Drumbeat: October 29, 2012

Hurricane set to slash fuel demand in Northeast US

(Reuters) - As the Northeast United States locks down in the path of Hurricane Sandy, the freakishly large tropical storm careening in from the Atlantic, the main impact is likely to be on fuel demand rather than supply.

Regional product prices initially rose on Monday, but the storm is more likely to have a bearish impact later this week.

The region is a major net consumer of refined products such as gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel and covers more than 30 percent of its demand by imports and even more by pipeline deliveries from refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Hurricane Sandy will therefore depress regional fuel demand more than supply and should be bearish for crude and product prices at the margin, provided there is no serious and sustained damage to the refineries clustered in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Oil Slides, Gasoline Gains as Hurricane Sandy Nears U.S.

Crude fell for the first time in three days in New York while gasoline rose as refineries curbed operations before Hurricane Sandy strikes the U.S. East Coast.

West Texas Intermediate futures slid as much as 1.1 percent, while prices of the motor fuel advanced as much as 1.9 percent. Sandy will probably make landfall tomorrow, according to a National Hurricane Center advisory. Phillips 66, NuStar Energy LP and Hess Corp. said they are shutting or reducing output at New Jersey refineries as a precaution against the storm that may become the worst to hit the region in 100 years.

“The crude supply situation has improved, and high inventories are capping prices,” said Michael Poulsen, an analyst at Global Risk Management in Middelfart, Denmark, who predicts that Brent will trade from $105 to $110 a barrel next month. “But we should watch out for Super-Storm Sandy, as refineries are being shut while the storm rages.”

Stocks Fall as Sandy Shuts U.S. Markets; Gasoline Gains

Stocks fell around the world and gasoline rose as Hurricane Sandy threatened U.S. East coast refineries and closed equity trading. Italian two-year notes dropped for a sixth day and the euro weakened.

East Coast grinds to a halt as superstorm nears

"I think this one's going to do us in," said Mark Palazzolo, who boarded up his bait-and-tackle shop in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., with the same wood he used in past storms, crossing out the names of Hurricanes Isaac and Irene and spray-painting "Sandy" next to them. "I got a call from a friend of mine from Florida last night who said, 'Mark, get out! If it's not the storm, it'll be the aftermath. People are going to be fighting in the streets over gasoline and food.'"

Asia Fuel Oil-Cracks weaken, China demand subdued

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Asia's fuel oil cracks weakened on Monday, with the front-month November discount widening to its lowest in more than a week on a weak demand outlook.

The November contract was at a discount of $8.49 a barrel to Dubai crude by the Asian close, down 56 cents from the previous session and weakest since Oct. 19, according to Reuters data.

Enquiries from Chinese teapot refiners improved slightly, but remained at weakened levels as the and outlook for diesel and gasoline was subdued, according to trade sources.

Speculators Reduce Wagers as Annual Advance Erased

Speculators lowered bullish wagers on commodities for the third straight week, the longest streak since April, as prices erased this year’s gain on mounting concern about slowing economic growth.

Hedge funds cut net-long positions across 18 U.S. futures and options by 0.2 percent to 1.18 million contracts in the week ended Oct. 23, the lowest since July 24, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. Copper holdings fell the most in seven weeks, and sugar wagers dropped to a one-month low. Bullish bets on gold slumped the most in three months.

UK need for more gas storage to grow from 2020: analysts

(Platts) - The UK will be vulnerable to import disruptions and high prices into the next decade, according to two reports published Monday and commissioned by the dominant UK gas supplier Centrica.

Eclipse Energy says that without new seasonal storage capacity -- which means very large plants -- the UK gas price will be prone to rise sharply in the years after 2020, because of the compounding effects of less production in the UK and Norway and more import reliance; the limited extent of long-term supply commitments; relatively low storage capacity; and the very liquid spot market, the National Balancing Point, which allows other countries to balance their portfolios.

No slip up for UAE oil industry

The UAE produced on average 2.69 million barrels per day (bpd) in September, similar to the production levels in a month earlier, latest data from the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) showed.

The UAE has a sustainable oil production capacity of 2.79 million bpd at present, said the IEA, which advises 28 industrialised countries on energy policy. In July, the UAE’s oil production was estimated at 2.68 million bpd.

Petrobras Profit Falls as Drilling Costs Rise: Corporate Brazil

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, the world’s largest deep-water oil driller, is becoming less profitable as costs rise faster than sales because of equipment shortages and falling output.

For every $100 of revenue in the third quarter, Petrobras had a gross profit of $25, down from $32 a year earlier and $40 in the same period of 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Gross margins have fallen on a year-over-year basis for 11 straight quarters.

Exxon Seen Bidding for Anadarko to EOG to Boost Growth

With Exxon Mobil Corp. poised to lose its lead as the largest publicly traded oil producer by output, acquiring Anadarko Petroleum Corp. or EOG Resources Inc. would accelerate growth and help the company regain its lead.

OAO Rosneft’s plan this week to buy BP Plc’s Russian venture TNK-BP for $55 billion would vault the Moscow-based company past Exxon in terms of production. Irving, Texas-based Exxon also is lagging behind on growth, with analysts estimating only a 3 percent increase in sales through 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That compares with 28 percent at Rosneft and more than 26 percent at Anadarko and EOG, which have market values exceeding $30 billion.

TransCanada, Phoenix team up to build $3-billion Alberta pipeline

TransCanada Corp.and Phoenix Energy Holdings Ltd. are forming a partnership to build a $3-billion pipeline project in Northern Alberta to serve an area of emerging oil sands production.

Lithuania suing Russian energy giant Gazprom

BRUSSELS - Lithuania has highlighted that Russian energy giant Gazprom is facing a series of billion-euro lawsuits on alleged price-fixing, as well as the recently-opened European Commission probe.

Statoil expands in offshore UK

Norwegian energy provider Statoil has been awarded shares in seven exploration licences on the United Kingdom continental shelf (UKCS).

The company is operator for two of these, and expects this number to increase when the blocks pending environmental assessment are awarded.

Rosneft to buy BP out of TNK-BP first - source

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Giant BP is set to exit its stake in the TNK-BP joint venture ahead of the AAR consortium of tycoons, when they sell out to state-controlled Rosneft, a source close to Rosneft told Reuters on Monday.

BP has struck a deal to sell its stake in the joint venture, Russia's third-largest crude producer, after a nine-year partnership with the consortium of Soviet-born billionaires known as AAR.

Japan’s Tepco to tap more coal suppliers to cut costs

Tokyo: Japan’s biggest utility, Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco, plans to buy coal from a wider group of suppliers in a drive to cut costs as it starts operations of new coal-fired power stations, a company official said.

It would be the first time that Tepco, battered financially by last year’s Fukushima nuclear disaster, was buying cheaper low-calorie sub-bituminous coal through term contracts, traders said.

The dash for gas is a dangerous gamble

The 20GW goal is what ministers are now pursuing, so according the CCC they have chosen a more risky and more expensive path.

How so? First, no-one outside the shale gas lobby thinks fracking will deliver cheap, plentiful gas for the UK and so make a big dash for gas sensible. "Look at European gas price projections ... they all agree on the direction – up. European shale will help, but not on a US scale." says the CBI's boss John Cridland. He later added: "An over reliance on new gas would leave us exposed to global price and supply fluctuations and jeopardise our carbon targets."

BP Oil-Spill Judge Postpones Trial on Fault to February

The trial over liability for BP Plc’s 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill was postponed to Feb. 25 so the lawyers won’t lose their accommodations to Super Bowl and Mardi Gras crowds, a New Orleans judge said.

The Super Bowl, the National Football League’s title game, is set for Feb. 3, and the last day of Mardi Gras, the pre-Lenten festival, is Feb. 12. The trial, originally set for Jan. 14, will be delayed six weeks because lawyers involved have been told they’ll be “kicked out” of their hotel rooms, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said at a hearing today.

Peak oil may already be here, and the knock on effect could range from bad to truly awful

The second alternative scenario . . . considers the implications of a 3.8 percent rather than 1 percent annual decline in world oil output growth. Given an initial growth rate of 1.8 percent per annum in the data, this implies that, except for the small supply response to higher oil prices, oil production declines by 2 percent annually. We also assume that this outright output contraction is accompanied by an annual increase in real extraction costs per barrel of 4 percent rather than 2 percent.

In this scenario, the longer-term output and current account effects are approximately four times as large as in the baseline, in other words they increase roughly in proportion to the size of the shock.

An economic theory of limited oil supply

An adequate supply of cheap ($20 or $30 barrel) oil is no longer available, because most of the “easy to extract” oil is gone. The cost of extracting oil keeps rising, but the ability of oil-importing economies to pay for this oil does not. There are no good low-cost substitutes for oil, so substitution is very limited and will continue to be very limited. The big oil-importing economies are already finding themselves in poor financial condition, as higher oil prices lead to cutbacks in discretionary spending and layoffs in discretionary industries.

The government is caught up in this, as layoffs lead to more need for stimulus funds and for payments to unemployed workers, at the same time that tax revenue is reduced. There can be a temporary drop in oil prices (as there was in late 2008), as recession worsens, but eventually demand rises again, oil prices rise again, and the pattern of layoffs and increased governments financial problems occurs again.

Fujairah power plant keeps the UAE's lights on

Expanding demand is requiring projects of a scale never before seen in the region as Arabian Gulf governments race to keep the lights on.

In the next five years, Middle East nations will have to bring 123.9GW of power online just to keep up with demand, which is growing in the region at a rate of 7.9 per cent every year, according to Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (Apicorp).

Talk of a Wind Subsidy ‘Phaseout’

The wind industry, fighting to hold onto a generous tax credit set to expire in December, has been arguing that it does not need the support forever – just a little while longer, until it can compete with fossil fuels on its own.

The tax break subsidizes wind power by 2.2 cents a kilowatt hour to bring its cost closer to that of conventional fuels, and it has periodically been renewed by Congress with support from both parties. But like other subsidies for alternative energy, it has been tarred in some people’s eyes by the government’s investment in the failed solar company Solyndra and has become a wedge issue in the presidential contest. President Obama wants the credit extended, while Mitt Romney has urged that it expire as scheduled.

Poland Renewables Bill to Forge New Solar Market as EU Cuts Back

Poland is set to approve renewable- energy laws that may spur a 100-fold increase in solar-power capacity next year, just as the rest of Europe scales back.

The country that has 3 megawatts of solar capacity may build as much as 400 megawatts next year if the renewables bill comes into effect on schedule in January, said Stanislaw Pietruszko, the head of Poland’s photovoltaic association. Neighboring Germany has 30,000 megawatts installed.

South Africa to beef up renewable energy

The government is poised to sign its first contracts with independent power producers (IPPs) for the provision of 1400 megawatts of renewable energy.

Briefing the media in Pretoria on Monday, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said the contracts - with 28 preferred bidders - would be signed on November 5 and 6.

Solar glider project seeks funding for two-seater

The Sunseeker, a solar-powered plane-glider hybrid that has been flying for more than two decades, is about to get a new, more spacious successor — but only if the builders can secure the funding.

Abu Dhabi studies rubbish-powered plant

The emirate's first waste-burning power plant could be followed by others to help to cut down on growing amounts of landfill trash, says the developer.

Community energy is on the up. But will the government hobble it?

Government energy reforms could make it impossible for new community energy projects to scale up.

Rachel Carson’s Lessons, 50 Years After ‘Silent Spring’

She was a classic introvert who exhibited few of the typical qualities associated with leadership, like charisma and aggressiveness. But as people like Susan Cain, author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” have pointed out, leadership can come in less obvious forms.

Carson’s life shows that individual agency, fueled by resolution and hard work, has the power to change the world. In this election year, when so much influence seems concentrated in “super PACs,” lobbying groups and other moneyed interests, her story is a reminder that one person’s quiet leadership can make a difference.

Costly repairs: Hurricane changes homeowners policy

The Atlantic Coast, the Gulf of Mexico and the Hawaiian islands are home to the U.S. counties most vulnerable to hurricanes. These counties account for nearly two-thirds of the nation's coastline population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

"As more people have moved to the coasts, it's become too expensive for the insurance companies to assume the cost of the hurricane damage,'' Barry says.

Casualties of Toronto’s Urban Skies

So many birds hit the glass towers of Canada’s most populous city that volunteers scour the ground of the financial district for them in the predawn darkness each morning. They carry paper bags and butterfly nets to rescue injured birds from the impending stampede of pedestrian feet or, all too often, to pick up the bodies of dead ones.

The group behind the bird patrol, the Fatal Light Awareness Program, known as FLAP, estimates that one million to nine million birds die every year from impact with buildings in the Toronto area. The group’s founder once single-handedly recovered about 500 dead birds in one morning.

Coal resurgence threatens climate change targets

Coal is enjoying a renaissance, with the highest consumption of the fuel since the late 1960s. The unexpected development threatens to put climate change targets out of reach – and much of the reason is the rise of a supposedly "green" fuel, natural gas.

The controversial use of shale gas in the US, where it now makes up a quarter of electricity generation, has brought down carbon emissions there – but the greenhouse gases have simply been exported elsewhere, meaning no net gain for the planet, research by the Guardian and other sources has found.

U.S. study checks climate, conflict link

BOULDER, Colo. (UPI) -- While there may be links between conflict in East Africa and climate change, U.S. researchers said political and socioeconomic factors play a greater role.

A study from researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder, said risks of conflict in East Africa declines with more rainfall but rises when temperatures increase. It notes, however, that "socioeconomic, political and geographic factors play a much more substantial role (in conflict) than climate change."

Trial Program in India replaces kerosene subsidies with cash



... many said they had either stopped buying kerosene altogether or were now paying the higher price from their own pockets.

Alan, it appears there are a few bug in getting the system up and running smoothly.

The article says On the basis of Aadhar, well Aadhar itself means basis, foundation etc.

The ration card was never seen as an outright handout, just subsidized food everyone was eligible for , but the rich did n't use. Now you will have the same stigma of 'welfare' when it is tied to cash.
Also the government is trying to cap the outflow by making it a cash payment instead of a in kind payment.

And 'developed' countries are the ones who move away from in kind transfers.
i.e the more developed you are, the more distant from reality.
Food Fuel Fibre, were in kind subsidies with fair price shop sugar, rice wheat, some oils etc, fuel as in subsidized cooking gas and kerosene, and fibre in 'controlled cloth'

Now it will all be cash which will be worth less and less.

As the economist said at the end of the piece, it's all in the execution and monitoring. Part of that is having the payments track inflation.

Replacing subsidies with cash payments ought to cut subsidies to high users, who are not the poor. Typically, subsidies are about 30% efficient in reaching the target group; the rest goes to high-income users of the subsidized product. Cash transfers are typically over 80% efficient.

Lifting prices to market levels also cuts out smuggling and black markets. Of course high users and smugglers will be unhappy, but the target group should have higher effective incomes if the programme is designed and run properly.

A direct transfer from the central government into a poor family's bank account also reduces opportunities for graft in local administrations. Probably, quite a few local officials are unhappy too.

Cash welfare may be stigmatizing, but the alternatives are corrupting. And corruption is the big problem in the long run.

Kerosene is used to adulterate petrol in India...talk about subsidies literally ruining your infrastructure. Also as usual the Govt is busy inflating the currency so direct cash subsidies makes more sense, oil imports cost precious dollars.

The poor are actually opposed to the idea - for reasons that a behavior economist but not a conventional economist would understand and possibly predict. For the poor the concern is that they may not have the cash on hand when they need to buy the kerosene or gas cylinder. Many of them don't have bank accounts, keeping the cash on hand in anticipation of the purchase risks it being stolen and there is always the all to common problem of the men drinking it away. For that reason they prefer the idea of purchasing at a subsidized price.

It would be much better if the assistance was provided on some kind of electronic card that could only used at certain points of sale. But I don't believe that is how it is being structured.

India is using smart cards and biometric technology to deliver subsidized food to the poor. The project will be completed by next year.

I think the point is still valid...most rural Indians still don't have access to bank accounts. Cash is the only way money can be dispensed, and you know what happens to easy cash in villages, it goes in to liquor.

I think the following is illustrative:


Perhaps we could all read it and upgrade the discussion from theoretical (i.e. market efficiency) to the merits/failures of what is actually being tried (in this specific instance [food, not kerosene])?

Hint: un-privatizing the food distribution seems to have been crucial in getting it to 'work'. I didn't catch wether it's cash vs. in-kind, will have to re-read myself...


I have heard that there are schemes for using mobile phones for money transfers and banking where people are poor and do not have access to banks. Is there any move to this in the areas you are talking about?


Who is gonna hold that money for all the poor people ? Do all the transactions ? It's the job of a bank ultimately, all the technology in the world isn't gonna solve this problem if poor people don't have a bank account. Technology only cuts the man in the middle.

State Bank of India has a branch in practically every village. Is it that hard to get poor people to open bank accounts? If they can get a ration card they can open a bank account.

Brazil's Petrobras September Crude Oil Output 1.843M Barrels/Day

Petrobras said in a presentation for analysts that the company lost 77,000 barrels of crude oil production per day to planned maintenance stoppages during the third quarter, up from lost output of 52,000 barrels a day in the second quarter. In addition, natural production declines at the company's fields resulted in a decrease of 57,000 barrels a day in production, Petrobras said. September's production was the company's lowest monthly output so far in 2012.

1.843 mb/d is almost 200 kb/d below the last report from the EIA, (June), and almost 400 kb/d below their peak in January.

The EIA's International Energy Statistics with July production data is late this month. It was due about 10 days ago but has not yet arrived.

Ron P.

Does anyone here know what's going on in Brazil's deep-water presalt fields? You keep hearing that Brazil is going to become the next Saudi Arabia, but Ron's link paints a different picture.

Ron's periodic updates regarding BP's poster child for deepwater Gulf of Mexico (GOM) production, the Thunder Horse complex, is a good example of the wide gap between the hype and the reality regarding most deepwater fields.

Regarding Brazil, the recent annual data through 2011 show a pattern of increasing net imports of petroleum liquids. Even if we include biofuels, Brazil was a net importer last year. Regarding hype versus reality, I frequently refer to one of my favorite MSM articles in recent years, a 2010 Bloomberg item about Brazil--a net oil importer--taking market share away from OPEC.

The fact that Brazil discourages foreign investment, limiting them to 15% share in all projects, is one reason. Another factor is the 8% decline rate in their older fields.

Why Brazilian Oil Struggles to Catch Fire

But hype has succumbed to reality. OGX is finding it tougher, and costlier, than expected to develop its reserves. It slashed output estimates in June, touching off a rout in the stock and a change of chief executive. Petrobras, meanwhile, has cut output targets while expanding its already huge capital-expenditure budget.

Roger Tissot, an energy consultant focused on Latin America, says "Brazil has been oversold", referring to the hype around its potential. Despite rich oil resources, government policy limits the deployment of foreign capital and expertise, slowing development and raising costs he says.

Brazil’s Petrobras Worst Big Oil Bet on Deepwater Delays

Last year’s output grew at the slowest pace since 2007 as new fields in the so-called pre-salt region failed to counter declines at deposits where it has been pumping for decades. Production hit a 20-month low in April this year...

“The decline rate at the legacy fields is just going to keep getting worse and offset some of the successes at the new fields,” said Frederick Searby, chief Latin America strategist at Deutsche Bank AG in New York. “You’re sort of running to stand still, that’s something people have been concerned about.”...

Production at Roncador, Brazil’s biggest producing field until January, declined 8 percent in the 12 months through April, according to National Petroleum Agency data.

I just found this concerning the sub-salt decline. But we don't know if that decline was due to maintenance or something else. Brazil August Crude-Oil Output Down 0.8% From July -ANP

Brazil produced an average of 2.006 million barrels of crude oil per day in August, down 0.8% from July and down 2.2% from August 2011, the ANP said. Output from the subsalt, a series of ultra-deepwater fields buried under a thick layer of salt off the country's Atlantic Ocean coast, totaled 203,200 barrels of oil equivalent, or BOE, in August. That was down 6% from July but was still the second-biggest output from the oil-producing region.

Ron P.

Chuck Watson, who used to contribute on TOD during Rita, Katrina, has posted his latest on Sandy:
"The huge refinery complex in Linden NJ is especially vulnerable, as are those located along Delaware Bay. They will probably be offline for at least a week. Knocking these offline for a month (which is possible in this case) could cause severe shortages across the northeast. Losing seven percent production doesn’t sound like much, but there isn’t much excess capacity in the system right now"

So, it would appear that, based on NOAA's surge and wave destructive potential scale, the storm currently is estimated at 97% of maximum damage.


In a measurement of pure kinetic energy, NOAA's hurricane research division on Sunday ranked the surge and wave "destruction potential" for Sandy - just the hurricane, not the hybrid storm it will eventually become - at 5.8 on a 0 to 6 scale. The damage expected from winds will be far less, experts said. Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters says that surge destruction potential number is a record and it's due to the storm's massive size.

"You have a lot of wind acting over a long distance of water for hundreds of miles" and that piles the storm surge up when it finally comes ashore, Masters said. Even though it doesn't pack much power in maximum wind speed, the tremendous size of Sandy - more than 1,000 miles across with tropical storm force winds - adds to the pummelling power when it comes ashore, he said.

I would think that food, water & fuel shortages in the Northeast could be very serious problems.

eMail to my sister in Manhattan -
Things look MUCH better this morning.

The storm walls @ Manhattan are 5' tall, so a 5' storm surge would have some water over, but not a great deal.

Probability of 6' storm surge @ all of Manhattan - 40 to 50%
Probability of 8' storm surge East River side of M - 20% to 30%
Probability of 8' storm surge Hudson River side of M - 10% to 20%
Probability of 9' storm surge East River & lower Hudson side of M - 10% to 20%
Probability of 9' storm surge upper Hudson River side of M - 5% to 10%
Probability of 10' storm surge East River side of M - 10% to 20%
Probability of 10' storm surge Hudson River side of M - 5% to 10%
Probability of 11' or 12' storm surge East River side of M - 5% to 10%
Probability of 13'+ storm surge < 5%

The more water, the greater the damage. Possible salt water into the electrical system and the subways. Sewage treatment plants flooded and so forth.

Without detailed knowledge, 6' and 8' surges can be recovered from within a few days. And the odds are now in favor of that or less :-) JFK & Laguardia (spelling ?) airports likely out with surges that high.

Longer odds for 10' or higher storm surge. This will likely mean evacuation after the storm IMVHO. Subways out for a month+, electrical may be out for weeks.

I will text details of how bad after the storm clears.

WORST CASE (unlikely) *IF* they start evacuation it will likely by Metro North trains since airports will be out - I expect Metro North to be the first transit to re-open in Manhattan. I will text details to you.

Once rolling, Metro North can take over 100,000 people/hour out to, say Albany airport and fly from there. No choice - after Katrina people were told where they were going AFTER they took off.

What is your roommates cell # ?

You have to ration cell phone use to make it last AT LEAST 5 days without recharging after the power goes out. Both cells off at night after the storm dies down, one on for a limited time to pick up text messages (I think texts wait in queue till you are "on").

Tell people to text, not call. If they call, do not answer, but text back. Set display at darkest option and ring at lowest volume - all to save the cell batteries.

I will text both #s and any other cell #s that you want me to add.
Feel free to copy & forward if you chose to.

Any cell #s sent by eMail I will text to as well as my sister.

Best Hopes for a 4.5' storm surge !


She just said that Roosevelt Island, which was not evacuated, appears to be going under at low tide. Not all yet, but the edges and the highest point there is low.

They have a subway station on Roosevelt Island.


She just sent me pictures of East River (Manhattan side) flood wall from observation point. About 4" to 5" below over topping with waves going over.

I texted her to realize that water could climb to top of that wall ON HER SIDE in a few minutes. Strong surge of water once over topped. No place to play.

Her photo of Roosevelt Island looked ominous.
I have been thinking ahead.

Metro North (and Amtrak tracks north to Albany) will be the first to re-open IMHO. Also MBTA (Boston). Some low spots on the coast may be blocked for a short time.


Major NYC airports will be out for commercial flights - military a/c (C-17s, C-130s) can use them.

A truly massive evacuation will likely be required in a 50% worse case it looks like now.

Fly relief supplies in and people that can get to JFK et al on their own out with military a/c.

Move US Navy ships, particularly amphibious assault ships (600 bed hospitals) in ASAP and evacuate stranded hospitals. Supply food & water. Perhaps a cruise ship is in the area.

Use Metro North and Amtrak to shuttle people to open commercial airports near tracks (Albany). Reopen Long Island RR ASAP and shuttle Long Island residents to Islip (high & dry airport). Almost a million can drive there - but where to park ??

Perhaps use commercial a/c in Katrina like shuttle - you are not told where you are going till you are airborne. It would be nice to say "Gate A1 - Chicago a/c, A2 - Detroit a/c, Gate A3 - Miami, etc.". BUT I question if smaller airports can handle this ?

Evacuate New Jersey down Northeast Corridor. Tunnels to Manhattan likely flooded, but tracks should be up quickly from DC to Newark.

Best Hopes for Better than Predicted, not Worse,


I don't think you can count on Metro-North. They were not the first to open after Irene. In fact, one of their lines was the among the last to open. The Port Jervis line had 15 miles of track washed out. It was closed for months, and the repairs were not up to standard. It was a quick and dirty job, meant to be fixed up later.

Port Jervis is a minor spur on the Jersey side of the Hudson "Ocean".

For my sister, I have studied the two rail bridges between Manhattan & the Bronx fairly carefully (looking at getting food by rail into Hunt's Point, now 98% by truck) and connecting to LIRR in Queens.

I think the odds are quite good for that route to get some debris blown on it - but little more.

For evacuating Manhattan, with most/all tunnels flooded, Metro North to the north seems like the most viable option. Take people to working commercial airport (any closer than Albany ?) and fly them out from there.

However, more than Manhattan may be facing a massive evacuation.

Best Hopes,


There's an airport in White Plains, and also Stewart Airport in Newburgh. Stewart Airport used to be the runway for C-5s from the air base, so it's really long.

McGuire AFB in New Jersey is a large, active military air transport facility.

Southwest flies out of Islip, LI.

The storm surge is approaching 11' with some increase still happening...

It's now 14'.

They said it peaked at 13.88 ft and is now receding. Slowly.

They are saying the worst is over for NYC.

They are saying the worst is over for NYC.

And the worst it was.

Superstorm Sandy: New York subway system flooded in 'worst ever disaster'

Surging seawater forced ashore by Hurricane Sandy flooded seven New York subway tunnels and six bus garages in the worst disaster in the history of city transport, the network's chief said on Tuesday.

"The New York City subway system is 108 years old, but it has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night," said Joseph Lhota, chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).

"Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on our entire transportation system, in every borough and county of the region. It has brought down trees, ripped out power and inundated tunnels, rail yards and bus depots," he said.

There is water on the FDR and it's closed to traffic - at least in the 70's


Alan, I'm confused by this talk. NYC, is not New Orleans (i.e. it is not below sea level), so the water will only be there for a few hours. Most of the buildings are multi-story -so no one should drown. True major transport may be down for an extended period, but it should still be livable. Am I missing something?

What you're missing peoples general stupidity.

They just interviewed someone who defied the evacuation order and stayed...with her three year old child. She's now sorry she didn't leave, but there's nothing anyone can do now.

There is irony in all of this.

I've read articles throughout the presidential campaign pointing out that global warming and climate change issues have been ignored or brushed aside by both parties. In one of the tighted, most acrimonious, and expensive election battles ever fought, neither side wanted to deal with an unpleasant issue with only painful solutions. Teams of professionals were assembled by both sides to prevent or nullify climate change questions from being addressed.

Now, what may be the most materially destructive storm in history is beating down on Washington and New York at the same time, less than 10 days before the vote. Both parties campaigns are effectively over. The people of the nation will expect the president to devote his efforts to dealing with the crisis at hand. His opponent has no choice but to atttempt to do likewise or be seen as callous and out of touch.

The next president may be decided by a storm that many would argue has been amplified by human activity or aggravated by uncontrolled urban sprawl.

In a rational world, people would calculate roughly the future costs of climate change versus the costs of preventing those disasters. On the other hand, the ruinous costs of climate caused destruction may already be baked into the cake and, at best, we can prevent somewhat those costs from being far worse. But both campaigns are still silent. Irene was not a wake up call. The drowth and record heat of the summer was not a wake up call. And this will not be a wakeup call. You can't wake up the zombies. Dead planet walking.

Hope everyone enjoys their increased insurance costs coming down the pike.

Hope everyone enjoys their increased insurance costs coming down the pike.

No! No! No! tstreet, you really don't get it! This storm is the absolute best thing that could possibly have happened!


The Economic Impact of Hurricane Sandy … Not All Bad News

The Upside

Disasters can give the ailing construction sector a boost, and unleash smart reinvestment that actually improves stricken areas and the lives of those that survive intact. Ultimately, Americans, as they always seem to do, will emerge stronger in the wake of disaster and rebuild better-making a brighter future in the face of tragedy.

A Boost for Construction

However, rebuilding after Sandy, especially in an economy with high unemployment and underused resources in the construction industry, will unleash at least $15-$20 billion in new direct private spending -- likely more as many folks rebuild larger than before, and the capital stock that emerges will prove more economically useful and productive.

Regarding the latter, consider a restaurant with inadequate patronage -- its owner invests the insurance settlement in a new more attractive business. On the shore, older smaller homes on large plots are replaced by larger dwellings that can accommodate more families during the summer tourist season. The outer banks of North Carolina saw such gains several decades ago after rebuilding from a storm of similar scale.

Don't you worry! The zombies are wide awake and they're coming for your brains!


All the economic opportunity that came after WWII comes to mind...

/sarc off (and not personal - just used your post as an anchor)

I guess economists just see the world differently....

About a month before Hurricane Ike I was sailing in Galveston Bay and commented to my passengers, "What this bay needs is a good hurricane to clear the trash off the waterfront."

I meant the new McMansions going up shoulder to shoulder in San Leon, Bacliff, Kemah, and Seabrook. Sure enough, Ike came along and pretty much wiped the shoreline clean.

But now they're back again: wider, taller, and uglier than ever before. The low single story beach houses hidden by trees are all gone (most of this area had about a ten foot storm surge). Building codes require that houses "Shall have the lowest floor (including basement), any ductwork, exposed plumbing and electrical components elevated to or above a minimum of one foot above the base flood elevation" (City of Seabrook Municipal Code 38-77). If Ike covered the ground to 10 feet, that means 11 feet above ground level. Such building is expensive, so only the rich can afford to live on the shore. They can usually afford at least two stories above the lowest floor, so the smallest new houses stand more than thirty feet above the shoreline. It seems to me that the owners (or their architects) compete for the least suitable color when painting these new monstrosities.

Yeah, that theory has been around too long



PS Hope all our members up there are safe.

The underground electrical system will be flooded (likely with salt water). Subways will likely be flooded too. A number of systems (sewage, food distribution, water in the suburbs) will also likely be out for an extended period.

Living in a high rise for an extended period w/o electricity is simply not viable.

The loss of supporting systems will have an impact as well.


In theory, all underground connections should be sealed (in practice?). I never worked a manhole that I didn't need to pump out and ventilate first. They use several layers of large shrink tubing lined with hot-melt glue and torch the crap out of them (at least thats how they used to do it). Other equipment is also well sealed and kept above expected flood lines. As I said below, we'll see how well these strategies have been implemented and maintained.

Con Ed has announced that they are going to shut off power in areas expected to flood at street level - to reduce damage by de-energizing equipment.


The trouble with a flooded sewage system is what went down, must come up. Some flooded areas will be hazardous to health for a while.


There is always a general fixation on NYV due to the fact is it a major population/media/financial center but the reality is that the people who will be worst hit will be general homes in Jersey, Conn, etc. The storm surge will back up rivers which will flood well inland from the coast- watch for this.

The NYC area has lots of high ground, so there is no need to move people very far. Long Island is one big glacial moraine, with the Broolyn Heights being its highest eastern projection. Manhattan is a rocky ridge scoured by glaciers that created the Hudson fjiord. Staten Island is another glacial mound. From the Palisades south to Bayone is another rocky ridge paralleling Manhattan. West of there is a series of parallel ridges with the Jersey Meadowlands, Great Swamp, etc. in between. The major precipitation is going south, so the usual flooding in Wayne may not occur.

So given that most able bodied people could walk to high ground, the main need is to reestablish transportation and logistics for supplies into the Washington to New York region and to repair the infrastructure that has been damaged.

Yes, the plan for NYC has always been "vertical evacuation." There's just too many people and too many bottlenecks.

Wow, the "Day After Tomorrow" plan, then. Guess we better page Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal.

For low rise structures it will be uncomfortable.

However, I do not think living on, say, the 33rd floor without power for weeks is a viable option.

And it is true that the tracks to Albany run close to the Hudson River.

The rain from this event (3 storms for the price of one !) is particularly unpredictable - other than it will be a lot somewhere.


So far, storm totals are the highest in Northeast Maryland. The wind field is highest southwest of the eye, which is unusual and must reflect the effect of the trough that is steering it westward.


I'm a little concerned about the wind. Sandy's coming in stronger than predicted. The winds will be stronger higher up, so there might be a lot of broken glass in Manhattan.

We are of course looking into massive damages to the retail electrical distribution system, but I am beginning to wonder about massive damage to the regional electrical trunk lines, and possibly to support structures, and damage to regional transformer stations.

Also, I assume that there is a good chance of lots of spin off tornadoes. Some video footage of "flying trailers" in the Dallas area, earlier this year, as a tornado passed over:


The local utilities are warning power could be out for some customers for a week to ten days.

They might be overly optimistic. OTOH, people have really learned their lesson after Irene, and seem to be much better prepared. They've already brought in crews from other areas of the country. They sent them to hotels to sleep, so they'll be fresh when repairs start.

This will be a remarkable test of infrastructure; we'll find out where all of those band-aides have been applied, shortcuts taken, and budgets cut. Destructive testing free, courtesy of Sandy.

This isn't really tropical (except at the core), the one thing the experts think won't be part of this storm are tornado threats.

Getting people out over several weeks is a different issue than an emergency evacuation.

Many buildings in NYC have their own generators.

And you probably wouldn't have to get people to an airport. Getting them out of the city would probably be enough if the issue is water/power.

Still not sure I'd rely on commuter rail for that. During Irene, the commuter rail lines suffered the heaviest damage of any NYC transportation system. And they travel underground in the city, so if flooding is the problem, they aren't immune.

Yes, I am talking about a post-Sandy evacuation.

2 million may be on the low side, depending on many as yet unknown variables. It is easy to hypothesis 5 million people that have to or want to evacuate (no heat in cold weather). My guess more than half of Manhattan residents, but also many other areas as well.

People flooded out of their homes, high rise residents, elderly, etc.

I did some Google Earth. Manhattan-Bronx bridge 32 to 36' high. Lowest point before going into tunnel (around 200th Street) 18'.

Another rail line runs on the surface at decent elevations (I found 15' low spot) on the coast of Queens. to a bridge at 155th Street.

Buses might be able to carry the volume of people. if spread out over several days. The choke points would be loading, unloading and road capacity.

One operating train line can handle a much larger volume - the choke points being loading & unloading.


I'm from downstate NY (Rockland County), now living in Ithaca, but pretty familiar with all the trains in the area. Metro-North trains don't take the Spuyten-Duyvil bridge on the west side of Manhattan into Penn Station, that's only Amtrak.

Metro-North runs out of Grand Central Terminal up Park Avenue on the east side (going underground at 97th St), then branches into three directions once into the Bronx. The Hudson line is probably about 10' above sea level, so that could be washed out. Amtrak essentially runs on the same tracks, and I expect Penn Station to be the first major hub to flood if the Hudson River breeches the storm walls, so I'd say everything running up the west side and into Jersey will be shut down the longest.

The Harlem line should be fine running through central Westchester. I'm not as sure about the New Haven line heading to CT, but that's also along a coast (but sheltered somewhat by Long Island), so hard to say how those tracks will fare.

The biggest question is what happens to Grand Central. If that gets flooded, there will be serious limitations on the ability to get trains turned around if mass evacuations are necessary. The Harlem 125th St station is pretty small, and there would be a serious bottleneck at that point.

Additionally, it's important to note that LIRR runs into Penn Station. So if Penn Station has problems, then LIRR will have to terminate in Queens, and people will then have to make it to Grand Central or Harlem on the surface if they want to leave the city. I don't expect a wholesale evacuation of Long Island though, some people might actually head there from the city, but getting supplies out there may be difficult depending on how long recovery takes.

Some damage reports appearing...

Much of The Bronx’s subway service is elevated and could be restored the quickest.

Before any subway trains can roll, though, workers must inspect all 468 stations and hundreds of miles of tracks.

Commuter rails haven’t fared any better. LIRR and Metro-North crews, too, must inspect miles of tracks before service is resumed.

Large stretches of Metro-North tracks were already flooded — before the strongest parts of the storm rolled in.

A good friend of mine lives on the 33rd floor of a major Trump Tower on the Upper West Side.

During the storm he said it was swaying, shaking, and creaking in a very disconcerting manner - the lights oscillated back and forth, and the water he stored in the bath sloshed out. His wife and kids went to a residents' "party" down in the lobby. Water from the Hudson River was high into the parklands.

And he hopes the concreting contract didn't go to the lowest bidder. The building is very large but has no back-up generator capacity.

Hunt's Point, the primary food distribution center for 14 million people, is generally 19' to 24' above sea level per Google Earth. That should be enough.

The Fulton Fish Market moved there a few years ago.

Frozen & refrigerated food section (back up power ? how long w/o power ?), fresh fruit & vegetable section, and other areas (one just for potatoes).

Take out Hunt's Point, and the viability of the region declines.


Of course the city can also bring a lot of manpower to bear to take on big challenges, too.

Sad to say in light of how your city was mistreated in '05, but the Island of Manhattan won't be 'an island' if it takes on even some very brutal damage.. look at how many firefighters showed up to help on 911. With rail and water access, emergency supplies can be coming at the city in hours.


Still of note these surge maps were initialised assuming a higher pressure for Sandy. Latest Dropsonde from Hurricane Hunter supports pressure currently at 943-945mb (19 knots wind at surface 945mb reading). Then there are waves of considerable height on top of the surge values. Sandy is close to running in to cooler waters though now but still a lot of convection near centre. Then we have to see what happens with any baroclinic strengthening.

Best hopes and fingers crossed this is not as bad as the IKE values suggest.

Edit: Hurricane Hunter just transmitted estimate of 940.4 (1415UTC 15 mins ago)- no Dropsonde for this location yet but seems Sandy still strengthening.

Official Update. Almost Cat 2 winds with Cat 4 pressure.


1500 UTC MON OCT 29 2012



64 KT....... 0NE 0SE 150SW 0NW.
50 KT.......150NE 150SE 200SW 150NW.
34 KT.......420NE 330SE 400SW 270NW.
12 FT SEAS..480NE 995SE 840SW 360NW.



That's good advice about extending cell phone battery life.

However... this is being called an 'unprecedented' storm. It has been strengthening in recent hours and will be crossing the warm waters of the jet stream today. It is receiving positive enhancement from the jet stream and interacting weather patterns. It is bigger than your average tropical storm/hurricane.

The probabilities of which you speak are from models. In an unprecedented strengthening storm, trending stronger and worst-case, in a setting of abnormally warm ocean water in an area experiencing abnormal sea level rise, how accurate might the models be?

When models are wrong, they factor that information in for the next time. I would not trust the models. How well will a model predict what will be happening tonite as the water piles up, the wind keeps blowing, the storm comes ashore, with 20- 30 foot surf and seas, in a highly developed and populated area, and lunar high tide occurs?

If one is in Manhattan, that's one thing. If one is on what looks to be miles and miles of heavily developed barrier beach, that's another thing. In Manhattan you just go up another floor. If one trusts a model to tell them that their 8 foot high island of a beach is only going to get 6 feet of surge... I think one would be making a big mistake. Possibly fatal.

My point: Don't trust the models. Past results are not a guarantee of future performance.

Weather Channel forecasters just confirmed that they are now expecting higher surge than predicted earlier due to the lower than "expected" pressure.

CNN reporting that some mandatory evacuation areas on Long Island are already flooding.

Steve Masters Weather Underground, morning update, just posted:

"According to the latest storm surge forecast for NYC from NHC, Sandy's storm surge is expected to be 10 - 12' above MLLW. Since a storm tide of 10.5' is needed to flood the subway system, it appears likely that portions of the NYC subway system will flood."

It seems to me that the best place to ride out the storm--and aftereffects of the storm--would be on a Greyhound bus headed west.

Metro-North doesn't go to Albany. It goes about halfway, ending in Poughkeepsie.

Metro-North is a weird system. It's electric south of Croton-Harmon, but diesel north of it. Only the diesel cars can go past Croton-Harmon.

I believe (not certain) that Amtrak to Albany & Montreal uses the same tracks. So the tracks will be in decent condition on that route. One question - how close to the tracks & train station is Albany airport ?

Diesel locos would be needed - perhaps even use some freight locos (geared wrong - but they will move cars).

Other Metro North routes would have to transit over some rough freight only track to get to a working commercial airport. With luck, Providence airport should be OK.

From my limited knowledge of the NorthEast Corridor, the tunnels under the Hudson should be flooded, but the NJ track should be working a half day or so after the wind dies down. Likely restricted speed,

New Jersey from Newark south could be evacuated down the NEC.

No memory of NEC in Philly area, but there are some bypasses around.


I believe (not certain) that Amtrak to Albany & Montreal uses the same tracks. So the tracks will be in decent condition on that route. One question - how close to the tracks & train station is Albany airport ?

They do use the same tracks, but there are fewer of them north to Albany, since traffic is so much lighter with no commuter rail.

The train station is in Rensselaer. Albany Airport is across the Hudson River from there. Taxi fair is around $40 last time I checked. There's a bus from the train station to downtown Albany.

how close to the tracks & train station is Albany airport ?

A dozen miles and across the Hudson, which is tidal to Albany... but bridges up there should be fine.

Most of Irene's damage occurred far inland. It was the rain, not the storm surge, that did the damage. Buildings and bridges washed away in areas that had never seen floods in recorded history.

There are warnings of record flooding for the Hudson today and tomorrow. The train tracks run right along the river.

I expect Metro North to be the first transit to re-open in Manhattan.

The actual first public transit to re-open in Manhattan: the bus. Service will be resumed today at 5pm. Sunday schedule, no fare required. Several of the Manhattan bridges have been inspected and re-opened. Taxis are reportedly doing extremely good business.

The Hudson and New Haven lines of Metro-North are without electricity. LIRR suffered flooding and damage to its yards. There are trees down on all lines that have to be removed. In some cases, they have crushed the "third rail." The New Haven line has overhead lines that no longer overhead. On the Hudson line, there's a 40-foot boat blocking the tracks in Ossining.

Gotta get that centralized corporate oligarchy neo-feudal slavery thing going again ASAP I guess, to keep up the thievery-as-taxes to pay for cleanup of the mess that that same system is somewhat responsible for.

(with thoughts of the elevated Vancouver Skytrain)

And quite a mess it is.

The Bronx will probably get subway service restored first, since it's mostly elevated trains there.

And quite a mess it is. ~ Leanan

"OMG, look! It's my cosmetics purse I lost 5 years ago! I wonder if Billy's photo is still in it!"

Apparently, the Vancouver Skytrain's new line goes in large part underground, maybe to appease the monied residents by which it passes.

The 40' boat is an obstacle, but Metro North's diesel locos can operate w/o electricity.

And a Sunday bus schedule is not going to "cut it" with many subway liens out.


I'll bet they only have enough functioning buses to do the Sunday schedule thing. Underground bus parking was flooded.

The diesel trains can operate without electricity (that is how they inspect the tracks). But they don't have that many of them. They're only used for the express runs past Croton. (For the local, they make everyone get off in Croton and switch to a diesel train.) Plus, they run underground in the city, and the tunnels are still flooded.

The bus system will be back to a normal schedule tomorrow. Still no fares required.

Although the Hudson & New Haven Lines are electrified and are Metro-North's most heavily served lines, most of their lines are diesel.

I checked their roster (some OLD equipment mixed in) and I did not recognize some model #s, but plenty of diesel locos in the mix, plus quite a few EMUs.


With six bus garages reported flooded, I am surprised at the full bus schedule.


They're hoping to get limited LIRR service restored as soon as today, but it will require people to get off in Queens and take buses into Manhattan, since the tunnels are still flooded. Metro-North is more seriously damaged, but they might get some kind of service soon, too. (Possibly by using buses to get around the bad areas of the track.)

Normal bus service is resuming today; the governor says no fares will be charged until the emergency is over.

NYC is encouraging people to use cars, by changing the rules on fares to encourage car-sharing and allowing other livery cars to legally pick up passengers on the street (not just the yellow cabs). MTA is also providing rides for people who have medical needs (chemo appointments and the like).

Water at ground level and several stories up should not be a problem in New York City proper. They have a superb and basically bulletproof gravity feed system - no power required.

Outside the city limits of NYC, there will be problems.

And walking down xx flights of stairs to get to water & working toilet in NYC - and then walking back up - will be an issue.


What you say is true for lowrises, but once buildings are over 6 floors or so the water pressure is inadequate. What generally is done is that there is a water tank on top of the building which gets filled at a relatively low rate by a an electric pump, and gravity and flow restrictors then deliver the water to the building. So if power goes out, if you're in a building over a couple of stories you won't have water after a couple of hours.


Ask any Beirut resident about carrying water in buckets up to the higher floors during the civil war.

Link to info on 1938 "Long Island Express" storm:


1938 storm was a Cat 3 storm, but I would guess that storm surge damage from Sandy could be comparable to the 1938 storm, especially given NOAA's evaluation of the potential surge damage. Edit: Based on Undertow's info, one wonders if Sandy might be a virtual twin to the Long Island Express storm.

The Rhode Island impact:

The storm surge hit Westerly, Rhode Island at 3:50 pm EDT, resulting in 100 deaths there alone.[17]

The tide was even higher than usual because of the Autumnal Equinox and full moon. The hurricane produced storm tides of 14 to 18 feet (5 m) across most of the Long Island and Connecticut coast, with 18- to 25-foot (8 m) tides from New London east to Cape Cod. The storm surge was especially violent along the Rhode Island shore, sweeping hundreds of summer cottages out to sea. As the surge drove northward through Narragansett Bay, it was restricted by the Bay's funnel shape and rose to nearly 16 feet (15.8) feet above normal spring tides, resulting in more than 13 feet (4.0 m) of water in some areas of downtown Providence. Several motorists were drowned in their autos.[18] Due in part to the economic difficulties of the Great Depression many of the stores of downtown Providence were looted by mobs, often before the flood waters had fully subsided.

Many homes and structures along the coast were destroyed, as well as many structures inland along the hurricane's path. Entire beach communities on the coast of Rhode Island were obliterated. Napatree Point, a small cape that housed nearly 40 families between the Atlantic Ocean and Little Narragansett Bay just off of Watch Hill, Rhode Island, was completely swept away. Today, Napatree is a wildlife refuge with no human inhabitants. One house in Charlestown, Rhode Island was lifted and deposited across the street, where it stood, inhabited, until it was demolished in August 2011. Even to this day, concrete staircases and boardwalk bases, destroyed by the '38 hurricane can be found when sand levels on some beaches are low.

I wonder what the population density is now in the serious impact area of Sandy, versus the population density in the serious impact area of the 1938 storm?

Here's what humankind, at the peak of its prowess, did to protect its billion dollar transportation system:


This area is already underwater this morning, pictures form NY Times weather blog show.

Here's what humankind, at the peak of its prowess, did to protect its billion dollar transportation system:

Plywood and sandbags?! Can't wait to see how humankind will deal with the consequences of climate chaos if storms like this should become the new norm.

Never underestimate the strength of 3/4 CDX plywood :)

Never underestimate the strength of 3/4 CDX plywood :)

Not at all! I'm quite sure all that plywood is still intact and floating around in lower Manhattan somewhere this morning... as for the subways it was supposed to protect from flooding, they might as well have used duct tape.


Wonder what they do with all the plywood after the storm? Does it get tossed? At $23/sheet (3/4), i'd be grabbing every floating piece I could fish out.

Two-thirds of East Coast refiners shutting as Sandy nears

With Sandy gaining strength overnight as the vast storm turned westward toward New Jersey, Philadelphia Energy Solutions began the precautionary closure of key units at its 330,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Philadelphia refinery, the biggest in the region, said one source familiar with operations. The reformer unit at the Point Breeze section is already shut.

Two other plants also moved toward a full shut-down: Hess Corp said it was closing its 70,000-bpd refinery in Port Reading, New Jersey; and PBF Energy's 180,000-bpd Paulsboro plant in southern New Jersey, across the Delaware River from the Philadelphia area, was also shutting, a source said.

Together with the 238,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) Bayway, New Jersey, refinery, which operator Phillips 66 began shutting on Sunday evening, nearly 70 percent of the region's capacity was on track to be idled. At least one other plant was running at reduced rates, a source said on Sunday.

The predicted storm track is south of Atlantic City. Wind predictions are 1% probability for 74 mph or greater wind in NYC and Newark. Greater winds are predicted for Philly and Baltimore. The evening tide plus storm surge will be the problem in NY harbor.

Here's a link to the storm surge tool at Coastal Emergency Risk Assessment (another CERA...), which shows NY Harbor storm surge in excess of 10' (surge plus tide). Click and zoom to get the area you want to see.

Learned of this here at Storm2k, which one might call the TOD of hurricanes.

From clifman's link:

I think these two pictures are a bit of a reality check

one from yesterday: http://i.imgur.com/r8Yo4.jpg
and one from today: http://i.imgur.com/iWl9Y.

I'm glad I'm in sunny Miami today!

I posted something about this on Saturday's Drum Beat but have a little bit more information. Artificial Island, 18mi south of Wilmington DE is the home of the Hope Creek and Salem Nuclear Power Plants. The Hope Creek plant is the same design as Fukushima's. From what we have been able to determine, Artificial Island only sits 9' above highest tide level. Its in the upper narrower part of Delaware Bay. I am wondering to what degree of storm surge and waves they are expecting there, and if emergency generators are located above this incoming water. I don't want to sound alarmist without more information but if things go badly there like at Fukushima, this could end up being the biggest thing we remember about Sandy. Sandy alone has enough potential to break the fragile economy without catastrophic nuclear reactor meltdowns!

So does anyone have more concrete information about this potential situation?

Regarding the oil refineries shutting down, I am really glad I filled my oil tank last week (its for our radiant floor and is very energy efficient). $3.89/gallon is what I paid for 97 gallons. I'm out near Seattle.

Current forecast storm surge at hope creek is 7-9 feet.

Hope seems to be a good name right now.


My reading of that map is that there is a 50% chance that the storm surge will be less than 2' and only a 10% chance that it will be in the 5-7' range.

Do you know anything about Oyster Creek Nuclear Plant? That's very near the projected landfall.

The reactor is about 2 miles inland up a narrow creek. The bay is protected by a land spit, which is predicted to reduce the surge by the time it hits the shore. The web site predicts flooding about one mile inland at present. I do not know what food defences the reactor has.

Yes I see that but Google Earth has the creek at sea level along with the cooling intakes/outlets. And it's on the wrong side of the projected storm path.

The reactor is about 2 miles inland up a narrow creek.

Up the creek? (without a paddle?)

I do not know what food defences the reactor has.


65mph sustained surface winds (Flight level 116mph) just measured by Hurricane Hunter just offshore from Oyster Creek (did it fly there because of the nuke?). Nearest tide gauge currently 6 feet above predicted level and we are at low tide right now. Looks to me like high tide surge will be over 12 feet at nearest gauge returning real-time data. Estimated surface pressure 10 miles offshore from Oyster Creek currently 964.5

CNN has reporter 10 miles away. Says conditions are very bad.

Looks like the storm centre is moving inland south of Atlantic City. At 1654 EDT, KACY reported a SLP of 95.39 kPa (28.17"), phenomenally low and maybe an all-time record for this station. Winds were NNE 63 km/h gusting 89 (34 knots G 48) at 1707 EDT, with the altimeter down to 28.15". Given the wind magnitude, the centre was still some distance from KACY during these two observations.

Gusts have reached 106 km/h (57 kt) at New York Kennedy International. Many airport stations reporting 90-105 km/h maximum gusts so far. Wind speeds on the immediate coastline are likely higher.


The wind map is starting to get interesting.

Nice spiral over the NE US.

As of 1816 EDT, the pressure at Atlantic City had fallen to 95.06 kPa (28.07"), still with a near-gale out of the NNE. A rare sea-level pressure reading.

Winds shifting to E in the vicinity of New York, incidentally with a new peak of 107 km/h (58 knots), at Kennedy suggest that the the low centre has now passed approximately due south of the Big Apple. Landfall in NJ is imminent if it has not already happened.


Thanks for reminding me of the wind maps. Very cool and very useful.

I love the black hole over Philadelphia, (at the time of this post)

And that cold downdraft over chicago is pretty evident on the Weather Channel's temperature map.

Official landfall.


800 PM EDT MON OCT 29 2012


LOCATION...39.4N 74.5W


The signature of cooler air in the core at the surface is evident in the Atlantic City METAR, with the temp falling from 17ºC (63ºF) to 14.5ºC (58ºF) as the storm centre moved literally over the location. A confirmation of the post-tropical nature of Sandy as the "eye" reached the coast. Minimum pressure at KACY: 94:83 kPa (28.01") at 18:54 EDT.

Some maximum gusts as of 20:00 EDT:

Eatons Neck, Long Island: 152 km/h (82 kt)
New York Kennedy: E 128 km/h (69 kt)
Newark: E 126 km/h (68 kt)
New York La Guardia: ESE 109 km/h (59 kt)

The Battery, located in southern Manhattan, has been flooded to a depth of 3.9 m (12.75 ft), according to the National Weather Service. This is nearly 1 m higher than the previous record set during Hurricane Donna in 1960. Looks like the storm surge is reaching "super storm" expectations at some locations.


Is that likely the peak of the surge ?

Any confirmed reports of subways flooding, etc ?


I believe there are reliable reports of subway tunnels flooding. Not sure if "official" yet though. Levels still seem to be increasing but about high tide in many affected areas.

Four feet of water in the subway tunnels.

ConEd also says their tunnels are flooded deeper than with Irene. They say it might be as long as a week before service is restored in some areas.

PATH Station apparently.

"Flood waters rush in to the Hoboken PATH station through an elevator shaft. (Photo credit: Port Authority NY&NJ)... A surveillance camera inside the underground station in Hoboken captured water gushing in through an elevator door."

Weather Channel reports 3' of water on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (CNN at 9:57 Eastern referred to "conflicting reports" of water on the floor of the NYSE.)

Although CNN reported this as well, it is now being reported to be not true. Not sure myself. Someone might just want to "manage" news about that. With luck though it is just the basement flooded.

Isn't the basement the location of all those high speed computers used for high frequency trading???

E. Swanson

They're in New Jersey, actually.

I talked to someone involved in the disaster recovery planning for Wall Street several years ago. Going from fallible memory from something I heard several years ago concerning the WTC attacks I believe the data center for Wall Street was somewhere nearby in New York. After a plane hit tower number one they did a manual failover to a hot alternate site in New Jersey. After flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania they got nervous and manually failed over to another hot alternate site somewhere in the southeast, I can't remember the state.

The New York Stock Exchange Is Not Flooded

A NYSE spokesperson called it "irresponsible reporting by Weather Channel, CNN and others...

The Weather Channel is owned by Bain Capital.

CBS has firmly telegraphed its intent to tie the administration to an encouraged perception of a failed response to Sandy in hopes of inflicting political damage similar to Katrina's.

Folks having a giggle:
"I was already writing my thesis on Obama's abysmal response to the Hurricane exactly 2 days before the hurricane made landfall."

CBS has firmly telegraphed its intent to tie the administration to an encouraged perception of a failed response to Sandy in hopes of inflicting political damage similar to Katrina's.

It's early yet, but the tactic may not work out so good.

ABC news.

Yes, now they have him bracketed between poor response and over response. For example, Michal Brown, former head of FEMA under Bush and of Katrina infamy, criticized the administration for responding too early.

Bush's former FEMA head criticizes Obama's response to Sandy

Bush’s FEMA Director ‘Heckuva Job Brownie’ Says Sandy Reponse Was Too Fast

Bush’s FEMA Director ‘Heckuva Job Brownie’ Says Sandy Reponse Was Too Fast

I am truly at a loss for words ! STAGGERING

Of all the complaints @ FEMA we have in New Orleans, "too fast" was never, EVER one of them !!!!

Best Hopes for future FEMA responses that are "too fast",


So there ya go. Obama has one "response too fast" complaint, Brownie has zero. Heckuva job.

Looks like 'Heckuva Job Brownie' has become a meme. Oh well, one man's legacy.

Seems like much of NYC's basement is getting flooded. AGW pays Wall Street a visit? Makes my spine tingle...

I would think it is/was the peak. the tide has an amplitude of about 5feet, and we should have six hours of tide induced water dropping then six hours rising. By the time of the next high tide the storm will be further west, and weaker.


LOCATION...39.6N 74.6W


Tide gauge now increased to 13.78 feet

We're up here in Nova Scotia south, so are, so far at least, only getting clipped. I did some shopping today by bike and managed to stay upright in gusts off the Atlantic. ;)

Oyster Creek...If they don't have generators on site to cool the spent fuel pools, then wouldn't bringing some in by truck be the best course of action? This thing is older then the melted plants in Japan and its suppose to run until 2019. Yikes.

Oyster Creek itself was already shut down (for "routine maintenance") a couple of days ago. Very wise move! Decay heat still significant of course, but they're two or three days ahead of any emergency already.

Well hopefully they have some back-up diesel generators down in the basement.

And the spent fuel is safely stored in elevated pools above the reactors...

/sarc (Must I?)

Thank you. Good information at that link.

It also allows comments, with the following statement:


"Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data, ability to repeat discredited memes, and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Also, be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor even implied. Any irrelevancies you can mention will also be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous."

Kind of the inverse of how I might have it, but then, I'm just a layperson.

Imagine what this storm would do if sea levels were a mere foot higher. That storm surge would be much much worse.

With all the talk today about coastal impacts of Sandy, there's a blizzard going on outside my window here in the mountains of northwestern NC. Judging from radar reports, the worst hit areas are to the north in West Virginia, southwestern Virginia and eastern Kentucky. In our area, the air temperature is slightly above freezing and the roads are still warm, but the temperature is slowly dropping. There's a major precipitation band from Sandy approaching from the east, which may dump relatively large amounts of snow on us this evening and tonight. Good thing I did my trip to town before noon...

E. Swanson

(Insert comment expressing skepticism about man made global warming *HERE*)

Don't forget to insert comment about global warming causing hurricanes to strengthen after that...

E. Swanson

That is why I think "Climate Chaos" is a better description.

A hurricane makes landfall in the Northeast 28 hours before November. It will mix with a Nor'easter AND an early Blizzard from the West (by NW).

THAT is Climate Chaos !

We are running an uncontrolled chemistry experiment on our atmosphere.


We are running an uncontrolled chemistry experiment on our atmosphere.

And still, no one in the main stream media, or either political campaign dares to mention it.

I am convinced that humans in the aggregate can't help themselves anymore than cyanobacteria could help themselves from producing oxygen and thus starting the whole game of modern life.

I say this because this is far from the first "experiment" gone bad - Easter Island, destroying most of the oyster reefs and kelp forests of the temperate world, cutting down all the forest in Mesopotamia thousands of years ago, draining swamps everywhere (sometimes this works, sometimes you get the Mega Rice project)... Humans always modify their environment. It wasn't as big a deal when human population was under a billion, but our intelligence set us up and the outcome was baked in. If ancient Sumer was sure to cut down the ceders and screw up their watershed, then we are sure to keep burning fossil fuels for energy until it kills us.

Interesting article in the NYTimes about the oysters, BTW: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/30/opinion/an-oyster-in-the-storm.html?re...

On Jimmy Fallon last night (with no audience) he had Seth Myers on (from SNL) and I had to laugh when he compared this time period (denial of climate change) to baseball in the 90's and how no one believed there was any steroid use going on. If this is the new norm, we are screwed.

Yeah, I believe mankind is on a path to an inevitable disaster. It won't happen during my lifetime but it will happen eventually. The real issue is that every time we actually solve a big problem facing mankind we then just immediately grow our numbers larger until we hit a new problem. We have trouble with energy . . . so we discover oil & gas and grow quickly. We have difficulties creating food . . . so we create Nitrogen fertilizer and grow more. We create better plants with bioengineering and grow more.

Eventually, we will hit a problem that we can no longer easily solve. And then some collapse will occur. I don't what it will be and I don't know when other than not in my lifetime.

I believe mankind is on a path to an inevitable disaster. It won't happen during my lifetime but it will happen eventually.

Geeze, you must be a very old man. I am 74 and I think it has a 50 to 50 chance of happening during my lifetime. I had hoped to be safely dead when the collapse of civilization as we know it happened, but damn, it looks like that I am going to live a lot longer than I expected.

Ron P.

I with you here. I'm 60. Although I don't expect to see a collapse, I do expect to see the beginning of serious regression in lifestyles.

Jeez, only 37 here. I'll get to see and experience lots of sturm und drang before my run is over.

Lucky me!

So, what happens to loads already in the Colonial Pipeline in their 3 wk long transit from Houston to Linden? How many days can the tank farm in NJ hold arriving products? Can intermediate points in e.g. Greensboro NC take a diversion until Linden recovers?

Weather WebCam Directory:


"On July 2, 2012, The Weather Channel announced that it would acquire Weather Underground, which will become operated under its subsidiary The Weather Channel Companies, LLC."

The Weather Channel is owned by Bain Capital.

... small world

When it isn't 'Divide and Conquor', then it's 'Consolidate and Conquor'..

A Part-Time Life, as Hours Shrink and Shift

“Many employers now schedule shifts as short as two or three hours, while historically they may have scheduled eight-hour shifts,” said David Ossip, founder of Dayforce, a producer of scheduling software used by chains like Aéropostale and Pier One Imports.

Some employers even ask workers to come in at the last minute, and the workers risk losing their jobs or being assigned fewer hours in the future if they are unavailable.

The widening use of part-timers has been a bane to many workers, pushing many into poverty and forcing some onto food stamps and Medicaid. And with work schedules that change week to week, workers can find it hard to arrange child care, attend college or hold a second job, according to interviews with more than 40 part-time workers.

Another case of technology not being all that great for workers. Without scheduling software and cell phones allowing workers to be called in on short notice, this wouldn't be possible.

You would think that a short shift would not be worth it considering the increased cost of commute (gasoline, tolls, depreciation, etc).

It probably isn't worth it, but it is just like drilling shale plays: it looks good when you start and the total costs only become apparent later.

Yeah. Not every shift will be that short, but to get the longer ones, you have to take the shorter ones, too.

Worth it for whom? For the employer, this set up is 'worth it', because they don't have to pay bennies to part-timers, and for the shifts less than 4-5 hours, they don't even have to allow the workers a paid break.

For the workers, they're desperate for every dime, so they 'takes what they can get'.

Classic exploitation of the masses by the upper classes...

Hey, Oil Drum Writers:

How about an article-- or more of a solicitation for comments/debate/argument-- about this so-called global civilization's inventory-of-accomplishments, before it completely collapses, and what they might be, and whether another kind of, say, sustainable, regenerative and/or solar/real-time energy economy might have accomplished the same, similar or different things, and what they might have been/might be?

How about this alternative that might have been:

We discover fossil fuels, but we don't burn the oil to keep warm, drive jet skis in circles and carry our ATV's in the back of a big pickup to go huntin'. We don't develop the coal fired electrical air freshener.

Instead we carry on with our agrarian lifestyle, and use the petroleum to develop space flight infrastructure. The Shuttle was only used for a few years before it was replaced by an efficient orbital lift using space elevators and magnetic rail gun launch. By now we have underground colonies on Mars and the Moon and completed in-orbit construction of the first interstellar ark ship. We have sent all the telephone sanitizers, management consultants and marketing analysts ahead to prepare a new planet for the rest of us to arrive.

We have sent all the telephone sanitizers, management consultants and marketing analysts ahead to prepare a new planet for the rest of us to arrive.

And then we send them a spaceship with only enough fuel for a one way trip, with all our economists and politicians on board, with a message to be read when they arrive, that says we've decided to stay put on earth and that we are cutting all further communications with them. he, he!

And then we send them a spaceship with only enough fuel for a one way trip, with all our economists and politicians on board...

You just don't know how to economize. We only give them enough fuel to leave the solar system, a little duct tape over the fuel-level sensor, and they won't figure it out until after they have passed Pluto.

Plus LOTS of Canned food.. and-- you guessed it, An E-book on the ship's computer all about envisioning all sorts of great can-openers!

Well that's just it; there seems to be a fair bit of grist-for-the-mill/ax-for-the-stone here-- sarcastic, comedic, serious and otherwise.

BTW, I recently was made aware of a video of a lyrebird apparently mimicking a chainsaw (etc.), whereby, in another similar video, the narrator pointed out the irony of it-- of the bird echoing the sound of its own habitat destruction.
After some thought, however, it occurred that the irony was also and more on us; that, for example, every discussion and action of, say, state/party politics or the nuclear or oil industries, etc., is essentially tweeting the chainsaws of our own destruction and potential ultimate demise.

Some more tragically-stunning lyrebird through the prison-wire. (You might imagine some workers' voices, whistles and sawing.)

Zoo: "We exist to save animals from extinction."

On a brighter note/tweet, how is Mars this time of year? ...Well it's a good thing we still have new frontiers left to exploit, ay?

The Walmart business model.

It is the typical story of an unequal society. Those who are LEAST able to bear the burden are asked to carry the GREATEST load. This isn't about fairness, market power assures a comfortable life for those who have it which will be sustained by making those with a less than comfortable life more uncomfortable.

Presumably its good for the employer, not the employee. But, the peons are subhuman moochers, so we don't care, only the "job creators" matter. Wellcome to our new great society.

Another new use of technology: I've heard of a growing use of on-line auctions where companies offer small work-from-home contracts and potential workers bid on them: the lowest offer "wins".

Yeah, I got a job offer last month from a small manufacturing plant to do electrical work, control systems, PLCs, electro-mech systems. Round trip is about 120 miles over a mountain range. The catch was that I was expected to be on call, and many shifts could be as short as 3 hours, few over 6. The hiring manager got my number from a previous employer. I turned the job down when I did the math and determined my after-tax income would likely be around $3/hour, when deducting my transportation costs.

The manager called repeatedly (seems there's a shortage of control systems/PLC folks) and finally said; "I guess people just don't want to work these days!". My response was that if he wanted to hire someone stupid enough to drive 120 miles per shift to net $3/hr, they weren't my kind of employer. Add another $15/hour + transportation allowance to their offer and I'll consider it. I felt a little sorry for the guy since his hands seem to be tied regarding salary. When it comes to good systems guys, you get what you pay for. I wonder what downtime is costing these folks per hour.

When we hire a specialist they typically charge us for their mileage and expenses above their hourly rates, or their clock starts when they leave their shop, at full hourly rates.

So your position is entirely within bounds.

Even at the currently depressed prices, the old and less economic part of the plant would lose $6,000/hr if it was offline. I won't discuss what the modern, large and economic parts of the plant would cost us if they went down.

If our own workers get called out, they get a 4 hours minimum on overtime, regardless of how long it really takes. And we aren't even a union shop. It's what you have to do to keep competent help.

Hurricane or not, don't forget the drought.

In aftermath of drought, U.S. corn movement turns upside down

The devastating U.S. drought and ensuing crop disease are upending traditional grain movement patterns, with dozens of trains and barges shipping North Dakota or Mississippi corn into the Corn Belt rather than out to the coasts.

Processors and ethanol producers in No. 2 corn state Illinois, where the average corn yield was the lowest in nearly 25 years, are "importing" millions of bushels of the grain - an unprecedented volume - from North Dakota, which produced a record crop this year, trade sources said. Northern corn is even reaching key livestock states such as Texas and Oklahoma.


By next September, corn stocks are projected to drop to just 5.5 percent of annual demand, the bare minimum of operational requirements.

The market dislocations could benefit logistics firms and big merchants such as Cargill, which reported a four-fold rise in earnings this month and said "atypical trade flows" would spur more demand for its trading expertise.

Railway companies, which are already reaping windfall profits from upheaval in the oil market, are also moving quickly to take advantage of the scramble in grain trading.


Signs of a supply squeeze were already evident in global trading patterns, with U.S. livestock producers booking corn from Brazil in the wake of soaring feed costs. ...

This one caught my eye---

Much of Imported Seafood is Fed With Manure or Laden with Drugs- So Where's the FDA?


In the past, many Asian ponds were fertilized with manure. It seems they are eliminating a step.

Don’t think drought is a big deal? It knocked 0.4% off growth last quarter.

Brad Plumer, Wonkblog

The U.S. economy grew at a 2 percent annual pace from July to September — but it would have grown significantly faster without the dry spell. All told, a drop in farm inventories shaved 0.42 points off growth last quarter, the Bureau of Economic analysis says. That’s after the drought knocked 0.17 points off growth in April through June.

If anything, that’s understating the drought’s effects. BEA mainly looked at how the dry summer shriveled farm inventories — the crops, grain and cattle that are stored on farms — which dropped by $29 billion last quarter. But of course, agriculture can affect GDP in other ways, too. The United States is a major exporter of crops such as corn and soybeans. And drop in exports shaved a further 0.2 points off growth last quarter. Some of that was likely drought-related.

The government also notes that it paid $15 billion in crop insurance to farmers between July and September. That doesn’t affect GDP, but it does give a sense for just how devastating and costly the drought was.

Folks, link up top: An economic theory of limited oil supply is a great article. The article was written by Gail Tverberg but published by RPS Energy.

A big part of the economists’ problem in figuring out the problem with limited cheap oil supply is their assumption that energy is not very important. It doesn’t cost very much, so why worry about it? Certainly, there should be substitutes. For example, if we can’t afford to make goods, we should be able to switch to the production of services, since these don’t require as much energy to produce. This might be a method of substitution.

But think about this. In our own life, our own energy comes from food. If someone told you that we were having a problem with food supply, but the economists said not to worry, we would find a substitute, how convinced would you be that economists really knew what they were talking about? Do you feel less hungry after a haircut, or a trip to get a loan at a bank (two standard types of services)? Perhaps they were underestimating the importance of food.

After every article of Gail's I read I become more impressed with her economic view of what is really happening, and is likely to happen, because of peak oil.

Ron P.

I'll 2nd that. The graphic "Oil as % of Total Energy Consumed - 2006" is especially revealing. Five of the seven top consumers of oil in Europe are today viewed as economic basket cases (Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Greece). Heck of a coincidence, no?

In Ireland's case, most of the economic woes were as a result of a flood of cheap credit from Germany being blown on get rich quick housing (the wrong type in the wrong places). German banks saw Ireland as fertile ground to grow money as the country was "backward" in the 1990s relative to central Europe.

They would have gotten away with it, if it wasn't for those pesky kids rising oil prices killing infinite growth.

Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid car review

A huge leap forward for the world's most popular hybrid

Meh. The car doesn't suck but it is a pathetic move by Toyota considering we know they are capable of so much better. They basically just did what hobbyists had been doing eight years earlier.

I think the Ford C-Max Energi and Ford Fusion Energi are much better conversions of hybrids to plug-in hybrids. And the Volt is the best but it is a bit pricey due to the large battery.

Plug-in Hybrids are a frankenstein mash of technology in my eyes. I feel like automanafacturers should either go all electric, or all Internal-Combustion-Engine. If I'm driving electric, which I can in a Volt, I don't ever want to worry about oil changes, which I would have to. A lot of gains can be made from refining the gasoline engine further, rather than marrying these types of technologies together. Tesla Motors does it right with their all electric vehicle with fantastic range. Mazda is good too, as their 3 series can get 40 mpg, and it's all gasoline.

"I feel like automanafacturers should either go all electric, or all Internal-Combustion-Engine."

You might feel that way but PIHs are the way to go for now. Cover the vast amount of around-town mileage with a small battery and the infrequent long-range mileage with a range-extender. It moves things in the right direction (there's dispute here obviously on what right direction means). For the price of a few extra miles of battery power you gain unlimited on-demand range under current infrastructure on a pay-to-play (gasoline) basis. Which would settle a range-anxious mind...40 more miles of electric range, or unlimited extension - just add gas?

Toyota with their plug-in-Prius, IMO, has done what Honda did at the beginning of the hybrid revolution...wimped out. It's really a mostly North American problem though...if you go over 62mph the gasoline engine kicks in. For anyone not wishing to die on a US highway that won't cut it. It'll maximize the range of the battery it has though since it'll only use it at lower speeds. So it's an interesting trade off. For cities or other countries where the highway isn't the main way to get around this is still and excellent solution.

The Chevy Volt has the more proper setup, in that the final drive is completely separate from the ICE generator. This allows you to put anything in its place - a Hamster wheel, hydrogen/nat-gas/propane fuel cell, an small internal combustion engine fueled by whatever. It's secondary source can be versatile and adaptable while the basic drive-line remains the same.

The simple fact remains is that plug-in hybrids have the *potential* to offset a lot of gasoline or diesel usage, while remaining viable for long-range trips. If you have an all electric you're going to have issues with range on long trips, if you have an all gas car there's absolutely no *potential* to fuel it from a solar array. IMO, these are really about potential right now.

I understand your argument - but I still have a distaste for the typical American predilection for waste.

Haul around a "may be needed" ICE, gas tank, radiator, hoses, etc. which significantly shortens battery range with the extra weight.

An optional (buy or available for rent @ your Chevy dealer) trailer mounted diesel generator would be a better solution for extended range. Some planning required.


I see your trailer mounted diesel generator and raise you a modular APU and APU fuel tank system. Here's how it works.

The vehicle is designed so that an Auxiliary Power Unit can be installed or replaced as a complete unit (including cooling systems, radiators etc.). An APU could be an ICE (water or air cooled), micro-turbine, fuel cell or anything else that can fit in the space available and provide electrical power. There would also be a fuel tank module that could accommodate tanks for various types of fuels; gasoline, diesel, ethanol, methanol, LPG, LNG, CNG or hydrogen. The tanks would come complete with their filler connections and connections to fuel lines. Both the APU and it's associated fuel tanks would be designed such that battery packs could fit in the space they occupy.

That means that for normal short trip use the vehicle would contain the basic battery pack plus a pack occupying the space for the APU and another pack occupying the space for the fuel tank, allowing for maximum battery powered range. For longer trips replace one battery with the APU and the other with the fuel tank and off you go! This would make the vehicle flexible enough to use any fuel for range extension that, is available and affordable at any given time.

If no one else has come up with this concept, I hereby grant all parties royalty free use of this idea as they see fit, as long as they don't seek to claim ownership of it or to profit from it, other than making products that use it. >;-)

Alan from the islands

For better or worse, modern cars are like iPhones - the only way to fit everything in is to design the whole shebang as an integrated unit - modularity uses too much space.

That's why Apple products don't have removable batteries...


I am thinking of the different versions of the F-35. Air Force version has extra fuel where STOL version has extra fan. Not easily interchangeable though.


"Not easily interchangeable though."

And there's the problem with a modular pack...no one in their right mind is going to want to swap hundreds of pounds of batteries and aux power units in and out of their car every time they want to go on a long trip. Most people can't even be bothered to change their oil regularly.

"... trailer mounted diesel generator would be a better..."

It would indeed. A little more pesky than an integrated unit, but perfectly viable. AC Propulsion made a unit called the "Long Ranger" which was gasoline, but exactly that: http://www.evnut.com/rav_longranger.htm

They even made it with a steering system so that it wouldn't jacknife and you wouldn't have to be a trailer wizard to back it up (the shorter the trailer the more difficult it is).

I'm likely to go off on a rant from time to time on this, but GM way overdid the ICE in the Volt - that Long Ranger trailer has a 2 cylinder 500cc motorcycle engine (probably about 60 max horsepower, but run at a fraction of the max)...the unit as a whole puts out 27 horsepower and it's powering a Rav4. The Volt has a 1.4 liter 4 cylinder engine that puts out about 90 horsepower - easily double what's needed, and can convert 74 horsepower of it. It would be better if it used something more like a normally aspirated Fiat TwinAir. Producing less power would mean that the generator and cooling system could be downsized reducing the weight penalty and increasing the volumetric efficiency of the engine. The Rav4 EV with LongRanger trailer gets better mpg than a regular Rav4 (there may actually be some drag reduction with the trailer too).

GM way overdid the ICE in the Volt

GM is far more concerned about ensuring that EREVs aren't seen as underpowered. EVs are inherently better for performance and handling, but that gokart image is still out there...

Of Interest: World Energy Engineering Conference in Atlanta .. www.energycongress.com
Special Events: http://www.energycongress.com/conference/

The more I learn about nuclear, the less I like it. Or should I say since Fukushima the more I hate it.

Casey, Great answer to a good question by commenter. You would think...

A map of reactors

Rgds WP

Apparently there is greater concern about Oyster Creek since it is currently in refueling stage, and lacks a backup power source for the spent fuel storage pumps.. See the new article just posted on Common Dreams.

Speaking to Democracy Now! Monday morning, Arnie Gundersen said, "Oyster Creek is the same design design, but even older, than Fukushima Daiichi unit 1. It’s in a refueling outage. That means that all the nuclear fuel is not in the nuclear reactor, but it’s over in the spent fuel pool. And in that condition, there’s no backup power for the spent fuel pools. So, if Oyster Creek were to lose its offsite power, and frankly that’s really likely, there would be no way cool that nuclear fuel that’s in the fuel pool until they get the power reestablished," according to Gundersen, who has 40 years of nuclear power engineering experience.

"The most important lesson we can take out of Fukushima Daiichi and climate change, and especially with Hurricane Sandy, is that we can’t expect to cool these fueling pools," said Gundersen.

Hurricane Hunter Aircraft just flew close to Oyster Creek and took measurements. See my post elsewhere in the thread at http://www.theoildrum.com/node/9593#comment-926208

This is a nice tool, no problems yet.

So, if Oyster Creek were to lose its offsite power, and frankly that’s really likely, there would be no way cool that nuclear fuel that’s in the fuel pool until they get the power reestablished,

Tell Gundersen, there is no need to worry! There must be thousands of pro nuclear advocates from all over the country who are at the ready and will drop everything and rush to oyster creek with supplies, backup generators and pumps to make sure everything is safe, they have been training for years for just such an unlikely storm event... /sarc

NRC Continues to Monitor Sandy, Including Alert at Oyster Creek Plant

The NRC continues to monitor impacts of Sandy on nuclear power plants in the Northeastern U.S., including an Alert declared at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in New Jersey. The plant, currently in a regularly scheduled outage, declared the Alert at approximately 8:45 p.m. EDT due to water exceeding certain high water level criteria in the plant’s water intake structure.

An Alert is the second lowest of four NRC action levels. The Alert was preceded by an Unusual Event, declared at approximately 7 p.m., EDT, when the water first reached a minimum high water level criteria. Water level is rising in the intake structure due to a combination of a rising tide, wind direction and storm surge. It is anticipated water levels will begin to abate within the next several hours.

Nearest tide gauge has been offline since 8pm local time when it was then approaching 14 feet above normal sea level.

Any idea when Oyster Creek went down for refueling ?

The down for refueling reactors at Fukishima were the only ones that did not explode.


7 days ago. Thus the fuel is still very hot. Much hotter than Reactor 4 at Fukushima which did explode despite being shut down for months.

Yeah, Reactor 4 at Fukushima which was down for refueling did explode. It is not completely clear why. Some think that water in the spent fuel pool got hot, started splitting the water molecules thus creating hydrogen gas, and boom. Others theorize that hydrogen gas from an adjacent reactor got piped in and then exploded.

From Yahoo News regarding Oyster Creek this morning:

Sandy slows nuclear plants, oldest declares alert

E. Swanson

"The relatively small 636-megawatt (MW) Oyster Creek plant earlier experienced a "power disruption" at its switch yard, causing two backup diesel generators to kick in and maintain a stable source of power, Exelon said....

...The concerns over the status of the spent fuel pool at Oyster Creek was reminiscent of the fears that followed the Fukushima disaster last year, when helicopters and fire hoses were enlisted to ensure the pools remained filled with fresh, cool water. The nuclear industry has said that the spent fuel rods at Fukushima were never exposed to the air.

Uh,, just wow... especially that second paragraph.

They mean 'besides the ones that were flying THROUGH the air..' of course.

NRC News Releases - 2012

Oct. 30, 2012 5 p.m. (PDF)

"Offsite power at the plant is in the process of being restored."

UPDATE: State and Federal Agencies Monitor Impact of Sandy on Oyster Creek
October 30, 2012

"The plant experienced a power disruption in the station’s switchyard. The station’s two backup diesel generators activated immediately and continue to provide a stable supply of power to the station’s systems, a news release from Oyster Creek said. There are more than two weeks of diesel fuel on site.

A combustion turbine engine is also being utilized along with the generators to provide energy for water pumps that cool the fuel stored in the reactor until normal power sources are restored, a news release from Christie’s office said.

Oyster Creek also announced that 21 of its warning sirens in its service area lost operability."

This is the best article I found. It mentions the loss of the community's emergency warning sirens. The fuel is not stored in the reactor, but in a spent fuel pool.

There is much confusion as to how the pool is cooled and how that is backed up. Some articles make it sound like the main water pumps that cool the reactor also supply the pool. These are fed from emergency generators. These generators are said to be running properly. Arnie Gunderson states that there is no backup power means designed into the system for the spent fuel pools. Perhaps the word "specifically" is missing. Perhaps he means as separate from the main cooling water system that runs from the generators but would be inoperative if the main pumps had/have failed due to flooding of their compartments.

Spent Fuel Pool at Oyster Creek
Describes the means for cooling the spent fuel pools at Oyster Creek.

It sounds like the spent fuel pools are probably being cooled. I have not found the statement "The spent fuel pools are being cooled".

So... who knows!?!?! The one thing we learned from Fukushima is that everything we are told at the beginning of an event is a lie and everything we are not told is of vital importance. Here on The Oil Drum, analysis and projections raged full-throttle for weeks... but the point was already moot: the reactors had melted down right away, the numbers being released about pressures, temperatures, and levels were in error and misrepresented the reality for months, and details and projections of the spreading plumes were not made available. This further destroyed any belief or trust in authorities, the nuclear regulators, or the nuclear facility operators: in nuclear in general.

All-clear issued.

The NRC should immediately require that every nuclear plant install

1) 3 MW (or more) of solar PV and operate it some distance from the reactor (preferably higher ground for seaside nukes). Keep a spare set of inverters for that 3 MW.

2) Require that another 3 MW, with inverters, be stored on-site and be ready to be rapidly deployed in an emergency.

Diesel generators are simply NOT reliable enough.

A super-Carrington EMP could well knock out the diesels.


Top U.S. supercomputer guns for fastest in world

Titan, the U.S. Department of Energy's top open science computer, is going live on Monday with an upgrade that will likely make it the fastest supercomputer on the planet. At 20 petaflops -- that's 20 quadrillion calculations each second --

...That's not just a badge of honor: It's also critical to national security and the country's economic viability. Titan will help U.S. scientists pioneer research into climate change, biofuels, nuclear energy, new materials and other crucial fields, which will help them create the next wave of car batteries, switchgrass ethanol and improved weather forecasting tools -- all developed in America....

...Titan replaced its predecessor's 224,256 central processing units (CPUs) with 299,008 faster CPUs made by AMD (AMD, Fortune 500), along with 18,688 graphics processing units (GPUs) made by Nvidia (NVDA). The GPUs serve as accelerators to the CPUs. That's why Titan has just a third more central processors and the same number of computing nodes and cabinets as Jaguar, but delivers 10 times the performance.

Even more crucially, Titan's processors are five times more energy-efficient than their predecessors.

Power constraints are the biggest challenge in the race to maximize speed. Running at just 2.3 petaflops, Jaguar required 7 megawatts of energy -- the same amount of electricity required to power 7,000 homes. The cost of simply plugging in Jaguar was $7 million last year.

..That's not just a badge of honor: It's also critical to national security and the country's economic viability.

I am really, really tired of this kind of crap and I'm withholding a major rant. It is a flat out lie. I'm not a Luddite and much of my background and education is in the sciences. We, as a society, know what is needed and it doesn't take a bunch of petaflops. Security is really simple; stop trying to be an empire. Second, I doubt that those petaflops will lead to the jailing of the greedy bastards and their cronies (both business and political) who destroyed the financial system.

'Nuf said.


Please don't hold back! I, for one, would truly enjoy a full on over the top rant from your point of view.

Eat the Empire!

Please, no. We're trying to cut back on the political rants here.


You know that I've been around a long time so no long rant from me. And, for those who want to comment, I have an outlet via my Updates, that you might not have. There are also a zillion forums where you can vent. Don't make her start to delete stuff.


I hate to agree with you, but I do. I used to be in that industry, so these sorts of customers buying megamachines was a big deal, although not always a good one, as getting the sale/contract was always do or die, and the customers were very good at extracting a very good deal. Then we would end up with a giant contract, that promised more stuff than could possibly be built/delivered for the purchase price. This is really about protecting empires. The local empires of the various computer labs and their directors!

It is amusing that the fastest Massively Parallel Processor array in the world is made from gaming components... really demonstrates the power of mass-production meeting the demands of a massive consumer market as versus the more rarefied realms. They recycled a Cray and filled its racks with new boards to make it. The limits in speed of the single-stream machine are being reached as the number of atoms in a bulk transistor shrink as the feature sizes sink below 18 nano meters. There are other elements on the horizon that will extend this further... but the limitations of arrays of these simple machines and the difficulty in spreading some computing tasks or problems among them will finally force a return to the exploration of more advanced computing architectures: this fun and simple game is reaching its limits.


This was known by the mavens at Cray even during the heyday. One programmer famously gave a talk called attack of the killer micros. Electronic tech is driven by volumes, which means mass consumer products.
We've been lucky the likes of Intel, and AMD have put some supercomputing features into the processor lines, that helps quite a bit (and maybe games can exploit as well).

But what on earth was it doing there given the forecasts so far in advance?

In general, a ship is safer out to sea than in port. Sounds like it started taking on water faster than the pumps could handle.

I visited it once while in St. Petersburg Fl.

I wouldn't call this an "in general" ship though. Coast Guard interview said conditions were so bad the ship simply should not have been there. Initial suggestion was they had gone to ride it out at sea but they are still investigating.

Someone decided to risk the lives of a crew of a tall ship because they were more worried about the ship than the people it seems. Gambled and lost big time.

The trouble with a replica of an 18th century wooden sailing ship is that it has all the drawbacks that an 18th century wooden sailing ship had. Modern large sailing yachts are built out of steel, aluminum, or fiberglass, are much more seaworthy, and can easily ride out a storm that might sink an 18th century sailing ship. They can even survive being completely rolled over by a 100-foot rogue wave, which is one of the reasons we now know there are 100-foot rogue waves out at sea. The old wooden vessels never survived them, they just disappeared.

The thing to do if a hurricane is going to hit is to put the boat into a "hurricane hole", i.e. a tight, protected anchorage, put out all the anchors you have, tie lines to all the nearby trees, and then go ashore for the duration of the hurricane and come back later to see if the boat is still there. The only reason you would want to run it out offshore is that you got trapped out at sea by an unexpected hurricane. If you expected it, you shouldn't be there.

Since it was built as a prop for a movie, did they really build it to last?

It's probably not as ruggedly built as the original, which was built to withstand naval cannon fire, after all.

I suspect it was every bit as strong as the original, perhaps stronger, because it had to meet current certification standards. Moreover, the Bounty was equipped with radio, liferafts, a diesel motor, and electric pumps. However, it was fifty-year-old wooden ship, in conditions which were only marginally survivable by even a modern ship of the same size. As RMG pointed out, modern sailing vessels can be built to survive this kind of weather, but he did not point out that many are not. A couple of weeks ago an Australian yachtsman was rescued from his boat after it was dismasted and the hull cracked in winds of only 45-50 knots. Older designs, built before computers allowed the design of boats like Oliver Wendell Holmes's One Hoss Shay, often do better. For example, the boat which Jessica Watson sailed around the world, encountering weather like the conditions that sank the Bounty, was a 1962 design.

Our collective memory forgets that shipwreck was a common occurrence in the days of sail. I have read somewhere that in the early years of the 20th century about 10% of the world's shipping tonnage was lost each year. Certainly, many records of individual sailing ships show service lives of less than ten years, ended by shipwreck. A random sampling of 26 entries in a shipping index for 19th century ships about the same size as the Bounty, shows that all but two of these ships ended their lives by being lost at sea (one caught fire in port after 77 years, and another was scrapped after 46 years) with sixteen lost after no more than twenty years in service, of which seven were lost after no more than ten years.

But it seems, from what I've read, that the captain of the Bounty made a reasonable decision: when computer models showed the storm was going to turn into the coast, instead of heading out into the Atlantic as was originally forecast, the ship was in Connecticut. This was where the maximum storm surge was expected, which would be a real danger for any ship in port (the U.S. Navy sent all ships it could out to sea from the Norfolk, VA, base), and would be in the dangerous quadrant when the storm came ashore in New Jersey. At the time, Sandy was a relatively small storm. The Bounty headed south along the coast, expecting to encounter relatively less violent weather (this was not the dangerous quadrant). The captain may have underestimated the speed of the Gulf Stream (which is a foul current for a ship heading south) and he certainly underestimated the speed with which Sandy grew to be one of the largest storms on record.

We saw it still in a dry dock, just a month ago.

I dived on a wreck in Cornwall. Just one of over 100 in about 1 square mile. Sailing has always had risks. A dive boat tried to avoid a storm in ISTR Central America by going up river. Capsized with the loss of several lives, no simple answer.


Pressure down even further. Approaching the coast a bit faster.


200 PM EDT MON OCT 29 2012


LOCATION...38.3N 73.1W

This increased speed means it may not synch with high tide quite as badly as expected in some areas although that might not help for New York as winds will still be from south at high tide.

That increase in speed might be the real story. The earlier forecasts had Sandy parked over the northeast, making rain and storm surge much bigger problems. It will be much better if the storm moves along quickly.

Unfortunately the models (which did predict the speedup approaching landfall in recent runs) still predict it will then slow down after landfall again and hang about the NE states :-(

Well, NYC says they "dodged a bullet" - not nearly as much rain as feared.

It might fall on PA or New England instead, of course.

The rain - as Jeff Masters and others have been saying for days - was never the main threat from Sandy. It's the surge and the size. From the latter, widespread power outages and other infrastructure damage. From the former, specifically to NYC, surge is presently overtopping sea walls, heading into the subways and underground electrical and other utility infrastructure. Gonna be a long time repairing/recovering.

The Battery tide monitor. 11.2 was previous record. 10.5 is pt. where subway flooding happens. Presently at 12.93...

The storm surge only affects the coast. Irene walloped inland areas of PA, VT, NY, etc. That's what many were fearing if the storm stalled.

Westchester (the expensive area north of NYC, where the Clintons live) had it particularly bad. Being rich and lawyered up, they don't let the DOT or ConEd cut trees.

With due respect, Leanan, my comment was in response to this:

NYC says they "dodged a bullet" - not nearly as much rain as feared.

Rain was not the threat for NYC, surge was. And it was bad.

And I know all about the impacts of Irene on the interior northeast. It's where I'm from, and spend much of my time still. I helped repair roofs that had trees fall on them during Irene. That's the sort of thing that's going to be happening from Sandy/hybrid over the next few days as well. Hope it doesn't get too bad up your way.

Now I'm done for the night, as we've lost power here along the Blue Ridge of VA, and I'm not using any more battery up tonight...

I'm just reporting what was said. A couple of different officials had just said they "dodged a bullet" with respect to rainfall. Heck, they just said it again.

Overall there is not supposed to be as much moisture available as with Irene, the change of seasons does matter. Especially on the north side of this one rainfall totals aren't supposed to be too large.

Actually, there were forecasts that Sandy would bring even more rain than Irene. The difference was that it's been relatively dry. Irene hit when the ground was already saturated.

And Sandy has brought more than 9" of rain in some places.

eos - Have grown up in Nawlins and spending my entire life on the Gulf Coast I gave up predicting storm damage long ago. And equally not paying much attention to the predictions of others. But all that chatter about rain vs. wind damage reminds me of a hurricane some 30 years ago. I forget the name and too lazy to search for it. But it was a very fast mover: literally passed thru S La. in a matter of hours. Moved so fast it didn't stall until it reached the general area of KY and TN. Huge damage and loss of life. I forget how much rain but the problem wasn't just the volume but the hilly nature of the region. A 10" rainfall can be concentrated into a 30' tall flood surge in the valley areas. And that's the pictures I recall: huge mud slides and entire small towns/villages wiped out. The storm surge might do a good bit of damage but that's going to be restricted to the shore line. As said I don't make predictions so we'll have to wait to see what the impact will be 100+ miles inland.

Irene and Vermont last year come to mind. Although I am not sure how much rainfall there was in the higher elevations, but it was enough to be devastating to the towns in the lowers.

I think they really did dodge a bullet with respect to rain (though they got the worst-case scenario with everything else). From Brian Norcross, Wunderground's hurricane expert:

The little bit of good news that developed late Monday, the dry air seriously overtook the circulation so the incredible rain amounts that the models were predicting are not going to be widespread. So it looks like the river and fresh-water flooding will not be as bad as predicted.

There's been a lot of variation in rainfall. Some areas got 2", some got 12".

As Brian said "A little bit of good news is better than none... so I'll leave it at that for now. "

High tide was at 8:33 PM and the current level is 13.72 ft. So if what you say is true then the subways should be flooded with salt water... probably not a good thing!

9:20 and level may have stabilized at 13.87.

13.88 now. Tide is going out now. But the next high tide is about a foot higher normally than this one. I hope that peaks lower but there's a lot of water with not much place to go and winds still to turn to come from the south.

3 feet of water on New York Stock Exchange floor according to CNN.

I'm in S.MD right on the chesapeake bay. We're getting our asses kicked right now. The wind is roaring extremely loud and the rain is extremely heavy. That said, so far it isn't as bad as Irene was. With Irene we lost power for 6 days. So far we still have all utilities here. Even though I think the wind and rain is worse, the soil was a lot more dry this time around and I think it's helping to keep trees upright. Plus many of the tallest tulip trees already lost their leaves so the wind isn't having as strong of an effect. I hope they last a few more hours as I have a giant tulip tree in my backyard that I don't want to see fallen. Jesus we just had a massive wind gust. We are definitely in the worst of it right now.

I remember growing up in New Jersey. We had a giant tulip tree a couple of feet from the property line in the woods. I have fond memories of it. It died of old age a few years after I moved out. [It went through Donna no problem]

Mine has a trunk of about 4ft diameter at chest height. It's several hundred feet away from my house in the woods behind the house so it's not a threat to the home or anything, but I'd hate to lose it because it's just so damn big. From the house it doesn't look too big...but walk up next to it and woah, it's just enormous. It's gained about 12" in diameter just since 2004.

Now that daylight has returned, it looks like we survived with less damage than Irene or the Derecho earlier this year. Of the three, the Derecho was definitely the worst damage and scariest to go through.

Heck, our power never even blipped for Sandy. I was regretting still having not bought a generator, but looks like I made it ok. The mid-atlantic has had a tough couple years for weather. Since winter 2009 every year has been chaos.

But at least the drought from this year is now history....

It's moving along quickly East, unfortunately its ultimate exit is west. So it's speeding towards a u-turn at best, though further north than its present location. That will help some and accentuate the problems for others.

Why the US is not the new Saudi Arabia

Cobb offers a rebuttal to last week's reports that the US is poised to be the world's leading producer of oil. The US is instead making marginal gains in oil production and will have continued high prices, Cobb writes.

Last week's energy news included a piece from the Associated Press with a headline reading: "U.S. poised to become world's top oil producer; may soon overtake Saudi Arabia." If the reporter had actually examined figures available from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) website carefully instead of simply parroting oil industry sycophants, he would have ended up with a headline more like this: "Marginal gains in U.S. oil production mean continuing high prices and imports for Americans."

The hype over those marginal increases in US oil production due to fracking of shale is getting a little ridiculous.

Ron P.

Well . . . I wouldn't dismiss them as 'marginal'. We have gone from importing nearly 2/3s of our oil down to importing around 1/2. That is no small achievement. But that said, I agree that the trend will not continue indefinitely as some people naively assume.

And, BTW, isn't Russia the current largest oil producer right now? Or did KSA recently take their title back?

We have gone from importing about 70% of NET petroleum products in 2007 to importing about 55% today. But most of that decline in imports is due to demand destruction due to high prices rather than increased production in the US.

Russia and Saudi Arabia are pretty much neck and neck in C+C production right now.

Ron P.

I think Fig 1 gives backing for your argument
Sorry I do not know how to upload.
There was an extraordinary build-up of imports to an all-time 2005 high in both volume and share of consumption.
However as the report says

“However, oil total (or aggregate) import costs have increased due to rising prices, which more
than offset the savings from lower import volumes.”

Phil H

The reduction in imports is more due to reduced consumption than increased production.

It is easier to "keep going" with reduced consumption than increased production - but that is not the popular message :-(


Here's another good weather site, ROMAN.
Select an area, scroll down to see summary data. Click on a station for real-time data, graphs, maps, more.
Example - 5.91" rain last 24 hrs. at Prime hook, Delaware.
Prime Hook


i didnt go to work today. i watched the MSM of local stations over the internet. big story, all the on site reporters mentioned all the sight seers who strolled the board walks and beaches gawking at hurricane sandy. conversely no mention of lack of people who "bugged out".

i often read on this site comments from preppers and survivalists. have any oil drummers bugged out from the east coast? why and why not? when did any bug out? saturday? sunday? monday? where did they go? a goobermint shelter? friends? family? a cabin in the woods?

the full force of destruction hasnt hit yet. maybe whole communities washed away. millions without electric for an indeterminate time.

no mention of any threat to the 2 major atomic power plants. what i read more is that wall street will be closed. that is studying 7 hours of internet streaming.

governors coumo and christie and mayor bloomy had nothing say about risks to atomic energy plants.

Are you still holding down your fort? You're not too far from Indian Point are you?

I've got Seabrook and Vt Yankee to wonder about.. but I'm not leaving at this point.. I do have a cabin in the woods, but any SNAFUs in the Northeast could leave me dangerously downwind anywhere in Northern New England.

Maybe I can find an available family rental on Tralfamadore..?

An "outsider's" view of peak oil: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2012-10-29/guest-post-why-energy-may-be-ab...

I'm really posting this for the comments; oh, boy!


You rang???

ZH is actually PO aware aside, of course, from a few abiotic wing nuts and cornucopian trolls...

It wasn't that way when it started and only because of a few of us did rational thought prevail. There were more than a few exchanges that would have made a sailor blush. It was a war, no holds barred, Verdun on the Internet...

Warning it still gets very nasty, viewer discretion is advised...

Heat your coffee/soup/whatever and at the same time charge your cell phone:


I got one and I love it for camping trips. Yes, I know that dry twigs & leaves
might be hard to find in NYC right now.

I like this gadget. Having experimented with home made wood stoves before, this actually looks like a good idea.

And you can ALWAYS get dry twigs. Sometimes you need to dry the wet ones with your body heat though.

Ahem. Please note that a small, quiet stirling engine could deliver up to a kW with that amount of thermal input from dry twigs or whatever, not just a squeak of 5 watts or so.

Proof. I have one in my shop doing just that, right now. It doesn't take high tech either, just ordinary iron like any other simple thermal machine.

And, for what its worth, Swedes know all about stirling engines. And so do lots of other people, look on the web.

Now, of course, everybody will jump up as usual and yell "sure, but where can you buy one?".

Well, nowhere. But not because it can't be done, but because the money boys have always decided that they already have IC engines, and burning ff is no problem, just poke another hole in the ground, and yer good t' go, so why bother with any stuff that might cause even a slight strain on the brain to get going?

Yet another shade of Doom. Now back to work in my nice warm shop, lit up with a stirling engine while the deluge bangs and blusters outside.

Yeah, but can you toss it in your backpack and carry it anywhere you go?

Sure, all ya gotta do is pick the one that's smaller than you.

On the serious side for a second, NASA makes very good very small stirlings that put out 50 watts and can EASILY fit in a medium sized human hand. And, the army sponsored one a short time back that was intended to replace all the batteries the poor infantry guy had to be toting around in the beastly deserts of the ME on his noble quest to protect our sacred right to burn all the ff known to humanity to the end of time,

So why did the army give up?

Sad story. Everything was just dandy but the burner ignition system. The army got mad about delay and $ and walked off. That system was the only part made by a "properly qualified" company" haha.

So take the engine and put it over a small stack of thorns and strike a match to it. Problem solved. But maybe the bad guys might notice the smoke. OK, give up on the engine and go for a fuel cell- eats oatmeal and puts out 100 watts all day while only breathing a little harder than usual. Walks, talks, reproduces.

My dad designed sterling (cooling) engines for use in missiles back in the 70s. You could hold them in one hand.

Looks interesting, I will start working on building one right away.

But first read the history and the tech papers. If you are still alive at that time, go to the web and find a good bit of design software ( Eg, Sage). Then do a zillion optimization runs to get you in the ballpark of desired performance, then get a draftsperson to draw up a lot of detail parts with real close tolerance specs. Then take those to a first class machine shop for a quote, then go find a money lender to meet the quote, then give up and go rip a briggs engine offa dead lawnmower.

There, done.

Now ---ah, um, --remind me again, just what was it we were trying to do here, anyway?

Let me first buy a high end PC for installing that design software, and maybe an iPad to read all the design specs :-)

The work has already been done for you. Search DIY Stirling Engine and choose from dozens of different plans and options. I don't know why commentors seem to forget that we are commenting with the greatest research tool ever created:




In any event, stirling engines aren't magickal or anything. They just require a little know how and gumption. We made 'em 120 years ago after all.

Not sure if this has been posted ... video
Lesson on how not to manage a country's oil wealth

(Norway vs Ireland)

Not sure if this has been posted before..

Sweden Wants Your Trash

Move over Abba, Sweden has found new fame. The small Nordic country is breaking records — in waste. Sweden's program of generating energy from garbage is wildly successful, but recently its success has also generated a surprising issue: There is simply not enough trash.

Only 4 percent of Swedish garbage ends up in a landfill, according to Swedish Waste Management. Due to its efficiency in converting waste to renewable energy, Sweden has recently begun importing around 800,000 tons of trash annually from other countries.

Go Sweden... :)

Jupp. We even import the stuff from as far away as Italy. Trucking waste that far is a negative side effect of the sucess. I am in a building heated with a waste fueled CHP right now. Many places have wood chip fueled CHPs instead, there is not enough trash to go around for everybody.

This is mis-information. The "Peak Trash" theory has been dis-credited. Sweden is not running out, in truth has started to generate a significant amount of trash, and is expected that not only will Scandinavia soon be trash-independent for at least the next 100 years; but it will be the world's largest producer.

Yes, but have you considered the Swedish Trash ELM problem?


That trash import is already beginning to show up in our economy. Before that, the state used to subsidise trash, you could get a ton for just about 10 kronor. Now the subsidies are gone, and on top of paying full price, prices are climbing as well due to supply/demand. Some poor families are already reported having to shut down their house heating. This will be a cold winter for some. And when more money is spent on trash heat, there will be less spending on consumer goods, that will put a down pressure on the economy.

I've been saying all along that plans that rely on the current stream of "trash" will fail when the consumerist binge winds down and there will be a lot less "trash". Thus, building trash-burning power plants is probably not a good investment at this time. Same for the mythical turkey-guts-to-fuel conversion plants.

a few thoughts following this Sandy situation..

It strikes me that a hurricane (or oil spill, etc) highlight one key aspect of what is wrong w our current society. Stock futures are up today (for many reasons) but partially because the rebuilding efforts will require a huge amount of spending - our economic success metrics have become based on flows instead of stocks - e.g. GDP is how much is spent per quarter/year and doesn't account for reductions or additions to wealth or capital. Hurricanes increase resource velocity.

On a deeper level, a primary human neural driver is that we go through our daily lives seeking unexpected reward - and especially in a culture of polyaddicts -we just stockpile money and accumulated stuff so we can get uninterrupted dopamine/good feelings in future - we don't need the money, we just need the feelings it gives us when spent (I saw this in spades on Wall St). So, both GDP and our behavioral drivers focus on 'flow based' metrics as opposed to sustainability/environmental balance which should be concerned (primarily) with our stocks (natural resource balance sheet) and how to best husband those resources into the future.

I don't know what damage estimates will be for this storm - but we are in an insolvent situation (in aggregate) and will pay for it with some combination of a)more borrowed money (which is really borrowed energy from future and periphery) and b) lower living standards (from not rebuilding things at the margin that no longer make sense or are unaffordable). It seems that hurricanes (or the human societal equivalent thereof) seek out the most complexity, and reduce it.

We are currently transmuting wealth into income on many fronts - this hurricane ends up increasing infrastructure spending at cost to insurance companies and retail spending - not a bad wealth transfer on its own - if we could somehow have a 'peak oil keynesianism hurricane' where society used the trillions from banks/insurance companies/governments towards a more resilient local/regional future instead of propping up a way of life that is now fraught w/ fragility it would be a good thing. How to do that another question...

Nate, that would be great but it is probably this kind of thinking that will continue to prevail:


However, rebuilding after Sandy, especially in an economy with high unemployment and underused resources in the construction industry, will unleash at least $15-$20 billion in new direct private spending -- likely more as many folks rebuild larger than before, and the capital stock that emerges will prove more economically useful and productive.

that my point - it WON'T be more productive (other than from very short term job perspective). Debt productivity has been plummeting for over 50 years. It is now at (or below) zero - meaning we are just turning wealth into income. (and this model being followed in China, Russia, Brazil, etc). So...the operative story is...people will rebuild expecting productivity to increase, but it won't. [partially because economists don't even understand what productivity is - the majority of it has just been using more (fossil) fuel.]

In the end, the faster we turn resources into garbage the better our (current) economic stats will look. Not the best way to run a society/species...

Agreeing with Fred here, as I'm already hearing statements to that effect:

Sandy's economic impact

The total cost of property damage and lost business is estimated to run between $10 billion to $20 billion, according to Eqecat, which provides loss estimates to the insurance industry. Insured losses, excluding those covered by National Flood Insurance, are expected to be between $5 billion to $10 billion.

But economists surveying the immediate aftermath of the storm say there may be little if any impact on the nation's overall economy. The loss of business and wealth caused by the storm will likely end up being roughly balanced out by money that will go into rebuilding and recovery efforts from insurers, the government's national flood insurance program and private savings.

"The bottom line is, it's very disruptive, very painful, but at the end of the day these kinds of natural disasters typically don't show up in national economic data," said Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics.

It seems it's all we know, collectively and culturally. What we'll see is a series of events that have more people scrambling for the exits, with nowhere to go (no plan B), and confused about what actually went wrong. Limits only become evident after the fact. Attempts to reconnoiter and regroup, en mass, are already underway, with little awareness that the enemy lies within.

After much consideration, I decided sometime back that, as you say, "where society used the trillions from banks/insurance companies/governments towards a more resilient local/regional future instead of propping up a way of life that is now fraught w/ fragility it would be a good thing..." will require generations of pain, a process that will subvert any potential for a viable response. The time to shore things up and change course was before the storm.

Keep it local; do it now...

So...the operative story is...people will rebuild expecting productivity to increase, but it won't. [partially because economists don't even understand what productivity is - the majority of it has just been using more (fossil) fuel.]

So it sounds to me we're spinning our wheels. Is that about right?

we are in an insolvent situation

The costs are very low compared to for example the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and still counting for both wars.

this hurricane ends up increasing infrastructure spending at cost to insurance companies and retail spending - not a bad wealth transfer

A little in contradiction with what you wrote in the paragraph before. And not all the rebuild infrastructure will be the most wise for the future.

re insolvent - i meant our entire nation/OECD with the amount of extant 'claims on future natural resources' (aggregate debt/money supply)

re contradiction - i think infrastructure is much better use of resources than 'retail', but it would be order of magnitude better still if it was a new type of infrastructure (e.g. not one that depended on micro-components for key supply chains from korea/japan etc in fragile world economy) I.e. nearshoring and re-regionalization of important industry for a post-growth world would be a much better use than rebuilding assuming things will just carry on as before) But Im talking more about industry and less about peoples houses, etc.

Rebuilding homes (preferably in slightly better locations) with German levels of insulation, somewhat lower levels of sq ft area (floor & envelope) and solar hot water heaters would add to the overall wealth of society.

Reduced energy to operate.


How much of that went on in 'Nawlins or did they just rebuild the same as before?


Very much.

Insulation was standard, quite a few gas tankless hot water heaters. Some solar PV, oddly very few solar hot water heaters. All new & rebuild schools are LEED Silver. Brad Pitt's zero net energy houses in the Lower 9th Ward.

A low key ethic of "Green" rebuilding. Not ideal, but good.

Best Hopes for More,


re contradiction

No contradiction regarding infrastructure I meant, but because you wrote in the last paragraph "not a bad wealth transfer" in combination with your points a) and b) in the paragraph before. What I understand now is that both will happen.

Ultimately though all investment (including that in infrastructure) is to enable / enhance consumption. From that point of view you're better off not investing in infrastructure - all of this is obviously subject to how much more efficient the replacement infrastructure is, and how that gain, if any, is used.

I frequently refer to the ratio of Global Net Exports of oil (GNE*) to Chindia's Net Imports (CNI). We have nine years of post-2002 annual GNE/CNI data. I have shown the declines in the ratio in three year increments, and I have shown when GNE would equal CNI, when the Chindia region alone would theoretically consume 100% of Global Net Exports of oil, for a given decline rate.

2002 to 2005:

Ratio fell from 11.0 to 8.9, a rate of change of -7.1%/year. At this rate of change, the ratio would approach 1.0 around the year 2036.

2005 to 2008:

Ratio fell from 8.9 to 7.0, a rate of change of -8.0%/year. At this rate of change, the ratio would approach 1.0 around the year 2033.

2008 to 2011:

Ratio fell from 7.0 to 5.3, a rate of change of -9.2%/year. At this rate of change, the ratio would approach 1.0 around the year 2030.

While we all agree that the Chindia region won't be consuming 100% of GNE in 2030, note that the rate of decline in the ratio has accelerated, at least through 2011.

The following charts shows global public debt versus the GNE/CNI ratio for 2002 to 2011:

My premise is that the oil importing OECD countries are trying to keep their economies, especially the “Wants” based portions of their economies, going in the face of declining post-2005 supplies of Global Net Exports of oil, via massive deficit spending--financed by real creditors and by accommodative central banks--as annual global crude oil prices increased from $25 in 2002 to $111 in 2011.

The Economist Magazine shows that total Global Public Debt increased from about $26 Trillion in 2005 to about $46 Trillion in 2011. Over the same time frame, I estimate--based on the above GNE/CNI graph--that the remaining post-2005 volume of Available CNE (Cumulative Net Exports available to importers other than China & India) may have fallen from about 170 Gb in 2005 to about 88 Gb in 2011.

So, Global Public Debt divided by estimated remaining post-2005 Available CNE would be about $150 of debt per barrel of remaining Available CNE in 2005 and up to about $525 of debt per barrel of remaining Available CNE in 2011.

*GNE = Top 33 net oil exporters in 2005, BP + minor EIA data, total petroleum liquids

China's oil imports for the last three months are distinctly below last year.

Ruthless extrapolation...

Interesting thoughts. I think the storm damage has caused many to reflect on our current predicament.

As I saw this morning the juxtaposition of water flowing into the subways and the crane collapsing on the 90 story building I realized how overcrowding (overpopulation?) had forced an overcrowded city into really dumb societal decisions. Underground infrastructures near the sea and ridiculously tall buildings seem to me to be unsustainable answers to how to live.

Just think of these storms as an extreme manifestation of entropy. You wanna get a real feel for what entropy means? This is it on several levels, from the dissipation of concentrations of atmospheric and oceanic energy to the reduction of complexity of the works of man.

Stock futures are up today (for many reasons) but partially because the rebuilding efforts will require a huge amount of spending - our economic success metrics have become based on flows instead of stocks - e.g. GDP is how much is spent per quarter/year and doesn't account for reductions or additions to wealth or capital. Hurricanes increase resource velocity.

When younger, I used to kick anthills to help them with job creation.

This generally pissed them off. Bugs must not understand economics.

silly creatures.

When younger, I used to kick anthills to help them with job creation.

This generally pissed them off. Bugs must not understand economics.

Quote of the day !!

Make that a bit longer than a day!!



Seriously, I wonder in that moment when the inside of the anthill was torn open, ill bet there was never a greater feeling of cooperation and purpose among those ants. Even though some would be dead before nightfall.

ill bet there was never a greater feeling of cooperation and purpose among those ants.

Perhaps not, mon ami! >;-)


The Mind's I

by Douglas R. Hofstadter and Daniel C. Dennett

Chapter 11: Prelude... Ant Fugue

ANTEATER: Actually, some trails contain information in coded form. If you know the system, you can read what they're saying just like a book.

ACHILLES: Remarkable. And can you communicate back to them?

ANTEATER: Without any trouble at all. That's how Aunt Hillary and I have conversations for hours. I take a stick and draw trails in the moist ground, and watch the ants follow my trails. Presently, a new trail starts getting formed somewhere. I greatly enjoy watching trails develop. As they are, forming, I anticipate how they will continue (and more often I am wrong than right). When the trail is -completed, I know what Aunt Hillary is thinking, and I in turn make my reply.

ACHILLES: There must be some amazingly smart ants in that colony, I'll say that.

ANTEATER: I think you are still having some difficulty realizing the difference in levels here. Just as you would never confuse an individual tree with a forest, so here you must not take an ant for the colony. You see, all the ants in Aunt Hillary are as dumb as can be. They couldn't converse to save their little thoraxes!

Seriously, I wonder in that moment when the inside of the anthill was torn open, ill bet there was never a greater feeling of cooperation and purpose among those ants. Even though some would be dead before nightfall.

Well, they did exhibit a certain enthusiasm. One time I stuck a cherry bomb deep under a fire ant mound. It seemed like a wonderful confluence of technology and circumstance until it started raining highly-motivated fire ants. Didn't do that again.

Ants seem to prefer avoiding situations which waste energy. Whether they were in some way happier and more alive biting and stinging me all over than they would have been calmly tending their tunnels is an interesting point to ponder. They clearly wanted to be doing it in that context, following their pre-programmed bliss.

Of course, I take your intended metaphorical point about humans.... to whatever degree ants have existential issues, they don't seem to impact motivation or solidarity much. But I think humans will actually enjoy a lot of what's coming. We can probably use those feelings and dynamics to get stuff done if we're clever about it. And our happiness will rise a fair bit in this country just from the reduction of choices and the increasing news of starving millions elsewhere, televised. To the extent we see them as real, our contentment in our own situation will rise, even if in absolute terms our wealth is dropping.

Good to keep in mind, too, that episodes of abrupt simplification in human systems tend to involve deep emotions both for better and worse. It would be hard to say whether the Hutu-Tutsi machete massacre caused more human ecstasy or human terror. We downplay the joy of bloodlust from day to day, but it's in there.

greenie - So you frac'd an ant hill. Bad boy. Now we know where the process got started and who to blame.

Heavens, I'd be the last to deny that all humanity's flaws have deep roots in my own brain.

Still, I think the "doing things for the hell of it" meme was well established before I made the scene. As was cross-species schadenfreude. Dodo's weren't good to eat, they were just fun to beat with sticks.

Just 10 years after that fire ant episode, I was a doodlebugger setting off large charges of nitromon-S in wildlife-filled salt marshes next to the Rockefeller wildlife preserve in LA. Leading, after brief reflection, to my quitting the oil bidness, leaving the woods to live deliberately, so to speak.

It's not to late for you... I feel the good in you. Abandon the dark side of the Force, and we can forget about that whole "blowing up planets" thing...

We downplay the joy of bloodlust from day to day, but it's in there.

And, how do you know this??

cuz (Im guessing) he's read a lot more biology and anthropology than you have!!

Well thanks Cornelius... I have read a bit here and there.

But part of it is simply indexing ones own delusions and biases, learning to dissect and analyze your own mind honestly. I have experienced bloodlust, the joy of killing. All children have. We pretend we don't have such a drive; while our close relatives the chimps will ecstatically tear a near relative to pieces and cannibalize him on the spot as he screams in terror. At least they aren't hypocrites.

Knowing that part of your own mind, owning it and controlling it, is advisable.

Heavens, there's an entire formula for bloodlust voyeurism in modern bad-guy movies. First half of the movie sets up just how rotten the bad guys are, how upright the good guy is, all he has put up with, how he has suffered. That allows us to give ourselves permission to enjoy the second half of the movie, where Charles Bronson, Clint Eastwood, Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris, Sylvester Stallone, etc blow the bad guys into twitching pieces of gore. These are the payoff scenes, the reason they're enjoyable. We have through these rituals been given social permission, and self-permission, to indulge in vicarious bloodlust. Even the mildest old grandma likes to see the bad guy messily killed. And we are so good at making anyone the bad guy! My word, have you not see what the best-selling video games are like?

Killing other people, other animals, is intensely and inherently enjoyable to us, quite apart from any rationale which may be arrived at before or after the fact.

Sorry, but I didn't get a say in that.

interesting. actually, as a kid I never had such a bloodlust, and certainly don't as an adult. I felt bad when other kids plucked wings off of butterflies and when my dad took me fishing I wanted to put the trout flopping on bottom of boat back in the water but thought hed disapprove. And (like many) i always felt worse when animals died in movies than humans. But yes - from reading Goodall, Sapolsky, deWaal, John Gray, David Livingstone Smith - a few others i forget. Given the cultural cues I have no doubt that socially sanctioned killing/violence would make alot of men to feel the same way now as getting a raise or closing on a real estate deal - I doubt it would be that for myself tho (for whatever reason). Have toyed w being a vegetarian but have (mostly) rationalized to point of eating free range grass fed animals (including deer) that live full(ish) normal lives - it gets complicated. (i do like meat tho)

Even as a kid, although my attitude was much like yours, I got into the killing of bugs I was afraid of, like ants, and wasps. I can remember slowing roasting with a magnifying glass a wasp caught between panes of glass. I think for most humans, we have certain lifeforms we hate, and enjoy doing them in in creatively nasty ways. Watching world war two movies, who doesn't want to go back in a time machine with a superweapon and wipeout all the SS?

I used to feed bugs to spiders-- sort of pop them on/in their webs and see them come out and have a meal. I also managed to feed an aphid to a ladybug and a butterfly to a mantis.
Permaculturally-speaking, I am finding that some plants repel-- whether by the mere fact of their presence, or by application of their sap or as a tincture or whatever-- some bugs and so forth and that, for example, throwing a little local sweetfern on the campfire seems to work against mosquitoes.
My recent discovery of wintergreen growing all over the forest floor out here makes me see little bottles of aspirin everywhere. I also just found out that jewelweed (touch-me-not) sap, and maybe the water-steeped liquid, is a mild anti-inflammatory, for such things as hemorrhoids, bug-bites and excema.
And speaking of that which inflames, stinging nettle is supposed to make a nice tea and potherb.

I always wanted to keep everything as a pet.. except flies. Pull their wings off and make ants with big eyes; makes it easier for the pet lizards to catch 'em :-0
Even night crawlers had value as fish bait. Waste not, want not...

I'm unused to the arthropod style in this area yet, if I ever will be. Last summer, I got chased away from an area by deer flies and the spring before, inadvertently brought home in my clothing, some deer ticks. Deer ticks are hard to squash.

I don't.

I like first person shooter video games...but only if the enemy is non-human. Monsters, robots, and that sort of thing. It bothers me too much to kill humans - even if they aren't real, and even if they're Nazis.

I remember one elderly man telling me that when he was in basic training (WWII maybe? forget details) the army progressed gradually. One week they shot at round targets. The next week the targets were sand bags. Then became dummies. Then the dummies got clothes. Then faces.

I wonder if that is still necessary with so many violent TV shows and graphic video games.

I read an article once on this very topic. It was difficult in the days prior to video games to get people to kill other people. The military makes big use of specialized video games to break down soldiers sensitivity. Use to be a small percentage of soldiers that could hit the battlefield ready to kill but with the advent of video only a small percentage remain adverse to killing.

I think I've seen that same study. In the days of world war 1 the majority of bullets fired were to keep peoples heads down and not aimed to kill but by the time the Vietnam war came about they learnt how to properly desensitise the troops by showing them videos of the enemy committing atrocities. Video games take this process a step further but it doesn't mean that the military hadn't worked out how to solve the 'problem' the games just made it easier.

I think it's a pretty basic hominid trait. It isn't always "on", it's a contextual thing, the ability to enjoy a violent movie... really, (spoiler alert) didn't you like it when the Nazi guy's face melted at the end of "raiders of the lost ark"? You felt empathy for him and not a frisson of capuchin delight at harsh social justice meted out to an onerous "other"?

Aside from taking a toll on insects, and brief phase with a BB gun that was hard on the local sparrow population, I too was a protector of animals from childhood. And of course I made a career out of saving endangered species & wildlife, and researching animal cognition. To the point that I am not as closely tied to the human race as is the norm.

I would give my life on very short notice for any number of nonhuman species, am rather surprised it hasn't fallen that way over the years.

Still, I think there's a lot of deep-brain mirror-neuron stuff going on, and if "bloodlust" hasn't been demonstrated as a concrete human pleasure by neuroscientists yet, it's only a matter of time. Other species would certainly believe it of us - those which are left. The bliss of the berserker rage is something our society has put away, hidden from ourselves. But I suspect it will pay a large role in the reversion of human population to carrying capacity in some places.

I would guess there's a lot of individual variation, too. Aggression and compassion are both pro-survival traits, depending on the situation. I've no doubt both have been selected for. While most of us are probably in the fat middle of the Gaussian distribution, there people in the thin tails. There are your sociopaths and serial killers (and CEOs ;-) on one end. Presumably there are also extremely compassionate people at the other.

I'm sure there is such a distribution.

I'm not entirely sure, though, that high compassion and murderous impulse can't coexist in the same individuals. In aggregate it seems like a phase-shifted behavior; the Hutu-Tutsi thing was interesting that way (horrific too, of course) because it was face-to-face killing using knives mostly, where the population separated into two camps and one chopped up the other. (I realize I'm simplifying the actual history). What struck me was the joy of the killers (all males as far as I could tell, but with female support) and the fact that the hate went away later. I saw an interview of a woman meeting with a former house servant who had chopped the rest of her family to pieces with a machete, and they seemed like family - genuine warmth for one another, and both treating the massacre as something that happened, but wasn't relevant anymore. No recriminations; that was then, this is now. It seemed wildly messed-up for them to feel that way, which caused me to ask myself whether it actually was messed-up, or whether that's the way humans were actually meant to function when population pressure got too high. Peaceful and gregarious until certain population signals cause an elevated chance of murder sprees.

There certainly are sociopaths, sadists, and various nasty mental pathologies. But the interesting thing to me is how close the average person is to accommodating extreme violence, or committing it. I'm sure you're familiar with the Stanford Prison Experiment, in which participants spontaneously evolved themselves to torture people they didn't know without any overt reason to do so.

I think if we get social cues that stuff is acceptable, we'll do about anything.

greenie - "...that high compassion and murderous impulse can't coexist in the same individuals." Might be easier to appreciate if one replaces "impulse" with some more like "necessity". You can take a peaceful and compassionate person and place them into a mortal conflict with an opposing force and what you characterize as murderous simply becomes a matter of survival and accomplishing your mission. The stress in such circumstances can easily override what some might call "humanity". But IMHO it's as much a part of human nature as any. In my experience carrying an olive branch in one hand and a knife in the other is not inconsistent. Difficult to live with for sure but the dynamic can't be denied IMHO.

Hi RM.

Certainly that's true, when people are put into kill-or-be-killed situations, such as being sent to war.

Then there's pragmatism; like Chinese farmers swapping children so they don't have to eat their own, or pro-actively shooting someone without hatred just because they look like they might be trouble in the future. And that will happen.

But what I was referring to was something else, an actual fierce enjoyment of killing such as one sees in chimps and in human massacre situations where all the social signals from ones peers are that it's acceptable. For instance, during the "rape of Nanking", a majority of the Japanese soldiers involved engaged in infant rape, cannibalism, bayonetting the genitalia of chinese women, etc. It was done with laughter as entertainment, as a group activity and even team sport. (well, the cannibalism was just pragmatism maybe, if you're descended from a sun god I guess eating monkeys is OK. I've done DNA assays of meat in Japan's markets and all sorts of species show up there bearing little relation to what's claimed on the label.) (No human flesh, the century is young yet).

But the enjoyment is what I'm talking about. The beheading contests applauded by Japanese troops, the burning alive of people to laughter. (It was even outside the german Nazi comfort zone, and the survivors were protected by the local Siemens rep I believe. In that context, the Nazi's were the empathetic humanitarians, despite the master race fetish).

I hope I never see it. But in some circumstances humans take great joy in such things, and it's not as rare as we'd like to tell ourselves. And yes, "humanity" is the whole grab bag of behavior. I think we can strive for better than humanity.

I think if we get social cues that stuff is acceptable, we'll do about anything.

I.e. ones quest for social approval/status can (easily) overcome ones aversion to murder/violence, etc. I agree.

I don't deny the availability for us to be running 'Aggression Routines' of various sorts in our mental pathways, even if they seem outwardly benign or un-hostile, I also think that we have many constantly running programs in our wiring that are powerful complements to this.

We are inevitably social animals, and are constantly working to secure allies, friends and intimates in order to have security and enough cooperation to keep things running as smooth as possible. We are also often unnerved by conflict and hostility, and will strive to smooth troubled waters.. even when our fear and resentment is simultaneously telling us that 'to lash out, beat on or kill are the quick and easy route to solve this problem'. We DO have that voice in there, but we are complex enough to often remember that this route generally will create more trouble than it will solve.

There are too many people who keep expressing that since we have some of those violent tendencies down in there, that these represent the 'Truth' of what we are and what we will most likely do.

Timshel, ie, 'Which Wolf do I feed?'


“I went along with them, marveling at the beauty of their proud clean brains. I began to love my race, and for the first time I wanted to be Chinese. Every two weeks I went to a meeting with them, and in my room here I covered pages with writing. I bought every known Hebrew dictionary. But the old gentlemen were always ahead of me. It wasn’t long before they were ahead of our rabbi; he brought a colleague in. Mr. Hamilton, you should have sat through some of those nights of argument and discussion. The questions, the inspection, oh, the lovely thinking—the beautiful thinking.

“After two years we felt that we could approach your sixteen verses of the fourth chapter of Genesis. My old gentlemen felt that these words were very important too—‘Thou shalt’ and ‘Do thou.’ And this was the gold from our mining: ‘Thou mayest.’ ‘Thou mayest rule over sin.’ The old gentlemen smiled and nodded and felt the years were well spent. It brought them out of their Chinese shells too, and right now they are studying Greek.”


We DO have that voice in there, but we are complex enough to often remember that this route generally will create more trouble than it will solve.

There are too many people who keep expressing that since we have some of those violent tendencies down in there, that these represent the 'Truth' of what we are and what we will most likely do.

I agree with you.

So saying, I think context plays a huge role. In society as it is now, violence causes more trouble than it resolves. In many situations in the past, and in the future, this has been and will be reversed.

Clearly, I think humans can be better citizens of the planet and not cater excessively to decisions made by processes we don't have conscious access to. I just think that in some contexts and situations, compassion and cooperation will hold sway, and in others, massacres will. There will be a lot of inspiring cooperation and a lot of massacres on the downslope of the human population pulse. A lot of history will be packed into the next hundred years. Anything which has happened in the past is just the warm-up act for 10 billion delusional, heavily armed monkeys on a depleting planet.

We'll see great courage and moral strength. Mass movements based on empathy and brotherhood. We'll also see some religions evolve to embrace cannibalism, slave nations, new variations on ethnic cleansing, and much else... and that's before the designer plagues and nuke weapons are factored in.

Which is to say, I don't think there is one truth about what we'll do. We'll do it all, one place and another, more or less.

"We'll do it all, one place and another, more or less. .."

Variety is the spice of life, eh?! I do particularly appreciate your emphasis on the idea that it will be highly varied and will develop from details about the locales, from culture, and from just dumb luck, of course.

Another broad-swipe I feel I hear too much is the picture that gets painted as if the whole world will have this sort of homogeneous devastation.. and I have to think nothing could be farther from the truth.

Another broad-swipe I feel I hear too much is the picture that gets painted as if the whole world will have this sort of homogeneous devastation.. and I have to think nothing could be farther from the truth.

Your expectations match mine there. The world will get a lot larger and more local. We may end up with island nations of algae-eating philosopher-poets, trading for trinkets with cannibal/slave economies. Which really isn't all that different from a lot of human history.

I'll stick this in here - it's from "GoodOldWhat'sHisName" and just got nuked off the next drumbeat, or was deleted by its author. Since I was going to comment on it, I reproduce it here:

In Monday's Drumbeat there was quite a bit of discussion about the violent tendencies of humanity. I would just like to mention that there is a large body of science and experiment regarding the line between cooperation and competition.

From Wikipedia:

Game theory is ... "the study of mathematical models of conflict and cooperation between intelligent rational decision-makers."

Basically, in any given situation each individual makes an evaluation of the relative benefits from each possible course of action. Most of the time cooperation is more rewarding and less risky than violence. However if the circumstances are changed enough, most people will choose violence. Of course for any given individual, upbringing, attitude, and physical ability will have a large effect. But in aggragate people can be counted on to act much like chimps.

What this means for us is that the vast majority of people choose cooperation because we live in a society. But if society breaks down enough, we can expect to see people revert to tribal or gang forms of organization with all the good and bad that implies. For most it would be a matter of survival rather than choice.


I think game theory captures a part of it. But it isn't all about intelligent, rational decision-makers, which are a theoretical idealization. It's also about ad hoc hive-minds running mutant operating systems which are bizarrely idiosyncratic, sorting between options by how they feel rather than by any sort of deductive logic. There has yet to be a real-world winnowing of valid memes from among those which have bloomed in the "lack of consequences" good times. This century will be good times for crazy.

I removed it. Remember, folks..."what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." Please respond in the thread where the topic originally arose. Do not bring old arguments forward into new threads. This makes it easier to follow and reference the discussion (you can link to it using the "subthread" link, and it's all there).

This also keeps the same old debates from eating up thread after thread. People who are still interested can continue to discuss it, while those who want to move on to something else have the breathing room to do so.

Also...I had to remove a comment due to profanity. Please, folks, watch your language. If it's not a word they'd use on CNN, don't use it here.

What about "damming" as in "China approved damming the River Nu, their last wild river outside Tibet" but perhaps used in another context :-)


yes, I assumed you probably had, and further assumed you wouldn't mind me moving it back to the old DB and commenting there/here.

Thanks for your ongoing great moderation of the site.

by the way, I'm just now heading out to light my wife's propane flame-thrower as she torches the chicken coop for mites, as she does every week. Just a chore, or is there an element of "death to the itchy parasites!" to it?

I'll ask her.

Generalizing from own's own intuition is a mighty chancy process.

Just because something is common doesn't mean that it's genetic. There's a very, very good chance that you're dealing with the after effects of very early violence that you suffered through and don't remember.

Humans have a reptile brain, but we also have a much more sophisticated brain overall. Now, if the prefrontal cortex is disabled, it's easy for primitive behaviors to come out, but that's not a healthy human being operating there...

So past huge massacres throughout history were just simultaneous occurrences of people with bad childhoods?

It's done by us and our nearest genetic relatives. Sounds plausibly genetic to me.

I imagine anyone past a certain amount of introspection and consideration sounds damaged by conventional standards, but I didn't have more violence in my life than anyone. Maybe I paid attention and thought about it a little more. Asking myself why I did things, why others did.

And I'm not sure our "sophisticated" brains are that much more merciful. Sharks kill a few people in the world each year when seeking food. We kill them on sight, and are wiping them out, even though there has never been a serious predation problem on humans. I have had large "primitive" tiger sharks let me live when they could have easily killed me, but they have an absence of malice and I'm not their preferred food. I have, on the other hand, seen humans go into a blood frenzy gaffing sharks, beating them with cudgels, cutting off their fins and throwing them overboard alive.

It's what we do.

(edit: there was recently a story in the news of a shark biting a surfer. Read the public comments on the blogs).

past huge massacres throughout history were just simultaneous occurrences of people with bad childhoods?

Absolutely. I'd say pretty much 100% of humanity through history had horrific childhoods, compared to the optimum. Until roughly 120 years ago children in the West were considered rugrats, not really worth talking to until they had gotten past 70% infant and childhood mortality.

Even now our culture is highly authoritarian, and will be considered abusive and neglectful in a century or two. Most people have higher brain function that's very disabled.

It's done by us and our nearest genetic relatives. Sounds plausibly genetic to me.

It's done at all levels of the evolutionary tree - the difference is that humans have evolved the *potential* to be different. Chimps don't recognize themselves in the mirror - they have different brains.

Religious traditions point to that potential, and methods like meditation and talk therapy are designed to help realize it. Jainists aren't significantly genetically different from Rwandans.

I have had large "primitive" tiger sharks let me live

Yes, it's fascinating that a lot of large predators, such as wolves and sharks, are not especially interested in attacking humans. Still, they're predators, and they kill their closely related mammal and fish relatives quite readily.

I have, on the other hand, seen humans go into a blood frenzy gaffing sharks

Sharks have never had a viewing of Jaws (I'll have a hard time respecting Spielberg for anything he does until he apologizes for the slaughter that movie contributed to).

nate - Exactly. I haven't tried to hammer on it too hard since most here on TOD are dullards and can't understand a simple concept: The increase in oil prices have been a great benefit for our economy. Just as the damage from Sandy will aid us. Look at the increase in revenue by ExxonMobil et al in recent years. Lobbyists aren't cheap, ya know. And being public companies they tend to spend all that revenue back into the system. And that feeds the profit margin of the Halliburtons...who doesn't like that? Look how much increased revenue the feds have received for their offshore oil royalties. That has certainly helped them grow the size of govt and reduced how much we had to borrow to keep the rest of the govt infrastructure humming along. Win-win IMHO. Who says that growth (at least that of the govt) isn't sustainable? There's even that silver lining with re: to the Macondo blowout. The environment cleanup folks have made a fortune...that's been a huge boost to the local economy. Sure, some folks paid a price but we need to focus on the "Big Picture".

It just amazes me that with so many "apparent" smart folks here they just can't see the benefit of these minor bumps in the road. I, for one, have greatly enjoyed the wealth transfer to my savings account.

It is absolutely amazing: I have not not heard one peep or whisper about even the possibility of Sandy and this very unusual and extreme weather concatenation being connected to climate change on the MSM anywhere.

Perhaps not quite the MSM but...
Did Climate Change Cause Hurricane Sandy?

Though from the post even if the MSM is not making the link insurance companies sure are. Let's face it, if you're sitting under the apple tree and you keep getting hit with falling apples, sooner or later you might begin to suspect that gravity is real >;-)

Now, as promised: If you still don’t believe scientists, then believe insurance giant Munich Re. In her October 29 post at the The New Yorker, writer Elizabeth Kolbert notes:

Munich Re, one of the world’s largest reinsurance firms, issued a study titled “Severe Weather in North America.” According to the press release that accompanied the report, “Nowhere in the world is the rising number of natural catastrophes more evident than in North America.” … While many factors have contributed to this trend, including an increase in the number of people living in flood-prone areas, the report identified global warming as one of the major culprits: “Climate change particularly affects formation of heat-waves, droughts, intense precipitation events, and in the long run most probably also tropical cyclone intensity.”

Insurers, scientists and journalist are beginning to drop the caveats and simply say that climate change is causing big storms. As scientists collect more and more data over time, more of them will be willing to make the same data-based statements.

A USA Today article was featured a few drumbeats back wrt Munich Re. Odd how strongly a couple of scientists disputed it, but maybe they handpicked a couple of argumentative ones to question for the article. It'll still be interesting though with a corporate giant entering the fray to land blows on the other corporate giants.

For the record, scientists such as Roger Pielke, quoted in that article, are definitely in the climate change denial camp.

BTW I have NPR on in the background and they just had New York Governor Cuomo state on the air, that the climate is indeed changing and that hurricane Sandy's strength and devastation has everything to do with climate change and anyone who thinks differently is in denial of reality! Couldn't agree more. There I said it too!

Meanwhile Blizzard warnings have been issued for West Virginia... Nice! Climate Chaos or just another slightly unusual weather event?

Correct. It is interesting how the paper slants the article by giving three opposing views and none in support even though most climate scientists would offer that we are loading the climate dice against ourselves.

Why is Pielke in the climate change denial camp? As far as I understand he disputes the high impact of man made CO2, he does not dispute that the climate change and that other man made contributions like change of land use etc. are important contributions to these changes.

Another of his battlefields realted with AGW is proper scientific methodology, which could indeed be improved in the climate discussion without doing any harm. :-)

Ulenspiegel, while you, like everyone else, is entitled to his own opinion, it hardly changes the facts. May I suggest you do a little digging of your own and weigh what most reputable climate scientists think of Pielke. Granted over 90% of climate scientists could of course be part of a large conspiracy, they could be in it solely for the money in the form of juicy grants, they could simply all be wrong and Pielke all by his lonesome could be right!

You might start with reading this post and the following comments at realclimate.org

As for proper scientific methodology, It seems Pielke may have some shortcomings of his own in that particular department.

I know the moderators here frown upon protracted discussion on this particular subject so I'm going to make this my last comment on it.

Cheers and Fred out! >;-)

The deniers have a hard time overcoming my retort that insurance companies, professionals with the purest of motives - money- say climate change is real- and put their bets on it.

Against that one, what can they say?

Ian Masters had a guest today that illuminated the connections:

"We discuss the extent to which insurance companies are recognizing the growing threat of climate change and whether they will weigh in against the global warming denial campaign financed by oil and coal companies"


The insurance companies are getting hammered by global warming... The insurance companies are invested in oil... a quandary enclosed within a conundrum locked with a catch-22. The carbon producers are also hurting the agriculture businesses.

This one is good too:

"We discuss the politics of global warming denial in the present election environment and the reality of climate change that will impact the politics of the future."

... basically no one can say anything because their money comes from the oil (API) and coal people.

wimbi - "Against that one, what can they say?" Sadly, do they really have to respond at all? I've made the weak argument in the past that 100% of everybody on the planet could accept AGW and it might have no bearing on our continued actions. I believe many of the deniers actually don't fully accept their position but it's what their constituents want to hear (or not hear). I don't expect any mitigating efforts by the vast majority of all the societies if doing so requires a significant adjustment to BAU. Most of the political structure won't ever admit it but they aren't going to make their voters angry regardless of the validity of AGW mitigation.

Folks can beat the politicians and paid deniers into submission. But unless the public can be convinced to radically change their lifestyles (IOW make meaningful sacrifices) little will be done to change our course IMHO.

....that 100% of everybody on the planet could accept AGW and it might have no bearing on our continued actions.

bingo. I fully agree.

It's not enough to accept it. To change decisions in the near term, AGW would have to be considered culturally abhorrent, to engage the deep motivators of human minds. Our industrialized society is too disconnected from the natural world to emotionally weight what is being lost.

greenie - And not to add doom on top of doom but I do believe we'll actually make matters worse as oil becomes less available/affordable. More coal and perhaps more shinny metal boxes passing thru Dover. Very, very sad. It's fine if folks want to believe we'll become better people in the face of worsening conditions. But I don't think our DNA has changed much in the last 100 years and just look back at that history how. How many folks have died/suffered since the "war to end all wars" occurred? I think modern societies are even less capable of reacting compassionately to severe changes then they were a century ago. We're not nearly a tough/self reliant as we were back then IMHO.

Actually, the opponents of change are exaggerating the costs.

For the society at large, getting rid of most of our coal and other FF consumption wouldn't be that expensive, especially if we just stopped installing any new FF generation, and exclusively installed low-CO2 generation (wind, solar, nuclear).

In the medium and long term, it would actually be much cheaper. How much did hurricane Sandy cost?

That article failed to mention the unusual ocean warmth in the area over which Sandy tracked. HERE's a graphic of ocean temperature anomaly, which shows the warmth of the Gulf Stream as of 25 October. The warm water in the Gulf Stream passed thru the the Gulf of Mexico some months ago, at the time Texas was experiencing rather warm conditions and the Gulf didn't experience much tropical storm activity last summer either...

E. Swanson

There are a number of comments along the lines of: 'serious storms happen all the time, including times before humans could have influenced climate; what's the big deal?'

It occurs to me Barry Bonds could really have used climate skeptics to his advantage.

'Barry Bonds hit 72 home runs in a season? Nothing unusual about that. Players have been hitting home runs for over 100 years. Barry Bonds was a better than average baseball player. Many of those homers were on hanging curveballs, so it was the pitcher's fault. There is no consensus that the steroid use of Barry Bonds contributed to his home run record.....'

I don't know how MSM they are, but e.g. the huffington post has several articles on how climate change is potentially connected to hurricane Sandy (e.g. [1]).

Also NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during one of its press briefings: "climate has changed and the city needs to prepare for high water" "Anyone who says there's not a dramatic change in weather patterns is probably denying reality." which was reported at least by the guardian.

And outside of the US, MSM are connecting Sandy with climate change. E.g. Sueddeutsche, a typical MSM in Germany, had a lead article [2] explaining the meteorologic underpinnings leading to Sandy and how climate change favored these exceptional circumstance, mentioning the warming gulf stream as well as the high pressure over Greenland favored by the melting arctic sea ice.

But even then, there is still a big disconnect between talking about it or being aware of it and actually doing something about it and being willing to pay for mitigation.

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-lakoff/sandy-climate-change_b_20428...
[2] http://www.sueddeutsche.de/wissen/meteorologische-erklaerung-fuer-sandy-...

Well, that long umbilical cord thingy probably needs to be cut somehow before it becomes truly autonomous... maybe they can give it a backpack with one of Andrea Rossi's cold fusion power supplies! Either that, or a flying broom! >;-)

Light-up kiddy sneakers

I recently came across this: http://www.cellaenergy.com/
It says it has a new technology to provide low-cost and safe hydrogen storage.
Too good to be true or can this make hydrogen a viable transportation fuel?
I don't know, that's why I ask

I don't know about the technology, but I know one thing about hydrogen; it has low energy density. If you have one bottle of liquid hydrogen, it has roughly 10% the energy of the same bottle filled with motor gasoline.

Storage is only one part of the problem, and probably not the biggest part.

There's also the very low system efficiency compared to batteries (roughly 25% vs 90%), the cost of hydrogen distribution infrastructure, and the very high cost of fuel cells.

Hydride hydrogen storage

Complex Hydrides for Hydrogen Storage (PDF)

Bottling the hydrogen genie
The Industrial Physicist

Hydrogen storage (Wikipedia):

Metal hydrides

...Cellulose is a form of sugar.

If you like alkanes, check out graphane: