Drumbeat: October 24, 2012

Bigger Than Either of Them?

“DRILL, baby, drill.” It is among the best-remembered lines of the 2008 presidential campaign, colorfully capturing the desire of many Americans for cheap, reliable energy produced at home rather than in unpredictable places like Iran or Venezuela.

No slogan in the current presidential campaign has emerged to match it, but energy has taken center stage again as an issue that encompasses concerns about the environment and national security, and now, even more pressingly, economic revival.

Presidential campaigns have a way of producing stark contrasts between candidates. In the presidential debates, President Obama and Mitt Romney clashed sharply on fossil fuels and renewable energy.

Oil Fluctuates as API Reports Gains in U.S. Inventories

Oil fluctuated after the American Petroleum Institute said U.S. inventories rose for a seventh week and as a Chinese manufacturing index gained.

Crude traded near a three-month low after the industry- funded API said yesterday stockpiles rose 313,000 barrels last week. The Energy Department may report a gain of 1.8 million in its own data, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. A preliminary reading of China manufacturing rose from September.

“People are thinking we are going to have another inventory build,” said Gene McGillian, an analyst and broker at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. “The China manufacturing data is giving the market some support. It’s kind of helping stabilize the market.”

Gasoline Futures Rise in U.S. After Longest Losing Streak

Gasoline rebounded in New York on speculation that the longest losing streak in 25 years was exaggerated.

Futures climbed as much as 0.9 percent after sinking to a four-month low yesterday. The fuel is down 22 percent this month after Exxon Mobil Corp., Valero Energy Corp. and Citgo Petroleum Corp. started refinery units following outages. Inventories rose in the week ended Oct. 19, while demand fell 5 percent, the American Petroleum Institute said late yesterday.

Falling pump prices could give Obama a lift

In a week that saw President Barack Obama poll dead-even with Republican rival Mitt Romney in the race for the White House, it may have been some relief to Democrats that gas prices have shed 17 cents in the last 12 days.

While that could help boost the president's chances for another four-year term (or at least not hurt them), the drop in prices has more to do with luck than with White House energy policy.

Saudi Arabia to generate record-high oil revenues in 2012: investment bank

Dubai (Platts) - Higher crude prices and increased production will enable Saudi Arabia to collect a record Saudi Riyals 1.08 trillion ($288 billion) in oil revenue in 2012, 4% higher than last year, Riyadh-based Jadwa Investments said in a report to clients Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, is likely to keep its crude production "elevated" through the end of the year, at 9.9 million b/d, the investment bank said. The kingdom averaged that production level in the first eight months of 2012, 8.5% higher than during the same period last year, with April and June production surpassing 10 million b/d.

South Africa charges oil majors with price-fixing

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's competition watchdog said on Wednesday it had brought charges of price-fixing against the local units of major oil companies including Chevron, BP and Total.

The Competition Commission also said in a statement the companies - as well as Shell, Sasol and Engen - had shared detailed information about sales and customers to hinder competition.

Russia increasingly worried about US ‘shale revolution’

Russia’s President Putin urged the country’s gas monopoly Gazprom to revise its export policy, as the “shale revolution” and the development of liquefied natural gas will seriously eat into the country’s export revenues.

Experts agree that ‘alternative commodities’ have already started to reshape the market, with the US posing tough competition to Russia.

Nigeria oil output down 20 pct: officials

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria has lost at least a fifth of its oil output in recent weeks due to severe flooding and oil theft, government oil officials said on Wednesday, in comments that helped push oil prices higher.

Nigeria's oil is exported to the United States, Asia and Europe and the current disruptions estimated at 500,000 barrels per day could amount to as much as 0.5 percent of global supply

Exclusive: Nigeria loses billions in cut price oil deals - report

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria lost out on tens of billions of dollars in oil and gas revenues over the last decade from cut price deals struck between multinational oil companies and government officials, a confidential report seen by Reuters says.

A team headed by the former head of the anti-corruption agency Nuhu Ribadu produced the 146-page study on an oil ministry request. It covers the year 2002 to the present.

Abu Dhabi offers more oil to calm markets

Abu Dhabi is aiming to ramp up oil production capacity to 3 million barrels per day by the end of the year to bring "comfort to the market," according to Mohammed Al Hamli, the oil minister.

"As major responsible producer, we build the capacity to ensure that in case of a crisis, the world needs more oil, we have it," Mr Al Hamli said on the sidelines of an energy conference in Dubai.

Iraqi Kirkuk exports set to hit over one year high in Nov.

London (Reuters) - Iraqi exports of medium sour Kirkuk crude oil are set to rise to 484,000 barrels per day (bpd) in November, a preliminary loading programme showed on Wednesday, the highest in over a year.

Iraq aims to double power output

Iraq is racing to more than double its power production in the next two years using everything from the sun to Iranian gas.

Kuwait appoints consultants for mega oil projects

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait National Petroleum Co. (KNPC) said on Wednesday it has selected Foster Wheeler and Amec companies as consultants for two mega oil projects estimated to cost around $30 billion.

Gas producer Egypt turns to Algeria, Qatar for more

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt, a gas producer and exporter, has agreed to import Algerian gas and is in talks with Qatar for a similar deal, the prime minister said on Wednesday, a move that may help Egypt meet its own export contracts while domestic demand rises.

Egypt has two liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants and a pipeline to export gas, but energy industry sources say the government has been diverting some gas contracted for export to the domestic market, which suffered fuel shortages and electricity cuts in the summer.

Ten reasons to be cheerful, part 3: Energy

The oil, we are told, is running out, and they talk of 'peak oil.' There are vast reserves of coal, but it pollutes more than we want, so the talk turns to renewables. Biofuel from food grains lacks all sense or reason. The farmers loved it, of course, and so probably did the politicians who collected their votes. Poorer people who had to compete with Chelsea tractors for cheap food were less pleased.

Wind farms have blighted our areas of natural beauty, are very expensive, and may not even contribute to environmental quality when their whole life pollution, including construction, is factored in. Moreover there has to be back-up power for when winds prove unreliable.

Book Review: Oil, The 4th Renewable Resource by Shawn Ali

Oil, The 4th Renewable Resource by Shawn Ali debunks the myth that oil is not a renewable resource. The book explains that although there is a sufficient supply of oil, prices go up because less oil is refined.

Ali believes that oil companies set prices under an oligarchic model of price competition. Under the Peak Oil assumption, production increases until the supply of oil is exhausted and production ceases.

Report: Sea piracy drops to lowest level in four years

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Sea piracy has fallen to its lowest level worldwide since 2008, as policing by international naval forces has deterred pirates operating in the waters off Somalia, new figures from the piracy watchdog show.

U.N. envoy: Syrian government, rebels agree to truce

CAIRO (AP) — The U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria says the Syrian government and some rebel leaders have agreed to a ceasefire during the upcoming Muslim four-day holiday.

Iran Threatens to Halt Crude Exports If Sanctions Intensify

Iran will suspend all oil exports, pushing global crude prices higher, if the U.S. and Europe tighten sanctions further on the OPEC member’s economy, Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi warned.

“If you continue to add to the sanctions, we will stop our oil exports to the world,” he said at a news conference in Dubai. “The lack of Iranian oil in the market would drastically add to the price.”

Bankers set for $30-$50 mln from TNK-BP - Freeman

LONDON, (Reuters) - Bankers will likely pick up $30-$50 million for their work on Russian state-owned oil group Rosneft's $55 billion takeover of TNK-BP, according to Freeman Consulting.

China's CNOOC hopeful on Nexen bid; raises FY output goal

HONG KONG (Reuters) - CNOOC Ltd, China's top offshore oil and gas producer, said on Wednesday it was working to win regulatory approval from Canada this year for its $15.1 billion bid for energy producer Nexen .

Encana reports third-quarter loss on $1.2 billion charge

(Reuters) - Encana Corp, Canada's largest gas producer, posted a third-quarter loss as it recorded a $1.19 billion after-tax impairment charge related to a fall in natural gas prices.

Gas prices remained stubbornly low during the quarter and averaged $2.89 per million British thermal units - about 30 percent below where they were a year earlier.

Canadians could free themselves from oil imports, but will they?

You are not alone if you think it's odd that Canada--the world's ninth largest exporter of crude oil and petroleum products and the main supplier of oil imports to the United States--is itself a longtime oil importer, importing more than 40 percent of its oil needs this year.

The situation results from historical pipeline development which has left Canada without a major east-west pipeline to bring the huge surplus of oil produced in the western provinces--now primarily from tar sands--to the eastern part of the country. The country's provinces from Ontario eastward currently import a little more than 60 percent of their oil needs from overseas. That may be set to change.

Iberdrola to Sell $6.5 Billion in Assets to Reduce Debts

Iberdrola SA, Spain’s largest utility, plans to cut about 4 percent of its workforce and sell assets worth as much as 5 billion euros ($6.5 billion) by 2014 to reduce its debt.

The company aims to sell 1 billion euros of the assets by the end of 2012 as it makes a priority of reducing its leverage and investment in regulated businesses, Chairman Ignacio Galan said in a presentation to analysts. It targets 26 billion euros in debt by 2014, compared with 31 billion euros now.

Koch-Backed Texan Faces Sierra Club Fueled Bid for House

A global-warming skeptic backed by energy giant Koch Industries Inc. is squaring off against an opponent supported by the Sierra Club in a Texas congressional district where the largest U.S. oil discovery in decades drives the economy.

Five energy topics that won’t come up in tonight’s foreign policy debate — but should

If North America does become a major world oil producer and manages to shrink its imports, would that change U.S. foreign policy at all? Plenty of experts have argued that the U.S. economy will still be vulnerable to turmoil in the Middle East for years to come, that there’s no way to detach ourselves from the global oil markets even if we did become energy independent. But what do the candidates think about this?

Romney Mining for Votes in Coal Country

Cliff Forrest, founder and president of Rosebud Mining Co., says his coal-producing peers “lambasted” him in 2008 for voting for Barack Obama.

Initially attracted to Obama’s intelligence and pledge to work across the aisle, Forrest has returned to the fold among his coal-mining brethren. The 56-year-old has donated thousands of dollars to Republicans, including presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

The Costs of Electricity from Coal Over More Than a Century

The data suggest a qualitative difference between the behavior of fuel and capital costs, the two most significant contributors to total cost. Coal prices have fluctuated and shown no overall trend up or down; they became the most important determinant of fuel costs when average thermal efficiencies ceased improving in the U.S. during the 1960s. This fluctuation and lack of trend are consistent with the fact that coal is a traded commodity and therefore it should not be possible to make easy arbitrage profits by trading it. According to standard results in the theory of finance, this implies that it should follow a random walk.

American Electric Profit Declines on Lower Demand

American Electric Power Co. (AEP), which delivers electricity to more than 5 million customers in 11 states, said third-quarter profit fell 48 percent on customer defections, storm clean-up costs and sluggish demand for electricity.

Statoil Probe concludes North Sea Gas Leak was Serious

The Norwegian oil and gas company Statoil ASA (STO) said Wednesday that the May 26 gas leak on the Heimdal field in the North Sea was serious, and an investigation showed that the company had to strengthen its safety measures.

No one from the crew of 98 was injured by the leak, but both Norway's Petroleum Safety Authority and Statoil labeled it as a serious incident and launched investigations. The PSA said the leak had "significant potential."

BP asks for Gulf spill deal ok despite objections

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Oil giant BP has asked a federal judge to disregard objections from a fraction of claimants and give final approval to a proposed multibillion-dollar settlement over economic damages from the Gulf oil spill.

US downplayed effect of Deepwater oil spill on whales, emails reveal

The images from the summer of 2010 were undoubtedly gruesome: the carcass of a young sperm whale, decayed and partially eaten by sharks, sighted at sea south of the Deepwater Horizon oil well.

It was the first confirmed sighting of a dead whale since the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April that year – a time of huge public interest in the fate of whales, dolphins, sea turtles and other threatened animals – and yet US government officials supressed the first reports of the discovery and blocked all images until now.

EON to Withdraw From Finnish Fennovoima Nuclear Reactor

EON AG, Germany’s biggest utility, plans to withdraw from the Fennovoima Oy nuclear reactor project in Finland.

The company will exit the venture in the first quarter, Roger Strandahl, a spokesman for EON in Malmoe, Sweden, said today by telephone. Low power use and electricity prices in Europe prompted the decision, he said.

China says it’s ready to approve new nuclear plants, ending moratorium after Japan disaster

BEIJING — China has announced it is ready to approve new nuclear power plants as part of ambitious plans to reduce reliance on oil and coal, ending a moratorium imposed after Japan’s Fukushima disaster.

The government said Wednesday that it hopes to generate 30 percent of China’s power from solar, wind and other renewable as well as nuclear energy sources by the end of 2015. That’s up from an earlier target of 15 percent from renewables plus 5 percent from nuclear by 2020.

GM upgrading '13 Volt software to fix glitch

General Motors Co. said Monday it is upgrading the software on about 4,000 2013 plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt cars because a glitch could cause the electric motor to shut down.

GM said the issue only impacts owners that use the delayed charging function — which allows owners to recharge the vehicle at certain times.

Renewables subsidies costing UK households £4, says REA

Amid the furore over rising UK energy bills, the Renewable Energy Association (REA) today released figures indicating that renewables subsidies only make up 2% of the increases.

According to the Assocation’s calculations and Ofgem data, average British dual-fuel customers have seen their bills rise by £205 over the last two years. But of that, only £4 comes from support schemes for renewable.

British Public Want More Solar and Wind

A whopping 72 percent of those surveyed wanted more solar power, with only 5 percent wanting less than is currently installed and 12 percent wanting levels to stay the same.

An increase in nuclear power was favoured by 40 percent of those surveyed, but only 17 percent wanted more coal- and gas-powered stations.

Wind And Solar Make Up 100% Of New U.S. Electricity Capacity In September

September was tied for the hottest of any September on record globally. It was also a very hot month for renewable energy in the U.S. According to figures from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, wind and solar accounted for all new electricity capacity added to America’s grid in September.

Invasive Grasses as Biofuel? Scientists Protest

More than 200 scientists from across the country have sent a letter to the Obama administration urging the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider a rule, in the final approval stages, that would allow two invasive grasses, Arundo donax and Pennisetum purpureum, to qualify as advanced biofuel feedstock under the nation’s renewable fuel standard.

“As scientists in the fields of ecology, wildlife biology, forestry and natural resources, we are writing to bring your attention to the importance of working proactively to prevent potential ecological and economic damages associated with the potential spread of invasive bioenergy feedstocks,” the scientists write.

In U.S. building industry, is it too easy to be green?

A USA TODAY examination shows that thousands of "green" builders win tax breaks, exceed local restrictions and get expedited permitting under a system that often rewards minor, low-cost steps.

Liquid metal battery: Can we invent our way out of climate trouble?

MIT inventor of a liquid metal battery makes guest appearance on The Colbert Show and adds a note of optimism in climate debate. Can liquid metal battery or other battery technology diminish world's reliance on oil?

Dead Sea’s Record Loss Grows With Potash Makers Demand

The Dead Sea is shrinking at a record rate, prompting calls for Israel and Jordan to stop fertilizer makers from siphoning so much of the water whose restorative powers have attracted visitors since biblical times.

Prepare now for the global water crisis

Business needs to get wise about water, and fast. You can’t talk about climate change and ignore water – the two are umbilically linked. That’s the message from Anders Berntell of the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI). “Water is the bloodstream of our planet. What we mean by that it’s something that affects all activities of our planet and societies, including the business community.”

IKEA to move to clean energy by 2020, protect forests

OSLO (Reuters) - IKEA, the world's largest furniture retailer, will shift to renewable energy by 2020 and grow more trees than it uses under a plan to safeguard nature that has won support from environmentalists.

The Swedish-based group, which wants to build on many customers' desire for a greener lifestyle, also said on Tuesday it would limit sales by 2016 to energy-efficient products including induction cookers and LED light bulbs.

Green energy would save EU trillions by 2050: report

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A green revolution to make EU energy almost totally carbon-free by 2050 would generate 3 trillion euros ($3.9 trillion) in fuel savings, a report commissioned by environmental campaigners said.

The energy shift would already create around half a million extra jobs by 2020, researchers from German aerospace center DLR, which also specializes in energy and transport, found.

Wiping out species decreases resilience to climate change

The impact of climate change is likely to be much worse if species are lost; this is the finding from a group of researchers. Their recently published study suggests that high biodiversity acts as an insurance policy for nature and society alike as it increases the likelihood that at least some species will be sufficiently resilient to sustain important functions such as water purification and crop pollination in a changing environment.

'It's the same principle as an investment portfolio - you'd be mad to put all your eggs in one basket,' says researcher Johan Eklöf.

Prayer and the "spiritual biosphere"

That the biosphere is diseased is pervasive in human consciousness. The driver of this disease is called climate change.

Climate researchers blaze an uncertain trail

Tanzanian farmers use cell phones to document climate change, keeping track of how new pests and weather patterns affect their crops. Their work is the product of a unique climate change research method pioneered by Swiss-based scientists.

Impoverished Niger creates fund to fight desert spread

NIAMEY (Reuters) - Niger said on Monday it will launch a $110 million project to counter the impact of rapid expansion of deserts and increasingly unpredictable rains in one of the world's poorest countries.

"The programme aims to test strategies that will help us integrate climate risk and adapt climate change into our national planning," Abdou Souley, spokesman for Niger's planning and community development ministry, said.

The Issue That Dare Not Speak Its Name

A mountain of scientific evidence points to climate change as a serious risk for the human future. The Pentagon sees it as a threat to national security. Arctic sea ice hit a record low this summer. In some low-lying countries threatened by sea level rise, evacuation planning has already begun.

Yet the presidential debates are now over, and not once did climate change surface explicitly as an issue. This campaign is the first time that has happened since 1988, and environmental groups – and environmentally minded voters – are aghast.

Climate of Doubt

In the race to the White House this year, candidates have gone head-to-head on health care, the economy and foreign policy. But there is one issue that has been absent from all the debates -- climate change. On Frontline Tuesday, "Climate of Doubt" looks at how groups of global warming skeptics changed the political climate on the issue.

Obama, Romney ignore climate change, but so do voters

Energy and green energy were hot topics during the presidential debates, but climate change didn't come up once. The candidates may be avoiding the issue because voters don't want to hear a difficult message.

Sign on now, UN climate chief says

THE United Nations climate chief has called on Australia to sign up to a new round of the greenhouse-gas-limiting Kyoto Protocol, saying it already has significant clean-energy policies in place.

''From a national perspective it wouldn't change that much what Australia is already doing,'' the head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, said in Sydney.

EU needs to decide carbon reform "without delay" - draft

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A rapid rise in surplus EU carbon credits is expected to slow from 2014 onwards, but to tackle a short-term glut member states need to decide before the end of the year on a temporary fix, a European Commission draft document said.

The draft report on the carbon market also called on the member states to discuss and explore options for more lasting changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) after allowance prices hit a record low in April.

Italy, Spain need to pay up to meet Kyoto goals - EEA

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Indebted euro strugglers Italy and Spain are missing Kyoto targets and must pay up for international emissions credits or undermine the bloc's climate leadership, the European Environment Agency (EEA) said on Wednesday.

Australia's Antarctic airstrip melts

Australia's airstrip in Antarctica is melting, prompting a scramble to find a new way to supply its research bases on the icy continent.

Researchers said global warming has caused the glacial ice on the runway to turn to mush just four years after it was built for about £30 million. It was due to receive about 20 flights each summer but only six have been able to land in the past two years.

World's Glaciers Have New Size Estimate

The relatively small glaciers that drape the planet's mountains will play an important role in future sea level rise, according to a new study that estimated glaciers' collective size.

Researchers calculated the ice thickness for 171,000 glaciers worldwide, excluding the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, which hold the bulk of Earth's frozen water. Through a combination of direct satellite observations and modeling, they determined the total volume of ice tied up in the glaciers is nearly 41,000 cubic miles (170,000 cubic kilometers), plus or minus 5,000 cubic miles (21,000 cubic km).

Transport Beyond Oil
Policy Choices for a Multimodal Future
Island Press
release March (official) or February (inside planning) 2013


I have the honor to write Chapter 11, on freight. Some of my best work, IMHO.

Best Hopes for making an impact,


PS: The price of the book does not reflect exorbitant author's royalties.

Paperback priced at $40 vice $80 for hardcover...paperback estimated to be released in March

I guess the prices are all relative - I was found some other book that seemed interesting, and I looked at the price and it was over 800$ for the just-released 2nd edition. But I could buy a "used" copy of the 1st edition for 10$ (and the "used" copy arrived still wrapped in plastic). Not quite as current, but far more affordable. Go figure.

I could spring for a paperback when it comes out. 40$ isn't so bad.

Congratulations, Alan! You put a lot of work into it.

Congrats. BTW, Alan Drake will be doing an ASPO-USA webinar on 11/15/12.

Transport Beyond Oil
The Economic, National Security, Energy and Environmental Implications of Creating New Transportation Paradigms for the United States

Notice that I did not include Political >:-)

Best Hopes in getting it Ready,


I'm mostly a cynic, but when I'm feeling optimistic I hope that peak oil will make us reevaluate what's important and hopefully that leads to a self-sufficient communal lifestyle like the one described in this article. Probably not, but at least the article is a nice read.


"It’s easy to get enough rest if no one else wakes up early and the village goes dead during afternoon naptime. It helps that the cheapest, most accessible foods are also the most healthful — and that your ancestors have spent centuries developing ways to make them taste good. It’s hard to get through the day in Ikaria without walking up 20 hills. You’re not likely to ever feel the existential pain of not belonging or even the simple stress of arriving late. Your community makes sure you’ll always have something to eat, but peer pressure will get you to contribute something too. You’re going to grow a garden, because that’s what your parents did, and that’s what your neighbors are doing. You’re less likely to be a victim of crime because everyone at once is a busybody and feels as if he’s being watched. At day’s end, you’ll share a cup of the seasonal herbal tea with your neighbor because that’s what he’s serving. Several glasses of wine may follow the tea, but you’ll drink them in the company of good friends. On Sunday, you’ll attend church, and you’ll fast on Orthodox feast days. Even if you’re antisocial, you’ll never be entirely alone. Your neighbors will cajole you out of your house for the village festival to eat your portion of goat meat."

Interesting that people on the nearby island who eat similarly do not live as long.

It's really starting to look like societal engagement is what really matters. That's probably why religious people live longer: church provides social connections.

Maybe that's what's really bad about suburbia. Living in the 'burbs, IME, is the most isolating. In the city, community tends to be strong because population density is so high. In rural areas, the low population means everyone knows everyone. People often move to the suburbs because they want privacy, but maybe that's not good for you.

Also interesting: a lot of the foods mentioned in the article are New World foods - potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkin. I wonder what they grew instead of potatoes before Columbus.

Ikaria used to be one of the islands used for extradiction of people that had "dangerous" political beliefs. The island votes overwhelmingly communist. I visited the island in 2006 and I found it refreshingly pleasant and the people speak a Greek that is very close to the Cypriot tongue.

Yes, it does seem like social engagement--in addition to physical activity, healthy diet, etc.--is very important. The suburbs are easy to criticize for obvious reasons, but rural and urban areas (speaking as an American) don't provide what the Greeks in that article have either. In a big city, where I am, there is access to community (it is nothing like that described in the article), but it is much harder to find space to grow food and eat healthily (to much easy access to junk food). In rural America, everything is just so spread out and that it is hard to have a healthy community. What we really lack, if I can put it this way, is the village/small town experience where you can grow your own food and walk to your neighbors to have spontaneous hang-out.

What about small cities? I've always liked the eco-hood idea. The "bad" parts of older cities are often built in the most desirable areas, geographically speaking. Access to water and rail, good topsoil, etc. They're the "bad" areas of town now because they're the oldest - the first settled.

Buying a home with a yard in such areas is often cheaper than buying a farm or a McMansion. Or even renting a nice apartment in the city or suburbs. It meets Greer's requirement that the preps you make must make economic sense now, not just in your imagined future.

Yeah, the model from the article definitely sounds good. My wife and I just visited a small city (150,000) last weekend to try to get a feel for the place and to see whether we could pictures ourselves there. It just felt like one big suburb with almost no local stores, besides fast food. It really feels like in most places you have to start from scratch.

150K? Seems immense to me. Cut way back, less than 10K, maybe 2 or 3. You'll find the community is already developed usually, may have to look for one that suits.

Smaller does sound better, but my job prospects are limited so I have to look in places with a bit of higher population.

I had always heard that 40,000 was the ideal city size, that at that level relations were not strained, there was sufficient size for science and arts to flourish, etc. Paris in the Renaissance was always cited.

Looking around for the ideal city size, found this:

Almost devoid of people

Plato's optimum size was 5 040 households, about 20 000 people. Lower bounds were set by the number of occupations needed, and the ability to mount an adequate defense. Upper bound by the number of people who could gather together to hear one person of average voice speak, so they could interact as a single polis when needed.

That particular number lends itself to subdivision into groups of equal size, since it has 59 divisors, including 12 and 144. I guess to minimize squabbles when communal produce was harvested.

Smaller definitely seems to be better if you want to have participatory democracy. Any larger and you just get way to complex with way to many issues to consider.

And when I go to vote in a week or so, I will walk into the hall, and the folks who are manning the checklist will say "Hi Steve" and check me off and hand me a ballot. And when I'm done making my X-es in number 2 pencil, John will put my ballot through the slot into the oaken box (as he has done for the past 20 years), and I'll go out into the hall, mingle with my fellow citizens, and have a fresh baked cookie or two.

What IS democracy?

I grew up in a 2400 place. 3500 if you count the surrounding farmland. Now I live in a place that is nearly 10 times larger.

The issue in the US isn't only size, its the age of the community. Any place that was founded, say, after 1920 is totally automobile oriented. My wife and I visited a town in northern California called Paradise because we had heard that it was a great retirement community. Ha. There was no "there" there, just a long stretch of road with random strip malls too far apart to walk between. The surrounding area consisted of random sized lots dotted with mobile homes and cheap houses. Lots of "no trespassing" signs.

In this country you need to try to find a town founded before 1900 that isn't filled with evolutionary throwbacks. Good luck with that.

New Orleans has far more than it's share of evolutionary experiments, but not very many "throwbacks" :-P



The 50 Most Dangerous Cities In The World
The USA had some alarming scores too, led by New Orleans at 21.

Its those "throwbacks"

My wife and I tried that - rental house with a big yard, pre-existing raised beds and fruit trees, landlord keeps chickens in his backyard, urban farm a couple of blocks away. Then we moved in. Two attempted break ins, one successful break in while we were home and asleep, major construction on nearby roads that doesn't actually improve their terrible condition, and diesel trucks all day and some nights as well. We're moving out.

None of which is to say that this isn't a good idea, or wouldn't work for someone else who tried it. But caveat emptor and all that.

As all that have read me for some time know - I love living in New Orleans.

Community and talking with strangers of all types (and we have a WIDE range of types). Our ability to party is legendary (3 weekends of the year we do not have a festival of some sort).

We have bizarrely high creativity because there is no social pressure to conform (my opinion). A very high level of comity in many areas of life.

I walk down to the Farmer's Market on Saturday and get a variety of fresh fish, shrimp and vegetables & cheeses.

Music is just part of life.

We lead the nation in fewest miles driven by residents - NYC is #2.

Many negatives as well, but we are fixing all of those (except the weather) after Katrina.

I travel elsewhere in the USA and find much isolation and "coldness". It does feel like another nation in many ways.

Love for New Orleans,


I just got back from a family goodby meeting in Palo Alto ( all of us sibs are way overdue for the recycle bin). Those people had tons of money and fancy cars/everything, and their houses were full of gadgets (most of which, oddly, didn't work--??). I asked for their electricity bill and got a blank- what's a bill among us 0.01%?

Since we weren't getting any exercise except from yelling "what's that again", we took long walks past houses -all walled in, surrounded by their mercedes, etc. Nobody in sight except mexican yard men blowing the hell out of the few little piles of leaves in each scraggly yard full of strange plants.

What a place! Not real. And it took 60 kw-hrs/day to get there and back, if one believes David McKay. Kinda of a overwhelm of our back home electricity diet of 5kW-hrs/day from the PV.

I grew up just across the lake from N'Awlins, living on nothin plus epsilon, and happy, and today live a hermit's existence, so this caper to the source of all widgetry makes me feel mighty sinful. I shall do penance by conducting a community get-off-fossils meeting next week, where I am looking forward to showing off all my own widgetry of the wood-to-electricity variety-- which does work, haha.

I lived in Windhoek from '79 to '81 when the population was about 80,000 and I often thought it was the ideal size for a city. It had all the big city amenities -- good shops, modern hospital, wide variety of pubs and restaurants -- yet was small enough that you kept bumping into people you knew to say hello to.

The pilot with the bloodshot eyes: he was getting drunk at your party last night. The guy in the coffee shop: wasn't he suspiciously friendly with your girlfriend the other day? Not friends exactly, but people you have some sort of connection with.

Having also lived in places so small people have nothing better to do than gossip about each other all day, a certain amount of big-city anonymity is desirable.

The problem I've found with really small towns is you're an outsider...sometimes for generations. I've felt more at home in some foreign countries where I didn't speak the language.

Acceptance can be a problem. So it merits searching. Often, lines, cousins and family relations go back so far you might be wary of community inbreeding, which can give you an edge, if you don't take sides, and avoid the never ending squabbles/feuds. Perhaps the worst aspect is it becomes difficult to live beyond others projections about you. But isn't this the article's cited aspect that maintains longevity and cohesiveness?

I've lived in several small towns in New England. I live in a town of ~1000 now (this is a pretty small town), in central NH. The very day we moved in we were made to feel welcome, and it never stopped. Been here 20 years now, and feel like I'm totally at home (and have welcomed a few newcomers myself!).

Of the small towns I've lived in, only one made me feel like an outsider. You know, my people hadn't lived there for five generations or whatever. But it seemed like the exception. That town had other issues...

But overall, my experience has been very postitive - I believe the key is to come in with an open friendly attitude, and not to "put on airs". Just listen and learn to the local folkways...

I have a buddy from Texas who moved up here, said he couldn't believe how friendly the folks were, and how little they cared about "what you did", etc. - just met you as a person. Said that back in Houston (not a small town) people were way more class conscious.

Whatever! There are towns and there are towns...

I've lived in the boondocks of coastal northern California for almost 40 years. There are about 4,000 people spread out over almost 500 square miles. There is a "town" core with stores - post office, markets, bank, gas station, etc. Very few people actually live in town but rather are spread out in the mountains and valleys. In essence, there are a number of small "towns" based on the road people live on and, further, where they live on the road.

In the 1970's, there were three groups of people; the old timers who had lived here forever, back-to-the-landers and hippies. Each had their own "society" and seldom interacted with one another. What has happened over the years is that the hippies either moved out or became quasi-middle class, the old timers are dying off and are being replaced by we "new" people - the "new old timers". There aren't that many new people moving in.

The real key to "inclusion" has been participation in area activities because otherwise you never get to know people outside your immediate area/road. In my case, I served on the food co-op board, chaired the local planning advisory committee, was the VP on a non-profit food trucking co-op, was the foreman of our county grand jury, etc. As I've gotten older, I've withdrawn from being active but I participate in our local Grange where I'm one of the dishwashers for the monthly public breakfast, work on the work crews and am the "Lecturer" of our Grange. It also helped that I worked for the local school district where I met lots of people I would have never known.

A community is what you make of it. I've never been happier through these years and part of it comes from having lived in a variety of areas from close to NYC to a yacht basin in northern Ohio to the farm lands of Delaware.


Am I the only person who prefers to be anonymous? My whole *county* only has about 90,000 people in it. Frankly, it gets obnoxious seeing people you know all the time. There's only so much BS you can talk about with the same people every day before it gets annoying and they start to get on your nerves. I think the virtues of a small tight-knit community where everybody knows everybody are overblown.

I disagree, and I feel that if you can't live in a small community without it geting on your nerves, you have a problem.

Mind telling me which area you live in so I can stay faaaar away? Assimilate or die!

geez, sgage, there are lots of different kinds of folks.

And as others have said, there are lots of different 'small community cultures' .. There are many of them I would have no part of, either.

With individuals and with groups, I think the adage applies,
"Character is destiny."

I suspect age might be a factor as well. Young people seem to be genetically programmed to be restless. Otherwise, they'd never leave home. I know in my small town my classmates were all desperate to get away. Dating felt like dating a sibling, since they'd all known each other since kindergarten (if not earlier). Many chose colleges that were as far away as possible, either geographically or culturally.

Just curious, Leanan, you're in Hawaii now, right? My experience is that Hawaii feels more like a small town even in Honolulu than any other place I've been. I can easily imagine someone born and raised anywhere here finding it either very comfortably close or incredibly stifling. Maybe because you can't get away so easy.

I was born in Hawai`i, but am currently living in the northeastern US. I was raised all over the world, though.

Sounds a bit like my mom. She was born in Germany but due to being in a military family moved all over the place. Mostly Europe and the US, though. I feel like I've lived all over the place but compared to her it's nothing.

I lived up in the northeast on two separate occasions, in Boston, MA and Ithaca, NY. Neither can be said to be 'typical'... Though there is a local culture that underlies both places. Florida, where I lived for 10 years, is probably the most extreme example of a place where the local culture is mostly overwritten - it's there, but most of the population is from somewhere else or their parents are from somewhere else, so it's more of an echo than a voice.

I wonder what will happen in Florida as transport gets more expensive. It's very car centric and lacks a strong local culture...

Transport may be the least of their worries. I suspect climate change will be a far greater issue for Florida. They'll be underwater if sea levels keep rising. As it is, the history of hurricanes means a lot of people can't get home insurance. So the state is providing it...but of course, the hurricane fund is way underfunded. I imagine they're counting on a federal bailout if it becomes necessary.

Just like the president!

"Young people seem to be genetically programmed to be restless. "

That's the way of it in my family. Then around 40 KAPOW, the rock bolts fire down to bedrock and that's the last move until the trip to the cemetery.

I definitely know where you're coming from. That is an aspect of small town life I really do not like.

I wonder if that article has cause and effect reversed. While there is evidence that socially-connected people live longer, that doesn't necessarily mean becoming more socially connected will increase your longevity. Maybe communally oriented people simply live longer, and people who aren't cut from that cloth have all left, 'cause it was driving them nuts.

I love small town life as long as people aren't intrusive and they "live and let and live."

If people are nosy and gossipy and rejecting in small communities, forgedaboutit. Then then anonymity and social distance of the city is a relief.

I've often wondered if the "nosiness" prevalent in small towns is congruent with a lack of crime and a sense of caring for your neighbors. The anonymity of the big cities is, I think, the precursor to having to create a welfare society and all of the impersonal bureaucratic nightmare and high taxes that go with it. The increase in crime that comes with the anonymity is another cost, both in dollars and in anxiety, that is not normally added to the cost of urbanization.

The article did mention that. There is a really low crime because everyone knows everybody else (i.e. social pressure and accountability).

But also because the people own the means of production they can support family members that are unemployed, even though the unemployment rate is pretty high on the island. I think these are the two biggest reasons why we've had to create a welfare state: very little social accountability and the inability to subsist if one does not have have job (can't grow your own food and must pay high rents/taxes).... also due to the absence of a familial safety net. All of this, in my opinion, makes government assistance a necessary evil.

Low crime can be an illusion. I lived in a small town in Oregon for awhile, only 650 people and only 1 murder per year... do the math, that's a much higher crime rate then San Francisco. No doubt the issue in Oregon is the weather, no place to go, nothing to do, drives people nuts - small towns in Oregon at least have higher crime rates then places with more social opportunities.

@jjhman - True that, the crime issue, that is. I've lived in small towns and rural areas for half my life and cities half my life. There are surprising numbers of hard-working people in rural areas who accept various types of welfare - food stamps, state medical, help with rent or other programs, simply because of lack of jobs and opportunities.

Many small communities and even large towns and small cities in the Southwest, for example, have "poverty with a view".

Now, many of these folks won't reveal they're getting help . . . many work fulltime for the lower wages offered in small towns and smaller population centers. Even if they telecommute or freelance, they may not make as much money as those who live in large urban areas unless they are connected to larger companies or have some ability that commands lucrative rate.

So unless you're rural in way that is entirely self-sufficient or very cooperative and connected, there's plenty of the same bureaucracy / welfare systems of urban centers. Life in some small towns and rural areas can be very much like life in city suburbs - highly auto dependent and isolating. This rough economy has made this situation worse in small communities.

Very true. The stereotype of the welfare recipient is someone who lives in a big city, but as many have pointed out over the years, red states are more dependent on the federal safety net than blue states. It's been especially bad recently. Not only is it hard to get jobs that pay well in rural areas, the long distances involved in rural living mean people are being socked by high gas prices in a way even suburbanites are not.

An it harm none, do what thou wilt



But the article suggests that that kind of nosiness is what's so beneficial. It said they have no word for privacy.

And I'd guess that that's the norm for our species, historically. We evolved to live in small groups where everyone knows everyone.

It's why we love TV so much. Why in some countries, poor laborers sell their blood and use the money that's supposed to buy food for their children on movie tickets. We evolved to keep an eye on our neighbors, to find what other people are doing fascinating. And our stone age brains don't know that those pretty people on screen aren't real.

I live in a very small town and am moving to another small town, but way larger than the current one. Living in a small town and being part of the community is very much about conformity. Conformity might be ok for those who are comfortable with that which they are conforming to. As for me,however, sayonara.

The key is that we all have different personalities or we have very different Myers Briggs scores. I am very much an introvert and quite happy engaging in solitary activities most of the time. The stress begins when I am in situations where an extrovert would be more comfortable. I can't see my self living longer in that kind of situation.

You're the second or third person to talk about conformity, or 'assimilate or die'. In my very small, very rural, very low population density town, it seems like everyone does their own thing. That's why most of us live here, I expect. I certainly feel zero pressure to "conform".

I think we're probably thinking about different things when we think 'small town'. Some seem to be envisioning a small city, some (like me) a rural hamlet. We have one country store/gas station, a post office, and a combination fire/police station. That's about it. The store, the town dump on Saturday, and Town Meeting are the only places I see most of my fellow citizens. There are a couple of other people on my road that I see more often, though usually in passing.

I've lived in several different sized towns and cities all over the country, and managed to fall in with a good circle of people each time. I guess I've been lucky.

The town I live in sounds about the same size as yours. Don't get me wrong. I don't hate this place, especially since my family has had a family cabin here since the 1924. I will continue to have roots here regardless. The main reason I am moving is that I would like more urban amenities without having to drive to get them. By urban, I mean I am moving to a town of about 10,000. It has a high amenity to population ratio and one of my goals is to largely dispense with my auto.

I am fine in group settings that are goal oriented. It is the gatherings with small talk that drive me up the wall and make me very uncomfortable. This won't change of course when I move.

No, I don't think it depends on the size. I think it depends on the people. A small town can be as you describe, or it can be narrow minded and intolerant. I lived in a small town of less than 1000 in Oh about 40 miles from the nearest city, and it was the latter. I also lived in a small town in northern CA and it was the former. To think that all small towns, or all cities, are the same is naive imo.

Maybe it just has to do with stress levels, and since there are so many freakin humans in the world now, us introverted people are dying faster because we can't escape the ever-increasing number of busy-bodies! I wonder if there's a connection to your personal life as well? For example, my wife and I are extremely close, basically the exact same type of person and we get along perfectly. Perhaps whatever social connections I crave are satisfied by that relationship and I don't need any others? Just like workload in the office, there has to be some sort social limit that one person can maintain before it gets to be too much.

I understand where you're coming from, because I am very introverted as well...but I would guess your situation is not normal for our species historically (though it is very normal for modern Americans now).

For example, my wife and I are extremely close, basically the exact same type of person and we get along perfectly. Perhaps whatever social connections I crave are satisfied by that relationship and I don't need any others?

This is a very common situation now. But as Robert Putnam ("Bowling Alone") points out, this has not been the norm historically. We now pay strangers for a lot of the things we used to rely on our communities for. Which is certainly easier, at least if you have the money, but I wonder if it might be unhealthy, even for us introverts.

I feel pretty much the same way you do. Annonimity is great. Especially in real life. Small towns of any sort are not for me. I don't even want my family and friends (of which I have several in my city of approximately 1 million) to be too close to me, lest I bump into them too often.

But maybe I'm just too modern for my own good...


Maybe it's the difference between a small town and the boondocks. I go to town (15 miles away) twice a week to get the mail and do some shopping otherwise I see no one since I'm at the end of a mile long private road. My nearest neighbors, besides our tenant, are a mile away. It's nice to see and talk to people I know. It's nice to go to the building supply or market and just give them my account number (if they don't already remember it) to "charge it" and get a bill at the end of the month. And, in the age of identity theft, I could give you my account numbers but they'd call the cops because they'd know you aren't me.

It's fun to do dishes at the monthly Grange breakfast and see people I would never see on a regular basis otherwise. I'm certainly not mister activity at this point but I don't think you've really experienced what real isolation is.


No, it is not the size of the town but the people who are there. I had a big shock moving from Wales (city 120+k) to England (village few k), the people were so cold and distant. Moving too close to someone put their alarms up. I walked past a street party for the Queen's Silver Jubilee. Someone hailed me for something and I said that I didn't live there, instant outcast. If that had been where I came from I would have been called over to join in. I was surprised to be greeted with a 'good morning' or whatever in the village (a few hundred) I moved to and when I popped around to my new next door neighbour to ask them to let the delivery men drop a new fridge in I ended up, several hours later, struggling to find the key-hole. Now in a big town (100k) in Mexico, people greet strangers with a 'buenos dias'. No, not the size but the people.


I find it interesting how different people find different size cities for their ideal. I wonder how much it depends on the individual nature of those towns? Depending on ones likes/dislikes, two towns of identical size might seem very different as a living environment. Alan from Big Easy clearly loves New Orleans for many aspects not directly related to size.

I lived in Houston for a few years and I hated it. Big and congested, the weather sucked, too socially and politically conservative, too flat, little or no public land.... Houston just was not my kind of place. I also lived in Denver for awhile, and it was much more tolerable (to me). Better weather, not quite so conservative, mountains that one could get to at least on weekends.... still kind of big and congested but overall much more my kind of place. I also lived briefly in a small town in Wyoming. Wyoming had lots of accessable mountains and public land, not a bad climate, but much too small a town and I didn't much care for the social and political atmospher.

I've lived in Anchorage for a couple of decades now, and it seems a good fit to me. With about 300,000 people it is big enough to have most things I might want in a city, but not so big as to be overwhelming. I like the climate. The mountains come right to the edge of town. I run into lots of people I know around town, yet I don't feel like I can't be anonymous if I'm in the mood to be. Lots of really interesting and different people. Still a bit conservative, but Anchorage also has a significant vocal and active population on the left end of the political spectrum. A good network of trails right in town for biking in the summer and skiing in the winter. Some people hate Anchorage but it works well for me.

To each his own!

I had really liked the Albuquerque East Mountains, maybe 30,000 total, but most worked in the city. Working weekends at the ski area helped, you had a click of a hundredish who did that, all loving the same sport, and that meant you had friends all over town. Plus large numbers of others in town remembered I'd taught their kid to ski. Alas good things don't last forever, I had to move away to maintain an income.

This is definitely a factor: homophily. People tend to be happier with people who are similar to themselves. This applies to families as well as larger communities. It's tough to be a conservative in a family full of liberals, or the only Jew in a town full of Baptists.

That's probably why religious people live longer: church provides social connections

Yes it does. I think the key item is stress, a relative lack of people stresses extroverts, introverts like me on the other hand get stressed by too many people.

That was a fascinating article. I, like lots of the folks in this tread, would have a serious problem with the lack of privacy. But, if I came from that background, I might be different.

I wondered if anyone on here has been watching Yukon Men? It's a reality show about life in a small (200 people) town in the Alaskan interior. As a peak oiler, it is interesting to see that although much of their lifestyle is what many probably envision in a post-peak world, or have been "prepping" for, it is very gasoline intensive, due to the use of snowmobiles.


The electricity almost certainly comes from a diesel generator - either barged in during the summer (are they on the Yukon River ?) or barged & trucked (is there a road) or the diesel is flown in.


Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending October 19, 2012

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged over 14.8 million barrels per day during the week ending October 19, 17 thousand barrels per day below the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 87.2 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging 9.0 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging 4.4 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged over 8.8 million barrels per day last week, up by 476 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged about 8.4 million barrels per day, 396 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 526 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 59 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 5.9 million barrels from the previous week. At 375.1 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 1.4 million barrels last week and are in the lower half of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories, and blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 0.6 million barrels last week and are below the lower limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 0.2 million barrels last week, but remained above the upper limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 4.0 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged over 19.0 million barrels per day, up by 1.4 percent from the same period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged over 8.6 million barrels per day, down by 1.8 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged over 3.8 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, down by 7.7 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 7.1 percent higher over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

Leanan... do you know where on the EIA that they would list total liquid fuel production in the United States? By that I mean, crude, condensate, NGL, Biofuels and etc.

BlueTwilight... thanks for the link. Yes, I see the overall figure for total liquid production. I was also trying to find a breakdown in the different products such as crude oi, condenstate, NGL's, biofuelds.. etc.

One might also look at the EIA's Monthly Energy Review, which provides data such as this table:


E. Swanson

Black_Dog... great.. thanks for the pdf. It does break down the different liquid energy sources.

Short flyover video of La sinkhole: http://www.activistpost.com/2012/10/new-flyover-of-louisiana-sinkhole-sh...

Note oil on the surface.



That cavern is among over fifty storage caverns and wells in the 1-mile by 2-mile Napoleonville Salt Dome that seven oil and gas industry companies use for storage of compressed chemicals.

This, also. Dated same day, yesterday, as flyover in Assumption Parish.


Todd - About 5 miles from the sink hole I'll be spudding my new well tomorrow. Might be running the first log this weekend. From your flyover link it looks like I can drive up pretty close. I'll see if I can get some snapshots.

The oil? I've read speculation that the oil is from small natural traps on the flank of the dome that were breached when the cavern water pushed to the surface and not from any cavern itself. Not a big difference either way: oil in the water is messy regardless of the source. In your film you can see the oil boom they have deployed trying to keep the oil from migrating away from the sink hole

Geologist explains how breach in cavern wall allowed ‘frack out'

Shaw geologist Gary Hecox explained ... how a breach in the side wall of the cavern inside the Napoleonville Dome allowed sediments into the cavern.

Enough earth flowed into the formerly plugged and abandoned cavern to squeeze the brine inside the cavern and raise its pressure so that a “frack out” of the cavern occurred, extending to the surface. Hecox said a 'frack out' happens when hydraulic pressure is raised enough to cause cracks that serve as channels to release the pressure.

The frack out brought up brine, oil and natural gas from surrounding natural formations along the salt dome’s edge to the overlying water aquifer and to the surface. Hecox said the weakening areas of earth around the sinkhole’s rim are moving west and conform with this theory.

... Hecox presented a scenario taking into account all the unaccounted-for material that demonstrated the present sinkhole would grow to 1,500 feet in diameter and remain far from any residents. The sinkhole is 550 feet across.

Mark Cartwright, a Texas Brine vice president, said about 2,800 barrels of crude oil were removed from the cavern and another 600 barrels skimmed from the surface of the sinkhole.

US may soon become world's top oil producer

The Energy Department forecasts that U.S. production of crude and other liquid hydrocarbons, which includes biofuels, will average 11.4 million barrels per day next year. That would be a record for the U.S. and just below Saudi Arabia's output of 11.6 million barrels. Citibank forecasts U.S. production could reach 13 million to 15 million barrels per day by 2020, helping to make North America "the new Middle East."

The last year the U.S. was the world's largest producer was 2002, after the Saudis drastically cut production because of low oil prices in the aftermath of 9/11. Since then, the Saudis and the Russians have been the world leaders.

They play pretty fast and loose with the terminology and the types liquids being produced. Especially when you read the headline and compared to the paragraph I quoted.

More cornucopian propaganda. Drive on folks, there's plenty of oil.

Fahey is on Twitter, where I pointed out to him that ethanol is not a hydrocarbon. Doubt he cares.

This idiocy is now being repeated at Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/23/us-worlds-top-oil-producer_n_20...

All we lack now is a cover story at People Magazine to complete the circle of serious outlets for energy news of this calibre.

The straight-line extrapolation fallacy.

spec - But it's a short straight line extrapolation. See my post below. All the US has to do is increase production by 2.6 million bopd and we would become the largest oil producer on the planet today. Or if Russia drops 1.3 mm bopd and we add 1.3 mm bopd we'll be NUMBER ONE!!! LOL.

With only a 3% difference in global oil production between us and the number one dog it's rather disgusting IMHO to see folks characterizing us as the poor kid on the block. When I see folks in this country sitting on the curb dying of malnutrition due to energy shortages as I have in Africa I might start feeling sorry for us. Maybe.

This article was noted on the October 22 Drumbeat yesterday. As I pointed out in a comment there this morning, the author, Jonathan Fahey, worked for FORBES for 10 years before he became an energy writer at the Associated Press. Perhaps that explains his optimistic presentation of the situation, especially his use of volumes of liquid produced instead of energy in his piece. I'm expect that he knows better, since he claims that "I spent the 2007-2008 academic year at as a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT". One can only wonder about the reason for his obvious optimistic bias...

E. Swanson

I wonder whether there is actually a conspiracy of sorts, or whether this "undue optimism" can be ascribed to mankind's tendency towards belief systems that make us happy. Many religions have dogmas that allow for immortality and self-importance that are not supported by observation, but they certainly make people feel better. The same thing can be applied to energy optimism - the idea that the world is about to hit oil scarcity leading to resource wars is awfully depressing.

Of course the primary problem facing the US consumer is the average 17%/year rate of increase in global annual (Brent) crude oil prices from 2002 to 2011, as the ratio of Global Net Exports of oil (GNE*) to Chindia's Net Imports (CNI) fell from 11.0 in 2002 to 5.3 in 2011, and the rate of decline, at least through 2011, was accelerating.

The primary driver behind the US lower 48 renaissance in production is this price signal, aided by improved technology, but the dominant global trend we are seeing is that the developing countries, led by China, have been, since 2005, consuming an increasing share of a declining volume of GNE.

Chinese per capita consumption of total petroleum liquids increased from 1.5 BO per person/year in 2002 to 2.7 BO per person/year in 2011. By way of comparison, US and Japanese numbers in 2011 were respectively 22 and 12.6 BO per person/year, in both cases declining, as both countries are being outbid for access to global net exports.

For every one BO per person/year increase in Chinese consumption, the volume of Available Net Exports (or ANE, GNE less Chindia's Net Imports) would fall by 3.7 mbpd, assuming flat Chinese production and assuming no increase in India's net imports (ANE in 2011 were 35 mbpd).

Increasing US production is very important, but the Texas natural gas data--and numerous recent shale play reports that support Art Berman's work--are not very encouraging for the longer term. In Texas, which has had the longest recent history of the use of widespread modern drilling and completion efforts in shale gas plays, we have seen a steady year over year increase in Barnett Shale gas production, through 2011. However, total Texas natural gas well production started declining in 2009, as rising shale gas production could no longer offset declines elsewhere (Texas RRC data). The Texas data are not encouraging for either the longer term US shale gas outlook or for the longer term US shale oil outlook.

In any case, the decline rate from existing wellbores in the US is going up, as shale plays make up an increasing share of total oil & gas production. And of course, we are increasing our rate of depletion of remaining US resources.

*GNE = net exports from top 33 net exporters in 2005, BP + Minor EIA data

the decline rate from existing wellbores in the US is going up, as shale plays make up an increasing share of total oil & gas production. And of course, we are increasing our rate of depletion of remaining US resources.

At least the remaining US resources are considered to be higher than a few years ago, because of the shale plays :-)

Well, estimated recoverable reserves are higher, but the total volume of hydrocarbons, at least in any time frame relevant to humans, is not increasing. As previously noted, depletion is a one way street.

My concern is that the increase in US production is being used to encourage the "Party On Dude" outlook. The basic message being conveyed is that there is no problem in sight for the US auto-centric suburban way of life, even as global annual crude oil prices increased at 17%/year from 2002 to 2011, and as the rate of decline in the GNE/CNI ratio accelerated, at least through 2011. I've compared the current conventional wisdom outlook in the US to a couple of airline passengers discuss dinner plans, oblivious to the fact that the aircraft is nosing over into an ever steepening dive toward the ground.

"If North America does become a major world oil producer and manages to shrink its imports, would that change U.S. foreign policy at all?"

It always amuses me when folks put out such headlines and think they are reporting something shocking. If North America does become a major world oil producer??? For the latest number I've seen (2011) the US is already the third largest oil producer on the planet and has been for many, many years. And how far are we from being the number one dog? Russia is first with 12% of global production with the KSA is right behind at 10%. And then there we are at a shade under 9%. So if we increase our share of global oil by 3% or so we'll be a NUMBER ONE!!!.

Yes: all it would take is for us to increase production a % or two and for Russia to decrease a % or so and we'll be NUMBER ONE!!! Add that to the fact that the US is the NUMBER ONE producer of NG on the planet (with Russia just a tiny bit behind us) and the USA is already THE premier energy producer on the planet. And that's not counting our coal and nuclear energy production. I mentioned the other day about getting tired of hearing folks offer that, on the one hand, the US is so dependent on oil imports, but that soon we might be energy independent. From an overall view point the US, IMHO, is one of the most (if not the most) energy independent countries in the world already and has been for decades. Yes...we aren't oil import independent. But we are 5% of the global population that's consuming more than 25% of the oil on the planet. What we don't produce ourselves we simply buy from someone else because we can afford to. I haven't seen the number but when you add in NG and other domestic energy sources we must be consuming an even high percentage of global ENERGY. Just like at the Animal Farm: all countries are equally dependent on energy. Just some are more equal than others. LOL.

For goodness sake stop whining: you sound like Romney complaining about paying more taxes and thus being left with just a few hundred $million to survive on. LOL. Millions on this planet would die to have our energy resources. And many are dying because they don't.

I'm not going to bother doing the math as it would impact the numbers from below were we to increase production a scotch over 3%...

US crude oil imports fall to 12-year low

The US imported 8.91m barrels a day of crude oil last year, according to the US Energy Information Administration, the lowest amount since 1999.

Imports as a share of US oil consumption dropped to 44.8 per cent, the lowest proportion since 1995, down from a peak of 60.3 per cent in 2005.

(Oh dear, looks to be a paywall so Google it)

My point would be that even if we were to become NUMBER ONE! we would not be energy independent. Now I realize the current political spiel is North American Energy Independence" and of course this is just crude so I'm open to any alternative assessments of how much increasing our total hydrocarbon, crude, liquid, gas, etc production would impact US or North American energy independence.


This rubbish was also carried in the business section of one of the local dailies in my neck of the woods. I was composing a comment to point out the misleading nature when I ran into problems.

I did a search for EIA data and found this absolutely delightful web page with a table and graph of US crude oil production from 1860 to 2011. Nothing near the numbers quoted. Similarly, the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2012 although showing higher numbers, still doesn't come close.

Please can anyone here figure out where the author got these fantastic (as in fantasy) numbers from? I would really like to set my local guys straight.

Alan from the islands

P.S. With Sandy almost on top of us, the wind is just now beginning to pick up. Just a few minutes ago my anemometer was indicating 0 mph.7-8 mph now.

EIA: International Energy Statistics
EIA USA total oil supply (i.e. liquid fuels) in thousands of barrels/day:

January 2012: 10,769.129
Feb. 2012: 10,840.379
March 2012: 10,856.129
April 2012: 10,837.800
May 2012: 10,929.194
June 2012: 10,895.900

From the drop down menu, Total oil supply includes crude oil, NGPL, other liquids and refinery processing gain. Add the biofuels production to the total oil supply to get the numbers the articles are stating. The IES pages only list the most recent production of biofuels from 2010 as 887.624 kb/s. Processing gain is the volumetric increase in the finished products. Citing the production of liquid fuels as oil is propaganda for the oil industry, plain and simple.

EIA U.S. crude and natural gas condensate production is the closest the EIA comes to reporting crude oil production. In thousands of barrels per day, it is:

January 2012: 6,133.710
Feb. 2012: 6,195.207
March 2012: 6,297.387
April 2012: 6,246.800
May 2012: 6,254.935
June 2012: 6,260.100

The problem with that first batch of data is that refinery processing gains don't produce any increase in energy available. Also, comparing that mixture total with Saudi crude, as Fahey does, is not proper, since the Saudi crude numbers don't include any processing gains. Not to mention that ethanol has only 2/3 the energy content of crude.

The EIA Monthly Energy Review does provide crude production in Section 3.3, Table 3.1. The list for US crude production you posted appears to be for crude and the NGPLs are shown in another column of that section of the MER. The data for 2012 is subject to later revision, so the high precision presented in the table, fractions of a 1/1000 Mbbl/d, is likely meaningless...

E. Swanson

Black_Dog, you had my hopes up for a little bit. Sadly footnote b indicates that the data includes lease condensate (i.e. natural gas condensate).

Sorry to say, I missed that footnote. It would be interesting to separate out the "lease condensate" fraction from the reported crude produced.

However, to add even more confusion, it occurred to me that the column listing "processing gain" should be split between domestic crude and imported crude. That the gain occurred during refining of imported crude within the US makes it appear that US petroleum production is slightly greater than it is. Imports of various products like gasoline and diesel already have some processing gain added when the refinery outside the US processed the crude. If the processing gain were allocated as I've suggested, the result would be a larger volume of imported crude and lower domestic production, compared to that which is reported. Fun with statistics creative accounting, I suppose...

EDIT: Furthermore, to calculate the fraction of the "refinery gain" to be credited toward imports, one must first split the reported US crude production into crude and lease condensate fractions, then allocate the appropriate fraction of that "gain" to domestic and imported crude volumes.

If anyone still cares, recall that the MER was changed under Bush the Second, shifting the focus away from accounting in BTUs (actually QUADS) to accounting in barrels. The result is the present confusion in which products of different energy content per barrel are mixed into one massive mess which requires a "fudge factor" at the end of the table called "adjustments" to force the totals to add up to the sum of products delivered. It could be argued that the reason was political, as the result understated the fraction of imports relative to domestic production...

E. Swanson

Ok, thanks. Your post led me to do a little more digging and bingo!


has a list of countries and clicking on the country reveals data available for that country. Under the heading "Find statistics on [country]" if you click on "Petroleum (Thousand Barrels per Day)" displays annual data that, looks like it might match the numbers being bandied about in the article in question here's a table comparing the numbers for the top three countries:

Country Total Oil Crude Oil
Saudi Arabia 11,153.02 9,458.36
Russia 10,228.52 9,773.52
United States 10,141.68 5,658.01

Looking at the "Total Oil" column, yeah, it looks like the US is on the verge of overtaking Russia and is within striking distance of Saudi Arabia. However looking at the "Crude Oil" column the US is just under 4 mbpd short of Saudi Arabia and a little over 4 mbpd short of Russia.

So, the question is, what exactly are the "other liquid hydrocarbons" that the US is producing roughly 4.5 mbpd of? Data that I could find suggests that biofuels (ethanol and bio-diesel) contribute less than 1 mbpd. Where does the other 3+ mbpd come from and why don't Russia and Saudi Arabia produce these "other liquid hydrocarbons" in a similar ratio to their crude oil production?

Alan from the islands

P.S. Sandy has come and gone. My anemometer registered a maximum gust of 45 mph at 6 feet (2m) above my apartment roof. More than 50% of the electric utilities customers have no electricity, some communities were flooded, several roads were blocked by landslide or falling trees/utility poles and lots of damage to cultivation especially bananas has been reported. It's pick yourself up and dust yourself off time now. Both international airports have reopened and things should start returning to normal tomorrow. I have no electricity so, unless the the power comes back within the next few hours, my only internet access will be via my smartphone which I can charge in my van.

NGPL - Natural Gas Plant Liquids - ethane, butane, propane

From EIA glossary:

Natural gas plant liquids: Those hydrocarbons in natural gas that are separated as liquids at natural gas processing plants, fractionating and cycling plants, and in some instances, field facilities. Lease condensate is excluded. Products obtained include liquefied petroleum gases (ethane, propane, and butanes), pentanes plus, and isopentane. Component products may be fractionated or mixed.

biofuels - ethanol and biodiesel

I call lease condensate, natural gas condensate to clearly specify that it does not come from crude oil. It is readily refined into gasoline.

Lease condensate: A mixture consisting primarily of hydrocarbons heavier than pentanes that is recovered as a liquid from natural gas in lease separation facilities. This category excludes natural gas plant liquids, such as butane and propane, which are recovered at downstream natural gas processing plants or facilities.

That four and a half million out of ten sure is a lot of "oil" that's not really oil but, hey, if it's going to save us, what the heck!

Alan from the islands

More cornucopian propaganda. Drive on folks, there's plenty of oil.

The point is as a country the US folks have stopped driving more.

Per head they're driving less.

China is a different story I'm sure.

I understand, from graphs like this one, that the later a country industrialises, the lower the maximum 'car density' that is reached. So, I believe millions of Chinese will stay dreaming about owning a car. http://www.321energy.com/editorials/karn/karn080107c.gif

Put me down for not wanting to be part of the new Middle East. I don't even like the old Middle East. And I don't like the idea that these articles completely ignore the carbon impacts accompanying the attitude that we can now just forget using anything other than hyrocarbons.

Climate Progress had a great article about that "becoming a new MiddleEast" thing...and our climate will become a lot like theirs too!

Tyler Durden obviously gets it and has some conclusions about our future.

Worth reading.


Chris Martenson wrote that, not Tyler Durden.

Thank you for the correction...opps.

It was never clear to me who Tyler Durden was.

Noah Smith recently cleared up this confusion for me...

How Zero Hedge makes your money vanish

Zero Hedge is a financial news website. The writers all write under the pseudonym of "Tyler Durden", Brad Pitt's character from Fight Club. Each post comes with a little black and white icon of Brad Pitt's head. On Zero Hedge you can read news, rumors, facts, figures, off-the-cuff analysis, and political screeds (usually anti-Obama, anti-government, and pro-hard money). On the sidebars, you can click on ads for online brokerages, gold collectibles, and The Economist.

Wow that was a really horribly written opinion piece. I don't know who Tyler Durden or Noah Smith are. At least zero hedge is entertaining to read though. And their site doesn't have annoying scripts running that muck up my browser like Noah's.

I agree with you. I am regular zero hedge reader and I don't use it for trading. I don't trade at all. I use zero hedge as a non-MSM source of financial news and analysis just as I use oildrum as a non-MSM source of energy related news and analysis.

Tyler Durden is a character in the film "Fight Club".

From that linked article by Martenson is this gem:

Inflation will come. Because of the tendency of humans to try and print their way out of trouble, and because the system is now so saturated with debt that 'allowing' it to crumble to meet the realities of a world of less would risk a catastrophic systemic collapse of institutions and ruling parties, there's not much doubt that sooner or later all this will end in a very scary round of inflation.

This is something I've posted numerous times but most responses are 'no, deflation', however inflation must take hold (not necessarily yet, but) at some future point in time if we continue to try and counter the effects of an ever increasing net energy decline by printing (or simply adding electronically) more currency, because it has the effect of watering down it's value.

QEIII is unprecedented in that it is an open ended program, i.e. monthly amounts added to the monetary system as needed. What does that tell us about our situation? It means growth is not occurring from low interest rates like it use to due to higher energy prices along with lower EROEI. Thus, we have to artificially force growth via QE's. I conjecture that those monthly amounts will become secretive - that the next policy will be to not publish that information due to concerns of inflation.

Perk Earl commented:

This is something I've posted numerous times but most responses are 'no, deflation', however inflation must take hold (not necessarily yet, but) at some future point in time if we continue to try and counter the effects of an ever increasing net energy decline by printing (or simply adding electronically) more currency, because it has the effect of watering down it's value.

Inflation has been obfuscated for some years since "energy and food" was taken out of the core rate of inflation used for COLAs etc. As we well know on TOD, this is PRECISELY the part of the economy being inflated. For instance it is always fascinating when consumer purchases are touted as being "up" solely due to more money being spent to buy more costly gasoline. Rentier parts of the economy like housing prices are down due to tbe bubble popping. Manufactured goods like the iPhone are staying steady so far due to offshoring jobs to the cheapest labor with the least pollution or regulatory pollution or quality controls.

The following article on CounterPunch.org provides an excellent summary of "Monetary Fascism" :


Beginning sometime around 1970 the U.S. and most of the ‘free world’ have diverged from traditional “free market capitalism” to something different. Today the U.S. and much of the world’s economies are operating under what I call Monetary Fascism: a system where financial interests control the State for the advancement of the financial class.

Looks like an interesting article to be read once returning from the mines so to speak.

Inflation will come, but only when the banks start lending again and feed the fractional reserve banking money explosion. Until then the money that is being printed is not resulting in run-away inflation. Also the fact that the dollar is a reserve currency helps for some time.. How long is anybody's guess.
I think money is a proxy for energy, both renewable and non-renewable. When you take away the non-renewable part of energy, you are left with more money than energy in the system. This is inflation.. The 2008 crash removed "wealth" from the system and the fed is been working at filling the hole and possibly creating another bubble. It appears that the cycles of growth and recession have been squeezed such that it appears that we are standing in one place. This is probably the growth plateau..

I read analyses that inflation and deflation might occur at the same time, but on different goods: inflation on energy and food. Deflation on things like houses and cars. Seems to make sense to me, in a transition from an economy of 'what we want' to an economy of 'what we need.' Priorities will shift dramatically and so will the pattern of expenditure of the masses.

Book Review: Oil, The 4th Renewable Resource by Shawn Ali

I know it is good to put up the stories with alternative views. But that book looks like nothing but a bunch of half-baked conspiracy theories.

Or http://www.amazon.com/The-Asylum-Renegades-Hijacked-Worlds/dp/0061766275

The Asylum: The Renegades Who Hijacked the World's Oil Market
from Leah McGrath Goodman

A story of high oilprices because of speculation

Initial results reported as lab analyzes clay samples from North Dakota oilpatch

Initial results of clay samples from western North Dakota show varying percentages of alumina content, a finding of interest to the North Dakota Geological Survey that commissioned the study. Scientists in a lab at North Dakota State University's Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) are completing analysis of the clay, often referred to as kaolin, which could eventually play a role in proppants used for hydraulic fracturing in North Dakota oil exploration.

Currently, proppants used in western North Dakota oil development typically come from other states or other countries. Murphy notes that companies will use approximately 5 million tons of proppants in North Dakota oil development in 2012. In a recent report, the North Dakota Geological Survey estimates about 1.7 billion tons of economically mineable kaolin in western North Dakota.

Map: https://www.dmr.nd.gov/ndgs/Clay%20map/GI_158.pdf

Coyotes becoming problem for urban areas

Coyotes have long inhabited rural areas, but they now are a growing problem near cities and in the suburbs.

"Most people are concerned about their personal safety and the safety of pets," he said. "Coyotes are not a major threat to humans, and there have been very few incidents. However, coyotes, which typically weigh 25 to 35 pounds, will eat cats and small dogs and they can destroy a garden."

In his studies, Armstrong has found coyotes cause the most damage for fruit and vegetable growers. He said the common belief is that coyotes are only carnivorous – eating small animals and occasionally larger ones such as a small deer — but they like some fruits and vegetables as well, especially watermelons.

Coyotes that live in cities and suburbs and eat feral cats, stray dogs and small deer sound like a solution, not a problem.

They can't hold a candle to the javalina (collared peccary) we've got down here. Nothing like an herbivore with hooves and tusks to really mess up the veggies. My garden is a walled city.


In Cyberattack on Saudi Firm, U.S. Sees Iran Firing Back

... Shamoon’s code included a so-called kill switch, a timer set to attack at 11:08 a.m., the exact time that Aramco’s computers were wiped of memory. Shamoon’s creators even gave the erasing mechanism a name: Wiper.

Computer security researchers noted that the same name, Wiper, had been given to an erasing component of Flame, a computer virus that attacked Iranian oil companies and came to light in May. Iranian oil ministry officials have claimed that the Wiper software code forced them to cut Internet connections to their oil ministry, oil rigs and the Kharg Island oil terminal, a conduit for 80 percent of Iran’s oil exports.

After analyzing the software code from the Aramco attack, security experts say that the event involved a company insider, or insiders, with privileged access to Aramco’s network. The virus could have been carried on a USB memory stick that was inserted into a PC.

“The Iranians were faster in developing an attack capability and bolder in using it than we had expected,” said James A. Lewis, a former diplomat and cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Both sides are going through a dance to figure out how much they want to turn this into a fight.”

Cyberwar has broken out in the mid-East. Wow, I'm living in a William Gibson novel.

When are folks going to learn that Windows is not secure?


And the fact that it sucks. Won't be falling for the new Windows version especially since I now almost exclusively use Linux.



High security awareness can also be that the md5 checksums on critical OS modules are kept in an external reference location, and any change to checksums via wkly scans get auto-reported to system security (net admins or sys admins)

Reference products like tripwire, or openssh or any program that can generate md5 checksums or such fingerprinting techniques to know a file has not been modified.

Rootkit detection via remote scans might be a good idea as well.

Stability BEFORE Security, Every windoze reboot is morphing experience, just like Russian roulette. Just missed an important Webinar since the web app decided it
was now in a 64 bit environment and kept attempting re-install and reboot. Didn't Elvis shoot his TV? Imagine what he do with WIN 7.

was now in a 64 bit environment and kept attempting re-install and reboot.

I played with Linux a while back and the one thing that really amazed me was that you could do a full kernel upgrade without rebooting... I've been through way too many headaches with Windows OS upgrades. I think might be time for me to go to Linux full time. Pay good money for Windows 8? Nah, fool me once shame on me, fool me 8 times! What am I a F*ckin idiot? >;-)

Hi Fred, at work I use Windows 7 and Office 2010 because I have to. At home I use Linux and Firefox and Google docs. Perfect :)

I am like you. The most modern version of windows I own on a computer is Widows 3.11

Hang on.

The code that attacked the Saudi facilities had similar components to the code that attacked Iranian facilities - and it's the Iranians to blame?

Surely that suggests that a third party is to blame, one that would benefit from disruption in the oil supply from the Gulf?

What are those Russian Oligarchs doing nowadays .... ?

THE United Nations climate chief has called on Australia to sign up to a new round of the greenhouse-gas-limiting Kyoto Protocol, saying it already has significant clean-energy policies in place.

And what will be the method to prevent the 70% waste in the present 'clean-energy policies'?

Why should 70% waste be tolerated?

(and elsewhere there is this fuel for the anti-CO2ers http://iceagenow.info/2012/02/natural-tilts-earths-axis-ice-ages-harvard... Now where are the models that combine Earth tilt + greenhouse gasses? )

Sandy: A Potential Billion-Dollar Storm For the Mid-Atlantic and New England

On Friday, a very complicated meteorological situation unfolds, as Sandy interacts with a trough of low pressure approaching the U.S. East Coast and trough of low pressure over the Central Atlantic. ...

Such a storm would likely cause massive power outages and over a billion dollars in damage, as trees still in leaf take out power grids, and heavy rains and coastal storm surges create damaging flooding.

The full moon is on Monday, which means astronomical tides will be at their peak for the month, increasing potential storm surge flooding. A similar meteorological situation occurred in October 1991, when Hurricane Grace became absorbed by a Nor'easter, becoming the so-called "Perfect Storm" that killed 13 people and did over $200 million in damage in the Northeast U.S.

Edit: The new track is in ... :-<

The Wednesday morning 06Z (2 am EDT) run of the GFS model was done 20 times at lower resolution with slightly varying initial conditions of temperature, pressure, and moisture to generate an ensemble of forecast tracks for Sandy (pink lines). These forecasts show substantial uncertainty in Sandy's path after Friday, with a minority of the forecasts taking Sandy to the northeast, out to sea, and the majority now predicting a landfall in the Northeast or mid-Atlantic states of the U.S. The white line shows the official GFS forecast, run at higher resolution.

... update this afternoon once the 12Z model runs are in. [2-4PM]

With five more weeks left before the November 30 end of hurricane season, 2012 is likely to move into second place for most named storms before the year is out

Might want to make sure the generator has fuel ...

Given that ocean temperatures along the Northeast U.S. coast are about 5°F above average, there will be an unusually large amount of water vapor available to make heavy rain. If the trough of low pressure approaching the East Coast taps into the large reservoir of cold air over Canada and pulls down a significant amount of Arctic air, as predicted, the potential exists for the unusually moist air from Sandy to collide with this cold air from Canada and unleash the heaviest October rains ever recorded in the Northeast U.S.

Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Contour Charts

Mega-storm threat growing for mid-Atlantic and Northeast early next week from hurricane Sandy

... Models are consistent in showing a “blocking” area of high pressure west of Greenland and a big ocean storm to its east. These features are likely to prevent the big incoming cold front from pushing Sandy out to sea. The North Atlantic Oscillation - a measure of this “block” in the flow, is forecast to be three standard deviations from the average - meaning this is an exceptional situation.

As a hurricane transitions into a mid-latitude weather system, the storm’s core tends to unwind. This means the most extreme winds around the storm’s center diminish some, but very strong winds spread out over a larger distance, affecting a much broader region. In other words, sustained winds above tropical storm force (39 mph) will be possible for locations well-displaced from the storm’s center, meaning a high power outage risk.

... ECMWF deterministic run places an incredibly strong cyclone off the New Jersey coast on Monday evening... with tropical storm to hurricane force winds covering every state between Virginia and Maine (note that the wind speeds on this map are at 5,000’ altitude, not the surface). A scenario such as this would be devastating: a huge area with destructive winds, extensive inland flooding, possibly heavy snow on the west side, and severe coastal flooding and erosion.

and other weird weather ...

Wall Clouds Viewed Friday Night in Washington, D.C. Area During Surprising Storms

Last Friday night, several rotating “supercell” thunderstorms developed unexpectedly from northern Virginia through southern Pennsylvania.

Well, this is looking uglier and uglier for the northeast. Going to put a damper on Halloween if that track holds.

A "perfect storm"?

The last paragraph of the 11:00 NHC discussion
http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/text/refresh/MIATCDAT3+shtml/251446.shtml :

... "Note that the tropical cyclone wind speed probabilities are not designed to handle the type of structural changes anticipated with Sandy during the forecast period.

As a result...these probabilities will underestimate the actual risk of strong winds away from the center of Sandy."

h/t Arctic Sea Ice

OTOH, Jeff Masters thinks the central pressure predication of 940mb is overdone. Unlike a hurricane the pressure gradients are more spread out, you don't have an eyewall to contend with. But you do have a large area of strong, if not extreme winds. A lot depends upon how far north it goes. The further north the leaves have already fallen, and the effect on trees will be much less.

Jeez. Every update is getting worse. Huge increase in size and strength last night, and now the tracks seem to be consolidating on New Jersey or thereabouts. Though Wunderground says there's still a 30% chance it will turn out to sea.

I sure hope it does turn out to sea. I don't need a Perfect Storm at this time...

As I watch the gathering storm, I cannot help but be filled with awe at nature's power, and be glad, in a way, that she can show is in no uncertain terms that she is still in control, and will brook no compromise with us. On the other hand, I cannot help but feel a deep sadness in knowing that the ingredients of this 'Frankenstorm' are, like Shelley's monster, forged by the hand of man. The heat content of the ocean - increased by us. The amplitude and strength of the jet stream - altered by us. The Arctic air mass set to collide with Sandy and create the hybrid monster - affected by us, and our decimation of the sea ice. Nothing in the world is 'natural' any more, and our psyches (and therefore future actions) cannot help but be affected by that reality.

Nothing in the world is 'natural' any more, and our psyches (and therefore future actions) cannot help but be affected by that reality.

Let's not forget, that despite being agents of drastic environmental change, humans are still natural. One could even argue that compared to the environmental changes caused by oxygen producing cyanobacteria about 2.5 billion years ago, the impact of humans, has so far been rather mild. Granted the jury is still out on that.

Can't disagree with you that we are natural, Fred. And what we do to the env't is then just as natural as what beavers do, or what those cyanobacteria did so long ago. Still, it's that perspective that allows too many, IMO, to take the position that anything we do is OK, 'cause it's 'natural'. That's my objection and the source of my sadness. It seems that as conscious, cognizant beings, able to recognize the huge and likely terrible impacts of our actions, there ought to be a different standard for us than for beavers or bacteria...

The latest track is headed just to the north of me. Wonder how strong Sandy will be when it gets to the Ontario-Quebec border? It's pretty much, as the crow flies, on the shortest path from the ocean that it could possibly take to get to Montreal!

The latest runs have the models converging further south - landfall in Delaware or thereabouts.

But this is a very strange storm for this time of year.

This is a beyond-strange situation. It's unprecedented and bizarre. Hurricanes almost always bend out to sea in October, although there have been some exceptions when storms went due north, but rarely. No October tropical systems in the record book have turned left into the northeast coast.

The strong evidence we have that a significant, maybe historic, storm is going to hit the east coast is that EVERY reliable computer forecast model now says it's going to happen. The only way we can forecast the weather four or five days days from now is with the aid of these super-complex computer programs run on supercomputers. The two best, the European and the U.S. GFS (Global Forecast System) run by NOAA, are now in reasonable agreement that there IS going to be an extraordinarily unusual confluence of events that results in a massive storm.

This could be a historic disaster. OTOH, because it's such an unprecedented situation, it's possible the models just aren't handling it well.

Live Cables Explain Enigmatic Electric Currents

Researchers at Aarhus University, Denmark, made a sensational discovery almost three years ago when they measured electric currents in the seabed. It was unclear as to what was conducting the current, but the researchers imagined the electric currents might run between different bacteria via a joint external wiring network.

The researchers have now solved the mystery. It turns out that the whole process takes place inside bacteria that are one centimetre long. They make up a kind of live electric cable that no one had ever imagined existed. Each one of these 'cable bacteria' contains a bundle of insulated wires that conduct an electric current from one end to the other.

... renewable bio-energy?

... renewable bio-energy?

or massive bacterial hive-brain?

just starting a rumor...

Wasn't there something like this on one of the Star Trek Next Gen. episodes?


Speed Limits on Cargo Ships Could Reduce Their Pollutants by More than Half

... They found that slowing container ships to about 14 miles per hour (mph) reduced emissions of carbon dioxide by about 60 percent and nitrogen oxides by 55 percent compared to emissions at traditional cruising speeds of 25-29 mph. Soot emissions fell by almost 70 percent. The authors suggest that imposing these speed limits on vessels near ports and coastlines could significantly reduce their pollution and protect the health of people living in those areas.

They found that slowing container ships to about 14 miles per hour (mph) reduced emissions of carbon dioxide by about 60 percent and nitrogen oxides by 55 percent compared to emissions at traditional cruising speeds of 25-29 mph.

Also mentioned as one of the measures to conquer Peakoil. While the 'party on' outlook continues there is not much hope. In Holland they recently increased the maximum allowed speed on some parts of the highways to 130 km/h

130 km/h (81 mph) is the standard speed limit on the AutoStrada in Italy. Kilometres fly by when you're doing over 2km/minute...

Edit: according to Kindhearted below, a new Texas highway will have an 85 mph limit. Bigger and better in Texas :)

Ummmmm, this when companies are slowing cargo ships down to reduce fuel bills so why need limits?


The limits are to insure that nearshore pollution is lowered. That way if they want they can move faster when far from land. You are not counting on them just wanting to save fuel.

Have you met JODI? An introduction to the Joint Organisations Data Initiative

... the current economic crisis is having an impact on the resources allocated to statistics: for instance, in many countries surveys have stopped and departing statisticians are not being replaced. There are already signs of deterioration in quality. This is true for energy statistics in general but for JODI data in particular.

Wow. Sounds like the macro form of Heisenberg's Principle..

Or maybe that's Shroedinger's Cat's Cradle.. ?

Without statistics we're stuck with lies and damned lies.

Trump makes his bombshell announcement regarding Obama:


Joseph Weisenthal of Business Insider (see item above for context):

“Today’s Gallup poll will be completely useless, since it will have been entirely conducted before the Trump offer.”

Earlier item:

Donald Trump claims to hold Obama bombshell

Trump tweeted Monday morning, “Stay tuned for my big Obama announcement — probably on Wednesday.” Later in the day, he tweeted, “Everybody is asking about my announcement this Wednesday concerning Barack Obama— just wait and see!”

. . . TMZ said that Monday morning on “Fox and Friends,” Trump said the information would be “something very, very big concerning the president of the United States. It’s going to be very big. I know one thing: you will cover it in a very big fashion.”

The Onion hit it on the head Trump Announces He's A Very Sad Man

October surpri...zzzzz: Donald Trump's Obama 'bombshell' fizzles


it fizzled according to CSM, but they run the same story of US oil production trumping Trump. Beginning to question their objectivity.


I think someone in the Romney camp got to Trump, because he probably had the Obama sold cocaine thing or the Obama divorce paper thing. Either one of those gossip column style stories would have made Trump look even worse and petty then this birther stuff.

A debate on the issues is what's needed in this country, not "The Donald".

Maybe Donald could get Romney to show us his tax returns in exchange for Obama's records and forget his $5M offer. Then we may see who is hiding information.

Birtherism. Stupid suprise flop.

At this point, I think Trump may be an Obama mole.

U.S. to study cancer risks near 6 nuclear plants

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced plans Tuesday to launch a pilot epidemiological study of cancer risks near six nuclear power plants, including San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in north San Diego County.

The commission is acting out of growing concern that using uranium to produce electricity may be dangerous even without accidents at nuclear plants. In addition, recent epidemiological studies in Germany and France suggest that the children living near nuclear reactors are twice as likely to develop leukemia.

also Dominion probes shutdown of nuclear reactor in Va

and AFP: Bulgaria shuts nuclear reactor after generator problem

I hope they do similar studies near coal-burning plants for comparison.

The U.S. NRC, a biased government agency, will be conducting the epidemiological study. The result is predetermined to be favorable to the nuclear power industry.

Marathon Oil in talks to sell Alberta oil sands stake

Marathon Oil Corp said on Wednesday it is in negotiations to sell a portion of its 20 percent stake in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project in Canada as part of a strategy to shed less profitable assets.

Marathon, which spun off its refining business last year, has said it expects to raise up to $3 billion in asset sales through 2013. So far, it has agreements totaling $1.1 billion, Marathon said.

That figure includes the pending sale of its Alaska Cook Inlet assets for $375 million. Also for sale are 100,000 "non-core" acres in the Eagle Ford Basin in South Texas, where Marathon is drilling for oil..

Refining’s Fortunes Rise in the Energy Industry

... Profits are flowing at most refineries, especially those close to the newly drilled Midwest and Southwest shale oil fields and to Gulf of Mexico ports. Those operations make up roughly three-quarters of the country’s refining sector. The refiners are buying up fleets of railroad cars to connect with new shale fields, and investing heavily in new pipeline terminals, storage tanks and equipment to produce diesel for European and Latin American markets.

... The drilling boom has allowed many refiners to buy crude at a huge discount — sometimes $20 or more a barrel — below international benchmark prices. That is especially true for refineries that operate in the core of the country, where there is a glut of crude from the North Dakota Bakken shale formation because of insufficient pipelines. Historically, until the last couple of years, American crudes typically were priced 50 cents to a dollar higher than international crudes.

... Still, the refinery comeback does not necessarily mean lower prices at the pump for consumers, since oil prices are determined by global markets. Meanwhile, even the refiners face several potential setbacks.

“We may be peaking out here in the next six to 12 months,” said Chi Chow, a Macquarie Capital refinery analyst.

I noted this in yesterday's ASPO thread, but it's probably worth repeating here. For those who are interested, I will be on a History Channel special on Thursday night called "What's the Earth Worth?" I was interviewed for 2 hours for the program back in the Spring, but I have no idea what made the final cut. My 2-hour interview may have yielded 2 minutes worth of material for all I know.

The program description is:

Forged over 4.6 billion years, the Earth is stacked with valuable riches, from timber to cattle to gold. Together, these resources have built our greatest civilizations. But what if we could scan the planet as if it were in a checkout line, counting up every tree and every nugget of gold left on Earth in the biggest inventory ever attempted? This special will put a price tag on everything the planet has to offer, look at how much we ve used through human history and how much is left, to reveal the absolute value of the Earth.

I will be talking about the energy resources, with a focus on oil. We spent a lot of time discussing oil depletion. One thing I said that seemed to really get their attention was "There will definitely be more wars over oil."

Here is a graphic advertising the show:


"Only when the last tree has been cut down..."

Why do the MSM have to turn everything into meaningless numbers?

They seem to think shale oil will save the day and we will extract each and every drop of it. The whole thing missed the impact flow rates are having and will have on our "modern" way of life. I think they also counted, biofuels, refinery gains and NGL towards US oil production. I am sure you are surprised by the end result after all the cuts were made and cornucopia added.

I explained the shale oil thing in great detail, but they didn't use the material. I explained how important the energy inputs are, and if they are greater than the outputs (as in the case of kerogen) then the resource may be useless. It's like all of that gold in the oceans, ready for the taking. But nobody is taking it for a reason.

Big Oil Deal Helps Putin More Than Russia

Sixteen years after undertaking a privatization program that marked its transformation into a sort of market economy, Russia has completed an about-face: With the $61 billion purchase of the oil company TNK-BP from private investors, it has renationalized nearly its entire petrochemical industry.

The biggest losers on the deal could end up being Russian taxpayers, who are effectively guaranteeing the $40 billion Rosneft will have to borrow to complete the deal. Rosneft's current finances suggest it can afford to pay the debt, but that could change if oil prices fall. “In that case the government will have to lend a hand in no small way,” ...

In a series of tweets, Russian banker Grigory Guselnikov expressed his bewilderment at the deal. “Every Russian has worked about five days this year so Rosneft could pay 1.6 percent of GDP to Fridman, Vekselberg and Blavatnik," he calculated. "They will receive an amount almost equal to the deficit of the national pension fund."

The motivation for the deal is easier to explain in terms of politics than business. For Putin and Sechin, the renationalization of the energy sector represents both the fulfillment of personal goals and a bid for popularity among Russians who believe their country is besieged by hostile Western nations. “In 2003, our British and American friends were about to buy up, quite cheaply, Russia's natural resources,” wrote Nikolai Starikov, a best-selling author of political and economic nonfiction, on his blog. “We must understand that if Western corporations gain control of Russian resources, our budget will lose colossal amounts of money, and future generations will lose control of the wealth of our land."

Regarding the Wired article on the components of the price of coal, does anybody know of any papers which parse the effect of the price of oil on the component prices of coal and other methods of electricity generation?

I think the use of carbon offsets is a massive scam. If they don't represent new, absolute, worldwide CO2 reductions it's like bribing the jailer to sneak out the back door. The Europeans are congratulating themselves on supposedly meeting their emissions targets after purchasing cheap offsets

These credits are cheap because many perhaps most of them are phoney. In the case of clean development offsets the idea is that emitting less than otherwise creates a credit can be sold. Just inflate the otherwise amount and you inflate the credit. Example
The perverse result is new emissions increase while old emissions are let off the hook. I blame politicians for letting fraudsters run this scam. To my thinking the politicians are like TV wrestling referees who fail to notice eye gouging. As Richard Feynman said we can fool ourselves but not Nature. We kid ourselves CO2 is under control but Nature says otherwise.

Clear, a simple fixed (increasing of the years) volume tax on CO2 would be much better (cheaper to operate, and no need for traders)

But then it would not enrich any banksters.

A simple straight tax on emissions is the sensible and easiest to implement option. And it would greatly reduce the potential for fraud.

But most people would prefer to not pay for the cost of emissions, and if they have to they'd prefer to be unaware that they are paying for their emissions. So given a choice the average person will choose the less transparent cap and trade, even though a straight price on emissions would send a clearer price signal. The average person could reduce their costs more easily with a price on emissions, as the reduction in energy demand on their part would more clearly translate into a reduction in their costs.

Of course we are already paying for our emissions at the grocery store as drought inflates the cost of food. But most folks will blame the rising cost of food on something totally unrelated.

And the rising cost of food is also due to the peak oil dynamic (POD : Rockman) but most folks aren't capable or willing to grasp that relationship.

Yves - The concept is simple enough. But in practice how would it work? Do we tax every generator of CO2? IOW given a large source of CO2 is motor fuel consumption who do we tax? Do we tax each driver via increased fuel tax? That would seem logical but essentially it's just an increase in fuel tax which, so far, no politician dares to go near. Do we tax power plants that burn FF? That's easily done. But since most utilities sell power based on the rate base increasing taxes on them would simply be passed on to consumers. But, again, what politician is going to push a rate increase onto the voting public? They could hit the manufacturing plants, like steel and aluminum. Voters might not see that as a tax increase. But if done industry wide the end costs to consumers would almost certainly go up. Then the politicians would fear being accused of fueling inflation.

I'm not saying CO2 shouldn't be taxed. But the primary benefit of CO2 production is for the American consumer. Reducing CO2 emission has to mean a reduction of CO2 produced for the benefit of the voters. The politicians might poke around the fringes of CO2 production but I just don't see them going after the significant source of CO2: the consumers of nearly every product produced and/or purchased in the US.

Then it is decided how much money should be spent the tax is also decided. It is just a matter of deciding there the taxes should rised. The simplest solution is to take a loan and basically decide the tax should be paid in future.

They could tax the fuel according to carbon content. If they want the same tax as before they just reduce another tax.

In person I think tax is a better option than subsidies because for every subsidy taxes have to be rised somewhere else.

The State of Virginia has bonded almost 100% of their gas & diesel tax revenues for 2013. That is almost all gas tax collected next year will go to pay off bonds already issued - and money spent.

Any money for roads in 2013 will come from other taxes.

4 months ago, Obama signed a bill that took $11.8 billion from the Pension Guaranty Fund, $2.4 billion from an environmental clean-up fund and $18.5 from the US Treasury and transfered all of that to the Federal Highway "Trust" Fund.


Best Hopes for "User Pays",


The flip side is that highway "trust" funds have been raided to pay for unrelated expenses for years. Even bonds issued specifically for highway maintenance get raided.

There's just no way to keep this from happening, I'm afraid.

Vroom! Nation's fastest road to open in Texas

The final 41-mile stretch of Texas Highway 130 will open Wednesday after three years of construction. The speed limit will be 85 mph.

Just what we don't need -- higher speed limits and the associated lower fuel economy.

85 is a bit much. Certainly on the other side of the optimal fuel economy speed for every car on the road.

It's a marketing gimmick more than anything else- to encourage people to take the toll road and drive FAST VROOM VROOM instead of clogging up Interstate 35. But if it works, I don't think there will be any net loss in fuel economy. Anyone who has driven 35 through Austin in the last few years knows it's stop and go from Buda to Georgetown much of the day, including weekends. People who decide to take the toll road will swap 30mph stop and go traffic (bad fuel economy) for 85 mph (also bad fuel economy).

With that said, a reasonable speed limit on the toll road would result in a net gain.

Another impediment to wasting fuel successfully removed.

On the world news last night they had a story about the speed limit on this road. The effect on safety was mentioned, however no mention was made about increased fuel usage.

Another thing not mentioned: what the minimum legally allowed speed is.


And the latest thing to make it exciting: along with the 85 mph speed limit, there are herds of feral hogs randomly crossing the road at night near Lockhart. These hogs are definitely large enough to total a car, and they tend to be dark in color. Yee-hah!

Use It Or Lose It: Report Shows Oil And Gas Companies Sitting On Thousands Of Unused Leases

... [In] ... a new report from Representative Edward Markey titled “Use It or Lose It” finds that 131 oil and gas companies have 3,684 idle leases in the Gulf of Mexico alone. The Big Five oil companies — BP, Chevron, Shell, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips — are responsible for 40 percent of the 20.7 million acres “not undergoing exploration, development, or production” in the region.

Oil and gas companies are currently not using 72 percent of the total acres leased offshore and 56 percent of the total acres leased onshore.

Just a reminder of how the federal offshore leases in the GOM are handled. First, the 3,684 "idle" leases represent about 18 million acres (5,000 ac/lease). The primary lease term is 5 years. If production has not been established during the primary term the lease automatically expires. IOW the companies lose the lease without the feds doing anything...ipso facto. As far as “not undergoing exploration, development, or production” if a lease isn't producing after the primary term it expires. If it's in it primary term a company will probably have a rig on the lease drilling for as little as 5% to 10% of the term period. The vast majority of the primary term period is involves the geophysical acquisition, mapping and waiting on a drill rig. I've once waited almost two years to spud a well on a fed block because I couldn't get a rig sooner. And I've spent 2+ years waiting on platform construction and installation before I could begin development drilling.

Bottom line: all fed "idle" leases in the GOM that have passed thru their primary term and aren't producing will revert to the govt in the next 5 years or less. In many cases much less. My company has 4 of those lease blocks that will revert to the feds next year. We paid the feds the bonus money, spent a big chunk of cash on seismic data and, in part due to low NG prices, have decided not to drill. The feds will be free to sell those leases to the next buyer that comes along...if there is one.

Markey is just grandstanding and taking advantage of the public's ignorance IMHO.

Don't know if he is grandstanding but it is important to point out that areas are available for drilling even if companies decide not to drill. The Romney meme is that we could have a lot more oil if the government would get out of the way. That is simply wrong and ignores that companies choose not to drill because of economics. And that ignores the old, apparently outdated idea that we should have something that used to be called conservation. But conservation is a dirty word when one is trying to push the idea that oil resources are unlimited forever and all we have to do is unleash the oil industry.

ts - trust me...he's grandstanding. What I don't know if he's doing so to be manipulative or if he's just that ignorant. Same thing with Romney...intentionally misrepresenting or ignorant? There have been very few instances in the last 37 years when I've seen any company complain about not having access to govt lands they wanted to drill on. Much has been made about offshore fed waters where drilling is now banned. But those areas haven't always been banned. We had drilling off the east coast, the FL coast and a lot off the CA coast. Found some stuff and also drilled a lot of dry holes. Would some companies still want to poke some more holes in those areas? Of course. Is there the potential to add significant reserves from these areas? IMHO...no. I have no doubt that Romney is offering hope that has very little chance of being fulfilled.

Don't know if he is grandstanding but it is important to point out that areas are available for drilling even if companies decide not to drill. The Romney meme is that we could have a lot more oil if the government would get out of the way. That is simply wrong and ignores that companies choose not to drill because of economics.

For the most part I agree with Rock that this is grandstanding, and that the Romney/GOP/TeaParty meme that government is blocking new production is mostly bull$h!t. However, Alaska is probably the one area where their is some truth to the Romney meme. Up here there is a long history of the Feds selling leases, then effectively blocking drilling.

The classic example from days of yor was the North Aleutian Basin (AKA Bristol Bay). The area was put in the 1982 5 year plan and Sale 92 was scheduled for April 1985. Companies started spending money shooting seismic and working up prospects. This area had absolutely no subsurface information other than seismic, so a consortium of companies were allowed to drill a deep stratigraphic test (a "COST well") in the middle of the basin in a spot with no apparent trapping potential (a place unlikely to hold oil). In March of 1984 83% of the area was removed from the sale. Bids were submitted on the remainder, but law suits were immediately filed and an injuction was issued. In 1988 the injuction was lifted and bids were opened. The Exxon Valdez spill occured in March 1989, and presidential and congressional action led to a moratorium in 1990.

One can certainly understand the reasons for a moratorium after the Exxon Valdez. However, when it became clear the the moratorium was likely to be permanent, the Federal government initially refused to refund the sale money! The companies had to go to court to try to get their lease bids back. The money was not returned until 1995. Note that this only included the actual bid money, but nothing. The companies had spend a lot of money in good faith evaluating a planned sale, including drilling one deep strat test, only to have most of the sale area withdrawn. They then offered bids in good faith on the remaining acreage, only to have the whole area put under a long term moratorium. Then it took 5 more years, and litigation, to get their bid money back.

One could tell a similar story about Shell's current efforts in the Chukchi and Beaufort. Aside from lawsuits, they have had to work their way through a seemingly endless maze of often contradictory regulations. These regulations are administered by numerous agencies who seem to operate as separate fiefdoms, and apparently don't ever talk to one another. Meanwhile, Shell, ConocoPhillips, and Statoil are in fact sitting on "idle" leases, but they are idle because of the labyrinth of our Federal regulations.

Please note that I am NOT making an argument that these areas should be open to drilling. Like the deepwater GOM areas, there is certainly a case to be made against drilling there. But it is true, in Alaska at least, that even when an area is theoretically "open", it can be nearly impossible to actually get anything done. Part of the reason it is so expensive to operate in Alaska has little to do with ice, snow, and extreme cold.

U.S. Coal Exports On Pace To Hit All-Time High, Fueling Surge In International Global Warming Pollution

The latest figures from the Energy Information Administration shows just how strongly coal exports have risen. Boosted by growing demand in Asia, the U.S. is on track to ship record amounts of coal overseas this year, surpassing the previous all-time high set in 1981.

So why should the U.S. taxpayer care? As journalists and analysts have pointed out time and time and time again, companies sending coal to be burned in other countries are getting access to taxpayer-owned lands for very cheap.

Over the last 30 years, the Bureau of Land Management has held “auctions” with one bidder and handed over the resource for next to nothing, keeping coal prices artificially low. (In the latest “auction,” Peabody Energy — the largest private coal company in the world — secured taxpayer-owned coal for $1.11 per ton. The company will likely be able to sell it in China for around $100 per ton). [$1 investment - $99 profit - What's not to like?]

According to a report from energy analyst Tom Sanzillo, this leasing process has amounted to a $28.9 billion subsidy to the coal industry over the last three decades.

Gov. Romney: ... I like coal

Why on Earth would a country give it's natural resources away for pennies on the dollar merely for the exhorbitant profit of a few high level executives?

Because maybe that's how one particular party gets large campaign donations? Just one more reason for campaign finance reform.

It's even sillier in Canada. A company that is starting a coal mine in British Columbia wants to bring in Chinese workers to run the mine. They claim they can't find Canadian miners capable of operating a long wall mining operation. Most if not all existing coal mines in Canada are open pit but surely Canadian miners are capable of learning about long wall mining.

How would this figure look if graphed on a energy basis? I imagine that today's coal is a bit lense energy dense that the coal exported in the 80's.

I was surprised to read the Yahoo story that South African oil companies were charged with price fixing.

The price of petrol has been government controlled since the 1930s. Currently it stands at $5.25 per US gal. It is indexed to the world price of refined petrol, the value of the Rand, etc etc.

During the apartheid years there was an oil boycott, and the government cut a deal with the oil companies: make sure we get oil, and we'll make sure you show a profit. AFAIK that agreement is still running.

The price of diesel is unregulated but it is usually sold at the government recommended price.

Since oil companies can't compete on price, they compete on service. To prevent them building a filling station on every street corner, the government limits the number of outlets, so they compete to get the prime locations and provide smiling petrol pump attendants. (Self-service is prohibited because that would cause a loss of jobs.)

Personally, I think the system works well. We get reasonably priced petrol without the commercial blight of eye-catching filling stations and advertising billboards.

Three Ways Big Oil Spends Its Profits To Defend Oil Subsidies And Defeat Clean Energy

$105 Million On Lobbying Since 2011, 90 Percent Of Campaign Contributions To GOP: ...

Misinformation Campaigns, Including Over $150 Million In Election Ads:

Behind-The-Scenes Campaign To Defeat Clean Energy:

Cato Institute Crafts Fake ‘Addendum’ To Federal Climate Report: ‘It’s Not An Addendum, It’s A Counterfeit’

The addendum matches the layout and design of the original, published by the U.S. Global Change Research Program: Cover art, “key message” sections, table of contents are all virtually identical, down to the chapter heads, fonts and footnotes.

But the new report comes from the libertarian Washington, D.C.-based Cato Institute. And its findings – that science is questionable, the impacts negligible and the potential policy solutions ineffective – are more a rebuke than a revision of the original report and of accepted science both then and today.

The Cato report does its share of omitting, as well as selectively picking data and reviving long-discredited data and arguments.

“If you hadn’t seen the original report, you wouldn’t know,” he added. “They made it look really similar. Why would they do that unless they’re trying to mislead?”

... If you want to debase a currency - make a counterfeit. If you want to debase an idea - wrap lies in report that 'looks' like the original.

The ancient Roman cure for counterfeiting was Damnatio ad bestias

Sheesh, are they conniving worms or what?!

The liquid-metal battery: yet another non-news item. Maybe Tom Murphy can blow some holes in the concept for 'fun'.


The numbers I see are comparable to Li batteries. Ok, they might be cheaper, and even necessary to a renewables-powered future, I'll grant, but a game changer? BAU? Not so much. Seriously, people could spend 5 minutes applying a layman's instincts as to physics and see through half this BS trivially...but then the middle class pretty much worships technology, so why would I expect a third-grade level of common-sense on this when our politics is stuck in kindergarten?


I find Sadoway's arrogance so off putting, I have trouble getting past it.


I would be curious though if more educated commenters could provide any insight into what new developments have been made in this technology (the Wiki link shows it has been around since the 1960s), and how realistic is its commercial potential.

I am also a bit skeptical that storage will prove itself in on grid applications, where they are competing with ~$0.5kWh power costs. It seems that the pathway for commercialization of storage is off grid diesel replacement where marginal costs are often north of $0.30kWh.

I'd love to see people trying this stuff out in Indonesia or other places with low electrification rates, difficult geographies, and tons of sun.

Yeah, you'll be laughing your a$$ off when one of those come flying at ya. Molten salt batteries store for 50 years and deliver power on-demand within missiles world-wide.


True, but they have to be heated to melt the electrolytes before use. So they sit charged, but solid. Then a few seconds (or is it a minute of two) before use, some pyrotechnic is fired to melt the electrolytes, then you gotta fire the sucker before it cools off and refreezes.
This guy wants to keep them liquid, and do many charge discharge cycles.

Americans use more efficient and renewable energy technologies

Americans used less energy in 2011 than in the previous year due mainly to a shift to higher-efficiency energy technologies in the transportation and residential sectors. Meanwhile, less coal was used but more natural gas was consumed according to the most recent energy flow charts released by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Worsening U.S. Plains Dryness Seen as Threat to Wheat by Martell

Dry weather has resumed in the southern Great Plains after a wet September, slowing germination of the grain, Martell wrote in an e-mailed report today. Half of the hard red winter wheat has emerged with 80 percent planted, and the gap widened in October on worsening dryness, Martell wrote.

Much of Kansas and Oklahoma, the largest producers of the hard red winter wheat variety used to make bread, are in severe to extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

“Other seasons with pre-planting drought have led to a reduced harvest, with few exceptions,” Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin-based Martell wrote. “Without an abundant store of subsoil moisture, hard red winter wheat has become more vulnerable to moisture stress.”

Flame retardant 'Firemaster 550' is an endocrine disruptor, study finds

The flame-retardant mixture known as "Firemaster 550" is an endocrine disruptor that causes extreme weight gain, early onset of puberty and cardiovascular health effects in lab animals, according to a new study spearheaded by researchers from North Carolina State University and Duke University.

We spend so much of our lives on mattresses and couches that have this crap embedded in it.

How Dangerous Is Your Couch?

Since 1975, an obscure California agency called the Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation has mandated that the foam inside upholstered furniture be able to withstand exposure to a small flame, like a candle or cigarette lighter, for 12 seconds without igniting. Because foam is highly flammable, the bureau’s regulation, Technical Bulletin 117, can be met only by adding large quantities of chemical flame retardants — usually about 5 to 10 percent of the weight of the foam — at the point of manufacture. The state’s size makes it impractical for furniture makers to keep separate inventories for different markets, so about 80 percent of the home furniture and most of the upholstered office furniture sold in the United States complies with California’s regulation. “We live in a foam-filled world, and a lot of the foam is filled with these chemicals,” Blum says.

The above article does a good job of explaining why it's so hard to get this crap out of poyurethane foam. And guess what, lobbying and campaign financing have a lot to do with it.

ConsumerWatch: California Updates Flame Retardant Rules Over Toxic Fears

They are apparently rethinking an overabundance of solicitude for smokers who set themselves and their comfy chairs on fire.

I really hate that these chemicals sneak into our lives without any prior analysis by objective third parties. All of this fireproofing is nothing but a violation of natural selection.

No couches in my humble house but this stiffens my resolve to evict my foam mattress and make a straw tick mattress to sleep on. I use straw as bedding for my sled dogs so using some for my own comfort seems a good idea.


Gives a whole new meaning to statement "Your couch is making you fat".

Remember the Seton Hall dorm fire a dozen or so years back? (Jsn 2000) The temp of the fire was way above a wood fire, owing to the fuel being foam in the furniture and mattresses, and possibly the carpeting, as the polymers in these foams burns at IIRC some 1200-1500 degrees, making the air much hotter and more toxic.

It's perversely appropriate that the chemisty we've deployed to keep us safe in this insular and inorganic built-environment is turning out to be deeply unsafe as well.. no less than the chemical hazards of the Anti-bacterial soaps that I linked to yesterday. (Trichlorsan, I think)

We've developed this idea that 'things that don't support life' are safer because our pests can't live in them.. when it turns out that in a number of ways we can't either. We're slowly discovering this about creating foods that don't decay and can sit on storeshelves for 'unnatural' amounts of time. They also resist our stomachs' attempts to decompose them, too. ie, they're almost not food anymore!

( http://www.democracynow.org/2012/10/24/michael_pollan_californias_prop_3...
Michael Pollan yesterday on Democracy Now!, talking about labelling GMO foods in California Markets

I think it's our culture/civ. having objectified (and with that division, FEARED) Nature to such an extent that the obsessed dangers of natural systems have become deeply ingrained in our language, poisoning even scientific research in it's obsessive quest for clean, inert, sanitary and unpolluted answers.. with the upshot that the pollutants we end up with out of it were simply the ones we couldn't detect when we made them, and so they're better at sneaking up on us now!

ps, the Pollan Interview also goes into the Food/Oil vulnerabilities that came up during Obama's first Pres Campaigning. Some interesting thoughts to keep bearing in mind.

Paraphrasing.. 'Obama made a calculation early on that he did not have the kind of support that would allow him to take on this (the food) system in a significant way.'

Quality concerns arose before TransCanada pipeline blast

Company proposing Keystone XL under scrutiny for previous line failure

A CBC News investigation has learned that TransCanada Pipelines — the Canadian company behind the controversial U.S. Keystone XL pipeline proposal — was troubled by quality-assurance problems on another recent American pipeline that exploded.

The Bison natural-gas pipeline exploded in a remote area near Gillette, Wyo., on July 20, 2011, six months after it went into service.

The explosion blew out a 12-metre section of pipeline and shook buildings more than a kilometre away, but caused no injuries or death.

Documents obtained by CBC News detail a pipeline project with problems relating to welding and inspection.

“We are in trouble on the Bison project,” the pipelines’ construction manager wrote in a Sept. 18, 2010, internal email that lists problems related to welding and inspection. Construction of the project had started in August 2010.

From the "ten reasons to be cheerful" article.

"The big change to the equation has been the natural gas revolution, with hydraulic fracturing technology giving us access to reserves we knew about but could not previously tap. We now have many decades, maybe hundreds of years, of reserve supplies. "

I'm recalling the late '90s cover of Time, Newsweek or whoever that grandly proclaimed cheap oil forever. Or the "this time is different" from the housing bubble. Sounds like we have hit the top or bottom, however you think of it. Add to this the "with the US posing tough competition to Russia." for natural gas sales line, (Putin is worried that we will steal his markets?) This is getting too weird to contemplate.

Gazprom Launches Giant Arctic Gas Field
Bovanenkovo gas field went online. It was discovered in 1971 and its reserves are estimated at 170 tcf.

Forty one years from discovery to production. That's probably not a record, but it does indicate the kind of time scale needed to get commercial production from a remote area, particularly for gas.

Finally () , I am beginning to see things moving in solar energy in India.

In southern India, a small solar power plant is finally up and running:

And another article about a small company helping industries to install solar panels:

The Oil Drum related piece:

enable industries to reduce its dependency on an unreliable grid supply and diesel-powered generators, which are fast becoming expensive as the Government begins to withdraw subsidies,

It has been my contention for a while that fixing the electric power supply situation in India will greatly reduce
oil consumption since diesel generator sets are used so widely. The removal of subsidies is finally beginning to focus peoples'
brains on the subject.

Italy's gone crazy...

Seismologists found guilty of manslaughter

Six Italian seismologists, and a local civil protection official, have been sentenced to six years in prison for manslaughter.

They have been convicted of falsely reassuring the residents of the town of L'Aquila that a major earthquake was not going to happen. But the area was struck by a magnitude-6.3 earthquake on 6 April 2009. More than 300 people were killed and thousands were left homeless.

I think if the same yardstick was applied to the government and society, everyone would be in jail. What about those who said there's no housing bubble ? Shouldn't they be doing time ?

I wonder if that decision was influenced by religion. The judge's intention being an attempt to discredit science by making it defend itself as 'not knowing'.

Galileo redux ? I hope this backfires and turns into a flaming mess for the judiciary or maybe scientists should just hang up their boots for some time in protest. As if all the witch hunting from AGW deniers is not enough.

I belive a bunch of Italian scientists just resigned their public jobs on public risk management. Why risk this sort of activity, if society wants to rely on soothe sayers instead, let them.

This is applicable to almost all of our dicsussions:


Definitely worth consideration in all of our deliberations and debates.

Of course, I don't think the link points to anything new, but all the same, it was aptly said and worth repeating.

Ignorance is a scourge of humanity worse than smallpox or any other plague. Or in Dicken's words:

"Oh, Man! Look here," the Spirit commands, and brings forth two children. They are wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. "This boy is Ignorance," says the Spirit. "This girl is Want. Beware them both … but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom."

Dickens and his contemporaries knew the dangers of ignorance, which they feared could bring about society's doom.

Hmmm.... As I read the article, I am reminded of Machiavelli's wise words:

"Minds are of three kinds: one is capable of thinking for itself; another is able to understand the thinking of others; and a third can neither think for itself nor understand the thinking of others. The first is of the highest excellence, the second is excellent, and the third is worthless."

I think I've found my new signature line.

"another is able to understand the thinking of others;"

In the Navy we called that "recognizes right answer when told."

Definitely worth consideration in all of our deliberations and debates.

We could also note that, in the very speech cited, Dr. Brody is rather selective with his facts.

James Lind had discovered conclusive evidence that scurvy could be treated and cured. He resigned his naval commission to write the era's definitive study of the disease, "A Treatise of the Scurvy," which gave the history, clinical description and cure for the greatest single threat to British naval supremacy.

While Lind's experiment did support the use of citrus to prevent scurvy, Lind himself did not recognize this.

And here is what happened next: absolutely nothing.

That is simply not true. James Cook commanded the next Royal Navy circumnavigation, which set sail in 1768. The measures to prevent scurvy that Cook implemented were successful enough that not one man died of scurvy in a three year voyage.

The British Admiralty did not order up huge stores of citrus, even on an experimental basis.

Cook did take supplies of citrus on his voyage, though not "huge supplies".

Some people accepted Lind's ideas. Some rejected them. Many--especially those in power--simply paid no attention. Sailors continued to die of scurvy. Citrus juice did not become standard fare in the royal navy until 1795--more than four decades after the publication of Lind's treatise and a year after his death.

Citrus juice was finally issued to sailors by the Navy at the insistence of "senior officers, led by Rear Admiral Alan Gardner". That hardly sounds like those in power paying no attention. Rather, it sounds like politicians preferring to spend money on their own pet interests rather than on the Navy (which was hardly a new problem, as those who have read Pepys' Diary will appreciate).

Cap't Cook used a number of fermented foods to combat scurvy as well, Saurkraut, Vinegar and Malt, apparently, which being fermented are able to be stored for great periods of time.

(I've also read that Saurkraut was brought to Europe by Genghis Khan, as it had similar properties for keeping his armies well nourished with storable supplies..)

I suddenly developed a craving for sauerkraut! Yum!

You'll spoil your self for the muktuk!
Not many citrus trees in the arctic...

Any TOD'ers attending the 4th Annual Biophysical Economics Conference, at the U of Vermont, next two days? I'll be there. (Easy decision, as it is closer to my home than my workplace is.)

Edit: I understand George Mobus, Charlie Hall, David Murphy and Chris Martenson are featured participants.

Jealous. Favorite topic, old haunts(M.S.UVM), affordable... maybe next year. Please give us some juicy insights after attending!

Ditto (old haunts, BS/MS UVM). Good old Burlington! Some of my best years were in that town.

Japan struggling to store radioactive water

Japan's crippled nuclear power plant is struggling to find space to store tens of thousands of tonnes of highly contaminated water used to cool the broken reactors, the manager of the water treatment team has said.

About 200,000 tonnes of radioactive water, enough to fill more than 50 Olympic-sized swimming pools, are being stored in hundreds of gigantic tanks built around the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.

Operator Tokyo Electric Power Company has already chopped down trees to make room for more tanks and predicts the volume of water will be more than triple within three years.

... the radioactive water in the basements may already be getting into the underground water system, where it could reach far beyond the plant via underground water channels, possibly in the ocean or public water supplies.

"There are pools of some 10,000 or 20,000 tonnes of contaminated water in each plant, and there are many of these, and to bring all these to one place would mean you would have to treat hundreds of thousands of tons of contaminated water which is mind-blowing in itself," Goto said. The plant also would have to deal with contaminated water until all the melted fuel and other debris is removed from the reactor, a process that will easily take more than a decade.

About 200,000 tonnes of radioactive water, enough to fill more than 50 Olympic-sized swimming pools, are being stored in hundreds of gigantic tanks built around the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.

I'm sure that all those pools of radioactive water are totally safe... at least all the pro nuke folk say so!
And this can't happen again, can it?


Hey look on the bright side, it's a really big ocean >:-(

Look how swell it's gone for the Hanford site decommissioning.

1 cubic meter of pure water weighs 1 metric tonne
200,000 m^3 = 200,000 tonnes

... The most significant challenge at Hanford is stabilizing the 53 million U.S. gallons (204,000 m3) of high-level radioactive waste stored in 177 underground tanks. About a third of these tanks have leaked waste into the soil and groundwater.[60] As of 2008[update], most of the liquid waste has been transferred to more secure double-shelled tanks; however, 2.8 million U.S. gallons (10,600 m3) of liquid waste, together with 27 million U.S. gallons (100,000 m3) of salt cake and sludge, remains in the single-shelled tanks.[5] That waste was originally scheduled to be removed by 2018. The revised deadline is 2040.[58] Nearby aquifers contain an estimated 270 billion U.S. gallons (1 billion m3) of contaminated groundwater as a result of the leaks.[61] As of 2008[update], 1 million U.S. gallons (4,000 m3) of highly radioactive waste is traveling through the groundwater toward the Columbia River. This waste is expected to reach the river in 12 to 50 years if cleanup does not proceed on schedule.[5] The site also includes 25 million cubic feet (710,000 m3) of solid radioactive waste.[61]

Annual maintenance cost: $2,000,000,000/yr

Treatment facility cost: $12,000,000,000 and rising. (May have to be scrapped because of design flaws.)

Retail cost of GW of solar PV ~ $750,000,000

Retail cost of GW of solar PV ~ $750,000,000

Yeah, but solar is not all that reliable! /sarc

5 billion years and counting ... 1.5 billion years left on the clock

Plus it doesn't glow in the dark. ;-)

Well past peak then, eh? Er, not considering the whole red giant thingy...

Fishing for answers off Fukushima

In a Perspectives article appearing in October 26, 2012, issue of the journal Science, WHOI marine chemist Ken Buesseler analyzed data made publicly available by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) on radiation levels in fish, shellfish and seaweed collected at ports and inland sites in and around Fukushima Prefecture.

... he finds that the most highly contaminated fish continue to be caught off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, as could be expected, and that demersal, or bottom-dwelling fish, consistently show the highest level of contamination by a radioactive isotope of cesium from the damaged nuclear power plant. He also points out that levels of contamination in almost all classifications of fish are not declining, although not all types of fish are showing the same levels, and some are not showing any appreciable contamination.

As a result, Buesseler concludes that there may be a continuing source of radionuclides into the ocean, either in the form of low-level leaks from the reactor site itself or contaminated sediment on the seafloor.

Climate-Changing Methane 'Rapidly Destabilizing' Off East Coast, Study Finds

A changing Gulf Stream off the East Coast has destabilized frozen methane deposits trapped under nearly 4,000 square miles of seafloor, scientists reported Wednesday. And since methane is even more potent than carbon dioxide as a global warming gas, the researchers said, any large-scale release could have significant climate impacts.

Temperature changes in the Gulf Stream are "rapidly destabilizing methane hydrate along a broad swathe of the North American margin," the experts said in a study published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature.

Using seismic records and ocean models, the team estimated that 2.5 gigatonnes of frozen methane hydrate are being destabilized and could separate into methane gas and water. The 2.5 gigatonnes isn't enough to trigger a sudden climate shift, but the team worries that other areas around the globe might be seeing a similar destabilization.

"It is unlikely that the western North Atlantic margin is the only area experiencing changing ocean currents," they noted. "Our estimate ... may therefore represent only a fraction of the methane hydrate currently destabilizing globally."

The wider destabilization evidence, co-author Ben Phrampus told NBC News, includes data from the Arctic and Alaska's northern slope in the Beaufort Sea.

And it's not just under the seafloor that methane has been locked up. Some Arctic land area are seeing permafrost thaw, which could release methane stored there as well.

Oh no, I thought we were going to mine those and that they were going to replace LNG! Better hurry those projects along before it's all gone.

"We'd better fish harder before all the fish are gone."

Well, this certainly is news. I would say good news, but it's not. It really isn't.

Definitely neews though.

We live in interesting times don't we?

The Wet One

They're estimating a long timeline [1000+ yrs], however, recent changes in the course of the Gulf Stream may speed things up a bit.

From Lester R. Brown ...

The Great Transition, Part I: From Fossil Fuels to Renewable Energy

The great energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy is under way. As fossil fuel prices rise, as oil insecurity deepens, and as concerns about pollution and climate instability cast a shadow over the future of coal, a new world energy economy is emerging. The old energy economy, fueled by oil, coal, and natural gas, is being replaced with an economy powered by wind, solar, and geothermal energy. The Earth’s renewable energy resources are vast and available to be tapped through visionary initiatives. Our civilization needs to embrace renewable energy on a scale and at a pace we’ve never seen before.

'Cool Planet' projects biofuel-production cost of $1.50 per gallon

Cool Planet Energy Systems has announced a projected production cost for its biofuel, made from corn cobs and stover (dried stalks and leaves of cereal crops), of just $1.50 per gallon sans the benefit of government subsidies. Company representatives also said they have completed a successful test trial of a newly developed process for converting feed stock to fuel, and that Google has been field testing the results with fleet vehicles.

Heavy Canadian Oil Weakens to Lowest Since July as Lines Fill Up

Heavy Canadian oil weakened to the widest discount to West Texas Intermediate since July after Enbridge Inc. (ENB) said this week demand to ship crude on four lines exceeded available space.

The Calgary-based company said Oct. 23 November shipments on its 491,200 barrel-a-day Line 5 will be apportioned by 17 percent. Demand also surpassed capacity on Lines 6A, 62, 6B and 14. Canadian shipments of oil to the U.S. were lower than normal after TransCanada Corp. shut its Keystone pipeline Oct. 17 for repairs on a section of pipe crossing the border between Missouri and Illinois. The line was restarted Oct. 22.

Gail has an article in CSM ...

An Economic Theory of Limited Oil Supply

We seem to hear two versions of the story of limited oil supply:

1. The economists’ view, saying that the issue is a simple problem of supply and demand. Substitution, higher prices, demand destruction, greater efficiency, and increased production of oil at higher prices will save the day.

2. A version of Hubbert’s peak oil theory, saying that world oil production will rise and at some point reach a plateau and begin to decline, because of geological depletion. The common belief is that the rate of decline will be determined by geological considerations, and will roughly match the rate at which production increased.

In my view, neither of these views is correct. My view is a third view: ...

... Way to go Gail! ;-)

Small Organisms Could Dramatically Impact World's Climate

Reporting in this week's online journal Science Express, researchers show that by the end of the 21st century, warmer oceans will cause populations of these marine microorganisms to thrive near the poles and shrink in equatorial waters.

"In the tropical oceans, we are predicting a 40 percent drop in potential diversity, the number of strains of phytoplankton," says Mridul Thomas, a biologist at Michigan State University (MSU) and co-author of the journal paper.

... Although phytoplankton are small, they flourish in every ocean, consuming about half of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere.

... The MSU scientists say that since phytoplankton play a key role in regulating atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, and therefore global climate, the shift could in turn cause further climate change.

... might explain part of the PETM extinction event

... might explain part of the PETM extinction event

Speaking of positive feedbacks, maybe this Frankenstorm that is slated to hit the eastern seaboard will be a sneak peek at what more dramatic weather might be like on a routine basis in the future.

Exactly. I think we'll be seeing 'Storms of the Century' every year or two from here on out.

UN aims to pull plug on plethora of power supplies

The days when every piece of home communications equipment comes with its own special power adapter could be numbered.

The U.N. telecoms agency says it has taken a step toward establishing a universal standard for power adapters used by TV set-top boxes, Internet modems and fixed-line telephones.

The Geneva-based International Telecommunication Union said Thursday a standard adapter would allow manufacturers to ship new devices without a separate power supply. Consumers could also keep the power supply when throwing out obsolete equipment, cutting the amount of electronic waste worldwide by hundreds of thousands of tons of each year.

USB power is already moving that along.

New from Congressional Research Service ...

Managing the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Policy Implications of Expanding Global Access to Nuclear Power (0.6M pdf)

After several decades of widespread stagnation, nuclear power has attracted renewed interest in recent years. New license applications for 30 reactors have been announced in the United States, and another 548 are under construction, planned, or proposed around the world. In the United States, interest appears driven, in part, by tax credits, loan guarantees, and other incentives in the 2005 Energy Policy Act, as well as by concerns about carbon emissions from competing fossil fuel technologies.

... To reduce their vulnerability to oil and gas price swings, national governments are searching for alternative energy sources, often including nuclear power. However, only 21% of the world’s electricity generation is fueled by natural gas and 5% by oil, so nuclear power’s ability to directly substitute for oil and gas is limited, at least in the near term.

For nuclear power to have a significant impact on oil demand, long-term changes in energy-use patterns would have to take place, particularly in the transportation sector.

... Construction costs for new nuclear power plants — which were probably the dominant factor in halting the first round of nuclear expansion — continue to loom as a potential insurmountable obstacle to renewed nuclear power growth. ...

Including interest, many U.S. nuclear plants proved to be grossly uneconomic, often with capital costs totaling more than $3,000 per kilowatt of capacity in 2000 dollars, and relying on the utility regulatory system to recover their costs.

Major reactor vendors, such as General Electric and Westinghouse, have contended that new designs and construction methods will cut costs of future reactors considerably. However, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that new U.S. nuclear plants would cost $5,300 per kilowatt, excluding interest, making them potentially more expensive than the previous generation of reactors.

The Rust-Bucket Reactors Start to Fall

... Many old US reactors are still profitable only because their capital costs were forced down the public throat during deregulation, through other manipulations of the public treasury, and because lax regulation lets them operate cheaply while threatening the public health.

That article is a good summary on the state of the old reactors.

Not mentioned is the on going problem of old hardware that is very difficult to replace. The Management of Change for nuclear is far worse that for a chemical plant like the one I work at. And we have a major workload trying to find replacements for hardware installed from the mid-1980's through the 1990s. "You want a what? We haven't made those for 15 years" is a very common thing to hear on the other end of the phone.

The new stuff is often better, but since it is not "like for like" as defined by OSHA, then it has to go through a very involved process to be approved for installation. If nothing is even close, and entire subsystem might have to ripped out and replaced to use new parts that are actually available.

Usually with a license extension you also end up with a list of things you have to upgrade. (The list of things the local utility district had to upgrade to get a license renewal for a hydroelectric dam was also long.) I suspect the capital cost of the improvements, plus the cost of custom replacements was too much. Not when we have 100 years of cheap natural gas. (Yeah, yeah, I know.)

The announcement that Wisconsin’s Kewaunee will shut next year will be remembered as a critical dam break.

At least the officials at Kewaunee know when to pull the plug. Unlike some others.

City could pay to turn hybrid buses into diesel buses

Pilot project in draft 2013 budget earmarks $550K to retrofit 5 of city's 177 hybrid buses

Each hybrid bus costs anywhere from $100,000 to $150,000 more than regular diesel buses. The city made the investment because it hoped to save on fuel costs.

Instead, the city spent $1 million more on diesel fuel than it expected to last year, Deans said. It also cost more than $7 million to replace the batteries on some hybrid buses last year.

In light of the underperformance, the city's draft budget for 2013 includes $550,000 for a pilot project to rip out the hybrid electric/diesel engines and replace them with regular diesel engines.

-- snip --

He said the hybrid buses perform best while making frequent stops and starts in downtown areas. During longer hauls on the Transitway, for example, the diesel engine kicks in.

The Transitway is Bus Rapid Transit. Alan has this to say about BRT...

There is no need for BRT. High operating and maintenance costs plus fossil fuel consumption make it a poor choice. The best role for buses is as collectors and feeders to the nearest Urban Rail station - preferably shuttling between two stations so they can carry passengers along the route in both directions.

BRT is a bad idea in the long run, but in the short run it's an easier sell and has lower up-front costs. Personally, at this point I care more about having good public transit of ANY kind than whether it is buses or trains. Trains will come back at some point anyway, when it becomes vividly clear that private cars, 6 lane highways, and buses are huge drains on limited resources.

We're literally replaying the past backwards. Cars > buses > trains. We will probably have to go through the whole process all over again.

The biggest problems with mass transit now, though, have less to do with means of transit and more to do with organization of transit. Bad routing and infrequent schedules do more to discredit mass transit than anything else. It also doesn't help that the cart is usually put before the horse - here on Oahu they are talking about rail, but it's essentially a commuter rail with the idea of moving people into the city, when the city bus system is still badly organized and transit within the city is mediocre (great by US standards, poor by first world standards, and sufferring hugely from the tendency to route everything to the same places rather than use a more efficient grid or psuedo-grid).

I don't think people will ever "get it" until most of them are on the verge of being unable to use their cars.

This is part of the ongoing gong show revolving around the Ottawa Bus Transitway. Ottawa launched its BRT system in 1983, two years after Calgary launched its LRT system, and managed to spend nearly as much to build a bus system as Calgary did to build a light rail system.

The fundamental difference between the two, although the BRT proponents will deny it, is that a rail system has a far higher ultimate passenger capacity than a bus system. Ottawa and Calgary have about the same metropolitan population (a bit over 1 million), but Ottawa's busway ran out of capacity years ago, whereas Calgary's light rail system is just hitting its stride and working very efficiently as the inner city population rises over the 1 million mark.

Ottawa continues with its fixation on diesel buses, with their inner city air pollution and noise problems, when the obvious solution is to string trolley wires over the busway and run electric trolley buses - e.g. Double length articulated units such as I saw numerous examples of in other cities. But really, the best solution is to lay streetcar tracks in the pavement in the middle of their busway and run modern low-floor light rail vehicles on it as well as electric trolley buses. The LRVs have far higher ultimate passenger capacity since they can be run in multi-unit trains.

That would be the logical solution to their problems. Based on their past track record, I would expect them to avoid it at all costs.


They are slowly headed towards rail, but light rail, and they are going to make it as expensive as possible by putting 2.5 km of the first phase underground.

The tram systems that Alan has up on his blog would have been faster to build and cheaper to build.

Here's more...



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

In Calgary, yes (except for speed) - In Vancouver & Toronto, debatable - In Ottawa, Heck NO !


they are going to make it as expensive as possible by putting 2.5 km of the first phase underground.

Calgary has yet to put the downtown segment of its LRT underground. The city has built and mothballed a short section of subway and one station under the Municipal building in preparation for that happening.

After initially building the downtown section at grade to save money, they discovered they really didn't need to put it underground after all, and put their money toward building more track in the suburbs. The downtown segment is now moving the equivalent of 16 lanes of freeway traffic (over 250,000 commuters per day) in streetcar mode on one narrow downtown street, mixed with buses, without much noise and with no air pollution.