Drumbeat: October 19, 2012

An economy awash in oil: Forget the doomsayers. Cheap abundant fossil fuels will drive our future.

Marion King Hubbert’s famous theory of “peak oil” has gained a great deal of traction in the scientific literature of various fields. Want to read up on peak oil and urban planning? Check. Peak oil and tourism? No problem, you’re not the first. Peak oil and public health? Where to even begin? There have been articles on the peak oil phenomenon in publications such as the International Journal of Child Rights; Behaviour and Social Issues; and Physica: Statistical Mechanics and Its Applications.

Curiously, however, there is one field whose literature is a tad light on serious discussions of peak oil: economics.

There is a simple explanation for that. Hubbert’s theory has economic implications, but no economic content per se. In his famous 1956 paper, Hubbert, a Shell geologist who joked about growing up in “the only part of Texas where there isn’t any oil,” argued that a non-renewable resource in any particular region tends to be exhausted according to a predictable bell-shaped curve. There is an exponential ramp-up, reaching a rounded peak, like a roller coaster, and then a symmetrical, equally rapid drop-off to zero. Prices didn’t appear anywhere in Hubbert’s equations. Their logic was supposed to work regardless of changing incentives or human innovations.

Challenges of estimating global oil supplies

There's been a great deal of debate over the last few years about how long it will be until global oil supplies run out. Are we approaching, or have we already passed, 'peak oil' – the point beyond which economically viable oil supplies begin to decline?

Whether we like it or not, our modern world stands on foundations of cheap oil, so the debate affects us all.

The article refers to this paper, behind a paywall.

Saudi Arabia reveals plans to be powered entirely by renewable energy

Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil producer, has plans to become 100% powered by renewable and low-carbon forms of energy, according to an influential member of the royal family.

But the process is likely to take decades, and some observers are sceptical as to whether it is any more than window-dressing.

Private sector investment to lead on UAE energy development

Development of alternative energy resources will be driven by private sector investment, said the head of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), the intergovernmental body headquartered in Abu Dhabi.

Oil Heads for Weekly Gain as TransCanada Shuts Keystone

Oil headed for a second weekly gain in New York after TransCanada Corp. shut its Keystone pipeline for repairs, disrupting crude supplies to the U.S. Midwest.

Futures rose as much as 0.2 percent, extending the longest run in more than a decade of daily price moves of less than 25 cents. Crude pared a decline of as much as 1.6 percent yesterday after TransCanada shut the 590,000 barrel-a-day link for three days, saying it found a “small anomaly” in a section running from Missouri to Illinois. Improving U.S. fuel demand is being met by rising local supplies, a government report this week showed. The latest U.S. growth data were mixed.

Natural gas industry ‘still hurting’ despite price bounce

Canadian natural gas prices have more than doubled to $3 per million British thermal units since they hit a decade low of $1.43 in April, but nobody is in a mad rush to open the taps just yet. Impressive as these gains seem, a recovery that would truly lift the industry’s fortunes remains distant.

“Gas players are still hurting,” says Martin King, an analyst at First Energy Capital, adding that producers won’t be rushing back into production until they are certain prices are higher, and can hold.

UK gas prices rise on cold weather forecast

LONDON (Reuters) - British gas prices rose on Friday as colder weather forecasts for next week lifted demand for gas-fired heating while the summer gas contract hit highs not seen since February.

Gas for Monday delivery rose 0.90 pence to 64.9 pence a therm at 1000 GMT as heating demand jumped on the back of colder weather forecasts, traders said.

U.S. Winter Seen Harsher Than Last Year, Boosting Demand

The coming U.S. winter will probably be cooler than a year ago, boosting demand for heating fuels such as natural gas, a panel of forecasters said. While December will be warmer than normal, temperatures will drop through February, increasing natural gas use by 13 percent over the same period from last year, Commodity Weather Group LLC President Matt Rogers said during a panel discussion at Earth Networks Inc.’s seventh annual energy weather seminar in New York yesterday.

U.S. winter likely to continue hot weather trend

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - After a hot spring and a scorching summer, this winter is likely to continue a U.S. warming trend that could make 2012 the hottest year since modern record-keeping began, U.S. weather experts said Thursday. Drought that ravaged much of the United States this year may spread in the coming months, said Mike Halpert at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center.

Japan's JX to buy 60,000 tonnes LNG in spot market

(Reuters) - JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp said on Friday it would buy 60,000 tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) on the spot market, aiming to expand sales in a domestic market shifting away from costlier and more polluting oil.

This would be the second attempt by JX Nippon Oil, Japan's top refiner, to buy LNG via a spot contract. Its first purchase was earlier this year, moving into a market dominated by power and gas utilities.

Power Hogs Targeted by France in Big Brother Legislation

Heating a French home could soon require an income tax consultation or even a visit to the doctor under legislation to force conservation in the nation’s $46 billion household energy market.

A bill adopted by the lower house this month would set prices that homes pay based on wages, age and climate. Utilities Electricite de France SA and GDF Suez SA will use the data to reward consumers who cut power and natural gas usage and penalize those whom regulators decide are wasteful.

“It’s Orwellian,” opposition lawmaker Daniel Fasquelle said by telephone. “The law will create huge inequalities and infringe on people’s individual freedoms. It won’t work.”

Cameron Backs Away From Making Energy Companies Reduce Bills

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron backed away from his pledge yesterday to force gas and electricity suppliers to charge customers the lowest possible prices, after warnings the move might kill competition.

Gazprom and Ukraine in lucrative and difficult tango

KIEV, Ukraine — Gazprom’s foreign customers are asserting themselves more boldly in their dealings with the giant Russian energy company. French, German, Slovakian and Turkish companies have renegotiated their contracts for natural gas; the European Union has launched an antitrust investigation; Lithuania recently filed a $1.9 billion legal claim against Gazprom over alleged price gouging.

But no country is more bound up in Gazprom’s increasingly troubled fortunes than Ukraine. And no country has had as little success in dealing with Gazprom.Ukraine has simply been too important to Russian energy policy — and to the flow of money that policy supports.

Rosneft to Replace Gazprom as Energy Driver on TNK Deal

OAO Rosneft’s proposed acquisition of TNK-BP will accelerate the state oil company’s eclipse of OAO Gazprom as the dominant force in Russia’s energy industry.

President Vladimir Putin used Gazprom, the world’s biggest natural gas producer, to assert Russia’s energy power over the past decade, winning pipeline deals and controlling former Soviet allies. With the U.S. shale-gas boom and domestic competition, Gazprom is losing ground as Rosneft, run by Putin’s ally Igor Sechin, tightens its grip on the country’s oil output.

Russia Police Detain TNK-BP Manager for $6 Million Fraud Attempt

A manager at OAO TNK-BP Holding, Russia’s third-biggest oil producer, was arrested on suspicion of seeking $6 million in a fraudulent scheme to sell state jobs.

The TNK-BP official was detained Oct. 4 while taking an advance payment of more than 3 million rubles ($97,400) from two businessmen, according to the Interior Ministry. The man, the head of a government relations department, had promised to secure jobs in the presidential administration and the office of the envoy to the Central Administrative District, the ministry said today in on its website, without giving his name.

JPMorgan Energy-Trading Unit Admits Errors in FERC Filing

JPMorgan Chase & Co. apologized yesterday for what it said were inadvertent mistakes by its energy-trading unit as it sought to continue operating a business that reported $2.2 billion in transaction revenue last year.

No crude oil trading via commodity exchanges in Russia soon: official

Moscow (Platts) - The energy ministry does not expect crude oil trading via exchange to be launched soon, deputy energy minister Pavel Fedorov said Friday.

"In the long term the ministry definitely supports creating a regulated crude oil trading exchange in Russia, but the whole process ought to be gradual," he told reporters at the sidelines of an event in the St. Petersburg International Mercantile Exchange, or SPIMEX.

Chinese minister to start talks with Philippines over disputed island

Vice-Foreign Minister Fu Ying will arrive in Manila today for talks on the territorial dispute over Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, amid rising tension between Beijing and Tokyo over another dispute in the East China Sea.

The high-level dialogue between Beijing and Manila over the shoal - known in China as Huangyan Island - comes after Beijing expressed its intention to ease tensions. Philippine President Benigno Aquino said he had high hopes China's new leaders, who would take over next month, would improve bilateral ties.

How safe is our man in Beijing?

We’re hearing there may have been a little more to that Sept.18 incident in Beijing when Chinese protesters, angered by a recent Japanese move on a bitterly disputed island in the East China Sea (think huge oil and gas reserves) were demonstrating at the U.S. embassy.

At one point, protesters surrounded and jostled a car carrying U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke and briefly prevented him from entering the embassy.

U.S. Says It Will ‘Ratchet Up’ Sanctions Pressure on Iran

The U.S. will “ratchet up the pressure” on Iran to address international concerns about that country’s nuclear program, the Treasury Department’s top counterterrorism official said.

“We have things that we can do to continue to intensify the sanctions,” David Cohen, the U.S. Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in an interview with Peter Cook on Bloomberg Television’s “Capitol Gains” show. “We will continue to ratchet up the pressure to make clear to the Iranians that their only real choice here is to address the concerns about their nuclear program.”

Iran Oil Tankers Said by Zanzibar to Be Signaling Wrong Flag

Iranian oil tankers are mistakenly signaling their flag state as Tanzania-Zanzibar and no such registration took place, according to a government official from the east African territory.

The 14 ships, previously registered in the Pacific island of Tuvalu, transmitted data from Sept. 24 to Oct. 13 to show they changed their names and were flying the Tanzania-Zanzibar flag, according to data compiled by a unit of Englewood, Colorado-based IHS Inc. The company maintains a global shipping database for the United Nations’ maritime agency.

Iran's shipping woes delay crude deliveries to China - trade

BEIJING/SEOUL (Reuters) - Iranian crude volumes received by China have been below contracted levels since September, because Iran's tanker fleet, the sole transporter of its crude to China, has been struggling to meet delivery schedules, trade sources said on Friday. Iran, grappling with tough Western sanctions targeting its energy and petrochemical sectors, has delayed loading of some shipments for September, October and November to China, its largest oil customer and top trading partner.

Gazprom hikes gas exports to Turkey after Iran pipeline blast

Moscow (Platts) - Russia's Gazprom has increased exports to Turkey by 50% to 48 million cubic meters/day following an explosion late Thursday on the Iran-Turkey gas pipeline, the second in as many weeks, that halted supplies from the Islamic Republic.

BP bolsters Azeri staff over critique

BP is putting extra personnel into its Azeri operations after a stinging rebuke from the country’s president over the UK supermajor’s drop in production.

Petrobras in cost cuts of 'up to $15bn'

Brazilian state oil company Petrobras plans to cut between $5 billion and $15 billion from its operational and sales costs in 2013, according to a report.

Gas slump hits Baker; Schlumberger flexes global muscle

(Reuters) - Steady growth in drilling activity outside North America gave a big lift to Schlumberger Ltd , the world's largest oil services company, but the U.S. natural gas slump weighed even more than expected on rival Baker Hughes Inc.

Shah field operator builds up steam

Al Hosn Gas, which is developing one of Abu Dhabi's most challenging gasfields, wants to bring its expertise to other sour-gas developments.

The company, a joint venture between Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) and Occidental Petroleum operating the Shah gasfield, could deploy its expertise in handling toxic sulphur as the emirate opens up similar fields, said Saif Al Ghafli, the chief executive. Adnoc opened tenders for the Bab and offshore Hail gasfields earlier this year.

Polish Shale Chatter: Oil Majors Dig In

Two oil majors with shale gas concessions in Poland — ConocoPhillips and Chevron — are taking actions which industry watchers are interpreting as a commitment to the sector in the central European country, in sharp contrast to ExxonMobil, which has pulled the plug on its Poland shale plans earlier this year.

Exxon’s Biggest Canada Deal Signals Shale Rush

Exxon Mobil Corp.’s largest-ever Canadian acquisition is fueling speculation that domestic companies with assets in Alberta’s shale-gas fields will become takeover targets.

Santos starts commercial production at Australia's first shale gas well

Sydney (Platts) - Commercial production has started from Australia's first shale gas well, operator Santos said Friday.

Anadarko's New Fracking Methods Will Reward Investors

It is never easy to convince communities and authorities that fracking methods many drilling companies use are entirely safe. Of course, these methods are not 100% safe, but most companies vote to use the best practices when it comes to fracking and drilling so that there is minimal contamination of water, air and soil. Chris Castilian, manager of government and community affairs for Anadarko, recently spoke about why companies must reveal in detail how fracking is done, what sort of chemicals are used in fracking fluids, and what their environmental consequences are.

Drilling Payments Cause a Dispute in Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA — Four Pennsylvania townships are challenging a state regulator’s decision to withhold their share of proceeds from a statewide levy on drilling by the booming natural gas industry there.

EPA’s Water Tests in Wyoming Town Flawed, Oil Group Says

Testing methods used by the Environmental Protection Agency in a Wyoming town where residents blame hydraulic fracturing for water contamination are flawed, and an updated analysis doesn’t show drilling tainted the aquifer, an industry group said.

TransCanada Keystone Pipeline Shut After Finding 'Anomaly'

CALGARY - TransCanada Corp. has shut down its Keystone oil pipeline after it detected a "small anomaly" on the outside of the pipe.

Company spokesman Grady Semmens says the line, which delivers oilsands crude to refineries in Illinois and a storage hub in Oklahoma, has been shut as a precaution.

BP: Source of Gulf oil sheen came from equipment, not sealed well that caused massive spill

NEW ORLEANS — A sheen on the Gulf of Mexico likely came from oil seeping out of a piece of discarded equipment that failed to contain BP PLC’s massive 2010 oil spill, the company and the Coast Guard said Thursday.

A statement from BP said a three-day inspection confirmed that its Macondo well, which blew out and led to the nation’s worst offshore oil spill, isn’t leaking. A relief well that intercepted the blown-out well and sealed it isn’t leaking, either, BP said.

Fire breaks out in Pemex gas pipeline in western Mexico

(Reuters) - A fire has broken out at a liquefied petroleum gas pipeline of Mexican state oil monopoly Pemex in western Mexico, the company said on Friday.

UAE's Etihad Rail just the ticket for a Pan-Arabian express train

A fast passenger rail network reaching from Muscat to Amman is an achievable vision for the Gulf states according to the head of rail for the global construction giant, Bechtel.

Aging Pipeline Poses Threat to Great Lakes, Report Says

A report released on Thursday by the National Wildlife Federation questions the safety of a network of oil pipelines operated by Enbridge that run through the Great Lakes region.

The group contends that Enbridge’s pipelines in the area are especially susceptible to spills because of their age and the company’s recent history of accidents — creating a situation the environmental group said could be disastrous for the fragile ecosystems in Lake Michigan.

Year of the electric car blows a fuse

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- This year was supposed to be the year of the plug-in car but, as 2012 draws to a close, it looks like the electric car market still isn't fully charged.

By the end of 2012, most major automakers will have a plug-in car of some type on the market, but plug-in cars still make up just one tenth of one percent of all cars sold in America. So have automakers gotten ahead of themselves and produced too many?

Toyota Prius Dominates California as State’s No. 1 Model

Toyota Motor Corp.’s Prius hybrid passed Honda Motor Co.’s Civic and Accord to become the best- selling vehicle line this year in California as higher gasoline prices drove up demand for fuel-efficient cars.

For Hybrid Drivers, a Gas Pump Allergy?

The surprising finding, however, was that drivers of the Volt, a hybrid that runs on electricity or conventional fuel, suffer from “gas anxiety,” or a fear of having to visit a filling station. Volt drivers even end up charging more often than drivers of the Leaf, which runs only on electric battery power.

According to the findings, a typical Leaf driver plugs in one to 1.1 times a day, whereas the average Volt driver plugs in about 1.5 times a day.

Volt drivers also plug in when away from home 21 percent of the time, as opposed to Leaf drivers, who charge away from home only 11 percent of the time.

“We never anticipated that a 40-mile-electric-range plug-in hybrid would charge more than a 100 percent electric car,” Mr. Read said. “You have that gas engine that you’re paying an extra premium for for a reason.”

Ford's amazing little engine

Ford's internal-combustion EcoBoost engine is 20% more efficient than its predecessors. The company has sold more than 350,000 of them since 2009, and an even thriftier version is due next year.

Is Obesity a Heavy Drag on Fuel Economy?

According to an infographic created by the insurer Allstate and Cars.com to explain the relation between fuel economy and obesity, "the growing trend of American obesity adds unexpected weight to vehicles, making it difficult for consumers to realize fuel efficiency gains." Indeed, studies suggest that America's obesity epidemic is having a significant impact on gas consumption and fuel economy in more ways than one.

A New Model: Cycle Hire, for Hire

Municipal bike sharing has rolled into dozens of American cities, from Washington to Oklahoma City to San Francisco. Now a Massachusetts start-up called Zagster aims to take the idea of bicycles on demand and deliver it to university and corporate campuses, apartment complexes, hotels and resorts.

On Thursday, the company, formerly called CityRyde, announced a $1 million round of investment that will allow it to expand nationally. In essence, Zagster’s idea is to make access to bikes a coveted building amenity and corporate perk, right up there with pools, gyms, and cafeterias — at a relatively low cost.

Will the Government Write a Blank Cheque for Nuclear Construction?

The government's plans for new nuclear power stations are on the rocks, and it would require desperate measures to save them. Some evidence of the desperation emerged when John Hayes, the recently appointed minister for energy said, in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, that he is 'mulling over' the possibility of underwriting plans for building new nuclear power stations. He appeared to be referring to the last remaining 'live' proposal by EDF's for a 3.2 GW nuclear power plant at Hinkley C in Somerset. Mr Hayes would be well advised not to sip from the poisoned chalice (underwriting) he has been presented by nuclear supporters via the Daily Telegraph.

EU wheat rises as traders say Ukraine to stop exports

PARIS (Reuters) - European wheat futures rose on Friday to a one-week high after traders said Ukraine would ban wheat exports from mid-November, taking one of the world's leading suppliers out of the market for the rest of the season.

Clean air and water, but at what price?

Everyone wants clean air and water. But people also want to drive their cars whenever they wish and light up a room by flipping a switch. It’s a never-ending balancing act for government as it tries to protect health and the environment while promoting economic growth and jobs.

Why the Wildfires Still Rage

Officials have also struggled to curb the use of all-terrain vehicles in the backcountry during fire season. Like the sparks from the Union Pacific welding equipment, the mufflers of four-wheelers have been known to ignite passing brush. And yet many outdoor enthusiasts refuse to keep them in the garage for a few months every summer. Most states require A.T.V.’s to be equipped with what are known as “spark arresters,” but enforcement is minimal, and clearly, fires are still being ignited. Residents across the country are often asked to reduce water usage during periods of hot weather — why can’t we do the same with A.T.V.’s?

Tesco Stumbles With Wal-Mart as China Shoppers Buy Local

Tesco Plc this week is trying to lure Chinese shoppers with promotions on soy sauce, cooking oil and apples. Emily Zhang still won’t do much of her shopping there.

The 30-year-old Shanghai resident buys most of her produce at an informal market close to home where daily supplies are fresh, the location convenient and friendly vendors throw in the occasional cooking tip.

A call for responsible capitalism

The challenges for business are not simply environmental, but also about the need for an overriding commitment to responsible capitalism. It is clear that unless we sustain business as a force for good in society we will lose the glue that binds people with the wealth creating bedrock on which society depends.

All businesses are increasingly judged not just on how much money they make, but how they make money; business behaviours and business performance are increasingly inseparable.

A Rogue Climate Experiment Outrages Scientists

A California businessman chartered a fishing boat in July, loaded it with 100 tons of iron dust and cruised through Pacific waters off western Canada, spewing his cargo into the sea in an ecological experiment that has outraged scientists and government officials.

US businessman defends controversial geoengineering experiment

The American businessman who dumped around 100 tonnes of iron sulphate into the Pacific Ocean has become a lone defender of his project, after a storm of criticism from indigenous peoples, the Canadian government and a UN biodiversity meeting in India.

Scenes of 'Dust Bowl Days' Return As Oklahoma Storm Causes Highway Pileup

Dramatic video footage and eye witness accounts from Oklahoma on Thursday tell the story of a scene right out of the Depression-era 'Dust Bowl days' as a massive wind-swept cloud of 'reddish-brown' dirt made invisibility impossible on a stretch of Interstate-35 between Oklahoma City and Kansas City, Mo.

East Africa: African Farmers Turn to Climate Coping Strategies

Research conducted in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda by the the CGIAR Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR) Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) found that farmers have taken up strategies aimed at improving crop production.

CGIAR researchers conducted a survey of 700 households in the four countries in 2010-2011 and found that 55 per cent of the households had taken up at least one crop that had a shorter growing cycle.

Fifty-six per cent grew at least one drought-tolerant variety that could survive periods of heat and water scarcity. Some households had also picked up agroforestry, intercropping and crop rotation practices.

Too late to stop global warming by cutting emissions, say experts

London (ANI): Governments and institutions should focus on developing adaption policies to address and mitigate against the negative impact of global warming rather than putting emphasis on carbon trading and capping greenhouse-gas emissions, researchers say.

"At present, governments' attempts to limit greenhouse-gas emissions through carbon cap-and-trade schemes and to promote renewable and sustainable energy sources are probably too late to arrest the inevitable trend of global warming," Johannesburg-based Wits University geoscientist Dr Jasper Knight and Dr Stephan Harrison from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom wrote.

Scientists decry insurer's extreme weather claims

Insurance companies have long been sending letters out warning of the growing likelihood of extreme weather, storms and resulting natural disasters.

German insurance company Allianz for example writes to potential clients to explain the advantages of its "offers which reduce the risks associated with climate change."

But one Munich-based insurer has gone one step too far, infuriating climate change scientists by claiming to have found the first proof of a link between man-made climate change and an increase in extreme weather in the USA.

Tropical Collapse in Early Triassic Caused by Lethal Heat: Extreme Temperatures Blamed for 'Dead Zone'

ScienceDaily — Scientists have discovered why the 'broken world' following the worst extinction of all time lasted so long -- it was simply too hot to survive.

The end-Permian mass extinction, which occurred around 250 million years ago in the pre-dinosaur era, wiped out nearly all the world's species. Typically, a mass extinction is followed by a 'dead zone' during which new species are not seen for tens of thousands of years. In this case, the dead zone, during the Early Triassic period which followed, lasted for a perplexingly long period: five million years.

A study jointly led by the University of Leeds and China University of Geosciences (Wuhan), in collaboration with the University of Erlangen-Nurnburg (Germany), shows the cause of this lengthy devastation was a temperature rise to lethal levels in the tropics: around 50-60°C on land, and 40°C at the sea-surface.

Kind of mean to put such an article at the top ! :) :/

In 1999 the Econimist said we were "Drowning in Oil". They predicted that the price of oil would fall to $5.00 a barrel. And if we really were drowning in oil, then the price of oil would really have fallen to $5.00 a barrel. And if we were really "awash in oil" as the article states then oil would fall, not to $5.00 a barrel but at least to $50.00 a barrel.

I just checked and Brent stands at this moment at just under $114 a barrel. Quite obviously the article is dead wrong, we are not awash in oil.

"Drowning in oil" - March 6, 1999"Our energy correspondent couldn’t go anywhere without people reminding him of our poorly timed 'Drowning in oil".

But low prices will gradually put most such areas out of business—especially if cash-strapped Gulf states conclude that the best way to increase revenues is to boost production, which could drive prices from today's $10 to as little as $5 (see article). The world will then again depend on a few Middle Eastern countries for half its oil, up from a quarter now.

For those who would like to read these articles of the past, the links in red work.

Ron P.

Based on most recent annual EIA data for global crude oil production (C+C):

From 2002 to 2005, for every $10 increase in annual global (Brent) crude oil prices, global crude oil production increased by 2,200,000 bpd.

From 2005 to 2011, for every $10 increase in annual global (Brent) crude oil prices, global crude oil production increased by 50,000 bpd.

So, from 2005 to 2011 the production response per $10 per barrel increase in oil prices was 1/44th of what we saw from 2002 to 2005. (It looks like 2012 will average over 75 mbpd).

I for one hope the price DOES collapse. Anything under USD$75 -$80 per barrel and suddenly all those hundreds of billions of barrels of unconventional asphalt and frack-tastic shale plays becomes painfully uneconomic to extract.

Bully I say! Leave those gigatons of carbon in the ground where it belongs.


Better be careful what you wish for, Jerry. The only way the price goes down that far, is if there's no-one willing and able to pay more.

The only scenarios where that happens in the next few years are pretty apocalyptic. Nuclear war? Total crash of the banking system in Europe and North America? The US and Russian/Ukranian droughts persist for five years, meanwhile spreading to South America, China and India and getting worse? That might do it.

The world community has clearly demonstrated its inability to take those actions necessary to actually deal with excessive carbon production in any meaningful way. Even if one takes a totally anthropormorphic approach to the problem, concerns about short term economic impacts ignores the impacts of things like drowth and excessive heat on future generations. This might explain the attitude that welcomes a worldwide depression. However, it is likely that even a semi permanent depression would not be adequate to adequate address future greenhouse gas impacts.

On the other hand, a coming depression may come regardless of what we do. It seems axiomatic to me that current increased oil extraction today is hardly a solution to scarcity tomorrow. Scarcity will come. It is just a matter of when.

But we are "awash" in oil. Yippee!!

Well, anyway, it is ironic and dishonest for politicians like Romney to argue that what we need is lower gas prices which implies lower oil prices which would lead to less production. Romney would like people to think that there is no connection between higher oil and gas prices and the increases in production of oil that we have seen in the U.S. in the last few years. One thing the Economist got right was that lower prices would wreck those regions that are currently producing oil.

In any event, we cannot have an honest debate at the national level about the role of prices and global demand versus the simplistic notion that we just let the oil companies drilling all the time everywhere regardless of the environmental consequences.

Of course there is also the view that the higher the gas prices the better as that will encourage a less carbon intensive economy. Discussion of this possibility is absolutely verboten in any of the Presidential debates. Both sides are whistling past the coming Armageddon.

The real stupid meme we have is that oil companies "produce" oil using our lands and waters, whether it be federal or non federal. We don't even hear the obvious fact that extraction, especially rapid increases in extraction, will just hasten the coming of the day where there is not sufficient extraction available to power our energy inefficient economy. Obama made an attempt in the last debate to point our that we need alternatives for the future but this will be too little, too late.

I admit that I use the term "production" too, but I recognize that this just buys into the idea that oil resources are unlimited. It is like increasing my spending on a fixed income giving me the illusion that I am better off thereby. Fine if I don't live long enough to pay the piper.

The flat earth society has many loyal followers...

If you make assumption our world is the center of universe planets movements get very weird and hard to explain.

Earth is not only the center of the Universe, but it's also only 6,000 years old and has a creamy nugat center of abiotic perpetually self-replenishing oil. It was put there by the anthropomorphic Creator-God who Intelligently Designed (white Republican) men to rule over the earth and all species upon it, as well as ruling over women and the "servant" races:

"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." (Genesis 1:28)

"But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." (I Corinthians 11:3)

"For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man." (I Corinthians 11:8-9)

"Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ." (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)

"Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them." (1 Timothy 6:1-2 NLT)

Where do Mormons fit in?

Um, Utah?

You didn't give a biblical reference for that "creamy nugat center".

"I will silence their shouts of joy and gladness and the happy sounds of wedding feasts. They will have no oil for their lamps, and there will be no more grain." (Jeremiah 25:10 GNT)

"The ten young women woke up and trimmed their lamps. Then the foolish ones said to the wise ones, ‘Let us have some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’
‘No, indeed,’ the wise ones answered, ‘there is not enough for you and for us. Go to the store and buy some for yourselves.’" (Matthew 25 7-9 GNT)

And this post was not from The Onion. That is the sad, depressing, and terrifying reality. Stuck on stupid.

Mean? Maybe you're being silly, I can't tell.

How much more salient could an article be to what this site is about?

"Hubbert preferred the lower figure—which, if it had been accurate, would have seen the last teacup of oil solemnly drawn from the last working American oil well in the year 1987."


As the saying goes ..'He's not even wrong'. Send out the clowns- Please. But here, it's at least appropriate to Name them and Spotlight them to accomplish that..

These folks tend to run from the light of truth, much like the cockroaches in my college-era apartment.

Edit: I'm sorry, did I say "light of truth?" Better to say "enlightenment."

"Hubbert preferred the lower figure—which, if it had been accurate, would have seen the last teacup of oil solemnly drawn from the last working American oil well in the year 1987."

If US oil imports hadn't ramped up big time post 1970, that may not have been too far off reality...

Today, about 13% of global oil production gets funnelled through the US oil trade deficit.

Edit: if you pull out the graph of US oil production from Jean's piece the other day about Maugeri:


You see that the curve is not symmetrical. This is because the US imported so much oil post-peak to supply its internal consumption. Now imagine what that curve would have done if all that consumption from imports had instead been supplied by domestic production -- then the curve would have dropped off much more steeply. Probably so steeply that it would be skewed the other direction. But this would have been tempered with rising oil prices earlier on than what we actually experienced. It is only the reserve status of the dollar which has enabled oil prices to remain relatively low up until the 2000's, which helped to conserve the domestic US oil reserves.

Regardless, he is trotting out hyperbolic extremes.. ie strawmen, that are really not part of what Hubbert or PO is there to express.

It's just another in a string of 'So there' statements.. based on liberally skewed interpretations.


By mean I meant "saddening to be told that such message is yet again being spread" (and with quite a push in recent months or weeks in fact)
So yes being silly somehow :)
(and agree that it is perfectly in line with the drumbeat press review concept of course)

The Verhulst-Logistic function (Hubbert's bell curve) can be arranged to include an 'effort function' that describes how hard we try to extract the resource. To satisfy the equation only requires that this is a linear factor; i.e.. we respond 'rationally' by trying harder as oil becomes scarce. This can be interpreted as a price signal.

The author of this article repeats the meme that peak theories 'ignore' economics, but this is only because it is so easy to make price signals implicit in the math. The introduction to 'Limits to Growth' 3rd ed. mentions this - Meadows et al considered prices from the beginning, but eliminated them from the model when they realized they only confused the result.

It seems some people like being confused!

Yes, one tend to forget that using the Logistic function as Hubbert did to model/fit the production, is basically saying : once a field is discovered, the economy extracts it as fast as it can.

If there was to be a "peak oil theory", that would be nothing more than the theorem : "every positive function which integral is finite, goes through a maximum and tends to zero at infinity"
(and to be mathematically precise, one should say "the average of the function on any non null interval admits a maximum and tends to zero at infinity", so as to avoid "pathological functions" like series of triangle getting higher and thinner but whose sum of areas forms a convergent series)

Then the Hubbert model can be defined as : "considering the typical economic behaviour of humans", here is how the production curve will look like.

once a field is discovered, the economy extracts it as fast as it can.

Exactly right, thank you.

The Hubbert curve can be seen as the "best case" scenario, anything less than an ideal world for oil production and the curve will obviously be flatter than what might otherwise be possible, due to the simple observation that the area under the production curve cannot exceed the area under the discovery curve. Just exactly as we have seen since the oil shocks of the 80's:

Hubbert observed that once the discovery curve crosses the production curve, that defines the delta between the peak of discovery and the peak of production. In the ideal case that would have been about ~35-40 years, with discovery peaking ca 1960-65, the crossover point ca 1975-80, and production peaking ca 1995-2000.

The oil shocks added about a decade to that delta, moving the peak out to ca 2005-10, and flattening the peak into more of a plateau, at least from the perspective of a short time frame.


"the economy extracts it as fast as it can"

That's not quite true. I heard Hubbert make the point several decades ago, that the growth rate for production of gold in California was much larger than the growth rate for oil, and both were reflections of the value people placed on the product, and the rate that that perception of value propagated through society. For gold, the perception of value was pre-seeded in the populace, I believe.

Hubbert was a pretty deep thinker, IMHO.

Also, "as fast as it can" is a very sloppy phrase. If you think about it, it begs the question, why can't it go faster? What is forcing it (whatever 'it' is) to happen this slowly?

Then you realize that getting the right value for growth rate from pure reason is not something that is easily done, and you decide the best course is to fit the data you have and get a growth rate from the fit. Which is what he did. And you don't use guesses of pre-history production data because you know they are merely guesses, not data. But the value you get from the data can only be true for the time when peak happens if high level of effort for production has not distorted society from the conditions prior to peak. So ...
it very hard to predict the future. (Not an insight that Hubbert claimed as his own original idea)

The article is an exercise in intellectual shallowness, which all of us here recognize. But we use different evidence, different phrases, plucked from the article to support our conclusion. Let many flowers blossom ;-/

The problem of course is defining the "effort" function. This would have to entail unknowable stuff like, how desperate are we when scarcity reaches level X? Is demand totally inelastic, so the price will rise until enough "effort" is applied to satisfy demand, or is demand somewhat softer than that? And there might be some experience effects -"we learned how to extract stuff we couldn't have at any price twenty years ago". Or unexpected demand softening, "we figured out how to get by without oil"?

eos - I had not thought about the "effort function" per se but it is interesting. But I think it needs to be refined into a "result/effort" function. Perhaps so folks simplicity think increased efforts produce proportionally increased results. It might in some areas but I can assure you it doesn't in the oil patch. At least not with respect to return on investment.

Anecdotal evidence but they do represent the general conditions IMHO. First, the late 70's boom after oil prices spiked. Over 4600 drilling rigs running at the peak...twice what we see now. Having lived through that moment of insanity I can assure you that many of those rigs were drilling crappy prospects with little chance of success. Worst case example is a company I worked for then: spent $550 million and produced around $60 million of FF. And another joint venture I watched over: drilled 18 wells with 18 dry holes in a row. Lots of "effort function' but a very low "result/effort" function. That huge surge in drilling did stop the decline by 1980 and kept lower 48 production level for about 6 years. But by the mid 80's plugging oil prices killed the rig count. So the surge in drilling did add production thanks to the "effort" but for the industry and tens of thousands of investors it was a financial nightmare.

Now jump to the more recent surge in the NG rig count thanks to increased "efforts" in the dry NG shale plays like the Haynesville Shale in east Texas. They drilling surge was based upon technology improvements as much as it was on an anticipated price rise. As soon as NG prices went south so did the rig count. Again: in the first quarter of 2009 Devon broke contracts on 14 of the 18 rigs it had drilling the HS and paid a $40 million penalty to do so. No doubt the increased drilling "effort" led to increased NG production. But at what price; it almost put two of our largest independents, Chesapeake and Devon, out of business.

Today the oil shales are boosting our oil production rate. But again that increased drilling "effort" is more supported by current oil prices than tech improvements IMHO. And it's good to remind folks how the dynamics work: it's not the high cost of these efforts that push prices up. It the rising oil prices that push operator to undertake projects with a low "result/effort" function. Such an effort was not sustainable when NG prices fell even as the tech began to improve. I don't know at what price point the oily shales take a hit but it's out there floating around someplace. Low "result/effort" projects will add reserves to the pot. But like the old joke: yep...I'm losing money on each unit but we'll make up on through higher volume.

The word effort can mean a lot of different things. One aspect, is how many dollars a company is willing to spend to develop/extract a mythical barrel of oil (accounting for uncertainties etc.).
Another might be the level of technology being used. Early oil wells were what wooden pipes stuck in the ground? Many billions and many decades of development have created some remarkable technology that greatly improves on what was available 150years ago.

Stuart Staniford has a nice pair of charts illustrating the "effort function" of oil shales:


Look at the right-hand sides. Top chart: effort. Bottom chart: reward.

First story linked up top: An economy awash in oil: Forget the doomsayers. Cheap abundant fossil fuels will drive our future.

There are a few TODers over there in the comment section putting the beat down on the author. hahaha

The article is a meandering mess... let us hope the comments convert a few people to the blindingly obvious. It's very hard to remain civil when dealing with people who use "intellectual" as an insult.

Colby Cosh is a professional idiot. Take a look at his photo, for starters.

His name put this bit of nonsense from Joyce in my mind.....
Sinbad the Sailor and Tinbad the Tailor and Jinbad the Jailer and Whinbad the Whaler and Ninbad the Nailer and Finbad the Failer and Binbad the Bailer and Pinbad the Pailer and Minbad the Mailer and Hinbad the Hailer and Rinbad the Railer and Dinbad the Kailer and Vinbad the Quailer and Linbad the Yailer and Xinbad the Phthailer.

Fitting really. The tone of these articles always seem to share that "nah, nah, na, nah, nah!" quality of the annoying kid in the playground that always was in need of a good thumping.

And that brings to mind another great quote from Mr. Asimov....

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

As I asked my Brazilian friend whether he met with much knuckleheadedness when he started working at a Mass Lumberyard.. he said 'There are idiots all over the world, Bob.' .. but I persisted, saying was there anything about it here? .. and he said 'Yes, I don't think most other idiots are quite as proud of it as the Americans..'

Anti-Intellectualism does seem to carry into all the classes.. it seems it must be a strong echo of the rebellion against the Learned Elites, both the European Aristocracrats, and the Landed gentry who formed the intelligensia at the start of the republic..

You're Brazilian friend is very astute.

"You're Brazilian friend is very astute."

Great irony, right on topic! "We are American, we dont' need no stinkin' grammar!

Oops: Your Brazilian friend is very astute.    :  )

BTW, I'm Canadian.

When did $90/barrel become "cheap" oil? I guess it is cheap compared to $200/barrel. But it is damn expensive relative to the $25/barrel level where it sat for around two decades.

I ran into a friend this morning who has a side business selling firewood. He says he's raised his price for a full cord of seasoned, mixed hardwood by $50 over last year's price (from $220 to $270), in part because of increased costs, mainly due to demand. This outfit in Wisconsin is charging @$400 for its premium hardwoods (full cords). Anyone know if firewood costs are tracked nationally?

Here's to having your own woodlot...

My neighbor bought a dump truck load of uncut logs from some folks over in Tennessee for $150. He cut and split them himself, adding to the big stack outside his house. He burns a lot of wood, since he and his wife are smokers and keeps a window open all winter for fresh air. At least, he isn't burning propane...

E. Swanson

Nothing is better than wood heat...what else gives you the need to wear shorts and a T-shirt with the doors open on a 32 deg day...;-)
...and better yet is a new soapstone wood stove - reducing wood consumption and therefor wood splitting which is about as far away from delusion as you can get...

Here are some firewood prices offered on the C-list around the San Diego area.
All are seasoned, delivered, and stacked:
Oak $325 - 360
Pine $300
Hard and soft mix $325
Eucalyptus $325
Avocado and Citrus wood is available from orchards that have been idled or cut down.

Here's to having your own woodlot...

...until the last tree is felled.

I get your point, though, since we have a surplus of deadfall and standing deadwood, never cut live trees for fuel, and since I've allowed some marginal pasture to return to tree growth, on our property we've actually seen an increase in both the number and mass of living trees, easily exceeding the trees cut to provide the lumber to build our home. It goes to not having exceeded the carrying capacity of the land, which is what will be required of the rest of humanity.

Anyone want to adopt a tree? I have a fine stand of poplars that wasn't there 15 years ago.

Just a comment, it's also good to keep some dead standing trees around for woodpeckers and bats etc. Plus rotting wood on the ground is good for soil productivity.

Saw a woodpecker for the first time, here or anywhere else, a couple of days ago. Pecking away on an old bit of dead tree-weed that I had left for the fur heads. They were fascinated too.


One thing that people sometimes seem to forget is that trees grow! Yes, it's true! In New England the average HW woodlot puts on about 2-3 cords/acre/year. I.e., you can cut that much and never impact the standing biomass of your lot.

Since I burn about 3-4 cords/year, you can see I am in no danger of exhausting my 15 acres. There is a lot more volume of living biomass (not to mention dead wood) out there than when I bought it 20 years ago.

If you leave the tops (esp. fine twigs and leaves), you actually remove very little in the way of plant nutrients from the site. The trunks are mostly cellulose and lignin.

And yes, it's good to leave plenty of standing dead trees, and just as important to leave plenty of big dead wood on the ground. All very important to the NE forest ecosystem.

It is horrible to work in forest and cut down trees for firewood but then the money and work hours are counted earnings are suprisingly good. Then improvements in growth and quality is counted it is even better.

Here's to having your own *coppice* woodlot

Our young stand of poplar is great for coppicing. If we cut them when they're about 4" (about 10 cm) we'll get soots (suckers) that turn into little trunks in about 2 seasons, great for tomato stakes and kindling. I also burn poplar in my mix (it pops when burned; not recommended for open fires).

Rural northern California here, surrounded by national forest.

Fir - $175-200 per cord
Oak or Madrone - $200-$250 per cord

Split, seasoned and delivered. Forest service charges $10 for a 2 cord permit to cut on public lands.

Power prices in France up, due to "unreliable" nuclear, down in renewable-heavy Germany:

I thought it was supposed to be the other way around?

Regarding the Oklahoma pileup due to wind and dust, let me just say as an Oklahoman, this could easily have been avoided.

For the folks that don't know, I work at a truck stop not ten miles north of this incident, and I can tell you with conviction that the winds were howling from 50 to 70 mph. A ten mile stretch of Interstate Highway 35 (I-35) was shut down due to three things:

1) High winds

2) Zero visibility

3) A 30- car domino crash

... Not necessarily in that order of importance.

Now, this is only part of the story. It so happens that this is the time for sowing winter wheat. In case some readers may not be aware, this particular area of the state is in what is referred to as exceptional drought, which is one step worse than severe drought.

So, here are these farmers out in the fields sowing wheat as they've done every year of their lives, but one particular farmer is visited in his wheat field by an Oklahoma State Trooper, who demands that the farmer shut down his tractor now because the resulting dust is creating a hazard to I-35 traffic.

Alright, now, here's the juicy part. The farmer refuses, saying he has to get the crop in, and does not see how he can be held responsible for traffic accidents a mile from his location.

He doesn't see his responsibility... For the good of his fellow man. This is it in a nutshell, folks; this is what is wrong with our society. The Greater Good takes a back seat to "what's in it for me?" It brings to mind the reference in the previous Drumbeat to Hardin's The Tragedy of the Commons. People don't accept responsibility for their actions and won't change their ways unless forced to do so.

The local sheriff forced him to do so.

This is the second year of exceptional drought for that farmer (or was last year just extreme drought and the rest of the state had exceptional drought ?).

Soil moisture may be so low that, without winter rains or irrigation, the seeds will not germinate or - if they do germinate - they will die.

Oklahoma does appear ripe for Dust Bowl II - bad agricultural practices PLUS drought are required.

Just applying a stereotype, I know, but I suspect that farmer voted for Sen. Inhofe and denies Climate Change (or Climate Chaos as I prefer to call it).

Hope ?


Right you are, Alan. The drought index fluctuates, but this is the second year of severe/exceptional drought in this region.

Ironically, the Western Cedars that were planted to counteract the Dust Bowl of the '30s are now considered an invasive species, and the State pays farmers to remove them, ha ha! It just keeps gettin' better, eh?

Of course for the farmer his calculus is probably. If I don't get a decent crop next year, I lose the farm. My only chance is to plant, and hope the rains come, if I don't plant and it rains I've thrown away my one last chance for salvation.

Winter Wheat Crop Now Feeling Impact of U.S. Drought

... According to Eric D. Luebehusen, a meteorologist at the Agriculture Department’s Office of the Chief Economist, 68 percent of the U.S. winter wheat crop is in drought. More than a third of the crop had emerged, but in Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, and South Dakota, the emergence of the crop was running well below average.

It will also be, if I don't plant then my crop insurance claim will be denied.

There's a lot of farmers who hate the waste. Insurance companies are what's driving a lot of this crazy behavior.


After being hammered two years in a row by drought (most of Texas got off this year), have people in Oklahoma begun to question why the weather/Climate is changing yet ?

Just wondering,


'That's not climate change.. it's just rotten luck!'

Alan ~ I think many of my fellow Okies are on board with climate change, but they still have a problem with the CO2 part. It's all due to "natural causes," sun cycles, El Niño / La Niña, blah blah blah. If I bring up CO2 then I'm a filthy rotten Al Gore lover, heh.

One of my co-workers actually believes it all started when the space program started punching holes through the atmosphere, thus allowing more of the sun's energy to reach Earth, haha!

I talked to someone who thought CC came from the reflective covering that gets put on high-rise windows... lots of odd assumptions out there.

What may be crazier is the fact that crop insurance can be withheld if you plant outside of a specified seasonal window.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't ...

Wondering if they have taken zone shifting and climate change into consideration.

Appears that this duststorm is the same one that hit Lubbock, TX earlier followed by Nebraska

More video on the Oklahoma storm

There may be concern about climate change, but it's entirely natural, of course. Gawd forbid you suggest it's our fault! Senator Inhofe would have you tarred and feathered!

God dun it, because of the dagnabbed gays! The good Senator would have stopped them if only we'd let him. Then god wouldn't be angry at us.

Today was supposed to be a perfect solar day: clear, cool, breezy, and low humidity, here in Western NC, but since this morning there has been a reddish brown haze in the air, actually getting fairly thick. It's similar to the haze we see when forest fires occur upwind, except no smell of smoke,, and no significant pollen this time of year. When my sister called about it, it dawned on me that this is dust from Oklahoma; I can think of no other explanation. Anyone have any other evidence? Today's wind map supports this conclusion.


There must be millions of tons of soil in the air to have this effect so far away.

African dust storms are supposed to transfer something like a billion kilograms per year to the Atlantic. And some makes it across the pond. It may be an important source of nutrients for the Amazon region? So thank those Okies, their sacrifice of good soil is your gain.

Their lo(e)ss is your gain.

Aarrgghh! ;-) Good one, EOS...

That is truly painful.
The best puns are multilingual...

The best puns are multilingual...

What do you call someone who speaks four languages? A polyglot.

What do you call someone who speaks three languages? Trilingual.

What do you call someone who speaks two languages? Bilingual.

What do you call someone who speaks only one language? A gringo.

BTW is being multilingual somewhat akin to speaking with a forked tongue? Uncoils and quickly slithers away >;-)

Hey, I met a Lakota guy recently who was working in catering. He had been trained working as a sous chef at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. He was proudly wearing an apron emblazoned with "Sioux Chef". That was pretty good and I groaned nicely at him. Good cook too.

Satelite video of duststorm from Oklahoma to coast


A warning to those who have slow or limited Internet, the SIMSS Satellite Blog has massive oversized direct linked images and video.

Why Farmers in Oklahoma are planting at all should be the question to ask.

Not entirely sure, but a farmer can't apply for crop insurance if they don't plant a crop. Which seems sensible, until you are dealing with 'exceptional' drought.

This is the best I could do for a citation from a quick search.

Important Crop
Insurance Dates

Applied libertarianism: externalities are a myth, making someone doing something because it might affect someone else is pure tyranny. This is the "intellectual" landscape we have to deal with.

Of course stupid driver behavior is an issue too. I remember hearing about a nasty Califonia pileup some years back. State troopers knew there was low visibility ahead and tried to slow down traffic, but drivers would have none of that. I think now they try to convoy traffic behind police cars that are moving at what the officer determines is a safe speed!

How dare the State tell them what to do in the land of the free.

I heard a talk from a policeman who attended one of the first motorway pile ups, due to poor visibility (fog), in the UK. When he first arrived, via an under pass, his first impression was cars raining from the sky. When he got on top a car went down the Armco like a 'rocket sled on rails'. Many times I have bailed out of the M1 due to poor visibility and absolute head cases.


Interesting, in a 'this is probably too good to be true' sense. I'll welcome the effort though.

Scant details on the energy in/energy out balance (EROI) means we will need to wait and see as with a number of other 'breakthroughs' on batteries, cold fusion, and a few other things.

These paragraphs caught my eye:

Although the prototype system is designed to extract carbon dioxide from the air, this part of the process is still too inefficient to allow a commercial-scale operation.

The company can and has used carbon dioxide extracted from air to make petrol, but it is also using industrial sources of carbon dioxide until it is able to improve the performance of "carbon capture".

What this tells me is that the process works best capturing CO2 from fossil combustion. So, at best, that will be the application. Whatever they do to improve the efficiency of capture from the air, the process will always be more economic on CO2 at higher concentrations.

Not to forget the energy input comes from electricity:

Although the process is still in the early developmental stages and needs to take electricity from the national grid to work, the company believes it will eventually be possible to use power from renewable sources such as wind farms or tidal barrages.

Electricity is by far the most expensive form of energy, since it is usually produced from thermal energy provided by burning fossil fuels. Even the alternative sources of electricity cost about the same to produce at present in economic terms, thus the resulting cost of this new source of liquid fuels will be much greater than we now presently enjoy. If one already has excess electricity available, why not use batteries to provide motive power with a high conversion efficiency? Burning this high cost fuel in another combustion engine powering a vehicle would surely result in at least 50% waste. And we don't yet know the conversion efficiency going from electricity to liquid fuel...

E. Swanson

Agreed - the details on the cost are not given. The point was made that by using 'surplus' electricity (wind farms etc) it could be a good potential method to capture the energy in a more usable format.

"The point was made that by using 'surplus' electricity (wind farms etc) it could be a good potential method to capture the energy in a more usable format."

True, and also remember the main problem is a shortage of transportation (liquid) fuels. Energy in general we can scrounge up.

On the website I found the following..


The standard unit size is anticipated to be 1000 tonnes per day (tpd) of liquid (aviation) fuel that is the equivalent of 7 return flights per day by 747 airliners between London and New York.
This will require 1.2GW (mean) renewable power producing 210,000 (mean) m per hour of
renewable hydrogen.

Let's look at the numbers. 1.2GW would mean 28.8GWh to produce 1000 tonnes of fuel. This is about 7,800 bbls according to the converter on BP website.

To produce 7,800 bbls a day in a desert, from solar, where there would be ~6 hrs sun a day, would take about 4.8GW of capacity. Even at $1/w installed it is still $4.8B, and no-one is installing large scale solar farms at that price.

Even nuclear power would cost ~$5b to establish plus ongoing costs.

Using 6% as the cost of money, the interest on the cost of establishing the raw energy production alone is over $105/bbl. When you add everything else like depreciation, ongoing costs, and then do it for the 'fuel reactor' as well, the cost is going to go way over $200 /bbl.

Energy efficiency of the process can be estimated from those numbers:
output = 1000 tonnes/day * 11.7 MWh/tonne = 11.7 GWh/day
input = 28.8 GWh/day
EROEI = 0.41

According to the pdf, that includes the energy for "filtering" the CO2 from the atmosphere.

It would seem that using a concentrated CO2 waste stream could at most increase the EROEI by 2.5X. Curiously the ratio of minimum thermodynamic work needed to extract from the atmosphere vs. from a concentrated stream is also 2.5X, according to the 2001 APS report http://www.aps.org/policy/reports/popa-reports/loader.cfm?csModule=secur...

Scaling up CO2 extraction from the atmosphere involves ever larger blowers and decreasing EROEI; one solution is artificial trees that are powered by existing winds. Since these have basically the same footprint as real trees, capturing the carbon from a biomass fueled generator would probably make more sense. However on a small scale using diffusive filters, 0.41 EROEI return is not bad.

If you have surplus electricity from renewables then EROEI of a liquid fuel is less important but wouldn't Ammonia be a better goal?


As for cost the article mentions:

... up to £400 for capturing one ton of carbon dioxide.

Presumably it costs more than:

(£400 * $1.60/£)/(2000 lb / ((5.36 lb of carbon)/(US gal of gasoline)) = $640 / 373 gal. = $1.72 / U.S. gallon

If it needs humid air, then liquid water and a solar evaporator would be easy and cheap. If reducing the cost of extracting CO2 from the atmosphere would make a significant difference to the cost, then the cost must be within the current price of gasoline plus $1.72 / gallon. I would be willing to pay $5.50 / gallon of gasoline produced at home powered by the extra power from my photovoltaic system. With an energy density for gasoline of 36.6 kWh/US gal, spare electrical power of ~1 kWh/(sunny day) and assuming an efficiency of 50%, I could make about 3.7 gallons of gasoline / year. I need about 10 times more gasoline. Bummer. The power required to make gasoline would exceed the spare capacity of wind and photovoltaic systems. The fuel efficiency of my vehicle would need to be doubled at least, and I would have to purchase some PV panels dedicated to producing gasoline.

Calculation for density of carbon in gasoline:
density of gasoline: 6.073 lb/US gal
CO2 released from burning 1 U.S. gallon of gasoline: 19.64 pounds
fraction by weight of CO2 that is carbon: 12.0112 / (12.0112 + 2 * 15.9994) = .2729
Density of carbon in gasoline: 5.36 lb. / U.S. gallon

I had a few emails with a guy promoting "windfuels". He was going to use CO2 from power plants, and stranded wind. Of course used in this manner, it isn't really carbon neutral, it just lets you use the carbon twice.

Much of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere originates in the combustion of fossil fuels. Plants take up this carbon dioxide in photosynthesis. Should we therefore describe our food and firewood as "not really carbon neutral, some of this is recycled fossil carbon"?

If, at the end of the day, there is more carbon in the atmosphere as a result of what you did, then your activity was not carbon-neutral. The trick of sustainability is to derive all your energy from the gradient of an existing, uncontrollable, entropy stream. Generating energy from the advance of a forest fire would be sustainable if you have no control over the fire. Similarly for photovoltaics and the Sun.

Of course a longer time frame could return that carbon to limestone. Happy for us if we are still around. Sad for the clams that were depending on that carbonate entropy stream.

1st thought: What is the monetary price of fuel per litre via their method?

As e-gas (EE-Gas, Windgas, Sonnengas) is part of the German renewable program there are some test runs in the technicum scale.

According to the Fraunhofer Institut methane from reneable electricity (5 cent /kWh) is competitive with 200 USD per barrel oil (1900 kWh).

This means for me they calculate 6 cent per kWh for the hardware and 5 cent for electricity. Then you have to convert the methane into syn-fuel, this adds + 40 USD(?). So a barrel of this stuff fights in the 250 USD class.

While $250/barrel would be pricey, by no means does it imply the end of the industrial economy. A world with liquid fuels at that price would have less travel -and probably with smaller vehicles at lower speeds, but to someone from mars it wouldn't look too different from the present paradigm.

The $250/bbl assumes todays prices for a lot of the processing. I would not be surprised if it is like crude from kerogen. When oil was at $20, kerogen could be done for $40; when oil was $40, kerogen could be done for $70; oil at $100, kerogen at $180 etc.

It will probably remain one of those just outta reach solutions.

They also got mentioned at phys.org - 5 liters of petrol since August, we're saved....

Air Fuel Synthesis (AFS), has developed air capture technology to create synthetic petrol. The company has been running a demonstration plant in Stockton-on-Tees where it has produced five liters of petrol since August, manufacturing gasoline from carbon dioxide and water vapor.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-10-air-fuel-synthesis-petrol-future.html#jCp

Sounds a bit like the Audi e-gas project (except that Audi make methane) for the A3 TCNG (dual fuel)

In order to make e-gas, Audi obtains CO2 from a biogas plant that burns organic waste, that way food prices don't rise. Then Audi uses that CO2, which would have entered the atmosphere to make hydrogen through an electrolysis process powered by clean energy like wind or solar power. The problem there is that there is literally no infrastructure for hydrogen refueling anywhere in the world. That's where Audi does something very cool.
To solve that problem, they add CO2 with the hydrogen in order to synthesize methane. That makes e-gas natural gas, and there is a network for that. The facility that Audi is building for e-gas in Germany with help from Solar Fuel will be able to feed synthetic natural gas into the network on an industrial scale. And that is why Audi is introducing the A3 TCNG, which can run on e-gas or regular gas, with the same performance parameters.


Of course the issues as always are: Scale (minute) & Cost

Remember Coursera, the free online courses?

The good state of Minnesota has banned them. Or tried, anyway.

Good intentions really do pave the path to hell.

Isn't that where the famously levelheaded and rational Representative Michele Bachmann is from?

You have to admire the tenacity of the the runner up..

"and to automobile dealers’ groups in four states for trying to have Tesla dealerships declared illegal."

I'm sure they all sincerely hail the free-market ..(when it suits them)!

Can you claim that you are actually at the Starbucks in Hudson, WI?

Use Tor.


Books for courses are BIG money. Producers pay a lot of money to get their product into education with new editions each year to be required so students cannot buy second hand from previous students. Students spend a lot of money buying the required books and a percentage is passed to the education institution. Any attempt to bypass this is heavily squashed due to the profits involved.


An MIT course Introduction to Computer Science and Programming has the following soft sell:

A textbook for 6.00x is now available for purchase ($24.99) - expect the book to take at least 10 days to arrive (North America; rest of the world may take longer). The book and the course lectures parallel each other, though there is more detail in the book about some topics. The book is NOT required. We will not be referring to it in assignments or depending upon it to cover holes in the lectures. If you choose not to purchase this book, you will probably find it useful to buy or borrow another book that covers Python - you might check your local public library's resources, or search online for a free Python text, such as this one.

The $24.99 recommended text is written by one of the professors -- some things never change. Actually, given the number of people who might sign up for a MOOC, even if only a fraction buy the text, the prof and publisher may make out rather well.

The comp sci books I needed to buy, quite a few years ago, were around £50 each but then again they were good for year after year, minor works such as Knuth.


In a warming Arctic, U.S. faces new security and safety concerns

... This summer, when the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bertholf was monitoring shipping traffic along the desolate tundra coast, its radar displays were often brightly lighted with mysterious targets.

There were oil drilling rigs, research vessels, fuel barges, small cruise ships. A few were sailboats that had ventured through the Northwest Passage above Canada. On a single day in August, 95 ships were detected between Prudhoe Bay and Wainwright off America's least defended coastline, and for some of them, Coast Guard officials had no idea what the vessels were carrying or who was on them.

"There's probably 1,500 people out there," Rear Adm. Thomas P. Ostebo, commander of the Coast Guard's 17th District in Alaska, said at a recent conference of Arctic policymakers near Anchorage. "It's kind of spinning a little bit out of control."

No doubt a bit more Coast Guard presence up there would be a good thing. Record (since 1979 when satellite observation began) open water this year and though it is now closing back up a a rapid clip

there is still lots of open water off Alaska's north coast, and it is almost late October.

This ties in nicely to the last article posted above, A call for responsible capitalism.

Imagine the ocean water at the surface is 104 deg f. Air from 122 to 140+. And, virtually nothing able to live there. Of course, the first consequence was extinction of some 95% of all life, land and sea.

Is this where we are headed? If this is even a 10% probability, I would say we should do any and every thing possible to avoid it. Our actual response, species-wide, has been to ignore, deny, and blame. No one in government or in the media is standing up and acting responsibly. Instead we hear pundits warning of dropping birth rates as a danger.

The articles posted above the line asked rhetorically about capitalism being moral. My experience is that it is not moral. It is not patriotic. It cares nothing about people, nations, families, flora or fauna. It only cares about money and economics. And because it rules media we hear only the propaganda deemed proper, with a token article from time to time, well refuted and "debunked," contrary to the interest of the monied class. They will continue to exploit the world's mineral wealth, as they continue to exploit the world's people, until it is all gone or they are all dead.

In answer to Alan's one-word question, I would say, "No hope."


Instead we hear pundits warning of dropping birth rates as a danger.

Case in point:
CENSUS: Economist says slower birth rate will impact economy

Daway says this means there is now an aging population which will translate into the government collecting less revenue as more people eventually retire.

Priceless I tell you! Priceless! Especially if you read the rest of the quoted piece.

Alan from the islands

Solar Power Is Contagious, Study Finds

People are more likely to install a solar panel on their home if their neighbors have one, according to a Yale and New York University study in the journal Marketing Science.

They calculated that 10 extra installations in a zip code increase the probability of an adoption by 7.8 percent. If there is a 10 percent increase in the total number of people with solar panels in a zip code—the "installed base"—there will be a 54 percent increase in the adoption of solar panels.

Report: Peer Effects in the Diffusion of Solar Photovoltaic Panels

Tin Men (Script pdf)

Video: life magazine tin men

BB: A wonderful issue... it's one of the finest pictorial things we've done here at Life... the ways you can improve your house.
(he adjusts the camera)
We're gonna be out of here in no time, ma'am.

MOE: It's gonna look very good, BB.

HOUSEWIFE: My house is going to be the 'before'? Can't mine be like the 'after'?

BB: No, no... we've got a house that looked like yours and it's been done in aluminum... it's very nice.

MOE: Yeah... really shows the contrast of what a house can look like.

HOUSEWIFE: What does it cost?

BB: What? The aluminum siding? Oh... I don't know the figures offhand. Do you have any idea, Moe?

MOE: I think it's fairly reasonable.

HOUSEWIFE: Could my house be the 'after' in Life Magazine and you get another house for the 'before.'

BB: You mean have your house as the 'after' and find another house that looks like your house for the 'before'?

HOUSEWIFE: Is it possible?

The sort of guys who get you to sign a contract then smash a hole in the old siding saying 'We'll start right here' to stop them from changing their mind.


Now we have only to find a way to convert it into a STD, problem solved. :-)

Get Up. Get Out. Don’t Sit.

Every single hour of television watched after the age of 25 reduces the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 minutes.

By comparison, smoking a single cigarette reduces life expectancy by about 11 minutes, the authors said.

Looking more broadly, they concluded that an adult who spends an average of six hours a day watching TV over the course of a lifetime can expect to live 4.8 years fewer than a person who does not watch TV.

Those results hold true, the authors point out, even for people who exercise regularly. It appears, Dr. Veerman says, that “a person who does a lot of exercise but watches six hours of TV” every night “might have a similar mortality risk as someone who does not exercise and watches no TV.”

Is the extra life worth living if you can't watch TV?

It depends on whether or not you can drink beer while you watch.

I'm assuming this is due to the fact that most television programs are a soul-killing experience. I wonder if the same results apply to sitting in front of a computer?

I'm assuming this is due to the fact that most television programs are a soul-killing experience.

Ain't so bad if watching sports, documentaries, quizzes and a movie sometimes.

No, it's not what's on TV that's the problem. It's sitting. Sitting at your desk, sitting at a computer, sitting in front of your TV. And sitting your car. There's more and more evidence that sitting is a risk factor, even for people who exercise regularly and are not overweight.

The reasons are still not fully understood, but it seems to have something to do with how your metabolism changes when you sit - that is, when the large muscles in your thighs are not active. That's why standing and treadmill desks are all the rage these days.

So bicycling (which is somewhat of a sitting position) isn't a risk factor?

I would say biking is fine, since your legs are moving.

I wonder if those ball chairs would be beneficial.

What we need are treadmill TVs, or bike powered TVs and computers. Build them so you have to walk/pedal 90% of the time: Ghung's "Walk to Watch" program ;-)

Families could take turns...

And as a bonus, people would actually look to buy an energy efficient TV.


So I would have guessed that being in a wheelchair would be practically a death sentence... so I checked and found that while life expectancy is indeed reduced it isn't by as much as I had imagined.


So if I sit there and jiggle my legs is it as bad as sitting? Also if I'm the kind of person who gets up and down for no reason because he can't sit still? Or is it more couch potatoes?

P.S. I think Person of Interest is back, Rockman's favorite show.

Frequent breaks and being restless help... but it's still the best of two bad choices.

Wonder if it has to do with brainwave changes while watching TV? http://www.tvsmarter.com/documents/brainwaves.html

Or perhaps a person's phenotype might cause them to sit more than others for an unrelated reason which is correlated with shorter life, and as long as they're sitting anyhow they turn on the TV.

Now I have an ergo computer setup I invented which keeps my thighs active, posture and eyes relaxed, feet at heart level, no RSI, etc... but it doesn't "look" normal to use so only a few social rebels have copied it. No reliable mortality data yet.

Still, I spend most of the day sitting. So does my dog... no wonder them critters die so young. I think if I never sat down life would sure SEEM longer...

There's more and more evidence that sitting is a risk factor, even for people who exercise regularly and are not overweight. The reasons are still not fully understood, but it seems to have something to do with how your metabolism changes when you sit

Exercising changes your metabolism, but not only at the time when you are active. If you bike 1-2 hours or more at a fair pace, and even more when you exercise some of that time at or above your anaerobic threshold, then your metabolism does not return to rest level after you stop exercising. It will take several hours before that happens. Regular exercise will lower your sympathic activity at rest, which results in a lower blood pressure and heart rate. But to make that happen, the body needs rest between the exercises. The key factor in getting better health and better physical condition is rest. I doubt that standing long time is a good idea. Can develop varices also. Then better walking, but that is not the complete rest required after a good training. If you follow a good training program, that is to say at a level high enough to make that positive changes happen, than there won't be a problem sitting about six hours a day.

It appears that sitting is a risk factor independent of exercise. Just like smoking. You cannot smoke cigarettes and make up for it by going to the gym. All the exercise in the world won't offset the bad effects of smoking (which isn't to say you should not exercise).

Leanan, it is hard to believe if one studies the physiology of training. Like I wrote the fact is that if you sit down after a good training, body metabolism doesn't immediately return to 'rest mode' (basal metabolic rate). Or do you have to put your legs in horizontal position, or even better lie down, like they advise cyclists ?

This really isn't about metabolic rate. It's something else entirely. Sitting causes metabolic disruption. Your blood chemistry changes. Triglyceride and cholesterol levels change, insulin sensitivity decreases.

As for reclining...some experts have suggested that that's better than sitting. I don't think enough research has been done on it.

I saw some helth scientist explain this on TV. Excercise addts to your plus account, sitting adds to you inus account. The two are separate and will not cancel out. The reason given was some bio-chemical stuff I no longer remember, but basicly they affected different systems.

Could be, but training physiologists will tell you that not taking enough rest will lead to overtraining with negative effects like higher heart rate and that exercise and rest cannot be separated. So if sitting a long time in a row really is bad, get out of your chair every 15 minutes or so for a minute, that will do.

Basically training causes stress and damage to the body which the body responds to by repairing and making stronger. Too much damage being an injury. Rest and nutrition is required for the repair. Too much sitting pinches off blood vessels. I suspect that poorly conditioned and clogged blood vessels fair worse.


Every single hour of television watched after the age of 25 reduces the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 minutes.

By comparison, smoking a single cigarette reduces life expectancy by about 11 minutes, the authors said.

If there's something interesting happening, I've been known to watch 3 or 4 channels at once. That means I'm losing up to 87.2 minutes per hour - so I may not have long left to live! Guess I'll just have to take more smoke breaks if I want to live longer ;-)

And standing carries its own set of health problems. It's almost like we're mortal or something.

I'm going to do what I like and enjoy life without worrying about hyper miling my existence at the expense of comfort. It reminds me of the Daily Mail list of things that cause/cure cancer(insert disease). COFFEE FOUND TO CURE CANCER. COFFEE FOUND TO CAUSE GLAUCOMA.

I'd love to see treadmills in my chemistry lab. Nothing says "stupid risk" like two grands worth of machinery replacing a lab stool. The darting about the lab doing other things more than offsets any sitting I do in the day anyway.

A treadmill isn't necessary, one can stand and work. One is constantly shifting weight that way, I do the same, no issues here. As a side effect you get to build your leg muscles.

In my line of work the problem is the "status" of sitting down. Athletes stand or are in the pool, coaches sit, and if your program is big enough to have a head coach the head coach sits on a high-up chair (often with their feet dangling in the air). I thought I was imagining it until I started keeping track.

Personally I feel more effective moving around, but since next year's salary and job security comes from this year's reputation there is a lot of pressure to play the monkey-game. I have ended up using strategies like arriving early and making a show of sitting in a high-up chair for 15 minutes or declaring "This is My Chair" and keeping it close to me, even if that means dragging the thing around with me.

Sad when it should really be based on results.


Yes. A lot of scientific labs are set up so you can work standing. Traditional engineering drafting desks were also standing height.

Though I actually find walking easier than just standing, as many do, which is why there are treadmill desks.

I don't think humans evolved to sit for long periods. We are designed to walk all day, even run. Chairs are not found in nature. (And some cultures never invented them.) It's probably worse now, because technology means we don't have to get up as often. Remote controls to change the channel instead of having to get up and go to the TV. Computers mean no putting in sheets of paper, fetching carbon paper or white-out, etc. There's also a tendency to get fixed on the screen with computers, in a way that didn't happen with typewriters. You get so absorbed you don't notice physical discomfort.

I've set up my workspace so I can shift between standing and sitting. I'd like to try a treadmill, but I don't really have the space for it at the moment.

Those drawing boards had tall swivel chairs, I spent a good while working on one :)


Science labs also have tall stools, so you can sit. But they aren't as comfortable as low chairs, so I'd guess people tend to get up more often. Also, the large drafting tables encouraged standing up to reach everything (you could move the blueprints, but it was often easier just to stand up and take a step or two).

FWIW, some experts suggest tall chairs, that you can lean against, while still supporting some of your weight on your feet.

Double elephant boards did require one to move around quite a bit more. I recall a chair that had no back and the seat was tilted with knee rests to keep you in place, can't remember too many details or what it was called. I wonder how it faired?


Sitting is Deadly
When you think about living dangerously - smoking, drinking and other risk taking behaviours may be the first things that come to mind. But if your days are anything like mine, one of your deadliest habits is one you indulge in most of your waking hours. It's sitting. Yes, sitting.

But good news, breaking up sitting time can have a dramatic effect. A light two minute walk every twenty minutes is enough to lower blood glucose levels by around thirty percent.


Society of Automotive Engineers Adopts J1772 Combo Plug As Standard For Electric Vehicles

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has voted to adopt the J1772 Revision B combo plug as the standard plug for use in electric and hybrid vehicles sold worldwide. The design allows for both AC and DC charging and its adoption means all car manufacturers except Tesla and several Japanese companies including Nissan and Mitsubishi, will begin using the new standard on all new vehicles.

Spec Sheet

The acceptance of the new standard will be a first for North America and could provide the push needed for commercial and public groups to begin building charging stations. The standard allows for charging at home using either a 120 or 224 AC line – the first is what is normally found in home wall outlets; the second for dryers or ovens. But it will also allow for DC charging which is where the industry is headed as it allows for far faster charging times – minutes versus hours for AC. It's the DC option that provides the basis for creating quick charging stations and perhaps the long anticipated widespread adoption of electric vehicles.

SAE Combo Connector Combines Level 2 And 3 Charging Into One Plug

and Nissan, Mitsubishi oppose SAE fast-charge standard


Now only if a plug standard could be developed in the US for plugging in renewable energy generators (PV, Wind, micro hydro, etc) into a house!

...I think installations would increase if it could be done. (After all, most modern houses already have external utility plugs, natural gas hookup (for BBQ), and such.)

It is called a dual-pole circuit breaker into your main panel.

Or you could use a grid-tied inverter. I wonder myself how many uncertified Chinese ebay grid-tied inverters are installed potentially illegally worldwide. Considering you can just plug one end into your panels and the other end into the wall socket and the electrical supply company will never know unless you generate more than you use and start to turn the meter backward, I suspect there are many dodgy hookups.

You can do this legally of course with certified equipment and installers but that is a more expensive route

I'm afraid that just leads me to also wonder how many 'certified systems using appropriate equipment' are hiding shortcuts behind their veneer of legitimacy.

I know a lot of tradespeople who take great pains to do it right, and who go beyond the letter of the law to make it 'truly right', too. But there is still an abundance of skullduggery out there that gets away with posing as true blue. It seems there are more avenues up in the main offices to make insulated and unresponsible decisions, as opposed to the work done on the ground.

'Sometimes satan comes as a man of peace..' as Bob Dylan put it.

I'm very happy that they finally finished but this should have been done years ago. Or at least 8 months ago if it followed the schedule they gave.

Every day that pass meant more ChadeMo Leafs on the road thus setting us up for an ugly standards war.

I wish Nissan & Mitsubishi-i would just shut up, adopt the standard, and quickly put out Leafs and Mitsubishi-i's with the SAE combo plug before anyone else got theirs out on the market.

A standards war benefits NO ONE.

"A standards war benefits NO ONE"

I don't know about that. The winner gains a competitive advantage over the loser, whose products become unsalable. Consumers lose, at least those who buy the soon-to-be stranded tech, but the winner wins big. And it's also fair to say that the SAE is unfairly rejecting the ChadeMo format, as the Leaf is the most popular full-EV and Japan has taken the lead in EV development. It can be seen as a protectionist move by North American engineers with a vested interest in the success of domestic US manufacturers.

That said, the Leaf does accept the J1772, so Nissan doesn't have to worry about it.

Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche and Volkswagen have all agreed to adopt the new SAE plug standard as early as 2013 for U.S., European and other markets around the world.

So it is a standard by companies with few electric vehicles and no particular expertise.

It is no doubt an attempt to engineer around Japanese patents.

Standards for Fast Charging Are Getting No Closer

Adding to the confusion, Chinese electrical vehicle makers are creating their own fast chargers to be used in their home market.

On the other hand, each notebook computer seems to have different chargers, DC voltages, DC plug dimensions, and connects to 50/60Hz 110 to 240 V mains via an assortment of adaptor plugs...

Union Pacific taps shale-oil to offset coal

Hauling coal to the nation’s power plants has long been a rock-solid business for the nation’s railroads. So when volumes tumble in the face of an oversupplied market, what takes its place?

According to Union Pacific Corp., the booming shale-oil industry is helping it offset a 12% drop in volume and 5% drop in revenue from coal shipments.

Drilling equipment, chemicals and sand used in hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” operations are being shipped to companies working the newly opened shale oil and gas fields of North Dakota Ohio, Pennsylvania and western Texas.

On the return trip, the trains are hauling crude bound for refineries in California, Texas and Louisiana.

... third-quarter results reflect what is the probably the worst coal market in decades, the result of sluggish industrial activity and weak demand from utilities, many of which have switched to cheap natural gas to run their power plants.

This is just more proof that coal's biggest enemy isn't the EPA: it's oil. The high price of oil is what pushes excess production of natural gas, which out-competes coal at the busbar (i.e., for generation). On the cost side, the high price of diesel drives mining and rail transport costs, further squeezing coal margins. So what coal companies really need to do is push for transport electrification -- it builds electric load and cuts the legs out from under oil (which will ultimately push up the price for natural gas). It can even save on CO2, under the right circumstances. Imagine that, coal positioning itself as the greener fuel!

Ain't gonna happen. Back to EPA-bashing it is.....

Can anyone tell me where to get accurate information regarding production numbers? EIA? IEA? BP?


Alan from the islands

Thanks. BP's presentations are easy to understand and concise, but in Christof Ruhl's overview of energy in 2011, he made the common mistake of using reserves-to-production ratios to estimate how many years left of fossil fuel X we have. Of course, this is a fallacious way to estimate how much we have left because production is never constant; there is a bell curve that develops as the lowest-hanging fruit are exploited first. This is what I must tell people who say that we have 100 years of coal left. No. Not in the way they want it to be. We have less than a quarter of a decade (according to Richard Heinberg) of cheap coal.

You want proof that Saudi Arabia is peaking/has peaked?

Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil producer, has plans to become 100% powered by renewable and low-carbon forms of energy, according to an influential member of the royal family.

That's it! Right there I tell ya!

Alan from the islands

Yeah, it is not like they are big advocates of carbon limits. They have other motivations.

In Climate Puzzle for Crops, Ancient Tree Offers Clues

... Many studies show that more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the main greenhouse gas, will initially lead to more growth of plants worldwide. But, Reiersen said, not enough study has been made of the downside of increased unpredictability.

Part of the problem for crops at higher latitudes is that the sun still rises and sets at the same times - the light will always be faint in spring and autumn even if the air is warmer.

Experts disagree about Greenland's potential to provide a fertile new agricultural space as equatorial lands burn up.

Some speak of a new boom in the Danish territory as melting ice opens the Arctic to shipping, mining and oil exploration. But farming in most of Greenland is a long way off.

Alsos said any thaw in Greenland, shrinking the fringes of an ice sheet that is 3,000 metres, or two miles, thick, will reveal barren ground. "There is no topsoil," she said. That would take decades, or centuries, to form.

RE: Too late to stop global warming by cutting emissions, say experts

Which is another way of saying The Damage Can't Be Undone so prepare for the consequences of those damages. The government response is Triage.

When the Idiotocracy finally gets it we will have to live with it anyway for a generation if we are lucky, two or three if not lucky.

The problem with the argument presented - "it's too late, so put the money into adaptation" - is that action now can limit the severity of warming by quite a lot. So rather than a 7C end of the world scenario where the oceans are at 40C and there is little life in the tropics, we end up with 2 or 3C and things just suck a bit worse than before. It's also questionable whether there are meaningful adaptations once you reach a certain point. I think if we get to 7C our "adaptation" is going to be extinction.

Just because it's going to suck no matter what doesn't mean we shouldn't try to keep it from sucking a lot worse.

That said, carbon trading was always an iffy idea, and the efforts taken by most countries could at best be described as "lukewarm". It's not on the level of WWII wartime mobilization or anything, it's "let's put a few extra cents that we can spare behind renewables and maybe something will happen - and if the economy is iffy we can always take those cents away".

Just because it's going to suck no matter what doesn't mean we shouldn't try to keep it from sucking a lot worse.


all bummer scenarios are not equivalent; they are not fungible just because they are all futures we prefer not to think about.

we will have to live with it anyway for a generation if we are lucky,

Are you kidding? We will have to live with it as long as it lasts; after the Permian Extinction it took more than 5 million years for life to begin to recover, far longer than initial recovery following any other mass extinction event (which lasted in the neighborhood of 10,000 years). It had to do with the dead zone in the tropics where nothing could live, and overall low light in higher latitudes inhibiting plant growth.

The government response: too little, too late. Enjoy your wealth, your family, your children, grand children and whatever else you value, now. You might want to apologize to the kiddies later though. Your wealth won't matter.


French academies dismiss study linking GM corn to cancer

AFP - A controversial study that linked genetically modified corn to cancer in lab rats is a "scientific non-event," six French scientific academies said on Friday.

"This work does not enable any reliable conclusion to be drawn," they said, adding bluntly that the affair helped "spread fear among the public."

The joint statement -- an extremely rare event in French science -- was signed by the national academies of agriculture, medicine, pharmacy, sciences, technology and veterinary studies.

It was sparked by research published in September that said rats fed with so-called NK603 corn and/or doses of Roundup herbicide developed tumours.

The paper, led by Gilles-Eric Seralini at the University of Caen, unleashed a storm in Europe, where GM crops are a highly sensitive issue.

Santos starts commercial production at Australia's first shale gas well

This underscores the fact that shale gas is largely a US phenomenon. This field is in the outback where nobody (so far) gives a damn about fracking fluids or groundwater contamination. This won't be the case in other onshore gas fields in prime farmland. However that gas province (Cooper Basin) not only connects to customers in southeastern Australia but to the gas hub at Gladstone Queensland. LNG tankers will be able to take shortcuts through the Great Barrier Reef to customers like Japan who will pay top dollar for LNG. Local users of piped gas will eventually have match that price. The Australian born CEO of Dow Chemical has argued that shouldn't be.

Until recently it was thought Cooper Basin only had a decade of reserves left now they are saying 40 years assuming fracking delivers. I recall just a few years ago they thought depleted wells could store CO2 from CCS at coal fired power stations 1000km away on the east coast. Another strange factoid is that it was thought the sedimentary caprock on the Precambrian basement was ideal for dry (ie no geysers) geothermal power. After spending hundreds of millions including a special rig that could drill both sandstone and granite there has been no real progress. US university MIT wrote a glowing report saying it would work.

Shale gas may be new in Australia but coal seam gas is already heavily exploited. This also involves hydraulic fracturation and is the focus of an extremely vocal "Lock the Gate" protest movement from environmentalists and farmers.


In Australia subsurface resources are the property of each State, not of the surface landholder, and the States are (since WWII) able to authorise exploratory drilling for oil and gas without permission from the landholder. Because of the near absence of onshore conventional oil resources, and the remoteness of the major onshore conventional gas fields, most landholders have never had this drawn to their attention. The huge expansion in exploration for coal-seam gas, involving state authorisations without landholder permission, is understandably a cause of some consternation for anyone who cares about the state of the surface, especially the people who own it.

Lights out for 'Avenida Brasil'?

Brazil electricity officials fear power outages as soap opera finale airs

SAO PAULO - Brazil's national electricity grid braced for possible power outages Friday night during the television broadcast of the final chapter of a smash soap opera that enthralled Latin America's biggest country for months.

The Electric Energy System Operator said that unless energy generating and distributing companies prepared themselves, the country could suffer power outages at the end of "Avenida Brasil" — the story of a young woman's vengeance on her nouveau-riche stepmother who abandoned her in a landfill.

A spokesman said officials feared sudden surges in electricity consumption from millions of viewers switching on living room lights, raiding refrigerators and turning on microwave ovens after the end of the 100-minute episode.

See: http://www.medicinehatnews.com/entertainment/brazil-electricity-official...


This is a chilling report. Would Alan from Big Easy care to comment?



There is a long standing ideology in the Radical Right against Amtrak. However, it is simply impossible to shut down the Northeast Corridor. Besides Amtrak, VRE, MARC, SEPTA, NJ Transit, PATH, MetroNorth and MBTA use the tracks. A few million people could not get to work if the NEC shut down.

Amtrak has very large market shares between many of the cities in the NEC. From memory, 55% DC-NYC, 60% Philly-DC, 35% Boston-NYC, etc. All % increasing.

Hard to replace without years of planning & investments.

So next best thing - just privatize the NEC and hope the private operators keep it functioning.

As for the rest, let the states subsidize it (example, Virginia is about to start Norfolk-Richmond Amtrak service on their nickel) or drop it.


This is probably an empty comment; the thread is not the active one. However, for what it is worth, I fear that "just privatize the NEC" is a bad idea, just as "just privatize city water" and "just privatize schools" is bad. There are things government can do, some that are important and others not so much. I am of the opinion that necessary utilities, public transit, medical care and education should NOT be in private hands. First of all, they are too important, and there is not an equivalency of bargaining power between the parties to their contracts. In essence, the "owner" is able to make an "offer you cannot refuse."

We are enabling a Mafia of private corporations; they should not be allowed to take over all public transit, water, education, and to the extent that they now own a monopoly over medical care they are the reason that we have the highest cost, and almost the worst (last I heard something like 48 of 50) medical care in the world.

Reading of the insistence of the IMF that Spain allow privatization of water as a condition for any "relief" is a harbinger of what is to come. It should and must be resisted at all cost. And, allowing private corporations to take over the NEC would be a step in the wrong direction. They would "Bain" the corridor, selling off the parts after raping and pillaging the components for any value they contain.

Railroads were the worst examples of public fraud. The history of the land grabs and grants involved are harrowing; the greed and rapaciousness of the robber barons came to the fore, and continued with the Goulds, Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, and Carnegies, to name just a few. We should not empower their heirs, whether linear or philosophical. To do so today would betray the slim chance that our children, and grandchildren, may still have for a worthy future, instead condemning them to lives of toil and virtual, or perhaps actual, slavery.

No hope for private operators acting in the interest of the public; we are seeing a betrayal of our Nation on a grand scale.

Just my opinion of course. I see no political party acting otherwise, however. Just calling it as I see it.


Canada blocks Petronas' $5.2 billion bid for Progress Energy