Drumbeat: October 15, 2012

No risk of oil price collapse despite demand slowdown: Aramco CEO

Dubai (Platts) - The global energy industry faces downward pressure on demand while supply of fossil fuels has risen sharply but there is no risk of a price collapse, Saudi Aramco CEO Khalid al-Falih was quoted as saying Monday.

"Our industry now faces downward pressure on demand; supply abundance; a slowdown in the deployment of renewables; and reduced momentum on climate change legislation," Falih said in a speech made to the Oxford Energy Institute on September 20 and just released by Saudi Aramco.

"It doesn't mean that our industry is in bad shape or that prices are going to collapse, but that's a profoundly altered energy landscape from the one we faced a decade, or even just a few years ago," he added.

Oil Trades Near Four-Day Low Amid Global Economic Growth Concern

Oil traded close to a four-day low in New York amid concern that the global economy is weakening, threatening to curb demand for fuels.

Futures slid as much as 1.1 percent. Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer said the world is “awfully close” to a recession, adding to concern raised at annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund last week. Hedge funds and other speculators trimmed bets that oil will rise, data from regulators showed on Oct. 12. Iran reiterated an offer to suspend domestic production of medium-enriched uranium before European officials meet to discuss tighter sanctions on the Persian Gulf country.

Asia Distillates-High sulphur gasoil premiums lowest since July

India's Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd offered its third 0.25 percent sulphur gasoil cargo, its first exports of that grade in more than a year, in a further sign that the company is gradually shifting towards cleaner fuel production.

Bullish Wagers Drop to Eight-Week Low Before Rally: Commodities

Hedge funds cut bullish commodity wagers to the lowest since the middle of August before signs the U.S. economy is improving and declining grain stockpiles drove prices to a three-week high.

Iran's Secret Plan to Contaminate the Strait of Hormuz

Iran could be planning to create a vast oil spill in the Strait of Hormuz, according to a top secret report obtained by Western intelligence officials. The aim of the operation is to both temporarily block the vital shipping channel and to force a suspension of Western sanctions.

...The goal of the plan seems to be that of contaminating the strait so as to temporarily close the important shipping route for international oil tankers, thereby "punishing" the Arab countries that are hostile to Iran and forcing the West to join Iran in a large-scale cleanup operation -- one that might require the temporary suspension of sanctions against Tehran.

Western intelligence experts speculate that Jafari's planned operation is an expression of growing frustration. Contrary to claims made by Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi in an interview with SPIEGEL last week, the embargo imposed on Tehran is causing far more than "discomfort." Iran derives more than 50 percent of its government revenue from oil exports, which declined from about 2.4 million barrels a day in July 2011 to about 1 million barrels in July 2012. But Iran has only cut back production by less than a quarter, because of the technical complexity and expense involved in temporarily capping wells.

EU Bans Imports of Natural Gas From Iran

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle says the EU is banning the import of Iranian natural gas into European Union countries, trying to increase pressure on Iran to cooperate in talks regarding its nuclear program.

Westerwelle also indicated that other sanctions on Iran are being considered by EU foreign ministers as they meet Monday in Luxembourg.

Iran's oil networks faced extensive cyber attacks

Cyber attackers have targeted communication networks on Iranian offshore oil and gas platforms in the past few weeks, but their attacks have been repelled, a state official was quoted as saying. Iran, the world’s No 5 oil exporter, has tightened cyber security since its uranium enrichment centrifuges were hit in 2010 by the Stuxnet computer worm, which Tehran believes was planted by Israel or the US.

Iran denies role in cyber strikes in the Persian Gulf

Iran has denied any role in cyber-attacks against two major oil and gas companies in the Persian Gulf, amid statements from the United States that alluded to the possible rise in Tehran’s capability to launch massive cyber-strikes against Washington and its allies.

Iran says gas output to exceed Qatari production by 2016: IRNA

Tehran (Platts) - Iran plans to increase gas production from the giant offshore South Pars field to 800 million cubic meters a day by 2016, higher than Qatar's output of 550 million-560 million cu m/d from the shared field, despite slow progress in Iran's development program, the official IRNA news agency reported Sunday.

Align domestic petrol prices to global rates: President

New Delhi (IANS) President Pranab Mukherjee Monday called for a closer alignment of domestic prices of petroleum products with global prices, saying it is in the interest of both consumers and investors and necessary for a sustainable future.

He said that for an over-8 percent growth during the 12th plan (2012-2017), India has to ensure a better demand management, maintaining a balance between energy consumption and its cost and availability.

"In the present international environment of rising petroleum prices, greater alignment of prices to global prices is in the interest of both consumers as well as investors," Mukherjee said inaugurating the international Petrotech 2012 conference here.

India's ONGC eyes stake in Canada's Athabasca oil sands-source

(Reuters) - Indian state-run exploration company Oil and Natural Gas Corp plans to approach Marathon Oil about buying half of its 20 percent stake in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project in Canada, two sources with knowledge of the matter said on Monday.

High stakes in Iraqi oil dispute

When ExxonMobil, the world's largest international oil company, signed a deal for oil rights with the Kurdish regional government (KRG) last November, the simmering tensions between Erbil and Baghdad were again exposed.

After Peak Oil, What?

In recent months, some analysts have questioned the peak oil hypothesis. In an article entitled "Sustainable Energy Development (May 2011) with some Game-Changers" available online in November 2011 in the leading journal Energy, Noam Lior, for example, speaks of the apparent postponement of the threat of fossil fuel depletion. This view is consistent with the main conclusions of a more recent Harvard study. Take note that following this publication, one analyst has indicated: "We were wrong about peak oil: There's enough in the ground to deep-fry the planet." And another one has wondered whether this finding will "kill development of alternatives to oil."

Azerbaijan: 'No Threat' to Western Firms after President's Criticism

BAKU, Azerbaijan – There is no threat to Western companies working in Azerbaijan, the country's industry and energy minister said Monday, after President Ilham Aliyev last week sharply criticized a consortium led by BP for declines in oil output. "There is no threat to the activity of foreign companies in Azerbaijan," Natiq Aliyev said on the sidelines of the 6th Caspian Oil and Gas Trading and Transportation conference.

Pertamina suffers $37m in losses due to oil thieves

The theft of crude oil in South Sumatra since 2010 has caused the state-owned oil firm PT Pertamina to lose around 370,000 barrels of oil worth US$37.01 million.

The amount of stolen crude oil from the Tempino-Plaju oil pipeline in the province had increased over the years, Pertamina president director Karen Agustiawan said during a meeting with the House of Representatives' Commission VII overseeing energy on Monday.

Sinopec, ENN's $2.15 Billion Bid for China Gas Collapses

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., one of the country's biggest state-owned firms also known as Sinopec, lost a battle for China Gas Holdings Ltd. in its home market Monday.

On Monday, Sinopec and gas supplier ENN Energy Holdings Ltd. said they terminated their US$2.15 billion hostile bid for China Gas, as the pre-conditions of the deal--including Chinese regulatory approvals--remain unfulfilled.

Halliburton Earnings Likely Fell On Natural Gas Switch

Rigs are shifting away from natgas and focusing on oil-rich regions in the U.S. as a glut in natural gas has lowered prices to near decade lows. Natgas prices are rebounding slightly as a cold winter is expected to freeze the Northeast.

Analysts were expecting profit margins to be squeezed by the high price of guar gum, a food additive that is also used in hydraulic fracking, during the quarter. Guar prices are finally falling in recent weeks after hitting a high of $12 per pound. It is now around $5 per pound.

Saudi Aramco sees gas flow from Madyan field in 2013

(MENAFN - Arab News) Transport Minister Jabara Al-Seraisry yesterday announced the discovery of a gas field in the Red Sea, north of Dhuba Port in Tabuk.

"It's a good beginning and will benefit the people of Tabuk and other regions," the minister said after signing an agreement with Saudi Aramco President Khaled Al-Falih to develop facilities to extract the gas.

Chrysler Opens Dealer Orders for Natural Gas Ram Pickup

Chrysler Group LLC, the automaker controlled by Fiat SpA, is making its natural gas-powered Ram pickup available for sale to retail buyers, according to the head of the company’s dealership network.

Peak Lithium: Death Blow For Electric Cars?

Economists and investors love to argue over the peak oil theory, and what the impact will be for a shrinking high EROEI oil supply means for the global economy. Some think we'll switch to natural gas and electric vehicles, some put their faith in biofuels, and some claim that we still have so much oil through shale oil reserves that we will have entire new technologies ready before it's a problem.

I'm solidly in the electric and natural gas vehicles camp. There's a substantial amount of natural gas for trucks and tractors, and the electric vehicle infrastructure just needs to be produced for a while in order for people to switch over. Both are environmentally friendly, at least to the air, and it's just a logical switch.

The problem, though, is when many claim that we won't be able to use electric batteries for long because of "peak lithium". Some even claim that since lithium is in other countries, it's somehow not "secure", so we shouldn't make the switch.

A Grand Experiment to Rein In Climate Change

On Jan. 1, California will become the first state in the nation to charge industries across the economy for the greenhouse gases they emit.

Pacific iron fertilisation is 'blatant violation' of international regulations

A controversial American businessman dumped around 100 tonnes of iron sulphate into the Pacific Ocean as part of a geoengineering scheme off the west coast of Canada in July, a Guardian investigation can reveal.

Lawyers, environmentalists and civil society groups are calling it a "blatant violation" of two international moratoria and the news is likely to spark outrage at a United Nations environmental summit taking place in India this week.

Facing the Climate Gap: How Low-Income Communities of Color Are Leading the Charge on Climate Solutions

California’s communities of color are implementing effective climate change responses that address social equity concerns while also building political momentum that can catalyze broader policy change.

Lower lake levels could hurt region, industry

Climate change is expected to drop water levels in the Great Lakes, affecting industry and the region.

Levels could drop anywhere from a few inches to several feet as water evaporates in the drought conditions, experts said Wednesday.

Extreme weather will become more commonplace. Heat waves will be more severe. Drought will be more frequent, said Don Wuebbles, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Illinois.

Sea Level Rising Toward Washington and Other Cities

How soon could ocean waters be lapping at Thomas Jefferson’s memorial on the edge of the Washington Mall?

City planners in Washington, D.C. — and in most major coastal cities around the world — are asking such questions as sea level rise, which the world’s climate scientists agree is being caused by manmade global warming, accelerates.

Globalisation of floods: The start of hundred years of change in Nigeria

Unfortunately, it is not products, services and ideas that are being globalised; the miseries of climate change brought about mainly by the economic and social activities in the leading economies, USA, China, Japan, Europe, Russia, Brazil, and Asian Tigers are being visited on rich and poor countries alike. Nigerians and other African countries, which account for less than three per cent of global output of goods will pay a disproportionate share of the penalties of globalization of floods.

Ecological crisis and the need to challenge the 20 per cent

The US, home to less than 5 per cent of the world's population, uses almost a quarter of the world's fossil fuel.

"Iran's Secret Plan to Contaminate the Strait of Hormuz"

Yup. Let's keep pushing those demon buttons and maybe the right combination will prompt some bombing.

There wouldn't be Iranian nuke plans if Western hegemony wasn't so blatant. How would US citizens feel about foreign aircraft carriers parked off their shores, armed to the teeth with nukes, and those ship operators/owners telling them to go pound sand or face some bombing. I'm still trying to figure out if this is all payback for the hostage crisis, booting the Shah out, a bad attitude to foreign intervention, the assumption that their oil is theirs....or all of the above?

And no, I don't want to see Iranian nukes, but this "you bad guy me good" crap is starting to wear out. Monday morning, what can I say?



One wonders why people do not tend to remember this tired old mantra about Iran, this old meme that is really boring actually:

For more than quarter of a century Western officials have claimed repeatedly that Iran is close to joining the nuclear club. Such a result is always declared "unacceptable" and a possible reason for military action, with "all options on the table" to prevent upsetting the Mideast strategic balance dominated by the US and Israel.

And yet, those predictions have time and again come and gone. This chronicle of past predictions lends historical perspective to today’s rhetoric about Iran.

(Play Pretend Missile Offense Rejected - 2, quoting CSM). The real reason for this tired old propaganda was explained by highly decorated General S. Butler:

We are divided, in America, into two classes: The Tories on one side, a class of citizens who were raised to believe that the whole of this country was created for their sole benefit, and on the other side, the other 99 per cent of us, the soldier class, the class from which all of you soldiers came.
[The Tories] ... ring all the church bells. Promise you the sun, the moon, the stars and the earth,– anything to save them. Off you go. Then the looting commences while you are doing the fighting. This last war made over 6,000 millionaires. Today those fellows won’t help pay the bill.

(The Universal Smedley, 1933 speech). He also said "war is a racket" ...

Hi Dredd,

This weekend I took some down time and watched Tommy Lee Jones in The Valley of Elah. I found it very powerful and in direct contrast to those who beat the war drums, but then ask our young people to do the dirty work and take for granted the civilian casualties...women and children.

I will always have an urge to buy any soldier a drink or coffee when I have the opportunity. Politicians and military lobbyists, probably not.

I worry that an attack on Iran will be a very big mistake with huge implications, beyond the obvious. There has to be a better way to resolve this. We are told it is a crisis, but when will it really become one? It is hard to believe any of the rhetoric after the Gulf of Tonkin, or recent Iraqi WMD.


It's the very definition of an engineered crisis. I have wracked my brain trying to figure out why Iran became such a target and still is when Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have much more to do with terrorism and spreading fundamentalism. Pakistan has nukes AND the Taliban - what's Iran got? It seems to me like they are an enemy for the sake of having an enemy. Militarily Iran is not a threat to anyone, really, not Israel and not the US. They aren't about to invade anyone. Why so much focus? Why so much bluster?

It's honestly a total mystery to me. With Iraq there was at least the narrative of Saddam the butcher who invaded Kuwait and tried to assassinate W's dad, plus 9/11 was fresh enough that a killing spree was inevitable. Now? Ahmadinejad hardly measures up to Saddam, as much as they try to play it up that way, and the public in the US seems mostly tired of war.

Who benefits from demonising and bottling up Iran? Perhaps we need a list.

The Saudis are amongst the most scared by Iran, and they also are amongst US best "friends" in the region, don't forget.

For instance :

(Reuters) - King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia repeatedly exhorted the United States to "cut off the head of the snake" by launching military strikes to destroy Iran's nuclear program, according to leaked U.S. diplomatic cables.

A copy of the cable dated April 20, 2008, was published in the New York Times website on Sunday after being released by the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. The classified communication between the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh and Washington showed the Saudis feared Shi'ite Iran's rising influence in the region, particularly in neighboring Iraq.


Edited to remove excessive quoting. Please do not post the entire text of articles. Post a link, and quote a small portion, and/or paraphrase what the article says.

Aside from the other more local hegemons in the Gulf, Israel see's Iran as the last major state power supporting its enemies, particularly Hezbollah. Israel is not directly threatened in the military sense, but the fear that if too many Jews emigrate, they will lose their status as a Jewsisg majority state. The attitude of embattledness contributes to the decision to emigrate, so Israel seeks to destroy Iran as a source of angst. With the most effective lobby in US history, we have no choice but to go along.

Of course it helps that the US has unpleasant memories, dating especially from 1979, demonizing of Iran is pretty easy to carry off. So it becomes an inviting target for any wanna-be politician to prove his seriousness.

Don't see what the US had to do in 1979, in 53 yes, but 79 ? Simple consequence
In any case, before the US put something like a $3 volume based gas tax per gallon, nobody can consider these people seriously.

Written by adamx:
I have wracked my brain trying to figure out why Iran became such a target ....

U.S. to Iran: Do as you are told or regime change shall fall upon you.

Iran to U.S.: No.

- 'cause it worked so well the last time..

Written by adamx:
I have wracked my brain trying to figure out why Iran became such a target ....

U.S. to Iran: Do as you are told or regime change shall fall upon you.

Iran to U.S.: No.

~ BlueTwilight

The tragedy of modern war is that the young men die fighting each other - instead of their real enemies back home in the capitals."
~ Edward Abbey

"...[Chris] Hedges draws on classical literature and his experiences as a war correspondent to argue that war seduces entire societies, creating fictions that the public believes and relies on to continue to support conflicts..."
- Wikipedia

Are you suggesting the U.S. is not commanding Iran to do some things, or are you suggesting that Iran is obeying while U.S. pretends they are not?

Iran says EU new sanctions are futile, Al Jazeera, October 16, 2012:

Stringent new sanctions imposed by the European Union will not force Iran back into negotiations over its nuclear programme, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast says.

Catherine Ashton, EU foreign policy chief, said on Monday that she hoped that increasing pressure on the Islamic Republic - suspected by western powers to be developing the capacity to build a nuclear weapon - would persuade officials to make concessions and resume talks "very soon"

But Mehmanparast rejected that possibility, saying "illogical" and "inhumane" sanctions would only make Iran more determined in its stance.

According to an Arabic news agency Iran is not obeying.

And more:

Mohammad Marandi, a political analyst at the University of Tehran, told Al Jazeera...

"Obviously, it does cause trouble. The fact that the Europeans - and the Americans - have imposed these sanctions is an attempt to prevent Iran from importing or exporting any goods, including medicine and foodstuff ... So Iranians basically see this as an attack and an assault on ordinary people."

The Iranian leaders witnessed the U.S. replace both the Afghan and Iraqi governments, but they probably think Allah will protect them. They are defiant, not humble. They can grovel before their masters, or they can die. They need a hundred 500 kiloton nukes and ICBM's to make the U.S. humble.

Christian Constantine XI was defiant to Islamic Mehmed II as his army amassed outside the walls of Constantinople. And thus did the Roman Empire draw to an end. The story repeats itself through the ages.

Clear, and even more so for Iran when you put the Mossadegh story (operation ajax) in the picture ...
(which was 100% about oil)

Maybe you should read "The Grand Chessboard" by Zbigniew Brzezinski, ex security advisor.
His points, very short:
To achieve and maintain world domination, the US needs control of the Eurasian landmass. It already controls both ends, Europe and Japan/Korea. The key then is central Asia‚ the Stans, Russia's soft underbelly. To bad central Asia is landlocked, you need access.
If you look at a map you'll find that the country giving the best access by far to central Asia is ... Iran.
From this point of view, Iran is of enormous geostrategic importance. Iraq and Afghanistan are only preparatory steps for the big prize.

I'm sure Europe, Japan, and Korea will be delighted to learn that we control them. Actually, I suspect they have a different opinion on that.

Sounds a bit on the arrogant side. We have considerable influence there, but any one of are all these players are capable of saying no.

I disagree. None of them have sufficient energy resources, and without the empire they do not have enough power to get them. The record shows that these have been wholly own satraps, although I expect that to change as the power of the US empire wanes. Japan is in terminal decline, and the catastrophe at Fukushima will help to further that process, while S. Korea is to some extent displacing them for high quality manufactured technology goods. Both of them will eventually fall under the influence of the local power of China - unless China falls apart in which case there will be no export markets for them at all. Europe will be beholden to energy exporters from the east and will fracture from within.

Ugo Bardi has a great article out this morning: Cassandra's Legacy - Italy Implodes

Quoting an Italian blogger:

"Automotive fuels have shown the following trends: gasoline has seen a reduction of 18.2% in consumption while diesel fuel has seen a 15.6% reduction, both with respect to September 2011. Summed together, the loss of the two fuels has been of -16.3% with respect to Sept 2011. In this month, the sales of new cars have shown a contraction of 25.5% with respect to Sep 2011. The first nine months of 2012 have seen a contraction of 20,4% in the sales of new cars."

I don't know if you like to define that "decline" or, simply, "collapse".

Ron P.

He also says:

Perhaps you also wonder how it feels being in Italy in this period: given the situation, you'd expect to see people going around in ox-driven carts. But I see nothing of that sort in the place where I live, Florence and vicinity. Traffic is normal everywhere, even with the usual traffic jams at rush hours. Perhaps, poorer areas of the country, e.g. in the South, have been hit much harder, but there don't seem to exist reports in the media on this matter.

I wonder where the cutbacks are occurring? Industrial use, maybe?

Eyes can be deceiving. Vehicle usage usually shows up in roadside emissions and city air quality.

Traffic is normal everywhere, even with the usual traffic jams at rush hours.

Not so easy to notice a 10-15% decline in lengths of jams.

I would call such a sharp decline a collapse. It's amazing how quickly things can take turn for the worse.

It's not all bad:

SpeigelOnline: Italian media is reporting on Tuesday that some 1.75 million bicycles were sold in the country in 2011. It was the first time ever that cycle sales exceeded that of automobiles.

700,000 electric bicycles sold in Europe in the last year.

And 5,100 electric cars


I overtook an elderly (well older than me anyway) lady on an ebike on my cycle commute one day last week. She overtook me at the next hill.

Taking the two together suggests a shift from cars to bicycles. I hope so anyway.

What are the usual anual fluctuation patterns like in Italy?

Apparently you are referring to seasonal fluctuation patterns. Comparing September 11 with September 12 is not seasonal comparison. But if you are talking about year to year fluctuation patterns, then there is no consistent pattern. In a growing economy sales should be up from 1 to 3 percent per year. But if you are in a recession they would be declining from 0 to 3 percent a year. A year over year decline of 16.3 percent is absolutely catastrophic.

Of course that is only gasoline and diesel, but that has to reflect a severe decline in the overall economy.

Ron P.

Oh, I missread. My brain is bad at number handling from time to time. I miss the buss lots of time when I missread the time table also. I missread the text as to that we were looking at a comparison between this month and september last month.

With a y.o.y drop in the 10 to 20 percent range, we got a realy big fall. If it is not a temporary blip, gas stations will start to shed crew soon.

Similar numbers are coming up in Portugal: sales of diesel and gasoline fell 11,50 to 10,50% respectively, year on year in August, new car sales had the biggest drop EVER and the largest in Europe, at around 42%, but that was year on year in July, I seem to have read recently that it's close to 50% in September. And year to year traffic in September on highways with tolls fell an total of c. 20% for all highways combined, but the decrease in traffic is HUGE if compared to 2010, with some higways having as much as a 50% fall in traffic. Not good news for the owners of the concession.

In France, the sale of diesel and gasoline dropped by 6,4% in September 2012 comparatively to September 2011 despite the governement intervention to lower the price by 3-6 cents per liter.

Soaring fuel prices brake Italy's car addiction

All the signs are that Italians are driving less. Atlantia (ATL.MI), the company that operates most of Italy's toll roads, said traffic volumes in the July-August holiday period fell 5.9 percent on the year before, while traffic on the fast inter-city trains rose 13 percent in the first half.

Car-sharing schemes are also booming. "In the last year car pooling has jumped 250 percent in response to rising fuel and costs. Some people have ditched their second car, some even their first," says Marco Menichetti, who works on the traffic desk of environmental protection watchdog Leg a mbiente in Milan.

That doesn't seem like enough to account for a 18.2% drop in gasoline consumption. Could more fuel-efficient cars make that much of a difference?

The 5.9% decline appears to be on toll roads; commercial and commuting traffic perhaps. Discretionary and local driving (on non-toll roads) may have dropped much more. Italian drivers may have slowed down alot as well; sort of a scary indicator if one thinks about it ;-/

I wonder if motorcycles are counted as "traffic". If more folks switched to motorcycles, fuel usage would drop (excluding multi-passenger vehicles) and they may still be driving the same number of kilometers.

If we add in discretionary/recreational use of gasoline dropping off sharply, we could get to the 18+% drop in gasoline usage pretty quickly.

The car sales numbers in the top-post would indicate there is not a high turnover in the auto fleet. More efficient fleet could be a part of this. Less driving by all forms (carpooling, car sharing, forgone travel, mass transit) must be in these numbers, too.

The story begins with the example of a driver who now leaves his Volvo XC70 diesel parked, and drives his Hyundai ix20 diesel instead. That is at least 18% for him.

It is probably a combination of less intercity driving, choosing to use the more efficient vehicle, taking fewer trips, taking shorter trips, carpooling, etc.

Having the price go over 2 Euros/litre was apparently the key to behavior modification. ($9.82 / gallon)

Italian cars are pretty efficient small vehicles, so I think it would be awfully hard to make a big change in that way, plus it would require buying new vehicles which is counteracted by the other data. If you are cutting back on non-essential driving then perhaps that would not include commuting, so it may not show up in rush hour traffic.

I wonder if many families have more than one vehicle, and can just choose to drive the more fuel-efficient one.

Many Americans did that in the '70s. With both parents working, families needed two cars, it would often be one big one, one small one. (My parents still do that, in memory of that time.)

Perhaps it's changed in more recent years, but I doubt there are many "big" cars on Italian roads.

Maybe not big by US standards, but a sexy sports car vs. a little fuel-efficient model, perhaps?

Maybe they are driving differently? I once experienced a ride in a Lancia taxi that approached 200 kph between the Turin airport and downtown.

Yeah, but not everyone drives a Ferrari. You've got to get an average of 18% reduction in gallons, when the average fuel economy is already high and the commute distance is the same. So it's probably a mixture of a lot of things, including driving a more efficient car and not taking extra trips.

Overall one would be trying to reduce expenditures while maintaining income, so of course you'd still go to the job if you have one, but not take the extra trips. So rush our would be less effected. Or else there is some problem with the data set, or there are large regional differences.

Given the way the average Italian used to drive (by reputation) an 18% fuel consumption reduction could easily be achieved by simply being a little less agressive. "If you get run over in Athens, the driver wasn't looking where he was going. If you get run over in Rome, he was aiming for you".

The drop in consumption could be associated with fuel switching. LPG (liquid petroleum gas)cars are not that uncommon in Italy and to my limited understanding it does not cost a fortune to have your vehicle changed from gasoline to LPG.


Italians are converting to CNG/LPG in fairly large numbers, but not enough fully explain the large drop in petrol/diesel usage. But with all the market forces acting against petrol/diesel, then the overall effect is obviously quite significant.

Natural gas vehicle fleet in Italy climbs to 785,000 units
12 June 2012
NGVA Europe. Italy, the European leader in natural gas vehicle (NGV) adoption, has seen a 16% increase in its natural gas vehicle parc from 676,850 at the end of 2009 to 785,000 vehicles by early 2012.

I own and keep insured and licensed three vehicles, a 2003 Toyota Echo, a Toyota 1983 4wd pickup and a 1991 UD 2000 dump truck. I just got the Toyota pickup so its fuel efficiency is unknown but the Echo gets 45 mpg and the UD gets 16 mpg (diesel). My late friend Joe drove the 4wd Toyota for 349,000 miles while writing poetry in a cabin near me. He quit full time work to write, saying he needed time not money for doing the things that were really important.

I removed all the seats except the driver's seat from the Echo so I can haul 8 ft lumber and other big items. I shove the long stuff in through the trunk campartment. The UD hauls mostly sand, gravel and building materials. I use the smallest vehicle that will get the job done. Fortunately I have space to park the fleet.

Before retirement I sometimes cycled to work in the middle of the Alaskan winter just to prove I could do it. The road goes over a 60 meter hill. I usually walked up. The weather was so cold (-20F) that I had to pedal on some down grades. I think the rubber in the tires was getting stiff.


I would like to see Italian transit ridership #s. Some of the drop is higher unemployment but certainly not all.

I suspect a switch from private cars to transit - much of it oil free (no diesel for trams & subways).

Traffic jams will remain regardless of a drop in VMT. Traffic congestion is an embedded feature of auto-orientated urban transportation - a 20% drop in VMT may reduce congestion somewhat (perhaps not noticeably to a casual observer) but will certainly not eliminate it.

The ability to quickly switch from oil to oil free alternatives with minimal extra individual effort is what I have been advocating.

Best Hopes for More,


Americans are driving less too. And in the US, bikes outsell cars on a fairly regular basis. So the recent news fixation on Italy is interesting.




What percentage of bikes sold are for "commuting" vs the number bestowed upon kids for their Birthdays? (Used until they're teens - perhaps! - then tossed, hardly used, in the shed).

Cheers, Skeptical Matt

Not only that...kids outgrow their bikes. I've seen garages full of unused bikes, sized from six-year-old to adult. The latest ones might be used occasionally for weekend recreation, but the outgrown ones just sit there and rust.

Yeah, it is definitely ironic to see Italy, the home of Maserati, Ferrari, and Lamborghini reducing oil consumption. They build cars that they cannot afford to drive. I suspect a very large percentage of those cars are sent to the Gulf states where oil profits allow them to buy the cars and cheap oil allows them to drive them without thinking about the fuel costs.

As far back as the early 1960s, when I was there the first time, most Italian cars were absolutely tiny by even today's American standards.
Today's Italian cars are still, in general, very small. It is very rare to see a Ferrari in Italy. But I do remember seeing two side-by-side 12 cylinder Berlinettas at full song on the Autostrada. Bellisimo!

Europe is way ahead of the US in building out a Green Transit infrastructure of Rail, public transit, bicycle paths and walkable communities that were never abandoned after centuries. We know that Auto Addiction is not sustainable but in Europe there are more options. To see people NOT driving, buying cars and instead taking Green Transit or buying more ebikes and bicycles than cars is precisely what we want. I doubt European mobility is impacted as much by not driving as in the current Auto Addiction monopolized Transit in the US.

This is a good sign of adaptation which is also happening but far more slowly in the US with reduced vehicle mileage and increased public transit ridership.

If there are not only cuts in Auto Addiction but also Green public transit then that would be a sign of mobility austerity. Anyone on TOD know if Italy has cut is public transit, bikeways etc? It is clear that as Naomi Klein warned about "Disaster Capitalism" the
banksters would love to privatize and cannibalize public transit systems as they are
threatening for Greece. They will then cut service, raise fares and try to extract monopoly rents as discussed by the economist Michael Hudson.

It is not clear they will get away with that due to popular pushbacks.

I think we should give the Iranians a nuke. Maybe a missile to deliver it with also. I bet the neighborhood would get much more civil in the Middle East. It would be like putting a couple sworn enemies in a small locked room with each having a hand grenade for a weapon.

I like that. Problem is, each guy would just use the grenade, pin safely in, to bonk the other one over the head.

My variant- give each player a big bank account, to be used for anything they want, but only if the other guy allows, nothing otherwise.

What with all the words on this subject, aren't there some around to that effect? And what response?

The one problem with that idea is that you've have already had hundreds willing to pull the pin and hug the other guy thus taking out both of them. Could someone, or group of someone's, be willing to do the same thing on grand scale?

One nuke for Iran would be insufficient inspiration for civility. All of the neighbors would then want a hundred nukes. It would spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

If some states in the neighborhood already have nukes, then the nuclear arms race was already sparked.

If history is any guide, it is only during the race that nations freak out. Once everyone that wanted to build nuclear weapons has them, then things tend to calm down.

I think a nuclear armed Middle East would be good for stability, and not the converse.

A Grand Experiment to Rein In Climate Change

Such audits will be crucial as California embarks on its grand experiment in reining in climate change. On Jan. 1, it will become the first state in the nation to charge industries across the economy for the greenhouse gases they emit. Under the system, known as “cap and trade,” the state will set an overall ceiling on those emissions and assign allowable emission amounts for individual polluters. A portion of these so-called allowances will be allocated to utilities, manufacturers and others; the remainder will be auctioned off.
The risks for California are enormous. Opponents and supporters alike worry that the program could hurt the state’s fragile economy by driving out refineries, cement makers, glass factories and other businesses. Some are concerned that companies will find a way to outmaneuver the system, causing the state to fall short of its emission reduction targets.

Fewer refineries would be good for California.

So they will attract companies that have the highest profit margin per unit of pollution.

But do any refineries outside of California make gas that meets California pollution requirements?

Fewer refineries would be good for California.

Yes and no. We are seeing the effect of fewer operating refineries right now - Gas has gone up to about $4.60 /gallon. Trouble is, the west coast doesn't have enough pipeline interties to allow it to use gas from the midwest. Better to keep the refinery output matched to demand.

Regarding AB 32 (California's cap and trade), the ironic thing is that many of the larger industries that would be affected by it would rather have a carbon tax. The cap and trade is ridiculously complicated and mainly benefits Wall Street traders and government bureaucracies. It also does not adequately address a problem that is really worldwide. Good intent, needs to be rethought.

Paid US$4.85/gallon just this morning for 91 octane unleaded, in the city of San Gabriel.

Down here in the OC, the price for 87 unleaded has dropped 4 cents to $4.65.

Don't we all want the highest gasoline prices possible?

And if 'cap and trade' hurts California's fragile economy, isn't that a good sign, that it's working?

Yes but then unemployment shoots way up and in order to keep people from starving and riots from breaking out some of the wealth accumulated by the top 0.001% would have to be distributed back somehow. That same 0.001% is fighting tooth and nail to keep that from happening. Parasites can't suck blood for long from a host that's dead, so the consumption of resources by the middle class will be encouraged until the bitter end.

In order for the policy to remain (or even for it to be replaced by a more rational carbon tax), it needs to be seen as helping the people of the state. The many opponents will be doing their best to pin any bad news on the measure.

I would bet it has little net effect. It will help a few alternative energy folks, and probably stimulate some investment in efficiency, but a few businesses will move out. I bet some that move out for unrelated reasons will cite cap and trade, just to make political mischief. Reliable data may be hard to come up with.

Swiss army prepares for euro zone unrest

With anti-austerity protests across Europe resulting in civil unrest on the streets of Athens and Madrid, Switzerland -- the European country famed for its neutrality -- is taking unusual precautions.

It launched the military exercise “Stabilo Due” in September to respond to the current instability in Europe and to test the speed at which its army can be dispatched. The country is not a member of the union or among the 17 countries that share the euro.

Swiss newspaper Der Sonntag reported recently that the exercise centered around a risk map created in 2010, where army staff detailed the threat of internal unrest between warring factions as well as the possibility of refugees from Greece, Spain, Italy, France, and Portugal.

The Swiss defense ministry told CNBC that it doesn't rule out having to deploy troops in the coming years.

What a silly exercise. The EU just won the peace price. Its no need to worry.
Just this moment the EU is doing everything it can to keep the banksters peacefull and well fed(paid)/snark

The EU has achieved peace in Europe by bankrupting themselves into not being able to afford another war.

Actually, I can make an argument in the other direction . . . Europe has achieved such a high standard of living compared to the past that no one would want to risk their lives for something as pointless as war.

Isn't that what they said about Germany pre-WWII? That so soon after licking hyperinflation and becoming prosperous they wouldn't risk their economic well-being by going to war.

Since WW I&II, the major protagonists have been unwilling to take significant casualties. France and the UK have experienced some while fighting in former colonies like Malaysia, Kenya, and Algeria, but the people really had no enthusiasm for those wars. Even the USSR and the US were willing to take only light casualties in Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan. Of course, lots more Koreans, Vietnamese, and Afghans died.

The major casualties have been experienced by former colonial peoples, either in internal armed struggles such as Cambodia, Uganda, and Rwanda, or in inter-state conflict such as Iran-Iraq. These have resulted in a few hundred thousand dead up to a couple of million dead.

If the USSR had still had the same taste for agression in Afghanistan as it had in the Ukraine in the '30s, the Afghans would have been killed, starved, or exiled, and it would still be a USSR vassal. Nations can be pacified fairly easily if you are willing to take enough casualties to kill most of the military age men in the population.

Interestingly, the American definition of "militant", as in "killed in drone attack" or other bombings/actions, is any male over 14 years of age.

Pubic Hair = Terrorist

U.S. Labels ALL Young Men In Battle Zones As “Militants” … And American Soil Is Now Considered a Battle Zone

According to J. W. Gibson in The Perfect War, the US military and political leaders viewed "body count" as the number one statistic to define success during the Vietnam War. Gibson points out that the result was that may people were killed needlessly, including women and children, all of whom weren't directly fighting against our puppet government in the South. Gibson points to our tactic of assigning areas on a map as "free fire zones", in which it was proper to kill anyone and count their body as an enemy kill. Entire villages were thus destroyed to add more bodies to the numbers reported by the officers to their superiors. He claims that the My Lai massacre was not an aberration, but rather the normal practice. Using artillery and bombing to "clear" areas in the "free fire zones" without clear targets was also "normal" in the psychopathic minds of the officers, who needed good kill numbers to show that they were successful, thus able to rise in the ranks...

E. Swanson

That's a pretty broad brush you're swinging there. "Body counts" did not necessarily represent real bodies. I was told (by clerks who were there at the time, I got there a few months later) that during the Tet offensive field units didn't have time to send in body counts, so clerks in USARV (US Army Vietnam) HQ "estimated" body counts for the press releases. I suspect a lot of "estimating" went on regularly at lower levels, as well. Very few officers were psychopathic. If the psychopaths had not been weeded out before they got to Vietnam, their troops would take care of the problem. Officers in the field who unnecessarily endangered their own men didn't last long. On the other hand, it really was difficult to distinguish friend from foe. Most Vietnamese were just trying to hunker down and stay out of the line of fire, but the Viet Cong, who rarely wore uniforms, and included men and women of all ages, could blend in with the innocents. Humping the boonies, sleeping in the mud, being ambushed, being attacked in the middle of the night, seeing your buddies killed or maimed, can wear a soldier down. So, don't stigmatize the soldiers who were sent there, or the field officers who shared their experiences. I do have some things I could say about senior officers, but that's a different story.

DISCLAIMER: I was a clerk on a large base, the closest I got to being in the field was an occasional night on perimeter guard duty.

I didn't write the book. Perhaps "psychopath is too harsh, but Gibson points to the disconnect between the men in the field and the officers higher up the chain of command. I mean on disrespect for the few soldiers who actually went into the field.

Gibson's thesis revolves around the idea that Vietnam was run much like the management of an industrial company and the product was dead bodies. He does point out that there was some considerable difference between the body count of enemy killed and the actual events in the field. However, it seems clear that many deaths of non-combatants were counted among the numbers tabulated in reports, which then appeared in other reports passed up the chain of command. At each level, success for the "managers" (aka, staff officers) was the number of dead because of the assumption that the supply of enemy fighters was limited and as more bodies piled up, the result would be fewer fighters. In a war of attrition, the "managers" were certain that the Vietnamese were going to run out of fighters and material supplies and end the war.

It didn't work out that way, did it???

E. Swanson

You repeat his claim "that the My Lai massacre was not an aberration, but rather the normal practice." I most certainly condemn what happened at My Lai, but where is the evidence that such was "the normal practice"? As soon as I returned from VietNam I became involved in the anti-war movement. What bothered me then, and bothers me now, is the effort to demonize the military. Yes, there are soldiers and officers whose souls I despair of (as much as an atheist can despair of anyone's soul), but I don't like seeing evil motives imputed to people who are trying to perform what they understand to be their duty.

"...people who are trying to perform what they understand to be their duty."

That, of course, is the problem. Putting young soldiers into impossible situations. It is as true today in Afghanistan as it was in Vietnam.

Well, consider the bombing campaign in Vietnam. It was somewhat like the My Lai massacre, simply without the personal touch. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_War (see casualties 50 - 182 thousand civillian casualties of bombing).

That's a fairly systematic slaughter of innocents, or something. But whatever, water under the bridge, airmen doing their duty and la la laa dee daa!

Anyways, it's the politicians fault that these innocents died, not the soldiers. Soldiers are professional killers and kill who they are told to be killed. It's like blaming guns for the actions of those who pulled the triggers. Soldiers, of course, aren't mindless machines, but the better soldiers are more like machines than moral men. Their job is not to weigh the moralities of their actions, but to figure out the most expeditious way of killing the enemy and winning the war. If that requires massive "collateral damage", so be it. That's not properly on the soldier's conscience, it's on their political masters. The alternative is the soldiers making the call. AKA, military dictatorship.

One of these days, the many will figure this out and demonstrate their knowledge by pouring millions of gallons of blood into the legislative and executive houses of their respective states. But, until then, we can finger-point at soldiers for doing their job.

but I don't like seeing evil motives imputed to people who are trying to perform what they understand to be their duty

Then why on Earth were the Nuremberg trials conducted ? I am sure all officers who were prosecuted were just performing their duties. Every soldier is responsible for whatever he/she does. That's the only way to end all these senseless wars. This misplaced sense of loyalty is the number one reason why wars go on for so long.

I think patriotism ranks second only to religion in terms of body count.

"Then why on Earth were the Nuremberg trials conducted?"

Because the Allies won. If the Axis had won, it is possible that a number of Allied leaders, such as Churchill and "Bomber" Harris, would have been tried for "war crimes" (although it is also possible that they would have been executed without any trial). Also, it may well be that trying a few leaders for "war crimes" made it easier to forego punishing Germany as a nation, as was done after WWI with such ill results.

With all due respect, I suggest that you read Gibson's book, which is heavily referenced, instead of asserting that he is wrong. I just happened to find a copy and read it these past few weeks after watching a YouTube video in which he was interviewed...

E. Swanson

He claims that the My Lai massacre was not an aberration, but rather the normal practice.

I have heard enough stories from returned vets to believe that My Lai was not an aberration but the tip of the iceberg. One vet I knew described how his platoon got drunk one night and called in a napalm attack on a nearby village. It was insanity and some vets only survived by embracing the insanity.

Sadly, we don't seem to have learned much since then.

I hope the Swiss troops remember to bring those knives with the little screwdriver/can opener attachments. Those seem like they would be really useful when suppressing civil unrest.

Until recently, every Swiss soldier had an army issue bicycle.

Just several Swiss Army bicycle regiments. Considered to have been elite units with high espirit de corps and extra conditioning required.

I talked with the Swiss Army military attache in Washington DC about Swiss WW II oil use a few years ago. He was been in charge of converting these regiments to mechanized - a VERY unpopular move. Perhaps why he was next assigned to embassy duty overseas.

Best Hopes for US Army National Guard bicycle battalions,


Brazil Is Saving The World From Corn-mageddon

Despite the historic drought that crushed US corn crops this summer, today's feedstock report from the USDA projects record worldwide corn supplies for 2012/2013.

Thank the Brazilians.

Ethanol is saved!

These USDA forecasts always assume ideal weather and Brazil will have an exaggerated role to play in 2013 so I hope the USDA is finally correct about Mother Nature's whims.

UN warns of looming worldwide food crisis in 2013

World grain reserves are so dangerously low that severe weather in the United States or other food-exporting countries could trigger a major hunger crisis next year, the United Nations has warned.

Failing harvests in the US, Ukraine and other countries this year have eroded reserves to their lowest level since 1974. The US, which has experienced record heatwaves and droughts in 2012, now holds in reserve a historically low 6.5% of the maize that it expects to consume in the next year, says the UN.

"We've not been producing as much as we are consuming. That is why stocks are being run down. Supplies are now very tight across the world and reserves are at a very low level, leaving no room for unexpected events next year,"

We must accept that Britain cannot rely on world food supplies

... Britain is slowly waking up to the fact that relying on the rest of the world for large amounts of foods we could easily grow ourselves might not be a great idea. Food prices rose 32% (12% in real terms) in the UK between 2007 and 2012 while increasing only 13% in France and Germany. The price of fruit has been particularly hard hit.

Only 23% of our fruit and vegetables come from the UK - or 10% when you just count fruit – and those imports are only going to get more expensive. That's if they are available at all.

As the New Economics Foundation concluded in 2008, we're currently operating a system that's only nine meals from anarchy (PDF).

... if food supplies become tight, and post-peak oil fuel costs soar, then the impact on Britain's food supply will be felt by everyone. And the government will have to wonder why, in 2012, it was not taking seriously the need to produce food in Britain, close to where it would be eaten.

also The soaring cost of Sunday roast: Extreme weather causing dramatic food price rises in U.K. – ‘A disaster for public health’

and Food prices: 'Bread, coffee and fresh fruit have become a bit of a luxury'

and Food scarcity: the timebomb setting nation against nation

Did Neolithic farming fail? The case for a Bronze Age agricultural revolution in the British Isles

This paper rewrites the early history of Britain, showing that while the cultivation of cereals arrived there in about 4000 cal BC, it did not last. Between 3300 and 1500 BC Britons became largely pastoral, reverting only with a major upsurge of agricultural activity in the Middle Bronze Age. This loss of interest in arable farming was accompanied by a decline in population, seen by the authors as having a climatic impetus. But they also point to this period as the time of construction of the great megalithic monuments, including Stonehenge. We are left wondering whether pastoralism was all that bad, and whether it was one intrusion after another that set the agenda on the island.

Apparently, a previous food shortage led to a reduction in population.

We (Britain) do not have particularly good weather for grain growing except in limited arable areas mostly in the eastern side of the country and the far south.
Check out Prof Mark Overton and others for history, e.g. BBC History.
The original maximum carrying capacity from Roman times onwards looks to have been a population under 6M. The breakthrough came in the 18thC when biologically fixed N (soil nutrient) mainly from clover/grass was integrated in a commercial system that could use, without depleting, upto x3 increased soil N concentration. That and increasingly sophisticated horse-driven machinery and opening of more land for commercial cultivation 'just about' kept up with a trebling of the population until the 1840s. Thereafter the story was imported food paid for by industrial expansion and empire (and the technology to ship surplus supply from the Americas etc). By 1939, (WW2), Britain / UK pop. ~49M, was importing about 70% of food as calories. War time desperate measures plowed up to the maximum area possible and doubled the petroleum-driven mechanised 'horse-power' and the artificial NPK fertiliser. Imports were reduced to about 35% of calories. (Check Hobsbawm Industry & Empire). Introduction of new cereal varieties in the 1960s allowed a doubling of yields on a reduced and more commercially suited acreage. Currently we have about 4 persons to every hypothetically cultivable acre (back of an envelope: maximum possible plowed acres as in WW2 divided by our present 63M persons).

We need our imports. In WW2 we banned all fruit and vegetable imports to concentrate on calories. Looking on the cheerful side though, so far the EU as a whole has surplus food, if one does not count the 80% of imports of primary vegetable protein needed for intensive livestock production. I guess we might be looking at changes, but no big crisis in sight yet. [? :)] There again, however, no point being a "Little Englander"!

Perhaps the UK should pay a little more attention to the policies of the EU. There is a reason why the EU spends such a ridiculously high amount of money on farm subsidies. Food security is not something that one can simply replace with financial services.

Ethanol is saved!

Wasn't ethanol supposed to help save us from some thing...

Record Soybean and Corn Area Expected for Brazil’s Upcoming 2012/13 Season

The state of Mato Grosso is the largest soybean producing state and second-largest corn producing state in Brazil, with most corn grown in Mato Grosso as a second-season crop planted immediately after the soybeans are harvested in January and February.

Earth Observatory : Amazon Deforestation, Mato Grosso, Brazil

In the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, verdant green Amazon Rainforest is broken up by broad tracts of pale green and tan deforested land. In 2005, the government of Brazil said that 48 percent of Amazon deforestation that took place in 2003 and 2004 occurred in Mato Grosso.

The transformation from forest to farm is evident in the photo-like images, taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite.

Was it this thing?

Amazon drought caused huge carbon emissions

The widespread drought last year dried up major rivers in the Amazon and isolated thousands of people who depend on boat transportation, shocking climate scientists who had billed the 2005 drought as a once-in-a-century event.

The two intense dry spells fit predictions by some climate models that the forest will face greater weather extremes this century, with more intense droughts making it more vulnerable to fires, which in turn could damage its ability to recover.

No More Industrial Revolutions?

The American economy is running on empty. That’s the hypothesis put forward by Robert J. Gordon, an economist at Northwestern University. Let’s assume for a moment that he’s right. The political consequences would be enormous.

In his widely discussed National Bureau of Economic Research paper, “Is U.S. Economic Growth Over?” Gordon predicts a dark future of “epochal decline in growth from the U.S. record of the last 150 years.” The greatest innovations, Gordon argues, are behind us, with little prospect for transformative change along the lines of the three previous industrial revolutions:

  • IR #1 (steam, railroads) from 1750 to 1830; IR #2 (electricity, internal combustion engine, running water, indoor toilets, communications, entertainment, chemicals, petroleum) from 1870 to 1900; and IR #3 (computers, the web, mobile phones) from 1960 to present.

Gordon argues that each of these revolutions was followed by a period of economic expansion, particularly industrial revolution number two, which saw “80 years of relatively rapid productivity growth between 1890 and 1972.” According to Gordon, once “the spin-off inventions from IR #2 (airplanes, air conditioning, interstate highways) had run their course, productivity growth during 1972-96 was much slower than before.”

Not much discussion of energy, though.

"The greatest innovations, Gordon argues, are behind us, with little prospect for transformative change along the lines of the three previous industrial revolutions:"

There is nothing else to discover, invent or develop. That statement has been made before, and was just as accurate as the ones about that unsinkable ship.

What is true is that it is very hard to predict the next revolution from studying the last one. So it's always a surprise, and that is why they call it a revolution.

For what it's worth, bio-tech is frequently being held up as an example of the next big thing. In 20 years maybe we'll know if it worked out. The cost of DNA sequencing has dropped massively, but the cost to do something with the knowledge has not changed.

I look for signs and it seems to me many 'innovations' are really just recycling and recombining of old ideas (i.e. music and art). I agree with the idea that we are entering an age of diminishing returns. We need to work on ourselves more than external stimuli and innovations; refine/redefine our relationships instead of inventing new ones.

Humans still have the same old needs to be satisfied.

Aldous Huxley said the only new pleasure man had invented was driving fast. (He himself had poor eyesight and was a terrifyingly bad driver.)

Well videogames did not yet exist during his time.

EG, massive multiuser multicontinent Hypothetical Reality Games like, say, THE OIL DRUM.


Careful, this is virtual reality. Don't be changing that.

Must be why it's so dark in here...;)

Must be why it's so dark in here...;)

Well, Whaddya expect at the bottom of an oil drum, sunlight?! Jeez!

I agree with the idea that we are entering an age of diminishing returns.

This. We are going to keep innovating and we will get new technologies. But the innovations will tend to be incremental and marginal improvements.

There will be a few revolutionary inventions but they are just not going to be like the last 200 years of frenzied innovation that brought us such revolutionary change. We are starting to be hemmed in by the laws of physics & thermodynamics.

When I am asked about my Zen,,,,Especially from a young person of School age,,,, My first reply is....

"95% of everything ever invented by Humans is useless Crap, and 95% of everything currently in your life is a waste of time and energy..now let's begin to unlearn"

Choose Wisely.
The Martian

Just for fun in the wee hours, a few incremental and marginal improvements we could do at the snap of a collective finger

self driven ultralight aircraft using 3 dimensions to whisk you thither and yon at the beck of a keystroke.

(long time sci fi favorite) vacuum tunnel trains zipping across continents between breakfast and mid morn snack, pushed by a couple kWhrs of solar.

All combustion processes producing 60% of thermodynamic limit of electricity

City walls covered with heliostats, aimed by whoever happens to be renting their output at the moment.

total recycling of everything.

and so on.

And with just two snaps of the collective finger- quantum computing, the ultimate future-machine, which accurately predicts the next attempts of homo sapiens to commit suicide/murder of the planet.

wimbi, how about the idea of a tunnel train going into the core of the earth and out the other side? Acceleration and de-acceleration both powered by gravity.

Great idea! Lotsa fun. Uh, how about that side acceleration on accounta the spin? Maybe best pole to pole?

City walls covered with heliostats, aimed by whoever happens to be renting their output at the moment.

Shouldn't that have been, hundreds of heliostats aimed at those who DIDN'T pay their rent. Freeloaders will fry!

Some interpretations of the end of the Mayan calendar have been the "death of an age" and the beginning of a new one (i.e. inter-connected cosmic awareness, etc). I do like to think that if there is any truth to it, then that is the correct interpretation.

Perhaps we will become the "Introspective Age" where we understand ourselves a little better and understand what we will need to survive into the future. I think we will have to hit bottom before we can rise back from it all. We are well on the way to the bottom. Personally, I am particularly noticing a lot quicker rush to uncivil behavior here in the Midwest as simple things are getting a little more difficult to accomplish (i.e. people getting pissed at others for jumping in line, reckless driving in the morning commute, back-stabbing at work). People are angry, but they are not sure why.

Time will tell and as Alan says "Best Hopes for...the eventual uptick".

Glad it's not just me. I don't think it's just the election. I kind of feel like we've had a moment in the global unconcious where we all sort of realized the hammer dropped for real with global warming and in the global economy...


I concur that bio-tech has the potential of fueling the next "industrial revolution." It has already had significant success in agriculture, with GMO passing 10% of global primary crop production (9% in 2007). As climate change creates additional stress on crops, new GMOs will be created in response.

In addition, I expect to see the rise of GMO production of 'feed stock' into industrial production - organic chemicals, fuels, and "fibrous substrate" (think metal, plastic, fiberglass, or wood (hey! that's already organic) panels).

There is nothing biotech can do because all of those fantabulous new plant strains that provide higher yields are entirely dependent on unsustainable irrigation and fossil fuel inputs. Without fossil fuels, those plant strains are basically useless. Even accounting for all the gains in industrial agricultural per-hectare productivity, the total ability of the planet to produce vegetation biomass has actually gone down by 10% over the rise of humanity (freeways aren't very productive; we have degraded many ecosystems).

And all of the historical growth phases that were mentioned above were actually almost entirely fueled by increasing fossil fuel extraction and burning. The innovations merely enabled some of that burning to be achieved more efficiently, and in the case of IT, to simply shift wealth from the 99% to the 1% (Microsoft did not create any new wealth). Unless there is an energy revolution, then there won't be any more growth. Fossil fuels are basically maxed out, and there is no other energy source else on the horizon that could scale up in time to allow for further growth.

Biofules are not a solution, IMHO they produce more problems than they solve:

1) Combustion engines waste 70% of the energy as heat, therefore, burning economically and ecologically often expensive biofuels in conventional engines is in most countries simply stupid and irresponsible.

2) In case of biofuels, the (net) energy yield per square meter is TWO ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE lower than that of available PV-modules, in addition PV can be build on buildings and areas not suitable for agriculture, there is absolute no competition between energy and food in case of PV.

So, the only solution I see is, if you are interested in maintaining cars, to peplace them with EVs or cars driven by fuel cells. :-)

None of these are the main problem at hand. The realy important one is that biofuels come from crops, crops crom from the soil and the soil come from the stuff you put into it. If you do not put the waste products back into the soil (and we don't) anything that comes from agriculture is non-renewable. And to keep that illusion running, we need FF based fertilizers. This just won't save us.

OK, biofuels consist of carbon, oxygen and hydogen. These components are delivered by CO2 and H2O (air + rain). The interesting rest (P,N containing stuff, ions) remains in the bio fuel production facility, therefore, can relatively easily be transported back to the farms the plant material came from - you deliver X tons of plant material, you return with Y tons production waste/byproduct, this part looks ok for me as chemist, my problem is the low energy net gain.

As Obama says: "Yes we can". But do we?

Good question! :-)

My hope is that the farmer has an real interest in sustaining the quality of the soil and, therfore, insists of getting back the for him valuable waste. BTW this saves money fro him.

Your statistic regarding engine efficiency misses the fact that diesels achieve efficiencies well above 40%. Also, the problem involves the entire vehicle, especially for automobiles. People in the US demand "performance", i.e., acceleration, and this tends to result in high power to weight ratios. The popular wisdom seems to be that heavier vehicles are safer in a crash, which has added more mass to the average car and the popularity of SUV's which has resulted in vehicles with poor aerodynamics.

With higher fuel prices in the US, we are seeing many improvements, both in aerodynamics and the engines and transmissions packages installed. We know of improvements which will provide higher MPGs, with upwards of 100 MPG attainable for diesel powered cars. The Obama administration's mandate for 54 MPG is within reason, if the public can be convinced to buy the vehicles...

E. Swanson

Here we are four years into the new era of high oil prices and I'm still seeing car ads that exclaim how the new model has more horsepower than the old model! There is also no end to the addition of new features that add weight and complexity. Ford can sell you a car that can parallel park by itself. I guess next year they'll have a model that drives itself so you can stay home and send the car off by itself to burn gas!

A car that can seat five and carry a reasonable amount of cargo should run fine with no more than 90HP and a 6 speed manual transmission. Sure, you'll have to downshift to go up steep hills, but so what, you will still get to the top! Cutting out all the crap like power windows, power door locks, 10 air bags, anti lock brakes, stability control should reduce the weight significantly without the need for exotic, expensive materials. Alas, no one makes a vehicle like this, expecially in developed nations.

here is a an example of getting rid of all the unnecessary items on a car, the first versions only had one wind screen wiper. No doors, soft top, light and fun to drive. Quite a cult car here for many years.


Don't think it quite make the safety regulations anywhere these days.

Necessity is the mother of invention ...

Utility vehicle and partnerships built in Africa

... "The vehicle is designed to be built with basic hand tools, saws, drills and a welder. Last year it was hard to cut some of the angles with the tools we had, so this year all of the angles are easy and the dimensions are pretty loose as far as what is required."

The project's goal was to keep costs around $1,500, not including the engine. The changes implemented this year have reduced the cost to $800. Powered by a small 10-horsepower diesel engines available locally in Cameroon for $500.

Purdue's first BUV designed for Cameroon was constructed mostly of wood. The new model features more angle iron and car driveline parts that can be recycled from a junkyard. Other notable changes include adding a front strut to allow for braking on all three wheels, front suspension and a 5-speed transmission with reverse.

The BUV can reach a top speed of 25 miles per hour and carry 2,000 pounds. Lumkes said the vehicle's top speed isn't as important as the vehicle's ability to slowly climb hills with materials loaded in the cargo area.

"Everyone there drives the same kinds of vehicles, so that makes it easier," said Gibson. Toyota parts were the most readily available in Cameroon. That means the team used lots of 1980s Toyota parts. They built the BUV frame from a Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck bed. A trip to the junkyard is the only way to get parts in Cameroon


Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV) DataSheet

Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV) BUV Micro Factory DataSheet


or TEDGlobal: The low-tech $6,000 car made for Africa

Hey, it comes with a built in roll cage, or is that an optional extra for the wealthy people?

Safety first they say!

To support the tarpaulin for when it rains.


I can tell from this comment that you have seen the poor and the "developing" world. :-)

I live in the Wild Wild West of Mexico, the frame on top of this vehicle is just like those on top of taco stalls here ;)


My memory of having an underpowered car in Colorado. There are two lanes going uphill, the speedsters, climbing at 60plus, and the big trucks doing maybe 15 or 20. If you are too slow for the speedster lane, you get forced into the truck lane, then you can't get out. So the incentive to own excessive power to weight is very high.

"A car that can seat five and carry a reasonable amount of cargo should run fine with no more than 90HP and a 6 speed manual transmission. "

My Aveo has 106 HP, seats 5, and has a 5-speed manual transmission. It does fine. But as you say, it has no power windows, no power door locks, the legal minimum air bags, no anti lock brakes, no stability control, no air-conditioning, and weighs in at 2500 lbs. So in 2006 at least you could still get that sort of car.

Note that anti-lock brakes and stability control are now legally required, or soon will be. We can't be bothered teaching anyone to drive; it's now a motor- vehicle operator's permit.

Any FF engine running at near best efficiency, yet idling in stop-and-go traffic (or rail yard, or port) is still not a good use of the fuel.

Ideally we can try to find and implement strategies to mostly burn the fuel only to move people and cargo.

I am certain the last vehicles able to burn fuel will be our crowning achievement, to view in museums in some future era ; )

The Self-Destruction of the 1 Percent

... Today, we think of social mobility as a good thing. But if you are on top, mobility also means competition. In 1315, when the Venetian city-state was at the height of its economic powers, the upper class acted to lock in its privileges, putting a formal stop to social mobility with the publication of the Libro d’Oro, or Book of Gold, an official register of the nobility. If you weren’t on it, you couldn’t join the ruling oligarchy.

The reigning elites were acting in their immediate self-interest, but in the longer term, La Serrata [the closure]was the beginning of the end for them, and for Venetian prosperity more generally.

The story of Venice’s rise and fall is told by the scholars Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, in their book “Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty,” as an illustration of their thesis that what separates successful states from failed ones is whether their governing institutions are inclusive or extractive.

Extractive states are controlled by ruling elites whose objective is to extract as much wealth as they can from the rest of society. Inclusive states give everyone access to economic opportunity; often, greater inclusiveness creates more prosperity, which creates an incentive for ever greater inclusiveness.

The wrecking society: Economics today

There is an old story from the heyday of the Soviet Union. As part of their May Day celebrations they were parading their latest weapon systems down the street in front of the Kremlin. There was a long column of their newest tanks, followed by a row of tractors pulling missiles. Behind these weapons were four pick-up trucks carrying older men in business suits waving to the crowds.

Seeing this display, the Communist party boss turned to his defence secretary. He praised the tanks and missiles and then said that he didn't understand the men in business suits. The defence secretary explained that these men were economists and "their destructive capacity is incredible".

People across the world now understand what the defence secretary meant. ...

If an enemy had inflicted this much damage on the United States, the countries of the European Union, or the countries elsewhere in the world that have been caught up in this downturn, millions of people would be lining up to enlist in the military, anxious to avenge this outrage.

How did it go again?

"We pretend to know what we are talking about, and they pretend to believe us."

Something like that.

Heard good Hungarian joke today from past:

What is the difference between capitalism and communism? Capitalism is the exploitation of man by man. Communism is the other way round.

Koch Industries Warns 45,000 Employees Of ‘Consequences’ If They Don’t Vote For Republicans

The letter warns ominously of “consequences” for the workers if Republicans lose.

EDIT: I just noticed Seraph posted the above link below, shortened the blockquote.

Koch Sued by Executive Claiming He Was Held Captive

William Koch held a senior executive of his Oxbow energy company captive for almost two days after discovering his concerns about a plan to avoid U.S. taxes on $200 million in profit, the now ex-employee said in a lawsuit.

Former Oxbow Senior Vice President Kirby Martensen alleged that an unrelated company probe revealed his misgivings over the purported effort by Oxbow Carbon & Minerals LLC. As a result, Martensen said, he was falsely imprisoned by Koch’s agents and interrogated at a remote Colorado estate as part of an attempt to intimidate him. He was also fired, he said.

I was going to say something but they like to sue everyone and everything...

Awww, what a shame. Because before that he thought they were saints? What is that expression - lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas?

"Not much discussion of energy, though."

That pretty much sums up the problems we face today. The biggest issues, energy, finance, and the environment, are either ignored or are talked about in ignorant ways. Look at what happened when energy came up in the presidential debate - Mitt basically made fun of any energy that wasn't fossil fuels and claimed we could drill/dig/whatever our way to prosperity forever. And that's considered a serious position.

No mention is ever made of how energy relates to the economy. I recently had a discussion where the other person claimed Reagan brought us all prosperity through the laffer curve and low taxes on the rich - not the huge windfall from a combination of an oil glut and all the policies like CAFE that made economic growth less expensive per unit energy. The fact that the US is a major oil and gas power, and that this is a big part of why it's a world power - completely off the radar. Energy is a major issue but talk about energy still mostly stupid.

Similarly, the environment has disappeared and what is left is global warming, which as Bjorn Lomborg tells us is no big deal anyway (sarcasm). All other problems seem to have just been washed from people's minds in the past 10-15 years. Environmentalism as a movement is comatose.

As far as finance goes, well, they got away with it.

It is a little nice to see that people are starting to see the writing on the wall, that is, the no-growth future. Too bad energy is still invisible. Finance masks it entirely.

Reagan and O'Neill, between tax cuts and increased federal budgets, implemented the modern federal response for dealing with recessions: deficit spending. Unfortunately, the marginal rate of return on new debt is decreasing. Its getting harder and harder to fuel new growth with new debt.

Of course energy prices are another leg of that stool.

Today's Dear Abby features a grandmother who is upset her daughter chose to have just one kid.

My daughter and her husband have a wonderful little boy, "Matthew," who is 3. They say they don't plan on having any more children. I am upset that they won't be giving my grandson a sibling. They claim the reason is to be earth-friendly, but I think it is selfish.

So, a couple who has just one child in order to reduce their impact on the earth is selfish. Got it.

My daughter's in-laws felt the same way after she got snipped (after two children, girl/boy), and the matriarch has become quite venomous. She called me about it and I told her I had hoped they would stop at one child. "@#*$@$%!" (her response wasn't very 'christian').

Simple fact is most everyone adores children. We're wired to.

Our Jack Russel is just as cute, a surrogate baby.

Yes we have two pugs. About to adopt a third. I joke that we thought we were going to be responsible and stop at two but our selfish genes got the best of us.

Seriously this human overbreeding problem is so very tragic.

I wonder if this should be seriously considered: that pets make it easier for people to choose to not have children. There may be a significant force at play here that is not being noticed by researchers.

It should also be considered that pets consume a lot of energy, at least the larger ones.

I haven't seen any studies done on it, but I would guess that a family with a compact car and a 50 pound dog uses more energy than someone with a small SUV and no dog - everything else being equal.

It matters what timescale you choose. Increasing the human population, has a continuing impact for likely hundreds of years.
I really doubt a dog causes as much increase in resource usage as a kid. Then fifteen years later, the dogs dies, and the kid starts driving.

There's a dog (bitch, actually) with her head in my lap watching me type. She says she has a very high EROEI,, [what?]... oh, and she doesn't think you're a dog person. She's usually right :-0

I'm a dog person and sure that yours provides a very positive ROEI, although would disagree with her on the first term.

I'm just saying that some of this point counting is tougher than it looks and there is a lot of "my energy use is important, but yours is wasteful" thinking going on.

I do think you should keep inputing energy into your dog, and enjoying the returns (even if it might have a similar impact as upgrading to a small SUV).

I have 11 dogs, all above 50 lb, in my dog team so I know well how much fossil fuel energy in the form of farming, shipping and handling goes into their food bill. But traditionally working dogs in the interior of Alaska were fed fish along with rice and lard when rice and lard were available. I feed kibble because it is convenient.


I have a turtle. They live a long time - I've had mine for 25 years and he was pretty old when I found him as a kid. He's probably 40+ years old and shows no signs of slowing down. His aquarium uses a decent amount of energy, especially in the winter to heat the water. As far as food is concerned, he only eats once a week and 1 lb of frozen shrimp would probably last a year so nothing compared to a dog or cat. He's also not particularly interactive or cuddley, if I stick my hand in the aquarium he chases it around and bites at it. But it is a pretty ideal pet. I can go on vacation for 2-3 weeks without worrying about him at all.

How about a goldfish in a little fishbowl? You just pop the whole fishbowl in the freezer when you go on vacation, and thaw it back out when you get home. Or leave it in the freezer and just thaw it out every once in a while when you want to visit with your pet. ;-)

Full disclosure: I think turtles are very cool!

Has this meme been widely circulated? My brother tried to use this exact argument on me several years ago, claiming that my 50 pound dog consumes more resources than his V8 SUV, hmmm....

It is an absurd meme. Dogs consume some food, not tons of steel, plastic, glass, energy and water in production, and then gasoline until they "die". He probably heard it on Fox News.

I know of at least one couple who chosed pets instead of kids. They also live in the worlds most populated country so they get some tax benefits on top of it.

They can't live in the UK, because they would be penalised by the state for not having kids.

It works for me. My wife and I don't have children and don't plan too but I think all people need something to care for and love, and be loved by. We have three cats and they provide a lot of emotional fulfillment for us every day.

I guess I am wired differently than most - my response to someones little kid is usually "meh, whatever", but introduce me to a new cat or dog and I always try to make friends and give them some scritchens on the head. Its rare that the critter the refuses.

I like the last four words of Abby's response: "none of your business".

I've gotten this from many people when I admit that neither my wife nor I have any desire to have children. Depending on how much of a dick I want to be, my favorite comeback is - "So are you more or less happy now that you have children?" Because invariably every parent is always so much more happy once they have kids, the answer is always a resounding "Yes! Life is so much better with kids!!" Then they've just defeated their own argument - I'm actually being the selfless one by accepting the burden of not having children why it is they who are selfish by giving in to their own desires of self-happiness.

Often there's a "I see what you did there" moment, but by then the argument is dead. I've never had anybody come back with a counterattack. The logic is just too simple.

Not a counter argument - but we adopted. Kids taken into care from abusive/neglectful home. Lots of kudos for 'selflessly' taking on the responsibility, lots of good vibes as see them turn around from screaming balls of pain into human beings, and a built in pension pot of future income or support, without the guilt of adding to the overpopulation.

Personally I just can't stand kids. I get a stronger emotional response when I see a box turtle run over in the road vs. some abandoned or starving child on the news. I can't figure out why, it must have something to do with the way I'm wired. As far as nature is concerned, it's a self-correcting problem.

"Personally I just can't kids"

Ty, you're lucky your folks didn't feel the same way.

And my son is extremely unlucky that I don't feel as my parents did...

Selfish? Who are they not sharing with or taking from? A person that does not exist? That is silly. I think Grandma is being selfish by trying to impose her wishes on others.

Grandmas selfishly wants more of her genes to propagate.

My brother married, had two kids... and moved across the country. Now my mother is onto me. She realy want me to meet a girl so she can get grand kids "not so far away from home". Well... possibly, but I am 35 and tend to fall for girls just a few years older than myself. I have a feeling I won't have any kids of my own, even if I would miracoulously actually get a gf one day. I havn't told her that yet...

There may be hope for my genes yet. I'm 38 and tend to fall for attractive women in their mid-twenties... Maybe one kid would be a good compromise. My sister has one boy.

Why the baby goat?


Yes, but logic never has anything to do with it. Most people want "more" children and grandchildren because they are hard-wired to biologically (more progeny = "success" in a genetic/evolutionary sense, so wanting it is itself a trait that nature selects for). They will come up with whatever argument or line of "reasoning" necessary to justify what their instincts are telling them to desire. Don't project reason or rational motives, and it all makes sense.


We are not rational (= logical) beings, we are rationalizing beings.

You guys with your oversimplifications.. good examples of rationalizing, it seems.. but there are others out there who manage to resist the urge.

"There are two kinds of people in the world, those that divide us into two kinds of people, and those who don't.. and some other folks who don't count because I don't really understand them at all.."

I don't buy this.

When given the choice, people generally have fewer children, not more. You see this pattern historically, and cross-culturally. The richest families have the fewest kids. Why would this be? They can support as many children as they want, and they can hire people to take care of them. Yet, for some reason, they don't have a lot of kids.

I think social pressure/expectations play a much bigger role than hard-wired biology. A lot of people have kids who do not particularly want them or never really thought about it, they just do it because it's expected. Grandma wants more grandkids not because she's biologically wired to, but because feels inadequate when her friends pull out their brag books and start showing photos of their grandkids.

Also in some parts of the world it makes a difference that rich people can afford the rubber coat.

The rich have a controlled number of kids because on average they understand heredity better. The poor obviously 'covers' the full spectrum of personality, but on average they live less planned lives.

pondlife, you are probably correct. Have you seen any statistics on rich versus poor family size?

Ah, but TPTB, in this case Abby, sided with the letter writer - and in the mainstream media!

Do you think she'll get a call from the thought police?


Oil Round About: Why the US has approved new oil export licenses

Yes, we are talking about oil exports here (not imports). Yes, the US has exported little if any oil to any country in recent years, but this will change soon.

Although per US law, the names of those US oil exporters can not be disclosed by the US government in advance, there may be up to six oil companies that are seeking (or have received) oil export licenses. It appears that the oil exported would be from the Bakken oil region of US, and would be shipped at first mostly by rail. It is not yet clear how significant the volume of the exports will be.

Already, even without any statistics as to how much oil will be shipped, or why, energy optimists say this event signals nothing less than a new energy era for the US - if not the actual death of the 'peak oil theory'.

While this does indicate the considerable development and maturity of the Bakken region, it also indicates that the amount of oil now produced in the Bakken region exceeds the current capacity to ship oil efficently out of that region - by pipeline, rail, barge, or even tanker truck. Northeast refiners, needing that oil as replacement for falling shipments of west African grades of oil (such as from Nigeria), are rapidly working to make all sorts of complex arrangements to extend and connect pipeline systems, establish new barge terminals in such places as Albany, NY, along the Delaware River, and the Raritan River in central New Jersey - and even set up trucking routes for some shipments. Yet the logistics still don't exist to ship all the Bakken oil cost effectively, making it more profitable to ship some of that oil to Canada.

But while Canada has a special place in US energy laws (along with Mexico), the oil licenses are only issued upon the expectation that the oil is exported is returned n some sort of direct or indirect 'swap'. That is, oil shipped to Canada is expected to be returned to the US as as oil product, especially gasoline (oil swapped for gasoline). The extreme Northeast portion of the US relies heavily upon gasoline imports from refiners in eastern Canada. In some cases, the Bakken oil to be sent to specific Canadian refiners will be directly returned to the US in the form of gasoline.

Thus this oil round about may not exactly be the new era that the energy optimists are hoping for.

Oil and gas industry uses deceptive energy independence message to push U.S. exports

U.S. crude oil exports may be inevitable: Kemp

Title 42 § 6212. Domestic use of energy supplies and related materials and equipment
(a) Export restrictions
The President may, by rule, under such terms and conditions as he determines to be appropriate and necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter, restrict exports of--
(1) coal, petroleum products, natural gas, or petrochemical feedstocks, and
(2) supplies of materials or equipment which he determines to be necessary (A) to maintain or further exploration, production, refining, or transportation of energy supplies, or (B) for the construction or maintenance of energy facilities within the United States.
(b) Exemptions
(1) The President shall exercise the authority provided for in subsection (a) of this section to promulgate a rule prohibiting the export of crude oil and natural gas produced in the United States, except that the President may, pursuant to paragraph (2), exempt from such prohibition such crude oil or natural gas exports which he determines to be consistent with the national interest and the purposes of this chapter.
(2) Exemptions from any rule prohibiting crude oil or natural gas exports shall be included in such rule or provided for in an amendment thereto and may be based on the purpose for export, class of seller or purchaser, country of destination, or any other reasonable classification or basis as the President determines to be appropriate and consistent with the national interest and the purposes of this chapter.
(c) Implementing restrictions
In order to implement any rule promulgated under subsection (a) of this section, the President may request and, if so, the Secretary of Commerce shall, pursuant to the procedures established by the Export Administration Act of 1979 [50 App.U.S.C.A. § 2401 et seq.] (but without regard to the phrase "and to reduce the serious inflationary impact of foreign demand" in section 3(2)(C) of such Act [50 App.U.S.C.A. § 2402(2)(C) ] ), impose such restrictions as specified in any rule under subsection (a) of this section on exports of coal, petroleum products, natural gas, or petrochemical feedstocks, and such supplies of materials and equipment.
(d) Restrictions and national interest
Any finding by the President pursuant to subsection (a) or (b) of this section and any action taken by the Secretary of Commerce pursuant thereto shall take into account the national interest as related to the need to leave uninterrupted or unimpaired--
(1) exchanges in similar quantity for convenience or increased efficiency of transportation with persons or the government of a foreign state,
(2) temporary exports for convenience or increased efficiency of transportation across parts of an adjacent foreign state which exports reenter the United States, and
(3) the historical trading relations of the United States with Canada and Mexico.

We've long kept ourselves supplied with all manner of goods out of proportion to our population by the tricks and tools of empire. How many people of resource rich nations live in poverty while their natural wealth is taken by the empire, with only a small percentage of the population benefiting - their privilege maintained by force. Now as the power of the imperial center wanes things get confused. Different factions compete for benefit, and the things that benefit them personally may not serve the old imperial core.

Where does this energy go to - who is getting it? Is it going to Asia to serve a new power? Or is it just the random actions of various factions that do not see a benefit to keeping the riches flowing to the old power center?

Regardless, when the old empire can no longer keep the "wealth pump", as Greer calls it, pointed back home, it is a sign of the crumbling of that system.

The Failure Of ‘Drill, Baby, Drill’: Wall Street Journal Reports ‘Oil Boom Providing Little Relief For Consumers’

U.S. oil production is on track to hit its highest level since 1993. What has that done to gas prices for consumers? Virtually nothing.

Yet again, analysts are pointing out the obvious: even with massive increases in domestic oil drilling, the impact on gasoline prices is minimal. That’s because oil is a global market and U.S. supplies — even with historic increases — still don’t make a major dent. The Wall Street Journal reports:


The Teabaggers are still going to be angry!

They've always blamed government for whatever they are railing on about. And environmentalists.

Captain Obvious strikes again!

Flippancy aside and without reading the article, what would the price of gas be without the new supplies?? So, perhaps in some measure, the Drill baby Drill crowd was merely misguided, no surprise there either ;-)

You mean bumper sticker policy prescriptions don't really work? You don't say.

You mean bumper sticker policy prescriptions don't really work?

Well then perhaps political billboards will do the trick, eh?

Just the other day on a 50 mile stretch of highway sitting in bumper to bumper traffic I counted a dozen of these...


talk about pandering to a captive audience!


Thanks for all your great information, but can you help me out on a little geography.

establish new barge terminals in such places as Albany, NY, along the Delaware River, and the Raritan River in central New Jersey -

To travel by barge from North Dakota to New York, is that via Lake Superior, the St Lawrence seaway, short sea voyage to New York and then up river to Albany? Or are there other canals from the Great lakes to up state NY, to avoid the sea voyage?

The Erie Canal runs from lake Erie at Buffalo to Albany. This would provide access to the Northeast from the Great Lakes. Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erie_Canal has more details.

"Wiki[pedia] has more details."

"Since the 1990s, the Canal system has been used primarily by recreational traffic, although a small but growing amount of cargo traffic still uses it."
"The Erie Canal is open to small craft and some larger vessels from May through November each year."
"There were some 42 commercial shipments on the canal in 2008, compared to 15 such shipments in 2007..."

I suspect some maintenance/upgrading would be needed to accommodate heavier traffic.

This explains the new barge terminal details in the Albany area:

Pumping up Albany's port
Transfer deal could mean more jobs, money, traffic
Times Union By Eric Anderson
Updated 7:22 a.m., Saturday, October 13, 2012


Stumpjumper / Charles,

Thanks for the geography lesson. I didn't think they would like taking barges into the open sea. I seem to remember it being mentioned before about CN railways carting Bakken crude to the east coast, but had no idea where they planned trans-ship it from. This fills in the details, thanks.

It looks like it is back to the future with barges and canals. The railways better be careful, if the barge companies start making greater use of the Great Lakes and the canal system again.

Maybe they won't need any (not much anyway) diesel to transport their crude in the near future, either!


An interesting opinion article in the New York Times this morning:

No More Industrial Revolutions?


Ah, it was picked already here. I noticed that the author was completely oblivious to the fact that England's step increase corresponded to increasing use of coal. Small amounts had always been used, but it was when they solved the ventilation problem that coal really took off. Similarly, the U.S. spike is all about oil.

The dramatic graph is the rate of growth, that is to say that the rate of growth per capita, which was constant for 500 years. Myriad incremental improvements added up to a doubling of the standard of living from 1300- 1700. Which is to say that the graph is the derivative, and the author has it returning to a small but positive value. So, we are on out merry way, set to double our standard of living again, just with a time constant of 500 years again.

Methinks that is a tad over-optimistic. What we used to call in the Army "smoking rope". I' suspect we're in for overshoot, and that derivative line going negative.

So now I guess we can add political turmoil as a contender against debt deflation and currency reform as top candidate for upsetting the social applecart.

Delhi Row Over Bus Lane Reveals Class Divide

A government initiative to reduce traffic chaos in the Indian capital, Delhi, by creating a special fast lane for bus users has run into a major controversy.

The city's first experimental Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor system allows bus users a smooth ride through traffic congestion, but it is facing legal challenge from a group which represents car users.

The petitioners say that private car owners are suffering because of the preferential treatment given to public transport.

"Car owners are the creators of wealth. Do you realise that they get exhausted sitting in their cars due to traffic jams and they reach office completely tired? It affects their efficiency. Do you want them to perform less?" asks the main petitioner BB Sharan.

He says those who travel in their own cars are the decision-makers, therefore, they should get a priority over buses. He believes that bus users can wait because they are engaged in less important jobs.

"You cannot keep a commander-in-chief waiting in traffic while his army is waiting for his orders. How does it matter if a peon reaches office five minute before time?" Mr Sharan asks.

... Experts say one of the main reasons for the exponential rise in private vehicles in the city is a lack of adequate public transport network and acute shortage of comfortable buses for its over 16 million people.

... 3 will get you 5 the cars win

... 3 will get you 5 the cars win

Sure. That's because the car owners are the ones with wealth and power. It is the job of the government to see to their needs. Otherwise, what is the point in having a government?

The most ridiculous part is that it's not even empirically true.

No genuine decision maker in India drives for himself. They all have drivers. Stuck in traffic?
Work from the car. No problem.

IMO the interpretation is incorrect. Class divisions exist but they have nothing to do with Indian society as such, it's the same class divisions that existed on Titanic when it went down.

An Illustrated Guide to the Science of Global Warming Impacts: How We Know Inaction Is the Gravest Threat Humanity Faces

In this post, I will summarize what the recent scientific literature says are the key impacts we face in the coming decades if we stay anywhere near our current emissions path. These include:

•Staggeringly high temperature rise, especially over land — some 10°F over much of the United States
•Permanent Dust Bowl conditions over the U.S. Southwest and many other regions around the globe that are heavily populated and/or heavily farmed.
•Sea level rise of some 1 foot by 2050, then 4 to 6 feet (or more) by 2100, rising some 6 to 12 inches (or more) each decade thereafter
•Massive species loss on land and sea — perhaps 50% or more of all biodiversity.
•Unexpected impacts — the fearsome “unknown unknowns”
•Much more extreme weather
•Food insecurity — the increasing difficulty of feeding 7 billion, then 8 billion, and then 9 billion people in a world with an ever-worsening climate.

Arctic Sea Ice in Free Fall

Comparing recent melt seasons with historical records spanning more than 1,400 years shows summer Arctic sea ice in free fall. Many scientists believe that the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free in the summertime within the next decade or two, and some say that this could occur as early as 2016. The last time the Arctic was completely free of ice may have been 125,000 years ago.

Recent Droughts Could Be New Normal, May Lead to Massive Tree Death, Study Suggests

"Using a comprehensive tree-ring data set from A.D. 1000 to 2007, we found that the U.S. has suffered several 'mega-droughts' in the last 1,000 years in the Southwest," said Grissino-Mayer. "But the most recent drought that began in the late 1990s lasted through the following decade and could become one of the worst, if not the worst, in history."

"Looking forward to 2050, our climate-forest stress model suggests we will see worse drought and increased tree mortality than we've seen in the past 1,000 years," Grissino-Mayer said. "This drought will be exacerbated by increasing temperatures globally, foreshadowing major changes in the structure and species composition of forests worldwide."

The atmosphere’s shift of state and the origin of extreme weather events

At 400ppm CO2, potential climate conditions have reached levels which last existed in the peak Pliocene epoch (5.3-2.6 million years ago). Given an increase in extreme weather events under conditions of +0.8C, an even higher rate of extreme events is expected under conditions of +2.0C currently shielded by industrially emitted sulphur aerosols.

It's that last bit that should really have people worried. In a sense we are already "geoengineering" by continuously emitting aerosols on a large scale, IIRC the largest anthro source being sulfur dioxide from burning coal.

If this is masking 2.0C or more of warming then we are well and truly farked. Aerosols precipitate out of the atmosphere fairly rapidly, on the scale of a few weeks, if that. Any major disruption in the global economy, such as an energy or economic crisis that shuts down industry for a time and we could quickly start to feel the full force of that masked warming.

In that scenario industrial agriculture could go out the window in a big hurry.


Exactly, and in case you haven't seen this:-


My takaway from that is Global Dimming is more responsable for weather change than Global Warming. If we have a ression in N.A. similar to Italy because the tea partiers take over and stop the flow of US federal money printing then we will have cleaner skies but no reduction in the amount of CO2(it's already there but the particals will fall out quickly). This will cause Global Warming to take off- maybe an amount similar to what was observed in 3 days of no fly 9-11.
Damned if we damned if we don't. I get doomier by the day.

Great links, thanks! I recall seeing something very similar on PBS Nova a while back, in fact it may have been the same documentary or close to it, although I did notice several references in the voice over to "we" being in the context of Europe.

The effect of the dimming on monsoon rains is especially troubling. Pollution from N. America and Europe may have been the cause of the rains not moving north as normal, which in turn eventually triggered the African famines of the 80's.

A direct link between conspicuous western standards of living and millions of dead humans.


Most of the aerosols involved in the dimming originate in Asia. The more developed nations have reduced particulate pollution -which isn't so hard to do. Its the rapidly developing ones that tolerate dirty coal, and biomass burning. Also with atmospheric lifetimes of a week or two, not that great a percentage makes it across the Pacific.

Video Loss of Muli-year Arctic Sea Ice, 1987 - Present

Last 5 years are amazing

also Study: Tropical cyclones are occurring more frequently than before

Are there more tropical cyclones now than in the past? – or is it just something we believe because we now hear more about them through media coverage and are better able detect them with satellites? New research from the Niels Bohr Institute clearly shows that there is an increasing tendency for cyclones when the climate is warmer, as it has been in recent years. The results are published in the scientific journal PNAS.

... "We have calculated that extreme hurricane surges like Katrina are twice as likely in warm years than in cold years. So when the global climate becomes 3 degrees warmer in the future, as predictions show, what happens then?,"

and September 2012 Tied For The Warmest Ever Recorded

and Global warming brings southern Ohio trees to northern areas

For the first time, two tree species more commonly found in warmer southern Ohio are being planted in a northern county's park.

Citing global warming, Virginia pine and river birch trees are going into the Tallmadge Meadows Area of the Munroe Falls Metro Park, along with native Ohio species, said Michael Johnson, chief of natural resources for Metro Parks.

A reason to plant them now is those trees are likely to do well and some native plant species that would ordinarily be planted might not do as well in the future, he said.

The plantings are considered "assisted migration" since the park district is giving a helping hand to species that are likely to move here in the future anyway.

Yeah but most of us responsible will be dead by then.

Climate change is a very difficult problem in that respect. We humans don't really care about about our progeny. Yeah, like to think that we do but we really don't. We don't want to see them harmed but that is more for us not them. We don't want to see them harmed in front of us in the here & now. 50 years in the future? . . . not my problem.

We've got masters of rationalization and denial cooking up all sorts of excuses and arguments as to why we should ignore it. Most people buy into them so we do nothing.

As I've often said, I think that the only way we will change our actions is if we are hit hard with a strong dose of effects undoubtedly due to climate change. Even that might not work.

"We humans don't really care about about our progeny."

I think that statement is highly tainted with unacknowledged cultural blinders. You should try to be a little more specific about which humans you are able to make these statements about.

Re: Arctic Sea Ice in Free Fall

The graph shown above appears to overstate the melt. Late summer sea-ice is not what was reported by Kinnard et al in NATURE. HERE's a link to another commentary, showing one of Kinnard's graphs, which is said to represent total sea-ice extent, not that at the end of the melt season. That graph indicates considerably less melt. I am left to wonder where the data for the graph in the post came from...

E. Swanson

The graph in question only goes to 2008 in their paper. And, a look at the supplementary data section of the Kinnard et al article in Nature shows that they used 40-year smoothed data. The smoothed data for 2007 is 7.692 Km2 while the actual observed data was 5.179 Km2. For 2008 the smoothed data was 7.690 Km2 while the observation was 5.731 Km2.

As for the graph shown in the post above, it looks like someone took the Kinnard graph and added on the observations for 2009 - 2012. Not quite kosher as they are mixing 40-year smoothed data with raw observation data. Also, I can't tell for sure but they may be mixing Kinnard's August minimums with the annual minimums for the past 4 years. Those annual minimums occurred in September and were a million or more Km2 below the August minimums.

Whatever the case, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) reported that Arctic Sea Ice Extent reached a minimum below 2.8 Km2 this year. That is still a stunning drop in sea ice extent over the last several years.

4 new myths of the auto world

One more time, just so it sinks in:

Myth No. 2: The world is running out of oil.

For years, it has been assumed that oil is a finite resource that the world would soon exhaust. One prevalent theory was "peak oil." At some point, global oil production would hit a high point and then decline, causing grave shortfalls. Pessimistic predictions had that either the peak had already occurred or that it would occur shortly.

In fact, a new report by The Royal Institute of International Affairs in the U.K., informally known as Chatham House, finds that the threat of oil running out is no longer imminent, and the concept of peak oil increasingly looks like a bad idea. The world is faced not with a finite amount of oil but merely needs to accelerate the speed at which surprisingly large resources of oil can be converted into proven reserves for potential production. (Thanks to the web site The Truth About Cars for alerting me to this report).

From the same article:

we keep finding more oil that we can extract.

That is true in a way the writer never imagined.

Gleeful cornucopians exult over the newly-found billions of barrels in formations such as the Bakken, assuming some fanciful recovery factor like 50% (or equating OOIP with recoverable reserves), when in sober reality a good recovery factor might be 5%, and it might take thirty years to extract most of that 5%.

"For years, it has been assumed that oil is a finite resource that the world would soon exhaust."

The only debatable word in there is "soon". And even that word is just definitional . . . if by "soon" you mean 200 years then it is accurate.

"The world is faced not with a finite amount of oil but . . . "

Where do they ever disprove finite? I just don't get it. Why do people use bad arguments when there are good ones? Just argue that peak oil is not happening in the near term. Even if assume that absolutely the entire planet Earth is made up of hydrocarbons, it is still finite.

My tea party father the baby boomer starts talking about how supposedly Russian scientists discovered abiotic oil and that it's the EPA that's keeping it under wraps. 15 years ago, my father was generally a conservationist concerned about the plight of the natural world. Now he just parrots crazy Glenn Beck talking points. In a way it's very sad because I used to respect him greatly. Many boomers that I know are going through this transition, it's like they're going mad and all concepts of science and math are cast aside. He's also convinced if Obama wins there is going to be unrest in the streets, and has taken steps to protect himself against this. Sigh.

So much of the hardcore base of the GOP runs on conspiracy theories now that I find it it scary. I have to try to console myself with the fact that there has always been a conspiracy theory base with Birchers and McCarthyism. So maybe I'm wrong . . . but it seems to be expanding. I can rattle off half-a-dozen conspiracy theories that are believed by much of the base. Examples: Obama was born in Kenya, Saddam did have stockpiles of WMDs, Akin's magical rape contraception, climate change denial, Obama is a secret Muslim, biological evolution is false, abiotic oil, "unskewed" polls, the recent unemployment numbers were faked, etc.

I don't know how we can resolve political issues if basic facts cannot be agreed upon.

You need to take away his TV. How many hours per day is he watching FoxNews?

Funny you should mention. He and my mom watch foxnews 24/7. Literally, if they're home and awake...foxnews is on. They even leave it on when they leave the house because supposedly it keeps the dog company. I'm not kidding. My wife and I used to be foxnews watchers back in the 2008 election cycle. Now I don't have cable and when I do see it, usually at the gym in the morning, it's like watching baudville. It's just horrible. I'm not sure if it's gotten worse or if I've just changed that much. I can't believe I would have ever been able to stomach that much BS.

It's funny to listen to my mother parrot the talking points about energy because she's already so energy stupid she couldn't tell olive oil from motor oil.

Luckily they live 600 miles from me and I only talk to them on Sunday nights. I've learned to avoid all political and energy-related discussions.

There is hope though. Now my dad is an reader of zerohedge. You can't like both zerohedge and foxnews, so I'm hoping he'll come to see the light in time.

Better stay way from that dog......

You might convince your dad to read this analysis from David Stockman:

Mitt Romney: The Great Deformer

E. Swanson

If you pick some random time, and click through the cable news channels, the others are probably doing the latest celebrity gossip, and FauxNews, at least superficially looks like its discussing something serious. So its easy to get suckered into it, because the others are just a combo of celebrity and the latest crime story....

What is even worse is the fact that just about all U.S. commercial media is, at minimum, center right. Some of the PBS/NPR program is centrist, maybe on a good day. I can't even stand the false balance for five minutes.

The Overton window has been pulled so far to the right so fast that any chance of a soft landing is gone. I know we're here to talk about resource depletion, but cultural depletion can be just as violent.

Another victim of the MSM!

Wow, this sounds exactly like my father. He used to be a science teacher(!) and taught me a lot about the natural world, now all science is bunk to him, and all living things are just resources put there for people to utilize...sad transformation.

No matter WHO wins there will be unrest in the streets! That is a given...
Since the PTB are doing nothing significant to stop the Wars or Auto Addiction, to seriously conserve energy it is inevitable the economy will hit the brick wall of Limits to Growth.

And consequent protests as the 99% demands their share and fights Austerity from both Corporatist parties...

In the south especially oil field areas there are plenty of older democrats that believe in abiotic oil and that oil prices are just being manipulated by greedy oil companies.

There is actually a long lasting oilfield legend about thousands of plugged wells in the Gulf of Mexico that were simply plugged from the 1970's to the 1990's just to keep prices up. There is no monopoly on conspiracy theories, nut jobs and political party affiliation. JFK anyone!

The authors of all these types of reports fail to ask/answer a simple question. If there is plenty of oil and no need to worry about a peak, then why is the price so high and rising?

Where is the bang head on wall smiley when you need it?

Know your talking points: "The price of oil is so high because Obama is preventing oil drilling on federal lands, off-shore, and (especially) Arctic Alaska."

Alternately: "The price of oil is so high because Big Oil creates artificial scarcity so they can fleece the little guys."

Hah, I had to laugh at that, you nailed it.
I am a regular commenter on online stories in my local paper, but I just completely avoid the energy stories- its hopeless.
At least with the climate change stories you still get some input from the reality-based community, but energy? There is no subject the average American is as ill-informed about.

I guess I can now disregard that Chatham House paper Seraph posted a long time back...

Burning Oil to Keep Cool: The Hidden Energy Crisis in Saudi Arabia

Koch Industries Warns 45,000 Employees Of ‘Consequences’ If They Don’t Vote For Republicans

The Koch brothers’ $60 million pledge to defeat President Obama — along with their political network’s $400 million spending — make them two of the most influential conservatives this election.

Not content with their unprecedented influence in politics, the Kochs have also taken to influencing the votes of their employees. According to In These Times, Koch Industries sent 45,000 mailers to employees at Koch subsidiary Georgia Pacific, urging votes for Romney and other conservative candidates. The letter warns ominously of “consequences” for the workers if Republicans lose.

Note that Koch is against the Picken's plan and his recent gas initiatives. They largely funded the blockage of that plan despite broad sponsorship, as he tells it. Apparently they know their competition, on both side of the party fence.

Frackademia: Controversial SUNY Buffalo Shale Institute’s Reputation Unraveling

... Public funding has been cut to the tune of over $1.4 billion over the past five years in the State University of New York (SUNY) public university system under the watch of current Democratic Party governor and 2016 presidential hopeful Andrew Cuomo and his predecessor, David Paterson.

These cuts have created new opportunities for the shale gas industry to fill a funding vacuum, with the SUNY system’s coffers hollowed out and starved for cash.

The oil industry’s eagerness to fill the void for its personal gain can be seen through the case study of what we at DeSmog have coined the ongoing “Shill Gas” study scandal at the State University at Buffalo (SUNY Buffalo).

The original Aug. 23 letter penned by the 83 professors raised the key question cutting to the heart of this saga, ... : “Will cash-strapped public universities, eager to curry favor with potential corporate funders who may stand to gain from certain research, surrender their historic independence in return for possible corporate financial support?”

What historic independence? That went away circa 1980, along with the rest of the legacy of the years of greatness. Profs must attract grants to have grad students for research and to support the department, and many if not most have to spend a lot of effort on grant requests. Of course much comes from the gov't, but it does not take much cash to curry favor with schools, nor is it necessarily a bad thing.

Schools are definitely much more profit driven for intellectual property, and that is a bad thing for the schools and society in general, or so it seems to me.

Who funds anything if they have nothing to gain?

Regardless, none of this says there is really anything wrong with shale gas per se, other than the obvious effects of global warming, occasional industrial accidents, pipeline issues, casing leaks, and so forth. The choice is simple: accept the hazards and enjoy cheap energy, or don't accept them and pay what others charge. Adding hyperbole about possible unknown hazards and hidden agendas makes the situation more colorful, but really doesn't change the equation much. Industrial disease is already endemic and the symptoms are pretty obvious.

The important question, is are the profs doing honest research, or simply serving as paid shills? Part of the vast right wing conspiracy has been to force more and more institutions to become dependent on corps, thus gradually forcing them to toe the corporate line. That, rather than the piddling amount of money saved, is why they cut funding for PBS -you can get corporate sponsors. Soon producers are compromised, as they got to watch what they say or certain corporate sponsors may go away. We've universities lose autonomy, as corporate funded professorships get to veto the decision as to who to hire for the post.

Profs not only need grants to support their research and attract grad students, they now need outside grants to cover their salaries. My son was admitted to a PhD program at a major state university, with support guaranteed for three years, but with a requirement that he find grants on his own to support his last two years. Funding is very tight now, and he is leaving the program. His directing professor has to find outside funding for her position to keep her job, and may not be able to. It looks like we are moving to a system where people will get the best education that corporations can buy. It makes you wonder where that tuition money that students have to take out big loans to cover is going?

Corporate funding is still pretty minor. Most grant proposals are still written with an eye to appealing to the major Federal funding agencies, which are mainly part of the military industrial complex, the medical research complex, the EPA, USDA, etc. It's not clear why one would think that these are objective organizations.

Senator Bernie Sanders: To Battle Global Warming, We Must Pick Clean Energy As A ‘Winner’

... Let me give you just a few examples of outrageously strong federal support for Big Energy companies:

•BP, after committing one of the worst environmental disasters in the modern history of America, was able to take a large tax deduction on the money it spent cleaning up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

•Coal companies are able to sign single-bid sweetheart leases to mine on federal lands without paying fair value in royalties to the taxpayers of this country.

•In 2009, Exxon-Mobil, one of the most profitable corporations in this country, paid no federal income taxes, and in fact received a rebate from the IRS. Many other large and very profitable oil companies also have managed to avoid paying federal income taxes in certain years.

Speculawyer, do you count Sanders or McKibben in your comment about 'Human Beings' above?

The bathwater is a toxic brew, but there are live babies still sloshing around in it. Be discriminating..


Are you really going to drill near there?


From above: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/technology/2012/10/sea-level-rising-toward-w...

Last year, someone on TOD posted an interactive model (fun to play)displaying the static sea rise around the world. One can choose the sea level rise and see the effect on a considered region. To start flooding Washington the sea has to rise less than 3 meters. Considering the dynamics (wind, waves, rain, etc) the coastal cities will be flooded with less rise than this static model (just topology, flat sea) predicts.


The map shows a connecting path for sea water to flood the lawn of the White House with a rise of 9 m. A dam or lock could be placed across the Potomac River to restrain the rising sea.

Rivers take in water from upstream. Does not this plan involve having to pump water from the low end of the river UP to the sea? Building sea walls to protect against sea level rise is very difficult when there is a river crossing your shore line.

True. You can protect against transient high water events, like storm surges, which is what the Thames barrier is designed for. Much of the damage from sea level rise won't be from the rise of the average level, but from the combo of average rise plus storm surge. Eventually when SLR reaches a few meters, if you still got low infrastructure this will also be a problem.

Hence, all those windmills in Holland. And you don't need a river running through it: rainfall in excess of evaporation and/or seepage through the ground under the sea wall will do it. Areas sitting lower than sea level tend to be a long distance from the world ocean, and more or less arid.

"Areas sitting lower than sea level tend to be a long distance from the world ocean, and more or less arid."

Maybe we should flood 'em, lower overall sea level ;-/ Beach front property in Death Valley and save DC from the big flood. What could go wrong?

There have been proposals for more than a century to flood the Qattara Depression in the Sahara. Flooding the Qattara Depression discusses the generation of electricity and even an increase in oil production as a benefit of such flooding.

Yes, you are correct. That river is at sea level as it passes through Washington DC causing its height to be altered by the tides. It will be dikes on the banks or relocate the capitol. Another possibility is another dam and reservoir upriver combined with a gate down river to hold back the tide and storm surges.

Nah, just lines of sandbanks since it is just a once-off and prayer meetings to show how they should be spared the calamity because they are all so good. /sarc


Well isn't much of Washington sinking? Thus, it is going down as the seas are coming up. Just a matter of time.

Of course people can do many things to slow it down.

Here's How Manufacturers Manipulate You Into Buying New Appliances

Planned obsolescence takes a wide variety of forms. Huma Kamis, of the Swiss-French Consumer Federation (FRC), says, "For the past eight years I have been doing comparative tests. It is indisputable that the obsolescence is programmed in. Metallic parts in cell phones have been replaced by plastic, so they are more fragile. Changing the connector for the charger is another kind of obsolescence. Often for no reason, the manufacturer will change them, just to force consumers to buy new ones. The iPhone 5’s new Lightning connector is one example, but many other manufacturers also make accessories that are incompatible from one model to the next. It is really regrettable." The FRC hopes to make consumers more aware of the problem in 2013.

The most extreme form of planned obsolescence is for the manufacturer to program a precise life expectancy into its machines. "You will find a lot of testimonials on the internet that seem too real not to be true," says Toni Conde, a multimedia and communications expert who teaches at the EPFL Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. “Some manufacturers of memory cards for cameras or telephones limit the number of possible photos or videos. Past a certain quota, the card becomes unusable. This is true of printers too. Some are programmed to stop working after a certain number of print jobs."

I think most alleged planned obsolescence is not really planned obsolescence, it is just bad design being replaced by newer/better design. There certainly is some planned obsolescence though. But it is not always a bad thing. If it wasn't for planned obsolescence, none of us would exist. (I guess natural obsolescence is the better term.)

If it is a product whose technology is still developing quickly, such as a cell phone or computer, its probably not such a big deal, as you will want better features/battery life/ whatever before the sucker wears out. Too bad we didn't build in a hard time limit for refrigerators and A/C, these tend to be kept running far beyond the point where scrapping them and buying a new model with much much lower energy consumption actually saves resources.
For something like a computer or a cell phone, being engineered to last a decade, would actually reduce the lifecycle benefit to cost ratio.

Metal/plastic, which is better? Depends on what and where, there are many times that the correct plastic can be better than the metal. Also metal is not always the material of choice near radio transmitters/receivers such as are found in phones. Phone manufactures are moving to a common standard of the micro USB to avoid charger issues, except for Apple that is. Flash memory has a limited number of write/erase cycles before data starts being lost. There are wear levelling algorithms that extend the life by avoiding overusing some areas but they do still wear out.


Military design cycles can be 15 years: By the time the system is designed and fielded, it is filled with obsolete parts because the technology advances so quickly. COTS tries to address this by using Commercial Off The Shelf pieces in military designs. These are mostly computing and data communication means.


"Flash memory has a limited number of write/erase cycles before data starts being lost."
At least you don't have the physical wear of magnetic tapes and floppy discs, or the wear (on drives and bearings) and tear (crashes) associated with rapidly spinning hard discs.

I remember reading a study about the most reliable way to store information in case of a catastrophe or for the long term in general. Guess what, nothing beats paper or even better than that stone or metal engravings.

Well, 100% rag content, acid free paper, anyway. Parchment has a pretty good shelf-life, as well, although it is kind of awkward for printing.

This is a silly old canard that masks a host of real issues people would rather not think about. Perhaps the problem is that people want products with fantastic levels of technology and complexity for peanuts? Maybe the idea that things last forever is a refusal to recognize that everything is transient, including ourselves, our societies and cultures, and certainly the objects we use throughout our lives. Moreover, we buy our cheap junk made by essentially slave labor on the other side of the world and then get bored with it and throw it out. How many of you have actually worn out a computer, as opposed to eventually abandoning it for a newer one? The quality is low because we won't pay for better, we won't lift a finger (and lack the skills) to repair it, and we want some new shiny thing the marketers tells us we need.

How about something simple and robust from ages past, like an axe? The handle wears out, the edge gets dull, it needs maintenance. Name me one thing that does not fail.

What was it Greer said? "Efficiency is the opposite of resiliency?" I think much of what we view as 'planned obsolescence' is a byproduct of attempts to increase efficiency, both in manufacturing and operation. Increased upfront efficiency results in shorter lifespan, lower life cycle efficiency? No point in building longevity/repairability into systems that will be obsolete/replaced soon. What happens when the cost of replacement, economically and resourcefully, become prohibitive? Are people who 'hoard' old, functioning technology really on to something?

Yes, and efficiency is merely optimizing for one particular set of variables, which necessarily implies that other variables are not optimized. Designing a product is a process of balancing a lot of often competing constraints - you make trade offs, something that idiot managers sometimes don't understand, asking instead to have everything optimized. For example, if you want it to be cheap and shipped from the other side of the world, then perhaps weight becomes something to be optimized out and you use thinner, lighter materials. But we don't like this compromise concept, nor do we want to be bothered to understand the technology we are dependent on.

Of course, some designs are just inferior, so don't buy that one - but then most have no concept at all of how the thing functions, and so are left to buy based on other things, such as brand image. And in a world with less extra resources, perhaps one should consider if buying one at all makes sense.

An example of planned obsolescence given in the story is of a printer with a counter designed in which disables it after 18,000 pages. This doesn't sound like a reasonable optimization, even with the rationalization that the pad to catch excess ink is used up by that time.

We actually have a product which allows for the "optimum" design, minimizing several things together -and satisfying various constraints, to be choosen semi-automatically. There actually is science and engineering -and highly trained professionals that can do this.

There actually is science and engineering -and highly trained professionals that can do this.

Thanks for informing me of this - designing products is what I've been doing for 25 years. You can optimize for more than one thing sometimes, but you cannot optimize for everything. If you think you have, then you've failed to understand the choices you made.

True. The odds are when you optimize for a combo of things, then neither one is optimised (i.e. the biggest possible), because you compromised metric one in order to adjust metric two.

I think that statement may cause more harm than good. There often is only a small amount of efficiency to be paid for a lot of resiliency. But if you take the statement too literally, you'll simply choose the least efficient product, simply because you think it will last longer and be more cost efficient.

Life does not fail. It's at about 3.8 billion years going on Earth and hasn't failed yet. Sure it's changed and adapted over time, but fail? Nope. Never failed. As I understand it, there is an unbroken line of descent from the first living organism to every living organism today.

Other than that, yeah, everything else fails. I suppose our planet hasn't failed yet, but it will eventually be cooked by the Sun. But that's billions of years off yet, so we're good.

The power of entropy is strong indeed.

Yes, but context is important and that's not relevant to the discussion. Individual objects and living things all fail eventually - that other objects are created and that other creatures live doesn't change that at all.

Global Oil Production Set to Skyrocket

Folks, don't get too excited over this article. The source of this dramatic information is the Leonardo Maugeri Harvard Review Study that has petroleum liquids surging to 110.6 barrels per day by 2020. So it is just repeating old news that has been completely discredited.

If you are at all concerned about the effect of the consumption of fossil fuels on climate change, brace yourself. It is inevitably going to grow dramatically, and soon. By 2020 – just eight years, according to a little-noticed research paper for the UK-based energy company BP by Harvard University’s Leonardo Maugeri, the world will be producing 49 million more barrels per day of crude and natural gas liquids than it is today.

A little-noticed research paper? That paper has been touted by every cornucopian in the blogosphere or the mainstream media. Everyone has noticed it.

But I think this is just great. A very stupid and little researched paper came out and was waved about by cornucopians like Chamberlain waved his "peace in our time" agreement from the Munich conference. However I think it will be quite obvious, within the next two or three years that the paper is garbage. Then it will be us peak oilers who can point to a failed prediction by the peak oil deniers.

Here is a link to that Famous Research Paper just in case no one here has seen it. Also Jean Laherrere has a special thread out today on The Oil Drum further discrediting the Maugeri nonsense.
Jean Maugeri part II Posted by Luis de Sousa

Ron P.

EDITORIAL - Rethinking water and the NWC

Then there are deeper issues surrounding the NWC. In its 2010-11 financial year, the commission reported after-tax losses of $3.8 billion. Its accumulated deficit was more than $15 billion. Its long-term debt was more than $10 billion. The bottom line: The NWC relies on a taxpayer bailout for solvency and is heading to bankruptcy

Part of the problem is that 70 per cent of the water produced by the NWC is not paid for; some is stolen, but a huge portion goes to waste in old, leaky transmission systems that it cannot afford to repair, or fix fast enough.

The company's efficiencies are compounded by the social politics of water. At the equivalent of J$60 per 220 gallons of water, the product is severely underpriced. Consumers have no incentive to conserve, and Government is afraid to put the price close to its economic cost.

What at first seems off topic is less so when the above editorial is juxtaposed with an April 11, 2011 story from the other major daily newspaper in Jamaica, emphasis mine:

Water theft by rich and poor Jamaicans crippling NWC

A February 2011 document prepared by the company and obtained by the Observer, which outlines the perilous financial situation facing the entity states, "approximately 30 per cent of the water produced is stolen or not paid for".

This 30 per cent equals almost $400 million per year, according to the NWC, and while it absorbs the costs of this high level of delinquency, it also pays more than $300 million per month to the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPSCo) for electricity to pump water to its customers, plus millions more to overseas-based suppliers of chlorine used to treat the water.

So for most Jamaicans, the issue of water is actually an energy issue since energy is required to make water available. One of the ironies of the editorial is that while the editors see the advantages of developing micro catchments and storage facilities for water (rainwater harvesting), they have steadfastly opposed the idea of any such scheme for electricity (solar PV), on the basis of it being too expensive. Does anybody else see the parallel between water supply systems and electricity supply systems?

Alan from the islands

US manufacturing increasing with Less jobs and Automation:


America manufacturing has not been decreasing – it has been increasing. Far from “losing” manufacturing, the U.S. has seen a steady rise for decades- even after the financial crisis of 2008. No other country comes close save for China, which is now slightly ahead. But consider that China has 20% of humanity, and the U.S. has 5%. Not bad for 5%, not bad at all. Note also the position of India, which is often mentioned along with China as a manufacturing powerhouse. No way – and there are profound historical reasons for that given that India was wealthier than China in the late 1940s when both supposedly achieved “independence.” Finally, note that Japan once came close to the U.S. in manufacturing prowess, but then it took a nose dive which some attribute to actions taken by the U.S.

Jobs decreasing due to automation:

Now let’s consider jobs in domestic manufacturing. They increased in the 1960s and remained roughly constant even as total manufacturing increased – until about 2000. Then jobs took a dive even as manufacturing continued to increase right up until the economic crisis of 2008. These data cannot be explained by offshoring. There is only one explanation – automation. This is not to say that “offshoring” has not occurred – only that it cannot explain these data.

We need to stop wasting $1 Trillion per year on Wars, Auto Addiction, the 30% wasted on the private healthcare denial insurance bureaucracy.

And then REDUCE the work week, LOWER the retirement age to spread the remaining work around...

Freight Rail increases will probably eliminate 1 million long distance truck driving jobs...

work less, tend your garden, play music, paint, dance, chat with neighbors and enjoy life more...

We need to stop wasting $1 Trillion per year on Wars, Auto Addiction, the 30% wasted on the private healthcare denial insurance bureaucracy.

And then REDUCE the work week, LOWER the retirement age to spread the remaining work around...

Most pensions are broke, Social Security costs are rising, and Medicare costs are spiraling out of control. How exactly do you propose to pay for even earlier retirement?

This should be interesting:

Cuba to end exit permits for foreign travel

Something of a demographic experiment in times of increasing resource constraints; go forth and consume? ...or perhaps Cubans can offer folks abroad some suggestions on getting by with much less...

Mystery kidney disease decimates Central America sugarcane workers

As reported last month by the Center for Public Integrity, the country’s health ministry and World Health Organization announced in June that a years-long study had identified chemicals thought to be an essential cause of the disease: cadmium and arsenic. Both are heavy metals found in fertilizers and pesticides that can cause an array of health effects, including the type of kidney damage ravaging communities in Sri Lanka and Nicaragua.

Some researchers believe sugar may also be a cause (since the workers suck on sugar cane while they work).

“We believe high amounts of sugar solutions may not cause much kidney damage,” said Dr. Richard Johnson, head of the division of renal disease and hypertension at the University of Colorado, Denver. “But under certain circumstances, such as dehydration, we’re concerned the sugar may actually be toxic in causing damage to the kidneys.”

Eating lots of carbs, sugar may raise risk of cognitive impairment, study finds

People 70 and older who eat food high in carbohydrates have nearly four times the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, and the danger also rises with a diet heavy in sugar, Mayo Clinic researchers have found. Those who consume a lot of protein and fat relative to carbohydrates are less likely to become cognitively impaired, the study found. The findings are published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

In Another Blow For "Green Industry" A123 Files For Bankruptcy After Collecting Hundreds Of Millions In Government Grants


More: Car battery maker A123 files for bankruptcy:

A123 Systems said it has reached an agreement to sell its automotive business assets to Johnson Controls (JCI, Fortune 500) Inc., an auto parts company. In the deal, Johnson Controls will acquire its technology and products, customer contracts, factories in Livonia and Romulus, Michigan, and also a joint venture stake in a Shanghai battery company.

Johnson Controls, "an auto parts company"... jeez. JC is much more than an auto parts company. They are one of the majors in lead-acid battery manufacturing:

Today, Johnson Controls is the largest producer of private-label lead-acid automotive batteries in North America, and is spreading its leadership to Asia and South America. Johnson Controls manufactures automotive batteries under the Optima, Varta, LTH and Heliar brands, as well as many private-labeled brands. The company also makes batteries for emergency power back-up and telecommunication applications.

They are also one of the major HVAC control manufacturers and have joint ventures involving hybrid vehicles. Most of their acquisitions do quite well.


2009: Was awarded $299.5 million in federal grants to manufacture batteries and other components for electric vehicles in Michigan

“AOne sold the majority of its products at a gross loss, meaning it cost AOne more to make the product than it could sell it for,” said Andrea James, a senior research analyst who followed the A123 for Dougherty & Co. LLC in Minneapolis.. “It does no good to be an industry leader in a money losing business.


You can bulk buy LIFE Batteries at .90/Ah direct from CALB, China Aviation Lithium Battery - Owned by the Cn Gov. This is 1/2 the Life cycle cost of Sealed lead Acid (LA). I've replaced all LA Batteries in all my work equipment, motocycles, tractors, etc and will never look back. I hope this disposable Lead Acid Battery nightmare is over sooner than Later. American manufactures better wake up.

You can bulk buy LIFE Batteries at .90/Ah direct from CALB, China Aviation Lithium Battery

Where do you buy them?

Better fuel economy: Billions and billions saved

... Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the U-M Transportation Research Institute collected fuel data on 61 million new cars, pickup trucks, minivans and SUVs sold in the U.S. since 2007—about a quarter of all light vehicles, both new and used, on U.S. roads today.

Using a recent estimate of the average annual distance driven in the U.S. (about 13,000 miles every year), the researchers found that new vehicles in the last five years saved about 6.1 billion gallons of fuel—equivalent to the current total consumption of all vehicles in the U.S. for about 13 days. [2/(5*52)= 0.8% savings]

A reduction of 80,000 b/d over the last 5 years.

Who Bought Your Politician?

... we’re re-introducing a web-based embeddable widget — for anybody to use — that lists the top 10 donors and their contributions to any member of the House and Senate, their opponents, and the presidential candidates. Wired updated the widget in conjunction with Maplight, the Berkeley, California-based nonprofit dedicated to following money and politics.

“Corporate influence in politics has gone off the charts, and it’s more important than ever for voters to understand who is financing candidates,” said Evan Hansen, editor in chief of Wired.com. “Maplight has done the hard work of compiling the data. At Wired, we’re happy to help get that information out to the wider public, and share it as broadly as possible with this web-based embeddable widget.”

The widget is free to steal and comes with a Creative Commons license. The widget displays a shadow outline of the politician adorned with NASCAR-style logos of some of the top donors giving that candidate money.

A good electrician can Retro a T12 48" Troffer for Under a $100 with T8's or even T5's, but you have to pay someone to recycle tubes every couple of years. CREE has the a 12" x 48" Light Engine, Model CR24 that could be a game changer in the long run, CRI is > 90. I have a couple on order to demo for a special application and will do a post when they come in.
Retro-Fit demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dc-ly0Obyvc

I saw these at an "energy fair" here last Friday. This is what I think the future of lighting fixtures will be. An integrated light and fixture. By the time the lamp fails it may well be that the state of the art has advanced so much that it's worth replacing the whole fixture rather than just the lamp. Of course it could also be that by the time the lamp fails, all that will be available to replace it are candles. Can you say Olduvai Gorge!

Alan from the islands

I find it ironic to view all the documentaries about collapses of past empires that expound on faulty collective decision-making without a trace of reference to our present day actions. I look forward to having my irony meter maxed out when the documentaries declare the obvious and begin dissecting our current empires. But then, I have a pretty strange sense of humor.

I have a pretty strange sense of humor too. In my case I'm looking forward to climate change getting so out of hand those in denial are driven to the point of begging their deity on bended knee for forgiveness or at least weather more conducive to growing crops. When shtf I want to write in big letters on a freeway billboard somewhere, "Still think GW is a hoax?! Is it funny ha ha, or funny boo hoo?"

Their deity will probably tell them to sacrifice the nice gentleman who is vexing them with his Schadenfreude. ;-)

I think that may indeed be true. For many devices, the driver chips will burn out before the LEDs.

Considering the importance of Ohio... Will energy boom swing the election?

(CNN) -- No Republican has won the White House without Ohio.

Ohio has already been 'taken care of' ...

Will Ohio’s H.I.G.-Owned E-Voting Machines Give Romney the White House?

... Hart Intercivic, on whose machines the key votes will be cast in Hamilton County, which includes Cincinnati, was taken over last year by H.I.G. Capital. Prominent partners and directors on the H.I.G. board hail from Bain Company or Bain Capital, both connected to Mitt Romney. H.I.G. employees have contributed at least $338,000 to Romney’s campaign. H.I.G. Directors John P. Bolduk and Douglas Berman are major Romney fundraisers, as is former Bain and H.I.G. manager Brian Shortsleeve.

In Cincinnati and elsewhere around the state, the e-voting machines are owned by Hart Intercivic. Hart’s machines are infamous for mechanical failures, “glitches,” counting errors and other timely problems ... As in 2004, Ohio’s governor is now a Republican. This time it’s the very right-wing Gov. John Kasich, himself a multi-millionaire courtesy of a stint at Lehman Brothers selling state bonds, and the largesse of Rupert Murdoch, on whose Fox Network Kasich served as a late night bloviator.

Murdoch wrote Gov. Kasich a game-changing $1 million check just prior to his winning the statehouse, an electoral victory shrouded in electronic intrigue. The exit polls in that election indicated that his opponent, incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland, had actually won the popular vote.

I f Rommney can get within 5% in Ohio, I'm sure it can be arranged.
After all, this is virtual, with no reasonable accounting.
Who is to know?
Speculation on my part, but a reasoned speculation.
Over 5%, it would bring on suspicion that may have feedback's.

I think words "Let Detroit go bankrupt" may have lost Ohio for Mitt. A lot of auto suppliers in Ohio.

GM Is Getting Into The Electric Car Game With A Luxury Cadillac

Basically the Cadillac Volt platform, and also built at the Hamtramck plant. Hope they do better with this model than they did with the Cimarron.

The entry points into the electric car market seem to be either the high-end sports/luxury segment or the tiny subcompacts.

This is a good move. It is much easier to hide the cost of the expensive battery in a luxury vehicle. Although it has not sold as well as they would have liked, the Volt is the biggest selling plug-in car on the market. It sells more than the Leaf, Mitsubish-i, and Teslas COMBINED. The PHEV design seems to be the entry path for plug-in vehicles. They just need to get the costs down a bit and wait as gasoline prices go up over time.

Physical Internet Would Increase Profits, Reduce Carbon Emissions, Study Finds

... Currently, the transportation industry – with an economic value of trillions of dollars annually – is mostly a segmented enterprise with roughly three-fourths of manufacturers or retailers transporting their own goods without integrating or combining logistics with other carriers, manufacturers or retailers.

According to U.S. Department of Transportation statistics, average truck-trailer loads are less than 60 percent full, and at least one out of every five – and possibly one out of four – trips is made with an empty trailer. This means that overall efficiency rates are no greater than 50 percent.

This problem has a significant impact on the U.S. economy and the environment. In 2007, road-based freight carriers consumed nearly 30 billion gallons of fuel, and from 1990 to 2008, carbon dioxide emissions associated with road-based freight carriers increased by nearly 15 percent, up to 517 trillion grams per year.

As a potential solution, the Physical Internet Project proposes an efficient system in which global supply-chain logistics are enabled by an open, intermodal (transportation by land, rail, ship or barge) system that uses standard, modular and re-usable containers, real-time identification and coordinated routing through shared logistics facilities. In other words, all supply-chain stakeholders – manufacturers, transportation providers and retailers – act independently to use a shared logistics network that increases the size of trailer loads and reduces or eliminates miles traveled by empty trailers.


Units and cases and pallets and truckloads. But the internet doesn't have to do routing, aggregation, disagregation, routing etc. It just routes the IP packets without caring about the structure of the data content in the IP packet or about whether a packet is part of a TCP PDU.

Scant mention of rail in this report -- but that is to be expected, given a number of the sponsors of the research.

I had the same thought for traffic networks years ago. Random Early Discard would nicely solve traffic congestion for sure.

A truck driver I know once made a 200 Km trip (thats single way) with a truck to pick up one (1) crate. Once there he found out no less than six medium level bosses had taken the order, sending one truck each. Those 5 went home empty. Calculate the fuel expense for that job...

I don't sign for deliveries off of semis very often, but when I do it seems that we are getting 1 or 2 pallets off of a 53' trailer that has no more than 2 or 3 other pallets on it. I don't know if they make the big deliveries before coming to us, but it does look to be a bit inefficient.

Help Wanted: Energy Efficiency Is Creating Domestic Jobs

... ACEEE has just released a series of six profiles of real world experiences in energy efficiency job creation. These profiles describe programs, policies, investments, partnerships, and business models that have catalyzed regional increases in employment. While previous ACEEE work has provided an analytic framework for how jobs are created through efficiency, this paper focuses on the jobs themselves.

Non-Disclosure of Geographic Earnings Can Be a Marker of Income-Shifting Activities

... Starting in 1998 it was no longer mandatory for U.S. multinational companies to disclose geographic earnings in their financial reports—disclosure was optional under the Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 131 (SFAS 131). The study shows that between 1998 and 2004, firms that chose not to disclose geographic earnings had worldwide effective tax rates that were 4.1 (5.2) percentage points lower than firms that continued to disclose geographic earnings (controlling for numerous other factors that are known to affect tax avoidance).


Before implementation of SFAS 131—when all firms were required to disclose geographic earnings in their financial reports—eventual non-disclosers' effective tax rates were on par with those that continued to disclose these numbers voluntarily.

Paper: Tax Avoidance and Geographic Earnings Disclosure

Pitt engineers to design affordable CO2 thickener to augment oil extraction

Crude oil extraction could be improved significantly and accessible domestic oil reserves could be expanded with an economical CO2 thickener being developed by University of Pittsburgh engineers, thanks to a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Current oil-extraction methods across the United States involve oil being "pushed" from underground layers of porous sandstone or limestone reservoirs using a first-water-then-CO2 method known as the water-alternating-gas method. CO2—which is obtained from natural CO2 reservoirs and pipelined to oil reservoirs—is an ideal candidate for oil extraction given its ability to push and dissolve oil from underground layers of porous rock. However, its viscosity (or thickness) is too low to efficiently extract oil. As such, it tends to "finger" through the oil rather than sweep oil forward toward the production well. This process, "viscous fingering," results in oil production companies recovering only a small fraction of the oil that's in a field.

"An affordable CO2 thickener would represent a transformational advance in enhanced oil recovery," said Enick. "More than 90 percent of CO2 injection projects in the U.S. employ the WAG method to hinder the fingering of the CO2. However, if a thickener could be identified that could increase the viscosity of the CO2 to a value comparable to that of the oil in the underground layers of rock, then the fingering would be inhibited, the need to inject water would be eliminated, and more oil would be recovered more quickly using less CO2."

One of the basic issues that has been debated here a lot is the question of how to get the message of peak oil out to the masses (and thence the decision makers). I have learned some fascinating stuff about the natural tendency of people to discount things that are far away in time and/or place. But there doesn't seem to be much consensus on what to do about it.

I recently watched the Discover channel plane crash special. One of the people involved was a lady who studies the science of how to present warning messages to passengers. Her primary message was that scaring people does not work. What people need are clear step by step instructions on what to do. That is the data from survivor reports.

It seems to me that this information could apply to the peak oil message. Unfortunately I have no clear step by step instructions even for myself, much less the masses. If anyone does I would be fascinated to hear it.

Reduce or eliminate your consumption of petroleum products. Drive slower, hypermile, plan shopping more efficiently, shop less frequently, get a more fuel efficient vehicle, move closer to where you work, carpool, ride a bicycle and/or walk. If you are heating your house with propane or especially fuel oil, then switch to something else. Insulate your house better.

Be prepared for the just-in-time delivery system to be interrupted or for shortages of certain items to occur. Have extras of things that you will need. Store food.

Plant a garden and use a compose pile. Learn how to preserve the food you grow.

'Just in time delivery'!!!! I have learned that the big stores swamp out at this time of year, Halloween and Christmas hot on each other's heels (I am already fed up with Christmas having been hammered by it since August and I mean the beginning of the month). Normal stock control goes out of the window as shelves fill up with trash. This is the time I stock up with months of supplies in kitty litter and cat food to keep the fur heads in food and used food disposal as the shelves empty to be replaced with 'bears in logs' and life size tin soldiers - YUCK!


The "steps" have been known for decades. Even a cursory glance at the last 40 years of literature reveals universal recognition of the necessary measures to counteract our global ecological overshoot, of which resource depletion in general, and peak oil specifically, are just one aspect.

  • Reduce consumption
  • Reduce population
  • Reduce pollution
  • Conserve resources
  • Conserve biological diversity
  • Conserve forests, fisheries, top soil, natural capital, etc.

We've all heard it before, and I'm sure you have too. Have you or anyone else listened? No, of course not. For anyone to do so would be to admit that they are not only NOT part of the solution, they are in fact the problem.

Your observation that people don't like to be "scared" is not even close to the full magnitude of our predicament. People flat out don't want to hear it. None of it. Not now, not ever. Even the hypocritical "greens" only pretend to be worried for about as long as it takes to hop in their car and drive to the mall for a smoothie.

Worse is yet to come, so realistically, how long can it be before the only "steps" people will want to hear is who they can blame for their misfortune and where is the nearest light pole to hang them from.


It's been good being part of the problem. I plan to enjoy it to the last drop. And then... Well, I haven't thought that far ahead, but a new plan with no doubt materialize. ;)

Norway says oil output may miss 2012 target