have not yet finished. We still have a lot of species left to exterminate but we are well on our way.

I do not believe however, that we will exterminate ourselves. Our numbers are so great, our territory is the whole earth and our ability to adapt to almost any situation is great. Our numbers will be reduced many fold but there will be survivors. Something may eventually come along that will wipe us out but I see nothing on the horizon that could do that. Speculation about worldwide epidemics or some other catastrophe is just that, speculation.

Ron P.

With this I agree as well. However, sooner or later, something will lead to our species' end. What it will, like everyone else, I do not know. However, I don't think we're so special that we will last forever. No other species have, notwithstanding the fact that some are very long lived (coelocanths for 225 - 250 million years for e.g.). For my part, I doubt humans will last longer than average (about 9 - 10 million years as I understand it), but I will never know for sure. Some days, it seems like we won't see another 1,000 years. Sheer intellectual hubris on my part. Perhaps in a million years someone will know.

Don't forget also that species can speciate very fast. I actually think that humans as we know them today will be gone before a million years has passed. All the conditions for rapid speciation will be present soon:
- Great ecological and climate upheaval
- Some survivors will be small isolated groups (I am not thinking Mad Max, just areas that can only support limited number of people)
- Stiff competition between groups of humans.

My guess is in this competition between Homo sapiens and post-humans, we will lose. Intelligence won't be much help when the world is changing very fast and most of what we think we know will turn out to be wrong.

One interesting thing about this scenario is that at least some of the big fauna in the future will be post-humans (since we will kill all the big fauna before then).

Don't forget also that species can speciate very fast.

I never heard that one before. Got a reference? A link would be great but even a book that I must order would be acceptable because I would just love to read that book. I have read dozens of books on evolution and paleontology and all but a few kooks insist that speciation happens very slowly, over geological time.

One of the kooks I am referring to is Richard Goldschmidt's Hopeful Monster theory:

The evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould described Goldschmidt's hopeful monster theory of evolution as a "postulate that macroevolution is not simply microevolution extrapolated, and that major structural transitions can occur rapidly without a smooth series of intermediate stages."[1] The theory was developed by the evolutionist Richard Goldschmidt, an American evolutionist who was originally from Germany.[2] One of the more well known postulates of Richard Goldschmidt was that a reptile layed an egg that a bird hatched out of.

The general consensus among evolutionary biologists is that macroevolution (speciation) is simply microevolution extrapolated over long periods of time.

Ron P.

All I meant was that new species can appear quite fast given the right circumstances. I don't have a web link but Dawkins talk about this in one of his books. In general what we see is almost a "random walk" of variation over time. E.g. Animals get bigger, then smaller based on short term climatic shifts. But sometimes if the pressures are all in one direction (like fast climate change) then small groups of animals will quickly (in geological terms) speciate.

Here is a related web page http://phys.org/news/2012-07-fastest-speciation-marine-animals.html

It was Stephen Jay Gould who labeled evolution a "random walk" not Dawkins. Robert Wright argued against this random walk theory in his book "Non Zero" and also in many essays where he criticized Gould for some of his strange theories. Wright referred to Gould as THE ACCIDENTAL CREATIONIST. Of course he was no creationist but he was saying some of his silly ideas give ammunition to the creationist. Dawkins had a similar opinion of Gould and wrote many essays on the absurdity of some of Gould's ideas. Don't get me wrong, Gould was a great evolutionary biologists but he just had a few screwball ideas. Thank goodness most of his ideas were good ones.

To explain what he means by "random," Gould uses the metaphor of "the drunkard's walk." A drunk is heading down a sidewalk that runs east-west. Skirting the sidewalk's south side is a brick wall, and on the north side is a curb and a street. Will the drunk eventually veer off the curb, into the street? Probably. Does this mean he has a "northerly directional tendency"? No. He's just as likely to veer south as north. But when he veers south the wall bounces him back to the north. He is taking "a random walk" that just seems to have a directional tendency.

Wright argued in "Non Zero" that evolution is like an arms race between and among species. A species gets better or dies, always aiming to improve. Though there is no "aim" in natural selection it just works out that way. Those that improve, or at least maintains the status quo survive and reproduce, or at least have a better chance of doing so. Those that don't die. So over evolutionary time, natural selection is a non-zero process, not a random walk at all.

From your link:

On the other hand, larvae also have the opportunity to disperse great distances to colonize new habitats where they may adapt and perhaps even evolve into a new species. This process usually takes hundreds of thousands to millions of years.

I don't doubt that the some tiny sea creatures can develop new species in only a few thousand years but megafauna the size of humans would take much longer.

Ron P.

I don't have time to expand Dawkins' thesis. When he talks about "random walk" he does not talk about natural selection at all! (Dawkins also disagrees strongly with Gould).
Let me try to repeat his argument better:

- We know that artificial selection can cause great changes in relatively short time.
- We know that species in a new, different environment can change quite fast. For example, new species to arrive at an island will change very fast (like the miniature elephants or proto-humans in Borneo I think)
- On the other hand, the geological record show a much smaller average change rate.

His argument is in the geological record we usually see the long term average of fast change. Because the selection pressures are different in each generation the "direction" of evolution will change quite fast. One generation the drought causes smaller animals to succeed. In another generation the wetter climate encourages bigger size etc. That is why it looks like "random walk" as opposed to a directional pressure (like artificial selection).

He also talks about the arms race as a factor in natural selection. He also mentions the fact that the arms race is reset quite often - species go extinct, external changes (climate, continental drift etc).

The conclusion I drew from his presentation was that there is enough variability in a species to provide for fast evolutionary rate of change under external pressures at least sometimes.
His only caveat was that maybe evolution will "slow down" after the existing pool of variability is exhausted (while waiting for new mutations to enter the gene pool).

I don't think the argument is settled but that's what I remember...

I haven't read all of Dawkin's books, only about half of them. I haven't read the one where he talks about a Random Walk. That just doesn't sound like him at all. Please, please tell me the name of the book so I can order it and read it.

Thanks in advance.

Ron P.


You asked for evidence of rapid speciation. Here's some evidence in a higher order creature (namely) lizards: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/04/080421-lizard-evolution....

Not quite full speciation to my knowledge, but dramatic changes in a short timespan. Give these creatures a few doze more generations and you may well have a new species.

In this case, there were morphological, behavioural and biochemical changes. All of this in only 30 years (not sure how many generations).

I studied genetics and microbiology, and to me, that so much change could occur to a lizard is mind blowing!

Gould was a Marxist, and Marx believed in a "Blank Slate", where everyone is a product of the conditions in which one lived.
When Wilson wrote "Sociobiology", Gould, Rose and Lewontin went basaltic, as it confronted their ideology.
Dawkins, Dennett, and Pinker were on the other side, and it has been a "war' since.
Orr, a Gould supporter, is able to control editorial content, and reviews, so it has gotten nasty.
Disclaimer: I think Marx got most things right, but not this one.

Written by Darwinian:
I never heard that one before. Got a reference?

TD seems to be describing Stephen Jay Gould's theory of punctuated equilibrium.

Of course the tick of the evolutionary clock is the duration of a generation, so rapid change is relative.

I am not talking about Gould at all! It's actually the opposite - Dawkins uses the examples I gave to show that punctuated equilibrium is bunk.

I guess I really am bad at this writing thing :(.
I did a search on Google search and I found the book: "The blind watchmaker"
Here is an example that he uses to describe the apparent slownes of evolutionary change:

He uses the example of Moses leading his people through the desert and moving about 24 yards a day in average.

There is a difference between a species vanishing without leaving a child species behind, and it bifurcating into two or more species, most of which die off. In the later case, the genes mostly are carried forward into the new species.
So, yes if human do survive for say 100 thousand years, they will likely be significantly different from us.

I doubt humans will last longer than average (about 9 - 10 million years as I understand it)

I would agree with you if only Homo sapiens were average. No prior species of megafauna in history has ever reached even a tiny fraction of our numbers. The number of all other great apes in the world combined is about 200,000. We outnumber all other great apes combined by a ratio of 35,000 to 1. The human population increases every day by a number greater than the number of all other great apes in existence.

No species of megafauna has ever occupied every continent or large island on earth except Homo sapiens. Homo sapiens occupy every habitual niche on earth. (Excepting Antarctica of course. Though we do occupy Antarctica I doubt we could survive there as hunter-gatherers for very long.)

Our numbers are too great, our habit is too large and too varied and our adaptability far too great and diverse to put us anywhere close to average. I would expect Homo sapiens to far outlast the average time of existence of any other species of megafauna before extinction.

Ron P.

And this is why I don't worry so much about the fate of humanity or of the world so much. It is clear from a review of the record that sh*t on a collosal scale happens from time to time and that life simply goes on. I figure that this state of affairs will continue until it doesn't and that will be that.

Being comfortable with this state of affairs is the hard part. Many are not terribly comfortable with these facts and get pretty agitated when you point it out to them.

So it goes...

He also noted that in nature there is no waste. We can't throw things away.

Sure we can. Just bury it -- under dirt, under rocks, under water. If it's out of sight, it is gone. What in the world was the matter with this guy?


I just came across this from a few days ago... I didn't realize how bad it is.

Sept 13, 2012

Sept 14, 1984

“Climate models have predicted a retreat of the Arctic sea ice; but the actual retreat has proven to be much more rapid than the predictions,” said Claire Parkinson, a climate researcher at NASA Goddard. “There continues to be considerable inter-annual variability in the sea ice cover, but the long-term retreat is quite apparent.”

So what happens when its all gone? No winter in Wisconsin?


Maybe what happens is lovely Tropical temps in Ontario, accompanied by enormous growths of once minor molds and fungi..

Unlikely - at least for awhile. We talked about this on TOD a week or so ago. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers seems to be the current expert on how diminishing sea ice will impact temperate latitude climate via jet stream perturbations. Actually, colder, snowier winters in parts of the US are quite possible. The denialists will love it...

(And thanks for your graphics, btw, excellent perspective)

That's the thing with global warming. When it snows unexpectedly somewhere, which to the average person means the Earth is getting colder, the scientists turn around and say, "You see, global warming is a fact." It's counter-intuitive.

I'm a believer in the Popperian doctrine that you should attempt to DISPROVE scientific theories. So I put the question:

How would you disprove global warming?
Or, What would you need to observe to conclude that global warming was not happening?

It can't be warming if it is cooling, so ...
global temperature trends would zero out over long periods (canonical: 30 years)

Alternately, multiple hits in the gray or blue regions ...

Of course that's simplistic.

Even if cooling factors such as a load of new aerosols (think volcanoes), and/or thin, high albedo clouds became prevalent enough to force us into temporary cooling, that still doesn't disprove the fact that increasing CO2 increases thermal retention in the lower atmosphere. It just that in this given hypothetical, other confounding factors have dominated the warming contributed by rising CO2.

So there are two components.
1. The radiological properties of the CO2 molecule (fact)
2. The overall impact of 1 on the climate (modeled behavior)

I accept we have known about CO2's blanketing effect since Arrhenius explained it in 1896. Yet in the past, at a time CO2 levels were unusually high, Earth managed to start cooling, if you look at the Vostok data I posted above (Link)

I'm not confident we have all the important parts of the puzzle nailed down yet.

So because you don't know how the important parts of the puzzle work, scientific understanding would neither? C'mon that's such an obvious logical fallacy.

"Yet in the past, at a time CO2 levels were unusually high, Earth managed to start cooling"
Indeed, and it is mostly explained by a chemical process called 'rock-weathering'. Chemical rock weathering increases as temperatures rise under the extra CO2 forcing, gradually drawing CO2 from the atmosphere which cools the Earth, which reduces rock weathering. It's called 'Earths thermostat' and it works on geological timescales of hundreds of thousands of years. As such it won't be of much help to reduce the massive amount of CO2 that we pumped in the atmosphere any time soon.

See e.g. this lecture by Prof. Richard Alley.

For smaller CO2 variations on shorter timescales, as shown in the Vostok cores, the main drivers for change were Milankovitch cycles. Minute changes in the orbit, obliquity and precession that change the amount of incoming solar radiation and the geographic distribution of that solar energy. These small changes cause more or less CO2 being absorbed/released into/from the oceans until temperature, partial pressure and radiative forcings are balanced. These mechanisms that work on timescales of tens of thousands of years are known to climate scientists since the 1920s.

As you might have noticed, in the Vostok cores, the difference in atmospheric CO2 between glacial and interglacial periods is only about 80ppm over timespans of thousands of years. In only 200 years, since the dawn of the industrial age, humans have increased CO2 levels by 110ppm and are on target to increase this by at least the same amount within this century. We are already way, way, outside natural variation and Milankovitch forcings are unable to undo this antropogenic forcing by a very large margin. So much so that the next ice age, scheduled in a few thousand years, are probably already canceled.

One might conclude from the graph that higher levels of CO2 are associated with the end of interglacials. In other words, one might conclude that high levels of CO2 are a trigger for the return to ice age conditions. I suppose that's part of the old question of the timing of CO2 increase as frequently pointed to by various denialist. The CO2 increase appears to lag the temperature increase, therefore (from their logic), CO2 wasn't the cause of the warming at the beginning of those interglacial periods. Of course, now that we are seeing much higher levels of CO2 compared to the previous 800,000 years, we will eventually learn the truth...

E. Swanson

New from NSIDC ... Poles apart: A record-breaking summer and winter

... The six lowest September ice extents over the satellite record have all occurred in the last six years. Compared to the 1979 to 2000 average ice conditions, the September 2012 ice cover represents a 49% reduction in the area of the Arctic Ocean covered by sea ice.

In 1984 there were over 3 million kilometers of multi year ice (MYI = 3+ years old). Now there are less than 1 million kilometers of MYI.

The models, on average, said that the sea ice extent of 2012 would be seen around 2065. So the models are most likely wrong.

Let's see where we get if we just look at the trends. 2005 sea ice extent was 5.6 million km2, 2012 sea ice extent is 3.6. If you take this as the trend, september 2025 will be ice free.

Not only the sea ice extent is decreasing, it's thickness is decreasing as well, leading to an even larger loss of volume. 2005 volume was 9159 km3, 2012 volume was 3263km3. Taken as a trend, 2016 will be ice free in September.

These trends are only linear, but so far the loss of sea ice seems to be accelerating, so 2015 or even 2014 wouldn't be out of the question.

Trends are just trends, and if you pick different years, you get other predictions, so YMMV (slightly). Interesting times ahead.

If you want to know (much) more about sea ice, this is a good blog to go.

The link at the end is broken.


A funny thing happened on the way to the green energy revolution: Fossil fuels came charging back into fashion.

I guess, from the cnn-money pov that the green energy revolution only involved greenBACKS. All we need to do to swing from green energy to ff is to lower the cost and, voila, it is all good. "Damn the [ecological] torpedos, full speed ahead!"


US Firms Bringing Work Home From Overseas

Increasingly, U.S. firms are moving or considering moving their manufacturing operations back to domestic soil from overseas, finds a new study co-authored by a Michigan State University supply chain expert.

Fueling the trend are rising labor costs in emerging countries, high oil prices and increasing transportation costs, global risks such as political instability and other factors, said Tobias Schoenherr.

"Going overseas is not the panacea that it was thought of just a decade or so ago," said Schoenherr, assistant professor in MSU's top-ranked Department of Supply Chain Management. "Companies have realized the challenges and thus are moving back to the United States."

In addition to rising costs and global risks, Schoenherr said companies are concerned with the erosion of intellectual property overseas and product quality problems, which can be difficult to fix when dealing with multiple time zones and language and cultural barriers.

... they will also be bringing back pollution and low wages along with the expectation of tax cuts.

Perhaps bringing the pollution back to the US is a good thing.

It's not like that pollution disappeared when manufacturing went overseas, it just entered the lungs and environment of some other nation. So Mr(s) US could buy their consumer good and the only price they saw was at the cash register while some other community paid the environmental price.

If the manufacturing is closer to home Mr(s) US might take into account the price of an unsightly smokestack or closed fishing hole as well as the cash register price when deciding whether to buy the 3-in one juicer/can-opener/dehydrator or EZ-bagger etc.

Something new under the sun ...

V3Solar photovoltaic Spin Cell generates 20 times more electricity per cell than flat panels

V3Solar has developed a new way to convert the sun's energy into electricity using traditional technology in a new way, and in so doing have discovered a way to get twenty times more electricity out of the same amount of solar cells. Their new device, called the Spin Cell, does away with the traditional flat panel and instead places the solar cells on a cone shaped frame which are then covered with energy concentrators. Once in operation, the whole works spins, making unnecessary the need for tracking hardware and software.

Because of the great potential of solar energy, researchers have looked into increasing the efficiency of solar cells by using lenses or mirrors to direct more of the sun's energy onto them hoping to get more electricity out of the same number of cells. Unfortunately, doing so tends to create so much heat that the cells become useless. The engineers at V3Solar took this idea and modified it to prevent such overheating by mounting the cells on a rotating platform; doing so means that each cell only receives extra heat for a very short amount of time and is then allowed to cool as the cone spins. The concentrators form an outer skin creating a hermetically sealed inner environment for the triangular shaped blue colored solar cells.


V3Solar takes a known fact: Concentration of light increases the production of electrical energy in PV.

And solves a known problem: Concentration of light increases heat, which decreases the production of electrical energy in PV.

Test results: http://v3solar.com/technology/testing/

Hard to imagine it could be cheaper than flat panels.
Obviously not 20x more energy per unit of sunlight, as modern flat panels are already 15-20%.

20 times more? If we assume the V3 turns 100% of the solar energy into electricity, and a traditional flat panel only 5%, then this is true. Flat PVs typically have a turnaround of 20% if I am informed correctly, and 100% efficiency is impossible for any gadget, due to thermodynamics.

I don't say the device is not more efficient than flat panels - someone else have to look at that - but I am very sceptical towards 20x imporvement.

The claim is that they can get 20x the output PER PANEL over flat panels, at an unspecified concentration of light. In other words, they have improved the cooling system for a concentrated PV system. Not a game changer, by any means.

The concept has some advantages, notably elimating the need for sunrise-to-sunset tracking, but the 20x claim is comparing apples (flat panels) to oranges (CPV).

PT in PA

I ran thru their web pages and didn't see a discussion of the method for concentration. They claim that their system automatically tracks the sun, which would be true, however, the area facing the sun at any time point thru the day wouldn't be very large, just the cross section of the cone. They mention collecting sunlight at dawn and sunset, which the rotating cone would tend to do, however, I still don't see how the claim for concentration is implemented. Their video of the cone operating in sunlight shows no concentration and the cone PV elements won't intercept full sun light except at one brief interval during rotation when the PV cells are on middle of the side directly facing the sun because of the cosine effect. Without more information, I suspect that either these guys are seriously challenged by technology or this is just another scam...

E. Swanson

I think their math looks something like this ... (According to their estimates)

... With existing flat panel technology using 20% efficient PV, 5 square meters of PV material and 5 square meters of light is required to produce 1000 watts of electricity.

With appropriate lensing, our 1000 watt Spin Cell is expected to use less than 0.20 square meters of 20% efficiency PV as the sunlight is concentrated 20X and efficiency is increased.

5 / 0.2 = ~ 20x (actually 25)

The efficiency of the PV material remains the same but the number of photons per unit area is concentrated 20x.

Concentration appears to be by a series of flat fresnel lenses arranged around the cone.

They're just using less PV material to harvest the sunlight. Output is still limited to the light striking the cross section area of the cone

I can't see any lens on the surface of the cone. Those triangles appear to be made from PV cells, cut to shape and fitted to the surface. The lines on the surface of each triangle are the wires which collect the electricity. The other photos show a blue color typical of a poly-silicon cell...

E. Swanson

It is hard to tell from the photos. But look at this video which clearly shows/tells that there is a stationary, external optical 'shell'.

It you wanna go with LCPV (Low Concentration PV), SunPower has a 7x concentrating system with single axis tracking. This one at least looks to have a chance to be cost effective (against cSi flat panels which are already well below $1/watt).

Why Moderate Beliefs Rarely Prevail

We live in a world of extremes, where being fervently for or against an issue often becomes the dominant social ideology – until an opposing belief that is equally extreme emerges to challenge the first one, eventually becoming the new social paradigm. And so the cycle repeats, with one ideological extreme replacing another, and neither delivering a sustainable solution. Political revolutions, economic bubbles, booms and busts in consumer confidence, and short-lived reforms such as Prohibition in the US all follow this kind of cycle.

Why, researchers want to know, does a majority of the population not settle on an intermediate position that blends the best of the old and new?

... The model of ideological revolution begins with a community consisting of four types of individuals: those that currently hold an extreme opinion A, those that hold the opposing extreme opinion B, those that hold neither A nor B (the moderates), and those that hold A indefinitely and never change their minds (the A zealots).

Running this basic model, the researchers found that the proportion of zealots strongly affects the outcome. When zealots are below a critical value, the system remains similar to how it started. But above a critical value, the zealots quickly convert the entire population to A.

For those seeking the 'good old hunter-gatherer' days ...

Amazonian tribal warfare sheds light on modern violence, anthropologist says

In the tribal societies of the Amazon forest, violent conflict accounted for 30 percent of all deaths before contact with Europeans, according to a recent study by University of Missouri anthropologist Robert Walker. Understanding the reasons behind those altercations in the Amazon sheds light on the instinctual motivations that continue to drive human groups to violence, as well as the ways culture influences the intensity and frequency of violence.

It says "tribal", but the article doesn't indicate whether the tribes were hunter-gatherers, horticulturalists, or full-blown farmers. 1491 makes a fascinating argument that the Amazon is actually a massive orchard.

They are not farmers: Indigenous peoples in Brazil
They are largely hunter-gatherers if you include fishing. Some make pottery to sell on the river but by and large they are still hunter-gatherers. And they are violent:

Counting societies instead of bodies leads to equally grim figures. In 1978 the anthropologist Carol Ember calculated that 90 percent of hunter-gatherer societies are known to engage in warfare, and 64 percent wage war at least once every two years. Even the 90 percent may be an underestimate, because anthropologists often cannot study a tribe long enough to measure outbreaks that occur every decade or so (imagine an anthropologist studying the peaceful Europeans between 1918 and 1938). In 1972 another anthropologist, W.T. Dival, investigated 99 groups of hunter-gatherers from 37 cultures, and found that 68 were at war at the time, 20 had been at war five to twenty-five years before, and all the others reported warfare in the more distant past. Based on these and other ethnographic surveys, Donald Brown includes that conflict, rape, revenge, jealously, dominance, and male coalitional violence as human universals.
- Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate, Page 57.

Ron P.

Based on these and other ethnographic surveys, Donald Brown includes that conflict, rape, revenge, jealously, dominance, and male coalitional violence as human universals.

Brown should throw manipulation and lies on to that list.

It's easy to see just how naturally violent people are from TV & movies. To illustrate this by way of religion, the most successful movie about Jesus Christ was produced by Mel Gibson grossed close to 400 million and was near chalk full of torturous, absurd levels of excessive violence. I say absurd because that much violence (that I got a glimpse of before stopping that garbage and popping the disc) would have killed a dozen people, but I guess that's why he was a God so he could endure violence at the hands of people? See what I mean, absurd. How people, especially people of a religion that supposedly preaches about love and forgiveness could have been so head over heels for that movie speaks volumes about our underlying violent nature.

So the movies that portray Christ as a loving God did not do anywhere near as well financially as the by far most violent version ever.

It's always running right under the surface, held in check by laws with consequences. But when people reach a point of ignoring the consequences due to their plight, watch out.

Maoris were pretty warlike.


War was a splendid affair for Maori - to die in battle was noble, and to gain revenge for previous insult or defeat was also noble.

To eat an enemy, to drink his blood, to preserve his head, to use his bones for fish-hooks, or at the very least to enslave him - any means to steal his prestige - were also noble and desireable.

The tribes engaged in a localised warfare that was guerilla-like. There were skirmishes and ambushes between neighbouring tribes, and battles were fought preferably hand-to-hand, or with club (patu), or spear (taiaha). The haka was a traditional war dance before battle to instil terror in the enemy.

The study also say that video games are an alternative release for violent urges. In other words, they reduce violence, not increasing them.

GE introduces natural gas FlexEfficiency 60 turbine

General Electric has unveiled its new line of highly efficient natural gas burning turbines for use in generating electricity. The new turbines are able to rapidly increase or reduce their power output to meet demand, making them, the company says, ideal companions to renewable resource based energy platforms.

... The new line of turbines from GE allows for ramping up or down in minutes as opposed to hours, making them an attractive option for plants that use renewable resources such as wind or solar power. Being able to power-up during sudden periods of diminished sunlight—when a sudden thunderstorm hits, for instance—allows operators to switch over to natural gas almost instantly. The company claims the new line is also more efficient than previous natural gas burners, achieving 61% thermal efficiency.

Statoil calls off Snoehvit expansion in Norway's Arctic

Norway's Statoil has dropped plans to expand its Snoehvit natural gas field in the Arctic due to insufficient reserves, raising the chance it will back the building of a pipeline that could also benefit rivals.

Statoil said there was simply not enough gas in place at Snoehvit to justify a new liquefaction facility and the firm would instead focus its efforts on improving its existing liquefied natural gas (LNG) operations.

Energy firm uses 'land grabs' to secure fracking rights from reluctant landowners

Ranjana Bhandari and her husband knew the natural gas beneath their ranch-style home in Arlington, Texas, could be worth a lot - especially when they got offer after offer from Chesapeake Energy Corp.

Chesapeake wanted to drill there, and the offers could have netted the couple thousands of dollars in a bonus and royalties. But Bhandari says they ultimately declined the deals because they oppose fracking in residential areas. Fracking, slang for hydraulic fracturing, is a controversial method used to extract gas and oil.

Their repeated refusals didn't stop Chesapeake, the second-largest natural gas producer in the United States. This June, after petitioning a Texas state agency for an exception to a 93-year-old statute, the company effectively secured the ability to drain the gas from beneath the Bhandari property anyway -- without having to pay the couple a penny.

In fact, since January 2005, the Texas agency has rejected just five of Chesapeake's 1,628 requests for such exceptions, a Reuters review of agency data shows.

There Will Be Blood - 2007

Plainview: The Lord sometimes challenges us, doesn’t He, Eli?
Eli Sunday: What…?
Plainview: Yes; it's, uh, it's called drainage, Eli. See, I own everything around it; so of course, I get what’s underneath it.
Eli Sunday: But there are no derricks there. This is the Bandy tract, do you understand?
Plainview: DRAAAIIINNNNAGE! Drainage, Eli, you boy. Drained dry, I’m so sorry. Here: if you have a milkshake... and I have a milkshake... and I have a straw; there it is, that’s the straw, see? Watch it. My straw reaches across the room... and starts to drink your milkshake: I... drink... your... milkshake! [slurps] I drink it up!

KMO had an enlightening discussion of this on the C-Realm Podcast for three shows starting here.

The conversation focuses on the intricacies of gas drilling leases and the difficulties that land-owners experience in getting out of those leases even after the scheduled termination date specified in the lease has passed.

US Oil Sale Helps SPR to Fight Cavern Shrinkage

Oct 2 (Reuters) - Last year's sale from U.S. emergency crude oil reserves has helped battle shrinking capacity or "creep" at the 62 salt caverns in Texas and Louisiana that form the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the Energy Department's inspector general said on Tuesday.

A geological force known as creep causes the caverns, which hold up to 727 million barrels of oil, to shrink at a rate that can reduce capacity by 1 million to 2 million barrels a year.

A source at the Energy Department's Fossil Energy division confirmed that the release of 30 million barrels made work to maintain capacity easier. Crews also move oil from cavern to cavern to help fight creep, the source added

ConocoPhillips to exit Kazakh oil field: minister

S. oil major ConocoPhillips is ready to exit the consortium developing Kazakhstan's Kashagan oil field, Kazakh officials said, giving the state first option on increasing ownership of the biggest oil find since the 1960s.

A more assertive Kazakhstan, seeking greater returns on the large energy projects that will drive central Asia's biggest economy over the next decade, has sought to revise deals struck with foreign energy companies in the lean post-Soviet years.

The Houston-based company has been conducting a disposal program to reduce its non-core overseas assets. It has already exceeded its target of asset sales worth $20 billion by the end of 2012, including the sale of its stake in LUKOIL , Russia's second-biggest oil producer. Proceeds from the disposals are to be used for debt reduction, [stock buyback], dividend payments and exploration.

Some years back, a fairly senior Conoco guy who had worked Kashagan joked that the "Kashagan" field should really be called the "Cash is Gone" field. Apparently the local take from graft and corruption was extreme, even by Third World standards. Also it is proving to be a very complex and problematic reservoir to develop. Note that the linked article says:

Kashagan's first phase, which has been delayed by rising costs and technical complications, is likely to pump its first oil by the end of March 2013, the minister said.

FULL PLANET, EMPTY PLATES: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity

"This year's corn crop shortfall will accelerate the transition from the era of abundance and surpluses to an era of chronic scarcity," notes Brown, President of the Earth Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental research organization. "As food prices climb, the worldwide competition for control of land and water resources is intensifying."

"In this new world, access to food is replacing access to oil as an overriding concern of governments. Food is the new oil, land is the new gold. Welcome to the new geopolitics of food."

Presentations for Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity


Yes. If the very poorly supported data I have seen is correct, food consumption has exceded production 10 of the last 12 years. The difference is taken out on inventories, wich are shrinking. It is sugested that at this pace, we will hit the bottom of the barrel somewhere around 2020 or just there after. Fromthen on, famines will mean actually starving.

Oil Companies Bribing Gulf States to Ignore Spill?

Recently, Gulf area legislators have been pushing to get their states a larger share of government income from offshore drilling. We’re told that they need the extra revenue to improve flood protection. But more is afoot here, and it deserves scrutiny.

Too Little Nitrogen May Restrain Plants' Carbon Storage Capability, Research Shows

Plants' ability to absorb increased levels of carbon dioxide in the air may have been overestimated, a new University of Minnesota study shows.

The results suggest that limited levels of fertility typical in most soils likely eliminate a large fraction of the capacity of plants to scrub CO2 out of the atmosphere, Reich says.

State-mandated planning, higher resident wealth linked to more sustainable city transportation

The study involved an examination of 225 U.S. metropolitan areas between 1980 and 2008 to gauge how sustainable their transportation practices were and determine what kinds of socioeconomic factors appeared to influence those practices.

Overall, transportation has become less sustainable across the country over this period, but some communities have slowed the decline more effectively than others.

Among the best at slowing that decline were Seattle, Las Vegas and even Los Angeles, which owes its success to fewer-than-average solo commuters and relatively high public transit use, the research suggests. In contrast, transportation sustainability declined more quickly than average over those years in such cities as Pittsburgh and New Orleans.

EcoSummit 2012

Greetings, TODers,

Could y'all possibly help me out with the following:

I'm looking for references, probably should be "easy-to-read," although (what the heck) - to back-up my VHO that is it *not* a good idea for a little co-op I know and love to purchase the commercial building they now rent. That is, purchase for a - (one presumes long-term) mortgage and then...(hold tight!) attempt to raise funds to pay it off.


I saw this post on Gail's blog. http://ourfiniteworld.com/2012/09/26/high-priced-fuel-syndrome/#more-37237.

I'm wondering if someone else has a nice article, perhaps w. references. ELP? HELP?

I tried to tell them about "peak" years ago. They consider themselves "green," sustainable (despite the purchase of an ice machine a couple of years ago), etc.

Words fail me.

The theme of the October issue of Words Without Borders is oil. I haven't read any of it yet, so can't comment!


This month we explore the role of oil in the international landscape. Oil transforms nations, links disparate political and social ideologies, breeds conflict, and drives governmental and corporate policy; our ten writers show how this force, both blessing and curse, shapes lives and literature around the world.

Political scientist Michael L. Ross on oil wealth and national development

Translator Peter Theroux on the great Saudi oil novel

Russian Booker nominee Alexander Snegiryov on the (show) business of petroleum in Russia

As well as fiction, poetry, and graphic work from Argentina, Germany, Italy, Lebanon, Nigeria, and South Africa

[Additional feature] Plus, Maaza Mengiste introduces three authors writing on the connection between Ethiopia and Italy


Ten times faster than a Volkswagen Rabbit!

It takes a lot more that twice the energy to make a car go twice as fast.